Protesters outside parliament oppose the anti-boycott bill (Picture: PSC on Twitter)

Around 200 pro-Palestinian protesters rallied outside parliament as MPs voted over the anti-boycott bill.

It’s an explicit attack on Palestine solidarity and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The bill, which was on its third reading in the House of Commons, will restrict public bodies, including councils, from engaging in boycotts on “moral grounds”. 

Protester Mariam told Socialist Worker that everyone who cares about “civil liberties, our right to boycott and the Palestinian people” should be worried about this bill. 

“In the same way as with South Africa, BDS is about trying to be on the right side of history,” she said. “It’s about saying we have a right to say where our money goes.”

Community worker Farrah explained that ordinary people “should have the freedom and autonomy to make the choices we want”. 

“Organisations such as councils should have that right too,” she said. “We need to remember that ordinary people hold the power.”

Mark said he thinks that if the bill passes, there will be even more anger towards the government. “Freedoms are being taken away from us by the government,” he said. “It’s a dangerous path, and I think those in power think they can get away with it.”

Standing in the bitter cold, protesters chanted, “Rishi Sunak, we charge you with genocide,” and, “Keir Starmer, we charge you with genocide.”

As MPs walked into parliament, protesters chanted, “Shame on you,” at them. James said the bill is part of a broader attack on civil liberties. “This bill is connected to the disgusting wider Tory policies, such as the anti-protest bill,” he said. 

He raged against the racism of the Tories, who are “suppressing black voices and any connection to Britain’s colonial past”.

James argued that trade unions need to step up as “they have a duty to support all forms of oppression, whether it’s to their workers or people in Palestine.” 

A small number of MPs spoke at the protest, including Labour’s John McDonnell, who said he would oppose the legislation in the House of Commons.

The anti-boycott bill is another reason why hundreds of thousands should flock to the streets on Saturday.

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