CLP committee quit en masse over “shut down debate” on Gaza

Katie Neame

Nine members of the Glasgow Kelvin Constituency Labour Party executive have resigned, including a Labour peer, accusing the party leadership of “stifling” debate on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

The group of CLP officers – which includes Baroness Bryan of Partick – announced their resignations today in protest at a move by the party to limit discussion of the ongoing conflict within local parties.

General secretary David Evans contacted CLPs over the weekend informing them that the party would take steps to limit motions on events in the Middle East.

Evans wrote that while he was aware that recent events will trigger “great emotion and debate”, he would “not let that become a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all its members”.

The CLP officers said their resignations followed the submission of a motion urging Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to call for a cessation of Israeli military action, the establishment of a humanitarian corridor and the release of hostages.

They said in a statement: “We have been informed by the general secretary and the Scottish general secretary that any motions relating to the situation in Israel and Gaza are out of order for all CLPs.

“It seems preposterous to us that a local political party cannot have a substantive discussion on contemporary events which are commanding the attention of the entire world.

“We believe that the emergency motion which was submitted for debate was perfectly valid, and we refute any suggestion by party officials that the mere discussion of the Gaza situation would be “prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party” (message from the general secretary).

“On the contrary, we believe that the absence of such discussion brings our party into disrepute.”

The officers highlighted that one of the aims and values of CLPs as listed in the party’s rulebook is to provide the opportunity for members to “contribute to the development of the aims and policies” in part by ensuring “that they may participate fully in discussion to broaden the political education of members”.

Their statement continued: “We cannot fulfil this aim if we are forced to shut down debate, and we refuse to be part of a party machinery which stifles democracy. Accordingly, we hereby resign our positions on the executive committee of Glasgow Kelvin CLP.”

Later on Thursday Peter Soulsby, mayor of Leicester, wrote to leader Keir Starmer saying the party was right to condemn Hamas, but the party should be “seen to call for” a “measured, proportionate’ Israeli response.

He said Muslim councillors in Leiester were “understandably under enormous pressure from communities, who perceive Labour as “currently lacking sympathy for the plight of Palestinians”, according to Channel 4 News.

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Scottish Labour has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the actions of Hamas. There is no justification for the loss of innocent life and the targeting of civilians.

“Every life should be treated equally and so there should be no collective punishment of the Palestinian people. We will all have been devastated by the scenes at the Al-Ahli Hospital where hundreds have been killed. That brutality can’t be justified and must end.
“The entire Labour Party is united in demanding the free flow of medicine, food, water and electricity in to Gaza. Humanitarian corridors must be opened and all action must be in line with international law.
“The Labour Party continue to believe strongly in the cause of peace in the region through a two-state solution that delivers security, peace and freedom for all through a sovereign state of Israel and a sovereign state of Palestine with an end to occupation and the siege.

“Only when all life is treated as equal can we achieve peace.”


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