If the world stands back while Gaza is destroyed and Palestinians are annihilated we will all have blood on our hands – Cllr Russell Whiting, Gedling

Resignation statement – 17 October 2023

I am today resigning from the Labour Party.

The events of the past week have been shocking. The images of the Hamas attack on Israeli citizens last Saturday morning were horrific, as is the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe being dealt to the Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli government in response. The situation in Israel and Palestine is complex. It has been made more complex by the inaction of the international community to take any action on the illegal Israeli occupation, settlement expansion and systematic erosion of the rights of Palestinians to live as free people in their own state.

Abiding by international law is one of the hallmarks of a civilised society, and international law is clear that deliberate targeting of civilians and collective punishment are illegal. Both of these actions are currently being pursued in response to the Hamas attacks.

The Labour Party should always be willing to stand up to injustices and call out wrongs, no matter where they take place or who is responsible. The initial failure of Sir Keir Starmer to criticise Israel cutting food, water and electricity to 2,000,000 people in Gaza, or the order to evacuate more than 1,000,000, with nowhere to go and only 24 hours to do it, is reprehensible. While his subsequent u-turn is to be welcomed, the initial words mean I can not support him being Prime Minister of this country. 

On Sunday evening I phoned the Gedling Labour Group Whip to express my deep concerns and shared that I was considering leaving the Labour Party. We agreed I wouldn’t act until we had spoken again. On Monday, 15 minutes prior to leaving home for a Labour Group meeting, I was called and told I was having the Labour Whip suspended at Gedling in relation to posts on social media. No evidence of wrongdoing was presented then, nor has it been since.

Politics is about compromise. But there are some things I cannot and will not compromise on. If challenging Sir Keir Starmer on the basic human rights of women and children living in a war-zone means I can no longer take the Labour Whip, so be it. If the world stands back while Gaza is destroyed and Palestinians are annihilated we will all have blood on our hands, and our consciences. 

I will continue to serve the residents of Colwick to the best of my ability as an Independent Councillor. I send my solidarity to those grieving in Israel and Palestine, those living in the middle of this nightmare and those around the world campaigning to end the war, end the occupation and bring hope to the men, women and children of Palestine. May calm heads and peace-filled hearts prevail.

October 17, 2023

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