Socialist Worker

Scotland’s movement broadens and radicalises

by Kelly Hilditch
Issue No. 2014

Thousands of people marched in Edinburgh last Saturday to oppose Israel’s aggression (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Thousands of people marched in Edinburgh last Saturday to oppose Israel’s aggression (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Around 7,000 protesters took to the streets of Edinburgh last Saturday to show their anger at the Israeli assault on Lebanon.

As the demonstration assembled, the Meadows filled with people of all ages and races, with people carrying Lebanese and Palestinian flags, Jews for Justice placards and trade union banners.

John, a student who was in Edinburgh for the festival, told Socialist Worker, “We have to stand up. If we don’t get heard now it will be all the easier for the next war to begin.”

Bruce Kent, vice-president of CND, spoke at the opening rally. “The central issue is the existence of a state in the region that practices apartheid,” he said.

“As long as the Palestinians are treated they way that they are today, violence will create more violence.

“We need to bring pressure on our government over the Israeli assault on Lebanon. And we need to bring pressure on Israel until there is a state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews.”

Ramzam came to the demonstration on one of the coaches from Glasgow. He said, “We need to do this, to be out on the streets and to get more people out on the streets. The way that our government has behaved over this has been disgusting.

“The UN has deliberately stalled on calling a ceasefire to allow Israel to continue its slaughter of the people of Lebanon.”

Also on the march was Lucy. “I’m glad to be out on the streets today,” she said. “It’s really important that there is space for the people of Scotland to be heard.

“It’s a real shame that Tommy Sheridan was unable to speak today. We need more people speaking out against injustice.

“There’s a link between the attacks on the most outspoken anti-war activists by the press and the wider push to support Blair’s wars. We must refuse to be silenced, no matter what is thrown at us.”

Speaking at the closing rally, Birmingham Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob said, “The biggest terrorist in the Middle East is Israel. This is state terrorism sponsored by the US.

“We must not stop marching. We have to have the Labour Party conference in our sights.”

Keir McKechnie, secretary of Glasgow Stop the War Coalition, told Socialist Worker that the demonstration reflects a wider shift on the ground.

“In the last few weeks we have seen an upsurge in the anti-war movement in Scotland and a broadening of the forces involved,” he said.

“Around 200 people packed into our public meeting in Glasgow last week to hear Dave Moxham, assistant secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, John Rees from the Stop the War Coalition and others.

“Dr Kausar, the general secretary of Glasgow central mosque, spoke from the floor and Labour MSP Pauline McNeil was in the audience along with a number of other Labour Party members.

“We have had demonstrations against the Israeli cricket team and several lively protests at Prestwick airport - including a 60 strong protest last Thursday in the middle of the terrorism scare.

“We are extending the networks we have built and working to get as many people as possible to the demonstration in Manchester in September.”

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