Some twenty years ago, the late Bill Smith, former Labour councillor and long standing chair of the SIC’s education committee, determined to resign from the Labour Party.
As the then chair of Shetland Labour Party, I helped him to do so in person to Jack McConnell, who was the leader of the Scottish Labour Party at that time. This happened in Lerwick’s Kveldsro Hotel. The issue was Labour’s insufficient support for the Palestinian cause.
Having been in Palestine during his national service after the end of World War 2, Bill had strong opinions. These were informed by him having witnessed first-hand the brutal ethnic cleansing of so many Palestinians from their land.
He would have known too of the 1946 bombing of British Military HQ in Tel Aviv’s King David Hotel by Zionist terrorists which resulted in 91 deaths, including 28 British citizens.
The UK currently has at least four naval vessels providing logistical support to the Israeli state, whilst half the population of Gaza has been forced from their homes, with thousands of innocents murdered and thousands more set to die in the coming days and weeks.
North Gaza has been bombed to the point of being largely uninhabitable. Meanwhile, UK Labour leader, Keir Starmer, refuses to call for a ceasefire. The memory of the harm he supports will live on for many generations.
Alongside other humanitarian organisations, Oxfam is calling for a ceasefire. Their petition can be found online. It takes less than a minute to sign.
Bill Smith comes to mind also with the news that lecturers at Shetland College have been told they have a month to come up with huge savings to prevent drastic cuts being made to community learning provision.
The education that dedicated team provides is life changing for some of the most vulnerable people in Shetland, who Bill gave so many years of dedicated service to protect.
At a local and international level, we have to hope that good sense can prevail. The more voices that are heard, the more likely this will be.