York Central MP Calls for Ceasefire

York Vision talks to York MP Rachael Maskell about her reasons for supporting a ceasefire in Gaza

(Image: Rachael Maskell)

Following the House of Commons vote on the 15th of November calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, York Vision interviewed the Labour and Co-operative MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell.
What are your reasons for supporting the ceasefire?
Obviously, at this time our hearts go out to Israelis and Palestinians in the way that they are having to all deal with this horrendous grief and the loss regarding the casualties and the uncertainty, not least over the hostages and as a result of that; that’s why I want a ceasefire.
I mean, (aid providers) haven’t got the ability to take fuel into the country.
The infrastructure, the roads… you can’t just drive up to your destination. It is impossible to pass so it’s going to take time to make places safe and secure and indeed to bring casualties into a place where they can get the help and support that they need. Not to mention obviously heading into winter the need of food, need of water, need of wider aid.
Can you think of any kind of motivations or reasons that [MPs] might be abstaining?
Ultimately, I think on such issues of moral magnitude and of the ethics you bring I think you have got to do the right thing and I think you have got to vote with your conscience on these issues no matter what whips are trying to persuade you to do. And I was very upfront with my whips right from the beginning to say that I would be voting for a ceasefire.
The civilians in the land are calling for a ceasefire on the whole, you know we’ve got world leaders, 120 countries have called for a ceasefire, you’ve got the Pope and the Archbishop calling for a ceasefire. You know, this is a kind of universal principle.

Are there other suggestions that you think will push the process along?
Seeing so powerfully at [a vigil at] the Minster the Jewish community, the Muslim community and indeed the Christian community, and we must not forget that the Palestinian Christians are very much caught up in this as well, standing side by side…, how powerful is it to say as a city we can stand as one, so I think this is really important [for] how we talk about that future as we go forward.
Do you think there is a good amount of awareness in York or do you think it could be improved?
I think education is really, really important. 15,000 people turn up at the Minster and so that’s a really good sign of mobilisation. I think residents are very aware, I’ve been stopped so many times in the street because people want to talk about it more than most issues.
If we all stand in that place and call for peace it’s more likely to happen.

But, of course, education is so important and being able to put forward good sources of information is really crucial. I’ve been spending a lot of time with different communities across York, listening to people’s perspectives and often they are very similar but nuanced and it is so important that I hear that as well as what I’m kind of hearing down here, going to government briefings every single opportunity because I think it’s really important just to listen. Often we can do more by listening than actually speaking, and that’s a really important juncture as a politician.

As ceasefire pauses begin, [do you think these can] … actually make some change for the future?
Everytime somebody talks [about what is happening] it helps. So I’ll say to all the students; just look around you, you all have platforms in order to change the world and you may feel small – we all do. But use those platforms to their maximum to make the difference you can make.

Interview conducted on the 23rd of November 2023.