Starmer Rebellion Exposes Labour Divisions on Gaza
A faction of Labour MPs rebelled against party leader Sir Keir Starmer by voting for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, resulting in resignations from his frontbench.
The rebellion came after the vote on an SNP amendment to a government motion on its plans for the year ahead, presented at the King’s Speech last week. It called for an end to the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” and urged “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.
It was defeated by 125 votes to 294, with the 56 Labour rebels joining other opposition parties to demand a ceasefire.
Now eight shadow ministers have quit or face the sack from Starmer’s frontbench over Labour’s opposition on a Gaza ceasefire.
This sizable rebellion against Keir Starmer’s stance on Gaza has exposed deep rifts within Labour. Nearly 56 MPs defied the leader’s orders by voting for an immediate ceasefire, including frontbenchers Jess Phillips, Afzal Khan and Yasmin Qureshi.
Phillips, who said in a statement: “On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart … I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future.”
Starmer argued ceasefires would “freeze the conflict and embolden Hamas,” who launched major attacks on Israel. He backed limited “humanitarian pauses” instead. which do little to address the root causes of the conflict. This position is nothing but a political maneuver, designed to appease certain factions without offering any real solutions or prospects for a resolution. It’s political slithery with no real meaning or prospect.
Starmer’s position drew outrage after he seemed to endorse Israel’s tactics of cutting off Gaza’s water and electricity, saying Israel had such rights. Though Starmer later claimed he meant within international law, the damage was done.
The UN pleads for humanitarian access to relieve #Gaza's agony. But Labour's leader ignores this cry, fixating on Hamas rockets as the source of conflict. His rhetoric perpetuates a medieval siege mentality that prolongs suffering, rather than uniting moderates for peace. pic.twitter.com/uMBQyDlGTr— Labour Heartlands (@Labourheartland) October 11, 2023
Recently almost 50 Labour councillors quit the party, with over 330 urging a policy change. As one stated: “You are either on the side of humanity or you are not.”
However, starmer once again has turned tin eared. While condemning Hamas attacks, many feel Starmer has not criticized Israel’s actions strongly enough. His calls for “pauses” rather than ceasefires echo the UK government’s line, angering Labour members.
The defiance of his orders indicates growing discontent with Starmer’s leadership. His bid to appease Israel has backfired among sections of Labour’s base.
The Gaza rebellion may have damaging local election results for Labour, with voters disillusioned by policy flip-flops and factional infighting. Starmer’s is, however, still leading in the polls. A result of Tory incompetence and mismanagement, some wonder how fast the downward slide in British politics and where it will end.
However, for some, Gaza’s plight transcends politics. But Starmer hesitates to condemn Israel outright, his position as a Zionist a conflict of interest.
The ceasefire revolt highlights these widening rifts. While seeking to rebuild trust, Starmer must bridge deeply divided perspectives within his party on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His authority is damaged, but finding common ground remains critical to Labour’s future.
In a statement, Starmer said Israel suffered its “worst terrorist attack in a single day” from Hamas, which no government could leave unanswered. But he added the crisis in Gaza was also devastating.
“I regret colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight,” Starmer said. “But I wanted to be clear where I stood.”
Another shadow minister, Imran Hussain, quit his position last week in order to campaign for an immediate ceasefire it seems Starmer is growing increasingly out of touch with the majority of his membership.
The United Nations has called for a ceasefire as over 11,000 people in Gaza have been killed since Israel’s bombardment began, after the 7 October attacks by Hamas.
Most people want an urgent ceasefire to stop the bloodshed. But Starmer aligned Labour with the government’s stance, unwilling to strongly condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The ceasefire rebellion indicates growing discontent with Starmer’s leadership as he struggles to unite the party’s factions.