Parliament Week includes engagement with students in schools and colleges, the State Opening of Parliament, the Fields and Services of Remembrance in the constituency and at Westminster, all overshadowed by the consequences of the deliberate pogrom launched from Gaza by Hamas killers across the Israel border on villagers and young people enjoying a festival. Hundreds were dragged away as hostages.
The attack organisers planned to provoke a thunderous response by Israel. I added my name to this parliamentary motion:
"This House utterly condemns the massacre of Israeli civilians and taking of hostages by Hamas; agrees with the United Nations Secretary-General that these horrific acts do not justify responding with the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; expresses its deep alarm at the Israeli military bombardment and total siege of Gaza and the resulting deaths and suffering; believes that the urgent priority must be to stop the deaths and suffering of any more civilians in Gaza and Israel; welcomes the joint statement from 12 leading aid agencies, including Oxfam, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Medical Aid for Palestinians and Islamic Relief, calling for the Government to use its influence to help protect civilians, to ensure adherence to international humanitarian law and to guarantee civilians have access to critical life-saving humanitarian support; and to this end supports their call for the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary to urgently press all parties to agree to an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities, to ensure the immediate, unconditional release of the Israeli hostages, to end to the total siege of Gaza and allow for unfettered access of medical supplies, food, fuel electricity and water, to guarantee that international humanitarian law is upheld and that civilians are protected in accordance with those laws.”
In the week of the King speaking at the Royal Palace of Westminster, we know the monarchy, now King Charles, symbolises the continuity in our country, together with the importance of democracy, brought together in the House of Lords which reduces the enthusiasms and the shortcuts tempting the House of Commons or an exuberant prime minister.
On Monday at Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing, junior pupils and senior students considered the purposes of politics. One is the avoidance of useless wars, across frontiers and within states as civil wars. It would be better for the young to live together in peace rather than be buried together as victims of mutual violence.
Neither I nor many Israelis overlook the consequences of extremist settlers nor the inhumanity of Hamas leaders to the Palestinians who must wish for peace, prosperity and the benefits of democracy denied for over seventy years.
I joined the Mayor and Worthing councillors with Veterans at the Field of Remembrance by the Memorial to the Worthing victims of war, before joining college students with WSCC adult education leader Sarah Priest at the Fitzalan Howard Day Centre in Pavilion Road.
After discussion of the roles of MP and Parliament, I heard about their campaigns to make life better for wheelchair users. There are many improvements still to be made.
At Westminster, I welcomed the reforms to reduce unfair burdens on residential leaseholders and the danger in Sir Keir Starmer’s declaration of overruling local objections to house building proposals. Protect the gaps.
Standards matter in public life. There is unfinished business from the recent Privileges Committee report on organised interference in their work. The Commons needs to set standards and to support the system for considering complaints.
At the State Opening, I followed the Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition through the Palace to the Lords where Virginia sat in borrowed robes. My black armband and a tie in Ukraine’s colours remind me of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, the millions who died in the two World Wars and those now suffering because of the illegal attack on Ukraine and those whose in lives are ruined in Israel and in Gaza by the October assault.