Sir Keir Starmer, the head of the Labour Party, is under growing pressure to endorse pleas for a Gaza ceasefire, following the resignation of one of his frontbench MPs on Tuesday.
Imran Hussain, representing Bradford East and serving as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Levelling Up, announced his departure, citing an inability to align with his party’s position on the matter.
I want to be able to strongly advocate for a ceasefire, as called for by the UN General Secretary. In order to be fully free to do so, I have tonight stepped down from Labour's Frontbench.
My letter below: pic.twitter.com/u47KMVNhxt
— Imran Hussain MP (@Imran_HussainMP) November 7, 2023
Hussain’s departure has highlighted internal divisions within the Labour Party on matters concerning the conflict in Gaza. However, Stephen Pound, a former frontbencher and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, emphasized that no political party in a democracy maintains absolute unity on every issue. Pound, who supports Sir Keir Starmer, acknowledged the existence of diverse views within the party and cautioned against expecting uniformity.
The issue of a potential ceasefire in Gaza has also stirred tensions between Downing Street and the Metropolitan Police ahead of a pro-Palestinian protest march planned in London over the weekend. Rishi Sunak engaged with London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, who has refused to ban the march scheduled to take place after Armistice Day commemorations.
Rowley, after discussions with the organizers, asserted that the march did not meet the criteria for being prohibited. This decision has led to a strained relationship between the police and the government. Leroy Logan, a former Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, emphasized the importance of maintaining an independent justice system, expressing concern over any attempts by the government to influence the decisions of police chiefs.
Stephen Pound downplayed the effectiveness of street protests, stating that a march would not bring about practical changes. He argued that the focus should be on providing humanitarian aid and offering prayers for those affected in Israel and Gaza. Pound dismissed the idea of a one-sided ceasefire, stating that negotiation with Hamas, given their foundational principles, is unlikely.
Pound, who has visited the Israel-Palestine region multiple times and witnessed the persecution of Christians, urged for a more constructive approach. He emphasized the need for humanitarian aid and prayers, stating that street protests would not make a significant difference in the complex situation.