Mayor of London’s Stance Exacerbates Labour’s Internal Fractures
London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has intensified the heat on Sir Keir Starmer, accusing the Labour leader of lacking decisiveness on the Israel-Gaza conflict. This development adds another layer of tension to the already tumultuous intra-party disagreements on Palestine.
In a striking video released on his Twitter account, Khan described the “terrible situation” in Gaza as one poised on the brink of escalation, warning of a “devastating loss of life.” He emphasised: “It’s becoming impossible for aid to reach the people who desperately need it. Substantial military escalation is now likely, which will only deepen the humanitarian disaster.” Khan voiced solidarity with “the international community in calling for a ceasefire”, an assertion which some critics argue lacks a unified consensus.
However, Khan didn’t steer clear of acknowledging Israel’s position, noting the nation’s “right to defend itself”. Still, he cautioned against actions that might “break international law”.
Such statements are mounting pressure on Starmer, who has been fending off calls from a substantial section of his party – almost one in four MPs – to rally behind a ceasefire. Notably, 49 MPs have explicitly shown support for this stance. This number also includes key figures from the party’s frontbench, sparking rumours of potential resignations over the escalating disagreement.
Starmer’s current position, rather than backing a full ceasefire, supports “humanitarian pauses”. These pauses aim to facilitate the provision of aid to Gaza, enable civilians to seek safety, and orchestrate the release of hostages taken by Hamas post their October 7 attack.
On the other hand, the overarching argument of the Labour Party is that a total ceasefire might inhibit Israel from taking action against Hamas, especially after the latter’s alleged attack that resulted in the death of around 1,400 Israeli citizens earlier in the month.
This internal turbulence within the Labour Party isn’t just confined to its MPs. Sir Keir has recently faced a barrage of about twenty-four councillor resignations due to his pro-Israeli stance, with additional resignations reported from Labour representatives in Scotland.
Although Labour’s headquarters might be yearning for a brief respite from this internal strife, the chances seem slim. Some MPs revealed they’ve been flooded with emails from constituents – over 1,000 for some – expressing their concerns about the conflict. This local pressure, they believe, will amplify as they spend time in their constituencies in the coming days.
In a collective effort, 150 councillors have put their names on a letter addressed to Sir Keir and Angela Rayner, urging the Labour Party to support a ceasefire.
However, Khan’s statements haven’t gone without critique. Some critics argue he should channel his focus on London’s internal challenges. Lord Austin, ex-Labour MP, tweeted critically about the Mayor’s stance, suggesting Khan’s attention might be better spent addressing youth violence in London rather than opining on global conflicts. Source