Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Trump protest – Trafalgar Square

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

President Trump’s State Visit to the UK in June was apposed by a large section of the British people and thousands had come to Trafalgar Square to protest and state their opposition to his climate denial, racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and bigotry.

Many of us are appalled at both his policies and his behaviour in office, and his continual lies and dishonesty, denouncing true stories as fake news and making up and repeating lies, misusing his position to unfairly attack and smear opponents.

Corrupt to the core, that his business activities have not resulted in him being in jail rather than becoming wealthy and the president demonstrate that something is very wrong with the US legal and political system. Though given that another charlatan, Boris Johnson is now our prime minister our UK system is little better. Both are evidence of the failure of democracy.

Trump is totally ridiculous. It’s difficult to distinguish the real Trump from the satire, often less ridiculous than the real. But there was plenty of amusement among the placards and caricatures of the man on display. Though it isn’t really funny that this imbecile is now in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet, one that that tries to impose its will on countries around the world through both covert and open military methods.

People met in Trafalgar Square to march the few hundred yards to a rally that filled Whitehall – and which I’ll write about in a seperate post.

More pictures at Thousands protest against Trump .

Zionists protest Al Quds March

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

In yesterday’s post I ended by saying that I ended up feeling more welcome – and perhaps more comfortable – photographing the Zionists who had come to oppose the Al Quds Day march than the march itself.

This definitely was not because I agreed with their views, and it was extremely unusual. At other events I’ve been shouted at, sworn at, threatened, subjected to rude gestures and have been condemned on-line as an “anti-semitic photographer”. Something completely untrue – as are most of the accusations made against Labour Party members – including many Jews – of anti-semitism.

There are a small number – sometimes two and seldom in double figures – of people who occasionally turn up to try and disrupt protests calling for freedom and justice for Palestinians. Some were present on this occasion, but with a rather larger number of others, perhaps around 50 at a more official rally at Downing St and a few fewer who came to the meeting point of the Al Quds Day march outside the Home Office, and halted the march for a few minutes shortly after its start before police kept them moving slowly some distance in front of it.

Among this more militant group were several well-known members of extreme right organisations including Tommy Robinson’s personal bodyguard Danny Thomas, while the official rally, as well as being organised by the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation was supported by the far-Right Sussex Friends of Israel and the Israel Advocacy Movement, both organisations with members who have demonstrated to the EDL.

But they were in a good mood after what had been for them something of a success, managing to briefly halt the march, and bringing out larger numbers than before. There were quite a few photographers taking pictures and they were keen to have their protest recorded. I wondered whether I should give them any publicity, but in the end filed a few pictures and published some on My London Diary.


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

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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.


Al Quds march

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

The Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march is always a contentious event in London, and one that I often find difficult to photograph, and I had my problems this year.

Of course many of those who protest regularly for freedom for Palestine know me as I photograph many of their protests – as you can see on My London Diary.

Some of those who have organised the Al Quds day marches over the years also now recognise me and are friendly, but it is an event that does meet with a lot of opposition by some Zionist groups and where many of those attending are rather wary about being photographed. So I found myself several times being stopped by people asking who I was taking pictures for and some trying to prevent me photographing.

As regular readers will know, I like to take pictures close to those I’m photographing, though I don’t particularly like the kind of distortion you can see in the hand of the organiser above, taken with the lens on the Fuji set at 11mm – 16.5mm full-frame equivalent. I’ve long felt that the ideal photographic distance is one where you can reach out and touch the person you are photographing, as if you were talking with them, though sometimes a little greater distance is necessary.

Of course there are times when you do have to stand further back. There was a giant Palestinian flag between me and the Neturei Karta ultra-orthodox Jews when I made the picture showing their recipe for a peaceful end to the bloodshed in Palestine. There the distance was a necessity.

And there are pictures that need a longer focal length to isolate the subject, as in this picture, made with the remarkable 18-150mm on the Olympus E-M5MarkII at 135mm (270mm equivalent.) Long lenses certainly do have their photographic uses, and this one comes in an incredibly small and light package.

I’m not sure I will go to photograph this event next year, despite my support for the Palestinians and my hope that one day they will gain justice and be able to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, to make good the neglected second part of the Balfour declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”  I’ll continue to photograph other pro-Palestinian events in London, but this one was just too much aggravation. I ended up feeling more welcome photographing the Zionists opposing the event.

UVW Hotel Visit

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Hotels are big business particularly in London, and its a highly profitable business particularly because it relies on exploiting low paid workers. The United Voices of the World is not the only union that takes up their cause, but it does so more directly than the larger unions, who have not had great success in either organising among the low paid often migrant workers the sector relies on, or at representing them.

Part of the reason for the greater militancy shown by the UVW is the reluctance of managements to engage with the union. Many hotels are run by organisations that are essentially anti-union and often prepared to flout even the weak laws on unions which we have, and to employ contractors who fail to implement even the minimum legal standards for wages, terms and conditions to provide their services.

I can’t comment with any certainty on the details of the individual case that led UVW members and supporters (including some IWGB members) to protest in the foyer of the Hilton Doubletrees Hotel close to Marble Arch. The union claimed that one of their members who had worked there for six months had been paid illegally at less than the minimum wage and was owed a large amount by the cleaning contractor.

Having got no satisfaction by contacting the hotel management and the cleaning contractor, the UVW had decided that some more direct action was called for, and around twenty of them walked into the hotel foyer and began to make their demands along with a great deal of shouting as well as loud music and dancing, demanding to talk to the hotel manager and the manager of the contract cleaning firm. 

Police eventually arrived and I was impressed that the officers tried to get the two sides to talk about the dispute. Unlike on many other occasions they actually listened to what the union had to say rather than simply try to clear them out with threats of arrest. By the time I left the protesters were still in the foyer and waiting for a representative from the contracting firm on her way to meet with them.

I don’t know how the dispute was finally settled – or even if it has yet been or whether the union is now pursuing legal action – but this was a good example of how the UVW is prepared to support its members. There are employers who rely on exploiting individuals, particularly migrant workers who are often ignorant of their rights and sometimes have a limited command of English to argue for themselves. The UVW educates them and speaks for them in meetings with employers, at employment tribunals and, if necessary, on the street at workplaces and has a remarkable record of successes through solidarity.

More pictures at Cleaners at Hilton Doubletree Hotel .


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


August 2019 on My London Diary

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

It has taken me a long time to complete putting my work from August on-line. Partly because I had a week’s holiday at the start of September. But while I covered quite a number of protests in August – and they all take time to put onto the web, I also found time to continue with one of my other projects with panoramic images, which take me rather longer to prepare.

Most of the pictures of protests are available for editorial use from Alamy, where the easiest way to find them is probably in my pages there. The latest images there are on the first page of many. Other pictures can be obtained direct from me.

August 2019

Students March to Defend Democracy
Defend democracy, Stop the Coup
Staines Moor
Solidarity with Polish LGBTQ+ community

Anti-fascists outnumber Protest for ‘Tommy’
Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal
Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In
Charing Cross to Greenwich
Official Animal Rights March 2019
Stand with Hong Kong & opposition
XR Rebel Rising March to the Common

Stand up to LGBT+ Hate Crime Kiss-In
Justice for Marikana – 7 years on
Stand with Kashmir

Kashmir Indian Independence Day Protest
Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan
Kashmiris protest in Trafalgar Square
Vegans Protest Diary Farming
Kashmiris protest at India House

City & Thames
SODEM at the Cabinet Office
Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered
Legalise Personal Light Electric Vehicles
‘Free Tommy’ protest

Anti-Racists march against the far right
LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers
North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames
DLR – Bank to London City Airport


Afrikans demand reparations

London Images


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

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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.


Youth Strike for Climate

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Youth Strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s protests, has injected a remarkable energy into the campaigning against what seems the inevitable climate disaster we are heading towards.

Most of those taking part in the protests on Fridays in London are taking time off from school to do so, sometimes with approval and even encouragement from teachers, but often despite threats and sanctions. Along with them are some students from FE and HE, but it does seem to be school students who are leading these protests.

And while schools may not approve, I think that many of the posters and placards show that the campaign is stimulating a great deal of activity in art departments across the area.

Of course as they say, it is their future which is at stake, their future lives that are at risk, while most politicians and those in charge of financial institutions and businesses in the rich world are likely to die before the worst effects of climate change begin to bite. Schoolkids don’t have a vote and feel that those who do are not thinking about the future of the young, and generally I think they are right.

Of course we are a part of the rich on this planet (despite homelessness and the other avoidable aspects of our increasing inequality); people in parts of the majority world are already in some places dying because of the effects of global heating, while here in the richer countries we are still ruled by smug wealth keeping getting richer with business as usual, and climate deniers who reject the science.

Theirs is a generation already feeling cheated by Brexit (whether we get either the current bad deal or a no deal) and by government cuts and longer term policies that have removed funding from education.

Protests like this one, and those by Extinction Rebellion, do have some effect in raising awareness and combating the lies still too frequent in the media. More people are beginning to think about how their own personal choices – over food, holiday travel and more – effect the environment but there still needs to be far more, not just at the personal level but also a giant cultural shift as well as political actions both here and across the world. We need as some of the posters and placards state, ‘System Change not Climate Change.’

More about the actual protest at Youth Strike for Climate.


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Tamils remember Mullivaikkal massacre

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

The British colonised Ceylon and in the nineteenth century it was a major source of coffee grown on British owned plantations. When the coffee crops began to fail, efforts were made to replace coffee by tea plants and seeds from Assam in India. Although at first this was unsuccessful, by the end of the nineteenth century tea had replaced coffee as the major export crop.

Sri Lankan Tamils had lived in parts of the island since at least around the 2nd century BC, but the tea plantations imported Indian Tamils to the hill areas in large numbers. Following independence in 1948, the Sinhalese-led government deported large numbers of the Indian Tamils and also made life difficult for the Sri Lankan Tamils, severely limiting employment opportunies, suppressing their culture and encouraging anti-Tamil riots, leading to the start of a civil war in 1983.

One-third of Sri Lankan Tamils now live outside Sri Lanka, the largest group, around 300,000, being in Canada.  There are thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 British Tamils living in the UK, the figures vague as Tamil was not one of the ethnic groups listed in the UK census, though people could write it in.

Over 70,000 Tamils are thought to have been killed in the earlier phases of the Sri Lankan Civil war, but it came to a particularly disastrous and bloody end in 2009, on a small strip of land at Mullivaikkal, where 40,000 Tamils, around half of them civilians, are thought to have been killed, mainly by shelling by Sri Lankan government forces in what they had designated as a ‘no-fire’ zone, but some by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The numbers are highly disputed, with huge variations between government and Tamil sources, but there is no doubt that it was a massacre on a terrible scale. According to the Tamil Guardian:”

After providing an initial death toll of 40,000, the UN found evidence suggesting that 70,000 were killed. Local census records indicate that at least 146,679 people are unaccounted for and presumed to have been killed during the Sri Lankan military offensive.

May 18th, the date on which this protest took place is widely marked as Mullivaikkal Genocide Remembrance Day

The protest I photographed included some graphic re-enactments of shooting (though only with crude wooden guns) and many people with bandages and fake blood, giving plenty of photographic opportunities. And unsurprisingly, feeling run high. Tamils want Sri Lanka to face prosecutions by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and a referendum in Sri Lanka to lead to the setting up of an independent state, Tamil Eelam.

More on the protest: 10 Years since Mullivaikkal massacre
A week earlier I photographed a group of Tamils at Downing Strike begining a week of hunger strike for their demands:
Tamil Genocide Hunger Strike


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Justice and Bloody Sunday

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

I felt uneasy covering this protest against the prosecution of soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre, the murder of civil rights protesters in Derry/Londonderry in 1972, and other incidents in the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles.’

It wasn’t because of my views about their protest, though I’m clear that there is a need to see justice done for those who lost family and friends in that terrible event. I do wonder whether 47 years later there is much point in bringing ageing ex-soldiers to trial, and those who bear the real responsibility for the events – from Prime Minister Edward Heath down – are long dead. But is there any other way to reach some satisfactory conclusion?

It is of course shameful that these clearly illegal killings were not properly investigated at the time – and those soldiers who were found to have acted illegally brought to justice at the time. We shouldn’t have the culture of cover-up which is so deeply embedded in both our military, government and judicial establishment – and continues to cover up crimes such as the killings by police officers of mentally disturbed black young men, newspaper sellers and Brazilian electricians and those responsible for creating the death-trap of Grenfell tower (and almost certainly the mysterious death of weapons expert David Kelly.) The list goes on and on…

If I had been a few years older I would have either faced National Service either in the armed forces or to have taken the decision as one of my brothers did to enter one of the non-military essential services as an alternative. Fortunately for him, the call-ups ended in November 1960 when he was still a student, and I was still at school.

After the last National Servicemen left the forces in 1963, they became solely reliant on recruits and their nature has changed, developing a more conservative and right-wing nature. Extreme right organisations such as the EDL included many ex-soldiers among their members, and the Veterans Against Terrorism joined with the Football Lads Alliance for what was clearly a racist and Islamophobic protest despite the protestations of the organisers in October 2017.

So while the veterans protesting here were a much wider group – and certainly I would not label them as racists, I knew that among them would be some of those who had threatened and attacked me when I was photographing right-wing protests, and I was uneasy when mingling with the crowd. And as I made my way to the front of the protest I did see and hear several people pointing and making aggressive comments about me and moved very smartly away.

Once at the front of course I had no problems as those leading the protest were keen to get press coverage and not involved with the extreme right; when a UKIP EU Election candidate tried to make a political speech he was given very short shrift and hustled away, by people shouting “No Politics“.

The protesters feel strongly that the soldiers who served in the Troubles should be protected from what they see as unfair prosecutions – as the government have made clear that those who served in operations in other countries such as Iraq will be. It does seem hard to argue that those who served in Northern Ireland should be treated differently from those who served in overseas conflicts.

What really would I think be even more important than bringing the few guilty individuals to trials which may or may not find them guilty – and after so many years it must be difficult to find really convincing evidence despite their guilt – is for there to be a proper recognition of the institutional culture, prejudices and shortcomings that lay behind their actions and which allowed them to be covered up for 47 years – and I suspect may still operate to prevent a true verdict being obtained in any prosecution – and for effective action to be taken to correct these.

The Stephen Lawrence case made clear and public the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police, and led to some actions to oppose this, though clearly much more still needs to be done. The deaths at Deepcut Barracks revealed the the toxic culture in the Army and much more needs to be done to combat this.

More about the protest and more pictures: Veterans demand end of NI prosecutions.


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Insects

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

I think most of us have a horror of insects, or at least of some insects. Creepy-crawlies give us the creeps, and many react like little Miss Muffett to spiders (which are insects in English if not in Biology.) I have a particular dislike for wasps, though I feel that this is entirely rational after sitting down in the dark too close to a nest on a trip to http://www.buildingsoflondon.co.uk/pm/borders/ Hawick in 2004 left me with multiple stings and a day or two of total delerium.

But of course insects are essential to life on the planet, part of the complex web of ecosystems that in particular allows us to grow food. We rely on them, particularly bees, to pollinate so many crops. And bees have in recent years been subject to huge declines in population, with the increasing use of pesticides and herbicides being a major cause.

Herbicides – of which the best-known and most widely used is Monsanto’s Roundup, containing glyphosate – are used to stop the growth of plants. It can be used on some growing crops as it is more readily absorbed through the broader leaves of weeds than most crops, and varieties have been developed that are resistant to it, but it is also sprayed on field and road edges to kill weeds there.

Many insects, including bees, are heavily reliant on these weeds and their flowers as a source of nectar to feed on, and herbicide use means the land can only sustain smaller numbers. Recent research has show a more direct effect on bees, with glyphosate at widely used levels in fields and on verges killing beneficial bacteria in bee guts, rendering them more susceptible to disease and infection.

Some studies have also found direct effects on human health and Monsanto who introduced glyphosate as a herbicide (though many other companies now market it) have been accused both of trying to prevent publications of these and of sponsoring research which falsely reports an absence of such effects. Some US courts have come out in favour of huge settlements to workers over claims that using it have caused cancers, but the danger to the general public from exposure seems very low.

Hackney Council uses glyphosate to control roadside weeds and many Hackney residents also use this and other insect-harming chemicals in their gardens. The protest by Extinction Rebellion parents and children outside the council offices called on the council to completely end its use, and a man from the department concerned came to say they had reduced their use and were hoping to find ways it could be eliminated.

I don’t live in Hackney, but of course we need to stop or at least greatly reduce the use of glyphosate across the world. Years ago we used to have council workers coming regularly even to back streets like the one we live in armed with a spade to remove the weeds growing at the kerb. They were replaced by a machine with brushes that kept some of them down, but couldn’t clean most gutters as there were cars parked along the street. So the weeds grow. Occasionally a resident will go out with a spade and clear the short section in front of their house, but usually they grow until a long dry spell kills them, they die down and reappear after more rain.

More at XR tell Hackney stop killing insects.


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Mothers’ Day March

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Apparently according to Mothers Rise Up, 95 countries celebrate Mothers’ Day on 12 May, (although in the UK we traditionally celebrate our mothers on Mothering Sunday in March, on the 4th Sunday in Lent, a rather more low key event.)

Or rather people celebrate Mother’s Day, as Anna Jarvis trademarked the event in 1912 saying it should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Jarvis had begun campaigning for a day to honour mothers after the death of her own mother in 1905. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 1905) had been a community activist and had established Mother’s Day Work Clubs in several West Virginia towns to assist and educate people to improve sanitation and reduce infant mortality and disease. During the US Civil War she had controversially insisted these clubs provide food, clothing and nursing to soldiers in need on both sides.

Mother’s Day in the USA rapidly developed, much against Anna Jarvis’s wishes into a commercial jamboree; she organised boycotts against sending mass-produced cards and gifts, urging people instead to mark the day and honour their mothers by writing them letters expressing their love and gratitude.

According to Wikipedia, Jarvis protested against the commercialisation of the event at a “candy makers’ convention” in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of the American War Mothers in 1925. The War Mothers were selling white carnations for Mother’s Day to raise funds, and this so enraged Jarvis that she protested and “was pulled away screaming and arrested for disturbing the peace.”

So it was very appropriate that Mothers Rise Up had chosen Mother’s Day to protest and “stand in solidarity with the #youthclimatestrikes” emphasising the urgent action needed to avoid disastrous climate breakdown, with scientists telling us we have only a few years to act. Perhaps as long as 11 years to take really decisive measures, although it may already be to late to prevent global human extinction. Already as they pointed out, people in parts of the Global South “are already suffering and dying as a result of climate chaos.”

Their call out for the protest began:

We will come together and rise as a maternal force to be reckoned with. With pushchairs and song, we will march from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square and demand that our government take immediate, drastic action for a just transition to a sustainable way of life.

I hope my pictures capture something of this “maternal force”, though the giant pushchairs did present something of a problem photographically. For once I walked with the protest the whole distance to Parliament Square (stopping off briefly to photograph another protest at Downing St) and stayed for a part of the rally.

One of the speakers there was the leading international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin; I had arrived too late a few weeks earlier to photograph her arrest when protesting with Extinction Rebellion at Shell’s London HQ in April.

More pictures from the march: XR International Mothers’ Day March