The head of Burnley’s local government has stepped down, along with 10 other council members, in opposition to Keir Starmer’s decision not to advocate for a ceasefire in the conflict in Gaza.
Last week, Afrasiab Anwar, who has been a party member for ten years, was one of the individuals advocating for the resignation of the Labour leader.
He stated that his departure from Labour was a challenging choice, explaining that he could not continue to support a party that remains silent or fails to demand a ceasefire.
Starmer has implored Israel to abide by international law and has requested for “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict, but has declined to demand an instant cessation of hostilities. This position has caused a split within the party.
Anwar stated that it is nonsensical for our world leaders, including the leader of the Labour party, to focus on humanitarian pauses instead of discussing peace.
He stated that the team had exhausted all efforts to work within the party and expressed his desire for Labour to return to its fundamental principles of advocating for social equality.
The group stated on Sunday that they have noticed that Keir Starmer and the leadership are unwilling or unable to address their concerns and recognize the feelings of their communities.
It stated: “When asked to step down, he replied that he is not concerned with individual members’ issues, which shows that he does not appreciate the opinions of the party’s grassroots.”
Sixteen members of the Labour frontbench and one-third of the entire parliamentary party have expressed support for a ceasefire, either by making their own calls or sharing others’ calls on social media. This includes Yasmin Qureshi, Jess Phillips, and Imran Hussain.
Prominent members of the Labour party, such as London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, have all voiced opposition to Starmer’s position.
This week, over 330 Labour councillors signed a letter requesting Starmer’s support for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The letter stated that as leaders in the community, we are taking proactive measures to support our residents. This includes engaging with faith and community organizations and taking action to safeguard our communities from increasing hate crimes and racially motivated violence.
The increased humanitarian crisis in Gaza affects everyone, and the Labour party’s lack of action to stop the violence is causing distress in our communities.
A survey conducted by Savanta of 618 council members from October 27th to November 2nd showed that only 37% of Labour representatives at the local level were content with the party’s stance on the conflict.