THE Scottish Labour conference may have voted in favour of an immediate ceasefire on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to deter thousands of protesters from marching to the venue to demand further action.

The message from those on the march was clear – Labour politicians are simply not doing enough to stop the brutal deaths and suffering being inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel.

Shortly after 3pm, the march, led by families highlighting the 11,000 child deaths in Gaza, arrived outside of Glasgow’s SEC. Barriers were strategically placed by police to keep the protesters some distance away from the venue itself, with most people penned in outside the Hydro.

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While some Labour members left the safe confines of the exhibition space to join those demanding action, there were no senior party figures to be seen among the keffiyehs, flares and banners. Elected members were more likely to be found in the corporate-sponsored parliamentary lounge.

Outside in the pouring rain, attendees weren’t put off by the weather. People from all age groups chanted “free Palestine” and held banners calling for an end to genocide. Several said the bleak weather was nothing compared to the situation in Palestine, where 1.7 million people now struggle for access to water, food and medicine.

READ MORE: George Square: Thousands join march for Palestine ceasefire

'My heart bleeds'

Mohammad Asif, a refugee from Afghanistan, has been a campaigner for 24 years. Standing defiantly at the entrance of the SEC, far from the designated protest barriers, he said his “heart bleeds” for the people in Palestine.

“I have seen two invasions,” he recalled. “I know how it feels when you’re dragging your children and you’re running away for shelter. When the bombs are dropping, when B52 and F16s and weapons supplied by Britain are killing women and children, that really hurts me. They [politicians] should be charged for war crimes."

While Asif said he was “pleased” to hear that members had backed an immediate ceasefire, elected politicians should be “ashamed”.

He went on: "I’m very angry and disgusted to see innocent women and children especially in Palestine butchered barbarically, brutally killed by the Zionist regime of Israel – supported by Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer and Biden and the rest of the Nato countries."

Green members speak out

Elsewhere, Green member Rebecca warned that the two Scottish Labour MPs – Michael Shanks and Ian Murray – must support the SNP’s motion for a ceasefire in the Commons next week.

Thus far, both Starmer and Murray have avoided saying how they’ll be voting – sticking to the language of a sustained ceasefire rather than an immediate one.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer issues response to SNP's ceasefire motion

“If they do not vote for Wednesday’s SNP motion for a ceasefire, they’ll forever have blood on their hands,” she told The National.

“Disappointed doesn’t even cover it, I’m disgusted. I think every human being on this planet has a responsibility to stand up to the murder of children, the bombing of hospitals, schools, it’s just unimaginable the suffering that’s been caused by the military industrial complex that Labour support.”

Green voices were well represented among the crowd. The party has long called on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory.

Glasgow Greens vice convener Niall McGeechan said he was motivated to join the protest as he wakes up with his “heart breaking” for Palestine every morning.

While he welcomed the membership rallying behind Saturday’s ceasefire motion, he pointed out that the party has been “let down by its leadership”.

“Even the Scottish Labour leadership,” the activist said. “Anas Sarwar has said he supports a ceasefire but they have to put action behind those words, they have to tell that to the rest of the party. They have to tell that to Keir Starmer.”

He went on: “Now they’re calling for a sustained ceasefire, a further 20,000 people died before they said that. What they need to do is call for an immediate ceasefire. Some Labour talking heads will tell you that just calling for a ceasefire is meaningless, it’s playing party politics, but if you’ve got a voice in Parliament, you have to use that.”

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Young Scots out in force

Among the hundreds of young people standing and listening to the speakers condemning Israel’s bombardment of Gaza was Paige, from Edinburgh, who said she’d been coming to protests and rallies for Palestine regularly for months.

“I feel like I have to. I don’t have very much power,” she reflected. “At the very least I can bring my body, I don’t know what else to do except for boycott and just speak to people. It helps to be around other people who care, it helps to keep the momentum going.”

Another young woman, who didn’t wish to be named, explained that the traumatising images of violence in Gaza plastered across social media had pushed her to regularly join protests – while the Labour leadership’s failure to fully support a full, immediate and unconditional ceasefire had kept the momentum going.

“Witnessing everything we’ve seen on social media; the occupation, the deaths of 10,000 children, it’s really horrific,” she explained. “Coming to the rallies this week and hearing personal testimonies as well, it’s really spurred us on to keep coming – it’s an important cause for us. Labour have historically been the party of the people, so for Keir to not be on that side has rallied people on more to come out here and protest.”

'No allegiance to London'

After around 90 minutes, the crowd began thinning out. Marchers had already spent an hour in George Square hearing the moving testimony of speakers, before walking the nearly two-mile distance to the SEC, all in relentless February rain.

In the shadow of the Finnieston Crane, former British ambassador and human rights campaigner Craig Murray took to the podium.

Murray was among the small number of people allowed into the International Court of Justice to hear the judgment in South Africa’s case against Israel. The court ultimately ordered Israel to take all measures in its power to prevent genocide, after a two-day hearing in The Hague. Murray told the crowd he’d felt an “evil” presence in the court room.

His message to the remaining protesters received cheers.

“I say this to you – I do not owe any allegiance to a government in London which is implicated in genocide,” he said. “No Scot owes allegiance to a genocidal government in London.”

He completed his speech on a more hopeful note.

“When I was a much younger man, we struggled to free South Africa, we struggled to free Palestine,” the author recalled. “In those days, people thought it was impossible to end apartheid South Africa – but we did end apartheid South Africa and we will end apartheid Israel.”