Students walk out over Gaza
London – best place to be is on streets
It didn’t seem to be a big demonstration at the beginning. But it became larger. On Thursday 7 December, students that had walked out gathered outside Downing Street.
More and more people started joining, and not only young students appeared. Even when events are not highly publicised by the media, people can mobilise together for a common cause.
Is it really that important to organise, and attend these rallies and marches? No matter how big the protest is, it’s still the expression of our beliefs, and desire for change.
If we want a better future, and a government that doesn’t support terror and the interests of capitalists, we should educate ourselves. And there is no better place to do that than a street full of people with shared values.
Sheffield – school and uni students march together
Socialist Students helped organise a variety of student walkouts at universities and schools across the city on 8 December.
On the morning beforehand, we leafleted outside the King Edward’s Sixth Form. Almost all of the 250 leaflets were handed out.
On the day, Socialist Party and Socialist Students members arrived outside the school to march with students to the rally. However, a lot of sixth formers encountered difficulty leaving – staff were able to turn many around at the gates.
I commented to a few students that a subsequent demonstration would be more successful if they were able to walk out as a unified group. Nonetheless, a sizeable group were able to make it out.
We made our way down to join the rest of the rally at Sheffield University, about 100 strong in total, creating a significant presence on campus.
Monoux College – already walking out
It was kicking-out time, and Socialist Party members were leafleting for the walkout taking place the next day (see above).
Around 200 leaflets disappeared into the hands of students. Two students grabbed some off me to give to their friends around the bus stops.
Small groups stopped and talked to us. Several of them already included students who had heard about the walkout, with some planning to go already.
Three students at the college have given us their details to discuss organising on campus against the war. A couple more bought copies of the Socialist newspaper.
Young people are outraged, and starting to find their voice.
MPs face protests
Enfield – Labour shuts down debate
Supporters of the ‘Enfield Solidarity With Palestine’ WhatsApp group, including Socialist Party members, lobbied the all-members meeting of Enfield North Labour Party on 7 December. A Labour Party member, who is part of the group, had proposed a motion to the meeting, calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The lobby got support from passing motorists who tooted their horns, and even from the neighbouring house, who chanted with us.
We estimate that only 15 or so Labour members actually entered the all-constituency meeting. This is a far cry from the mass membership days under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
The Enfield North all-member meeting that passed a ‘no-confidence’ vote in the right-wing then Labour MP Joan Ryan in 2018 had almost 200 members in attendance.
It was widely assumed that the Palestine motion would be ruled ‘out of order’. This is a top-down diktat from Labour Party HQ, which has ruled out motions on the issue being allowed at any Labour meetings. Apparently Labour Party democracy is: ‘Keir Starmer can make a policy decision, and it’s not allowed to be discussed in the Labour Party’.
Labour members should ignore this ruling and, where motions are proposed, allow discussion, debate and votes to be taken. This hasn’t happened anywhere.
We heard that there was a discussion, where most members spoke in favour of a ceasefire. But no vote was taken.
John Dolan and Dana Mirov
Peterborough – Tory ‘coward’ ignores constituents
Peterborough Conservative MP Paul Bristow met a protest of 30 mums, dads and kids outside his constituency office. They had gathered wondering why he didn’t vote for a ceasefire.
In true ‘Boris Johnson’ fashion, Bristow greeted those present with tea and biscuits, said “my door is always open”, before walking away to his car with questions unanswered, driving over said tea and biscuits, past a heavy police presence, hitting a parked car, then vanishing into the distance.
Bristow felt the pressure from his constituents to actually write to Rishi Sunak declaring his desire for a ceasefire. But when the vote actually came up in the House of Commons, he didn’t back a ceasefire, instead abstaining.
But the community wanted a better explanation. After 20 minutes of chanting, an official came out to say the organiser could come in and chat. 10 minutes later, we were told we could all go in.
But why wouldn’t he come out? Some mums called out “coward”.
The arrival of six teenagers – still in their school clothes – was apparently a deciding factor in getting six additional police officers to protect against any ‘violence’, which was met with laughs from mums and dads present.
John McGarry and Richard Tilley
Unions oppose war and challenge pro-war politicians
Plymouth District National Education Union (NEU) has passed a motion about what is happening in Gaza.
Alex Moore, Plymouth NEU secretary, in a personal capacity, said: “We recognise that there has to be long-term political solution to the conflict in Israel-Palestine, which requires building independent trade union-based political organisations in the region that can overcome nationalist divisions.
“We further noted the Labour Party leadership in the UK has refused to call for a ceasefire, and instructed MPs and councillors not to attend rallies to support this. We also recall the Labour leadership issued similar instructions to MPs and councillors not to support NEU picket lines in our strike last year. We therefore have agreed to welcome independent candidates standing in future elections who will stand up for NEU policy.”
London – another huge national demo
Minutes after the 12 noon start time, Bank station was filled to brim with people. The majority of younger people there had been protesting for weeks on this issue, aware of the blatant hypocrisy from both the Tories and the Labour Party.
This movement’s strength is not going away easily. The Socialist Party’s placards, papers and material were grabbed out of our hands throughout.
We put forward the need to fight for a new mass workers’ party and a socialist intifada. And seven new people came to our open meeting after the protest to discuss how we fight for Palestinian liberation.