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‘It’s time Keir Starmer showed some humanity’

Labour leader told to back Gaza ceasefire in Wednesday's Commons vote

PEACE and labour movements across Britain have told Sir Keir Starmer to back a Gaza ceasefire in Wednesday’s Commons vote.

The Labour leader faces a further challenge to his endorsement of Israel’s onslaught on the Palestinians when MPs vote on an amendment demanding an immediate ceasefire.

Thousands of peace protesters are also set to rally outside the Commons Wednesday to ensure that MPs get the message that British support for the Gaza attack must end now.

More than 100 MPs of all parties have signed a cross-party letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling on him to “support a ceasefire, end the horrendous levels of killing of civilians and find a political path to lasting peace for the region.”

Sir Keir risks losing up to 18 members of his front-bench team, who are already on record as supporting a ceasefire, while the Labour leader calls for no more than “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict.

Labour whips were understood to be frantically scrambling to minimise the rebellion last night by trying to find parliamentary diversions to head off or dilute a straight vote on a ceasefire.

Failing that, Labour MPs will be ordered to abstain on the ceasefire amendment, which has been tabled by the SNP.

Stop the War convener Lindsey German said: “We’re demanding that all parliamentarians support a ceasefire and that all MPs, including the Labour leadership, vote for one this evening.

“We also call on MPs to join our rally outside Parliament before the vote. It’s a disgrace that Keir Starmer has told his MPs not to support the motion — every single one of them should defy him.”

Additional pressure was piled on Sir Keir by the formation today of new group Labour for a Ceasefire Now, initiated by party national executive member Mish Rahman.

Mr Rahman said: “The scenes we are seeing in Gaza right now are absolutely heartbreaking — and indefensible.

“It is not a viable position for us to back the Conservative government and oppose a ceasefire when the World Health Organisation is warning of Gaza’s hospitals being turned into cemeteries.

“With more than 10,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, among them several thousand children, Labour should be leading the charge for a ceasefire.”

Fellow NEC member Jess Barnard backed the call, saying “it’s time Keir Starmer showed some humanity.”

And in an appeal in Tribune magazine, former Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard urged Labour MPs to “put themselves on the right side of history and vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

Eighty Labour MPs, metro mayors in London and Manchester, the leader of Scottish Labour and more than 340 local councillors have already backed the drive to halt the suffering in Gaza immediately. 

Left MP Zarah Sultana has also tabled a ceasefire amendment, although it may not be voted on.

Sir Keir has in recent weeks tried to manoeuvre towards a more humanitarian position after his initial full-throated backing for Israeli war crimes, but the damage within the party has been done.

Stop the War published an article today by its president, the eminent musician Brian Eno, asking: “What moral universe do we inhabit when our government supports a state that drops 20,000 tons of bombs to demolish hospitals, mosques, schools, power plants, roads, and aid convoys and renders uninhabitable 50,000 civilian buildings?”

The Commons vote on the SNP’s ceasefire amendment has put Scottish Labour’s two MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, under enormous pressure.

They are faced with backing Sir Keir’s urging for “pauses” and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s call for an outright ceasefire in Gaza.

Labour’s Westminster whips who have reportedly claimed that a vote for the SNP amendment would “undermine Scottish Labour” have been roundly criticised by party members north of the border.

Scottish Labour MSP Carol Mochan told the Star: “This is a clear issue of morality. 

“Do we end suffering and save lives, or do we turn away from that responsibility? 

“As a Labour Party committed to socialism I would hope the answer is obvious.

“I implore all Labour colleagues to do the right thing and vote for a ceasefire so aid can be brought in and hostages released.

“The time is now to vote for common sense. 

“We cannot stand by as more children are slaughtered and hospitals are left in ruins.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal said: “We urge all MPs to examine their consciences. This is a basic moral test.

“Can they accept the killings of thousands of civilians, including 4500 children, and can they condone the continuation of war crimes? Because that is what not voting for a ceasefire in the House of Commons will mean.

“We’ve had an unprecedented response to our action urging supporters to write their MP and demand a ceasefire – more than 40, 000 in 24 hours.

“With opinion polls showing a large majority of the British public in favour of a ceasefire, no MP should fail to act in accordance with what the public demand and what is morally correct in response to the carnage in Gaza.”

The rally for Palestine, called by the six campaigns which have organised the mass rallies in London and across the country, starts outside the Commons on Wednesday at 5pm.


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