HUNDREDS of people rallied outside Scotland’s Parliament this week, voicing their opposition and resistance to the mass slaughter being carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza. Specifically, they were protesting the arrival of a who’s who of Israel’s arms dealers arriving for a parliamentary reception celebrating their work.

My Scottish Green colleagues and I were proud to join the protest, standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The Tories have condemned us and tried to present the rally as if it was something to be ashamed of, but the only shameful scenes that night were the ones happening inside the building.

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On Wednesday night Holyrood played host to some of the firms who are not just enabling the war crimes taking place against Gaza, but are actively profiting from them.

When I first saw that Labour MSP Paul Sweeney was set to host a reception for the ADS Group, I was shocked.

ADS may sound like just another bland acronym, but it is an arms industry lobbying group that represents all of the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers.

Its members list is the definition of lords of war and merchants of death. From Israeli military drone giant Elbit Systems to Lockheed Martin from the US, there are hundreds of arms companies on the membership roll.

The ADS Scotland Council includes some of the worst, with representatives from BAE Systems, Raytheon and Leonardo, who are among the planet’s biggest arms dealers, and have supported despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and of course, Israel.

They don’t just pay their membership fee and sit back quietly. According to the ADS website, it is this council of warlords which gives them their strategic direction.

Surely this was some kind of a mistake? Surely Mr Sweeney didn’t really think they were worthy of such a prestigious event in Scotland’s Parliament?

Hosting a celebration for arms dealers would be distasteful and wrong at any time, but to hold it during a genocide that ADS members are enabling and profiting from would surely be unthinkable.

For a brief moment it felt like good sense had won. After Mr Sweeney was approached by journalists, following complaints by the Scottish Greens, he withdrew his sponsorship and accepted that it would be the wrong event at the wrong time.

However, the event was still booked and could proceed so long as another MSP was willing to put their name to it. Unsurprisingly, former Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw was more than happy to step in.

It’s certainly not the first time the Conservatives have tried to smear and deligitimise protesters, and it definitely won’t be the last. Peaceful protest, including direct action, is absolutely critical to our democracy, which is why they will do anything they can to undermine it.

The Scottish Greens could not stand back while those who have made this slaughter possible were using our Parliament to whitewash their records and promote their toxic brands. Not in the week that reports emerged of children as young as five being deliberately murdered by Israeli snipers with single shots to their heads.

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The ADS don’t spend time and money on these events out of the goodness of their hearts, they do it to buy influence. And they know the public would be appalled if they were aware, which is presumably why this shameful reception wasn’t even advertised on their own website.

The only reason that any of these companies are able to sell their deadly products is because of the support they’ve enjoyed from successive UK governments, both Labour and Tory. There’s even a Westminster department, UK Defence and Security Exports, which works around the clock to maximise arms sales.

While protests were taking place outside Holyrood, MPs in Westminster were disgracing themselves and their Parliament.

The chaotic shambles we all witnessed in the Commons has led to plenty of headlines about broken and archaic procedures, but it was the contents of the so-called debate that were most shocking.

We saw Tory MPs excusing war crimes and playing down the slaughter while Labour prioritised political point scoring.

It underlined the broken Westminster consensus and the awful role of the UK in furthering the destruction of Gaza. The only people who won from it were the arms dealers gleefully promoting themselves in Holyrood.

It was a lesson that Westminster serves the interests of Britain’s ruling elite first, with democracy a distant secondary priority.

I look forward to the day when an independent Scotland can move far and beyond the aggressive, militaristic and destructive foreign policy through which Britain has done so much harm to the world.

My solidarity is with the Palestinians facing the full-scale brutality of Israel’s military assault, not with the arms dealers who are profiting from it. The Scottish Greens were proud to join the protests this week, and we would do the same again in a heartbeat.

If that results in some kind of sanction against me then so be it, my conscience is clear.