Sorting by


Gaza challenges Starmer’s iron grip

For two years, Sir Keir Starmer has been the undisputed master of the Labour Party. The discipline he has imposed on his MPs is a far cry from the anarchy on the Conservative benches.

That unity, which has silenced the left of the party, is fraying thanks to the Leader of the Opposition’s position on Israel.

Sir Keir chose to join Rishi Sunak in full-throated support for Israel after Hamas launched its 7 October attack, and has held back from criticising Benjamin Netanyahu’s government even as some observers, including the head of the UN, accuse it of breaking international law.

He has also avoided calling for a ceasefire – coming into conflict with dozens of MPs, hundreds of councillors and thousands of Labour activists who want Israel to stop its bombardment of Gaza.

The tipping point seems to have been an interview a fortnight ago in which Sir Keir appeared to back Israel’s right to withhold food, energy and water from Gaza – a position he now disavows.

There are few topics more emotive than the decades-long Israel-Palestine dispute. Sir Keir knows he has blundered with his indelicate approach.

A close ally of the leader acknowledged that a reset was needed, telling me: “There has been a recalibration of the language that we’re using.”

On Wednesday, Sir Keir met a delegation of Muslim MPs who feel particularly strongly and issued a carefully worded statement reiterating his support for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

His control over Labour has been impressive; but there will be more political tests like this one, and he must do better to meet them.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button