Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer today received two standing ovations after offering unequivocal support for Jews and for Israel in his keynote speech to the party’s annual conference in Liverpool.
The first, from an audience that numbered several thousand, came when he said that Labour was now a “new party” that stood for public service, and had “ripped antisemitism out by its roots”.
The second came just moments later, when he turned to the Hamas terror group’s attack on Israel.
“I am shocked and appalled by the events in Israel,” Starmer said. “I utterly condemn the senseless murder of men, women and children, including British citizens, in cold blood by the terrorists of Hamas.”
He said Labour remained committed to the search for peace, by encouraging a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
But, he went on, “These actions by Hamas do nothing for the Palestinian people, and Israel must always have the right to defend its people.”
After the second ovation, he added that “terrorism is a menace that we must all confront” – a mission that Labour would embrace wholeheartedly if it won the next general election.
Starmer’s comments followed a one-minute silence in the conference main hall yesterday held in memory of the victims of the Hamas attacks.
This was introduced by Starmer’s deputy, Angela Rayner, who was once seen as a loyal supporter of the former party leader Jeremy Corbyn – who was not admitted to the conference and had failed to condemn the attacks.
Rayner told delegates: “I know you will all be appalled by the terrible situation in Israel. I would be grateful now if you could all join us in a moment of silence in sympathy with the victims and the bereaved.”
The audience rose as one and stood in absolute silence for 60 seconds.