Labour MP says party lost Muslim voters’ trust over Gazaon February 8, 2024 at 10:59 pm

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Shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood says Labour needs to “rebuild” relations with Muslim voters.

Shabana MahmoodImage source, Getty Images

Labour’s shadow justice secretary has said there has been “a loss of trust” from British Muslims in her party over its position on the Israel-Gaza war.

Shabana Mahmood – one of the party’s most senior Muslim MPs – has urged Labour to “rebuild” relations with Muslim voters.

Ten Labour frontbencher MPs resigned over the party’s initial reluctance to call for a ceasefire in the region.

Labour has since revised its position to call for a “cessation” of fighting.

Speaking on Political Thinking with Nick Robinson, Ms Mahmood said she “wanted a ceasefire then, I want a ceasefire now”.

It was “impossible to look at footage of dead children being pulled from the rubble” and to not “want the fighting to stop”, she added.

“I wish it were possible, simply by calling for it, that you could immediately deliver” a ceasefire, she said.

“The question is not so much, do you just call for it, but how you actually deliver one?”

Israel declared war on Hamas after the group led an attack on communities inside Israel, killing about 1,3000 people.

Since then more than 27,700 Palestinians have been killed and at least 65,000 injured by waves of missiles launched by Israel into the Gaza Strip in response, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Palestinian lives in a tent on the ruins of his house

Image source, Getty Images

The war between Israel and Hamas has triggered several conflicts within the Labour Party.

A flashpoint came when Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gave an interview to radio station LBC in October, in which he appeared to claim Israel had a right to cut off power and water from Gaza.

He later denied he had meant to support Israel cutting off supplies to the territory, saying he was instead supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

Ms Mahmood admitted “that was not a good moment” for her party.

Tensions again boiled over when 56 Labour MPs defied party orders and voted for an SNP motion in the House of Commons calling explicitly for a ceasefire.

A snapshot poll in November revealed that 41% of Muslim voters say they feel more negatively about Labour since the outbreak of the conflict.

‘Partners for peace’

Among Muslim voters “there has been a sense of a loss of trust, and I think that that needs to be rebuilt, “she said.

“We aspire to be a party that can get votes from every part of our country and every community in our country. That has always been the Labour way and still the Labour way.”

However, it is not just Muslims in Britain who are “feeling a very strong sense of, pain at what’s unfolding. So do all British Jews”.

“We are all British citizens together,” she added.

“I think that if we lose our sense of humanity for what is being suffered by all of the peoples in that region, I think we lose something very, very important and very precious. And once gone, I think it’s very difficult to get back.”

She also criticised both Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for blocking a two-state solution.

“We have to urgently find partners for peace, because a one state solution does not make the people of Israel safe,” she said.

“And it is an outrage to adopt a position that says that the people of Israel can have self-determination, but the people of Palestine cannot.”

On Thursday, Mr Netanyahu rejected proposed ceasefire terms from Hamas- saying “total victory” in Gaza is possible within months.

You can listen to Political Thinking: The Shabana Mahmood One on BBC Sounds

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