Keir Starmer speaking at a Labour leadership hustings

The Labour Party is facing a full scale rebellion over its position on Israel’s siege and bombardment of Gaza, with more than a dozen of its councillors having resigned their party membership.

At the time of publishing, more than 20 councillors who were elected under the Labour banner have resigned from the party and become independents. The councillors have resigned at various points over the last week, with Keir Starmer’s comments about Israel’s siege on Gaza on LBC being an initial trigger.

Asked by Nick Ferrari whether he thought that the siege on Gaza – including the cutting off of power and water – was appropriate, Starmer said that Israel “does have that right”. In the interview he also said that Israel must act within international law, but failed to acknowledge that the siege on Gaza is illegal by virtue of constituting collective punishment.

Starmer has since claimed that he did not support the siege on Gaza and was merely saying that Israel has a right to defend itself.

Anger has also been caused by the Labour Party previously strongly encouraging its elected representatives not to attend demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Councils to have seen resignations include Cambridge, Gloucester, Haringey, Islington, Kensington, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham and Stroud.

Eight councillors in Oxford have left Labour, leaving the party without a majority for the first time in over a decade. Six of these resignations came at a meeting of Oxford and District and Labour Party on October 20.

In a speech announcing her resignation at the meeting, Oxford City Councillor Imogen Thomas said: “The Labour leadership, locally and nationally, has sought to actively silence members and representatives who have acted to highlight violations of international law, banning motions, as we’ve seen, from branches, strongly advising councillors against attending demonstrations.”

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Image credit: Rwendland – Creative Commons