The Labour Party continues to face internal divisions as the leader of Burnley Council, Afrasiab Anwar, and 10 other councillors have resigned following Sir Keir Starmer’s decision not to push for a ceasefire in Gaza. This move highlights the discontent within the party regarding its stance on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
Difficult Decision to Leave
Afrasiab Anwar, a member of the Labour Party for 10 years, expressed the difficulty of his decision to leave. He was one of several individuals who called for Sir Keir to step down earlier this week. According to a joint statement, Mr. Anwar and the other councillors found their memberships in the party “untenable” due to the leadership’s refusal to demand a ceasefire in the region.
Discontent with Leadership
The departing local politicians criticized Sir Keir, accusing him of undervaluing the voices of grassroots party members. They referred to remarks made by the opposition leader after a speech in the North East, where he prioritized alleviating suffering in Gaza over individual party positions. This led the group to feel that the party leadership was out of touch with the strength of public sentiment in their Lancashire town and other communities across the country.
Mr. Anwar argued that the party’s position supporting a pause in the fighting for humanitarian aid and medical treatments was “nonsensical.” He emphasized the need for the party to speak out or at least advocate for a ceasefire. Mr. Anwar expressed frustration that world leaders, including the leader of the Labour Party, were only discussing humanitarian pauses instead of peace and failed to grasp the feelings of communities affected by the conflict.
Fighting for Core Values
The group of resigning councillors stated that they had exhausted all internal channels within the party to address their concerns. They called for Labour to return to its core values of fighting for social justice. In their statement, they expressed disappointment that Keir Starmer and the leadership had not acknowledged the sentiments within their communities or heeded their concerns. The resignations of these councillors illustrate a growing discontent within the party regarding its approach to important issues.
Calls for Resignation
The leader of Pendle Council, also in Lancashire, joined the chorus of voices calling for Sir Keir’s resignation. This sentiment has also been echoed by prominent Labour figures such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. The increasing number of high-profile figures challenging Sir Keir’s stance on the conflict highlights the deepening divisions within the party.
While the Labour Party acknowledges calls for a ceasefire, it emphasizes the importance of following international law and protecting innocent civilians. The party’s position is to advocate for humanitarian pauses in the fighting rather than an immediate ceasefire. Labour argues that a ceasefire without addressing the root causes of the conflict may simply freeze tensions and enable future attacks.
The resignation of the leader of Burnley Council and other councillors from the Labour Party underscores the party’s internal divisions regarding its stance on Gaza. The departing councillors express frustration with the party’s lack of action and failure to represent the sentiments within their communities. This growing discontent contributes to the challenges faced by Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, as calls for his resignation become more vocal. The party now faces the task of reconciling its internal divisions and formulating a coherent and inclusive strategy moving forward.