Politics

Scottish Labour calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Scottish Labour has unanimously backed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with MSPs calling for “unequivocal” support and putting pressure on the rest of the party.

All delegates backed Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s calls for an immediate end to the Israel-Hamas war at the party conference in Glasgow.

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He said on X that he was “proud” the party had passed the motion, and told delegates during his speech at the conference that “the fighting must stop now”.

The unopposed Labour motion calls for an end to rocket fire in to and out of Gaza, the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas, the restoration of essential supplies and a pathway to peace.

It also condemned Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October and noted Israel’s right to protect its citizens, but said there was “no justification for the collective punishment of 2.2 million citizens in Gaza”.

The vote came as thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Glasgow to protest outside the conference.

Neil Bibby, the party’s constitution spokesman, said ahead of the vote: “It is simply heartbreaking that countless children in Gaza are currently dying, and there are heartbroken parents in Israel too.

“That is why we have a moral obligation to be unequivocal. There must be an end to the fighting now and a sustainable ceasefire. An end to the terror and end to the violence.”

Scottish Labour’s support for an immediate ceasefire puts the party at odds with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has been calling for a “sustainable ceasefire”.

Party delegate Nairn McDonald told the conference that Sir Keir must stop “equivocating”, before adding: “We demand that Scottish Labour MPs vote for a ceasefire in the Commons when they are given the opportunity.”

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The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also called for Scottish Labour’s two MPs to support their motion for a ceasefire in the House of Commons next week

“Questions must also be asked of Scotland’s two Labour MPs,” he said. “Will they follow their Scottish leader, or their leader in London? That decision will tell you exactly where Scottish Labour MPs’ loyalties truly lie.”

Pro-Palestine protestors gather outside the Scottish Labour conference. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Image:
Pro-Palestine protestors gathered outside the Scottish Labour conference. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

While Sir Keir also said that “the fighting must stop now” at the Munich Security Conference, his decision not to back a ceasefire in November sparked a rift in Labour.

Last November, 56 Labour MPs defied a three-line whip and voted for the SNP’s motion calling for a ceasefire. Ten shadow frontbenchers stood down over the row.

Mr Sarwar has however downplayed a rift between him and Sir Keir over calls for a ceasefire, telling BBC Radio Scotland: “I don’t think there’s as much distance in this as people now believe.

“Keir Starmer has said he wants the fighting to stop right now and for that to be a sustainable ceasefire. I think we ultimately have the same position.”

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