The leaders of one of Scottish Labour’s largest local branches have resigned after accusing the party of shutting down debate on the situation in Israel and Palestine.
Nine office bearers at the Glasgow Kelvin Constituency Labour Party (CLP) – including peer Baroness Bryan of Partick – quit after officials told them to limit discussion on the conflict.
It follows a motion which called on Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to press for Israeli military action to stop, the introduction of a humanitarian corridor and the release of hostages.
The Glasgow Kelvin CLP said it was due to debate the motion at its regular meeting on Thursday night.
But after the meeting agenda was published Labour officials wrote to CLPs to say “any motions” about Gaza would be “out of order and should not be debated at party meetings”.
In a statement, the nine members of the CLP executive committee accused Labour of “stifling democracy” within the party.
They said: “We have been informed by the general secretary and the Scottish general secretary that any motions relating to the situation in Israel and Gaza are out of order for all CLPs.
“It seems preposterous to us that a local political party cannot have a substantive discussion on contemporary events which are commanding the attention of the entire world.
“We believe that the emergency motion which was submitted for debate was perfectly valid, and we refute any suggestion by party officials that the mere discussion of the Gaza situation would be ‘prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party’ (message from the general secretary).
“On the contrary, we believe that the absence of such discussion brings our party into disrepute.”
They quoted the Labour rule book as saying one of the aims of CLPs is to “provide the opportunity for all individual members of the party within the constituency to contribute to the development of the aims and policies” and “participate fully in discussion to broaden the political education of members of the party”.
“We cannot fulfil this aim if we are forced to shut down discussion, and we refuse to be part of a party machinery which stifles democracy,” they said.
“Accordingly, we hereby resign our positions on the Executive Committee of Glasgow Kelvin CLP.”
A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: “Scottish Labour has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the actions of Hamas. There is no justification for the loss of innocent life and the targeting of civilians.
“Every life should be treated equally and so there should be no collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
“We will all have been devastated by the scenes at the Al-Ahli Hospital where hundreds have been killed.
That brutality can’t be justified and must end.
“The entire Labour Party is united in demanding the free flow of medicine, food, water and electricity in to Gaza. Humanitarian corridors must be opened and all action must be in line with international law.
“The Labour Party continue to believe strongly in the cause of peace in the region through a two-state solution that delivers security, peace and freedom for all through a sovereign state of Israel and a sovereign state of Palestine with an end to occupation and the siege.
“Only when all life is treated as equal can we achieve peace.”
Who resigned from the Glasgow Kelvin Constituency Labour Party executive?
Jim Mackechnie – Chair
Jennifer Young – Vice chair
Kim Bonnar – Vice chair
Peter Duffy – Secretary
Pauline Bryan – Treasurer
Vince Mills – Policy officer
Diarmaid Kelliher – Trades union liaison officer
Agnes Tolmie – Women’s officer
David Conway – Disability officer
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