Support by Scottish Labour comes as the SNP bring motion for ceasefire back to Parliament

At its conference at the weekend the Scottish Labour Party (SLP) backed a motion that supports an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the region of now annexed Palestine which has seen over 135 days of conflict since 7th October. This is a clear challenge to UK Labour who have, to date, refused to back such a call.

The decision made at the Scottish Labour Party Conference on Saturday morning was followed by a lunchtime march attended by thousands on the streets of Glasgow in protest at the Israeli invasion and occupation of Gaza. 

Scottish Labour, led by Anas Sarwar – who has been publicly calling for a ceasefire since the conflict began – has placed a motion in support of an SNP motion in the House of Commons where, currently, the SLP has two MPs. Speaking on the motion, Sarwar has said that “We all want the same thing, Stephen Flynn (SNP Leader) and I both want an immediate ceasefire, both the UK party and the Scottish party want one as well.”

Sarwar also stated that he believed that he and Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, “ultimately have the same position” on Gaza, in that they want “the fighting to stop” and for a “sustainable ceasefire” to happen. Starmer, speaking at the Conference in Scotland, seemed to back the SLP Leader’s statement by making a speech in which he wanted an end to the fighting, “A ceasefire that lasts. This is what must happen now. The fighting must stop now.”

This, however, seems contrary to the actions taken in November when the SNP brought a previous motion in support of a ceasefire to Parliament, and to which the majority of the Labour Party, including Starmer, overwhelmingly abstained. Now, according to a report by the Guardian, it seems the Labour Leader is not fully in support of the motion as he seeks to re-word it. 

The motion, presented by SNP, is supported by Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, and is due to be debated on Wednesday (21st February). Yousaf issued a statement on the motion in which he criticised the leaders of both Labour and the Conservatives:

“For more than four months, the UK has followed the strategy of equivocation supported by Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer. The devastation shows it hasn’t worked. The time for equivocation is over.”

Interestingly, Scottish Labour’s XTwitter account made no mention of the ceasefire motion and appeared to be more interested in repeating Labour’s position on everything but the ongoing genocide.

The SNP, which is the third largest parliamentary party in Westminster with 43 MPs, together with support from the Scottish Labour MPs, also expect support from within the larger Labour Party, as happened last November when 56 rebellious Labour MPs voted in favour of a similar ceasefire motion. This is a staggering twenty-five per cent of the total 199 seats held by Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, showing the current leader of the ‘red ties’ has anything but the full backing of his own MPs over this issue. 

Alongside Scottish Labour, the SNP are also expected to receive backing from Plaid Cymru with three seats, and could expect support from the Liberal Democrats, who voted in favour of the November motion and are the fourth largest with fifteen seats. This still leaves a massive hill to climb for the UK to follow Wales and Scotland in supporting a ceasefire. Despite massive support at the UN for a ceasefire (153 states backed a call in November) only Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Catalonia have voted in favour at their national parliamentary level.

Whilst it is unlikely the motion will pass on the floor, it is important to recognise that Gaza remains a central and divisive matter in the House of Commons. However, it is worth noting that Gaza remains a central topic in British politics and could very well see the making or breaking of either major party’s leaders. 

We here, at Creating Socialism, will be encouraging our local MPs to vote in favour of this coming motion. If nothing else, we encourage you to do the same to show, as a minimum, that discourse surrounding Gaza is not a dead-end subject and the suffering of Gazans does not go unnoticed. 

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