Keir Starmer attempted to present the Labour party as united in its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, emphasizing that both sides are calling for a ceasefire and humanitarian breaks from fighting.
The leader of the Labour party tried to redirect focus onto the Conservatives by giving a speech at the North East Chamber of Commerce in County Durham on Friday. In his address, he condemned the king’s speech as “a statement of intentions for the 14th year of Tory disappointment and the beginning of campaigning for the next general election.”
However, attention quickly shifted to the ongoing scrutiny he faces from his fellow party members. Several prominent Labour MPs believe that Starmer’s recent statements on the conflict in the Middle East are not sufficient in uniting the parliamentary Labour party, considering the significant frustration among the party’s base.
The leader of the Labour party was criticized by his colleagues for lacking “empathy” and “humanity” in his previous statements about the conflict.
Starmer stated that he was not surprised by individuals seeking any possible solution to improve the terrible situation. He also emphasized that this should not be interpreted as a major divide.
The leader of the Labour party expressed that it is a natural human feeling to be emotionally affected by the sight of children dying. As a parent of two children, they understand how deeply this can affect a person.
Prominent members of the Labour party attempted to downplay the notion of long-lasting divides within the group. They stated that differences in opinion regarding the party’s position on Israel and Gaza are not exclusive to Labour, as other organizations such as universities are also facing similar pressure.
Starmer reiterated his stance that he will not dismiss any members of the frontbench who have strayed from the party’s stance on humanitarian corridors and have advocated for a ceasefire.
Instead, the leader of the Labour party seems to prioritize showcasing his control over the party by concentrating on finding practical solutions to improve the current situation. He believes that this involves maintaining a close relationship with US President Joe Biden and leaders in the Middle East, allowing them to collaborate and present a united front.
During his speech in County Durham, Starmer emphasized multiple times that he was not concerned with the specific roles of individuals within the party.
In response to inquiries from reporters, Starmer stated: “I comprehend the strong emotions surrounding this issue, not just within the Labour party but also across all political parties and throughout the country. Every day, we witness the terrible suffering occurring in Israel and Gaza.”
“I am not focusing on the specific stance of party members, but rather on easing the suffering. Currently, there is a pressing need for humanitarian aid to be delivered quickly to Gaza.”
Starmer has consistently refrained from specifying the criteria for a demotion, creating a vague situation in order to prevent Labour’s internal divisions from taking center stage. Currently, the party’s top MPs are able to openly express their emotions regarding the conflict.
Sixteen members of the Labour frontbench and one-third of the entire PLP have either expressed support for a ceasefire or shared others’ calls for one on social media. This group includes Yasmin Qureshi, Jess Phillips, and Imran Hussain.
According to a survey conducted by Savanta between October 27th and November 2nd, only 37% of Labour councillors are content with the party’s stance on the conflict.