ANAS Sarwar has accused Scottish Labour figures who quit branch roles over the Gaza “gag order” of “playing games” in direct criticism aimed at a senior party member.  

Speaking at an Institute for Government event in London on Tuesday, the Scottish Labour leader said he had “no time” for those he said were playing politics over the party’s directives which banned local branches from discussing the war between Israel and Hamas.

One figure who resigned her constituency Labour Party (CLP) role, Baroness Pauline Bryan, was present in the audience when Sarwar made his comment.

Asked about the controversy caused by the “gag order” from Labour high command, Sarwar said: “I’m not going to trivialise the scale of that dispute around what’s happening in individual CLPs or individual CLP executive members.

“To be honest, the conflict’s bigger than that and anyone that wants to play those kind of games, frankly I’ve got no time for it and instead I’m going to focus on the principles.

“And the principles of this are really, really significant and important.

“Right now, you have the citizens of Israel and the citizens of Palestine living in fear, fearing for their lives, fearing for their children and having no kind of hope or light for peace and that has got tragic, tragic consequences for people in Israel and in Palestine and I think my biggest plea would be we have got to try and emphasise, with humanity, that every life has to be seen as equal.

“If the impression comes that an Israeli life and a Palestinian life aren’t treated as equal, then you have lost the high ground and you’ve lost the ability to be the advocates of peace in that way.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour official who quit role over Gaza gag order speaks out

“So we have to unequivocally condemn Hamas for the horrific terror attacks on Israel and we have to stand in complete solidarity our Jewish community, both here in the UK but also those fearing for their lives in Israel or indeed under threat from antisemitism, right around the world.

“We’ve got to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and unequivocally condemn Hamas."

The National: Keir Starmer

But the Scottish Labour leader, who at the same event put himself at odds with Keir Starmer (above) on reforming the House of Lords, went further than his UK boss in condemning Israel’s “collective punishment” of Gaza but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire.

Sarwar said: “We also, as people who believe in human rights, who believe in equal value of life, we have to stress that Hamas is not the Palestinian people and there is no justification for the loss of innocent life, there is no justification for the targeting of civilians and there is no justification for the collective punishment of 2.2 million citizens in Gaza.”

He added: “Let’s be clear, international law is not a grey area on this. Withholding electricity, water and emergency supplies is a breach of international law, we should be really, really clear about that.

“We have to stop rocket fire have a de-escalation of rockets coming out of Gaza and rockets going into Gaza and ultimately we have to get back to a peace process, because the tragedy is there is no peace and there is no process and until we can get a genuine peace process where the violence, where every life is treated as equal and we have an end to illegal occupation and an end to illegal siege, we will not see what we need to see, which is a peaceful, sovereign free Israel and a peaceful, sovereign, free Palestine.”

The SNP have called for an immediate ceasefire, something which was rejected by the Prime Minister when he was questioned by MPs on the war on Monday.