“Of course, it was good that 56 Labour MPs voted for the SNP amendment for an immediate ceasefire – it should have been more.”Hugh Lanning
By Hugh Lanning, Labour & Palestine
John Healey MP informs us that “Labour is not a protest party” – after the leadership had whipped the PLP to vote against a Gaza ceasefire.
This was news to me. Labour was founded on protest. The party’s own website explains how it was created in 1900 “as a result of many years of struggle by working class people, trade unionists and socialists, united by the goal of working class voices being represented in the British Parliament”.
If the struggles of those fighting the Poor Laws or withholding their labour during the Taff Vale Railway strike – both key to the formation of our party – were not protests, I’m not sure what they were.
So how have we gone from there to the justification of the refusal of our current leader and likely next prime minister, Hardie’s namesake, to call for a ceasefire and to threaten to sack any frontbencher who voted for one?
Were he or any Labour MP who voted against a ceasefire this week be able to wake up with a clear conscious on a day when Gaza’s parliament was blown up and Israeli soldiers raided al-Shifa hospital.
Of course, it was good that 56 Labour MPs voted for the SNP amendment for an immediate ceasefire – it should have been more. The Labour leadership framed the SNP motion as “political games”. For the thousands of dead Palestinians, it is not a game and the SNP tabled it entirely genuinely, to try to stop the slaughter.
Over 10,000 Labour Party members from over 500 CLPs have, signed the Labour & Palestine petition calling on the Labour leadership to back an immediate ceasefire. This confirms the strength of opinion at the party’s grassroots and just how out of step with members, and public opinion, Keir Starmer’s position is.
Wednesday evening’s demonstration outside parliament, ahead of the House of Commons vote, was far bigger than the organisers predicted. Starmer is risking lasting damage to Labour support, ahead of the general election. He must now listen and urgently change course.
- Hugh Lanning is an officer of Labour and Palestine and also a former Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign and former Deputy General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union
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