They also included London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. So what would party leader Keir Starmer do? What would he say, as a human rights lawyer, about the clear violations of international law by the IDF? What would a cold but empathetic leader have done to show his human side? What would Nietzsche have done?
But for some reason, Starmer cannot mention the C-Word: almost in an echo of Doctor Radcliffe in The Ipcress File, the word cannot come out, as if the speaker has been prevented from uttering it, except to deny its validity. Nor would he say that Israel had committed war crimes, even though he did not hesitate in the case of Ukraine and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
Politicians, he now says, should not make such pronouncements. So, let’s see how the BBC has reported it. “Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he understands calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, but argued it was not the ‘correct position’ at the moment”. What’s the “correct position”, then? Wait for a few more thousand corpses to be generated? But there was more.
“More than 60 Labour MPs have called for a ceasefire, but Sir Keir insisted his stance of calling for a humanitarian pause was ‘the only credible approach’ … He said a pause would allow aid to get in to Gaza and for civilians to leave … He argued that a ceasefire would leave Hamas's infrastructure intact, enabling them to carry out future attacks”.
A “humanitarian pause”, to use Starmer’s happy phrase, IS a ceasefire. Using the P-Word, rather than the C-Word, is just being pedantic and driving it round the houses. In any case, if it’s long enough for aid to get in, and civilians to leave, it’s a ceasefire. And whether the Israelis, some of whom claim all who live in Gaza are terrorists, will allow anyone out is uncertain.
Moreover, WHAT “Hamas infrastructure”? But back to the Beeb report. “He said a humanitarian pause was ‘the only credible approach that has any chance of achieving what we all want to see in Gaza - the urgent alleviation of Palestinian suffering’”. Not much alleviation of Palestinian suffering if the IDF can lay off for a few hours and then carry on bombing the crap out of them.
Starmer may feel constrained by the stance taken by the likes of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who has mischaracterised marches in solidarity with those in Gaza as “hate marches” and attempted to smear concerned citizens as anti-Semites. He may also worry about criticism of Israel being used by our free and fearless press as a stick to beat him with.
Chris Dillow, not a raving right-winger, has concluded “For me, this justifies Starmer's position. Any criticism of Israel would be misconstrued by these liars & their agents in the media as antisemitism & support for Hamas. We cannot have honest, reasonable debate under these conditions”. He’s right. And those liars are the ones like Ms Braverman and her fellow Tories.
The problem, though, is that once again Starmer is not only behind the curve of public opinion, he has disregarded the second part of Galbraith’s dictum on leadership: “A leader can compromise, get the best deal he can. Politics is the art of the possible. But he cannot be thought to evade”. Starmer is evading.
And the result, as Deltapoll has told, “Net approval for [Keir Starmer] has fallen by twelve percentage points and is now negative. Net approval for [Rishi Sunak] has fallen by eight percentage points”. What else can be causing that fall, except the inability, or unwillingness, to call out Israel for busting international law, and being frit of calling for a ceasefire?
No use thinking the media will cover for him. The voters have him sussed.
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