I went to London to attend the Free Palestine event organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. The event started at 1 o’clock and took place outside Downing Street.
According to an announcement made by one of the organisers, there were 8,000 people at the event. This was a lot smaller than I expected given that the last London protest had around 180,000 people according to media reports. I happened to see Gordon Dimmack at the protest and he told me that the previous protest was far larger.
I arrived about 1 o’clock. I walked down Whitehall approaching Downing Street from Trafalgar Square. On the way there were a few signs of the protest including a banner from the Jewish Socialist Group and also some flags.
When I arrived there it was obvious that every left wing groupuscule was at the event. They generally had tents. The ubiquitous Socialist Workers Party, the International Bolshevik Tendency, Counterfire etc. The group The People’s Assembly were there handing out flyers – left wing Covid narrative believers overlapping with the Kill the Bill movement.
The Palestine events I have been to this year have an interesting demographic mixture. The events attracted Muslim protesters but also some people who would be considered ‘woke’: there were some people with signs like ‘Queers for Palestine’. (Of course, not all Muslims are socially conservative, but as a generalisation, in the UK they are more than average.)
There were several different speakers, from union activists, Palestinian activists, and politicians. Both John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were there. Here is John McDonnell speaking with some crowd footage.
The rapper Lowkey was also at the event, which was awesome. He was at the first event that I went to in London, the Free Assange march on February 2020. He did some of the lines from his song ‘Long Live Palestine’.
It was very hot on and off (the clouds going over reduced some of the heat). I wandered around the protest several times to the extent it was possible (bollards were put up, so later on it was difficult to get round the back). I have some footage filmed from the back of the event earlier on, of some marchers joining the main protest.
To be honest I was hoping for more people to turn out at this event, given the size of the previous protest. The movement needs to make sure that it can maintain the momentum to pressure the government to stop selling weapons to Israel (the bare minimum demand). The truth is, it is easy to forget about Palestine because we are not facing the consequences of what is happening there. There are more organised events coming up in early July, so we need to keep up the pressure on this government:
On the plus side it does seem like more ordinary people are supporting Palestine than there have been previously. I am hoping that the smears of all Palestine activists as anti-Semitic are starting to fail, although many right-wing outlets are trying to maintain that connection. The occupying of factories producing weapons to sell to Israel is also a very positive sign that shows there are people who are willing to take risks to defend Palestine.