All eyes are on the House of Commons as the Scottish National Party (SNP) is attempting to pass a motion for a vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza amid the rising casualties of the Israel-Hamas war.
“It’s time to call a spade a spade. To any neutral observer, war crimes are being committed by Israel in Gaza,” the SNP wrote on its website on Tuesday. “That is why the SNP will force a vote on a ceasefire this week in Westminster. Our first opportunity to do so.”
If Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, selects the motion, Members of Parliament from the ruling Conservative Party, along with MPs from Labour and other in-office political parties, will be instructed to vote.
Things are further complicated by the fact that Labour party leader Keir Starmer has refused to back a ceasefire, despite mounting pressure from his colleagues, including from the leader of the Labour party in Scotland, Anas Sarwar. Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf wrote a letter to Sarwar, urging him to confirm that Scottish Labour’s MPs will vote for the motion.
It is possible that Starmer will instruct Labour party members not to vote for the Scottish National Party motion. If they do vote for a Gaza ceasefire, there have been reports querying if they might be fired for disobeying party leadership. Alongside the SNP’s motion, Starmer is reportedly pushing for a Labour vote on the Gaza conflict in a bid to maintain party unity. The amendment will call for an immediate humanitarian pause, highlighting the large number of civilian casualties, but will stop short of calling for a ceasefire.
One of Starmer’s top priorities since becoming leader of the Labour party has been uniting the party and restoring its reputation with the Jewish community. The party had been accused of anti-Semitism under previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Equality and Human Rights Commission released a report in 2020 that found the Labour party guilty of breaching the Equality Act due to its political interference in anti-Semitic complaints and listed 23 incidents of “inappropriate involvement” from Corbyn’s office.