Pro-Palestinian protesters have surrounded the Labour constituency office of MP Rushanara Ali after she abstained from last night’s Gaza ceasefire vote in Parliament, saying she has ‘shown her career is more important than human rights’.
It comes as hundreds of schoolchildren have taken to the streets of London chanting ‘Israel is a terrorist state’ in the latest pro-Palestine demonstration to hit the capital.
A total of 56 Labour MPs voted for a ceasefire in Gaza as party leader Keir Starmer was hit by a major revolt over his position on the war, which has outraged Muslim communities.
Targeting Ms Ali for her stance on the vote, one protester outside the Tower Hamlets office, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I am here to express shock and anger that Rushanara Ali has gone against the wishes of her constituents and of the Palestine movement and did not vote for the amendment in parliament last night. She has in fact copped out.
‘She has shown that her career is more important to her than the human rights of millions of people in Gaza.’
Protesters are descending on the Tower Hamlets offices of Labour MP Rushanara Ali (pictured) after she abstained from last night’s Gaza ceasefire vote in Parliament
Protest outside the office of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party in Bethnal Green, London, in an area represented by Labour MP Rushanara Ali against her stance on the Israel-Hamas war
‘She has shown that her career is more important to her than the human rights of millions of people in Gaza,’ one protester said
Police keep watch of the protest outside Tower Hamlets Labour Party office this evening
Hundreds of children joined the protest march in London this afternoon
Youngsters and adults carrying Palestinian flags and placards calling for Israel to ‘stop the war in Gaza ‘ clogged up the streets in Bethnal Green
Furious campaigners of this afternoon’s rally raged: ‘Rushanara Ali MP has failed us all, she must resign, she did not vote for a ceasefire.’
Youngsters and adults carrying Palestinian flags and placards calling for Israel to ‘stop the war in Gaza’ clogged up the streets in Bethnal Green, in the east of the city.
Chants of ‘what do we want – ceasefire, when do we want it – now’ and ‘free, free Palestine’ rang out as demonstrators took to the streets this afternoon.
Protesters have said they intend to rally outside the local offices of Ms Ali, Bethnal Green and Bow MP, from 5.30pm.
A protester called Nomi said: ‘I am disappointed and upset but Rushanara Ali’s decision to abstain from the vote for ceasefire, I think as a question of humanity, I don’t think it is difficult to say, hey I am in support of a ceasefire to protect the lives of women, children, the elderly, people who are even suffering from cancer, dying from cancer.
‘They are civilians, it is about saving lives, protecting lives and I am here, I didn’t have to leave my house, but I have come out to voice my disagreement with the decision.
‘For someone who works in a party and as an individual, who has in the past always been on the side of peace and supporting those in need, social support, underrepresented communities, it is very shocking that she has made the decision not to vote for saving lives – that is essentially what I see it as.
‘I am hoping for her to know that the public do not agree with what she has done.
There were others who did vote for a ceasefire, they didn’t question as to, Will I lose my job, will I get promoted, will my career in politics get affected.
‘Those people that voted against it and took the risk of their livelihood, they did it knowing that there are people who are losing limbs, who are being blown up to smithereens.’
News of the march comes as Keir Starmer continues to deal with the fallout of a major rebellion in his party, which saw the 10 frontbench resign in a crushing Commons revolt.
Former leadership contender Jess Phillips was among the frontbenchers who quit after breaking a three-line whip ordering them to abstain on an amendment tabled by the SNP.
The Labour leader said he wanted the party to be as ‘united’ as possible in the wake of the extraordinary implosion over demands for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
But he seemed to swipe at the rebels by saying that his own ‘focus and attention’ was on helping make the situation better for innocent people on both sides.
And there are fears that the rebellion could spread further and do major damage to the party’s election hopes. A Savanta poll has suggested that almost half of Muslim Labour supporters from 2019 are unhappy with Sir Keir’s handling of the Israel crisis – though two thirds of British Muslims said they still planned to vote Labour.
Dozens of protesters outside the constituency office of Rushanara Ali MP tonight
A police van enters the scene of the protest outside the Tower Hamlets Labour office
Protesters were seen carrying placards and Palestinian flags as they marched today
Chants of ‘what do we want – ceasefire, when do we want it – now’ could be heard
Others were shouting ‘free, free Palestine’ as demonstrators took to the streets this afternoon
The crisis in the Middle East, sparked by the Hamas terrorist atrocities on October 7, had already caused weeks of discomfort for Sir Keir as he battles with the huge divisions within his party.
But, despite the major Commons rebellion against him last night, Sir Keir stuck to his stance on wanting humanitarian ‘pauses’ – rather than a full ceasefire – as he declared ‘leadership is about doing the right thing’.
The Labour leader also reiterated his support for Israel’s right to self-defence in the wake of the Hamas attacks.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps swiped that those MPs voting for a ceasefire were ‘essentially voting to give Hamas the green light to commit further terrorist atrocities’.
The evening’s vote was held as pro-Palestinian supporters staged a large demonstration outside Parliament – which sparked outrage after demonstrators were seen clambering all over the Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for ‘all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza.
Along with the 56 Labour MPs, it was supported by 39 SNP MPs, 15 Liberal Democrats and independent MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Andy McDonald.
There are a total of 198 Labour MPs, which means more than one-quarter of Sir Keir’s party rebelled against him this evening.
The Labour leader issued a statement after an extraordinary Commons revolt last night saw 56 of his MPs defy him to back a permanent end to fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Jess Phillips (pictured) quit the Labour front bench after she broke ranks with her party leader Sir Keir and disregarded a three-line whip he had imposed on the ceasefire amendment
Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters gather in Parliament Square, Westminster last night
Those 10 Labour MPs who left Sir Keir’s front bench tonight after backing a ceasefire included eight shadow ministers.
They were Ms Phillips, Paula Barker, Rachel Hopkins, Afzal Khan, Sarah Owen, Yasmin Qureshi, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter.
Dan Carden and Mary Foy also left their roles as parliamentary private secretaries.
Shortly after tonight’s vote, Ms Phillips announced she had quit as shadow minister for safeguarding and domestic abuse.
In a resignation letter to Sir Keir, which she posted on Twitter, she wrote: ‘This week has been one of the toughest weeks in politics since I entered Parliament.
‘I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.
‘On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine.
‘I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future.’