SIX Scottish Labour officials have quit their roles following the leadership’s “gag order” on discussing Gaza.  

It comes after nine members of Glasgow Kelvin constituency Labour Party (CLP) left their roles after local Labour parties were issued with guidance to the effect they should not table motions on Gaza.

The branch had intended to debate a motion on Gaza at its monthly meeting, but members then received an email from Scottish Labour, saying the situation should not be discussed under any circumstances.

Now, Mike Cowley has confirmed to The National he was among six members of Labour’s Edinburgh Northern and Leith Executive Committee to step down over the same issue.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour official who quit role in Gaza row speaks out

Cowley had worked as the liaison officer and speaking to The National, he said: “On Thursday night, after knowing what had happened at Kelvin CLP, I asked the chair whether he intended to comply with or to resist David Evans’s (general secretary) guidance to members and whether he would facilitate a discussion around Gaza.

“When he confirmed he intended to comply and he wasn’t going to facilitate a discussion, even though he didn’t support the guidance, my colleague Richard Parker made a brief statement saying it was now impossible for half a dozen of us to remain in post.”

Evans issued guidance to CLPs last week in the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas where he warned members against attending pro-Palestine protests and reportedly barred Labour council leaders from attending.

The full list of officials who resigned from the Edinburgh branch include:

  • Mike Cowley
  • Rory Scothorne
  • Richard Parker
  • Hayley Griffin
  • Eildh Munro
  • Jim McKenzie

Cowley did however explain that he was not planning to suspend his membership entirely and that they were still committed to the party.

However, he added: “We’re in a position now where we are comfortable reaching out beyond part lines and beyond party-political loyalties on issues like Israel and Palestine.

“If people from any party want to work with us on issues like Israel-Palestine, then I think we now recognise the crisis is so advanced and so serious that people of good faith and good spirit should be looking to work with each other irrespective of our views on the constitution for example.”

Scottish Labour response

Following the resignation of the members in Glasgow, a spokesperson for Scottish Labour 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.

READ MORE: Pro-Palestine demonstrations to take place across Scotland

“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.”

The National reached out to Scottish Labour for further comment. 

Keir Starmer comments

The news comes as Keir Starmer (below) seeks to clarify remarks he made about Israel’s decision to limit supplies to Gaza after they sparked concern.

Speaking on Friday, he said Israel had a “right to self-defence,” but said that did not mean it should withhold humanitarian aid to Gaza.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s attack on Israel, Starmer told LBC responsibility “lies with Hamas” and that Israel “has the right to defend herself”.

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However, speaking on Friday, Starmer said: “I know that LBC clip has been widely shared and caused real concern and distress in some Muslim communities so let me be clear about what I was saying and what I wasn’t saying.

“I was saying that Israel has the right to self-defence. I was not saying that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines.

“On the contrary. For over a week now, I have been leading the charge calling for that humanitarian aid to come in.

“We all know there are innocent civilians in Gaza in a humanitarian crisis, a million children that aid urgently needs to get in.

READ MORE: Labour figures speak out as Keir Starmer 'steamrolls' democracy

“So I was saying yes, they have the right to self-defence – that right they do have – but not the right to withhold that humanitarian aid that needs to get in. It is now absolutely urgent.”

Sky News has reported that Starmer wrote to Labour councillors earlier this week in which he expressed sympathy for the situation of civilians living in Gaza.

It is understood Starmer’s comments had led to some discontent within the party.