This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

What’s the worst clanger you’ve dropped at work?

Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t broadcast to the nation and on that basis it’s possible to feel a degree of sympathy for House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

It could hardly have escaped the attention of anyone but perhaps a quick recap is in order. The SNP, as the third-largest party at Westminster, are permitted three ‘opposition days’ in each session of parliament in which they can decide what will be debated on the floor, one of which was on Wednesday.

As they had done late last year, the party moved a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In November their motion was defeated but there was a significant Labour rebellion, with 56 of their MPs defying the whip to vote with the SNP. In order to try and avoid a similar scenario, Sir Keir Starmer’s party proposed an amendment, almost identical to the SNP’s, but without the language about “collective punishment” of the Palestinian people.

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The government then proposed an amendment of its own, which ordinarily would take precedence over Labour’s, likely to try and force a rebellion on the opposition benches when they had no motion of their own to vote for.

Mr Hoyle – allegedly under pressure from Starmer’s party – took the unusual step of allowing the Labour amendment to be moved before the SNP’s one, something his own advisors warned was highly unusual.

Clerk Tom Goldsmith wrote to the speaker: “Depending on the outcome… it is possible that the House will not be able to vote on the SNP motion”.

Lo and behold the Conservatives announced that they would pull their amendment and play no further part in proceedings, meaning the Labour amendment could pass without a vote and the SNP – on their opposition day – did not have their motion voted on.

Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was, understandably, furious, while Labour stands accused of threatening Mr Hoyle with replacement if, as expected, they win a huge majority at the next general election.

We’ll return to that, but on a purely human level it was hard not to feel some sympathy for the speaker as he was – almost literally – dragged back into the Commons to explain himself. His was the apology of someone who has majorly screwed up, knows it, and knows they have no-one but themselves to blame, a position all of us have probably been in at least once in our professional lives.

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His speech halting and almost seeming to be on the verge of tears at times, Mr Hoyle told the House: “I regret how it’s ended up. It was not my intention, I wanted all to ensure they could express their views and all sides of the house could vote… it’s clear today has not shown the House at its best.”

It was a full-on mea culpa and were it not for the politicking earlier in the day it would be fairly easy to argue that, ultimately, a ceasefire motion was passed and the speaker’s clanger didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Mr Starmer denies “categorically” having threatened Mr Hoyle, but Labour sources told various outlets that their whips had told the speaker he wouldn’t be backed to carry on after the election if their amendment wasn’t picked.

The Herald: Labour was accused of threatening Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with replacement following the general election which they have deniedLabour was accused of threatening Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with replacement following the general election which they have denied (Image: PA)
It’s possible to sympathise with making a mistake, it’s altogether harder to excuse bowing to pressure to save one’s own job, having been warned of the potential consequences. For his part Mr Hoyle says he selected the amendment because of threats made to MPs who refused to back the SNP motion in November.

Meanwhile, over a million displaced people in and around Rafah with nowhere else to flee await an Israeli ground offensive. The World Health Organisation has declared Gaza “a death zone”, with over half a million on the brink of starvation and close to 30,000 killed so far. It’s estimated 85% of the population has been internally displaced, with close to half of them children.

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The fact Westminster passing a ceasefire motion has been lost in bickering over arcane parliamentary precedent and will-he-won’t-he debates over Mr Hoyle’s position as speaker doesn’t reflect particularly well on anyone involved.