Socialist Party Stall swamped at Birmingham demo against war on Gaza. Photo: Brum SP
Socialist Party Stall swamped at Birmingham demo against war on Gaza. Photo: Brum SP

London – biggest yet

Collective grief and anger brought one of the biggest Palestine solidarity marches in UK history. Fears that the demonstration would see fewer numbers than that of the previous Saturday were quelled by more attendees than a week prior.

As demonstraters arrived, they assembled at Socialist Party campaign stalls to sign our petition, buy record numbers of Socialist papers and donate record amounts to our fighting fund. Socialist Party placards and posters reading ‘End Israeli State Terror’ and ‘Stop the War on Gaza! For a Socialist Intifada’ could be seen amidst a wave of Palestinian flags.

Our flyers offering an alternative were taken with enthusiasm. Socialist Party members were constantly speaking to protesters about a socialist programme for a free Palestine, which got an overwhelmingly positive response.

Whilst the capitalist devastation prevails and dominates the news, people are organising in their masses around the world to call for an end to war and occupation. The demonstrations continue.

Emily Lyndon

Newham – Labour splits

Several hundred people attended a protest initiated by Mehmood Merza, an independent councillor. Mehmood is part of Newham Socialist Labour, a group of mainly former Labour members.

The East Ham Labour Party secretary spoke and angrily ripped up his Labour Party membership card in protest at Keir Starmer’s support for the Israeli state’s collective punishment of Gaza. 

Mehmood also asked East London Socialist Party member Lois Austin to address the crowd. Lois welcomed Mehmood’s initiative, and compared it to the rest of the council, and other “weak cowards inside the Labour Party, who would rather hold on to their Labour Party cards than stand up for the rights of Palestinians, who’ve been slaughtered by the Israeli state in their thousands, backed up by Western powers”. 

Lois pointed out that there are young Israelis protesting against Israeli government policy, “calling for an end to the attacks and for a ceasefire”. To applause from the largely Muslim and Asian crowd, Lois said: “We should support these brave young people in Israel who want peace and justice”. 

Newham Labour mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, spoke about Gaza to an outside gathering of mainly local Labour councillors. An event that was not widely publicised, and did not feature any slogans. 

A local Labour councillor has resigned over Keir Starmer’s position on what’s happening. Local socialists and activists against the war are discussing the best alternative candidate to put forward in the by-election.

The Socialist Party will aim to reach agreement with other activists on a manifesto that stands against the Israeli war on Gaza, and for Palestinian rights, alongside the need for a fighting anti-cuts programme in the town hall.

Niall Mulholland

Swindon – don’t trust capitalist politicians

People are horrified at the scale of violence, and desperately hope for peace. Swindon Socialist Party was out for the second weekend in a row with material on the ongoing war in Gaza, leafleting for our upcoming public meeting.

Most common was a feeling of powerlessness. ‘Yes, the war should stop, but what can we do?’ This led to conversations about the need to fight for socialism at home, and a mass workers’ party with a socialist and internationalist programme.

There was widespread revulsion at the hypocrisy from both the Tories and Keir Starmer’s Labour, especially Starmer ruthlessly purging voices in the Labour Party that aren’t uncritically supportive of Israeli state terror. No one we spoke to had any trust in capitalist politicians to bring peace to the region, or anywhere in the world.

Most were happy to see a political party campaigning against the war with a class-based perspective, after the near blood-frenzy amongst the capitalist politicians.

So people also donated generously. We raised more than double what we normally would.

Another vigil has been called for 4 November. Our Socialist Party branch will be there in strength.

Scott Hunter

I only recently joined the Socialist Party, this was the first demonstration I attended alongside other members. Seeing local residents turn out in support in such great numbers was heartening.

Mary Quaite

Manchester – rage

The protest took place at Media City, where some of the BBC is based. Throughout, the protest was condemnation of biased media coverage of the conflict.

The mood was angry at the actions of the Israeli state.

Every person we spoke to agreed that the indiscriminate killing of Israeli Jewish workers was wrong, and would not help the Palestinian cause, because it pushes the Israeli Jewish working class towards supporting the Israeli state’s brutal retaliation.

When posed in this way, many understood the need for working-class unity to bring about liberation for Palestinians and social change. Many people agreed with us that capitalism cannot provide a solution.

There was also regular booing for Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer for supporting the Israeli state’s vicious response. 100 people confirmed their interest in attending the Socialist Party’s meeting to discuss the issues.

Warren Corrigan

Leeds – zero love for Starmer

Many supported our message calling for new mass workers’ parties that will actually stand up for the oppressed. Contrary to media lies about how these rallies contain a large ‘pro-Hamas/antisemitic/homophobic’ element, not once did I hear any slogans that were pro-Hamas or anti-Jewish.

There were, in fact, Jewish groups supporting the march, and Jewish speakers. They were warmly received by everyone there. Likewise with LGBTQ+ groups.

None of the speakers condoned Hamas’s actions, and were quite clear that even one civilian death is too many on either side. The speech by Socialist Party member Iain Dalton was posted online by the organisers.

Hatred for the Tories was a given. Yet, there was zero love for Keir Starmer and his sycophantic approach saying Israel can do whatever it likes.

There were also chants against East Leeds Labour MP Richard Burgon. Burgon is considered to be on the left, and, in the past, has been a supporter of Palestine. However, he hasn’t been sighted at these rallies – sadly a common trend among the remaining ‘Socialist Campaign Group’ Labour MPs.

Tom Gibson

Birmingham – leaflets snatched up

The first Birmingham protest was called by a group of teenagers, armed with an Instagram page and a WhatsApp group. Socialist Party leaflets were snatched out of our hands.

Lluís Bertolín

Birmingham – sick of injustice

A last-minute protest was organised on 18 October following the bombing of a hospital in Gaza. In a teary voice, one speaker announced: “You do not have to be Muslim to show support”.

Socialist Party members spoke to the crowd about how capitalist governments are responsible, with the UK selling weapons to Israel. “Exactly, we’re the one’s funding it.”

On 21 October, there was an even larger turnout. One person told the Socialist Party: “I’m really glad you guys are bringing class politics into this”.

People are sick of the injustice. They want a place to direct their discontent.

Tom Porter Brown

Carlisle – right to protest

Carlisle Socialist Party has held several campaign stalls against the war in Gaza.

At a vigil, lots of people came to our stall, signed our petition, took our material, and expressed their support and gratitude. Young Muslims and asylum seekers took handfuls of our leaflets to hand out at the mosque, hostel and uni.

Brent Kennedy

Sheffield – Labour called out

The fourth demonstration in 10 days was the largest. Sheffield council had been criticised for flying the Israeli flag on the town hall.

The local Labour Party was criticised relentlessly, called out, and invited to speak out against their party’s position in front of the crowd. But only one councillor – Nabeela Mowlana – addressed the crowd.

With this hostility towards Labour, our socialist material was well received. 20 Socialist Party members supported the demonstration, and put forward our socialist, class-based position.

Alex Brown

Lancashire – youth lead march

On behalf of the Socialist Party, I spoke out against the divide-and-rule policies of all of the capitalist politicians, and for mass united struggle and building workers’ parties. Afterwards, demonstrators thanked me for what I had said.

And most of the 250 there took our Socialist Party material. An impromptu march was led by local Palestinian youth chanting.

Martin Powell-Davies

Coventry – Labour failure

The crowd picked up more people as they marched. Many who approached our Socialist Party campaign stall questioned the hypocritical position of Labour, not only on this issue, but its failure to support the working class today.

Mila Hughes

Wolves – it’s not two weeks, its 75 years

“I’m sick of seeing dead children and separated families on my TV.” “It’s not just the last two weeks, this has been going on for 75 years.”

“Money and greed is what motivates politicians in the Middle East and the UK. Since they got rid of Corbyn, you can’t tell the difference between Tories and Labour anymore.”

Josh Allerton

Newcastle – loads of support

Hundreds joined the rally outside the BBC’s Pink Palace in protest at its biased reporting. The protest got loads of support from passing traffic. Our Socialist paper and leaflets were well received.

Elaine Brunskill

Worcester – not in our name

Worcester Trades Union Council organised the event. Many shoppers stopped and listened to the speakers.

A few young Muslim children chanted in the microphone. And many speakers encouraged us to show the government that this war is not in our name, and stop supplying the Israeli state with arms to use against Palestine.

Calvin Fowler

Cardiff – looking for solutions

At least 1,500 people marched. The mood was determined and looking for solutions.

Socialist Party members got an excellent response with our leaflet, calling for workers’ unity and struggle against the conflict and national oppression. And almost 100 protesters bought a copy of the Socialist.

Joe Fathallah

Northampton – silence becomes loud

What was originally advertised as a silent vigil became a passionate rally of 150.

Josh Curtis