Protesters march on Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow

Protestors marching on Glasgow's Buchanan street
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Thousands of protestors gathered in Glasgow on Saturday calling on the Labour Party to vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

People from all over the country marched from the city centre to the SEC, where the Scottish Labour party conference was being held, demanding that their MPs work with the SNP to push through a motion at Westminster this week.

This had come after Keir Starmer’s inability to call for an ‘immediate ceasefire’, but rather a ‘sustainable’ one. 

Mick Napier, head of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, welcomed the crowd as they gathered in George Square. 

He said: “Who would have dreamt two years ago that this [Labour] party would be led by a man who says that Israel has the right to deny water to the people of Gaza?”

A mixture of young and old joined the crowd and all had their own reasons for participating. 

Evelyn McGregor and Luke Henderson, members of the Climate Coalition in Edinburgh, came together to protest the Labour party’s actions on environmental issues as well as to show their solidarity to Palestine. 

The pair were especially outraged by Labour dropping their £28 billion pledge on green energy at the beginning of this month.

Evelyn McGregor, left, and Luke Henderson are members of the Climate Coalition.

Between October 6th and January 5th, the UN reported that 26 hospitals in Gaza have been damaged as a result of attacks.

A spokesperson from the Israel Defence Forces told the BBC last week that they had invaded Nasser hospital as it had “intelligence that Hamas had held hostages there”.

Sharon, a midwife, volunteered in Gazan hospitals during the Israeli invasion of 2008 and 2009.

She said: “In those hospitals, and in those ambulances, there were no fighters and there were no weapons. And yet that is what the Israeli army use to justify attacking ambulances, paramedics, hospitals and the civilians sheltering in them.

“As a midwife, as someone who protects mothers and babies, I know that they need so many things starting from clean water and safety. They’re all not having that at the moment.

I’m calling for a ceasefire on behalf of mothers, babies, my friends in Gaza and my friends in Israel. Nothing improves with violence. It’s never the answer.”

Kristine Al Jndi, who was accompanied by her child, said she was ‘appalled’ by what is currently happening in Gaza. 

“My husband is Syrian, and so we’ve lived through war already. I see the pictures from Palestine and they are the same as the pictures from Syria and it breaks my heart,” she said.

“As we are a democracy, we need to make sure our politicians are actually speaking for the people. 

“So the more people that come today, the more pressure we’re putting on the Labour party and the Conservatives that they need to change their policies and call for a ceasefire.”

The protest arrived outside the conference just after 3pm. Craig Murray, human rights campaigner and former diplomat, encouraged the crowd to keep protesting in the weeks to come. 

Whilst speaking to journalists on Saturday morning, Anas Sarwar said that the perception of the distance between the UK Labour party and the Scottish Labour party was exaggerated. He said that there ‘probably’ wasn’t any distance at all now.  

“He [Keir Starmer] was at the Munich Security Conference today where he was very keen that Labour wants a ceasefire and he wants the fighting to stop right now. 

“This is alongside the immediate release of the hostages, the immediate access to humanitarian aid and of course the pathway to that two-state solution.”

During Sir Keir Starmer’s speech on the final day of conference, he said that ‘the fighting must stop now’ and called for ‘a ceasefire that lasts’. 

This is different from his comments in the past, when on October 31, the leader of the opposition stated that he did not believe a ceasefire was the correct position.

An SNP motion is set to debated in Westminster this week and Labour MPs are being encouraged by party members to work with their rivals to show that the majority of those in the House of Commons want an immediate end to the fighting in the Gaza strip.

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