Labour leader Keir Starmer is once again following the Tory Party’s lead. He’s joined PM Rishi Sunak in calling for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza. However, he appears to be increasingly at odds with his own party.
Over 250 Muslim Labour councilors have signed a public letter to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner demanding that the Labour Party back calls for a ceasefire. Meanwhile, amid the backlash, Labour’s share of the Muslim vote has plunged from 71% to just 5% – a 93% collapse.
‘Humanitarian pause’ in Gaza
Following calls from the UN and Rishi Sunak, Starmer has backed demands for what he called “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza. Like the Tory leader, he has failed to call for a full ceasefire. This has done little to inspire confidence in the floundering party leader, who previously faced condemnation for his statement that Israel “has the right” to cut off water and power from Gaza.
As of 26 October, some 37 Labour MPs have publicly backed calls for an Israeli ceasefire. Likewise, 19 Labour councillors have quit the party over its non-committal stance. The BBC has also reported that four shadow cabinet ministers were similarly “on resignation watch”.
The Labour Muslim Councillors Network (LMCN) released an open letter on 25 October providing greater detail on its position. It stated that:
Everyday we fail to call on the government and the international community to push for cessation of hostilities, Gazan children and hundreds of innocent men and women pay the price. As a party that bases it’s principles on fairness and justice, we can not sit idly by as Palestinian’s face collective punishment.
‘An end to the bloodshed’
The letter added that five UN agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), were backing calls for a ceasefire. It also pressed the fact that the aid which Israel had allowed through the Rafah crossing was a “drop in the ocean” compared to what was needed.
The LMCN further stated that:
As Labour councillors elected to serve our constituents, the message we have been hearing repeatedly over the past 2 weeks is simple, people just want an end to the bloodshed and the loss of innocent life. No nation, no people or community should
have to endure collective punishment and the same should be the case for the Palestinian people. We are also clear that hostages held captive must also be returned to their families safely.
This seems to be an accurate reflection of the feeling among Muslim voters in the UK. On 26 October, Muslim Census released a poll of 30,000 British Muslims. The results were stark, showing an almost complete collapse in support for Labour among its formerly-staunch supporters.
A collapse in faith
The snapshot survey was issued on 17 October. It showed a drop of 66 percentage points in potential Labour votes, from 71% of Muslim voters to just 5%. Meanwhile, the Conservative vote dropped from 9% to a mere 0.6%.
Muslim Census stated that:
The Muslim vote has the potential to swing several seats across the UK… It seems the possibility of the Muslim vote having a deciding impact is now likelier than ever before.
Both the scale and speed of response to the survey indicates an increasing political engagement of the British Muslim community. When compared to the shift away from the Labour party following the 2003 Iraq war, our survey suggests a greater change in public mood, indicating that this may be a watershed moment in British Muslim voting history.
Reflecting this collapse in public support, ex-Labour Councillor Shaista Aziz asked:
If Starmer can be so reckless with his words and lacking in principle as leader of the opposition, what is going to happen when – as is expected – he becomes prime minister at the next general election?
This rhetorical question is poignant and important for all of the voting public. Starmer was once a human rights barrister. He must know that Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians citizens in retaliation against Hamas’ attack is illegal under international law. So if the Labour leader won’t speak up now, who else can we expect him to quietly and callously disregard when the time comes?
. Featured image via Twitter/Misra Andrews
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