Keir Starmer:  “I’m very clear. Israel must have that right, does have that right, to defend herself.”
Nick Ferrari:  “A siege is appropriate? Cutting off power? Cutting off water?”
Keir Starmer:  “I think that Israel does have that right.” 

©2023 Sul Nowroz

Since Starmer’s infamous October 11th 2023 interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, approximately 38,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered by Israel and its sponsor states, including the UK. In addition, some 21,000 children are missing. The action by Israel that Starmer was attempting to legitimise, despite his supposed legal training, has been recorded by history as one of the most depraved and barbaric examples of colonial violence in recent decades. While the genocide in Ghazzah may be low in absolute numbers compared to other atrocities, the sheer psychotic nature of the butchery casts Israel and its sponsors as morally bankrupt and guilty of war crimes.  

He Won, but is he Popular?

Corporate sponsored media went into overdrive after Starmer’s victory at last week’s national polls. It made for great headlines, but dig a bit deeper and the outcome is less spectacular than initially portrayed. Thursday’s vote saw a low turnout with only sixty percent of eligible voters participating. That’s down from sixty-seven percent in 2019, and the second lowest since 1885.

Then there is the fact that Labour’s overall share of the vote rose to thirty-four percent, up a mere two percent from 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn was party leader. Corbyn was of course replaced as leader due to his ‘low popularity’ with the voting public. But this is Britain 2024 and despite openly supporting a genocide and sanctioning a famine, the wonky maths and crooked political system ensured Starmer and Labour took sixty-four percent of the parliamentary seats despite only winning thirty-four percent of the actual vote. While some of us woke up on Friday confused, the Palestinians must have felt dread – the man who was trying to decriminalise their murder was now UK Prime Minister.

Putting Starmer on Notice

The information went out within hours: chat messages, DMs, WhatsApp and Signal. Starmer, who brazenly supports the murderous assault on Ghazzah, needed to be put on notice, and quickly.

Saturday was chosen as the time to act. There was already a planned ‘End the Genocide’ march from Russell Square to Embankment, which would snake its way through London arriving at a stage opposite Portcullis House. There would be the usual roster of speakers with forty-five minutes of speeches and declarations. It was estimated the crowd would be near 100,000, and all that was needed was a small splinter group, perhaps a couple of hundred, to make its way around the corner to Downing Street. 

Pushchairs and Police

©2024 Sul Nowroz

We sat on the curb. She mentioned to me this wasn’t her first march: “I’ve been to several.”

I asked where she lived. It was a couple of hours away and involved a complicated journey to get here. She was dressed in sombre black, complete with hat and veil. Next to her was a pushchair – the collapsible kind. It was painted white and in place of a child was a simple sign made of cardboard: “One child is killed every 10 minutes in Ghazzah.” I wondered how Starmer would justify the statistic.

At first there were a dozen, and it was polite. They were neatly spaced out, an arm’s length between them, dotted in front of the metal gates that guard Downing Street. They wore Hi-Viz yellow vests with ‘Police’ marked on the reverse. They stared ahead into a small crowd, perhaps twenty, waving Palestinian flags and chanting for an end to the genocide.

By 3:30pm it was all changing. The crowd had grown to ten or twelve deep, the noise was loud, and the chanting was led by a booming voice broadcast from a megaphone. The police hurriedly moved around; radios crackled with anxious chatter and directed more officers to the Downing Street gate. They discussed breaking the crowd up and moved into formation. Police bulk was the tactic and they readied themselves to push into the crowd and drive it back. It was unnecessary, the crowd were peaceful and made no attempt to enter Downing Street.    

And Then They Died

©2024 Sul Nowroz

The die-in happened before the police could act. Approximately fifty people towards the front of the crowd dropped onto the road in unison. Bodies lay motionless as if death had travelled the 2,000 miles from Ghazzah and was now visiting Downing Street. A lone individual hauntingly moved amongst the figures placing bust cards on them. I realised this is what mass murder looks like, albeit minus the blood and body parts, and thought about Khan Yunis and Jabalia and Ghazzah City and Rafah. I remembered the 38,000 dead and the 21,000 missing. I recalled Starmer’s LBC interview, and his public endorsement of indiscriminate cruelty and sadism towards Palestinians. 

The police looked awkward, unsure of how to proceed. There was no longer anyone to push, anything to grab. A small rupture had occurred; a single moment when violence receded, unable to apply itself to the limp figures scattered on the road. I turned to those next to me, the undead, and asked them what they thought.

“We wanted to welcome Starmer to his new residency” said one.

“We’re not going away. The UK is complicit, and his [Starmer] new government are as complicit as the old [Sunak] one,” said another.  

Dispersal and Arrests

©2024 Sul Nowroz

More police vans arrived, lots of them, spilling officers onto the pavement who quickly pushed onlookers back, and created a cordon around the die-in. Some shouted and ordered the crowd to disperse. The police, now in a solid line formation, continued to walk into the crowd. They used a mixture of intimidation and force and it worked. Another group of officers donned blue plastic gloves and began to move bodies off the road. Few offered any resistance. One individual needed medical treatment and two people were peacefully arrested. By 4:15pm Whitehall and the entrance to Downing Street were cleared.   

The Stage and Sainsbury’s

I left Whitehall and made my way back to Portcullis House. Behind the stage area there was a small crowd. They were busy taking selfies with some of the more high-profile speakers. It seemed odd and perhaps inappropriate.

Shortly after, my phone rang. It was one of the participants of the die-in. They were calling from Sainsbury’s, about to pay for the week’s shopping. They were juggling real life with real politics. They don’t trade in soundbites, nor selfies from the speaker’s stage. Away from the limelight they are getting on with the real work of resistance.

“We’ll be back” they said. “It’s not over.”

July 7th 2024 marks the ninth month of the Israeli led, UK-enabled genocide in Ghazzah.

©2024 Sul Nowroz – Real Media staff writer