Jermey Corbyn will be fighting as an independent this coming elections. Jermey Corbyn will be fighting as an independent this coming elections. Source: Sophie J. Brown - Wikicommons / cropped from original / CC BY-SA 3.0

Michael Lavalette outlines the tasks for the Palestine movement in the general election

Rishi Sunak has taken an enormous gamble by calling a snap election for Thursday 4 July. His gamble will almost certainly fail. The Tories are in disarray; a corrupt, rudderless party where the infighting has started before the election has officially got underway. They are heading for disaster. And every socialist should celebrate as they tear each other apart.

Labour is way ahead in the polls, but a Labour government is nothing to get excited about. They are promising more privatisation of the NHS, more ‘fiscal prudence’ (meaning more austerity), and continuing support for wars in Ukraine and the genocide in Gaza. There is nothing in Labour’s ‘offer’ to get remotely excited about. They are offering a Tory-lite manifesto for a Tory-lite party.

A report in the Guardian last month summed up the situation perfectly. Labour is leading in the polls because they aren’t the Tories. But there is little enthusiasm in the country for its policy agenda. The only thing stopping a significant Labour victory is Starmer’s ability to muck things up badly. Given his record, that’s not unfeasible, but surely even Starmer will not fail to clear this low-bar hurdle.

What makes the election interesting is that it is happening in the midst of the ongoing genocide in Gaza and against the backdrop of the most remarkable movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The Palestinian solidarity movement really is extraordinary. Every few weeks in London, hundreds of thousands of people gather to protest the genocide. In the intervening weeks, there are protests in towns and cities across the country. The movement has been attacked and traduced, yet its vibrancy and militancy show no sign of waning.

From November, when there was a vote for a ceasefire in the House of Commons, the movement has demanded ‘no ceasefire, no vote’. It was an assertion that those who didn’t vote for a ceasefire, couldn’t expect us to fall in line and vote for them at the next election. 

And now that the election is here!

The independent slate

Across the country, there are candidates standing as ‘independents’. In this election, this label means ‘independent of the main political parties and the political establishment’. But the independents are part of the movement for Palestine, born out of the struggle on the streets. The ‘independent slate’, which includes people like Leanne Mohammed and Andrew Feinstein, has been boosted by the addition this week of Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe – sitting MPs, both expelled from the Labour Party, and both at odds with the party over Palestine.

Whilst Palestine has been central to bringing us to this point, we need to include more than Gaza in the election. So the demand is for ‘Palestine plus’. Palestine and the movement for Palestinian solidarity are key to the election, but the independents need to be clear they are against austerity and cuts to welfare, for investment in the NHS, an end to student fees, for better pensions for older people, for a national social-care system and for an end to the gross inequality that haunts British society.

In March this year, I was selected to stand as a Preston Independent on a ‘Palestine plus’ basis. Over the next few weeks, we will be out canvassing, leafletting and meeting people arguing that this election gives us a unique opportunity: to vote for Palestine and to vote for a better world. The Tories are in such disarray that voting Independent will not ‘let them in the back door’. Instead, we have the chance to vote for Palestine, for an end to austerity, for a more equal society and for properly funded welfare services.

If one or two independents can break through, then we really do have a chance of reshaping British politics for the many, not just the few.

Before you go

Counterfire is growing faster than ever before

We need to raise £20,000 as we are having to expand operations. We are moving to a bigger, better central office, upping our print run and distribution, buying a new printer, new computers and employing more staff.

Please give generously.

Tagged under: