November 18, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

A crowd shot of the Palestine march in Oxford

Anger at Israeli terror on the Palestine march in Oxford (Shaun Doherty)

Tens of thousands of people joined around 100 protests across Britain for Palestine on Saturday.

The biggest march was in Glasgow where up to 20,000 were on the street. Dave Moxham, the Scottish TUC union federation deputy general secretary told the rally, “Scotland’s trade unionists support a ceasefire. 

“But we go further and say that since the horrific events of 7 October there has been a genocide playing out—and we say no to that. 

“It’s not just about pity and solidarity. Our own government and the US government have been complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians now and for three or four generations before that.

“They carved up the Middle East for imperialism and now sell weapons to those massacring the Palestinian people.” He called on the Scottish parliament to back a ceasefire when it votes on Tuesday.

Around 4,000 marched in Manchester, over 2,500 in Liverpool, 2,500 in Bristol and 1,500 in Oxford and Dundee, and over 1,000 in Newcastle. Around 1,500 also protested in Cardiff and occupied the National Museum of Wales. In Sheffield, around 2,000 people protested and the demonstration grew as people marched through the town centre. 

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) organiser Dick Pitt said to the crowd, “People can’t sit on their hands while Israel commits war crimes.”

In Nottingham, 2,000 marched, a similar size to recent weeks. Richard reports, “The mosques, the left and trade unions are working well together. There is a protest of some sort almost every night. On Friday we had a gathering of health workers and others remembering those health workers killed by Israel in Gaza.”

In London, there were ten rallies held in boroughs across the capital. Around 500 protesters gathered outside Keir Starmer’s constituency office in Camden, north London.

Crowds blocked the road and chanted, “Keir Starmer’s a wasteman,” “Keir Starmer you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” and, “What do we want? A ceasefire. When do we want it? Now.”m 

Protesters held up placards saying, “Stop the war on Gaza,” and waved large Palestinian flags outside the Labour leader’s office.

Around 1,700 people marched in Islington in north London. A spokesperson from Islington Palestine Solidarity group told Socialist Worker, “It was very militant. 

“We went to the town hall to demand councillors issue a formal statement in support of Palestine and that they raise the Palestinian flag over the town hall. Then we marched to Angel, and to MP Emily Thornberry’s office.” 

The spokesperson said the mainly young and Muslim crowd “recreated the exhilaration” of last Saturday’s national march.

“People felt betrayed by Labour,” he said “They’ve given up on the Tories and are raging at Labour. None of the Labour councillors we invited attended.” 

Over 1,000 people protested on Turnpike Lane in north London, in Hackney east London, and in Lewisham, south London. There were 350 in Camberwell in south London and a similar number in Tower Hamlets in east London. People marched from Altab Ali Park to Bethnal Green, protesting at the Labour Party offices as they went. 

Akram Salhab, a Palestinian organiser and student at Queen Mary university, told the crowd he had been in Jerusalem last week. “It’s really important we organise an anti-imperialist protest movement in this country” he said. 

In Waltham Forest, 250 people gathered outside Barclays Bank, demanding the bank divests from all companies supplying weapons to Israel. This was followed by a spontaneous march around the centre of the east London borough. There were over 100 in Acton in west London and 200 in Tooting in south London. 

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters sat down in the centre of London’s Waterloo station demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. The group chanted, “Free, free Palestine,” “Sit down, join us,” and, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

It wasn’t just the big cities that saw protests. There were over 100 in Matlock, Derbyshire. Jeannie reports, “There were powerful readings and poems and a very emotional reading of the names of some of the dead. 

“Lots of people signed up to be more involved. There’s going to be a Palestinian film evening and a sponsored walk for Medical Aid for Palestine.

“If this is happening in a sleepy little country town, it gives an idea of the size and breadth of our movement.”

Around 250 marched in Dorchester, Dorset, and 100 in Abergavenny, South Wales. Several protests targeted Labour MPs who had voted against or abstained in the vote last week on the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The marches and other events show the determination to keep protesting for Palestine. But they don’t have the same impact as a massive national demonstration like the one of 800,000 or more in London last Saturday.

Everyone has to build next Saturday’s national march, which assembles at 12 noon in central London. And we need more disruptive protests, student and school walkouts, and workplace actions.