London protest against war on Gaza. Photo: Nick Clare
London protest against war on Gaza. Photo: Nick Clare

Berkay Kartav, London Socialist Party organiser

On Saturday 13 January, once again hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of London to join the first national demonstration of 2024, marching from Bank to Downing Street.

Appalled by the brutal war on Gaza and the recent US and British airstrikes in Yemen, it was clear that the anger towards world and regional powers and warmongering pro-capitalist politicians has not dissipated.

More than 100 days have now passed since Israel escalated the war on Gaza following the October 7 Hamas attack, with the death toll rising to over 24,000, and millions of Palestinians have been displaced from their homes.

As the Israeli military forces continue with the bombardment of Gaza, many demonstrators are searching for how this brutal war will come to an end and how Palestinian liberation can be achieved.

Like in previous demonstrations, our placards and papers calling for a socialist alternative to war were snapped up quickly as soon as people started arriving. The material we distributed pointed to the need for socialist change and called for a mass struggle of Palestinians, under their own democratic control, to fight for liberation.

We have consistently argued that the only ‘superpower’ that can bring an end to the misery Palestinians are facing is the working class. Due to its collective consciousness and role in production and distribution, this is the only social force in society capable of replacing capitalism with socialism.

Capitalism, a rotten system based on a tiny minority owning and controlling the huge wealth and resources that exist in the society, is incapable of providing a solution to national conflict and oppression. That is why we point to the need to build independent organisations of the working class in both Palestine and Israel, as part of a struggle for a socialist Middle East.

“No ceasefire, no vote”

In Britain and elsewhere, it is vital that we build the anti-war movement to end Israeli state terror, with trade unions and workers’ organisations taking a lead.

But we also need to draw political conclusions from the anti-war movement. In many conversations we had on the demo, it was clear that the stance of Starmer’s Labour and its refusal to back a ceasefire or support Palestinian liberation in the face of mass slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank means there is a significant layer who are looking for a political alternative.

At the end rally of the demo, speakers, including former Labour MP Emma Dent Coad who intends to stand as an independent in the General Election, led enthusiastic chants of “no ceasefire, no vote”. Many people told us that they are done with Labour.

We were frequently asked: “Who can I vote for in the next general election?” It’s crystal clear that the pro-capitalist parties in Westminster, whether the Tories, Labour or Lib Dems, offer nothing but austerity, war and further attacks on the living conditions of the working class. They are all complicit in the suffering of Palestinians.

Those who were interested in helping us to stand candidates against Starmer’s warmongering Labour signed our petitions on the day and wanted to know how they can get involved. We discussed what initial steps can be taken to challenge these pro-capitalist politicians at the ballot box in the next local and general elections, and how a mass socialist alternative can be built. 

We raised the urgent need for a new mass party, based on the working class and trade unions, that stands in solidarity with Palestinians and other oppressed people, and offers a socialist way out of the crisis both in Britain and internationally. A workers’ list of MPs, made of trade unionists, campaigners and anti-war demonstrators, backed by the trade unions would be a step towards this.

Socialist Party members will be standing up and down the country in the upcoming elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and encouraging all those who want to be part of a working-class challenge to get in touch.

If you agree we need to build a socialist alternative and fight for a socialist change, then join the Socialist Party today!

The Socialist Party is fighting for:

  • End the siege – for the immediate permanent withdrawal of the Israeli military from the occupied territories
  • For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their own democratic control, to fight for liberation
  • For the building of independent workers’ parties in Palestine and Israel and links between them
  • For an independent, socialist Palestinian state, alongside a socialist Israel, with guaranteed rights for all minorities, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East
  • No trust in the capitalist politicians, internationally or in Britain. Fight to build a workers’ party in Britain that fights for socialism and internationalism