Yesterday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, where the annual SME 4 Labour awards ceremony took place, to call on senior Labour figures to push for a full ceasefire in Gaza. The Gala was attended by senior Labour front benchers David Lammy, Angela Rayner and Yvette Cooper. Protesters held a “Full Ceasefire Now” banner and called for Labour to push for an end to Israel’s attack on Gaza and Britain’s arms trade with Israel.
The annual business dinner, where Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan spoke last year, saw Labour MPs sip cocktails and receive awards for supporting small and medium enterprises. The protest, called by Haringey Palestine Action and London for a Free Palestine, adds pressure on Labour to call for a Gaza ceasefire, which YouGov polling shows 76% of the British public support.
On Saturday, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy stepped up criticism of what he called Israel’s “intolerable” attack, but he stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. Yesterday (Monday 11 December), John Cryer MP, chair of the parliamentary Labour Party, changed his position under pressure from constituents to back a ceasefire. Burnley’s Labour Council passed a recent motion supporting a ceasefire.
“As constituents of David Lammy in Tottenham, we demand that he calls for an immediate ceasefire. While we welcome his recent acknowledgement of the ‘intolerable’ scale of death and destruction in Gaza over the last two months, it is hypocritical: we remember his justification of the bombing of refugee camps just weeks ago.”
“Lammy wants to become foreign secretary, but he is failing the people of Tottenham over this and many other issues. He offers no surgery office for his constituents to attend, and he refuses to meet with us to discuss our concerns. From Tottenham to Gaza, Lammy’s record is one of negligent careerism. It is too late for the thousands of people that have been killed, but there is still the opportunity for Lammy to do the right thing and call for a full ceasefire now, for urgently needed aid to be let in, and for an end to the arms trade with Israel.”
~ Sophie Abeida-Browne from Haringey Palestine Action
Between 2016 and 2022, Britain approved arms export licences worth £387 million to Israel. In October this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sent Royal Navy warships and RAF planes to Israel.
Human rights and legal experts, as well as leading scholars of genocide, have called Israel’s military campaign in Gaza a “genocide“. Besides the dead, nearly 50,000 Palestinians have been injured, thousands more are missing, believed trapped under rubble, and 1.8 million people have been displaced.