Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

BEIS told to Axe Drax

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute

I arrived some time after the start of this protest by Biofuel Watch outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having been at the Royal Courts of Justice for the XR Lawyers declaration of Rebellion, but was fortunately in time to hear some of the main speakers, including Mayer Hillman who has been writing about environment issues for many years – and whose work has inspired some government actions such as energy standards for housing and 20mph speed limits to reduce road deaths. But his warnings on the need for urgent climate action over many years have so far failed to produce any significant actions.

You can listen to his video “The Last and Most Important Advice I Will Ever Give” on YouTube, which puts the information on Climate Change simply and directly. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases causing global warming come from burning fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – which are produced by around 100 companies, and we have to stop using fossil fuels. The other main source is deforestation, with the destruction of forests for agricultural land and the burning of wood.

Drax is a major UK source of carbon dioxide, and claims huge ‘environmental subsidies’ for doing so, despite their huge contribution to global warming. Switching to wood burning has made Drax a worse polluter but the UK government gives it £2 million a day for ‘renewable’ subsidies out of our electricity bills for doing so – and Drax has plans for expansion to also become the UK’s largest gas-fired power station.

As Hillman says, if life on the planet is to continue we need urgently to stop both fossil fuel use and deforestation, but our current politicians have failed to take effective action. We need to vote them out and vote in others who will do so.

He urges people to join the global rebellion led by XR and for young people to be inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and join the youth climate strike protests.

More at Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS.

Lawyers Protest

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Extinction Rebellion’s October protest continued on its third day with a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

It was in some ways an unusual protest, involving a number of figures from the legal world, solicitors, barristers and others, including Richard Lord QC and international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin, as well as leading figures in XR, including Gail Bradbrook and Lawyers for XR founders Natalie Barbosa and Paul Powlesland.

Lawyers for XR is one of a number of special interest groups within the organisation, and its formation was inspired by the example of medical workers who had formed their own group.

The lawyers had come up with their own ‘Lawyers’ Declaration of Rebellion’ and copies of this, wrapped in the traditional pink ribbon for briefs were handed around, giving the protest its own look.

Lawyers have of course played an important role in the fight to save the planet, and among those remembered at this event were Scottish barrister Polly Higgins who died in April 2019 and had led a long campaign calling for a criminal law of ecocide to impose a legal duty on governments to protect the public from dangerous industrial practices. 

More pictures at All Rise For Climate Justice.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Stirling (or Sterling?) Prize

Thursday, March 26th, 2020
ASH mocks the champagne celebration inside with Cava on the street

I was pleased to get this picture of what was a very difficult event for me to get any worthwhile photographs. I’m a great admirer of the work of Architects for Social Housing, a small group that punches well above its weight in pointing out the crimes, profiteering and failures of current housing policies pursued by local authorities and national government which amount to an attack on the poor.

A poster from a Class War supporter

Their detailed studies have laid bare the terrible effects of demolition of council estates, driving those on low incomes out of the central areas of London in a huge exercise of social cleansing and making excessive profits for the developers, as well as providing well-paid jobs for some council staff and ex-staff. Most of those London councils are Labour councils, including Southwark, Lambeth and Newham, though Tory councils are following similar shameful practices, and at the root of all this are the housing policies of Thatcher and New Labour.

A man holding his Stirling Prize invite stops to photograph the protest

Their reports have shown the financial incentives that result in demolition and new build schemes with little or no low rent social housing replacing large numbers of council homes, as well as the hugely damaging environmental consequences of such large schemes. Their detailed alternative development plans have shown how estates could be renovated and the number of housing units greatly increased without the huge social costs of destroying existing communities and retaining existing low cost housing, without the need to evict existing tenants and leaseholders.

Following the disaster of the Grenfell fire, they published a report within weeks that clearly identified the problems which had made it inevitable. ASH called for those responsible to be brought to justice, pointing out that similar disasters in other countries such as Japan had led to prosecutions within a few weeks – while we have an inquiry that is still proceeding which seems to have as its major aim the deflection of blame from those responsible for the defects and failures to the actions of the emergency services on the night of the fire. It’s right of course that these should be examined and lessons learnt, but it wasn’t the Fire Service which created a fire trap through cost-cutting , avoidance of proper fire safety measures and a sheer disregard for the safety of the people who lived in Grenfell.

Oliver Wainwright, the Guardian’s architecture and design critic speaks before going into the prize event

ASH were protesting outside the highly prestigious Stirling Awards ceremony condemning architects for social cleansing, council estate demolition and housing privatisation and calling on architects to end wanton environmentally disastrous demolitions and to serve the needs of citizens with socially beneficial, financially viable and environmentally sustainable architecture rather than corporate profits. You can read more on their web site.

In particular they had come to point out that the winning entry, widely lauded in the press as marking a new era in social housing, is actually a  a commercial venture owned by Norwich council and will not be offering secure council tenancies and that council homes were demolished to build it. They were particularly incensed that it was also nominated for (and won) the new Neave Brown Award, set up to honour the recently deceased champion and architect of council housing; they see this as an insult to the memory of our great architect of council housing.

A woman came to shout at Simon Elmer and pushed him

ASH’s approach represents a threat to many architects who rely on the highly lucrative projects of major developers (named for Sir James Stirling (1926-92) whose 1977 major public housing scheme in Runcorn was demolished only 15 years after it was built, it should perhaps be better re-named as the ‘Sterling’ prize) and the protest was not well received by many of them – with one woman going as far as coming to assault Simon Elmer of ASH. But there were also some largely younger architects who expressed support.

It was a small protest and started rather late, when many had already gone inside to enjoy the ‘free’ champagne their very expensive tickets provided. The light was falling fast and it was hard to find an angle which worked to connect the protest and the event. I was pleased when the protesters decided to mock the champagne celebrations inside with a few plastic cups of cheap Cava (and I was holding cup of it myself when I took the picture at the top of this post. I left as it got too dark to photograph without flash, though perhaps I should have stayed, as more people arrived and the protest apparently got livelier later. But I’d been on my feet far too long and needed to get home and eat.

More at Stirling Prize for Architecture


Rebellion continues

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The second day of Extinction Rebellion’s shutdown of Westminster was in some respects a disturbing one for those of us who believe in civil liberties and the rule of law, with the police moving in at times like a group of thugs and deliberately destroying the property of the protesters.

XR have a dedication to non-violence and made no attempt to stop the police or to resist the arrests that took place, and the use of force seemed quite uncalled for. Of course large scale acts of civil disobedience do cause inconvenience and annoyance to others, but the response of a civilised society should be to try and resolve the issues rather than to attack the protesters.

Those who break laws can and in the case of XR do expect to be arrested but should not be assaulted and too many arrests that I saw seemed to involve an unnecessary use of violence and deliberate infliction of pain.

One new banner read ‘CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE’ and it is perhaps hard not to see the police as a force being used by the small group of those who are rich and powerful to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the rest of the people. Their more vigorous response on this second day of protest can only have been a result of considerable political pressure on them to subdue the protests. They clearly came not to keep the peace but to try and win a battle.

As you can see from my pictures, the protests were still continuing at various sites around Westminster and the general atmosphere was something of a festival. But a festival with a great deal of commitment by people desperate that our government take effective action against the most serious problem faced by the country and the world. We are just beginning to see a government forced into taking belated action against the threat posed by COVID-19, but we need a similar level of action against climate change that otherwise will be even more catastrophic.

‘Everything Will Change’ whether we like it or not, but we have a choice to make changes which may avert the extinction of our species. But our government continues to fiddle while the planet burns.

More at Extinction Rebellion continues.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


XR Wedding

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

I’m not a wedding photographer. I have been asked to photograph weddings on quite a few occasions, but with a handful of exceptions for family and friends I’ve always refused – it just isn’t something I have any interest in and I’m fortunate to be able to afford to refuse work I don’t want to do. There are others who enjoy it and find it fulfilling – and who need the money.

I think until this event my full tally was five – two sons and three old friends for whom I did it as a wedding present. And at this wedding on Westminster Bridge, although I was taking pictures I wasn’t ‘the wedding photographer’, it was a part of Extinction Rebellion’s protest.

Though I had known one of the couple for some years. I think I first photographed Tamsin back in 2008 when she was leading the attempt by Climate Rush to storm the Houses of Parliament, and got to know her better at a series of protests over the next year or two, mainly against Heathrow expansion.

I hadn’t known when it was announced by XR that there would be a wedding that she was to be one of the couple getting married. The start of the event was somewhat delayed as her partner was held up at a protest outside the Dept of Business etc (BEIS) in Victoria St, and Tamsin had to go and find her, but eventually all the vital parties were present and the ceremony began.

It proceeded much like any other wedding, except there seemed to be considerably more kissing, but all the normal bits were there, including the exchange of rings.

I was some distance away and to one side, and at some parts of the ceremony the participants had their backs to me and it certainly wasn’t possible to move to get a better view. But for some of the time I was in a perfect position as this picture of Tamsin slipping the ring onto Mellissa’s finger I could not have been better placed. This is a relatively small detail from a frame (below) taken with the angle of view roughly equivalent to using 200mm lens, though I was actually working at 31mm (62 mm equivalent) using the 14-150 zoom on the Olympus OMD EM5-II.

It was a dull afternoon, but I was still working at 1/100s f8 at ISO400. I suspect the image stabilisation of the Olympus body helped to keep the picture sharp, at at lowish ISOs the quality of the Micro Four Third’s image is great. I think in low light, at ISO3200 and above, there is a noticeable advantage for full-frame, but when you can use slower speeds it is hard to tell the difference.

More pictures at XR Rebels marry on Westminster Bridge.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


XR Westminster

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

I don’t know who these two men were, striding purposefully with their document cases but I think they had emerged from a government ministry and they were probably making their way to another or possibly the Tory party HQ. It’s possibly quite unfair, but to me they seemed to epitomise the reason why we are in the situation we are in, a determination to carry on ‘business as usual‘ when it is quite clear that to survive we need drastic system change. We can’t trust men in suits.

XR were protesting across Westminster, and it was hard to keep up with what was happening at I think eleven locations, but I did quite a lot of walking around and taking pictures, with a pretty total shutdown of all the roads in the area. Police made movement a little more difficult by setting up some road blocks of their own, which seemed totally pointless but made my job more difficult when they wouldn’t even let me walk across Lambeth Bridge although I showed my press card.

They seemed also to be making the very occasional and almost totally random arrests, picking on small groups or individuals when hundreds were blocking roads. It seemed a simply pique at being unable to control the situation of mass peaceful civil disobedience.

Although it was taking place in London, the XR protest was not a London protest, with the huge bulk of the protesters having come into the city from small towns across the country. XR has been very successful at motivating a largely white mainly middle class and highly educated population but rather less so with the urban working class, and there were far fewer from London’s ethnic communities than at most London protests, and who are well represented in movements such as the Youth Climate Strike and of course anti-racist and anti-fascist protests.

It will of course be the poor and those who have to struggle most to make a living in our cities who will be the first to suffer as the effects of global heating kick in, just as it is the countries of the majority world who are now feeling it most severely. But perhaps it is hard to persuade people who are living in precarious situations of the efficacy of the kind of apolitical and non-violent approach that appeals to XR supporters.

More at Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


The Rich don’t care

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

The main event I had come to Mayfair to cover was the continuing dispute at one of the most exclusive of clubs, LouLou’s, where the IWGB Cleaners and Facilities Branch was holding one of a series of protests on behalf of the kitchen porters who work there.

The porters want a living wage and to be treated with dignity and respect and given decent terms and conditions including proper sick pay, holidays and pension contributions.

LouLou’s is an exclusive club and membership is apparently only available to people who are regarded as celebrities and they include some well-known names. What they appear to have in common, from their reactions as they were escorted past the protesters is any regard for the people who work long and unsocial hours to service their needs.

And of course they are also people to who spend silly amounts of money on their own entertainment – the annual subscription to the club is £1800 and a gin and tonic costs £20 – but begrudge the workers a living wage. That £20 drink is over two hours wages for a kitchen porter.

The club tried to play a very hard game, suspending some of the workers – all migrants – on trumped up charges in August. But the protests and an online petition:

Migrant workers at Brexiteer millionaire Robin Birley’s 5 Hertford Street club have been suspended on trumped up charges. #5HeartlessStreet

Their crime? Demanding a living wage & sick pay.
Sign & help end this injustice

increased the pressure. And on December 11th the IWGB made an announcement:

11 December: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has called off strikes planned for today and tomorrow at 5 Hertford Street, as it consults members following an offer from the club.

5 Hertford Street has offered its kitchen porters the London Living Wage from January 2020, 5 days sick pay, and regular quarterly consultations with the union on terms and conditions.

https://iwgb.org.uk/post/5df0d186b3f7c/5-hertford-street-concedes-top

More at IWGB at Mayfair club Loulou’s


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Defending the Indefensible

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

It just hadn’t occurred to me that there would be protesters defending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, hereafter MbS, the man responsible for sending a team of assassins to kill and then dismember with bone saws the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd 2018.

Of course their state-sponsored posters and placards – including two large electronic screens strapped to two men didn’t mention the killing, nor MbS’s other purges, including the 2017 arrest of business leaders and other prominent Saudi figures in what he called an anti-corruption campaign, the kidnapping of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2017 and more – including recent arrests of yet more leading Saudi figures who he sees as possible rivals.

So when I first walked up to their noisy protest I misunderstood their reason for being there. I couldn’t of course understand what they were shouting, and it was only after I read the posters that I realised they had come to support MbS and not to protest against a cruel dictator.

Of course some of them may have had good personal reasons for supporting MbS. Saudi businessmen operating in the UK may well be profiting from his economic reforms and support his Vision 2030 for a Saudi Arabia that in some respects will modernise, largely in the interests of business. Some of those taking part will be working for the Saudi government and companies such as Saudi Aramco, supposedly the most profitable company in the world, though this position is perhaps under threat by MbS’s current oil war with Russia. And some may have been paid for their evening’s work.

Certainly if you are a Saudi citizen and have any intention of returning to that country in the future, being seen as a supporter of MbS rather than an opponent will be vital for your health – as the brutal Khashoggi murder testifies. You need to be seen (and filmed) to be on the right side.


Justice for Jamal Khashoggi

On the anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, a small group of protesters on the opposite side of the road stood in a quiet line in front of the Embassy garden holding posters, and later burning nightlights, in a silent vigil for the cruelly murdered journalist. It was a small but dignified and rather more impressive display than the PR event taking place opposite.


More on both events:
Saudis support killer Prince MBS
Justice For Jamal Khashoggi


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Requiem For A Bee

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Getting to Clissold Park in Stoke Newington isn’t the most convenient of London journeys, at least not if you are in a hurry. And having been at Euston to photograph the HS2 protest it took me a while to arrive there – the Underground to Manor Park, a bus ride and then a run (or rather a mixture of walking and running we used to call ‘Scout’s pace’) across the park.

But events were running late, and I was pleased and surprised to find that the funeral procession to Stoke Newington Town Hall that should have left just over 15 minutes earlier was only just forming up. And I had another 5 minutes to recover my breath before it finally moved off.

The bee in question was apparently the Red Girdled Mining Bee, previously found in Abney Park Cemetery was now extinct there due to loss of habitat with increasing development in Hackney. It was a local example of species extinction that is occurring on a huge scale world-wide as a result of human activities destroying ecosystems and increasingly from the changes in weather and climate from global heating due to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Although I could see the idea of concentrating on a small local example, I did rather wonder how clearly and powerfully it would communicate with the many citizens of Stoke Newington going about their daily business who saw the procession, though other aspects were clearer from many of the placards and banners. But Extinction Rebellion does sometimes seem to be a very much a highly successful movement of the educated middle class making relatively little connection with the bulk of the population.

After the funeral orations at the Town Hall, the procession and the coffin moved on down Stoke Newington Church St and up Stoke Newington High St to the wonderful Egyptian-style listed 1840s cemetery gates. It was a shame that the protest did not take greater advantage of the location and pose with their various banners and flags.

Rather it slid uneasily into the kind of new-age reflection and meditation that while it may appeal to some gets very much up my nose. As I commented on My London Diary, “Had I been protesting rather than photographing the event I would have left for a pint. ” I hung on hoping that something more interesting might happen, but it didn’t. While this aspect of XR may go down well with some I think it probably causes many to avoid it. But perhaps it’s just me.

More at Requiem for a Bee.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Feb 2020: My London Diary

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

February’s event are now completed on ‘My London Diary‘ thanks to a few days I’ve taken off going out to take more photographs. It’s getting harder for me to go out and take pictures at night or in bad weather and I’m also getting a little pickier about what I cover. This month’s list is around half as long as some others.

I’ve also been busy with some other things – getting a small show of work ready for next month (here’s the invite) and putting quite a few more of my old pictures at a decent size on Flickr.

feb 2020

Against the Anti-Muslim pogrom in Delhi
Earth Strike target Glencore

Green Anti-Capitalists Rally Against Capital
University teachers march for Education
City Inter-Livery Pancake Race
Enough is Enough XR march

Don’t Extradite Assange
St Georges’s Hospital Security Guards
Wandle Wander
Youth Strike for Climate
Bermondsey Walk

BP Must Fall!
End Jamaican Charter Flight deportations
Tamils Sri Lanka Independence Day protest
Battersea, Chelsea and Kensington
No To Jamaica Deportation Flights
Nine Elms

Palestinians against Trump’s Deal

London Images


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.