Tameside’s MPs explain Gaza vote abstentions

TAMESIDE’S three MPs have clarified why they abstained in a House of Commons vote calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Dozens of Labour politicians defied leader Sir Keir Starmer and voted in favour of the Scottish National Party’s amendment, with many quitting front bench roles.

But with both he and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suggesting a pause would be more appropriate, Jonathan Reynolds, Andrew Gwynne and Angela Rayner followed the edict and decided to abstain on Wednesday, November 15.

At least 11,000 Palestinians, many of whom are children, have now been killed as a result of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

That has prompted calls for a ceasefire and the SNP motion urged ‘all parties’ to back a ceasefire and also called for an end to the ‘collective punishment of the Palestinian people.’

Senior Labour figures – including Diane Abbott, Jess Phillips, former leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey and Gorton’s now former shadow minister for exports Afzal Khan – joined former leader, now Independent, Jeremy Corbyn in voting for.

Andrew Gwynne, Angela Rayner and Jonathan Reynolds

But Tameside’s three Labour representatives all abstained – and they have told The Correspondent why they did.

However, that does not mean they back one side over the other.

Mr Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, said: “Recent events in the Israel and Gaza are devastating for everyone and I understand the strength of feeling we all have as the violence has unfolded.

“In the vote, I backed Labour’s amendment, which reflects our concerns about the lack of hostage release, the insufficient aid and utilities getting in, the scale of civilian casualties in Gaza and the increasing violence on the West Bank.

“I am particularly sad about the number of children dead or missing, both Israeli and Palestinian. Their suffering and that of their families is unimaginable.
“The reason I believe voting for humanitarian pauses is better than voting for a ceasefire is that, firstly, there is the prospect of them happening whereas with a ceasefire there is not.

“Secondly, a humanitarian pause would mean the violence stopped to get aid in but it would not freeze the conflict and leave Hamas in continued control of Gaza.

“This is important as they have stated very clearly they would repeat the events of October 7 if they could.

“I have visited Palestine and Israel several times in my years as an MP and continue to be deeply engaged in all meaningful routes to long-term peace based around a two-state solution.
“In these tense times I do appeal for empathy and respect towards all communities locally and across the UK. No-one in the Middle East is helped by hate crime escalating elsewhere.”

Denton and Reddish’s Mr Gwynne had good reason for not being in Parliament – he was not even in the country.

He said: “I was not in Parliament this week, as I have been in Sweden on a long-standing diary commitment in my role as Shadow Minister for Social Care, to examine best practice in health and care integration, helping develop Labour’s plans for a National Care Service.

“Whilst away, I was paired with a Conservative MP, so that each of us is cancelled out to ensure parity with parliamentary arithmetic.

“MPs voted on whether to send His Majesty the King a letter (called a Humble Address) thanking him on behalf of the Commons, for opening the new session of Parliament.

“Any amendment, if adopted, would merely have added that text to the letter of thanks to the King.

“As I’ve already said on the floor of the House of Commons, the cycle of violence and killing must stop, and international law must be upheld by both Israel and Hamas.

“I will continue to speak out for an end to the current civilian catastrophe, and for the pursuit of humanity and peace.”

Labour’s deputy leader and Ashton MP Angela Rayner also abstained as the motion was defeated by 293 votes to 125.

Members of other parties, including now former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, did the same.

But Ms Rayner as clear in her position as she said: “We all want the violence to end.

“I understand and respect those calling for a ceasefire now and I’m deeply sorry to have lost valued colleagues from the front bench.

“The international community has demanded that the siege conditions on Gaza be lifted, but that has still not happened.

“That is totally unacceptable and it cannot continue.”

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