London – people want alternative to horror
Once again, huge numbers demonstrated. This time, many arrived after taking part in local protests.
The hypocrisy of the Tories and Keir Starmer’s Labour is fuelling the anger already existing. People chanting: “Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer shame on you”. The recent protests have seen more people looking for ideas to stop the war.
Socialist Party members have been boldly taking part in these demonstrations. We are the only organisation raising the need to build a mass political voice for the working class here in Britain, and raising workers’ unity and socialist intifada to end national conflict and oppression.
Our gazebos were once again swamped with people looking for a socialist alternative. Several young people, who we met on a previous demo, helped us give out leaflets, sell our placards, and raise socialist ideas. One young woman approached our stall, said she was a socialist and offered to help there and then, asking how she could join too.
Even though the demo on Saturday 4 November wasn’t as big as previous ones, as people attended local protests, loads of new people have shown interest in joining. Another 100 people filled in ‘join the Socialist Party’ cards.
As the war drags on, there will be more searching for a socialist alternative to this horror. We’ll be out again on Saturday 11 November to raise such an alternative.
Keighley – crowd chants over speech by Labour politician
Ahead of the demonstration of 1,000 people, local Tory MP Robbie Moore had attacked the organisers for holding the rally, much like the Tory government has done with demonstrations nationally.
There was huge anger at both the Tory government and the Labour Party leadership under Keir Starmer. Sections of the crowd chanted over the speech of the former Keighley Labour MP John Grogan. A number of people told us that they couldn’t vote for Labour anymore, given Starmer’s position.
I spoke at the rally on behalf of the Socialist Party. I pointed out how talk of ‘humanitarian pauses’ and ‘aid for Gaza’ from the likes of Sunak and Starmer only took place because of the hundreds of thousands who have protested across the UK.
I pointed out that war and crisis are synonymous with capitalism, and spoke of the desperate need for a political alternative that stands with the interests of working-class people in relation to ending the siege of Gaza, as well as supporting the fight for decent pay, housing and jobs.
At various stages our Socialist Party campaign stall was surrounded by those signing our petitions, taking leaflets and buying copies of the Socialist. When one person asked: “So what do we need to do to solve this crisis?” Another person chipped in: “Get rid of capitalism, that’s what”.
Bristol – school student strike
On Friday 3 November, in central Bristol, there was a protest billed as a school student strike against the war on Gaza. 200 students and parents gathered outside city hall to protest.
Students made speeches, students of many ages got up to voice anger and horror, and chant. Then an impromptu protest march wound its way up the incline to the doors of city hall to deliver a petition to local politicians.
On Saturday 4 November, over 7,000 people once again marched. Bristol Trades Union Council led the union bloc, with banners from the National Education Union (NEU), public sector union Unison, and civil service union PCS.
London – Liverpool Street station occupied
Hundreds of mainly young people had a sit-down protest at London’s busy Liverpool Street station on 31 October. Among the protesters were groups of Jews who opposed the Israeli state’s brutal offensive.
It had been called and mobilised for through social media. Homebound commuters stopped to listen, and some showed support.
I was able to sell our Socialist paper, due to its front page – ‘Stop the war on Gaza: No trust in capitalist leaders’. I always carry copies of the Socialist paper with me, because spontaneous events like this could happen at any time. Sit-down protests at stations have taken place across London and beyond.
Swindon – enormous energy brought home
The crowd was larger than the last time. Many attendees had been to the huge demonstration in London the previous Saturday, and planned to march in London again on 11 November. They had carried that enormous energy home with them to Swindon.
I got the chance to speak at the Swindon protest. I talked about how capitalism has completely failed to provide a solution to the conflict, or a decent life for the Palestinian or Israeli working classes.
I raised the need to fight for a workers’ party in Britain, with a socialist and internationalist programme. And I called on the demonstrators to consider whether they might be workers’ candidates themselves at the next general and local elections, with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
Our message got a good response. We completely sold out of the latest issue of the Socialist.
When we ran out of papers, people were still willing to buy the few unsold copies we had from previous weeks. Demonstrators also gave extremely generously to the Socialist Party’s fighting fund. At times, people were putting money into our collecting tins faster than we could keep track, raising £160.
Birmingham – even more protest meeting ban
Birmingham City Council disgracefully cancelled a room in the Council House booked by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to discuss the situation in Gaza. Although no official reason was given, it is obviously due to the Labour council’s slavish support for the murderous actions of Israeli forces.
The meeting was changed to a protest outside. The protest was likely bigger than the original meeting would have been.
I spoke at the protest and made the case for a workers’ list of candidates at the next general election, because neither the Palestinians nor workers here in Britain have anyone to stand up for them in parliament.
Leicester – spontaneous
The anger over Gaza, especially among the Muslim population in Leicester, has been reflected in numerous protests. Often they are called with no apparent organiser, and a semi-spontaneous character.
The two called via social media posts on 28 October had different starting points, and began chaotically. But eventually one group marched to the other into a mass of 1,000 people.
The chanting kept up constantly. And the Socialist Party campaign stall was mobbed for leaflets, placards and Socialist papers.
It was very common for us to get into discussions about the failure of Labour leader Keir Starmer to support the people of Gaza, and that a new workers’ party is needed. In Loughborough, we were greeted with the question: “Do you intend to stand in the next elections?”
Police arrested a young lad for setting off a flare at the bonfire night 5 November protest. Five police cars and one van arrived.
The crowd was supportive of the lad, but not aggressive. So the police had to let him go.
Steve Score and Heather Rawling
Waltham Forest, east London – right to protest
400 in Walthamstow Town Square. Socialist Party member Linda Taaffe managed to get in to speak.
She called for united working-class struggle, and a socialist intifada. She got cheers and applause for calling for a new mass workers’ party in Britain.
She was also interviewed briefly on Sky News talking about the moves against the right to protest by Tory home secretary Suella Braverman.
Trade unions – Another branch passes Gaza solidarity motion
Kim Hendry, GMB@PCS shop rep, writing in personal capacity
GMB branch council (reps committee) passed a motion based on a model motion from the Socialist Party (see ‘Mass united workers’ struggle to stop the war on Gaza’).
The motion called on GMB union’s central executive committee to mobilise for future mass protests in the UK opposing the war on Gaza. The trade unions have an essential role to play in building solidarity with Gaza.