Four London councillors have whip suspended over Gaza ceasefire vote

Morgan Jones
William Barton/ Shutterstock

Four Labour councillors in the London borough of Lambeth have had the whip suspended following a vote on a Green Party motion supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.

The vote took place in January at a full council meeting. Three of the councillors, Martin Abrams, Deepak Sardiwal and Sonia Winifred voted for the motion, while a fourth, Sarina da Silva, abstained.

The motion called for Claire Holland, the leader of the Labour-run local authority, to write to the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition and urge them to call for “an immediate, negotiated ceasefire by all parties” in the conflict.

It also asks her to urge for a “commitment from all parties to an independent, international investigation into human rights violations and war crimes”, and an “urgent international commitment to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state”, among other asks.

In a statement published in advance of the vote in January, Lambeth Labour group described the motion as “divisive” and said that their position would be to oppose the motion.

“This motion sets a false narrative that Lambeth council – a civic institution – has the power or influence to effect an international conflict”, the statement argued.

In comment sent to LabourList after the news of the suspensions became public this week, Lambeth Labour group said: “Four Labour councillors did not vote in line with the Labour Group’s agreed response to the motion. This breaches Labour Party rules, and following an investigation and a group vote, a decision was made to take disciplinary action.

“It is paramount that Labour councillors respect the democratic processes and collective decision making that enables us to function as the ruling group on Lambeth Council.”

It is reported Cllr Abrams, who represents Streatham St Leonard’s ward, was suspended indefinitely, while Cllr Sardiwal, who represents Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction was suspended for three months.

Cllr Da Silva represents Waterloo and South Bank and was reportedly suspended for two months.

Cllr Winifred, said to have been suspended for three months, stated that this result has “left me no choice but to resign my position on Lambeth Council as Councillor for Knights Hill Ward with immediate effect.”

Florence Eshalomi, the Labour MP for the Vauxhall constituency which sits in the borough of Lambeth, said she was  “very sorry” to see Cllr Winifred stand down, describing her as “a real community champion”.

In a public statement, Cllr Abrams said that his vote on the motion was a “matter of conscience”.

Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who represents the Lambeth constituency of Streatham, has condemned the suspensions, saying that she was “disappointed” by the decision.

“Nobody should feel ashamed for standing with the courage of their convictions, and indeed with what is now stated Labour policy”, the MP wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The councillors were not immediately available for comment.

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