Monday, March 6

The Dawn of Democracy in Palestine Click for more info

I spent a couple of hours this evening in the House of Commons, attending an event organised by The Friends of Al-Aqsa marking the recent elections and so introduction of democracy to Palestine. It was hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP (although on the day Ismail Patel stood in) and addressed by a bunch of others: Gerald Kaufman MP, Dr Phyllis Starkey MP and the ubiquitous George Galloway MP amongst others.

Now, if I'm being honest I wasn't really planning on going - originally it was at request of a friend involved with FoA who needed bums on seats. However as soon as the first speaker ended I was glad I went.

Since the meeting itself was only scheduled for an hour or so, each speaker had less than ten minutes in which to say their piece. This forced them to be very concise and succinct - I very rarely zoned out, if at all! The opinions were mixed enough for them not to have been repeated, and those doing the talking were articulate and a pleasure to listen to.

It was my first time in such an intimate audience listening to MPs (there were probably around 100 of us altogether), and I was pleasantly surprised at how accessible and sensible they all were - hardly the image we sometimes get via the UK media. Having said that Galloway was as colourful than he's usually seen to be, and my impression of him hasn't really changed much.

Anyway, the subject matter itself was pretty interesting itself as well. All speakers agreed that the only democratic way forward for the UK was to accept Hamas as the elected victors. They differed on what Hamas was required to do now - from changing their basic belief and process (on which, it's presumed, they were elected) to carrying on how they are. But it was also put forward that Hamas only had to gain by denouncing violence.

The reaction and attitude of the UK Government to Palestine and Israel was criticised (and defended), and suggestions were made for how "normal" people can act to make Palestine a better place to live for its people.

So yes, all in all it was a good experience. The House of Commons was really nice and quite shamefully it's probably the first time I've seen it up close. It was teeming with history and almost enough to make a guy want to get a job there! Well ok, maybe not, but I'm looking forward to any future opportunities to visit it and experience the same again.

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