By Socialist Worker journalists
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450,000 join London Palestine march as Israel prepares for Rafah invasion

A survey by Socialist Worker shows a significant number of people still coming to their first demonstration
Issue 2896
A crowd shot of the Palestine march in London on Vauxhall bridge

The front of the Palestine march in London crosses Vauxhall Bridge (Picture: PSC)

Hundreds of thousands of people joined a defiant and determined march for Palestine in London on Saturday.

It was the tenth national demonstration since October—and a brilliant response to the Tories’ Islamophobia and the scaremongering designed to slur the protests as antisemitic. Again and again, demonstrators said, “I was going to come anyway, but I felt even more sure to come out after the Tories told us not to.”  

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said 450,000 marched—almost twice the size of the last national demonstration on 17 February. But many on the streets felt it was more.

Naomi, a Jewish activist, told Socialist Worker that she was furious at Tory attempts to say that Palestine marches make London unsafe for Jews. “My Jewish values are what brought me here,” she said. 

“They are what brought me to come out every weekend to try and stop the war in Iraq in 2003. It’s disgusting that the government uses the suffering of Jewish people to try and divide us.” 

Marchers carried defiant banners on the demonstration such as, “Downing Street, you can’t silence us.”

Wendy, who had travelled from Kent to be at the demonstration, said that she is worried about how the government is stepping up Islamophobia. “I think it will give confidence to the far right,” she said. 

Socialist Worker journalists surveyed people on the London demo to see how many of the ten national protests they had been on (see below). Any such survey can be only a snapshot, but the results from asking 150 people show a significant number of people still coming to their first such demonstration. 

And then there is a strong core of those who have been on all or nearly all of them. Waheeda said, “I had to make this, my first demonstration, because of the continued violence, starvation and destruction. Our politicians are justifying the unjustifiable with constant lies.”

Sijaad from Walsall told Socialist Worker, “We’ve put on the same number of coaches for each national demonstration. People still want to protest. They still feel motivated. 

“Importantly people, including Muslims, aren’t intimidated. If anything, it’s made people even more determined to come.

“We are doing a lot. We continue with protests outside Barclays and mobilising around the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign locally. We want to step things up throughout Ramadan.”

Johnny, a protester from north London, said, “I’ve been to eight national demonstrations. Starmer is struggling to deal with his shitty genocide policies. 

“The more the contradictions of our system become explicit, the more our rulers panic. And George Galloway winning in Rochdale has added to that panic. Sunak speaks of Galloway, a democratically elected candidate, being a threat to democracy—when Sunak’s unelected himself.”

Sian and Leoniell, two community organisers, were at their first national protest. Sian said, “I’ve been wanting to go for a while, but it’s just getting worse and worse. You can’t sit at home—especially with Sunak attacking the Palestine movement and our freedom of speech. It’s our responsibility to be out on the streets.”

Sian was defiant against Tory intimidation, saying, “We aren’t going away. We aren’t going to stop protesting.” 

Faris from West London said, “It’s my ninth demo, and it would have been ten but I was in a hospital bed. We must make sure this is not a routine, not just a personal show of support. We want the Palestinians to win.”  

That mood, expressed by lots of protesters, means there can’t be a pause for Ramadan or Easter. There will certainly be emergency protests across Britain if the ground offensive starts in Rafah. There certainly should be—and a push for workplace, school and university walkouts, occupations and road blockades too. It can’t be business as usual—or protest as usual.

But even if the offensive is delayed, it won’t halt Israel’s mass killings, deliberate mass starvation, destruction of homes and health clinics, ethnic cleansing and lies.

As the demonstration moved off, Chris Nineham from Stop The War told the front of the march, “They tried to stop us but we’re going to keep protesting until there’s a ceasefire and until the Palestinians have their freedom.”

The 11th national demonstration should be on 23 March at the latest.

  • Update: Stop the War has announced a national demonstration for 30 March

How many national demos in London have you been to?

One: 16 percent

Two: 14 percent

Three: 14 percent

Four: 6 percent

Five: 5 percent

Six: 4 percent

Seven: 6 percent

Eight: 8 percent

Nine: 12 percent

Ten: 15 percent 

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