Leeds Palestine movement gets activists organised

17 January 2024

By Andy Yorke

Leeds has seen some of its biggest protests in years in response to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, with as many as 3000 joining the Saturday demonstrations and scores of coaches sent to London for the 11th November national mega-demo. 

Mosques and the Muslim community have organised a constant round of fundraisers for Gaza relief as well as local boycott campaigns. Weekly student walkouts starting out at Leeds University and drawing in the other campuses have been supplemented by health and education workers protests. 

Workers Power members have taken part in building the protests and speaking at them, and successfully proposed Leeds activist meetings to bring the movement together. 120 met for the first of these events on Monday 4 December and after a short introduction split up into break-out meetings to discuss and decide practical activity.

The first “tier” saw trade unionists and workers, students and youth, and community organisers and groups meeting up for the first time in many cases, and coming up with campaigning points. After that, people broke up again into groups discussing organising a teach in, rally, social media, fundraising, boycotting, and lobbying anti-ceasefire MPs and councillors like local pro-war MPs Rachel Reeves and Hilary Benn. 

The trade union group agreed to leaflet local workplaces to build for a workers’ protest, developing materials on how pro-Palestine trade unionists can push their unions to support Palestine. The teach-in aims to generate wider political discussion of the issues surrounding Palestine, the Middle East and imperialism.

Besides organising and discussing political issues, meetings that draw together Palestine activists could ultimately create delegate-based action committees drawing in student groups, community campaigns, union branches and workplaces, and network regionally and nationally to build a powerful movement to defend Palestine.

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