Watford’s politicians have outlined their views on calls for a ceasefire in Gaza following Wednesday’s Commons vote.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) motion proposed that the UK government call for “an immediate ceasefire” from all sides but was defeated by 125 votes to 294.

Those opposing it consisted of 288 Conservative MPs – including Watford’s Dean Russell – four Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) representatives, and two independents.

Among those supporting it were 56 Labour MPs – despite the party’s leader Sir Keir Starmer ordering them to abstain – 38 SNPs, and 15 Liberal Democrats. Overall 222 MPs did not vote.

We asked Watford’s current MP and the area's prospective candidates to explain their views on the Israel-Hamas war:

Dean Russell MP

“I have actively listened to the views of residents, and I did not take my decision lightly. We have all seen the real human cost in Israel and Gaza. The loss of innocent lives in Israel on 7th October because of Hamas’s terror attack, and since then in Gaza as the war has unfolded, is absolutely heart-breaking to watch.

“Wanting a ceasefire, and even voting for one, does not make it happen. This would require all parties to agree to stop hostilities, including the safe release of hostages. I understand individuals want a ceasefire because they believe it will bring peace. However, the reality is far more challenging and complex. Simply voting for a motion in the UK Parliament or stating ‘I call for an immediate ceasefire’ is not going to achieve that goal.

“We all share the desire to see an urgent end to the conflict, and I support the government in believing the only way to do this is through painstaking diplomacy via a humanitarian pause, or series of pauses, and negotiating the release of hostages.

“I wholeheartedly support both Israeli and Palestinian’s right to live with dignity and security and I will continue to support the government in their commitment to a two state solution. In Watford, I continue to engage with leaders across our local community to listen to their concerns and understand how we can support all members across all faiths.”

Matt Turmaine (Labour)

"The events in Israel and Palestine are horrifying. Hamas’ attack on October 7th killed the highest number of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust, while the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is playing out on an unimaginable scale with thousands of Muslims killed.

"We need a full and immediate humanitarian pause in the fighting across the whole of Gaza to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians and for Hamas to release the hostages it holds. The full pause must start now to get sufficient food, water, electricity, medicine, and fuel into Gaza and address the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe. 

"Short pauses are a first step, but on their own won't make the impact needed to relieve this humanitarian crisis. The damage to water pipelines and other infrastructure to hospitals need to be rebuilt, and that requires a longer pause. The aid getting into Gaza is still completely insufficient. It is unacceptable that Israel has not lifted the siege conditions. 

"Israel has the right to self-defence and to degrade the capabilities of Hamas. But it must do so within international law. That means civilians, hospitals, schools, and refugee camps must be protected and cannot be targets. Palestinians must not be forced to leave their homes en masse, but where they have no choice, there must be guarantees they will be able to return quickly." He added that "we must move to full cessation of fighting as quickly as possible". 

Mr Turmaine was asked to clarify whether he would have voted in favour of calling for an immediate ceasefire if he were Watford’s MP at the time. He has not responded.

Ian Stotesbury (Liberal Democrat)

"The last few weeks have seen tragedy and horror engulf Israel and Gaza. We must not forget the brutal and medieval assaults by Hamas militants into Israel and the awful hostage taking and torture. Under no circumstances can Hamas be allowed to remain in power.

"We also cannot ignore the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and the impact on civilians – many of whom are children or people seeking care or refuge.

"Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrat amendment wasn’t selected for debate which called for a bi-lateral ceasefire and pressing for a move towards a political process to establish a two-state solution.

"Liberal Democrat members voted in favour of both Labour’s motion and SNP's motion, for humanitarian pauses and ceasefire respectively, to support all measures that protect civilians in Gaza and in Israel. We need the international community to secure a ceasefire, aid, and a lasting two state solution."