Thousands campaign for Gaza in London after UK general election

Thousands campaign for Gaza in London after UK general election
Following Labour’s landslide election victory, protesters have demanded the new government to call for an end to the Israeli assault on Gaza.
3 min read
07 July, 2024
Protesters hold a placard depicting Britain's new Prime Minister Keir Starmer and his predecessor Rishi Sunak reading "Same circus different clown" as they march in London during the "National March for Gaza", calling to "end the genocide". [Getty]

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of London on Saturday to intensify its campaign to end Israel’s war on Gaza, following Thursday night’s general election

On the same day, newly elected UK prime minister Keir Starmer began his first full day in charge after his Labour party's landslide election win ended 14 years of Conservative rule. 

Campaigners called on the new government to back an immediate ceasefire to the Israeli offensive that has since killed 38,098 Palestinians since 7 October, according to Gaza’s health authorities. 

Headed by leading UK pro-Palestine group Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), the protest consisted of campaigners forming together at Russell Square and later marching towards other areas in Central London. 

On social media, video clips surfacing online saw activists holding placards in solidarity with Palestinians, as well as making chants that condemned top Labour officials. 

“Keir Starmer, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide,” a group of activists proclaimed in one video

“Angela Rayner, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide. David Lammy, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.” 

Even prior to the election win, the Labour Party underwent significant scrutiny for what is perceived to be a marked shift towards a pro-Israel stance under Starmer's leadership.

Pro-Palestine activists pointed out Starmer's perceived failure to strongly condemn Israeli actions amid continued Israeli escalations of violence, including massacres and deliberately obstructing aid, leading to a famine. 

Jeremy Corbyn, following his re-election as an independent MP for Islington North on Friday, joined demonstrators at the protest. 

Addressing the crowd from the stage, the former Labour leader said, "Palestine was on the ballot in this election, and I vow to uphold my commitment to supporting the Palestinian people. 

"We told the Tories, and now we tell Labour: any government that sells arms to Israel is complicit in crimes against humanity." 

He continued, "A change in government doesn't alter the fact that people in Gaza are still being murdered in their sleep. 

"And it doesn't change the reality that the only path to a just and lasting peace is ending the occupation of Palestine." 

The new government has since taken a stronger position to help resolve the conflict, as newly appointed Foreign Secretary David Lammy emphasised the need for relentless diplomatic efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire and secure the release of captives. 

Speaking on Friday, Lammy said, "The job now is to get to work with tireless diplomacy to support an immediate ceasefire and move towards getting those hostages out." 

Lammy, who replaced Conservative David Cameron as foreign secretary, stressed his commitment to using diplomatic means to aid US President Joe Biden's endeavors to reach a ceasefire deal.