Express & Star

Mark Andrews: While civilisation burns, our leaders argue about the name of an imaginary ceasefire

The Scottish National Party want an 'immediate ceasefire' in Gaza. Labour want a 'immediate humanitarian ceasefire'. The Conservatives want a 'pause' to the fighting. And the Speaker causes a constitutional crisis by inviting MPs to vote on all three.

File photo dated 09/03/12 of former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells. A petition calling for Paula Vennells to lose her CBE over the Horizon scandal has attracted more than one million signatures. Issue date: Monday January 8, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Horizon. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

In the end, it was the Labour's 'immediate humanitarian pause' that prevailed. Yet, bizarrely, the fighting is still going on.

This came as a huge surprise to me. I assumed the moment they saw how the carnage was impacting on the egos of a few people in Westminster, old Benny Netanyahu and the medieval savages of Hamas would immediately stop the fighting, shake hands, and celebrate with a night out at Nandos. Onc can only assume that if the amendment had been worded better, they might have taken more notice.

You dread to think what would have happened if this lot had been around at during the Second World War. It would be like Anthony Eden and Ernest Bevin arguing for a vote on whether the Arnhem campaign should have been called Operation Market Garden or Operation Garden Market. Or Churchill and Atlee storming out of the chamber over who would announce the D-Day landings.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin must be laughing up his sleeve at this unedifying spectacle. As the world burns, the supposed leaders of the free world argue about the name of an imaginary ceasefire.

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Speaking to an undercover reporter about plans to occupy MPs' homes, a headbanger from Just Stop Oil said its members were preparing to look a 'bit loony' to 'get attention' for their cause.

Do you want to tell them, or shall I?

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Paula Vennells, the former chief executive of the Post Office, has been formally stripped of her appointment as a CBE for 'bringing the honours system into disrepute'.

Given that Miss Vennells presided over the latter stages of the Horizon scandal which saw dozens of post-office workers wrongly jailed, this hardly comes as a great shock. Particularly as she tried to 'hand back' the honour a month ago.

But while it is hard to sympathise too much with Miss Vennells, who routinely denied the problem when a simple admission could have prevented a number of grave injustices, I do wonder whether she has become a lightning rod for many other people who had a far greater hand in the scandal.

Miss Vennells was appointed a CBE in January 2019, when legal proceedings against the Post Office were well underway, and everybody who knew anything about the case was aware that there were serious questions to be answered.

Yet Miss Vennells got her gong regardless.

Now that is bringing the honours system into disrepute. But, of course, at that time nobody had made a television drama about it.