TONY Blair’s catastrophic decision to commit the UK to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 still hangs like a pall over Labour two decades later.

Small wonder that many Labour supporters cannot understand why their current leader Keir Starmer is failing to condemn Israel’s actions in Palestine as new atrocities unfold daily.

As UK troops are again deployed to the region, and its warships and submarines stalk the seas and RAF aircraft unleash missiles on faraway lands, it’s clear that Labour is standing on the wrong side of history, again.

READ MORE: Young Scottish Labour activists plan conference walk-out to join Gaza demo

In February 2003 100,000 people marched to the Labour conference in Glasgow to unite behind three words: Don’t Invade Iraq. This weekend, as Labour gathers in Glasgow again, two words – CEASEFIRE NOW – are ringing just as loudly.

Unless Labour backs that unequivocal and direct call for Israel to stop its genocidal murder of Palestinians, it will be the party’s most shameful moment since the Iraq war. Keir Starmer cannot merely wring his hands now as Israeli tanks blast their way into Rafah. Labour supporters know it, even their own politicians know it. I suspect even he knows it.

In November, 56 Labour MPs had the conviction to vote against their leadership in calls for a ceasefire. Some from Starmer’s own policy team. Ten front benchers even resigned from their positions at Westminster.

The party’s leader in Scotland Anas Sarwar has, in fairness, condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza. But instead of demanding urgent clarity from his UK leader, he has tried to excuse the hedging and the vagueness of his position.

The Scottish Greens and many others across the political spectrum have taken a stand. This weekend, on home turf, I believe Sarwar and anyone with a voice in the Labour Party has a duty to join us. And next week at Westminster, their MPs must vote accordingly.

It’s time for Scottish Labour to look their UK boss in the eye and tell Starmer just how wrong and hesitant he has been in uttering mealy mouthed platitudes about a “humanitarian pause”, at a time when he should have shown leadership in response to the UK Government’s equivocation.

Speeches at a party conference, or even votes at Westminster, won’t bring back nearly 30,000 men, women and children who have died, or heal the 70,000 who have been maimed and injured.

But as Scotland demands that Israel end its collective punishment of the Palestinian people, the leader of the Labour Party and his entire Shadow Cabinet must do so too.

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Starmer needs only to look from a window at their conference to see the protesters gathering outside, to get a sense of how strongly people feel on this issue, the urgency in their actions.

The fact that so many people will give up their day to appeal to the man who would be Prime Minister, and to the party that hopes to govern, is such a powerful message to send. It is beyond focus groups, spin doctors and canvassing.

It is an urgent and necessary response, built on morality and human decency.

They have listened to the UN warning that an Israeli assault on Rafah, where 1.5 million people have already been displaced, will result in nothing less than a slaughter.

It is indefensible that Starmer hasn’t stood up to demand an end to this wretched war, that he hasn’t tried to prevent a further bloody catastrophe from unfolding.

In doing the right thing though, he would send a message loud and clear to Benjamin Netanyahu that the UK will say no more. That the vengeful killing spree and annihilation of a people must stop.

The UK must also cease supplying arms to Israel’s military, something my Scottish Green colleague Ross Greer has called for after it was revealed Britain has provided nearly half a million pounds worth of arms to Israel in the past decade.

Weapons, technology and military hardware that is being deployed to kill children, the bodies of whom are being left soaked in blood and layers of dust in streets or under rubble, because it is too dangerous for rescuers to go and retrieve them.

Weapons which are being used by those who leave injured children lying prone and bleeding next to dead mothers, slowly dying because even the ambulances trying to reach them are targeted and destroyed.

Weapons being shown off like toys on social media as Israeli soldiers joke to the camera before firing off a rocket indiscriminately towards someone’s home, an explosion or cry only encouraging them to cackle even more.

READ MORE: SNP to heap fresh pressure on embattled Keir Starmer as ceasefire vote confirmed

A UK Government with a shred of moral conviction could impose an arms embargo today and, as they prepare to form a government, this demand must be put to Labour as much as the Tories.

Other Arab nations, along with the US, are in talks over a timeline towards establishing a Palestinian state. Labour could exert influence by backing such a move against Israeli objections, and being clear that if they do enter government, they will recognise Palestine immediately.

But this kind of progress depends on the first, most urgent step: a ceasefire, and an end to the war. For tanks to be turned around, for Hamas to release the hostages, for aid to get in.

As I write this, an assault against yet another hospital in Gaza is under way, I don’t know what developments there may be in the few hours till these words are published. I don’t know how many more people will have been killed. I don’t even know if Rafah will be there anymore.

But one thing that is clear is the moral imperative for an international response which stops the killing. A political party which seeks to form a UK Government must step up, and do it now. In the days ahead Labour will face another ceasefire vote in the Commons, brought by the SNP. What Keir Starmer says, or fails to say, in Glasgow this weekend may never be more important.