IN this space in recent days, we’ve been critical of the chaos surrounded the self-proclaimed government of change that has drifted in a prime minister from 13 years ago to bolster it as it drifts 20 points behind in the polls, but what are we to make of the massive rebellion by Labour MPs against their leader on Wednesday evening?

Of the 198 Labour MPs, 56 chose to ignore Keir Starmer’s advice and voted with the SNP in demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. They included Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy, who are two of the party’s most able communicators, and 10 junior members of Mr Starmer’s shadow government were forced to resign, including the City of Durham’s Mary Kelly Foy, who will not have relinquished lightly her first step up the political ladder.

We’d wager that those rebels are closer to public opinion than either Mr Starmer or Rishi Sunak.

It is true that a ceasefire at this moment would not work as Hamas, for one, would not respect it and would probably use it as cover for further terrorist attacks. But it is also true that this vote was not going to work, either – Benjamin Netanyahu, for instance, was hardly going to take notice of it and shut down his weapons.

So why did Mr Starmer put so much store by it? After all, if Israel’s bombardment continues for another fortnight or so, the whole world will be, like the French government, calling for a ceasefire.

Mr Starmer is probably relieved he has not embarrassingly lost any frontbenchers in this episode, and he would be right to say that in the great scheme of things, it would be much more concerning if there were such divisions within the party over cost-of-living policy.

But the man who will probably be our next prime minister is out of step with the public and has not managed his own party very well in this instance.