November 12, 2023
From World Socialist Web Site

At least 800,000 people marched in London on Saturday to protest Israel’s war of genocide against Gaza. The rallies in the UK capital have grown larger by the week, going from 100,000 to 350,00 to half a million to this weekend’s huge total—with some estimating over 1 million participants.

Those attending were determined to defy Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s attempt to ban the march, on the spurious basis that it coincided with Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of the First World War.

A section of the 800,000 strong London demonstation against Israel’s genocide in Gaza, November 11, 2023

But the rally’s organisers, including the Stop the War Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Committee, have provided no strategy to to stop the onslaught in Gaza. They have insisted for weeks that the way forward is to pressure Sunak and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer into calling for a ceasefire. In fact, with over 11,000 killed in Gaza, including more than 4,500 children, Sunak and Starmer have only hardened in their insistence that the slaughter continue.

This week’s rally was dominated by calls from the platform for Braverman to resign, and for MPs of all parties, including Sunak and Starmer, to sign a motion calling for a ceasefire that will be brought before Parliament next Wednesday by Scottish National Party MPs.

Stop the War Coalition leader Lindsey German, presented as “the leader of the anti-war movement”, said, “We are going to hold to account our politicians who refuse to give a ceasefire, and refuse to call for a ceasefire”. Among these were “Keir Starmer who has been an absolute disgrace as a Labour leader, Keir Starmer who has said [of the ceasefire motion being debated next week], he’s telling Labour MPs not to vote for that motion. That is an absolute disgrace and I hope every single one of the Labour MPs defies his call because it’s absolutely abominable that were not allowed to call for a ceasefire.” German concluded that Braverman should be sacked “and if they [the government] don’t want to sack her, they should be sacked as well”, which translates into a call to put Starmer’s pro-war, pro-austerity party into government.

Lindsey German speaking at the rally

Richard Burgon, the secretary of the few dozen-strong Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, was hailed for authoring a non-binding Early Day Motion put forward on October 17 and which will never be debated. It has been signed by just 95 MPs from among a cross party oppostion, less than 15 percent of Parliament.

Labour MP Richard Burgon speaking at the rally

In his speech, Burgon asked protestors to campaign for the support of the same capitalist governments orchestrating or bystanding the genocide. Those marching, he claimed, “were saying to political leaders everywhere. Do everything you can to help save lives, Palestinian and Israeli, to help stop the bombing, to help stop the suffering, to help free the hostages, to stop the war crimes, and to get in the aid so desperately need in Gaza. And that means our government must call for a ceasefire now.” Sunak should “strain every sinew and use Britain’s vast diplomatic influence to help secure a negotiated ceasefire…”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, presented by the platform as the “People’s Prime Minister”, summed up the bankrupt perspective of the rally by declaring of an assembly stuffed full of warmongers, “next Wednesday our Parliament, the House of Commons, will be voting on amendments to the King’s Speech debate. There are amendments down there on calling for a ceasefire.”

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the London rally

He asked of the rally, “You may not have done it before; email your MP and tell them: ‘put aside your greed, put aside your cynical calculations of what advances the arms industry, what advances somebody else,’ and simply say this to them, ‘A cease fire now in Gaza would save thousands and thousands of lives’.”

Corbyn was expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party by Starmer fully three years ago, while still remaining a party member, but such is his level of political cowardice that he again refused to mention his party leader complicit in war crimes.

A section of the audience listening to the London rally, November 11, 2023

In fact, of the several Labour Party MPs and members on the platform, only Jess Barnard, a non-MP member of the party’s national executive committee, mentioned Starmer’s name. Her speech was nonetheless geared to convincing criminal bourgeois politicians to act, with Barnard saying it was Starmer’s duty to follow suit with French “President of the Rich” Emmanuel Macron’s cynical call for a ceasefire.

Imran Hussain, a Labour MP member of the Socialist Campaign Group who resigned from Labour’s front bench last week in order to campaign for a ceasefire, also did not mention Starmer. Despite declaring Israel’s war of annihilation “beyond a humanitarian crisis, it’s a breach of international law and a war crime,” Hussain only mentioned his resignation in opaque terms. He did not explain why he remains an MP in a party which supports these crimes.

The same applies to fellow Labour MPs Apsana Begum and Zara Sultana’s performances.

Speaking again at the rally were Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union leader Mick Lynch and the leader of the ASLEF train drivers’ union Mick Whelan—whose members play a critical role in transport and logistics. Neither Lynch, nor Whelan nor any section of the trade union bureaucracy has done anything to organise the most basic anti-war actions, including the blocking of arms shipments and other material assistance to Netanyahu’s regime of war criminals.

RMT leader Mick Lynch addresses the London rally

Lynch—fresh from proposing his members accept a rotten sell-out deal to end a bitter 18-month dispute, underscored the role of the union bureaucracy—even acknowledged his own union members have been told to continue providing critical support for the UK warships backing up Israel. He said at the rally, “It’s important on this Remembrance week, when the RMT have members serving in the Royal Navy Fleet Auxiliary—on ships in the [Middle East] region… [that] we call on the British government to stop its support of the hostilities”.

Socialist Equality Party members distributed thousands of copies of the WSWS International Editorial Board statement, “The way forward in the fight against the genocide in Gaza”. It explains that “the social base for opposing Israel’s war crimes, and the broader imperialist war of which it is a part, is the working class, the vast majority of the world’s population. It is not through appeals to the capitalist states and the parties of the ruling class that the genocide will be stopped, but through the mobilization of that social force which produces all of society’s wealth.”

It concludes, “The mass protests throughout the world express the developing collision between the capitalist ruling elites and the international working class. The transformation of this objective process into a conscious movement for socialism requires the building of a political leadership that has as its aim the conquest of power by the working class, the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism, and the establishment of socialism on a world scale.”