Yvette Cooper raises Labour MPs’ safety with police after Gaza vote threats

The constituency office of Labour MP Jo Stevens in Cardiff after it was attacked by pro-Palestine activists
The constituency office of Labour MP Jo Stevens in Cardiff after it was attacked by pro-Palestine activists - PA

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, has held discussions with police to ensure the safety of Labour MPs amid threats following the Commons vote rejecting calls for an immediate Gaza ceasefire.

Several MPs have seen their offices attacked and received threats for either refusing to back a ceasefire, or for voting in favour, during a vote in the Commons last week on the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech.

The office of Jo Stevens, the shadow Welsh secretary, was vandalised on Thursday night after she abstained from the vote, while Apsana Begum, who backed a ceasefire, said she had received “Islamophobic abuse and death threats”.

Ms Cooper is understood to have been in talks with the Metropolitan Police in the run-up to dozens of pro-Palestine protests held around the country on Saturday.

Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had walls daubed in red paint and posters graffitied with the words ‘blood on your hands’
Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had walls daubed in red paint and posters graffitied with the words ‘blood on your hands’ - Wales news service

Sir Keir Starmer and his wife were targeted with personal insults as hundreds of pro-Palestine protestors barracked his constituency offices in Camden, north London.

Around 500 activists holding banners shouted: “Keir Starmer you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide”, in protest at his refusal to call for a ceasefire.

As the protest made its way towards the Labour leader’s offices, under the close eye of police officers, there were also chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, widely interpreted as a call for the destruction and replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state.

One man was filmed making personal attacks on the Labour leader’s wife Victoria, who is Jewish, saying: “His wife’s a Zionist you know his wife says, you know, Israel and he’ll go and support Israel the little s—.”

Protesters criticise Sir Keir Starmer's response to the Israel-Hamas conflict during a march in Camden, north London - Justin Tallis/Getty

Another protestor held up a typed notice claiming that some Israelis had been shot by their own forces on Oct 7, when more than 1,400 people were killed by the Hamas assault on southern Israel, while one woman held up the flag of Iran.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism compared the peddling of conspiracy theories around Oct 7 to Holocaust denial.

A spokeswomen for the group said: “Hamas murdered, raped and kidnapped innocent Jews and to in any way imply otherwise is dangerous and cruel. The fact that these attitudes are common at these so-called peace rallies demonstrate that they are anything but.

“The Jewish community is scared and its allies are disgusted at what we are seeing. That is why Sunday will see Britain stand together for the national solidarity march against anti-Semitism. This is a country known for its tolerance and decency. It is time that we stand up for those values.”

The Met later said the protest in Camden had concluded “without any incidents”, but it is understood that officers will look over photographs and social media posts to see if any of the placards or statements fall foul of terror legislation.

A pro-Palestinian protester accuses the Labour leader of upholding 'crimes against humanity'
A pro-Palestinian protester accuses the Labour leader of upholding 'crimes against humanity' - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph/Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
One protester held a placard reading: 'Starmer: still supporting war crimes' - Justin Tallis/Getty

Elsewhere a teenage girl was arrested during a pro-Palestine protest in Lewisham for holding what Scotland Yard described as “an anti-Semitic placard”, while in nearby Croydon a 55-yr-old man was arrested after reports he shouted racist and threatening abuse about Palestinian people.

Pro-Palestine campaigners also targeted the Manchester branch of McDonald’s in Oxford Street as part of a “day of action” leading to a line of police officers blocking them from entering the restaurant.

Many of Saturday’s protests targeted MPs who had voted against or abstained in the vote last week.

In Birmingham, pro-Palestine activists barracked the offices of Labour MP Shabana Mahmood, who abstained.

There were also protests outside the office of Harrow East’s Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who voted against a ceasefire, while hundreds outside the offices of Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, shouted “shame on you”.

In a column for The Telegraph James Cleverly, the new Home Secretary, promised he would tighten the law if necessary to help police crack down on racist hate and incitement to violence at protests, and to stop people climbing on monuments and public amenities such as war memorials.

He wrote: “The right to protest is fundamental, but it isn’t the only right. People also have a right to go about their business free from intimidation. Attacks on the police and the recent horrendous rise in incidents of anti-Semitism are utterly repellent.”

Sir Keir Starmer had earlier revealed he fears for his family’s safety as MPs are targeted with abuse and threats over the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protesters making their way down Camden High Street
Pro-Palestinian protesters making their way down Camden High Street - Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph/Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph

The Labour leader said his “biggest concern” was how to protect his wife and children after a number of MPs were subjected to death threats and their offices vandalised.

There were also protests in Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth and Stevenage.

Around 400 people, including 20 members of a fringe cult of Hasidic Jews, marched in Dalston, East London, calling for a ceasefire.

In Leeds dozens of activists staged a sit-down protest at the city’s main rail station, with hundreds more doing the same on the concourse of Waterloo Station in London, where at least five protestors were arrested.

The Met announced on Saturday that it had made 386 arrests for related offences since the deadly Hamas terror attacks on southern Israel on Oct 7.

Many of the protests targeted Labour MPs
Many of the protests targeted Labour MPs - Geoff Pugh/Telegraph

Of these, 253 of these have been during protests or other public gatherings; 125 have been in communities and were mostly related to hate crime; and eight were part of counter-terrorism investigations.

These included a man spitting and shouting anti-Semitic slurs at Jewish members of the public in a shop on High Road, Stamford Hill, London, on Wednesday, while expressing support for the Palestinian cause.

It also included a 49-year-old man who shouted Islamophobic and other racist abuse at detention officers while he was being held in custody in Colindale.

It is thought the total number of arrests made includes the at least 90 counter-protesters held last Saturday, after hundreds of far-Right activists and football hooligans attempted to reach the Cenotaph on Armistice Day.

Saturday’s localised protests were held instead of a large march in central London, where national protests involving hundreds of thousands of people had been staged every Saturday since the outbreak of the conflict.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the rallies were organised to show that “ordinary people” support a ceasefire.

He said: “We demand justice for the Palestinian people – their right to self-determination and to live in freedom, safety, and with full human rights.”

The Metropolitan Police said that a “significant” policing operation had been implemented for the capital this weekend.

It said it would target deployments in areas “with significant Jewish or Muslim communities”, which it said “continue to experience increased uncertainty and fear in light of events in the Middle East and their impact here in London”.

Footage was shared on social media of the protests reported to be taking place outside Downing Street.

Flag-waving pro-Palestine campaigners could be heard chanting “Allahu Akbar” along with “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” in the video on the Twitter account Harry’s Place.

The caption read: “Downing St Happening Now. Demonstration organised by Palestinian Forum in Britain happening now.

“Children, a girl then a boy, are encouraged to lead chants once official demo ends. They chant while surrounded by masked men and women.”

Scuffles could also be seen breaking out in the area.

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