We keep marching for Gaza, Cleverly told

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People take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, February 17, 2024

PALESTINE solidarity campaigners told Home Secretary James Cleverly today they will not stop marching — rebuffing his demand for an end to the demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Mr Cleverly, desperate to bring a halt to the protests which brought down his predecessor Suella Braverman and have shaken the establishment, said the marches should stop as they had “made their point” — the latest government attempt to halt the movement.

But the six organisations which have come together to organise the solidarity movement made it clear that they would not consider pausing their campaigning until there was at least a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Instead, at a Westminster press conference, they united to slam the mounting assault on the right to protest being conducted by the government and other right-wing politicians.

“There is a growing attack on the right to protest,” Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal told the press conference.

“Demonising the protesters for Palestinian rights by pro-Israeli politicians serves to deflect attention from Israel’s genocide.”

Left MP John McDonnell criticised proposals being circulated to insulate politicians from mass protests.

He said: “This is the operation of our democracy. We should welcome it and be proud of it.”


Continue ReadingWe keep marching for Gaza, Cleverly told


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Some recent stories from the excellent Left Foot Forward blog

UK workers ramp up pressure on Big Tech to end Israeli military contract

Tech workers launch UK campaign and mass call to action against company complicity with Israeli government

Tech workers in the UK have ramped up a campaign calling on Google and Amazon to terminate an AI contract with the Israeli government arguing it constitutes a breach of the companies core values.  

Project Nimbus is a $1.2 billion contract signed by Google and Amazon to provide cloud technology to the Israeli government and military. Workers have been campaigning against it since the contract was initially signed in 2021.

Opposition has ramped up since the latest Israeli military attacks on Gaza, following the Hamas attacks and kidnaps on October 7 when 1,200 people were killed, and now with more than 15,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 children, killed by Israeli bombing.

One Google employee said: “The images we see over and over again are of hi-tech military bombardment directed at a civilian population.

“Tech workers built Israel’s capacity for this and it’s our responsibility to get tech companies to stop doing business with Israel as long as it commits war crimes and genocide.”

Young audience members perfectly sum up attitudes towards government’s immigration policies on Question Time  

‘We should welcome these people.’

Following Sunak’s desperate defence of his latest plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda during an emergency press conference, debate on this week’s Question Time was focused on the beleagured deportation deal.

During the heated discussion on the Rwanda policy and immigration, a young man in the audience managed to sum up in a sentence how many people feel about the way Britain should treat people coming to the UK to flee persecution.

He said: “I would like to ask a Conservative member of the Cabinet. Rather than blame these poor people that are coming over being exploited and threatened with deportation to what has been ruled as an unsafe country, why can’t we rather open up more legal safe routes and options for these people to flee persecution or any trouble they’re going through, to come to a safe country like the United Kingdom, we should welcome these people.”

The comment was met by an enthusiastic applause from the audience.

A young woman in the audience then asked the panel: “Previously you mentioned British values. How do you think that the Rwanda scheme complies with the tolerance that Britain is supposed to stand for?”

Later in the programme, another young member of the audience received applause when he stated: “Illegal migration makes up 5 percent of the total migration to the country, I think Rwanda is just used as a distraction from your failings.”

Cost of Rwanda scheme spirals to £290m despite no deportation flights taking off

‘The Tories’ have wasted an astronomical £290 million of taxpayers’ money on a failing scheme which hasn’t sent a single asylum seeker to Rwanda.’

The cost of the government’s Rwanda deportation scheme, which has been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, has more than doubled to £290 million, despite the fact that not a single deportation flight has taken off.

The latest costs of the scheme were revealed overnight, with the prime minister signing off on a £100m payment to the east African nation this year, on top of the £140m already spent on the policy.

The Home Office has pencilled in another £50m payment next year as the plan hangs in the balance.

Labour has condemned the waste of taxpayers’ money, with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper saying: “This is just incredible. The Tories’ have wasted an astronomical £290 million of taxpayers’ money on a failing scheme which hasn’t sent a single asylum seeker to Rwanda.

“How many more blank cheques will Rishi Sunak write before the Tories come clean about this scheme being a total farce?”

John McDonnell MP: ‘Rwanda deportation scheme is an appalling act of inhumanity’

Figures show that the cost of the scheme has spiralled to £290 million, despite the fact that not a single flight has taken off to the east African country.

Labour MP John McDonnell has slammed the Rwanda deportation scheme as an ‘appalling act of inhumanity’, as the government made clear its intention to push ahead with the policy despite the Supreme Court ruling that it was unlawful.

McDonnell has called the bill the ‘most bizarre & brutal legislation we have seen in years’, adding: “Bizarre by arguing that making a law that says Rwanda is safe can change the reality of all the evidence pointing to the opposite. Brutal by forcing refugees into more insecurity & potential danger.”

He told LFF today that the deportation scheme was ‘an appalling act of inhumanity.’

He said: “The massive cost of the Rwanda scheme demonstrates how much the Tories are willing to spend on brutalising people who have already endured such hardship and human suffering in their flight to secure safety and security. It’s an appalling act of inhumanity.”

Yet more bus services will be coming back into public ownership

A recent poll for LFF found that 67% of the public want to see buses in public ownership.

After the failures of privatisation, yet more bus services are expected to be brought back under public control.

The Mirror reports that ‘moves are afoot for local authorities to regain powers for setting fares and routes. Areas seeking change include West Yorkshire, where a consultation ends a month today with a decision due in March.’

A recent poll for LFF found that 67% of the public want to see buses in public ownership.

Greater Manchester was the first English region to take back ownership of its bus services. The Mayor Greater Manchester praised the move earlier this year. He said: “For nearly 40 years we have seen worsening services and plummeting passenger numbers on our buses.

“We’ve had to reckon with a deregulated bus network that cuts vital services that connect communities to jobs, hospitals and opportunities on a whim – leaving local leaders with limited budgets to pick up the tab to keep these routes alive.

Shocking chart shames Britain on child poverty record

The report compiled by UNICEF compared relative income poverty rates, which means the proportion of people who fall below a threshold relative to the income of the average person in the population.

A shocking chart produced by UNICEF shows the UK’s appalling record on child poverty, with the country having the worst rise in child poverty between 2012 and 2019 out of 39 of the world’s richest countries.

The UK has seen a 20% increase in child poverty since 2014 – the steepest rise among the 39 wealthiest OECD & EU nations. With the UK at the bottom of the table, Iceland was next worst with a significantly lower rise of 11%, while France had a 10.4% rise.

Other countries meanwhile had cut their child poverty rates, with Poland topping the table after cutting its child poverty rate by 37.6%, with Slovenia achieving a 31.4% reduction.

The report compiled by UNICEF compared relative income poverty rates, which means the proportion of people who fall below a threshold relative to the income of the average person in the population.

Continue ReadingLeftFootForward

Hundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

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Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

People take part in the National March for Palestine in London on Saturday November 11, 2023.  (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted at Saturday’s march, described as one of the largest political protests in U.K. history.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of London on Saturday to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza as Israeli forces ramped up their aerial and ground assault on the Palestinian enclave’s hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, intensifying the territory’s humanitarian crisis.

Described as one of the largest political demonstrations in U.K. history, the march moved ahead despite criticism from British Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who suggested earlier in the week that the protest should have been banned by London police given that it coincided with Armistice Day. Braverman accused the police of giving favorable treatment to “pro-Palestinian mobs.”

“I am horrified by the tone, language, and incitement our own government is using to whip up hatred against its own citizens—citizens who are standing up in solidarity with the besieged and bombed citizens of Gaza,” British Army veteran and march participant Nadia Mitchell wrote for OpenDemocracy. “Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate day to demand a cease-fire than on the day we remember the mother of all cease-fires, to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of peace and an end to war.”

Some U.K. lawmakers, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Labour MP John McDonnell, joined Saturday’s march alongside hundreds of thousands of peace activists, union members, and people of all faiths.

“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians,” demonstrators chanted.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Reuters reported that “police said far-right groups opposing the march were present in central London in ‘significant numbers,’ leading to skirmishes with officers near the Cenotaph war memorial, close to the Houses of Parliament and in Westminster.”

“Officers in riot gear sought to contain the far-right protesters, some of whom threw bottles at them, and police vehicles sped around the city to respond to reports of tensions in the streets,” the outlet added.

Participants in the mass demonstration, meanwhile, marched from London’s Hyde Park to the U.S. Embassy to protest the Biden administration’s unwavering military and political support for the Israeli government as the death toll in Gaza continues to climb.

The head of the World Health Organization told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that Israel’s bombing and siege are killing one child on average every 10 minutes in Gaza.

“Nowhere and no one is safe,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Mohammed Abu Mughaisib, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, toldThe Washington Post on Saturday that hospitals in northern Gaza have become “a graveyard” due to mounting Israeli attacks.

Medical workers at al-Nasr pediatric hospital were forced to leave babies in incubators behind as they evacuated south, Abu Mughaisib said.

“The medical staff evacuated because of the shelling on the pediatric hospital, and they couldn’t save the babies to take them out, so they left five babies alone in the intensive care on the machines and the ventilators,” he told the newspaper. “That’s the situation: leaving babies now alone on the ventilators.”

(Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Saturday’s march was organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and other advocacy groups.

“We march to call for an end to the indiscriminate bombing of civilians and a #CeasefireNOW,” PSC director Ben Jamal wrote on social media. “We march in respect of the rights of all to live in freedom and with dignity.”

The demonstration is part of a growing international movement supporting a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as Western leaders, including Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden, refuse to demand an end to Israel’s siege and relentless bombing campaign.

Earlier this week, as Israeli forces encircled northern Gaza, Biden told reporters that there is “no possibility” of a cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly rejected a proposed five-day cease-fire in exchange for the release of some of the hostages held by Hamas.

(Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

Video footage of Saturday’s march shows the streets of central London packed with demonstrators expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza and demanding an end to Israel’s assault, which began after a deadly Hamas-led attack in southern Israel last month.

An estimated 300,000 people took part in Saturday’s march, according to London authorities.

“This footage shows the true will of the British people,” wrote Ahmed Alnaouq, a London-based Palestinian journalist and co-founder of the nonprofit We Are Not Numbers. “Hundreds of thousands are protesting peacefully despite rounds of vicious smear campaigns and intimidation. “All say in one word: CEASE-FIRE NOW!”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingHundreds of Thousands Join London March to Demand ‘Cease-Fire Now’ in Gaza

Breaking: new Labour Files episode sees Forde respond to Labour racism

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Republished from the Skwawkbox for non-Commercial use.

The Al Jazeera ‘Labour Files’ documentary series exposed afresh the rampant racism and war on democracy of the Labour right, both to sabotage the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and to purge the left from the party under Keir Starmer.

Now a new episode sees Martin Forde – the barrister Starmer reluctantly commissioned to investigate the report’s allegations and whose findings have been ignored by the Labour right and their media allies ever since – respond to the programme’s evidence and conclusions:

Watch and share widely.

The Labour Files – The Forde Response I Al Jazeera Investigations

Republished from the Skwawkbox for non-Commercial use.

Continue ReadingBreaking: new Labour Files episode sees Forde respond to Labour racism