The first week of the parliamentary year was dominated by the Post Office scandal at home and the ongoing horrors in Gaza and the West Bank.
After years when the UK government with a few honourable exceptions seemed to hope the Post Office scandal would just go away it was a hard hitting ITV dramatisation that forced it up the agenda. Over several years hundreds of sub postmasters and mistresses were wrongly convicted of fraud on the basis of false evidence presented by the Post Office. Last week the BBC revealed that top bosses at the Post Office had been actively trying to smear the reputations of whistleblowers who tried to reveal the truth that cash “shortages” had been invented by dodgy computer software.
We shouldn’t forget that as well as the false convictions there were thousands of other innocent victims who were never prosecuted but whose lives were still destroyed by the shame and humiliation of being publicly accused of being criminals. Myra from this constituency had to sell up and move out of her home village, borrowed tens of thousands of pounds from her family to try and make up the “shortages” and saw her elderly mum go to her grave not knowing they would both eventually be cleared of all suspicion.
Myra has gone public with her story which sadly is not untypical of what happened to thousands of others. I’ve been helping Myra fight for nearly four years for the apology and compensation she deserves. We also need to make sure that everyone who was involved in this shameful conspiracy is brought to justice.
The indiscriminate killings in Gaza have now been going on for three months. Israel has every right to defend itself and to bring to justice everyone involved in the murderous attacks on innocent Israelis on 7 October but what we’re now seeing in Gaza goes well beyond self defence and almost certainly constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity. It’s shameful that the UK government doesn’t have the integrity to say this publicly. It’s also unforgivable that they still refuse to help innocent and desperate Palestinian civilians to flee to a place of safety.
I supported calls at the weekend for Parliament to be recalled to be asked to agree the UK’s military strikes in Yemen. This has the potential to lead to a catastrophic escalation of current conflicts in Gaza, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East. It’s absolutely right that the UK should take action who illegally attacks British ships and sailors but we’ve seen too many examples where the UK has blundered into disastrous wars in the Middle East and we can’t allow this to happen again.