A Chorus of Labour MPs Demand Keir Starmer To Clear His Stance On Israel as 23 Councillors Resig

Published: 23 October 2023

By Shofi Ahmed


The Labour party’s crisis is deepening over its leader, Sir Keir Starmer’s, contentious position on the Israel-Gaza conflict. The aftermath has seen a wave of resignations, with 23 councillors taking an unequivocal stand against Starmer’s stance, and a growing chorus of MPs vociferously calling for clarity on his position.

Central to the controversy is an LBC interview in which Keir Starmer seemingly suggested that Israel possesses the right to sever power and water supplies to Gaza. Although he later sought to retract his statement, asserting that he meant Israel should only defend itself within the bounds of international law, the fallout has been dramatic and unsettling.


A parliamentary source reveals that prominent MPs, including those on the Labour frontbench, raised concerns about the interview’s implications. Muslim MPs, in particular, expressed anger and disappointment with the leadership’s handling of the matter. This discontent has reverberated throughout the party, leading to an alarming spate of council resignations and a rapid erosion of traditional support.


Even former MP Lynne Jones, who represented Birmingham Selly Oak for eighteen years, left the party, citing Starmar’s endorsement of what she deemed to be war crimes committed by the Israeli government. She denounced the leader’s condoning of collective punishment, emphasising that it flagrantly violates international law.


As discontent grows, Keir Starmer has met with councillors in an attempt to assuage concerns and articulate the party’s position. Nevertheless, criticism persists, with insiders suggesting that these efforts may come too late to quell the turmoil.


Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy has expressed a deep understanding and resonance with the extraordinary pain experienced by the Muslim community in light of recent events. She acknowledges that individuals within this community have heard Keir Starmer’s words and have become increasingly concerned. However, it is clear that understanding alone is insufficient to address the current situation. The Muslim community, along with other voices, is expecting tangible action from the Labour party.


There is a growing demand for the party to shift its position from unilaterally supporting one side to embracing a more balanced approach that acknowledges the plight of Palestinians as well. Particularly, there is an urgent call to recognize the millions of Palestinians who have long been the true victims of this conflict. They are seeking genuine support and solidarity from the Labour party.


The crucial question that remains unanswered is whether the Labour party is prepared to take meaningful steps and demonstrate a commitment to justice by addressing the concerns and aspirations of the Muslim community and others. While empathy is crucial, it is ultimately action that will signify the party’s true commitment. The decisions made by the Labour party in the days ahead will serve as a significant test, indicating whether they truly stand for the rights and interests of all parties involved.