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

Biggest protests yet

Bristol – sea of people

Bristol hosted its largest-ever demonstration for Palestine. 10,000 people took to the streets.

The energetic, diverse and youthful sea of people made its way down. The noise carried well ahead. The chanting never stopped, shaming both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer.

Demonstrators’ sorrow at the loss of life, and fear for the people of Gaza, was matched with anger and determination to change things. People wanted to hear how the conflict could be resolved. We couldn’t keep up with the demand for our leaflets.

When I spoke at the rally, I was greeted with a cheer simply for saying I was from the Socialist Party. Even bigger cheers followed calls for a socialist intifada, and saying that I was marching not just for peace and for the Palestinian people, but also for solidarity, struggle and for socialism.

Tom Baldwin

London – eye-opening experience

I was lucky to stand with the Socialist Party at another huge Palestine protest. It was eye-opening. The 28 October demonstration brought more anger and sadness, and rightly so.

Almost everyone that has visited our campaign stalls on the protests has been desperate to hear an alternative. People approached me, emotional, to demonstrate their deep gratitude to the Socialist Party for supporting the demonstration.

People are also very inquisitive and interested in our call for a socialist intifada, and very keen to donate to the Socialist Party.

Samantha Erin

Bradford and Leeds – ‘Labour MPs, where are you?’

25 people lobbied the constituency office of Labour MP for Bradford West, Naz Shah. We handed in letters from her constituents, protesting against her silence over the bombardment of Gaza.

Several speakers demanded that Shah call for a ceasefire, and then join the 30+ councillors who have resigned from the Labour Party in protest at Keir Starmer’s stance.

I spoke to raise how those opposed to Starmer on this issue, his refusal to support the strike wave, and other retreats from Labour’s 2017 and 2019 manifestos, should come together on a common anti-austerity and socialist platform for the general election. This could include Jeremy Corbyn.

And another speaker said: “We will stand against Naz Shah and others, and make sure Starmer’s candidates don’t win”.

And, for the third time in as many weeks, thousands marched in Leeds. I spoke on behalf of the Socialist Party.

The biggest response came when I asked whether any local MP had defied Keir Starmer’s ban on attending demonstrations. Leeds East MP Richard Burgon finally attended a demo, speaking in London, the only local MP to do so. The crowd chanted: “Richard Burgon, where are you?” during the 21 October protest in Leeds, because of his absence.

A Labour councillor was booed, as well as other capitalist politicians when they were mentioned. This was mirrored by loud cheers when I raised the need for a challenge to those councillors and MPs who have failed to take a stand on this issue, and failed to support workers striking over the cost of living.

Dozens of people bought copies of the Socialist, and many donated money to help produce more placards and other campaign material. But the best reflection of the interest in the Socialist Party’s ideas was when two people walked up to our campaign stall and asked: “How do we join?”

Iain Dalton

Newcastle – nothing to do with Labour

There was an outpouring of anger as 2,000 marched. A group of young women approached our stall to buy a Socialist paper. They liked the front page so much that they each bought a copy to hold up as a placard.

Another woman wanted to ensure we had nothing to do with the Labour Party before making a donation to the Socialist Party.

Elaine Brunskill

Birmingham – cheers

The organisers offered the Socialist Party a speaker at the 23 October vigil in advance. Our call – creating workers’ parties in Palestine and Israel, which could tear Israeli workers away from the Netanyahu government – was met with cheers. One woman took a supply of our leaflets to give to friends who weren’t there.

Clive Walder

Solihull – thank you

400 people turned up to show solidarity. A woman approached us, asking: “Have you got a candidate standing in Hall Green [parliamentary constituency]?” She identified as a Corbynite, and is interested in joining the Socialist Party.

Socialist Party member Clive Walder spoke, and struck a chord. Afterwards, the organisers couldn’t thank us enough for being there. They told us they really appreciated our presence at this and other demos.

William Downs

Loughborough – cavalcade

200 protested outside the office of local Tory MP Jane Hunt. There was large-scale support from ongoing traffic, with many drivers and a car cavalcade showing support.

There was great interest in the Socialist Party, and what we stand for, leading to donations to our fighting fund, people buying the Socialist paper, and large uptakes of our leaflets and posters.

Jacob Gyton

Brutal war politicises students

Swansea uni – marchers defy ban

I was asked to speak on behalf Socialist Students, alongside others. I put forward the need for working-class unity internationally to defeat the capitalist class’s support for the occupation of Gaza. Following the rally, protesters – mostly young Muslim women – defied university management and security to march onto campus.

Ginny Baylis

Leeds uni – alternative to capitalism

I spoke on behalf of the Socialist Party, calling for a united working-class party. A party like that could be a genuine alternative to the capitalist politicians in power. Through a working-class movement, the resources in the Middle East would be controlled democratically by the people there for the benefit of all.

John Tival

Newcastle uni – new generation

While we were campaigning in the run-up to our Socialist Students meeting, students said it’s good to see something happening on campus against the barbaric attack on Gaza. Many students mentioned they were impressed that we call for workers’ unity.

The brutal war is politicising a new generation. And a growing number look towards socialist ideas to combat war.

Elaine Brunskill

Read about the previous weeks of protest – ‘Protests condemning bombing and siege of Gaza grow’ and ‘Hundreds of thousands march against war on Gaza’