Known for decades as ‘history’s ear’, Hansard has been the official report of Parliamentary proceedings since 1909.
This cornerstone of our democracy is crucial for holding MPs to account, but lately Hansard reporters have been omitting gaffes and blunders made by Labour MPs, particularly in relation to Israel and Gaza.
For example, David Lammy — Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary — referred in the Commons to ‘the bombing of the al-Ahli mosque in Gaza’.
His words were met by a chorus of groans from his parliamentary colleagues, for the missile he was referring to did not hit a mosque, but a hospital run by the Anglican Church.
Not content with one egregious error, Lammy blundered again, only for a number of MPs to loudly correct him, crying: ‘Hospital!’
But you would never know this from Hansard’s transcript of his speech, which refers both times to the hospital rather than — as Lammy did — a mosque. The official report also ignores the interjections from horrified MPs.
Then there is Florence Eshalomi, Labour’s Cabinet Office spokeswoman, who called in the Commons ‘for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire’, which is not Labour’s party line — though an increasing number of Labour frontbenchers think it should be.
Curiously, the official transcript was edited to say ‘immediate humanitarian corridor’, which is in line with Starmer’s policy.
Eshalomi has subsequently broken ranks and is calling for a ceasefire.
When did it become Hansard’s job to put words in the mouths of MPs or spare Labour’s blushes?