Starmer disciplines MP Kate Osamor for Gaza genocide stance

by Paul Kershaw, Enfield and Lea Valley Socialist Party

In a letter to constituents on Holocaust Memorial Day, London Labour MP Kate Osamor referred to events in Gaza as a genocide and rapidly had the Labour whip suspended by the party. Effectively, she now sits as the independent MP for Edmonton.

There has been widespread local support for Kate. Representing local unions, Enfield trades council immediately wrote to Kate offering to work with her and local union branches have also written expressing support.

Kate Osamor
Kate Osamor.
Photo: Overseas Development Institute/CC

She was suspended on 28 January, and days later local Palestine campaigners demonstrated in Edmonton Green with banners reading “we stand with Kate Osamor.” They issued a statement saying “Kate’s stand on these matters is in accordance with the wishes of many of those she represents. In fact, over 250 people took to the streets of Edmonton on Saturday 27 January to peacefully march for a ceasefire and for the end of the violent occupation of Gaza and other Palestinian areas. The vast majority of the people in the UK want an immediate ceasefire.”

Kate has issued an apology for her statement but many in the labour movement believe that it is those who fail to take a stand against the brutal state violence against Palestinians who should apologise.

Politics Home reports that, “while previously an apology or period of reflection could result in the whip being reinstated, with the general election looming, whip losses are now likely to be final and MPs who are suspended prevented from standing for Labour and new candidates will be selected instead.”

The judges at the International Court of Justice in The Hague felt obliged to concede there is reason to consider whether the war on Gaza could be a genocide; for Labour the suggestion is reason for disciplinary action.

Birmingham Labour MP Tahir Ali was reportedly ordered to apologise after accusing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of having “the blood of thousands of innocent people [in Gaza] on his hands” in a speech in Parliament. But it is striking how few Labour voices have been raised in protest and how muted they have been.

Opinion polls suggest that Labour is on course to win the next election, riding on a wave of disgust at Tory austerity and corruption. Yet Labour plans mean more austerity. Similarly, there is a tide of opposition to mass killing in Gaza, yet Labour offers no opposition to Tory warmongering.

These issues are too important for public representatives to allow themselves to be silenced. Even a small group of workers’ MPs in the next government resisting cuts and war would have a huge impact. Kate and other MPs, such as Jeremy Corbyn, Dianne Abbot and others, could stand together under the same banner at the general election and with other socialists, trade unionists and anti-war campaigners too. What is there to wait for? Let’s start the preparations now!