Keir Starmer faces demands to resign from Muslim Labour supporters over ‘horrifying comments’ in support of ‘Israeli war crimes’ in Gaza

The Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, faces the prospect of mass resignations and calls for his sacking over the stance he has publicly adopted in relation to ‘Israel’s war crimes in Gaza’.

On a midweek broadcast on LBC radio, Keir Starmer declared his unstinting support for ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ and effectively sanctioned actions which to many of the party’s Muslim supporters, should be regarded as war crimes. The LBC presenter, Nick Ferrari, asked him:


‘A siege is appropriate? Cutting off Power? Cutting off water?”


The Labour Party leader replied:


‘I think that Israel does have that right’

A tweet from Keir Starmer after Gaza hospital bombing receives a torrent of negative responses

Days later, following the devastating bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi hospital which killed 500 Palestinians in Gaza, Starmer tweeted:

 ‘The scenes of hundreds killed at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist hospital are absolutely devastating and cannot be justified. International law must be upheld. Hospitals and civilian lives must be protected’

The tweet was greeted by a torrent of outraged responses, with over 12,000 posts appearing within minutes referring to Starmer as a ‘Hypocrite’ who should ‘Resign’ and accusing him of shedding ‘crocodile tears’ and of ‘encouraging’ and ‘promoting’ it. Some of the responses bluntly claimed that both he and the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak had ‘blood on your hands’ and are ‘equally responsible’. One comment went as far as to suggest:

 ‘You are a genocide and war crimes enabler. Without doubt you should be dragged to the international criminal courts and tried like a criminal.’

 Many of the tweets were re-tweeted hundreds of thousands of times, with the number of opposing comments reaching 6.6 million within hours.

Mass resignations among Muslim councillors

Seven Muslim Labour councillors in the Labour dominated council of Leicester, threatened to resign, which would end Labour’s control of the council for the first time in 16 years. The Muslim councillors published a letter urging Starmer to apologise. Informed party insiders have suggested that the feeling of disquiet  amongst Muslim party officials and members is widespread and that as many as 500 Muslim Labour Party councilors, could potentially follow the path of the Leicester group. Councillors in Walsall, 50 miles north of Leicester, had last week also signed a letter expressing their disquiet at the:

‘Leader of the Labour Party’s failure to reject Israel’s collective punishment of civilians in Gaza’

Disquiet and anger in the Muslim community could see the Labour Party lose key seats in the General Election

An article published in the Daily Telegraph highlighted the possible implication of a Muslim rebellion in the Labour party, as it pointed out that:

‘There are 31 constituencies held by Labour MPs with predominantly Muslim communities, of which 17 are represented by frontbenchers. MPs who could be under threat at the next election include Angela Raynor, the deputy leader and Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary. Shabana Mahmood, Lucy Powell, Liz Kendall and Jonathan Ashworth, all members of the shadow cabinet, also represent such seats’

A spate of resignations across councils this week threatens to escalate into an exodus. Oxford City Council saw two of its councilors quit citing Starmer’s ‘horrifying rhetoric’.  Amna Abdullatif, a councillor in the Ardwick district of Manchester, quit this week stating that she:

‘had no choice other than to resign the Labour whip and resign from the Labour party due to Keir Starmer and a number of his senior frontbench making horrifying comments about Israel having the right to withhold fuel, water, food and electricity from the 2.2 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza, effectively endorsing a war crime’

Open letter objecting to Starmer’s statement signed by thousands of Muslim community leaders

The anger amongst Muslim Labour Party representatives and officials is echoed in the wider community as was evidenced by an open letter to Sir Keir Starmer which raised serious objections to his statement made on the evening of 14th October in which:

‘…Starmer defended Israel’s move to deny water, electricity and humanitarian aid to the besieged residents of Gaza, has exacerbated these concerns, seemingly disregarding the real and grave possibility of ethnic cleansing in Gaza’

The letter which was crafted by the Labour Muslim Network – ‘the voice of British Muslims in the UK Labour Party’  was signed by thousands of UK Muslim community leaders, Labour Party Councillors, Imams, medical practitioners, senior lawyers including at least one KC and other professionals and threatened to challenge his position as leader of the party and/or to  withdraw support for the Labour party in the General Election. It read:

‘If these concerns are not adequately addressed, your position as the Leader of the Labour Party will become untenable for the Muslim community. We are deeply saddened to convey that, in such circumstances, Muslims will not vote for the Labour Party in the next General Election should you remain Leader’

The Labour leader will no doubt be reflecting on the damage that his publicly stated position on the Israeli operation in Gaza, could do to his electoral chances in the next General election, given that Muslims account for more than 5% of the UK population and historically according to polls, 86% of Muslims have voted to support labour in elections.


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