John Healey Concedes Starmer’s Position on Conflict Has Inflamed Internal Party Tensions
In a candid admission, Labour’s Defence Spokesman has voiced that Sir Keir Starmer’s refusal to endorse a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza has caused “hurt to many people,” spotlighting deepening rifts within the party over the conflict. This statement follows criticism from Labour’s Scottish Leader, Anas Sarwar, who chastised Sir Keir for a perceived lack of empathy on the contentious issue.
During a leaked discussion, Sarwar reportedly accused the Labour Leader of a deficit in “empathy” and “humanity,” as per the Daily Record. Sarwar highlighted the necessity for the party to mend relations with Muslim voters “every day” until the next General Election, attributing the strain to the party’s current stance on the conflict.
John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, confronted with Sarwar’s remarks, conceded that Sir Keir’s position has indeed caused anguish. Healey, echoing Sir Keir, acknowledged the public’s calls for a ceasefire and the universal desire for an end to the hostilities. However, Labour currently advocates for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict, facilitating aid deliveries into Gaza and safe evacuation from the region, while maintaining that a complete ceasefire might undermine Israel’s self-defence rights.
The party’s stance has precipitated significant internal discord, evidenced by a spate of councillor resignations, a barrage of letters from party members demanding policy revision, and looming concerns over potential MP resignations from Sir Keir’s front bench.
Amidst these tensions, Healey revealed a glimmer of hope, citing the Israeli Defence Force’s proposal for a four-hour cessation in hostilities to allow Gaza’s residents to relocate to safer areas.
In a recent development, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, fortified the party’s position on Israel, possibly in response to mounting internal pressure. Lambasting the “siege conditions” in Gaza as intolerable, Lammy condemned the distressing civilian and child fatalities, urging Israel to take further measures to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe.” While upholding the party’s reticence to support a ceasefire, Lammy insisted that “even wars have rules,” emphasizing the need to distinguish between the Palestinian populace and Hamas, and underscoring the imperative to protect Gaza’s children.
Currently, approximately one-sixth of MPs on Sir Keir’s frontbench have defied collective responsibility by advocating for a ceasefire, joined by roughly one-third of the broader contingent of Labour MPs. Story Source