Saturday’s massive march for Palestine feels like a much needed and much delayed breaking point in British politics.
The Tory Home Secretary’s and Prime Minister’s increasingly frantic efforts to paint the hundreds of thousands of trades unionists, Jewish people, families and ordinary people who marched as dangerous “haters” and disrupters of Remembrance Day commemorations backfired horribly on them and in fact may well have boosted attendance.
Many of the marchers might be seen as natural Labour voters – so the Labour leadership’s determination to condone ethnic cleansing may well be causing problems for their electoral chances – and raising questions for many about an alternative political voice for working people and all those who cannot accept that we must stand aside in the face of murderous barbarism.
As it turned out, in a surprise for no-one except the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister, the only group who disrupted events at the Cenotaph was the far right – which fact even the establishment-oriented BBC was compelled to report.
Ironically (history repeating as farce) these disrupters of the Cenotaph ceremony subscribe to the same ideology as those who carried out genocide against the Jewish people up to and during the Second World War. They had gotten Suella Braverman’s sympathy for (in her fevered imagination) being less fairly treated than those who participated in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. – and yet here they were causing problems for the Commemoration of those who died in the fight against fascism.
Sadly, though many Unite banners were on the march, there was no national mobilisation by our union of the membership, nor was a national banner carried on the march, and nor was there a prominent national Unite speaker at the rally – despite initiatives and motions from various lay member bodies to the General Secretary over the last few weeks asking for all these things as a matter of urgency.
Further – in spite of Unite finally agreeing to support a public statement calling for a ceasefire after almost four weeks of indiscriminate bombings of a largely defenceless civilian population, many Unite activists are still asking why there is no national call for PSC rallies on our national website, such as the one on Saturday 11th which attracted nearly half a million people. Why are there are no national Unite speakers on the podium and why our General Secretary or other prominent national employees of the union are not publicly expressing solidarity at these events on behalf of the national union.
This is the time to stand up for Gaza, for our democratically agreed policies on Palestine, as thousands of our members are already doing, in their workplaces, branches, union committees and on the streets.