Monday 26 February 2024

Where stands Scotland on Gaza?

Where does Scotland stand on Gaza? Actually nowhere, "Scotland" is not a political party, let alone a political position, it is one of  a longstanding union of two historic nations reaffirmed less than ten years ago. But, even had that not been reaffirmed and Scotland was now, once again, alone, it still would not, collectively, "stand" for either side. Insofar as it might have a view, even ignoring the bizarre idea that an entire Country might have the same view, it would be pretty much the same view as the rest of the remaining UK. That it presents a choice, on the one side, of mad bastards with cause to be mad and, on the other, with ruthless bastards with equal cause to be ruthless. 

But, let us be clear about two things. That even among those with a view within our devolved polity, that view ranges wildly. At one extreme,  we have those who genuinely support the (somehow possible) actual eradication of the State of Israel. But they are a very small number indeed. On the other we have those who think October 7th was only a culmination of events that justifies the expulsion (somehow possible again) of the entire population of Gaza to......somewhere. They are an equally small number. Amongst those more reasonably engaged, actual opinion ranges along a much broader spectrum: from the not unreasonable view that the civilian death toll is such that the Israelis must settle for the revenge they have already had, to the equally not unreasonable view that, terrible though the side effects are, the Israelis cannot be expected to stop until they have secured the return of their kidnapped citizens, or at least a process for that to happen. The Labour Party contains within it opinions that range right across that spectrum and has ended up in the slightly ludicrous position of supporting an unconditional ceasefire but subject to conditions. That the hostages are released being the most obvious, but not the only, one.

I've said this on twitter, but the obvious fault line is what happens if the Israelis stop attacking but the hostages are not released? Any time our Party's representatives are asked this in the media we.......obfuscate. There are in truth only two answers. The first is that this would justify a resumption of Israeli hostilities and the second is that the Israelis would just have to suck this up. For the avoidance of doubt "Hamas would release the hostages" is not an answer. For at least two months, had Hamas released the hostages, World, particularly US Government, pressure would have ensured Israel at least significantly scaled back its military operation. If Hamas won't release the  hostages with the IDF at the mouths of their tunnels, why would they conceivably do it if the Israelis just went home?

But as someone who has an opinion I am in danger of undermining my principal point. Because it is this. THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A STRONG OPINION ABOUT GAZA. That is Scottish and English people alike. They think it was terrible what happened on 7th October and the subsequent death toll among Palestinian civilians is equally terrible. But they also think, insofar as they think about it at all, that the whole situation is complicated, with both fault and merit on both sides and that there is no easy solution. And, anyway, what has any of this got much to do with us?

Now I appreciate this blog has a readership almost entirely of people interested in politics but I ask you this. Yes, political people are engaged with this but from your dealings with the far larger group of people who's politics consist of mainly voting at elections, do you think they are interested in it at all, let alone that it might be a factor in deciding how they vote? Very opinionated people, mainly but not exclusively on the Palestinian "side" seem to have persuaded my Party at a UK level that not "having a position" (on their side needless to say) will lead to electoral disaster. But there is no opinion poll support for this at all, Since Labour has dithered, our opinion poll leads have largely increased! Because this is not an issue that concerns the vast majority of voters, at least to the extent that it would influence their vote.

And in Scotland the position is even more bizarre. The SNP think that their are votes to be won from, or at least not lost to, Scottish Labour by "standing up for Gaza" in much the same way that they once won and still try to win votes by "Standing up for Scotland". This is utterly deluded. I could go on to explain but to be honest, you, reader, already know that. For, beyond thinking it a terrible tragedy all round, I repeat, THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A STRONG OPINION ABOUT GAZA. And, among the small minority who do, there are a fair number of people with whom you would not want much association. 

But, as Napoleon once observed, never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. So if Humza wants to continue his virtually daily commentary on the position then who am I to object.  

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