London anti-war demo of historic proportions

by Helen Pattison, Socialist Party London regional secretary

Once again, the streets of London were filled with protesters against the war on Gaza on 11 November. Hundreds of coaches bringing protesters from around the country packed one whole side of Hyde Park.

Socialist placards and papers were enthusiastically snapped up and demonstrators thanked us for our continued support for the growing movement. The Socialist Party has been building and taking part in these protests, pointing the socialist way forward with demands for ‘a mass struggle of the Palestinians under their own democratic control to fight for liberation’ and ‘for the building of independent workers’ parties in Palestine and Israel and links between them’.

SP at Palestine Demo
Socialist Party members at the demo.
Photo: Essex Socialist Party

The demonstrations are heaping huge pressure on rotten capitalist governments across Europe and in the US. Suella Braverman has been forced out after intentionally whipping up far-right protests to “protect the Cenotaph”. There were over 85 arrests of far-right protesters who fought amongst themselves over a mile away from the anti-war demonstration route.

Though one Tory sacking is a start, it is not enough. This movement poses the potential to bring down the whole rotten Tory government. But to do this it has to continue to build and spread. The Socialist Party is campaigning for the trade unions to play a leading role in this movement, which would add enormously to its power.

We also raise the need for a trade union-led electoral alternative to Starmer’s anti-worker and pro-war policies at the next election. Socialist Party members will continue to push for the workers’ movement to take steps in this direction.

Over a month into the conflict, many can’t believe that the horrors continue. Over 10,000 are dead and the humanitarian crisis deepens as food, water and medicine run out. At the same time, people are utterly disgusted by the role of many western capitalist governments and politicians that have refused to call for a ceasefire. That includes labour leader Keir Starmer.

It’s clear that it is in the interests of the major imperialist powers, including the US, for there to be a de-escalation of the conflict. In lieu of calling for a ceasefire they have called for “pauses” in the conflict. Not because they want to stop the atrocities being faced by people in Gaza but because they have come under growing pressure from below in their own countries to try to stop them. Also they don’t want to see the war spread any further across the region given the precarious state of capitalism internationally. That said, it won’t necessarily be in their control to stop the conflict spreading.

As one group of lads walked past our stall, they said to each other “this is my first-ever protest”. Meanwhile others chatted about the previous week’s demo and how this one was clearly much bigger. Still, it’s clear these demonstrations are mobilising people who haven’t taken part in political movements before. Many were in awe of the people power on display. The protest was so big many people didn’t make it to the end, before they had to turn around to get their coach home.

Discussing with people on the demos, many have said that they never expected the Tories to support the movement against war. But because they did expect Starmer’s Labour to at least support a ceasefire, his refusal is being described as even more of a betrayal. People saying things like ‘you expect this of the Tories but we didn’t expect it from Labour’.

Many told us they have left the Labour Party, or that they would refuse to support them at the next general election, and wanted to discuss how we could build a political alternative to both Labour and the Tories.

People will draw many conclusions from this movement, including that the working class needs its own political voice. Many will also conclude that capitalism internationally is incapable of offering us a world free of war, destruction, and oppression. To fight for a real alternative means organising around a socialist programme. Join us in the Socialist Party to fight for socialist change.

  • Stop the war on Gaza! For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military from the occupied territories
  • For democratically organised defence committees in local communities
  • 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 democratic 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 stands for socialism and internationalism

More protests from around the country

Braverman gone — Tories in turmoil