Hoyle's emotional defence gave way to a deep, unacceptable truth about our democracy

The chaos in the House of Commons following last week’s vote on Gaza has exposed a deep problem shaking the foundations of our democracy.

What can we say about the chaos that descended on the Commons last Wednesday which continued to reverberate through the weekend?

Parliamentary record will show that on February 21 2024, parliament voted, unopposed, for a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Hamas’ hostages and a two state solution for Israel and Palestine. If only that were all there was to it.

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Instead, the political pantomime that wrecked what should have been a moment of unity has overshadowed the good that so many people were trying to do.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons. PIC:  Hannah McKay/PA WireSir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons. PIC:  Hannah McKay/PA Wire
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons. PIC: Hannah McKay/PA Wire

It has also threatened the career, and legacy, of a respected parliamentarian who has done so much to restore the battered image of the office of Speaker.

And there is the strong suspicion that what was happening was petty posturing to expose divisions in Labour and influence voters, particularly in Scotland.

But as the dust has settled what is becoming clearer that the real threat is to our democracy and freedom of thought in this country.

This is not the first issue in recent years where there has been a clear implication that there is only one correct view, and those who don't adhere to it are to be ridiculed, bullied or cancelled.

In this however, it has reached a new level of unacceptability.

MPs have been threatened, offices attacked or graffitied and one - Conservative Tobias Elwood - had to be kept in safety with his family because their home was under siege.

None of that should be seen as somehow tolerable.

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And yet for an increasing number of people it seems that it is.

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Antisemitism and Islamophobia are exploding on our streets and people do not feel safe in their own homes.

I will long remember the emotion with which the Speaker defended his actions to Stephen Flynn saying he did not want to see a repetition of the murders of Sir David Amess or Jo Cox - whose sister Kim Leadbeater sits in her seat now.

I will also carry with me the vision of antisemitic slogans projected onto the House of Commons by protestors we were being protected from as we left.

For the record I would have voted for the motion we passed on Wednesday, and the original SNP one.

I hate what is happening in Gaza. I can hardly bear to watch the news footage of the latest horrors.

But it goes without question my heart also breaks for the Israeli families whose children were murdered at a music festival or as they ran from the homes invaded by Hamas.

I want the hostages to be freed.

And I want my friend and colleague Layla Moran MP to know that her family in Gaza are safe and well.

Most of all I would have voted with anybody who put forward a sound progressive suggestion for encouraging both sides to stop.

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To move towards that two-state solution which I believe is the only one which will bring peace.

That is my view. It is what I believe with all my heart is the right thing to do and to vote for.

If you don't agree I will respect that, but please don't undermine our freedoms because we don't say what you want us to.

Christine Jardine is the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West