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Britain and Palestine:
National Demonstration for Palestine
May Day Rally, Trafalgar Square
Celebrating May Day, the day of working class unity and struggle, working people around the globe put at the forefront their internationalism. Wherever workers gathered in whatever numbers, their spirit was to pledge to continue their struggles in defence of the rights of all. Nor was the profound bond coming from affirming the dignity of labour absent.
As the May Day statement of RCPB(ML) underlined, the day of the international working class "is a time for the workers to affirm their own independent programme. It is a time for all workers throughout the globe to set their sights on the broad horizon of their emancipation, and right now make their claims on society."
Working people have the conviction that it is not they who are the source of the crisis in the economy and society, nationally or globally. The problems faced by society cry out for solutions. This much is acknowledged within the working class movement, as the working class takes action and gets organised in resisting the neo-liberal offensive.
It is being increasingly recognised that it is not just investment in the economy and in social programmes which society requires to overcome the economic crisis and put the claims of human beings in the first place. The people themselves need to be empowered to prevent the rich having control of the direction of the economy. This has long been a theme of May Day, but it is a theme which is achieving urgency in the 21st century when such a perspective must pervade the practical politics of the working people.
While the working class and people around the globe are united in their desire that their rights should be guaranteed in the modern world, there is the recognition of the necessity to have control over all matters of concern to the polity, that this is the key to advance to overcome retrogression, that this is the key to matters of war and peace internationally. This is the transformation which is required.
Again, as the May Day statement emphasised: "In the present, where the cartel party system seeks to block this transformation and deprive working people of an outlook, the workers' opposition spearheads the struggle for overcoming this block. Objectively, the way out of the crisis is the one which genuinely empowers the people to have a say in the decisions. Already, the working people of Wales, Scotland and England from all walks of life are very vocal as to what they want. The workers' opposition fights to make sure that when the people speak in their own name, this speech becomes a powerful force for social change. New forms are required, forms which translate the people's voices into the determining factor."
The working class is that force that is able to lead the way forward, which puts pride of place to the struggle for their own empowerment so as to take control of economic and political affairs.
The actions of May Day 2019 expressed this striving of working people for renewal, for human-centred social, political and economic arrangements, and for international relations that uphold the peace and sovereignty of all countries, and the rule of international law.
May Day in London
Many thousands gathered at Clerkenwell Green on May 1 outside the Marx Memorial Library, which held an open day to mark the occasion.
On the steps of the historic building, from where Lenin edited Iskra while in London, a representative of the Library welcomed everyone, and emphasised the historic traditions of May Day. Her Excellency Rocío del Valle Maneiro, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Britain, gave an impassioned and defiant speech, calling on everyone to stand with the Venezuelan people in the face of the interference from US imperialism and its cohorts.
As people thronged the Green with their banners and loudspeakers, activists of RCPB(ML) distributed many hundreds of the Party's May Day statement, continuing as the demonstration marched through the heart of London to the rally at Trafalgar Square. There was appreciation for the statement along the route as the demonstrators mingled with the crowds.
Speakers at Trafalgar Square included John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, and RMT general secretary Mick Cash.
May Day in Glasgow
The May Day march took place on May 5, beginning and ending in George Square. The Chair of the Glasgow Trades Union Council, Jennifer McCarey, particularly remembered the contribution of Red Clydeside which, she said, "plays a role in the collective imagination of our city".
May Day on South Tyneside
On May 1, South Tyneside Trades Union Council held its May Day Rally and celebration in South Tyneside attended by trade unionists and workers from the borough. Addressing the rally was Roger Nettleship, Secretary of the May Day event, who spoke about the important work for the working class movement to uphold and strengthen its own programme and speak in its own name, advancing along its own line of march to a better society and a better future. Bill West representing Hebburn Helps (the local food bank) spoke about their work, where people are having to make their own arrangements, or literally starve. Roger Gordon, representing the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, spoke about their vital work to hold to account the British government and the US who are responsible alongside Israel for the conflict and denial of the national rights of the Palestinian people. The PSC also works to develop friendship between the British and Palestinian peoples. The rally was followed by a celebration featuring Shamrock Street Ceilidh band who sang and played traditional songs and music including those from the struggle of the working class movement.
May Day in Newcastle
The Newcastle May Day March and Rally took place on May 4. It started from Exhibition Park headed by the RMT Fishburn Brass Band and finished at the Monument for a Rally attended by several hundred people. The main speakers included Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, who paid tribute to the northern railmen whose strike struggle had secured a guarantee of a conductor guard on all trains. He spoke about the fight against casual labour which he said was an EU model. What is needed, he said, is a different model based on dignity at work, decent pay and real trade unions rights. Dr Susan Grey of the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign addressed the rally, speaking about the need to defend Venezuelan sovereignty against the coup planned by the US. Dan Carden, who is Acting Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, said that years of unfair trade deals, tax dodging and the rapacious extraction from the world poorest countries have resulted in a very man-made crisis. He said justice not charity should be at the heart of our vision for international development.
Other May Day Events
Among other May Day events was the march through Bristol to a rally at Castle Park on May 1. Events were also held in Wolverhampton and in Wellingborough.
Amongst the world-wide May Day demonstrations were those in Turkey, Iraq, Palestine, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Sydney, New Zealand, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Angola, Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Canada, the United States, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Russia.
May Day, Palestine
May Day, Turkey
May Day, Venezuela
May Day, Cuba
A national demonstration for Palestine took place on May 11 in London, with the slogans: Exist! Resist! Return! and No new Nakba! - End the Siege! - Defend the Right of Return! It marched through central London to Whitehall.
The demonstration was organised by: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al- Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain, and supported by Momentum, Unite the Union, PCS, UNISON, GMB, RMT, ASLEF, UCU, NEU, TSSA, CWU, Amos Trust, CND, ICAHDUK, Olive, APCUK.
The thousands of people were marching to demand a right to determination for the Palestinian people and calling for Israel to be held accountable for violations of international law.
At Whitehall, speakers included dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, the rapper Lowkey, political activist Tariq Ali, Stop the War Coalition's Salma Yaqoob and MPs Richard Bergen and Diane Abbott.
Palestinian ambassador to Britain Dr Husam Zomlot participated in the rally.
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