Campaigners marching behind a Momentum banner

Labour’s primary left wing faction Momentum has launched a new tool seeking to pressure Labour MPs to press for a ceasefire in Gaza. The tool has been sent to thousands of Labour members and supporters and analyses whether Labour MPs have committed to an immediate ceasefire and enables people to write to MPs who have not done so.

Momentum launched the tool on the day that left wing Labour MP Richard Burgon launched an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament which calls for an immediate ceasefire, a ‘cessation of hostilities’, and for humanitarian aid to be allowed into Gaza. The EDM has been signed by MPs from Labour, the SNP, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and others. Among the high profile signatories are the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Plaid Cymu’s parliamentary leader Liz Saville Roberts, and the Labour MPs John McDonnell, Clive Lewis and Zarah Sultana.

The Labour leader Keir Starmer has come under increasing pressure over the last week as a series of Labour councillors have quit the Party in protest at Starmer’s position on Gaza. In an interview on LBC, Starmer said Israel “does have that right” in response to a question on whether a blockade cutting off water and electricity was appropriate. He went on to say that Israel must act within international law, but failed to acknowledge that the siege on Gaza is illegal by virtue of constituting collective punishment, and has since claimed that he did not support the siege on Gaza and was instead merely saying that Israel has a right to defend itself.

Since that interview, Starmer has consistently resisted calls to support a ceasefire.

Speaking on Starmer’s position and the launch of the tool, a Momentum spokesperson said : “Israel’s war crimes have caused an intensifying humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, as recognised by the UN and WHO.

“The Conservative Government has effectively given a green light to Israeli war crimes. As an avowedly internationalist party, Labour must do better. Yet whilst we welcome Keir Starmer’s rolling back of previous, shameful support for denying Palestinian civilians access to food, water and power, the Labour Leadership has failed to oppose other war crimes and has stood by as indiscriminate Israeli bombing has taken the lives of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including more than a thousand children, while up to a million have been forcibly displaced. Even now, the Labour Leadership refuses to back a ceasefire.

“As Labour members and councillors across the country make known their deep discomfort with the Leadership’s stance, we call on every Labour MP: speak up now for an immediate ceasefire to end the bloodshed. Every minute counts.”

According to Momentum, around one in five Labour MPs have now supported the call for an immediate ceasefire. This rises to nearly half of all backbench Labour MPs.

Momentum has launched its tool as Keir Starmer is struggling to keep divisions over Palestine under control. More than 20 Labour councillors have already resigned their party membership, with more expected in the coming weeks.

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Image credit: FunkDooby – Creative Commons