Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP speaking in Parliament.
Brentford & Isleworth MP remains loyal to Labour leadership and does not support Gaza ceasefire amendment to King’s Speech, despite Quaker faith
It must have been a tough decision for Ruth Cadbury to decide not to support the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech on Wednesday night calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The MP for Brentford and Isleworth is a Quaker, a faith group which is committed to working for peace.
While her fellow west London Labour MPs Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) and Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) were among the 56 Labour MPs who defied the Labour whip and voted for the SNP amendment, she stayed loyal to the party leadership and supported the Labour amendment, which called for Israel to follow international law, to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.
Image above: Quaker meeting; photograph Quakers in Britain
“Violence is never justified” – Quakers in Britain
In doing to she went against the declared position of Quakers in Britain. On 18 October they joined Quaker groups around the world in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In their statement they said:
“Quakers believe in the sacred worth of each person and stand against violence in all its forms. As Quaker organisations, we mourn all lives lost and lament with everyone who is suffering. We grieve for those in Israel and Palestine who have lost precious lives. We pray with those waiting for the return of loved ones and those living under siege and bombardment.
“Violence such as this is never justifiable, and we insist that a ceasefire must be realised along with the return of all hostages.”
She also went against the position of many in her local Labour party who want a ceasefire. Hounslow councillor Lara Parizotto (Brentford West) resigned from the party on 18 October because, she said, they were “no longer aligned with my values.”
Cllr Parizotto (who remains a councillor, though is now considered to be an independent) posted on social media last night:
“I was in the Labour Party for a long time. People can make excuses on why they can’t vote for something or sign an EDM [Early Day Motion]. But those are just excuses. Values can and should speak louder. Well done to the MPs that made the right decision for themselves, their residents, and justice.”
Image above: The Chiswick Calendar election debate 2015
“As a Quaker, I wouldn’t vote to go to war”
Ruth has spoken publicly about her commitment to her Quaker faith. During the General Election campaign in 2015 when she stood for election as MP for the first time, she took part in the Chiswick Calendar election debate with the incumbent Conservative MP Mary Macleod.
In the debate at the Tabard theatre, hosted by BBC presenter Sarah Montague, she was asked if she would always vote with her party and said there were two issues where she wouldn’t:
“I’ve already told my members and the party that there are probably, if it came to it, two issues where I wouldn’t vote with my party. I hope it doesn’t.
“One is on Heathrow. If the decision was to expand Heathrow, I would not vote in the lobby with that, but I hope I wouldn’t be in that position, I would hope I would be able to influence my party not to take that line.
“And the other, as a Quaker, I wouldn’t vote to go to war.
Sarah Montague: “Ever?”
Ruth Cadbury: “Ever”
Sarah Montague: “Under any circumstances?”
Ruth Cadbury: “Under any circumstances”.
Later in the debate she answered a question from a member of the audience, a former member of the armed services, who was concerned about cuts to the defence budget. Ruth said she was not the best person to ask about defence, she had spent her gap year in New York with the Quakers at the First Special Session on disarmament.
“My perspective on arms and defence comes from my faith and I’m not sure that I should impose that on other people. It’s fundamental to where I am personally, and I accept that I’m at odds not only with much of the country but also many people in my own party.”
“As an opposition and Government-in-waiting I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach”
Now she has found herself in the position of voting against 56 of her Labour colleagues supporting a ceasefire, and with the Labour Party leadership. She has published a statement on her website explaining why she voted the way she did. In it she says:
‘Over the past weeks I have received hundreds of emails from constituents about the horror unfolding in Gaza, and across Israel the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
‘I have listened to people locally during school visits, community events and meetings with religious leaders including with leaders from Hounslow’s mosques. From the many conversations I’ve had I know that everyone shares my abhorrence at the violence that we have seen over the recent weeks.
‘Having spent a lot of time reflecting on the situation since October 7, met many colleagues and those involved, including the Palestinian representative in the UK, I looked carefully at the tabled amendments to the Kings Speech and to the debate on the amendments.
‘On Wednesday 15 November I voted for Amendment R to the King’s Speech as it most closely reflected my views and my thinking, and how best I believe we should approach the horrific conflict that we have seen.’
‘Amendment R’ – Labour’s amendment to the King’s Speech – condemned the terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas and called for the return of the hostages; it called for Israel to follow international law, to protect hospitals and to lift the siege conditions to allow food, water, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, but it stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.
It also called for an end to the expansion of illegal settlements and settler violence in the occupied West Bank.
‘I know that a large number of constituents asked me to support another amendment which I did not oppose’, wrote Ruth. ‘As an opposition and Government-in-waiting I believe we have a duty to find a credible and sustainable approach which addresses these complex international issues.’
She finishes her message to constituents with this:
‘The events in Gaza and the ongoing attacks on civilians, the disproportionality of attacks, and the impact particularly on children, have been horrific to witness. I want to assure you that as your MP I will continue to campaign for the Government to do so much more on this issue.’
You can read the full message on her website here.
Labour Party Leader Sir Keir Starmer told Labour MPs to abstain in the SNP amendment vote and made it clear MPs holding a frontbench position would be sacked if they backed the ceasefire call. Andy Slaughter resigned from his position of shadow solicitor general because of it.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar