On Sunday 29 October, Peter Kyle (shadow secretary for science, innovation, and technology) appeared on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. He was asked about Israel’s invasion of Gaza, and specifically about whether he supports it. Guest host Victoria Derbyshire asked Kyle:
do you support, then, Israel’s ground operation as the only way to eliminate Hamas?
Smirking and looking nervous, Kyle responded:
That’s correct, yes. You are being asked to make judgements on things which are happening politically. Because you’re a politician. And you’re on a political talk show, being interviewed about the most important political story of the moment.
The question is this: is ‘wait and see’ Labour’s official stance on all conflict now, or was Kyle out of his depth and simply didn’t know how to justify his party’s terrible position?
I knew he was bad, this is awful. No humanity.
— #StopStarmer#FreePaletine#FreeAssange (@Pampage95Page) October 29, 2023
Who is Peter Kyle?
Given the seriousness of the unfolding situation in Gaza, you may be wondering why Kyle – a guy you’ve likely never heard of – was sent out to answer questions. Could it be that no one else wanted to go out and defend Keir Starmer’s position? Given that he’s a vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Kyle is one of the MPs who are most likely to agree with Starmer on this matter. According to Kyle himself, Labour is actually very united right now, as he said:
We are united as a party.
Derbyshire immediately responded:
Peter Kyle MP: "We are united as a party"
Victoria Derbyshire: "No you're not!" pic.twitter.com/gQMyqR6aGF
— Cllr Martin Abrams 🇵🇸 (@Martin_Abrams) October 29, 2023
Derbyshire had good reason to be so assertive, as she’d just noted:
You’ve just seen there the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar, and your front bench colleague Yasmin Qureshi all calling for a ceasefire: why are they wrong?
Those of you with a basic grasp of the English language will understand that people who hold the opposite opinions to one another are not to be described as ‘united’. United in their disagreement, maybe, but that’s not what Derbyshire asked.
Pause for thought
Kyle waffled on about all the ways in which the Labour Party is allegedly united – none of which answered the question. Largely he talked about Starmer’s call for a ‘humanitarian pause’:
"They need food, they need water, medicine and they need fuel", says Peter Kyle calling for a humanitarian pause.
— Andrew Fisher (@FisherAndrew79) October 29, 2023
If you’re not sure what a humanitarian pause is, it’s a brief window in which the world will treat Palestinians humanely, to be followed by more of Israel’s inhumane treatment we’re witnessing right now. It’s unclear what the point of this would be other than to give Palestinians a misleading glimmer of hope between the airstrikes. Arguably the pause would be crueller than simply allowing the horror to continue unchecked. Clearly the only point would be to give the illusion that those calling for it have some shred of humanity:
"The IDF say civilian deaths are inevitable in order to elimate Hamsas. Do you accept that?"
Peter Kyle "I was an aid worker…"
"Its a yes or no"
"…[war is] barbaric, its unfair, thats why we should work to try & end this conflict"
So why aren't you calling for a ceasfire? pic.twitter.com/moBMMrSynh
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 29, 2023
It’s probably not going to be Labour’s official stance that it will ‘wait and see what happens’ when one country invades another territory, because it already isn’t that. Just look at their criticism of Russia invading Ukraine. Starmer and Co. aren’t waiting to see what happens there, because it’s obviously wrong; much like it’s obviously wrong in Gaza.
Featured image via BBC – screengrab
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