After having written to my MP, Lyn Brown, prior to the previous two ceasefire votes in Parliament, yesterday I emailed her again along with Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, to express my concerns about Labour's stance on Gaza prior to the upcoming general election.

An hour after I sent this message, Lyn Brown announced she would be standing down at the election. I wish her a happy retirement and hope she will pass mine and others' messages along to her successors.

I share this letter to encourage you to do the same with your current MP (if you're quick before Parliament is dissolved) and your candidates for the election. We need a government that does more than sit on the sidelines and wring its hands at the sight of the appalling atrocities in Palestine; the more people demand this, the stronger our voice is.

Dear Lyn (and Sir Keir),

As I write this, the Israeli government continues to bombard Rafah, which they themselves had declared a “safe zone.” The majority of civilians there are protected by nothing but tents. On social media I have seen the most gruesome images of starved children, and one particularly shocking one of a person holding their dead child (whose head was missing) while buildings behind them are on fire. The UNRWA has described the situation as “hell on earth,” and “a horror show that is not stopping,” and has said “there is no such thing as a safe space in the Gaza Strip.”

I was particularly disgusted to read a claim by the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, that spun the strikes on Rafah as a “tragic mishap,” as if it was someone knocking over a pot of tea or tripping on a staircase. Children have died. While hiding behind the atrocities committed by Hamas, the Israeli government and military is killing noncombatants, including children.

When I see those images from Rafah, I think of my own baby niece who is only three months old, and the people who love her, and her future; I think of the future that has been denied to those children in Gaza. I think of the international norms and court rulings that the Israeli government is flouting with impunity, and how this sets a troubling precedent for future conflicts. Because if Western governments stand by and do nothing as children are killed in Gaza, what’s to stop some other strongman leader pointing to this to justify the indiscriminate killing of children elsewhere? In Ukraine? Taiwan? Poland? Britain?

No matter whether it is spun as “self defence” or a “response to an imminent threat” (as it was in 2003 when the UK and US invaded Iraq, or in 2014 or 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine) or whether it may be technically “legal’: killing children is a profane and grotesque act. It must never go unpunished, no matter who does it.

I am very well aware that Parliament will imminently be dissolved ahead of the coming General Election. I am also someone who is generally very supportive of Labour’s policies. But I have been disappointed by the Labour Party’s response to the situation in Palestine, by the sluggishness with which it eventually called for a ceasefire after over four months. I and many of my friends feel that our trust in Labour to stand up for what’s right has been betrayed.

I cannot in good conscience vote for a Labour Party that will, in government, do nothing more than make pained noises and call for restraint on all sides when it sees families and children being killed en masse.

Calls for a ceasefire are no longer enough. Consequences are what’s necessary. I am asking you to commit to:

a. formally recognising Palestinian statehood
b. imposing sanctions on Israel until there is a permanent ceasefire agreement (as we did with Russia following their invasion of Ukraine)
c. ending the sale of weapons to Israel until there is a permanent ceasefire and an end to the oppression of the Palestinian peoples
d. safe routes to Britain for Palestinian refugees, as we offered to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion.

Best regards,

Open letter to my MP and Keir Starmer about the ongoing assault on Rafah