Thousands of protesters are expected outside Scottish Labour's conference venue in Glasgow today, as criticism mounts over Sir Keir Starmer's reluctance to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Delegates in the Scottish Exhibition Centre will likely back a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

And yesterday, in his keynote address, Anas Sarwar was also explicit in calling for an "immediate ceasefire with an end to rocket fire going in to, and coming out of, Gaza right now."

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar downplays ceasefire differences with Keir Starmer

Sir Keir has always stopped short of using the word “immediate”, rather calling for a “sustainable” ceasefire.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Sarwar denied that there was any real difference between the positions.

He said: “I don’t actually think there’s as much distance in this as people now believe.

“Keir Starmer in recent days has said he wants the fighting to stop right now and for that to be a sustainable ceasefire.”

He said they both wanted the violence in the Palestinian enclave to stop “right now” along with the delivery of humanitarian aid, the release of Israeli hostages.

Mr Sarwar said: “We shouldn’t be stuck on the semantics because this is a really important issue of life and death for people right now in Gaza and in Israel.

“The idea that this is about the semantics within one political party that’s in opposition…”

Pressed on why Sir Keir had not used the phrase “immediate ceasefire”, Mr Sarwar said: “Keir Starmer has said ‘the immediate end to fighting’, which means a sustainable ceasefire.

“I am perfectly relaxed and happy to say we need an immediate ceasefire and I have been saying so for weeks and weeks on end.”

The party leader also said “open conversations” were happening with Labour’s two Scottish MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, ahead of an SNP vote on a ceasefire in the Commons this week.

When they forced a similar vote in the Commons in November, it caused splits in the Parliamentary Labour Party, with 56 MPs defying Sir Keir, including 10 shadow ministers and aides.

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Brendan O’Hara said Mr Sarwar should whip his MPs to back their motion.

He said: “The time for warm words is over. More than 28,000 Palestinian children, women and civilians have now been killed since Westminster failed to back a ceasefire in November.

“I urge Anas Sarwar to ensure Labour MPs don’t repeat the same devastating mistake they made when they opposed a ceasefire in November – he needs to show some leadership and whip them to vote in favour this time.

“By failing to join international pressure, Westminster is making an immediate ceasefire less likely and putting more lives at risk.

“Children in Gaza can’t afford for the UK to turn a blind eye once again.”