Too busy to blog during the days at the moment, and too tired now... But quick update on Gaza.
Very good statement from David Miliband in the Chamber on Monday. Loads of MPs tried to get in, but the Speaker cut the debate off after an hour. Very clear message from the Foreign Secretary, repeating calls for an immediate ceasefire and endorsement of the EU position that Israel's response was 'disproportionate'. Spoke to several Labour MPs who have been at the forefront of campaigning for the Palestinian cause over the years, and general feeling is that David is doing sterling work on this.
Gaza also came up at the PLP meeting, with Gordon saying that we're focusing on two objectives (obviously apart from the immediate task of securing a ceasefire): to get the crossings re-opened, and to end arms-smuggling through the tunnels.
Not long after that I received an urgent email from a constituent about the rumoured threat to the Free Gaza ship, asking me to call David Miliband. As it happened, I picked up the email on my new gadget-thingy whilst in a briefing on Gaza for Labour MPs with Bill Rammell, the FCO Minister for the Middle East, so took it up with him on our way down to vote. Followed up with him today, and it turned out the ship had mechanical problems and had had to turn back anyway - but good on him, he'd gone away after I'd spoken to him and made sure he knew what was going on.
David M wasn't at FCO questions today, as he's on a visit to India, so Bill fielded all the questions on Gaza. And then he appeared again this evening at the launch of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, which has been several months in planning but obviously has added relevance in today's situation. Absolutely packed suite in Portcullis House, including loads of Labour MPs - at a rough guess I'd say about 50, which was pretty good going seeing as business in the Chamber finished very early today. Speakers included Jocelyn Hurndall, the mother of Tom, a peace activist who was killed by an IDF soldier; he died five years ago today, and she gave a very moving speech, linking how she felt as a mother when she heard the news of his death with the deaths of so many children in Gaza.
Gaza will obviously come up again at PMQs tomorrow - I expect Cameron to split his questions between Gaza and the economy. If he doesn't go on Gaza, there's a pretty good chance Nick Clegg will. I've got question 9 but not sure they'll get to me - lots of Labour people above me, which means the Speaker will have to select additional opposition MPs, and with Cameron (six Qs) and Clegg (2 Qs) coming in too, question 9 is actually more like question 20.
Final bit of news - it was announced at the close of business today that we're breaking with tradition and Thursday's topical debate will last the whole day instead of the usual 90 minutes - so that means about five or six hours debating Gaza, which is what MPs have been calling for. The Foreign Sec will still be away, so Bill will be holding the fort again.