“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” suggests that in periods of crisis leaders come forward who can save us. But looking at the present crop of third raters who is going to save us from our leaders? All around the world strong men with weak ideas have captured the imagination and won the votes of their people. Trump, Netanyahu, Modi, Putin, Bolsonaro are obvious examples.
In the UK we are doubly cursed with leaders who are weak in every department. It is not just that their ideas are inadequate. They are inadequate. The leaders of the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories have all declared their unconditional support for Israel and its right to wage war on Gaza in ‘self-defence.’
Now they are calling for a pause in the hostilities to enable the hostages to be unconditionally released and aid to be delivered to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. But they oppose a long term ceasefire because it would supposedly aid Hamas.
So let us get this straight. They give unconditional support to Israel’s right to respond to a war crime with another war crime, so long as they call it self-defence and add the caveat that Israel must act within international law. What a sick joke! Cutting off all fuel, energy, food and clean water from a community of 2 million people who have lived in a state of siege for 17 years, the majority of whom are women and children, is a war crime. Carpet bombing civilian areas killing thousands and leaving tens of thousands wounded or missing is a war crime. It should not need saying but war crimes are a breach of international law.
These ‘leaders’ think a temporary ceasefire that frees the hostages and lets in some humanitarian aid is acceptable while refusing to acknowledge that the humanitarian catastrophe cannot be prevented by such weak-willed demands. It is already happening and the only reason it is happening is because Israel, in blatant disregard of international law, feels empowered by their unconditional support. Once the hostages are released nothing will prevent Israel from imposing a new Nakba, turning Gaza into rubble and driving out all the Palestinians to some hypothetical refugee camps in the Sinai.
Humza Yousaf, the leader of the SNP, has made an unequivocal call for a ceasefire, for the international community to take up the challenge of welcoming refugees from Gaza and providing medical treatment for the injured. We may criticise his political naivete but, unlike his opposite numbers in Westminster, there is no doubting his humanity.
Meanwhile many on the left are desperately seeking a new leader to save us from our so called leaders. But the experience of Jeremy Corbyn shows that if such a person emerges they will move mountains to destroy him or her. Instead we should say, “No more leaders any more” and find ways to use our collective strength to impose our will. If three quarters of the population support a ceasefire in Gaza and those at the top are united in opposing us it is high time we united to topple them.
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Never voting Labour again.