All you need to know about ceasefire parliamentary amendments

Dave Kellaway lets you into the strategy meeting that drafted the Labour Party ceasefire amendment and gives you all the information you need on tonight’s debate.


Imagine the scene.  Starmer, Lammy, other key members of the Shadow Cabinet and Morgan McSweeney are in cabal working out how to respond to the SNP amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire to be taken today, 21 February in Parliament. 

Guys, how do we stop the shitstorm that happened last time parliament voted on the tartan Tory ceasefire motion.  All those shadow front benchers who we thought were onside with us resigning and 50 odd MPs voting for their motion.  We cannot have that again. We’ve got to cobble something together that at least brings most of these people back on board. I mean I thought we had cleared out the dissidents when we got rid of most of the Corbyn people.

Yeah and you know what they say, divided parties lose elections although Sunak’s lot are even more divided thank god

We are getting more and more reports in from around the country especially where there are lots of Muslim voters that they are not going to vote for us as long as we are against a ceasefire. Over 50 councillors have resigned and we have lost control of several councils.

Then we’ve got the Rochdale fiasco – well done the due diligence team – you can’t even trust the anti-Corbynists any more.  I thought these Muslim communities were solid new Labour and would never go anywhere else.

And then there is that super shit Galloway. The bookies say he has a good chance.  We should get our organisers up there to do some off the books campaigning for the Reform guy – I mean he has a Labour background hasn’t he?

We have to at least look like we are for a ceasefire. I mean Biden is talking about civilian causalities, evacuations and Rafah.  He even said the Israelis have been a bit over the top.  That slime bag Cameron is parading his concern too. We don’t want to be left behind. 

Did you see the Pope and the Italian government led by that neo fascist blonde has called for a ceasefire.

It is not just the Muslims where we are losing votes. The Greens picked up some of our voters in Kingswood.  We might lose some of those naive snowflake voters.

Don’t forget too that the four eye alliance…

…It is five eyes  – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA and us  – like it’s the Anglo Saxons

Okay, okay, 5 eyes, they are calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

David you could go on TV and quote the 5 eyes and sound like a Foreign secretary

Right, so we can draft something that emphasises the humanitarian aspect of the ceasefire. We got to make sure that it does not sound like any sort of political attack on the Israelis. So, no reference to the displacement of Gazans.  Lots of references to Hamas terrorists and that they are really responsible for it all. We need to reaffirm Israel’s right to complete its self defence attack to eliminate Hamas. The ceasefire cannot be seen to be giving into Hamas. We must make any permanent ceasefire conditional on Hamas

Something like: Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues its violence.

Yeah great.  But we need to surround all that with lots of political stuff about a two state solution, the UN, diplomacy so we look like a government in waiting rather than a bunch of grandstanding tossers, like the SNP.

What about recognising a Palestinian state?

Whoa, steady on there, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – or at least of our American friends.  No it should be phrased as working with our international partners to work towards recognition.

I think that about wraps it up. Got to look governmental

Absolutely, no emotional mentions of all the dead and mutilated women and children – keep any numbers out of the statement

Let’s keep talking about horror focused on the 7 October events.  We can be firm on being against an offensive into Rafah in present circumstances, I mean it has not happened yet..

If we are talking about the humanitarian consequences of going into Rafah isn’t there a logic to referencing the humanitarian consequences on the Palestinians of the bombing over the last few months?

No, no, no we need to look forward and not get involved in taking sides with the Palestinians. It is all too complicated for that sort of response. Remember we are a government in waiting, we are not a bunch of protesters.

Okay I think that is a wrap, now get out and work the tea room to get our people into line

Wait, wait, what if the Speaker does not take our amendment and our MPs have to decide to vote or not on the SNP thing?? There will no distraction, no wrecking amendment, no hiding place

SNP motion

That this House calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel; notes with shock and distress that the death toll has now risen beyond 28,000, the vast majority of whom were women and children; further notes that there are currently 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, 610,000 of whom are children; also notes that they have nowhere else to go; condemns any military assault on what is now the largest refugee camp in the world; further calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people; and recognises that the only way to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians is to press for a ceasefire now.

Labour Party amendment to SNP motion

Leave out from “House” to end and add:

“believes that an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences and therefore must not take place; notes the intolerable loss of Palestinian life, the majority being women and children; condemns the terrorism of Hamas who continue to hold hostages; supports Australia, Canada and New Zealand’s calls for Hamas to release and return all hostages and for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which means an immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire that lasts and is observed by all sides, noting that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence and that Israelis have the right to the assurance that the horror of 7 October 2023 cannot happen again; therefore supports diplomatic mediation efforts to achieve a lasting ceasefire; demands that rapid and unimpeded humanitarian relief is provided in Gaza; further demands an end to settlement expansion and violence; urges Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures; calls for the UN Security Council to meet urgently; and urges all international partners to work together to establish a diplomatic process to deliver the peace of a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state, including working with international partners to recognise a Palestinian state as a contribution to rather than outcome of that process, because statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour.”

A mass lobby of parliament is organised for tonight (21st Feb) from 3.30pm onwards

Owen Jones Twitter comments:

Labour’s amendment looks like a deliberate and cynical attempt to replace The SNP’s clear demand for an “immediate ceasefire” with something far more ambiguous and open to interpretation. The party needs to explain:

  1. How is this different from your previous call for a ‘humanitarian pause’, i.e. cease violence, let aid in, then resume Israel’s genocidal onslaught? –
  2. Does Labour accept that Israel must no longer be able to achieve its war aim of the ‘total military destruction of Hamas’ – impossible on its own terms, and Israel’s all-encompassing definition of Hamas is genocidal in practical terms in any case – and that all hostages must be released through prisoner exchanges? –
  3. Why are they placing the onus solely on Hamas not ‘continuing with violence’? How do you define violence? Given e.g. the Israeli state killing 240 Palestinians, dozens of them children, in the West Bank alone before 7th October last year didn’t count, this matters!
  4. There will be almost no scrutiny of claims about IDF violence constituting a violation of a ceasefire. This will not apply to Hamas, or indeed other armed Palestinian militants. –
  5. Why have you stripped the SNP’s reference to the ‘collective punishment’ of the Palestinian people? Do you honestly believe this hasn’t happened, and on what grounds?

Momentum statement on Twitter

“Scratch the surface of this amendment and it falls well short of what the moment requires: a clear call for an immediate ceasefire. By making its call for a ceasefire so conditional and caveated, the Labour Leadership is giving cover for Israel’s brutal war to continue. With nearly 30,000 Palestinians killed, around half of them children, and an ICJ ruling of plausible genocide, Labour should be providing the moral leadership the Tories lack, not muddying the waters. Simply put, Keir Starmer should get off the fence and unreservedly call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Alongside dozens of international NGOs today, we urge Labour MPs to vote for the SNP amendment for an immediate ceasefire.”

Finally, although the Labour Party amendment is clearly a blatant manoeuvre and falls short of a straightforward call for a political ceasefire it still is a result of the magnificent Palestine solidarity campaign organised on the streets and in the communities since October 2023.  We welcome this step forward.  This campaign shows the usefulness of people taking action and not waiting for MPs, the Labour party or the unions before taking action.  The campaign has correctly called on the Labour party and the official movement to support Palestine.  The first principle of building any socialist alternative is not just having some sort of programme or vision but being useful in the mass struggles of the day,

A mass lobby of parliament is organised for tonight (21st Feb) from 3.30pm onwards

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Dave Kellaway is on the Editorial Board of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a member of Socialist Resistance, and Hackney and Stoke Newington Labour Party, a contributor to International Viewpoint and Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres.

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