Conservative councillors abstain from Gaza ceasefire vote

Tuesday November 21st 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Conservative councillors today refused to back a motion by SNP and Labour colleagues calling on the UK Government to support a ceasefire and humanitarian corridor in Gaza.

Midlothian councillors held a minute’s silence for those who have died in the conflict following the adoption of the motion.

However Councillor Peter Smaill told the meeting that while he was happy to take part in the minute’s silence he could not support the motion.

He said: “While I respect the sincerity of those who have put this together I do not think it is appropriate for a council like Midlothian to put this forward.”

And his fellow Conservative Councillor Pauline Winchester read a personal statement outlining in graphic detail some of the atrocities which Hamas had carried out on Israel, asking elected members “if this was your wife or daughter would you support a ceasefire.”

Councillor Winchester quoted former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir who said: “If the Arabs put down their weapons today there would be no more violence, if the Jews put down their weapons there would be no more Israel.”

SNP councillor Connor McManus put a motion to elected members which called on the UK Government to calls on the UK Government to “support a ceasefire and humanitarian corridor, to commit supplies and aid to mitigate the human tragedy unfolding in Gaza and to be prepared to offer sanctuary and support to Palestinian refugees.”

The motion acknowledged the atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7th.

Councillor Derek Milligan, Labour group leader, added an amendment to the motion which additionally called on the international community to “use every form of diplomacy to try and create the conditions on the ground to make a ceasefire a reality; the International Criminal Court to investigate the conduct of all parties in this conflict; and reaffirms our commitment to a lasting peace and a two state solution with the end of illegal occupation, siege, and settlements”.

The motion was passed with two abstentions recorded from Councillors Smaill and Winchester. Conservative Councillor David Virgo was not at the meeting

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