This report will be updated later today
The national march for Palestine—of at least 800,000 people—in London on Saturday made even the massive protests of the last month seem small.
“Now I have hope, now I think we can make a real difference to help stop the agony of Gaza,” protester Rania told Socialist Worker. She was born in Ramallah in Palestine and fears for her family and friends.
It was so big that there was a demo to the demo. Half an hour before the advertised start time, around 50,000 or more marchers packed the mile-long street from Oxford Circus to the assembly point at Marble Arch
Marcher Alex said, “I have been on the sit-ins and marches. I can’t rest and just go back to ‘normal life’. It’s hard for me to understand why even more of us aren’t on the streets and closing down buildings and places where people work. We need to stop society.”
Mariam is a GP. She told Socialist Worker that she couldn’t stand aside and watch a genocide happen in real-time. “As a health worker I have to stand against what’s happening in Gaza,” she said. “Israel is bombing hospitals and ambulances and killing my colleagues.
Raw anger at Israel and its backers was everywhere. Maryam came from Manchester to be at the demonstration because she was “just so angry” “I can’t take the double standards,” she told Socialist Worker.
“Why is it that when the Ukrainian people fight back with Molotov cocktails everyone celebrates them but if the Palestinians do the same they are terrorists? I’m also sick of the media saying things like ‘Palestinians were killed’—no they were murdered.
“I know why this double standard exists—because the Palestinians are mostly Muslims.”
Marchers were proud to have defied the cops’ and home secretary Suella Braverman’s attempts to halt the demonstration and slur protesters.
“Piss off Braverman, we’re on the streets and you can’t stop us. Your lies about ‘hate marches’ are so rubbish,” said health worker Andy Wollerton from the West Midlands. “Braverman’s the hate-person.”
At the rally at the end of the march, Lindsey German from the Stop The War Coalition said, “The police wanted to call off the march. The prime minister wanted it called off. Braverman wanted to ban the march. But we marched and we will keep marching.
“If there is any violence today it is the fault of pound shop Enoch Powell, the home secretary. She should be sacked.”
Encouraged by Braverman, the thugs of the far right fought the cops at the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall as they showed how they remember wars. Meanwhile their fuhrer, Nazi Tommy Robinson, drove to safety in a taxi.
Demonstrators knew who to blame for Western support for Israel. As they arrived at the US embassy in south London, they chanted, “Joe Biden—blood on your hands. Rishi Sunak—blood on your hands. Keir Starmer—blood on your hands”.
Anger at Starmer ran through the march. Hazel from east London said, “He’s a murderer, I hate him more than Sunak because he’s supposed to be the opposition. He will do anything to keep in with the rich, even ignore kids’ deaths.”
Imran Hussain, the MP who resigned as a Labour shadow minister this week, told the rally, “It was the people of Bradford who sent me to Westminster. They expect me to stand up against injustice. This is beyond a humanitarian crisis, it’s a breach of international law and a war crime.”
Labour MP Apsana Begum said, “The situation is urgent. It is chilling—as are the attempts to vilify those opposing mass killing.
“History will judge those that have the green light to slaughter. Demand an immediate ceasefire and an end to the oppression of the Palestinians. None of us are free till we are all free.”
There is a point—very rare—when a march moves from a normal demonstration to a city-halting, government-defying, revolt-inspiring social force.
Saturday 11 November was one of those. All of those who were part of it will speak of it to friends, workmates and those they live alongside in the next few days. They will remember it for years to come.
People speak sometimes of a change “from quantity to quality”. It means that increasing size doesn’t mean an event is bigger than another one, but that it becomes much more significant.
This should be the spur to urgent and more militant resistance that’s desperately needed to break the British government from its full-throated support for Israel’s crimes. The magnificent march has to be a launch pad for even more effective action.
There must be more demos, more sit-ins, more occupations and blockades, more campuses disrupted. And we need more discussion, more debate, more educating ourselves and talking about a stronger socialist fight on all the class issues workers face, as well as Palestine.
This was by far the biggest ever march for Palestine in Britain—and that’s partly because it’s not just about Palestine, but all the injustice people face. The trade union block on the march was bigger than previous ones with banners from branches or the national NEU, UCU, CWU, RMT, Aslef and PCS.
Stop The War has called a workplace day of action for Wednesday—15 November. Everyone should try to build it and make it disruptive.
Those who are already set to strike that day should make Palestine a theme of their day and urge others to join them. This includes 15 further education colleges, the Go North East bus strikers, the Barnet mental health social workers and others
Freeing Palestine will take a revolution. This movement, if it escalates still further, can point the way to building the forces that can make one.
Around 15,000 people took to the streets of Glasgow.
Around 2,000 people joined a march for Palestine in Cardiff. Some protesters then occupied Cardiff Central station.