Their Weakness on Gaza Could Cost the British Labor Party a Majority in the Next Election - Latest Global News

Their Weakness on Gaza Could Cost the British Labor Party a Majority in the Next Election

Earlier this month, people across England and Wales went to the polls in local and mayoral elections, seen by many as a dry run for the next UK general election, expected later this year.

At first glance, the results appeared to be in line with widespread predictions of a landslide Labor victory in the upcoming general election. The largest opposition party won significantly, while the ruling conservatives lost in more than half of the elections they fought. But a closer look at voting trends, particularly in areas of strategic importance, revealed another reality that must be worrying Labor headquarters: the party did not achieve enough majorities to be confident it could form a majority government in the in the coming months under the first-past-the-post electoral system in the United Kingdom.

While Labor undoubtedly increased its vote in most areas and even gained control of councils in places it had not won in decades, it also saw its vote decline in key areas with high student and Muslim numbers votes.

These two populations, who have traditionally remained loyal to the party, have made it clear why they have decided to move away from Labour: Gaza.

Labor’s approach to Israel’s war on Gaza was perceived as lacking from the outset. In fact, the official party line has often supported the inhumane attack carried out on the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza over the past seven months, which has left nearly 100,000 people dead and injured, half of whom were children. In particular, Labor Party leader Keir Starmer’s comments during a television interview in which he appeared to endorse the Israeli government’s disruption of Gaza’s water and electricity supplies have prompted large numbers of Muslim voters and students to raise concerns about human rights and the Palestinian struggle at heart for liberation, for leaving the party.

Of course, it is not just students and Muslims who care about human rights and want Labor to change its stance on Israel’s war. A YouGov poll commissioned by Action For Humanity last month found that 56 percent of the British public – and a whopping 71 percent of those planning to vote Labor – support ending arms sales to Israel. The same poll found that as many as 59 percent of respondents believe Israel is violating human rights in Gaza. All polls show that the majority of the British public now want an end to the brutal war against Palestinians in Gaza; It appears that the only difference they have is in what priority they give the issue when deciding who to vote for in the next general election. As the war continues to wreak havoc on civilians, one can expect more voters to turn away from politicians who appear to support Israel’s attack on Gaza. That means Gaza will become an even bigger problem for Labor in the coming months if party leaders fail to reverse the widespread public perception that they support Israel’s war on the Palestinian enclave.

Under the UK’s first-past-the-post voting system, a party must win 326 constituencies to win a majority in the House of Commons and govern alone. To achieve this, Labor will need to secure 127 more seats than in the 2019 election. However, the 9.5 per cent gain the party recorded in the local elections, if applied to the general election, would give it fewer than 100 seats, resulting in would lead to a stalemate in Parliament.

Public figures who clearly condemned what happened in Gaza and distanced themselves from the policies of the central Labor Party, such as Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, won significantly in their mayoral elections for Greater Manchester and London respectively. Independents and Green Party candidates who made their anti-war stance on Gaza the focus of their campaign defeated and took away votes from Labor.

It is clear what Keir Starmer’s Labor Party must do now to secure the electoral victory it has long been waiting for: take a clear, moral and principled position on Israel’s ongoing attack on Gaza.

If the party wants to secure victory in the next general election with a margin that would result in a Labor majority, it must quickly announce that once it comes to government it will not only stop selling arms to Israel and demand an immediate and unconditional end the war against Gaza, but also unilaterally recognize the state of Palestine.

The scenes of death and destruction that unfolded in Gaza, where unprecedented numbers of children were mutilated, killed and orphaned, have horrified the world. Israel’s promised ground offensive in Rafah, where more than a million displaced civilians are taking refuge in an area not much larger than London’s Heathrow airport, is expected to unleash further suffering for an already traumatized population. Meanwhile, the World Food Program has already declared a “full-scale famine” in Gaza.

Therefore, for the Labor Party, opposing this war is not only an electoral necessity but also a moral responsibility. As the world watches in disgust at the terrible, unimaginable suffering inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza, Labor must do the right thing and demand an immediate end to Israel’s atrocities, not just to be on the right side of the electorate, but also , to be on the right side of history.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.

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