I very much regret that some local people are dissatisfied with the Government’s position on Gaza. While we may disagree on the policy, I have made many representations to Ministers – including the Prime Minister and his team – to ensure that constituents’ views are understood. I am certain we all want a lasting peace.

While I am accustomed to heavy criticism and trolling on any issue, I think it is time to address some misconceptions about my position which are illustrated by this recent comment on a Facebook post:

“Steve Baker if putting your opinion before ours isn’t betrayal then what is? You voted against a ceasefire even though majority of your constituency wanted the opposite. How can you expect people to vote for you when you have no empathy towards innocent people being killed?”


The social consequences for our community of letting these misconceptions go unanswered are likely to be profound apart from any consideration of party politics. That is why exceptionally I am responding to this comment in detail.

First, the claim that I “have no empathy towards innocent people being killed” is entirely wrong and deeply offensive. It is not worthy of further reply.

Second, the vast majority of electors in Wycombe have expressed no view on the conflict in Gaza. For that reason, among others, as your representative I owe you, not my obedience, not only my industry, but my judgment; I would betray, instead of serving you, if I sacrificed that judgement under pressure.

This has never been a popular approach – just about everyone wishes their representative to take instruction – but it is the right one. The alternative is chaos as representatives tack about, bowing to one pressure then another.

“The Seven Principles of Public Life” may be found here:


It is because I insist on these principles that I will continue to think through for myself what is right in all the circumstances and then do it: providing leadership is an inherent part of the role, whether people approve of it or not, and then we are judged for our work at elections.

People reading this may disagree. I have long realised that we as human beings are not quick to ask, “Might I be wrong? Might the other person have a point in good faith, based on additional evidence and reasons? Given this is a trade-off, perhaps they have good reasons for different emphasis?” Instead, people prefer to think those they disagree with are stupid, wicked, lazy, corrupt or some combination.

That is one of the torments of being an MP but there is no point complaining about it. We ought to remember that good and moral people can disagree on even the most serious of issues.

Over the years, I have repeatedly demonstrated my willingness to defend every section of our diverse community and to represent foreign policy interests even when it came at some cost. I voted to recognise Palestine. I voted with a good heart to stop overseas military action which I thought wrong.

And for reasons I have given, I declined to support a flawed and ineffective ceasefire motion tabled to make political trouble, which it most certainly has done.

I agree with Lord Cameron’s words when he stated:

“We know from our engagement in the region and debate in our own countries that this feeling is widespread. Only extremists like Hamas want us stuck in an endless cycle of violence, sacrificing more innocent lives for their fanatical ideology. But our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today. It must be peace lasting for days, years, generations. We therefore support a ceasefire, but only if it is sustainable.”

I support the Government in pressing for a sustainable ceasefire and using our international pressure to push Israel to protect civilians. The ceasefire motion put to Parliament would not have resulted in any kind of sustainable peace. It had no plan for how a ceasefire would be implemented or how peace would be maintained; unfortunately, it was simply an opposition party using the awful conflict and terrible suffering in Gaza to try to score political points over the Labour Party and the Government. Our efforts to help the innocent civilians trapped in Gaza are best spent united in pushing for more aid into Gaza and a long-term sustainable ceasefire.

While I will continue to represent the deeply and passionately held opinions of local people to ministerial colleagues, including the Prime Minister, I will not bow to pressure and do what I believe to be wrong. That would be to surrender my purpose in being a representative.

I understand people’s passions. I too am appalled not only by the suffering of the innocent in Gaza and Israel but by the treatment of people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We need lasting change for permanent peace. The route to it is not futile gestures in the Commons and I will not surrender to that temptation under any circumstances. It is wrong for political parties to play politics on such a serious issue. Similarly though, it is wrong for the public to use this issue as a reason to harass and intimidate MPs.

I would ask people of good faith in Wycombe to bear this in mind in the course of future public debate, whether online or on the streets.

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