We produced 1,000 leaflets which did not mention any organisation simply to advertise our action and which had the basic demands "stop the slaughter in gaza", "end the blockade and occupation of Gaza", "let the Palestinian people decide their own future", and "no to war in the Middle East". We circulated these leaflets widely, going into pubs, takeaway restaurants (where we met several supportive Palestinian workers), in the university, the mosque and to passers-by on the High Street after work. We also contacted local councillors who agreed to attend and who were impressed by our initiative and the high degree of organisation we had shown.
Another smaller protest organised by university lecturers on the Tuesday before our protest received leaflets, at which many sympathisers who attended promised to join ours. The semi-active local trades' council also lent their support, although only after a controversial debate including a reactionary standpoint from a minority. We managed to build a loose coalition, of socialists, university lecturers, mosque leaders and trade unionists to mobilise the numbers, and this may be the basis on which to build a viable anti-war group locally. We felt that this coalition worked better at changing attitudes of the broader mass of the population than the previous protest, as we weren't seen as an exclusively Muslim group. There was some criticism of the chant "Allah-Akbar" (God Is Great) used by the Mosque leaders, which will need to be a point for a discussion in the future if this local movement can take on more flesh. It was seen by many non-Muslims to be something divisive that excluded them, which is unhelpful when trying to build a broad coalition.
On the day, there were speakers from a range of viewpoints. A rolling programme of speeches and chanting seemed to work well, and as chair I encouraged anyone to come up and say a few words. The diverse range of speakers allowed for some controversy (over pacifism, and the tactic of rocket attacks). This was understandable as we heard from Muslim community leaders, a Palestinian doctor who had lost 16 family members in the attacks, local councillors, as well as trade unionists and socialists, but this was no reason to hide our socialist convictions. Indeed, the final message that I put forward of an end to war, imperialism, poverty, conflict and exploitation - a socialist world - was received enthusiastically. In contrast to demonstrations in London, which have been disrupted by an aggressive police force, we co-operated well with the police. There was 1 arrest - a fascist who was taken into custody for refusing to stop openly photographing the men, women and children on the demonstration.
All in all, a really great demonstration of solidarity by Lincolnites with ordinary people in Gaza. Hopefully, we can build on this and develop a thriving and vibrant anti-war movement locally. This could encourage the next generation to become politically active and to inspire young people that by mass campaigns, we can achieve not just an end to bloody wars or racist hatred, but we can change the world and have a socialist society based on human need not private profit.