Labour left MPs and activists defy Starmer-led party position on Kashmir

Sienna Rodgers
Socialist Campaign Group meeting in January 2020. © Twitter/@socialistcam

Labour left groups have spoken out to defy the party’s position on the Kashmiri conflict, as set out by Keir Starmer last week after he met with the executive team of Labour Friends of India.

The Socialist Campaign Group, made up of MPs on the left of the party, has released a statement today expressing “solidarity with the people of Kashmir in their struggle against the world’s largest military occupation”.

In what is understood to be a reaction to Starmer’s recent comments, it declares that the group’s “internationalism acknowledges the role of British colonial injustices and the inalienable nature of universal human rights”.

The SCG includes shadow cabinet members Rebecca Long-Bailey, Marsha de Cordova and Andy McDonald, plus several other frontbenchers, such as shadow ministers Dan Carden and Imran Hussein.

Labour left activists have also voiced opposition to the policy, with new grassroots group Momentum Internationalists organising an open letter signed by hundreds of members that condemns the position expressed by Starmer.

Their statement explicitly argues against the position advocated by Starmer, saying that they were “disturbed” by the comments that were “in defiance of party policy”. It calls on the new leader to “respect our democracy and conference policy”.

It is signed by a number of Labour councillors, trade unionists, officers of local Labour parties, executive members of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and party activists from across the country.

Labour conference in 2019 passed an emergency motion criticising the actions of India in the Kashmiri conflict and supporting self-determination rights for Kashmiris. LFIN said it contained “anti-Indian rhetoric”.

After the motion caused controversy, then party chair Ian Lavery issued a letter that described Kashmir as a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve and said Labour was opposed to external interference.

After Starmer’s call with the LFIN executive last week, he said: “We must not allow issues of the sub-continent to divide communities here. Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully.”

Below is the full text of the SCG statement on Kashmir.

“We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Kashmir in their struggle against the world’s largest military occupation.

In accordance with the motion passed unanimously at Labour conference in 2019, and as enshrined by multiple UN resolutions, we recognise that Kashmir is a disputed territory and demand the realisation of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, as mandated by UN Resolution 47.

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing human rights violations, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution and illegal detention, that continue to take place in Kashmir that have been widely documented by numerous human rights organisations and that have been intensified by Narendra Modi’s government.

“Furthermore, in August 2019, the Indian government unilaterally revoked Articles 370 and 35a of the constitution that granted Indian occupied Kashmir autonomy reflective of its status as an occupied territory, and subjected the Kashmir people to a seven-month long lockdown and repressive communications blackout that was brutally enforced by Indian Security Forces.

“We recognise the UK’s responsibility regarding the ongoing situation in Kashmir due to the historic role played in this conflict during the partition of the Indian sub-continent that laid the groundwork for the oppression faced by the Kashmiris.

“Our internationalism acknowledges the role of British colonial injustices and the inalienable nature of universal human rights.”

Below is the full text of the open letter organised by Momentum Internationalists.

“Labour must campaign for its democratically-agreed 2019 conference policy of demanding “the restoration of basic human rights and… the right to self-determination” in Kashmir.

“We were disturbed by Keir Starmer’s declaration, in defiance of party policy, that “any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament” and his signalling through talk about “business links” and “dialogue” that he wants a rapprochement with India’s far-right government.

“He says “Labour is an internationalist party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere”. For that to be more than empty words, the party must firmly oppose human rights violations everywhere, including in Kashmir; support democracy and the right to self-determination – including in Kashmir; and fight the global nationalist right, of which the Modi regime is a central pillar.

“We must not capitulate to the Hindu right’s communalist agitation in Britain, which seeks to divide communities on religious lines while shouting that support for human rights is divisive. We must not abandon our comrades in India fighting for democracy, workers’ rights and the rights of minorities against the Hindu nationalist regime.

“We call on Keir Starmer and the party leadership to respect our democracy and conference policy, and to show it is serious about the fight for human rights, including in Kashmir.”


Ruth Cashman, Tooting, UNISON Branch Secretary
Joshua Lovell, Stevenage, Councillor, Cambridge UCU Member
Syed Tahseen Gilani, Luton North, Labour member and President of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)
Margaret Owen OBE, Hammersmith and Fulham
Rosie Newbigging, Bedford and Kempston, Labour PPC in Welwyn Hatfield 2019
Muhammad Mumtaz Mirza, Hodge Hill Birmingham, Assistant secretary general JKLF UK zone
Stephen Whiting, Stevenage
Rebecca Shatwell, Newcastle East, Newcastle City Labour councillor
Julie Ward, North Durham, Former MEP
Owain Gardner, North West Durham
Michael Chessum, Streatham
Dave Savage, Kingston & Surbiton, President, Kingston TUC
Muhammad J Iqbal, Hodge hill Birmingham, Secretary General JKLF
Sardar Nasim Iqbal
Ed Maltby, Sheffield Central
Tariq Sharif, Newham
Liaqat Ali, Hodge Hill Birmingham
Stephen Wood, Bermondsey and Old Southwark
Sonia Sohail, Stockport,
Sabir Gul, Luton North
Dave Kirk, Leeds West, Political Education Officer
Daniel Nichols, Romford, Political Education Officer
Azmat Khan, Stockport, CLP exec member
Umar Yousaf, Newcastle upon Tyne
Zeinab Drabu, Manchester Withington CLP
Mushtaq Malik, Slough
Maha, Lambeth
Mushtaq Malik, Slough
Sanna Malik, Slough, GC Delegate
Zaphran Mirza, Hodgehill Birmingham
Ousman Noor, Holborn and St Pancras
Parviz Jenab, Bedford
Muhammad Dar, Birmingham
Sarabjit Singh, Slough, long time Labour member  and human right activist
Shafat Gangoo, Great Yarmouth
Syed Shah, Luton
Kahkashan, Great Yarmouth
Syed Shah, Luton North
Sara Ashraf, East Riding of Yorkshire
Taj Khan, Slough, Branch Chair Labour Party
Mohammed Aziz
Yasir Imran, Barking & Dagenham
Ghulam Nabi Falahi, Camden
Irshed Mahmood, Oldham East and Saddleworth
Shariq Manzoor Shah, Brent
Hazel Bligh, Stocksbridge and Penistone CLP
Sagir Ahmed, Bradford South
Soahib Ahmed
Zehair Ayub, Bradford West
Asad Ashraf, Hull West and Hessle
Nadeem Bhat, Grantham
Sabah Gillan, Bethnal Green and Bow
Farooq Ahmad Dar, Barnsley
Foudil Mattoo, Harrow
Touseef, Norfolk
Shahid Chawoo, Trafford
Farzana Ashraf, Hull West and Hessle
Cllr Mohammed Sharif, Slough
Ashraf Ali, Hull West and Hessle
Aamir Wani, Bristol East
Toqeer Gilani
Iqbal Jan, Reigate
Syed Rufaie, Berkshire
Faroo Wandroo, Edgbaston
Saqib Yaqub, Welwyn Hatfield
Andy Forse, Milton Keynes South
Hugh Stanners, Norwich South
Dr Khurshid Ahmed CBE, Dudley North, Former Constituency Chair
Sikander Khan, Hayes Middlesex
Azhar Mahmood, Luton
Huma basharat, Trafford
R. Ganayi, Harrow West
Sajawal Hussain, Bradford West,
Cllr Tahir Aziz, Woking
Azfar Dar, Abingdon
Gowher Ahmad, Kulgam
Carol Machell, Calder Vaĺley, CLP Secretary
Javaid Ahmad Naikoo, India
Mohammad Saadat Ishfaq Phalgaroo, Milton Keynes
Zulfiqar Ali, Erdington
Abdul Jalil, Rushcliffe
Farooq Mir, Nottingham East
Nadeem Haider, Nottingham
Shama Husain, Tower Hamlets
Nadeem Ahmed, Broxtowe Nottingham
Ishaq Hussain, Nottingham East
Dr Burhan Showkat, Srinagar
Nazeer Ahmed
Jamil Ahmed, Broxtowe
Foudil Mattoo, Harrow
Sajjad Hussain, Nottingham East
Hafiz Tariq Mehmood, Bedford
Ahsan Khan, Chatham
Mohammed Abdul-Razaq, Nottingham East
Basheer Latif, Nottingham South, Former Chair of Bridge branch
Atif Hussain
Kashif Kashmiri
Dr Shaheen Shora, Watford
Jamil Akhter, Nottingham East
Margaret Owen, Hammersmith and Fulham
Dr Tasneem Yaqoob, Maldon
Mehtab Ahmed, Ilford North
Derek Fraser, Heywood & Middleton, TULO
Kamaljit Kaur, Slough, Member
Aftab Khan, Coventry south, Member
Chris Martin, Woking, party vice chair
Paul Green, Dwyfor Meirionnydd
Malcolm Hunter, Leicester South
Paul White, Leicestershire South
Javaid Rashid, Ilford South
Tessa Ratcliff, Stockport
Arshad Rather, Ruislip
Mohammed Suleman, Hodge Hill
Richard McLoughlin, Harrow East, Fund Raising Officer Harrow East CLP
Joe Booth, Chipping Barnet
Sammi Ferhaoui, Enfield North
Manzoor Akhoon, Srinagar
M Murphy, Scunthorpe
Manzoor Akhoon
Malcolm Tedd, Harborough
Sylvia Cohen, Finchley and Golders Green
Mohammed Shafiq, South Yardley
Sean Conway, Nottingham East
Barry Ackerman, Enfiled North
Sara Iram Gill, Altrincham and Sale West, International Coordinator
Chris Bright, Camberwell and Peckham
Waseem Gill, Sale and Altrincham
Clive Niall, Camberwell and Peckham, Political Education Officer, Peckham Rye Branch
Asad Bokhari, Trafford
David Wood, Stevenage, CLP Chair
Andy Hewett, Cardiff West
Gavin Edwards, Walthamstow
Lauren Scotland, Tottenham
George Gray, Woking CLP
Cathy Nugent, Lewisham East
Antony, Bradford South
Zafar Hussain, Nottingham
Attia Aslam
Riasat Khan, Woking,
Mohammad Aslam, Birmingham Hodge Hill
Raja M Fazil khan, Nottinghamshire East constituency, GC Delegate
Cllr Yasmine Dar, Manchester Gorton
James Oliver Simpson, Birmingham Yardley CLP
Callum litten, Bishop Auckland
Claire Bidwell, Argyll and Bute, Co Founder of Let Kashmir Decide
Waseem Yaqoob, Hackney South and Shoreditch
Olivia Shann, Sheffield Central
Jacqueline Jones, Workington
Alan Jones, Workington
Sarah Jones, Milton Keynes CLP
Lovejeet Chand mehay, Romford, Bame officer
Alena Ivanova, Bethnal Green and Bow
Nisar Ahmed, Derbyshire
Tina El-Wadi, Stockport
Saliha Ashraf, Leeds
Amina Mahmood
Mutluluk Williams, Vale of Glamorgan
Bruce Robinson, Stockport CLP
Ahtisham Mir
Elizabeth Nussbaum, East Putney
Paula Darwish, Manchester Gorton
Daniel Brown, Workington CLP
Davide Denti
Nick Munby, Berlin
Patricia, Bishop Auckland
Sufyaan Irfan, Birmingham Hodge Hill, Youth Officer in Cambridge Unite and Cambridge Momentum
Syed Iftikhar Mahmood, Slough
Andrea Gilbert, Putney, Women’s Officer
Lester Holloway, Watford
Gary Hollands, Southampton Test
Javid Iqbal, Sydenham/Penge
Roxana Fraser, Winchester
Peter Flanagan, Itchen Southampton
Androulla Zucker, Milton Keynes South
Muhammad Saeed, Woking Surrey
Abbie Clark, Stevenage, CLP Secretary
Ed Whitby, Newcastle Upon Tyne East, Exec / Unison delegate
Khalid Ikram, Manchester Withington
Cate Woodward, Nottingham South, Deputy Whip
James Taylor, Portsmouth North
James Page, Wollaton West
Dr Assad Jalil, Stockport
Aqeel, Bolton North East
Jane Parfitt, Nottingham South, Branch Chair
Julie Franklin, Blackley and Broughton CLP
Janine Booth, Hackney South and Shoreditch, TULO
Gillian Connell, Winchester, Chair, Winchester CLP
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh, Cambridge
Toel Koyithara, Wigan
Moira White, Nottingham South, Vice Chair Wollaton West Branch
Josepha Scotney, Enfield Southgate
Zaimal Azad, Nottingham South
Matthew Wood, Congleton
Jonathan Marsland, Wythenshawe and Sale East
Edward Williamson, Chipping Barnet
Choudhry Tanveer, human rights activist
Tim Rouse, Walthamstow
Sacha Marten, Tonbridge and Malling, Membership and LGBT Officer
Julian Wilson, Tonbridge and Malling, CLP Chair
Kevin Tolhurst, Tonbridge & Malling
Mohsin Drabu, Hampstead and Kilburn
Robert S M Kirkwood, Nottingham South
Mark Still, Highbury West, RMT Waterloo
Mark Osborn, Lewisham East
Christine Hulme, Slough, Councillor
John Gardner, Stevenage
JayKhan, Luton
Callum Biscoe, Tonbridge and Malling
Roger Coates, Overseas
Lisa, Tonbridge and Malling
Gerry Stonestreet, International labour
Jason Gold, Branch chair LI CEE, Labour International
Gertrude Weetman, Warrington South
Mandy Parry, Bristol East
Catherine Gilsenan, Sedgefield
Waqaas Hussain, Rotherham
Amanda Ford, Romsey and Southampton North
Julie Hope, New Forest East, Secretary
Asrar Razaq, Newcastle central
Glyn Oliver, Southampton, Secretary Unite Community Southampton Area
Alison J. Ayers, Winchester
Helen Field, New Forest East
Dan Davison, Cambridge
Peter Johnson, Brighton Pavilion
Stan Crooke, Glasgow Shettleston CLP
Nasima Sarang, Harborough, Social worker AMHP, steward international officer
Alison Campbell, Edinburgh East
Zenab Khan, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
Daphne Dorricott, Winchester
Zaynab Ahmed, Leeds East
Rameen Haq, Leeds North East
Jean Brant, Birmingham Selly Oak
Farzana Ashraf, Hull West and Hessle
Arfan, Nottingham
Shanaz Saddique, Burnley and Pendle
Heather Morton, Grimsby
Albert Collymore, Westminster North
Cameron Baldwin, Derbyshire Dales
F Hussain, Streatham
Juls Price, Winchester
Hafsah Sheikh, Dewsbury west
Jo Lane, Harborough
Paul Renny, Holborn and St Pancras, GC delegate
Sally Churchward, Southampton Test
Camilla Parnell, Ipswich
Zulaika Beckford, Bexhill and Battle
Sebastian Odell, Sheffield Hallam
Ali Chaudhry, Burton, Councillor
Simon Wolfers, Dwyfor
Martin McEvoy, Itchen
Carol McAuley
Osama Al-Hassani, Reading West
Ana Oppenheim, Hackney North and Stoke Newington
Juliette Clarke, Brighton Kemptown
William Walker, Burton CLP, CLP Political Officer and Secretary East Staffs TUC
Sean Thompson, Cardiff West
Linda Middleditch, St Helens North
Tahir Mahmood, Nottingham North
Jason Dickinson, Llanelli
peter Leyden, Dwyfor Meirionndd
Alice de Bourg, Glasgow south
Dr Sumaiyah Shah, Bristol West
Anam Zafar, Leeds West
Fenella Watts, South East Cornwall
Alex Clark, Bedford
Ed Whitby, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Unison Delegate and Exec
Sam Stone, Leeds Central CLP
Colin O Driscoll, Labour International, Vice-Chair
Charlotte Peters Rock, Tatton, Current Vice Chairman
Pamela Burns, Gateshead
Mej, Bradford
Rabia Bi
Saif Ur Rehman, Newport East
Abdul Rasheed, Newport West
Noreen Shah, Bradford Moor
Darren Gomes, Croydon Central
Dora Polenta, Rushcliffe, LGBTQIA+ CLP officer
Judy Atkinson, Brentford & Isleworth, Chair of Chiswick branch
Rodney Nicholls, Bradford East, Political Education Officer
Chandra Ghosh, Riverside
Norman Hindson, Riverside
Syma khan, Bradford
Gareth Wall, Stevenage
Lubna Haroon, Academics
Lorcan Whitehead, Colchester, Councillor
Daniel Rawnsley, Sheffield Central
Bradley Allsop, Ipswich CLP
Tony Byrne, Newark, Secretary
Roshan Lal, Sheffield Heeley
Steve Chapman, Sheffield Heeley
Linda Cleary, Barking and Dagenham
Justin Pearce, Cambridge
Kumar Sarkar, Harrow West, Co-ordinator Britain South Asia Solidarity Forum
Azahar Iqbal, Altrincham and Sale West
Ghulam Nabi, Batley and Spen
Jo Hiley, Sheffield Central
Keith Reader, Islington North,
Martin Thomas, Islington South and Finsbury
Abel Harvie-Clark, Newcastle East
Howard Ricketts, Stevenage
Burhan Showkat, Srinagar
Polly Harlow, Lewes
Maisie Sanders, Lewisham Deptford
Paul McGowan, Liverpool Walton, LGBT+ Officer and Chair of Labour Party LGBT+ Network

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