Travelling to support enormous London demo
Birmingham – huge
Following hundreds of University of Birmingham students walking out the day before, Birmingham Socialist Party headed down to London for the national march. The march was peaceful, highly emotive, with people from all walks of life and all ages.
Protesters were very supportive of the Socialist Party. We sold lots of Socialist papers, and our material was visible throughout the protest.
Our posters and placards were used up. People were happy to donate to the party to cover the cost of materials. One man personally thanked me for coming out to support.
Another woman expressed her dismay at the complicity of Labour and the Conservatives. We saw lots of signs expressing similar sentiment.
The numbers were so huge we didn’t manage to make it through the whole protest before we had to return to the coach taking us back.
Black Country – sea of protesters
We were absolutely blown away by what we saw. The local organisers facilitated coaches at fair rates, emphasising solidarity over profit. We were warmly provided with food and water to keep us going on the long drive.
We arrived amidst a sea of hundreds of thousands of supporters. Contrary to government claims of a “hate march”, families were present. The speeches, particularly one by a doctor honouring fallen colleagues, resonated with emotion.
Establishment media tried to downplay the number. A desperate and futile attempt to contain our message. A collective call for action has reverberated across the globe.
Protesting around the country
Cardiff – ‘I had to do something’
Many out on the Cardiff protest have been marching every week. Others came to the demo because Suella Braverman said they couldn’t.
They all felt the same: “I just had to do something”.
“This isn’t war”, said Terence from Neath. “They’re clearing Gaza the way the American army cleared the Old West”.
Sherifa, attending with her two young daughters, was furious with Braverman. “This isn’t about race. It’s about justice – for all”.
And so they marched. Young people of all backgrounds. Mothers and fathers. Grandparents. Little kids with placards.
I approached them with a friendly: “Would you like to sign our petition?” Without hesitation, hands reached for the clipboard.
“We need a socialist uprising of working-class people – on both sides of the border”, I’d tell them. “You’re so right”, they’d say.
They bought our Socialist paper. Six filled in ‘join the Socialist Party’ cards.
All over Britain, there’s a thirst for a way out of crisis and war. Don’t hold back. Ask the marchers to join us in the Socialist Party.
Southampton – stand up to pro-war politicians
This Sunday Southamptons first protest march attracted over 500 demonstrators demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Hundreds of people attend the vigils each week. Socialist Party member Maggie Fricker, a Southampton health worker, spoke about the grief and solidarity felt by the local hospital workers towards the brave and resilient hospital health workers in Gaza.
Ali Haydor, also a Socialist Party member, spoke about his anger and frustration with local Labour councillors, who have remained silent on the issue. Ali said we need the need to stand in opposition to local politicians who are willing to walk the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem line.
Southampton Trades Union Council is holding a meeting to plan what local unions and community organisations can do, including standing in elections.
And Southampton Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is working closely with the trades council to hold elected representatives to account, and developing an anti-war, anti-austerity manifesto with the Southampton community – organising to field candidates in every ward for the May council elections, and the general election when called.
Leicester – coaches sold out
Coaches for the London demo sold out well over a week before. Organisers said that at least two coaches were cancelled the night before by the coach company. They suspect that Tory rhetoric about ‘trouble’ was a factor.
Socialist Party members were warmly received on the coaches, with people taking our leaflets, and some bought the Socialist. After waving the coaches off, we made our way to the 200-strong Leicester vigil.
Four or five far-right supporters ended up looking pretty pathetic. This is the first time we have seen them on protests in Leicester, emboldened by Suella Braverman.
Leeds – ‘we expect better’
Through the weekly demonstrations, the focus has moved to Labour and Keir Starmer. “We expect better”, a speaker said.
And the political awareness of demonstrators is growing as the demos go on. People are realising that Labour does not represent the working class anymore.
Mentions of socialism are met with cheers and applause. A Socialist Party member spoke at the demonstration, addressing how capitalism breeds conflicts, like the one in Gaza.
After the demonstration, 100 protesters moved to the train station for a sit-in. A constant stream of chants filled the station for over two hours.
International solidarity in Genoa, Italy
Sheffield South East Socialist Party member Andrea Ugolini is originally from Genoa.
Port workers physically blocked the traffic of arms passing through the port, with the support of other workers and political groups too – 500 participants. Demonstrators marched to the headquarters of the maritime companies Zim and Bahri, defacing them with red paint.
Zim is an Israeli shipping company that transports weapons to Israel. It has faced protests from workers in other ports, such as Livorno in Italy and Oakland in the US.
The weapons passing through Genoa are not only destined for Israel. Bahri is a Saudi Arabian company that transports radar components produced by FDS Italy to be used in the war in Yemen.
In 2019, Genoa port workers protested against arms traffic. After the protests, Bahri ships were no longer loaded in Genoa port, until now.
Workers of all countries, unite against war and against capitalism.
Andrea was able to relay a message of solidarity from the Socialist Party’s Alistair Tice to the Genoa protest
‘Protest’ trial won’t stop movement
Activists gathered outside Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London to support Palestine Action campaigners who are on trial for attempting to disrupt Israel’s UK arms business. The defendants are known as the Elbit Eight after the Israeli weapons manufacturer that they targeted.
They face serious charges – assault by beating, conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to destroy or damage property, and conspiracy to blackmail. Most of the charges involve alleged pouring of red paint on the outside or inside of premises belonging to or rented by Elbit, with the daubing of slogans such as “war criminals”.
Unlike most cases against members of Palestine Action, the Snaresbrook trial will be by jury. All but one of the initial prosecutions either collapsed or resulted in acquittal.
However, the Court of Appeal has since ruled that activists accused of causing “more than minor damage” cannot rely on human rights protections as a defence of their actions. Since then, there have been more convictions.
‘Conspiracy to blackmail’ charges are based on letters campaigners sent to a real estate firm, demanding it evict Elbit, or disruptive protests would continue. These crude attempts by the state and Tory government to cow and demonise protesters has already failed, as seen by the enormous demonstration in London on 11 November.
East London Socialist Party member Lois Austin spoke at the protest. She condemned local Labour councillors and MPs, and Lynn Brown MP in neighbouring Newham, who do not call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the massacres in Gaza.
Fury directed at Labour during Palestine meeting
Almost every speaker, from the platform and the floor, criticised the Labour Party for its awful position at a meeting about Palestine in Enfield, north London. And every time it happened, the audience of 130 clapped.
The speaker from Black Lives Matter was particularly angry. “What’s the point in a pause? After the pause we start bombing again?!” “You cannot vote for politicians that do not stand on the side of innocent victims”.
Socialist Party member Paul Kershaw spoke on behalf of Enfield Trades Union Council: “It’s important that organised workers stand in opposition”. And that “solidarity does not stop at borders”.
Paul also said that this issue and others – like Camden Labour council destroying homeless people’s tents after Suella Braverman described homelessness as a “lifestyle choice” – show we need new political representatives that will stand up for us.