Oscar Parry, London Socialist Party
Up to 100,000 people marched on 3 February, from BBC Portland Place to Whitehall, to demonstrate against the Israeli state’s brutal ongoing occupation and bombardment of Gaza. The police, who initially wanted the march to end at Trafalgar Square, had to grant the protest organisers’ requests to finish outside Downing Street. The death toll in Gaza now stands at over 27,000, and the UN has warned of the imminent risk of a famine due to the lack of aid being allowed into the Strip.
The US and UK have stepped up their joint airstrikes in the surrounding area, and are now targeting not only the Houthis in Yemen but also targets in Iraq and Syria, massively increasing the risk of a regional war. The capitalist politicians in Britain are calling for the military to be strengthened and defence spending to be ramped up, with Starmer’s Labour backing the Tories at every turn.
At the demonstration, Socialist Party newspapers and placards were eagerly snapped up, emblazoned with the slogans ‘Mass united workers’ struggle to stop Israeli state terror,’ and a call for a ‘Socialist intifada.’ Our slogans point the way forward for the struggle for Palestinian national self-determination – for a democratic mass movement of the Palestinian people. The first intifada, a mass movement in Palestine from 1987-93, showed the potential power of the Palestinian masses to challenge the Israeli state occupation.
By raising the idea of a ‘Socialist intifada’ we point to the necessity of the struggle for Palestinian liberation to fight for a socialist alternative to the misery of endless war. Due to its role in production and distribution, the working class is the decisive social force in society capable of challenging the capitalist system. Capitalism, a rotten system based on a tiny minority owning and controlling the resources in 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, with links between them, as part of the struggle for a socialist Middle East.
The most popular slogan on the march was our call for a ‘new mass workers’ party’ based on the trade unions, that would stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and oppressed peoples worldwide. Hundreds of people signed our petition to help stand candidates as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the local and general elections, against both the Tories and Starmer’s Labour.
This illustrates the enormous disenchantment with the capitalist parties in Britain which provide political cover for the ongoing war, and the potential popularity of a new mass workers’ party, including amongst the 70% of British people who support an immediate ceasefire.
A workers’ list of 100 candidates for the general election, backed by the trade unions and anti-war demonstrators, would be a massive step towards the formation of a new party. If you want to be involved in mounting a working-class challenge in the elections, then join the Socialist Party today!
Building student walkouts in Cirencester
There is growing political unrest amongst college students around the UK. Students, members of the Socialist Party in Swindon, proposed the idea of a local students against war initiative to our branch. With agreement we set out to organise students at local colleges, Saige on the Cirencester College end, and myself on the New College Swindon end.
We found there was an appetite for a way to voice our concerns regarding the genocide in Gaza. To prepare, Saige made digital posters to be sent around Cirencester College via airdrop. We got some contact details of individuals who wanted to be kept in the loop.
Socialist Party members visited the college in advance to hand out leaflets. We did face a minor hurdle as we were not allowed on the campus, however students met with us outside.
We were initially expecting quite a low turnout for the walkout on the 26 January. However, by the end of the event, there were over 20 students getting involved in discussions, and some bought the Socialist newspaper. It was a very successful day, and has laid the foundations for future work building a Socialist Students group in the college. We are also hoping that in the coming weeks we can organise an event of similar proportions at one of the campuses of New College Swindon, and build other groups of young socialist revolutionaries in the area.
Tottenham shuns Starmer and Lammy
Tottenham residents and people from all over London turned up to take a stand against Keir Starmer and local Labour MP David Lammy. Both were speaking at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre. People were horrified that – in the hall named after an ex-Labour MP who stood and fought for the people of Tottenham – Starmer and Lammy were there to stand in the interests of 0.1%. There was general disgust and horror at what is going on in Palestine, and the role of the Labour leadership supporting actions of the Israeli state. Speakers explained how the history of Tottenham is to stand up, that it stood up against South African apartheid, and will stand up against the Israeli occupation until Palestine is free.
Wakefield Council: ‘We need a party to represent our interests’
You might think that Wakefield Metropolitan District Council’s approval of a motion on 24 January in support of Palestinians should be a cause for celebration. In fact, the meeting ended in bitter acrimony and a walk-out by two independent councillors, followed by all the Palestinian Solidarity supporters in the public gallery.
One of the independents, Councillor Akbar accused Wakefield council of having done absolutely nothing about the slaughter in Gaza for the past three months – until he put down a motion.
Rather than pass Councillor Akbar’s motion, which had the support of protesters present, an alternative, inferior motion was moved and carried.
It would have been a courtesy to have taken the Gaza motions as the first item on the agenda rather than last. Instead, we had to sit through two-and-a-half hours of ceremony, unexplained reports of reports, self-congratulation and, amazingly, not a single criticism during the entire meeting of the Tory government, the orchestrator of the council’s strained finances and cutbacks to local services! Perhaps rehearsing for a Starmer government?
During the debate, sundry Tory councillors showed their true colours: ‘Hamas started it and Israel is defending itself’; ‘Gaza is foreign affairs not local government business’ etc.
Our community needs a political party to represent our interests. Clearly it isn’t the Tories, but it is increasingly clear it’s not the Labour Party either. The sooner socialists and the trade unions get a genuine workers’ party off the ground the better.
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