Amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer is facing a significant rebellion within his party. A growing number of MPs, including figures from both the backbenches and the grassroots, are openly dissenting against his pro-Israel stance. This rebellion threatens to fracture the unity that Sir Keir has been working to foster for the past three and a half years.
Recently, a parliamentary motion calling for an end to the bombing campaign against Hamas in Gaza has been signed by a significant number of Labour MPs. Notably, it has received support from senior figures on the Left of the party who previously served under Jeremy Corbyn, such as John McDonnell and Barry Gardiner. Even former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn himself, who now sits as an independent, has backed the motion.
While the motion outwardly addresses the government and calls for de-escalation and an end to hostilities, it is widely seen as a message to Sir Keir. The motion’s pointed reference to the need for “unfettered access to medical supplies, food, fuel, electricity, and water” is seen as a direct challenge to Sir Keir’s earlier defense of Israel, which included a suggestion that Israel had the right to cut off essential resources to Gaza.
Despite attempts by Sir Keir to clarify his position and distance himself from his previous remarks, the divisions within his party persist. Some MPs have warned him of a potential backlash among Muslim voters, expressing concern about the party’s relationships and electability. The party’s ruling body has also been shaken by internal conflicts over the party’s stance on Gaza, as evidenced by recent public exchanges on social media.
As Labour’s leader, Sir Keir took on the difficult task of uniting a deeply divided party after Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure. However, the issue of Gaza has once again exposed the fault lines within the party. With a growing number of councillors resigning in protest and a significant number of MPs in constituencies with Muslim voters expressing discontent, the challenge for Sir Keir is to address these divisions and maintain the unity he has been striving for.