ON Tuesday the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelming to back a Government motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as well as condemning the "barbaric and unjustifiable" Hamas attacks of October 7 and demanding the immediate release of all hostages.​ Labour MSPs joined with the SNP and Greens in voting to support the motion.

Holyrood also voted in favour of a Labour amendment calling for the International Criminal Court to investigate the conduct of all parties in the conflict, following claims that Israel's response to the war crimes and criminal acts committed by Hamas has been disproportionate and amounts to the collective punishment of the people of Gaza, which is also a war crime.

A Conservative amendment which called for humanitarian pauses instead of an immediate ceasefire was heavily defeated.

In total, 90 MSPs voted for the amended Government motion. Just 28 – all Tories – voted against it, while 11 MSPs were not present.

READ MORE: 'Importance of devolution' on agenda as Humza Yousaf meets Sinn Fein leader

The Scottish Parliament now joins the Parliaments of Catalonia, Wales and Ireland in calling for a ceasefire.

Labour's support in Holyrood of SNP calls for a Gaza ceasefire stands in marked contrast to the spinelessness of Labour's two Scottish MPs in the House of Commons last week, both of whom meekly obeyed Keir Starmer's instructions and abstained.

Instead, the pair voted for a Starmer-inspired Labour amendment calling for humanitarian pauses, an amendment which was not substantially different from the position of the Conservatives.

The debate was an example of how Holyrood ought to work. There was none of the boorishness and barracking which is so typical of the Scottish Conservatives during First Minister's Questions. The only sour note was struck by the Tories' Stephen Kerr, a man with the permanent look of someone who has just realised there is vinegar in his tea.

The National:

Kerr (above) insisted that the vote was outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament. Other Conservatives and their supporters have dismissed the vote as posturing and gesture politics. Of course, the exact same could be said of the position of the British Government on this issue – the Israeli Government and Hamas are no more likely to pay heed to the opinions of Starmer or Rishi Sunak than they are to a motion passed by the Scottish Parliament.

This misses the point. The Holyrood vote was to make a public and official declaration of the view of the people of Scotland, and by doing so to refuse to remain silent in the face of unspeakable horrors. The vote also serves to empower and legitimise those who have spoken out for peace, often at the cost of being demonised as apologists for terrorism and “hate marchers” by the right-wing media and the likes of Suella Braverman.

Grangemouth closing

It has been announced that the Grangemouth oil refinery is to close, putting hundreds out of work.

The site is slated to be converted into an import and distribution base. This will turn Scotland into a country which produces a significant quantity of oil – and is expected to continue to do so for several decades to come – but which will become entirely reliant on imported refined petroleum products. This must be another of those “Union benefits” that they keep telling us about.

Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay said on Twitter: "This is the opposite of a just transition."

Tories' 'ruthless' changes target the disabled

The Conservative Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (below) presented the government's autumn statement to the Commons today. The mini-budget was a very Tory combination of tax cuts for the better off and punishment for benefits claimants, all delivered by a man who, like his boss Sunak, is a millionaire incapable of buying himself a pair of suit trousers that are long enough.

The National:

There are to be increased sanctions on those who are deemed not to be doing enough to find work. There will also be changes to the system of sick notes, which will now be based on the assumption that people who are ill can work. The work capability assessment also will be changed, deeming a larger number of people as “fit for work”.

There are fears that amid a collapsing NHS and the cost of living crisis, these changes to disability assessments could push more people into mental health crises.

Dr Jay Watts, a consultant clinical psychiatrist from London, thinks the impacts could be severe. She told Byline Times: "These proposed changes are symptomatic of the continued systematic violation of disabled folk.

"They are ruthless and will cause a tsunami of mental health issues as people would be pressured into work-preparation activities for which they are unsuited and/or unready. This would increase the likelihood of not only being sanctioned but exert a huge psychological toll."

And Lee Anderson, again

Far- right frother and deputy chairman of the Tory party Lee Anderson has suggested an alternative to his government's failed Rwanda plan.

Asked about reports the Home Office had considered sending migrants to the Falkland Islands, Anderson told GB News it was a "bit far to go" and "not fair on the islanders".

Does he know where Rwanda is? It's not exactly next door to Kent.

He suggested instead that the British Government could send asylum seekers to a "remote Scottish island”...

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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