Anger at Tories and Labour seethes at more Gaza protests

Folkestone – Starmer is a bad punchline

A shout came from the crowd: “What about Starmer?!” The union rep chairing the rally replied: “I was coming to him next, you stole my punchline”.

The protest was led by a former union rep, who has previously stood against the Labour Party in local elections. He outlined the shameful role played by US imperialism and the UK government in supporting the Israeli state’s brutal attacks on the Palestinian people.

Socialist Party members played a leading role in organising the first Folkestone protest against the war in Gaza. Over 150 people turned out to listen to a wide range of speeches, including a Jewish ex-member of the Labour Party who had been expelled by Keir Starmer, and a Palestinian refugee. 

Eric Segal spoke on behalf of the Socialist Party on the importance of the role of trade unions in opposing this war. He eloquently laid out the need to take a class approach to the crisis, and explained that only socialism can ultimately bring an end to war in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Our ideas went down very well with the crowd. Many came to our campaign stall to buy our Socialist paper and donate to our party. 

This was only a small protest compared to the larger ones that have happened in London. But it clearly showed the anger that exists at the role played by the Labour Party in this crisis. Almost everyone in attendance agreed that we need a new political party based on the ideas of socialism.

Tower Hamlets and Hackney – we want reps that stand with us

Speeches highlighted the continued absences of local Labour MP Rushanara Ali. And speakers raised a demand for representatives that align with what the community stands for.

People have seen the power of the trade unions in recent years. So a speaker from the trades union council, calling for more solidarity and support for Palestine from the trade unions, was met with agreement from the crowd.

150 had gathered at Altab Ali Park to march to Barclays bank, and then to Tower Hamlets Town Hall.

Socialist Party members discussed with people who expressed despair at both the Tories and Labour. They asked us about electoral change.

Some demonstrators were attending their first demonstration for Palestine. They shared their experience discussing the topic in their workplace.

The demonstration met with the march from Hackney. And 30 people bought a copy of the Socialist, in addition to people interested in joining the Socialist Party.

Attendees were keen to organise within trade unions, and committed to attending local and national demonstrations until the occupation ends.


Before Christmas, there was another protest in Hackney. Socialist Party member Eddie Blindell said:

There was a good turnout of more than 300, which is now commonplace, and, again reflecting the diverse nature of the local area, reinforcing that the conflict has left an impact on a wide range of people.

The tone was significantly more sombre than previously. Protesters stood in silence to remember those who had died. Later, the names of some of the dead were read out.

Whist support is still very robust, the extent of the continued conflict and the rising number of casualties set the mood for this protest.

The Socialist Party attended to show solidarity and support. In discussions we had with protesters, it was clear that the conflict, the response of the capitalist media, and the approach of Tories and Labour had triggered a wider questioning of the status quo, and the need for robust and viable alternatives.

The protest marched in silence. But, again, initiating support from motorists and passersby. The protests look like growing in support, rather than abating.

Southampton – capitalist politicians don’t care about us

Primary school children shouted “Free Palestine”, as they ran down the footpath opposite our vigil. Ali Haydor, a Socialist Party member, gave a very passionate speech.

He highlighted the disgust felt by workers throughout the world watching. None of the capitalist politicians are asking the Palestinian people what they want.

The US, UK and European countries are providing weapons and ammunition to the Israeli state. But we don’t want our country making bombs to kill children, mothers and fathers.

We want our politicians to spend this money to renovate and build housing for the homeless and future generations. We want youth centres, staffed with youth and mental health professionals for our young people.

We want disability benefits to be increased, as well as wages, so people can thrive rather than just exist. As Parveen Ishfaq, from Southampton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, stated during the vigil, our capitalist governments care nothing for us, the working class, here in Britain or in Palestine.

We must continue the protests and vote for political parties that base their policies on people’s needs, not war and greed.

Catherine Clarke

Preston – massive meeting misses chance to stand against pro-war Tories and Labour

Lancashire Socialist Party attended a meeting addressed by Jeremy Corbyn, Ian Hodson, president of the bakers’ union BFAWU, and Palestinian activists.

Many of the 350-strong, hugely enthusiastic audience happily took the Socialist Party leaflet. We call for a workers’ electoral challenge to the warmongering politicians helping to prolong Israeli state terror.

With already a number of impressive protests locally in Preston, Chorley and Lancaster, and further demonstrations in London and Preston planned, the mood is clear that something must be done. This mood was reflected by the speakers.

But, unfortunately, there weren’t any concrete proposals put forward by the speakers for standing against the Tories and Labour in the upcoming elections. This was a glaring omission.

With such a captive audience opposed to the war on Gaza, the lack of a call for a new mass workers’ party underlines the key role that the Socialist Party must play in fighting for an anti-war, pro-working-class alternative at the ballot box.

The Socialist Party, part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), will continue to reach out and work with any and all groups and individuals willing to work towards this.

Dave Beale

TUSC is organising a convention to discuss organising a working-class challenge to the Tories and Starmer’s Labour, taking place in Birmingham on 3 February