Britain: Over 100,000 on London Gaza protests

Much interest in arguments for a socialist solution

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Over 100,000 on London Gaza protests

socialist party contingent on London protest

The mass demonstration on 10 January in London against the attacks on Gaza showed an escalation, in size and anger. It also showed deepening political opposition, particularly of young people, to this brutal war, siege and occupation. Over 100,000 demonstrators, at least double the number on the previous week’s demonstration, filled the streets and marched past the Israeli embassy.

Many demonstrators were determined, not just to march in opposition, but to act to stop the bloodshed. This was reflected in the enthusiastic response to the call by the Socialist Party and International Socialist Resistance for mass action by workers, through the trade unions, and by young people, through protests and walkouts in schools, colleges and universities.

Protests at London colleges and schools will take place on Friday 16 January.

Protesters crowded around the Socialist Party and ISR stalls before the march began, for a street meeting, putting forward a socialist solution to the cycle of war in the Middle East. Speakers from the Socialist Party and ISR condemned the military attacks, backed by US imperialism, on the imprisoned population of Gaza. They explained that we cannot trust the world’s capitalist governments, corrupt repressive Arab regimes, or the United Nations, to secure a lasting, peaceful solution to conflicts in the region. Many of the audience agreed that it is policies of putting profit, wealth and power before the interests of workers and the poor that really cause the violence.

Our leaflets and placards, putting forward a socialist programme, and emphasising the need for mass struggle to liberate the peoples of the Middle East from capitalism and imperialism, by building independent mass organisations, based on the working class and poor, were read and displayed, all over the demonstration.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched behind the red banners of ISR and Socialist Students on our contingent chanting, “1,2,3,4 stop the bombing, stop the war, 5,6,7,8 mass struggle, demonstrate”, “end the siege of Gaza now!” and “Gordon Brown hear us say, anti-war movement here to stay!”. Around 500 copies of The Socialist were sold on the demonstration.

Much of the weekend’s television and press coverage of the demonstration ignored the scale of the protest, focusing on the confrontations between protesters and riot police, at the Israeli embassy. A more provocative, confrontational attitude of the police towards the recent anti-war demonstrations is evident. Our well stewarded contingent marched loudly but safely past the embassy, despite the lack of space between protesters, steel barriers and riot police.

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