When Hamas gunmen attacked Israel on October 7, it triggered a deadly conflict in the Middle East and sent shockwaves around the world.

Israel responded to the unprecedented assault with air strikes and a counter offensive and the death toll has now reached staggering levels.

The effects of the conflict have rippled across the globe.

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More than 2,000 miles away from Gaza, there have been pro-Palestine marches in Oxford and a hate crime attack on a city mosque.

Ten councillors have also resigned from the Labour Group on Oxford City Council over the party's stance on the Middle East conflict.

This has left Labour without majority control of the council for the first time since 2010.

Here, we look at why councillors left the party and what it means for the city.


So far, the list includes:

  • Shaista Aziz
  • Dr Amar Latif
  • Paula Dunne
  • Imogen Thomas
  • Edward Mundy
  • Jabu Nala-Hartley
  • Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini
  • Duncan Hall
  • Barbara Coyne
  • Ajaz Rehman



Sir Keir Starmer has refused to call for a ceasefire in the Middle East and has instead backed pauses in the conflict to deliver aid.

The Labour leader’s stance has led to a major rebellion within the party, as 56 MPs defied him by voting for an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire.

He has also angered Labour councillors in Oxford.

Oxford Mail: Sir Keir Starmer

Mr Rehman, the latest councillor to resign, said it was “beyond his comprehension” that the party would not call for an end to the fighting.

He said it left his position as a Labour councillor “untenable”.

Six others who all quit at the same time said they had resigned over the "Labour leadership’s refusal to condemn collective punishment of Palestinians".

Ms Aziz, who started the wave of resignations when she quit alongside Dr Latif last month, said Sir Keir was “afraid of losing votes.”

She and Dr Latif have formed the Independent Group.

The six who left simultaneously have formed the Oxford Socialist Independents and Ms Coyne and Mr Rehman remain ungrouped.

In her most recent comments, Susan Brown, council leader and leader of the Labour Group, said she hoped for a "peaceful outcome" to the conflict. 

She said: "We all abhor the barbaric terrorist attacks committed by Hamas and Labour stands in solidarity with the innocent civilians in Gaza and Israel in the face of continuing violence and suffering through the lack of basic necessities.

"We are all hoping for a peaceful outcome soon.

"Oxford Labour continues to support our local Jewish and Muslim communities who are both grieving.

"It is vital that we all play our part in ensuring that Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism have no place in our city.

"We will continue to support all Oxford's faith communities."



While politically significant, the resignation of 10 councillors from Labour will have little-to-no immediate impact on the daily lives of people in Oxford.

The council’s core services, which includes collecting bins and council tax, are not likely to change.

But it does bear weight for future decision making.   

Oxford Mail: Oxford Town Hall, where the city council is headquarteredOxford Town Hall, where the city council is headquartered

The council has historically been dominated by Labour.

No other party has ever taken control apart from the Conservatives for four years in the late 1970s.

Now, for the first time in 13 years, Labour no longer has a majority.

The leadership can no longer assume it will get majority support on decisions.

As a result, we are likely to see more accountability and scrutiny. But the flip side of that coin is a slower decision-making process.

Key future projects are likely to be called into question.

This includes the Oxford Local Plan 2040, a document which sets out where the city’s new homes will be built, with some of the resigning councillors wanting a greater provision of affordable housing than what is planned.

Major developments, like almost 300 new homes in Blackbird Leys, will also be put under a microscope by the former Labour councillors.

There could also be a shift in the council’s attitude to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), the controversial traffic calming measures introduced in East Oxford and Cowley.

The LTN scheme has been introduced by Oxfordshire County Council. The city council can do little besides communicate about the scheme with the larger authority.

So far, the city council has remained largely silent on LTNs. But a more critical approach to the scheme is expected. One councillor, Ms Aziz, has been critical of the LTNs introduced in East Oxford, although not the scheme as a whole.



The ex-Labour councillors will continue representing their communities as Independents or as part of independent groups

With no end in sight for the fighting in Gaza, Labour's headache over the issue - both at a national and local level - is set to continue.

There are still 22 Labour city councillors in Oxford, but the leadership will surely fear how many more it can afford to lose. 

With the next city council elections not until May 2024, it is unlikely that Labour will be able to claw back its majority between now and then.