Starmer’s ‘moral compass is broken’ says Labour ex-councillor

EXCLUSIVE: While the borough’s Labour MPs and councillors continue to support the party line on Israeli war crimes in Gaza, one senior member has quit with a highly critical parting shot. By STEVEN DOWNES

Taking a stand: former Labour councillor Robert Canning

Robert Canning, an ex-councillor described as “one of our best” by a former Croydon Town Hall colleague, has resigned from the Labour Party over its continued mishandling of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, stating that party leader Sir Keir Starmer’s “moral compass is completely broken”.

Canning was a Labour councillor in Waddon ward for eight years until May 2022, having helped to win the ward from the Tories in 2014, an election success that also secured control of the council.

Canning sent in his resignation letter on Tuesday, and wrote to the Labour group leader at Croydon Town Hall, Stuart King, as well as his Constituency Labour Party secretary in Croydon South, Lynda Graham, and his former council ward colleague, Joy Prince.

His decision came before the controversial cancellation of the Labour fund-raising dinner, planned for tonight, which was reported exclusively by Inside Croydon. The event, to be attended by almost 200 members and supporters, was to raise campaign funds for Steve Reed, a member of Starmer’s front-bench team and among the leading Labour apologists for the Israeli military action.

Canning’s is among hundreds of resignations from the party, including dozens of councillors up and down the country, as they quit out of disgust at the party leadership’s effective endorsement of the war crimes being inflicted by the Israeli state on civilians in Gaza, where thousands have been killed in the past month.

Ceasefire now: British Jews at St Pancras Station this morning staging a protest against Israeli military action

No Croydon Labour councillors or MPs have resigned or even spoken out against the on-going slaughter of Palestinians.

Canning, a former senior civil servant, has been a lifelong Labour member and was regularly among the local party’s activists on the doorstep, delivering leaflets or canvassing.

That’s unlikely to happen again.

In his letter, Canning wrote, “I cannot sit idly by while Keir Starmer and his front bench refuse to call out Israeli government war crimes and support calls for a ceasefire whilst thousands of women and children, who are completely unconnected to Hamas, are slaughtered in Gaza.

“Any idiot can say that the Israeli government’s response to the shocking Hamas attack on Israel must comply with international law.

“But it must be obvious to a lawyer of Keir Starmer’s standing that collective punishment by cutting off the water, food and energy supplies of women and children in Gaza is a war crime, yet he won’t call this war crime out.

“I have come to the conclusion that his moral compass is completely broken and therefore he is no longer a fit and proper person to lead the Labour Party.

“I am no longer willing to canvas for him or for a Labour government.”

Read more: Only one Croydon MP attended mosques’ emergency meetings
Read more: Starmer’s Labour is ‘losing members, losing funds, losing staff’
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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2 Responses to Starmer’s ‘moral compass is broken’ says Labour ex-councillor

  1. Sarah Bird says:

    I have lived and worked in Sedrot Ashkelon on a Kibbutz and returned many times to the kibbutz .That kibbutz is very near to Gaza .The situation in Gaza is dire and unimaginable to most people .The views by Nelson Mandela ( former president and lawyer) and Desmond Tutu of apartheid in Gaza being worse than in South Africa (where I have also lived ) should be a grave concern to all. The suffering on both sides is immense. The UN has even raised serious concerns. The lack of Aid is shocking

  2. Mathew Hill says:

    I’m extremely sad to read this.

    I’ve known Robert practically since I first joined the Labour Party in 2010, and I’ve always found him to be one of the most amicable, thoughtful, genuinely intelligent, gracious, highly articulate, supportive and good-humoured individuals within the local party, and it’s always been an absolute delight to campaign/canvass alongside him.

    I’m wary to comment specifically on Robert’s reasons for resigning his membership, since this is, suffice to say, an extremely complex issue (albeit one I have ruminated upon many times, particularly during the last four weeks), but for Robert, an extremely rational and moderate, albeit passionate, Labour Party member to feel compelled to resign, is an indication of how disappointed and dispossessed many of my Labour colleagues feel right now, including, maybe especially, those of us who have always spoken out against anti-Semitism both in general and within the party. I won’t say too much more (and perhaps this reflects poorly on my sense of moral courage), other than to state that however one feels about Hamas’ abhorrent and sickening actions of 7 October, and however much compassion and empathy one feels for the victims of this atrocity, it is always paramount that those nations and statespeople not personally affected, maintain an objective stance and demand that all states fully observe international law and human rights, and seek to avoid, or at least minimise, civilian casualties or ‘collateral damage’, wherever possible.

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