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Two Labour council leaders call for Starmer to resign over ‘failure to listen’ on Gaza ceasefire calls

Two Labour councillors have called on Keir Starmer to resign over his “failure to listen” to calls urging the party leadership to back a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Burnley council leader Afrasiab Anwar and Pendle council leader Asjad Mahmood called on the Labour leader to “step down”.

Anwar said in a statement, first reported by Sky News: “I joined the Labour Party because of the values of standing up and speaking out against injustices across the world. Sadly, Keir Starmer has not stood up for Labour values, hence why we are calling upon him to step down.”

Mahmood said Starmer had “failed to listen” to calls for a ceasefire and therefore “we ask he consider his position and resign to allow someone to lead our party who has compassion and speaks out against injustice and indiscriminate killing of innocent human beings”.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Anwar said that calls for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting in Gaza are “not good enough”.

He added: “I think if that is his position then he should step aside because that does not speak of the values that we as members of the Labour Party sign up for, which is about speaking out against any injustices whether that is here or anywhere else across the world”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has reportedly said Starmer has lacked “empathy” and “humanity” on the conflict during a private discussion with a meeting of MSPs and the Labour Muslim Network on October 16.

According to leaked comments first appearing in the Daily Record, Sarwar said his party will have to do a “repair job” with Muslim voters “every day” until the general election after Starmer’s early remarks about the conflict.

Sarwar thanked the Muslim group for trying to get Labour into a more “sensible” position.

“I recognise what you say around the hurt, particularly felt by Muslim communities. If anything, I would say you downplayed the hurt, rather than played it up,” he said.

“I can tell you first hand how devastated people are right across the Muslim community. And that is not to negate or talk down the devastation felt in the Jewish community.”

Sarwar continued: “That humanity and empathy is, if we are being blunt about it, what has been missing from some of the statements which has caused so much of the hurt, where it feels as if there is an inconsistency, or a dehumanising, or not seeing the value of one life to be equal to another life.”

In a speech earlier this week, Keir Starmer warned that a ceasefire in Gaza would risk further Hamas violence.

He said the war is “an issue that so many people recoil from out of despair”, adding: “Anyone who has followed this closely [will have] seen images that can never be unseen… the innocent dead, Israeli, Palestinian, Muslin, Jew”.

Outlining the “unimaginable scale” of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, he insisted his approach has been “driven by the need to respond to both these tragedies”, standing by the “right of self defence” for Israel and the “basic human rights of innocent Palestinians”.

The intervention came after days of criticism from frontbenchers and senior Labour figures about the party’s Israel-Gaza stance. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.