“Ceasefire now,” cried thousands of voices gathered in Glasgow last Saturday. For the fifth week running, Scotland’s largest city rallied to call for an immediate end to Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Held in her father's arms so that she could reach the microphone, Jeewan Wadi, an 8-year-old Palestinian child, led the chant. “I only care about the children, babies, women and men that are getting bombed in their own homes,” she tearfully told the crowd.

Jeewan’s contribution followed speakers who told of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis. Hospitals are bombed. Entire families are killed. White phosphorus is used by the Israeli military. Glasgow heard the stories that have led the Scottish Labour Party to join more than three quarters of the British public in supporting an end to the bombing.

This call, however, will reportedly be opposed by Labour at Westminster on Wednesday. According to a leaked script for Labour whips, MPs have been urged not to support an SNP motion that demands an immediate ceasefire for fear of “undermining the Scottish Party.”

Aside from playing politics over such a grave and pressing issue, this is a spurious justification. Anas Sarwar and the Scottish Party have supported a ceasefire since the 27th of October. Numerous Scottish Labour MSPs have offered their support to ceasefire motions in Holyrood lodged by members of other parties. In recent months, the UK Labour leadership have proven themselves more than capable of undermining Scottish Labour. This, however, is not one of those instances.

Read More: Jackie Baillie dismisses SNP's Israel Hamas war ceasefire vote as 'game playing'

The ceasefire vote “will not change the facts on the ground,” continues the whip’s script. These facts merit repeating given that, by opposing a ceasefire, the Labour leadership’s stance legitimises the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

While the Gaza Strip is smaller than the isle of Arran, it is one of the most densely populated areas of the planet. The newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Cameron has called it a ‘prison camp’. More bombs have fallen on Gaza since 7th October than fell on Afghanistan during an entire year of the US occupation. This indiscriminate bombing has already killed more than 11,000 Palestinians with many more missing under the rubble of their own homes.

The Herald: Pro-Palestinan demonstration at the Buchanan Street steps in GlasgowPro-Palestinan demonstration at the Buchanan Street steps in Glasgow (Image: Colin Mearns)

As UN experts warn that “the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” the British public, trade unions and civil society are united in their demand to end the bombing. Nonetheless, Keir Starmer doubled down on his opposition to a ceasefire during a Chatham House speech delivered at the end of October. To call for an end to the bombing, argued the Labour leader, would embolden Hamas.

Hours later, Israel bombed the Jabalia refugee camp and killed more than 50 people. Taking his lead from President Joe Biden – who has shamefully denied the scale of Palestinian death – Keir Starmer has tucked in behind Washington.

In doing so, his ‘government in waiting’ signals its open embrace of the so-called ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US. Keir Starmer may be happy to fall in line behind the government, but his party is not. Nearly a quarter of Labour MPs and more than a dozen frontbenchers have called for a ceasefire. The popular movement that has erupted for Palestine has already moved Labour politicians across these islands to reject Keir Starmer’s position.

Read More: SNP piles pressure on Scottish Labour over ceasefire vote

To hide their blushes, Labour has accused the SNP of deliberately seeking to make trouble by lodging a motion that splits the party. The reality, however, is that forcing our government to join calls for a ceasefire is the most urgent task of the anti-war movement. For a dispossessed people who have lived under settler-colonial occupation for decades, it is less than the bare minimum, but for as long as one child is killed every 10 minutes it is essential. Parliamentary motions are but one way of bringing that pressure to bear on the Israeli government.

Rishi Sunak has offered unequivocal support for Israel, whose atrocities are committed with British bombs and bullets. His government is out of step with the electorate and Parliament has the opportunity to prove it.

“We’re rolling out Nakba 2023,” said the Israeli agricultural minister this weekend. His sentiments echo those of Isaac Herzog. “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible,” said the Israeli President.

For more than a month now, Israel has told the world of its intention to ethnically cleanse Palestine. We have watched the results on our TV screens. This article shouldn't need to be written. One would hope that Labour MPs, who proudly proclaim their internationalism, would not hesitate to support a ceasefire. But here we are.

The Herald: Pro-Palestinan demonstration at the Buchanan Street steps in GlasgowPro-Palestinan demonstration at the Buchanan Street steps in Glasgow (Image: Colin Mearns)

On Wednesday, Labour MPs can reject the green light the UK Government has shown Israel’s crimes and ramp up the pressure on Rishi Sunak to join most of the world in calling for an immediate ceasefire. Not to vote is to refuse the chance to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine, to tell the people of Gaza – whose country was described by the UN this week as “hell on earth” – that it is not yet time for the bombs to stop. If our politicians have an ounce of eight-year-old Jeewan Wadi’s courage, then they will heed her call for an immediate ceasefire.

Coll McCail is a member of Labour's Scottish Executive Committee, the governing body of the party.