Daily Mail

Starmer ‘must act over support for rallies’

- By Kumail Jaffer Political Correspond­ent

SIR Keir Starmer has been urged to challenge trade unions to sever ties with a campaign group behind mass pro-Palestine demonstrat­ions.

The Labour leader was told to call on unions such as Unite, Unison and the GMB to ‘drop formal ties’ with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) or risk ‘underminin­g’ the credibilit­y of his response to the violence in Israel and Gaza.

Tory party chairman Greg Hands also demanded Sir Keir ask major Labour-affiliated unions not to march on Armistice Day this Saturday. Sir Keir has seen a rebellion from more than a dozen frontbench­ers and hundreds of councillor­s over his refusal to call for a ceasefire, with many MPs defying orders not to join protests.

Mr Hands said the ‘extreme activist’ PSC, which has played a major part in organising the pro-Palestine rallies, ‘espouses views that encourage the anti-Semitism and violence we are witnessing’.

He wrote to Sir Keir: ‘Labour’s biggest trade union backers and affiliates are affiliated to the PSC, including Unite and the NEU. In fact, Aslef’s general secretary, Mick Whelan, appeared on the frontline at the PSC march held on 21 October – outwardly disobeying advice from Labour’s general secretary and marking a direct affiliatio­n between the PSC and the Labour Party.’

A similar letter organised by the Campaign Against Antisemiti­sm last week asked Sir Keir to ‘demonstrat­e leadership’ by requiring Labour-affiliated unions to withdraw support from the PSC. The letter read: ‘The continuing relationsh­ip between those unions that are officially affiliated to Labour and those same unions officially backing the organisers of Saturday’s marches undermines your response to the terrorist attacks on Israel.’

Last night Shadow Cabinet minister Lucy Powell denied the party was imploding over its stance on Gaza, despite Navendu Mishra becoming the 19th frontbench­er to call for a ceasefire.

‘I would dispute that,’ she told GB News. ‘On the whole, everybody in the Labour Party is agreed on the fact that we want to see an end to the cycle of violence.’

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