LEWISHAM STOP THE WAR COALITION
Lobby of Parliament for Palestine
9 September 2014
Report by Ian Crosson
Hundreds of people attended from across the country and PSC said more people came than they were expecting. ( the first photo shows the packed briefing meeting which had Mustapha Barghouti- a Palestinian MP speak movingly about the current situation.
Some interesting facts I learnt- one PSC email was sent 65,000 times to different MPs during the recent Gaza war so the MPs are feeling the heat on Palestine as well as the enormous demonstrations that we have seen in the last few weeks.
In total I know there were 13 people from Lewisham who were at the lobby. 3 people got to speak to Heidi Alexander MP - she is now a whip in the Labour Party so is high up in the Labour Party and is still quite wishy washy on Palestine.
Jim Dowd MP- 5 people got to speak to him. He was a bit better but a bit cynical. However, he did say he would support an Early Day Motion that has been put down calling for all arms sales to Israel to be suspended. He also felt there should be sanctions but that they would never be implemented by the EU.
Joan Ruddock- there were 5 of us from Joan Ruddock's constituency but we already knew she was not going to be there although she emailed me to say that she "remained supportive of the Palestinian cause" and "found the recent escalations in Gaza and the West Bank to be a matter of great concern".
There was a fantastic rally in room 11( see 3rd rather blurred photo) of the House of Commons in the evening which was inspiring. There were about 10 MPs who spoke and all said how much the mood over Palestine has changed especially since the recent events in Gaza. A young woman from Gaza spoke about the inspiration the people of Gaza have taken from all the protests that we have been doing in Britain.
Finally we unfurled the SE London PSC banner outside Parliament which I managed to smuggle in and out of Parliament to take a celebratory photo with a few chants of "Free, Free Palestine"
There will be a debate in Parliament on Mon 13th Oct on Britain officially recognising Palestine as a state which at the moment the British govt refuse to do. This will be another opportunity to lobby our MPs demanding they attend the debate and to call for them to officially support Palestine as a full proper state like any other state with full rights that a state would get.
Around 1/3 of the Parliamentary Labour Party are part of the Labour Friends of Palestine group which is a start but we need to win more over as well as lobby MPs from other parties- two Liberal MPs made excellent speeches at the rally as well.
There will be further BDS actions and there is no doubt that the movement for Palestine is growing.
We should also demand that our local MPs support the Early Day motion which is calling on all arms sales to be stopped to Israel.
So all in all a successful day and lovely to meet some other local people from SE London who I have never met before who are passionate about Palestine.
Packed briefing before the lobby
Ian, Maureen and Penny going into the lobby
The rally in room 11 Parliament after the lobby
Az, Rita, Amina and Ian outside Parliament with South East London PSC Banner