Thousands march to Scottish Labour conference in Gaza ceasefire protest

Demonstrators marched through Glasgow as Scottish Labour delegates gathered.

Neil Pooran
Saturday 17 February 2024 16:18 GMT
Crowds gathered in Glasgow in support of the Palestinian cause (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Crowds gathered in Glasgow in support of the Palestinian cause (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators have marched through Glasgow to protest outside the Scottish Labour conference taking place in the city, calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

After a rally in George Square, they made their way through the city centre to the Scottish Exhibition Centre where Labour members are gathering.

Carrying Palestinian flags and chanting slogans, the protest march arrived outside the conference centre just after 3pm.

Scottish Labour delegates backed a motion on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Among the speakers at the George Square rally was Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Roz Foyer.

She told the PA news agency: “Yesterday I addressed the Scottish Labour Party conference and gave a very clear message that the trade union movement will not stand by in silence and watch genocide take place.

“And I was heartened to hear the message from the Scottish Labour leader, which unequivocally was a call for an immediate ceasefire now.”

Asked about Sir Keir Starmer’s position on the Israel-Hamas war, she said: “Let’s just call for a ceasefire now, let’s start to put the same pressure on Israel that our international leaders have been putting on Russia.

“There is no difference here, we need to start to make sure that we are protecting human life.”

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer was also at the rally in George Square.

He told PA: “Labour have been given countless opportunities to unequivocally support calls for an immediate ceasefire and help end this brutality.

“Instead, Keir Starmer defended Israel’s illegal use of collective punishment when they cut off water and electricity for Gazan civilians, and his shadow foreign secretary provided a mealy mouthed justification for their bombing of a refugee camp.

“Now Scottish Labour can’t even confirm if their two MPs will vote to support the ceasefire motion passed by their conference.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said both he and Sir Keir want to see an immediate end to the violence.

During a Westminster vote on the issue in November, Labour lost 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides who rebelled against the leadership’s stance on Gaza.

The SNP will be bringing the issue back to the Commons next week, with a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Brendan O’Hara said: “The time for warm words is over.

“More than 28,000 Palestinian children, women and civilians have now been killed since Westminster failed to back a ceasefire in November.

“I urge Anas Sarwar to ensure Labour MPs don’t repeat the same devastating mistake they made when they opposed a ceasefire in November, he needs to show some leadership and whip them to vote in favour this time.”

On Friday, Mr Sarwar sought to play down any differences between his position and that of Sir Keir.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme they both want violence to stop “right now”, along with the delivery of humanitarian aid, the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza, and a pathway to a two-state solution.

Mr Sarwar also said “open conversations” are happening with Labour’s two Scottish MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, ahead of the Westminster debate.

He said: “We shouldn’t be stuck on the semantics because this is a really important issue of life and death for people right now in Gaza and in Israel.”

“The idea that this is about the semantics within one political party that’s in opposition.”

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