‘Never Forget Gaza’ party to challenge Shabana Mahmood MP over ceasefire vote controversy
A new political party is being launched to unseat a Labour MP who abstained from voting for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Birmingham Ladywood representative Shabana Mahmood was among the 141 Members of Parliament who refused to back a vote for a ceasefire in Gaza at the House of Commons on 15 November, attracting the ire of humanitarian campaigners.
The Labour MP chose to abstain in the Commons vote where Labour leader Keir Starmer was hit by a mass rebellion from his front bench, including the resignation of Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips from her shadow role.
Following the controversial vote, constituents held a rally calling for a no-confidence vote against Mahmood – who also received some backlash online – with pro-Palestine campaigners announcing plans to form a new political party to stand against the MP at the next general election.
The recently formed ‘Never Forget Gaza’ party is calling for greater political visibility for the Palestine issue in parliament.
Tweeting on X, formerly Twitter, a spokesperson for the party stated:
“As hospitals and residential areas were bombed in Gaza, most people called for a ceasefire. The political class saw fit to accept cutting food, electricity and aid to Palestinians, many of whom are children, as totally acceptable.
“Amnesty International and many other human rights and aid organisations called this a war crime. We hope to stand a candidate against Shabana Mahmood MP for Birmingham Ladywood in the 2024 general election, with one simple message, “Never Forget Gaza’.”
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to raise money towards setting up the party, with additional funds to be donated to charity Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Salman Mirza, Never Forget Gaza’s prospective parliamentary candidate, hopes to continue raising awareness on the plight of Palestinians.
“MPs, like all of us, have seen hospitals, children and innocent civilians bombed, yet they think they can ride the storm and we will forget,” he told The New Arab in an interview.
“In 2024 there will be a simple message on every ballot paper: ‘Never Forget Gaza’.”
The life-long campaigner for Palestine also campaigned against the Iraq war and works to champion migrant and refugee rights.
“The war on Palestine has been going on long before October the 7th, the political class wants to return to a place where the Palestinians died quietly like they are right now in the West Bank,” Mirza said.
“This party was set up because many of us said we will not forget this, we want the political establishment to see that name next to theirs and spoken about on every door they knock.”
Salman Mirza joined the Birmingham march and rally for Gaza on Sunday 26 November. Speaking at the protest, he said:
“Shabana Mahmood said she more than anyone else wanted a ceasefire, then didn’t vote for a ceasefire. That has shocked her constituents and is also very democratic.
“I would say to Shabana Mahmood, your time is up, you really need to resign.”
In a letter to her constituents following the vote, Shabana Mahmood said:
“I share the upset and concern of you all as we witness the destruction and displacement of human lives on a horrific and unprecedented scale.
“As a determined and life-time supporter of the rights of Palestinians, and as a British Muslim, I will never shy away from speaking on behalf of people that have undergone decades of brutality and suffering.”
The Palestinian death toll from Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip has soared to 14,854, according to the region’s government media office in the blockaded enclave. About 7,000 people remain unaccounted for, including more than 4,700 children, the media office said.
Protesters have announced plans to lobby outside Shabana Mahmood’s constituency office in Birmingham at 11am on Saturday 2 December.