Nicola Day: Greens leader clarifies claim it's 'only party calling for Gaza ceasefire'

The claim has appeared in local election literature, despite other local parties taking a stand on the issue
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Claims the Greens are the “only political party who have been calling for a ceasefire in Gaza” are based on the national parties’ stances last year, the group’s leader in Peterborough has said.

Cllr Nicola Day (Greens, Orton Waterville) explained that the claim, which has appeared in local election campaign literature, is “referring to post October 7th when our national party and our national global solidarity spokesperson was calling for a ceasefire from the very start”.

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“This is when the other parties – Labour and the Conservatives – weren’t doing that and we had a statement from Keir Starmer that said Israel had the right to defend itself with some of the things it was doing,” she added.

Green Party leader Nicola DayGreen Party leader Nicola Day
Green Party leader Nicola Day
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Locally, councillors from all political parties have supported this stance, backing a council motion calling for “an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza” put forward by Cllr Day alongside Cllr Mohammed Rangzeb (Independent, Ravensthorpe) in January.

Peterborough’s Labour group had already called for a ceasefire in early November, while its Conservative MP Paul Bristow lost his job as a ministerial aide for doing so in late October.

Mr Starmer has since called for a ceasefire in Gaza after his statement to the House of Commons on 23rd October in which he said “Israel has the right to defend herself” against the “barbarism” of Hamas.

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Greens campaign poster in Central wardGreens campaign poster in Central ward
Greens campaign poster in Central ward

On 7th October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel which saw hundreds of civilians, including children, killed and taken hostage.

This led to an escalation in the decades-long conflict, which the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reportedly says has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Whether a local council is an appropriate place to debate an international conflict was a subject of debate itself when Cllrs Day and Rangzeb put forward their ceasefire motion.

The Greens have since continued to refer to Gaza in election campaign literature ahead of the vote in Peterborough on 2nd May.

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'Necessary to take a strong, principled, humanitarian stance'

Cllr Day says it’s “necessary to take a strong, principled, humanitarian stance on these issues”.

“We’re proud of our party for having these policies around the Gaza conflict,” she said. “We also think having that strong voice also filters into talking to and standing up for residents on local issues.”

Asked if he’s concerned the Greens could pick up votes in wards which ordinarily vote Labour because of its messaging around Gaza, group leader Cllr Dennis Jones (Labour, Dogsthorpe) said he’s not.

“I just hope that people do bear in mind that the first group in Peterborough to call for a ceasefire was the Labour group,” he added. “If people want to forget that, I can’t stop them.”

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Cllr Day is, meanwhile, unconcerned that running campaigns criticising Labour’s stance on Gaza could alienate the party, especially as it’s the largest after the Conservatives and could take over the council – in some form – in May.

"When I had a conversation with the Labour group leader a few months ago, there wasn’t any reciprocity in terms of not targeting our own wards which we were working hard in and targeting,” she said.

"The Greens are very much happy to reciprocate with those arrangements if those arrangements are in place for us. We may be a smaller party, but we are very much our own political party and if we have candidates who want to stand in areas and campaigns, and we don’t have a reciprocal agreement, then we have every right to campaign in areas across the city.”

'More than happy to enter a coalition or alliance'

Cllr Jones has, moreover, already suggested he’d be unwilling to lead a multi-party coalition after the local elections, which could scupper the Greens’ chances of coming into power regardless of their performance.

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But Cllr Day says she’s open to the possibility, if it does arise.

“We’ve always said as Greens we would be more than happy to enter coalition or alliance–type power sharing arrangements and we’ll be happy to speak to any of the parties interested in doing that,” she said.

“We’ve certainly been part of the talks over the last few years about doing that with the previous Labour leader Shaz Nawaz.”

She added that the Greens had wanted a “more formal, written down, coalition agreement” when Peterborough First took over the council from the Conservatives in November with the support of their party, Labour and the Lib Dems, but “other parties were reluctant to do that”.

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Despite being a party of two on Peterborough City Council, the Greens remain ambitious.

“We’re here to change the world locally, nationally and internationally,” Cllr Day said. “We have every right to be proud of that.”

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