Romford Labour says it has become the party's first constituency group to defy Sir Keir Starmer's position on the crisis in Gaza by calling for a ceasefire.

Omar Salem, Romford Constituency Labour Party (CLP) communications officer, said it was important that Labour leaders take a clear position and asked the party leader to unequivocally state Israel must stop its siege of Gaza.

Israel yesterday (October 31) bombed a refugee camp killing dozens of people on the 25th day of the conflict in Gaza, reported The Guardian.

In the motion seen by The Recorder, Romford CLP stated that Labour's position should always be consistent with complying to international law and the greatest possible protection of human rights.

Mr Salem condemned the "appalling attacks by Hamas" but added: “The reason we passed the motion is we’d like Labour to go further and make clear that Israel must stop its siege of Gaza.

“In particular there needs to be a ceasefire to try and get the hostages back and stop the killing to find a long-term political solution,” he said.

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But other Labour figures in Havering did not join the call for a ceasefire when asked yesterday (October 31).

When asked if he would join his Romford peers, Keith Darvill, Havering Labour Group leader, said he would not be asking Sir Keir to demand a ceasefire.

“The humanitarian aid, the easing of the force that’s going in there so that the aid can be delivered, that’s where the priority is,” Cllr Darvill said.

Romford Recorder: Keith Darvill did not join calls for a ceasefireKeith Darvill did not join calls for a ceasefire (Image: LDRS)

He was joined by Jane Keane, Labour councillor for St Albans ward in Romford, who was one of three Romford Labour CLP members who abstained from the discussion in which the motion passed.

Mr Salem had said that 18 members had backed the motion and three abstained, notably Cllr Keane.

When asked why, Cllr Keane said: “Activists have the right to debate motions – I have to be very mindful that in our community we have people who are Jewish and Muslim.

“The most important thing is getting water and medical equipment to people,” she added. “A pause quickly is what is required.”

Mr Salem also felt there had been “some discouragement” of discussion of the issue in the party.

Romford Recorder: Mr Salem said there had been 'some discouragement' of discussing the Israel-Palestine issueMr Salem said there had been 'some discouragement' of discussing the Israel-Palestine issue (Image: Google)

“But we felt was that it’s important to discuss it and we had a very constructive debate about the situation," he added.

“We think that is important in a democracy."

Cllr Darvill said that there has been no closure of debate within the Labour Party and different constituency groups will have different reflections.

“The long-term political solution to the crisis is what we must focus on,” he said.

In a speech on the conflict yesterday, Sir Keir said: “While I understand calls for a ceasefire, at this stage I do not believe that is the correct position now."

Sir Keir went on to say a ceasefire would only embolden Hamas, a militant group responsible for the attacks on October 7 that killed more than 1,400 people with at least 239 taken hostage, according to the BBC.

“Our current calls for pauses in the fighting for clear and specific humanitarian purposes [and which] must start immediately,” he added.