Starmer calls for ‘ceasefire that lasts’ at Scottish Labour conference.

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Keir Starmer has called for a ‘ceasefire that lasts’ in the Israel-Gaza conflict, and that “that must happen now.”

Starmer’s unscheduled speech closed the three-day long Scottish Labour Party conference, which opened with the branch fully supporting an ‘unequivocal’ call for an “immediate ceasefire.”

The UK Labour Party leader’s remarks come a day after thousands of demonstrators campaigning for a ‘ceasefire’ in Gaza marched on the conference in protest against the Labour leadership’s decision not to call for an ‘immediate ceasefire’. Mr. Starmer had just returned from the Munich Security Conference, and addressed his position on the Israel-Gaza conflict early on in the speech:

“Conference, before I begin, I have just returned from the Munich Security Conference, where every conversation I had came back to the situation in Israel and Gaza, and the question of what we can do, practically, to deliver what we all want to see:

“A return of all the hostages taken on the 7th October. An end to the killing of innocent Palestinians. A huge scaling up of humanitarian relief. And end to the fighting, not just for now, not just for a pause, but permanently. A ceasefire that lasts.

“Conference, that is what must happen now. The fighting must stop now.”

After delivering this last line, the lights in the conference room went up and the Labour Party leader received a short standing ovation before continuing with the rest of his speech.

Though acknowledging that a ceasefire is something that must happen ‘now’, Starmer seemed to avoid using the term ‘immediate ceasefire,’ the term that the SNP have used in a motion they put to a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Speaking on Saturday, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was also indirect. Asked repeatedly about whether or not he agreed with the wording of the SNP’s motion, the Scottish Labour leader said that it was “perfectly reasonable.”

Sarwar also said that, “the distance that people are perceiving between the Scottish Labour position and the UK Labour position isn’t as big. I would suggest that there’s probably no distance at all, to be honest.”

However, the declining to use the terminology is unlikely to resolve the uncertainty hanging over the party, which saw a revolt that precipitated the resignation of ten front-benchers in November.

Pro-Palestine protestors give their views.

Labour continues to face mounting public pressure over leadership’s decision not to use the term ‘immediate ceasefire’. On the second day of the conference, the thousands-strong pro-Palestine protest marched across Glasgow, with many making the journey from all over the country to attend.

Monica and Gavin were a couple that was part of a large contingent that came through from Edinburgh for the one-and-a-half mile march from Glasgow’s George’s Square to the Scottish Labour Party conference.

Speaking about the Labour party, Gavin said: “They’re not pro-democracy. They’re just paying lip-service to Palestinian rights. They’re pretending that they care.”

Tom, another protestor who made the journey from Edinburgh admitted, “I’m somewhat embarrassed that I have voted Labour in the past. I would never vote for them again. There’s been a drastic betrayal of what Labour stands for.”

Anna, who had come through from Edinburgh as part of the group with Tom, and who says she takes part in action every week, said that, “the reason we’re here is put to pressure on the party and the government.”

Pressure on the party fell on the newly-elected Rutherglen MP Michael Shanks, as well as Ian Murray, as the Scottish Labour Party’s only two Westminster MPs. The SNP’s motion sparked chaos in Parliament yesterday evening.

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