London protest against war on Gaza. Photo: Ian Pattison
London protest against war on Gaza. Photo: Ian Pattison

Coventry – tears in their eyes

Hundreds poured into the city centre. The Socialist Party’s politics and programme – stop the Israel-Gaza war, for workers’ unity and struggle against national conflict and oppression – got the support of many.

Some have friends and family in the strip and region, and fear for their lives and safety. Protesters signed our petition with tears in their eyes, telling us about loved ones trapped in Gaza, or suffering in the West Bank.

Palestinians spoke to the crowd about the atrocities carried out by the Israeli military in the past week, but also through decades of conflict and oppression.

The Socialist Party campaign stalls were swamped at times. Many protesters bought the Socialist newspaper, and gave generous donations to fund our socialist message.

Some also asked about joining the Socialist Party, and getting involved in the fight for a peaceful, democratic, socialist society – filling out one ‘join the Socialist Party’ card after another. Young protesters in particular asked us about socialism and Marxism.

The protest spontaneously marched, growing as passers-by joined in. The next meetings of both of Coventry’s Socialist Students groups are on a socialist programme to win national liberation.

Adam Harmsworth

Leeds – loud protest, until crowd fell silent

From Briggate to the Art Gallery, chants could be heard loud. Demonstrators were well aware of the lack of coverage the capitalist media has given to the crisis in Gaza.

Palestinians living in England have families directly affected. This is more than an isolated conflict. It affects lives in the Middle East and beyond.

Solemn silence fell when the cries for justice from a 17-year-old Palestinian girl were heard throughout the crowd.

Demonstrators also voiced that their support for Palestine does not equal terrorism, it does not equal antisemitism, but is rooted in support for rights for all.

People said these demonstrations will occur weekly until the inhumane attack on the Palestinian population is ended. Iain Dalton, Yorkshire Socialist Party secretary, also spoke to the crowd.

Iain said the right-wing government in Israel is weak. That government has faced weekly demonstrations for the past six months in Israel (see Now that government is preparing a brutal ground invasion of Gaza.

Iain called for a socialist intifada of mass struggle against Israeli capitalist state oppression. And he called for mass workers’ parties.

In the UK, that would be in opposition to the mainstream capitalist parties who defend the bloody assault on Gaza. In Palestine and Israel, it could give a genuine socialist alternative for the masses to the dead end of national conflict and oppression under capitalism.

“1..2..3..4..occupation no more”, was another chant by the crowd, and they were right. The occupation must end, and the war on Palestinian lives must end.

John Tival

Leicester – we ran out of leaflets

We set up our Socialist Party campaign stall before the protest started, so were able to get our socialist material out for everyone, as the protest gathered around us.

We ran out of leaflets. Our placards were taken and held up during the rally.

Leicester Socialist Party member Heather Rawling spoke. She stressed the suffering of the Palestinian people, raised the need for international working-class solidarity, including from trade unions.

The Israeli working class has already organised a general strike this year. Heather called for the Israeli working class to overthrow their right-wing government, and fight for socialism. And she called for the same in Gaza.

Heather got cheers and applause. Our working-class approach gets an echo.

There were also coaches going to the London demonstration too. We have a Socialist Party public meeting about Palestine on 24 October.

Saada Mohamed

London – queues at Socialist Party stalls

There was a huge turnout, with a wide range of people demanding an end to violence and oppression. People were queuing up to speak with us in the Socialist Party on our campaign stalls.

Around 1,000 people bought a copy of the Socialist. And people donated over £2,500 to fund our socialist message.

People are desperate for solutions, and they resonated with the Socialist Party’s demands. I had to pinch myself at times. It was moving and inspiring

Jack Deacon

Bradford – youth marched and the march grew

200 mainly young people marched across Bradford, and the numbers grew to 350. Speakers criticised the Labour council, which refused the demonstration access to the town hall steps, usually allowed for demos.

Tory home secretary Suella Braverman said ‘it may be illegal to fly the Palestinian flag in Britain’. So 50 people waved them in defiance.

Kevin Pattison

Sheffield – “take it down”

Even more joined the protest when we marched.

There were a lot of young motivated supporters of the cause. Socialist Party posters said: “Build a mass movement to end Israeli state terror”.

It was a diverse audience. Full of both young and old, all genders and ethnicities.

Protesters chanted “take it down”, referring to the Israeli flag on the town hall. Two protesters climbed the building to take down the flag, replacing it with a Palestinian flag.

Rasha Omer

Plymouth – “what can I do?”

Many wanted to share their shock and grief with us. There was recognition that both ordinary Palestinians and Israelis are suffering. And disappointment and anger that the Tories, and other capitalist governments, are rushing to wholeheartedly support the right-wing Israeli government.

Palestinians need democratic control of their own state, and independent workers’ parties in both states need to be built and work together. This message from the Socialist Party was met with interest and enthusiasm.

People asked: “What can I do? I am only one person”. This led to discussions about the power of the working class when we work together for change.

We talked about the ability of unions to demand change when they are united. And the success of seemingly small activities, such as workers refusing to move or handle arms which are going to be used in an unjust war.

Alex Sampson

York – anger at Tories and Labour

Our Socialist Party campaign stall was busy throughout, with people signing our petition, taking leaflets, and buying the Socialist paper. Huge anger existed towards the leadership of the Tories and Labour for giving the go ahead to the Israeli government to cut off power, water and other supplies to Gaza.

I spoke at the demo, explaining the need for a socialist intifada, a mass struggle of the Palestinian masses against the repression of the Israeli state. After speaking, I was approached by a number of people wanting to discuss the approach of the Socialist Party to Israel-Palestine, and other issues in the Middle East.

This included the revolt against the Assad regime in Syria from 2011 onwards, the impossibility of a solution under capitalism to the national question, and why the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) – the international the Socialist Party is part of – calls for a socialist Palestine, alongside a socialist Israel, with two capitals in Jerusalem.

Iain Dalton

Worcester – Socialist paper held high

Everyone was very friendly towards us in the Socialist Party. Some of the Palestinians who bought the Socialist paper held it up for press and photographs.

Ruthie McNally

Newcastle – indiscriminate and barbaric

Hundreds gathered to stop the indiscriminate and barbaric bombing of Gaza. Our Socialist Party petition – calling to stop the Israel-Gaza war, and for a socialist intifada – had a lot of people interested. 

Elaine Brunskill