Sir Keir Starmer has suffered a major rebellion over his stance on the Israel-Gaza war, with 56 of his MPs voting for an immediate ceasefire, and he wants a humanitarian pause to provide aid to the citizens.
Large proportions of Labour’s voter base are Muslim and Jewish. Whilst they are united in the horrors in Gaza, this ceasefire debate has divided voters. The borough of Bury is a good example. It holds voters in target seats and has a higher than average Muslim and Jewish population. The borough is divided into two constituencies: Bury South and Bury North. Bury South is currently held by the Labour party and Bury North is held by the Conservatives. Starmer has faced scrutiny from the media as Labour voters feel they have been ‘taken for granted’ in Bury, which suggests that in the upcoming election these votes may be redirected to another party, like the Conservatives, or will simply not turn out to vote. This may lead to Bury North, held by the Conservatives, breaking the constituency ideology boundaries and taking Bury South as well. This may happen across the country if Labour cannot come to a coherent position soon.
Depending on how Keir Starmer manages his party in the next couple of weeks, we will have a better estimate on whether his party is likely to win the next general election. Currently Labour do not seem to be coping well with Starmer’s approach. Nearly 70 Labour MPs have defied their leader to call for a ceasefire now, and nearly 50 councillors have resigned from the party over the leadership’s position on the war.
Labour ordered its MPs to abstain on the SNP’s motion to call a ceasefire, meaning frontbenchers must resign or face the sack to support it. However three frontbenchers said they would defy this command before the meeting in the Commons. In the Commons, ten of the party’s frontbenchers quit.
Therefore Starmer’s whipped vote approach was unsuccessful to stop the rebellion, despite his quote in the media being that labour was united earlier that day. It can be argued that Starmer’s approach was always going to be ineffective, given that already many MPs had expressed their disagreements with him. If this carries on, it may dent Labour’s chances at the upcoming election.