Suspended UK Labour Politician Slams Starmer’s Gaza Stance

Four London councillors have been disciplined by their local party after calling for a ceasefire, Ruby Lott-Lavigna reports.

Keir Starmer, U.K. Labour leader, delivering a speech in Bristol on Jan. 4. (Keir Starmer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Ruby Lott-Lavigna
Open Democracy

A Labour politician suspended for backing a ceasefire in Gaza has labelled the party leadership’s stance on the conflict as “utterly shameful”.

Martin Abrams was one of four councillors in Lambeth, south London, suspended by the local Labour group on Monday night after voting for a motion put forward by the local Green Party.

It called for “an immediate ceasefire and the end to human rights atrocities in the Israel/Palestine conflict”.

Speaking to openDemocracy, Abrams hit out at Keir Starmer and the Labour leadership for its position on the conflict, which has seen over 50 Labour councillors resign since Oct. 7.

“It is truly a moment of great shame for the Labour Party for us to be in this place,” Abrams said. “I will continue speaking out for what I believe is right because there is a complete absence of that happening from Keir Starmer and the Labour Party leadership.”

Abrams said Starmer’s leadership on Gaza has been “utterly shameful”, adding: “It has been from the very beginning.”

Martin Abrams’ Feb. 27, 2024 statement on Twitter/X.

He referenced an interview on LBC radio in which Starmer, the U.K.’s former top prosecutor, appeared to sanction collective punishment of the Palestinian people by Israel — which is illegal under international law. Starmer has since denied this is what he meant.

Last week, chaos ensued in Parliament as Labour refused to back an SNP-tabled motion on a ceasefire. Although Labour has now supported a ceasefire, the party has been criticised for doing so through its own parliamentary motion, which was less critical of Israel than the SNP’s original text.

Abrams, who is Jewish, said Lambeth Labour’s decision to suspend him had been “disproportionate” considering it was a vote on “calling an end to the slaughter of children”. But he said he would not resign from his position as a councillor and would continue “standing up for the oppressed people”.

End the Bloodshed

Abrams told openDemocracy that the crisis had taken a toll on councillors hoping to represent their ward.

“Many of us are very emotionally impacted by this because we’re solid members of our local communities. Some of us are Jewish, some of us are Muslim,” he said. “The vast majority of us are humanitarians and want to see an end to the bloodshed and the fighting.”

Lambeth Labour, which decided to suspend the four members following a disciplinary hearing on Monday, had said the motion risked “exacerbating the impacts of the deeply worrying rise in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crime across London witnessed in recent weeks.”

Sonia Winifred, another Labour councillor who voted for the motion, resigned as a councillor after being suspended. Winifred is a veteran Windrush campaigner, and said on Twitter/X the decision had left her with “no choice” but to resign.

Grassroots group Momentum said: 

“This is an outrageous attack on a Jewish Labour councillor for having the temerity to stand up for the people of Gaza. Martin is a principled socialist and internationalist – and it is shocking that he has been forced out for standing up for a position endorsed by the majority of voters. This anti-democratic decision should be immediately reversed.”

Lambeth is not the first local Labour party to suspended councillors for backing a ceasefire. Last week four councillors in the east London borough of Hackney were suspended after backing the Green Party’s motion to discuss a ceasefire.

Lambeth Labour was contacted for comment.

Ruby Lott-Lavigna is the political correspondent for openDemocracy specialising in housing and inequalities.

This article is from Open Democracy.

9 comments for “Suspended UK Labour Politician Slams Starmer’s Gaza Stance

  1. Vera Gottlieb
    March 1, 2024 at 10:26

    What kind of a stance is this? Pro death or pro life??? UK/US = same nefarious birds of the same feather.

  2. Valerie
    February 29, 2024 at 18:58




  3. Jeff Harrison
    February 29, 2024 at 18:17

    It’s clear that England is a faux democracy.

    • Robert Patterson
      February 29, 2024 at 20:07

      As is America home of the ignorant, and victim of, the lying corporate media owners who will never release their hold on the minds of the masses.

  4. Selina sweet
    February 29, 2024 at 17:48

    Good lord, what is the matter with these people? Punishing them for their right of free speech calling for a ceasefire? How ridiculous and downright stupid. Honestly, do you think their appeal for a proposal toward peace and safety promotes more anti-Semitic feelings than bibi’s giving nations urging a ceasefire the 3rd finger for such proposals and his psychopathic mad dog bully continuance of murdering all human life in Gaza? Targeting children and starving babies?Idiocy. Pure idiocy. And disgusting.

  5. Susan Siens
    February 29, 2024 at 17:25

    One cannot be surprised at this after what Labour did to Jeremy Corbyn. One thing you can be sure of today: If someone calls you a Nazi, they are the actual Nazi. If someone calls you a white supremacist, they are a white supremacist. And any party that caters to Israel is a fascist party.

  6. Maria. Rato
    February 29, 2024 at 16:07

    What a shame

  7. MRDMK
    February 29, 2024 at 16:04

    Keir Starmer represents leadership of the worse kind. He is in short a kiss up, kick down without any principles. Ever since Starmer came into the limelight, he has proven to do and say anything to stay in this position.

    With U.K.’s lengthy history of both good and bad rulers, why Starmer is able to remain is beyond me.

  8. Andrew Nichols
    February 29, 2024 at 13:46

    The British Labour Party died with Uber Starmbanfuehrer’s election.

Comments are closed.