Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Knife crime

Friday, September 21st, 2018

London is a safe city, with relatively low crime and absolutely no ‘no-go’ areas, despite the scare stories put out by some US right-wing personalities and ‘fake news’ web sites. The murder rate in London – at 1.8 per 100,000 people in the year ending March 31 2018 – is around half that of New York (though it did briefly overtake that city earlier this year) and less than all of the  US’s 50 main cities, which are led by  Detroit on  39.7, New Orleans on 40.4 and Baltimore with an astonishing 55.8, over 30 times the London figure. Even this is topped by St Louis at 65.8, though this still puts it well behind cities in Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil, with, according to Statista, Los Cabos and Caracas more or less tying for top place at 111.

Even so, London’s figure of over 100 murders so far this year, showing a considerable recent increase, particularly with around 60 mainly youths being killed by knives and around ten shootings are worrying, and every single death is a tragedy for the victim and family.

So I welcome London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement of a ‘Glasgow’ policy based on a public health approach, which saw the rate halved in that city, and hope it will have the same effect in London. London’s knife killings are largely of young people, particularly of young black men and are often linked with violence between gangs, though not all the victims are gang members.

Both shootings and stabbings are often linked with drug trafficking, and the legalisation of cannabis and the return to a proper system of regulated use of heroin by registered addicts would almost certainly lead to a considerable reduction in these killings, as well as in the huge amount of petty crimes carried out by people to pay for the high-price illegal drugs they need. Years of evidence show that our present approach to drugs just doesn’t work – or rather only works for the organised crime that supplies the drugs.

Problems with my train service meant that I arrived too late in Brixton to go the the 7th Day Adventist Church to photograph the ‘Be the Change’ march from there to Windrush Square. I tried to meet them on their way, but they took a different route to that I had thought most likely as it would have made the march more visible; by the time I had realised this and returned to the square they had arrived and the event there was beginning.

A gospel group sang, a preacher prayed and preached, there was more music and the congregation sang and danced, and there were placards ‘Knives Take Lives’, ‘We Care About Our Youths’ , ‘Be The Change’, ‘Knives Take Lives’ and ‘God Is Love’ , but spirited though the event was, it attracted little attention from the people of Brixton, and I think myself and a photographer friend were the only people there who would not normally be worshipping in that Brixton church, though a few walking past did turn and look as they walked.

While I’m sure the church is sincere and does good work, particularly among those families who attend, from what I saw at this event I think this  has little effect on the wider community. It needs wider initiatives such as that proposed by the Mayor – and changes in the way working-class communities are seen and regarded by the authorities – police, schools, councils and government etc – to produce the changes in society that would change lives for young people growing up poor and currently disaffected in cities such as London.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.

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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Seeing Red over Universal Credit

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Those t-shirts reading ‘#STOPUNIVERSALCREDIT’ that I’d photographed earlier at Tate Modern were again on display outside Parliament later in the day, though there were some different messages before everyone got sorted out and in order, and I took advantage of this. Of course the full message does also contain a number of three letter words, ‘TOP’, ‘PUN’, and ‘RED’ as well as ‘EDIT’ (and I suppose some might count ‘UNI’.)

But even when it was all sorted out, I didn’t manage to make much of a picture, perhaps partly because there were other photographers crowding round which meant I wasn’t in the optimum place, but more because I didn’t really think there was a decent picture possible.

Red isn’t my favourite colour for photography, and I think is best used more sparingly. It seems somehow less subtle than other colours in its photographic rendition, and often needs a little darkening and ‘de-hazing’ to restore gradation. Fortunately not all those taking part were in red, nor were the banners.

Another problem with ‘#STOPUNIVERSALCREDIT’ for photographers is simply that it is 20 characters long, and the message itself will occupy a rather narrow strip across any picture. Banners are often rather long, and I seldom like to photograph them in their entirety from directly in front, preferring to work fairly close to one or other end, and gaining some interest from the people nearest to the camera.

The march which followed, through Parliament Square to Caxton House was more to my liking in terms of photography, enabling me to hide much of the red and also to concentrated on some of the protesters.

The protest which followed in front of Caxton House was also photographically interesting, though the very limited space and crowding made it hard to work.

Universal Credit is almost universally recognised to be a disaster, causing a great deal of hardship – and even some deaths – among both the working poor and those who are unable to work. Delays in payment and reductions in benefits have led to many being evicted from their homes and a dramatic rise in people needing the support of food banks and the demand on street kitchens. The government are pressing ahead with the programme despite the growing evidence of its terrible consequences, with some ministers clearly gloating over its effects on the poorer members of our community.

Although the aim of simplifying and unifying the benefits system was laudable, Universal Credit was designed and is being implemented by people who simply are incapable of understanding how most ordinary people live with little or no financial resources. No money in the bank (if they have an account), no savings, no wealthy friends or family who can help them out if they are short at the end of the week or month.

It could perhaps have worked, had it been combined with a true living wage and a proper transition that didn’t leave people without money for weeks or months. But that would have needed more money to implement. It would also need a system that didn’t feel so obsessive about over-payment and possible benefit fraud. The rich who avoid or defraud the tax system on a huge scale get away with it most of the time, and the government makes surprisingly little effort to stop this (even admitting that in some cases they haven’t taken action as it would ‘damage the reputation’ of those concerned) and the losses there are hundreds or thousands of times greater than any loss over benefits. We have a benefits system – with excessive use of ‘sanctions’, taking away benefits for up to three years – that is clearly designed to publish the poor, and reports have shown to cause many deaths – according to some estimates one every 33 minutes.

More pictures at Universal Credit rally & march

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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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Universal Credit at the Tate

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

Sometimes space in photographs can be very important, and this picture of protesters in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London is I think a good example. But it isn’t without its problems, and as this small reproduction shows one of them is that we really can’t read the message on the t-shirts unless the image is used on a rather larger scale.

The picture is one of around a dozen taken of the group of protesters, and actually one of them is missing. In this picture it reads STOPUNIVERSALCREDIT and there should have been a ‘#’ at the left. But the ‘#’ was talking to and delaying the security man who was trying to stop the protest, and a later picture shows running to join the protest with security runinng after him.

I was standing on the bridge across the hall, I think at the same level as the horizontal beam along the wall at the right, and hoping that there were going to be no security officers trying to stop me taking pictures – and fortunately there wasn’t. And I was able to take a series of pictures before the security officer rather got in the way of the message, some of which were more legible in small reproduction.

As well as making the message more legible, the larger scale also makes the reflection on the rear wall stand out more, helped by a little massaging in post-production. I’ve also done a little tweaking to make the inside walls of the building more or less vertical as intended, which is a lot easier on the computer than when we had to tilt the easel holding the paper under the enlarger.

I’d started taking pictures of the group earlier, at the riverside outside Tate Modern, and we had to start with the protesters with their back to us as they didn’t have quite enough people to wear the full set. Then they managed to persuade a person (or was it two) walking by to make up the numbers for a full frontal image by the river and then on the Millenium bridge before a couple of late-comers made it. It needed the 16mm fisheye to get in the whole group on the bridge with the former power stationi behind them.

But I think the pictures I like most from the riverside are those where you can’t read the message at all, or only the odd bit of it – and the tape which says ‘Beware Hostile Environment’.

And there was even a role for that over-zealous security officer when the protesters went to pose on the tarmac outside the building and he came to insist that they go completely off the property. But the logo on his jacket enabled me to take a photograph showing clearly where the protest was taking place. I’ve put the image on the web without cropping, but should really have cropped the group tighter, taking out the woman in blue at the left and a little of the foreground.

Universal Credit is now pretty universally admitted to be a disaster, but the government is refusing to halt its roll-out, creating greater hardship to so many, leading to evictions and suicides as well as a huge degree of deprivation and misery. If we lived in a society that was truly just, Iain Duncan Smith would be in jail and the whole programme scrapped.

The action at Tate modern was a prelude to other protests in London and elsewhere on a day of action against Universal Credit, of which more later. But its also a set of pictures, a little over 30 in all, which show very clearly how I was working that day, about the closest I like to get to studio photography.

Universal Credit protest at Tate Modern

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

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July 2018 in London

Friday, August 31st, 2018

I’ve already posted about the Hull pictures I took at the end of July on a few days there, but I have now completed the rest of the work for the month, so here are some links to the pictures I took in London during July. As well as various protests I also photographed the annual celebrations at London’s Italian church, St Peter’s, in Clerkenwell, an event I’ve attended most years since the 1990s, along with a few photographer friends, one of Italian origin. It has become an annual day out together, helped along, mainly after the procession, by Italian wine at the Sagra. Every year I try and get a good picture of the release of the doves, whose flight when released is almost entirely unpredictable. At least this year I managed a picture with all three of them in flight.

July 2018

Sagra – Italian festival


Our Lady of Mount Carmel procession


Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14
Whitehall rally against extreme-right
Anti-Fascists & Police harassed by hooligans


Against Tommy Robinson & Trump
Croydon Pride Procession
Massive protest against Trump’s Visit


Soho parties to protest Trump’s visit
‘Bring The Noise’ Women march against Trump
‘Trump: Climate Genocide’ Giant banner
Noise protest against Trump
UoL #LeadingWomen protest hypocrisy


US Embassy protest says NO to Trump
Vauxhall & Nine Elms
NHS at 70 – Save St Helier Hospital


Free Ebru Ozkan Vigil
Bangladesh Quota Reform Movement
Legal right to use cannabis


Refuse plans to destroy the Elephant

London Images

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Keep Guards on Trains

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

It wasn’t a huge protest, perhaps with only around 20 people involved, but I was pleased to be there and to be able to photograph it, because I think it raises issues that are important, not just for the disabled people who were protesting, but as an indicator of the values that are important to those in charge of our society.

A UN Committee reported last year that the UK government the government has “failed to recognise living independently and being included in the community as a human right” and its Chair described this as a “human catastrophe”.

Of course there is much more to it than travel, and in particular the committee had earlier  condemned the disproportionate effect of government cuts in health and social security budgets on the disabled, and also the effect of benefit sanctions and the lack of proper education provision.  The government – and in particular Iain Duncan Smith, in charge of the DWP from 2010-2016 – picked on the disabled thinking they would be an easy target, unable to protest and fight back, but protests like this, organised by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) have proved them wrong.

Perhaps the governments orders to the train companies to get rid of the guards on trains are at least in some small part a reaction to protests such as this, but more likely they reflect a more general disregard for the travelling public in general and the disabled in particular.

Unstaffed stations have long made it difficult or impossible for disabled people to board or leave trains,  and they need to book journeys well in advance to get assistance to do so. And while staff on the platforms generally do their best, the companies don’t always manage to ensure the required help is available despite their duty under the Equalities Act.

Several who spoke at the event told horror stories about their travels, but the protest was prompted by the latest orders given to staff by rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (which runs trains, though not as often as it should), on all Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express routes that they should leave wheelchair users (it de-humanises them as  ‘PRM’s) on the platform, even when they have arranged and pre-booked a journey, if to allow them to board would hold up the train. They should also be taken beyond their intended stop rather than cause the train to run late.

The new instructions also come with a new timetable which has cut in half the time allowed for most station stops, making it almost impossible to stop long enough to get a wheelchair on board except in the unusual circumstance of a train running early.

It would be simple for the rail companies, including GTR,  to provide the service they are required to provide accessible transport under the Equalties Act on trains with a guard, simply by ensuring all trains carry a lightweight portable ramp, at hand ready to use.  A longer-term solution would ensure that all new trains would be fitted with the kind of retractable access ramps now fitted to London’s buses.

The protest was supported by the RMT, who are campaigning to keep guards on trains for safety reasons, not just for disabled people but for the rest of us as well. As a frequent rail passenger its a campaign I fully support.

DPAC protest GTR rail discrimination

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Rolling Picket against Gaza Killings

Friday, August 24th, 2018

From a silent protest inside one branch of Barclays Bank I moved to join a rather noisy event meeting up outside the Tottenham Court Road branch, the start of a number of protests by the Revolutionary Communist Group and Victory to the Intifada outside businesses whose activities support the Israeli state following the barbaric massacres by Israeli snipers of unarmed protesters taking part in the Great March of Return protests in Gaza, which by then had killed over 60 and seriously wounding thousands.

Barclays had been chosen because of its massive investments in Israel supporting the state there – just as years ago they supported apartheid South Africa – and I took part in protests against them over this back in the 1960s. Barclays is also the largest global investor in the arms trade.

Although the branch had ‘Barclays’ in large letters across its front, it was rather high up, and including it in my pictures was something of a challenge, even with the group pictures. Since it was on glass it also rather disappears into the reflection. particularly with its blue on a blue sky, though some post-processing could have made it stand out more, adding a little contrast, clarity and perhaps saturation. It stood out visually considerably more than the photograph suggests and I think adding a little emphasis would be acceptable. It is a little unfair that Sainsburys, who were not the subject of a protest, comes out rather more obviously in several of the pictures.

The protest moved on, at first just a few yards down the road to Boots, who sell beauty products made in Israel. Their logo was rather easier to include, being a little lower down. Carphone Warehouse was again something of a challenge, as the protesters stopped in front of the door which had no visible branding around it, but also because the pavement here on the corner of Oxford St was much busier and it was difficult to avoid people walking past blocking my view unless I moved in rather close to the protesters.

This problem got even worse as the protest made its way down Oxford St, with pauses for protest outside Zara – where the image above has passers-by at both edges, with one holding a cup of coffee – and then outside H&M.

Popular though Oxford St is with tourists and shoppers, it comes close to my idea of hell, and I was getting rather hot, so I was quite pleased to leave the protesters at this point, with several more stops they intended to make to make my way to meet friends elsewhere in London for a small celebration.

Previous protests against shops on Oxford St had been met by a small group of extreme right Zionists waving Israeli flags and shouting insults, but there was no sign of them on this occasion, and many who saw the protest expressed support, clearly condemning the cold-blooded shooting of unarmed protesters by the Israeli army snipers. Just a couple of people who walked past shouted at the protesters who as always it was made clear that this was in no way an anti-Jewish protest but one against the actions of the Israeli state and calling for an end to the killing of Palestinians and the siege of Gaza and for a free Palestine.

Solidarity with Gaza – end support for Israel
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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Against Israeli Massacre – and more

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Tuesdays aren’t usually a busy day opposite Downing St, but 15th May was an exception. When I arrived a protest by Kurds was still in progress, at the end of a busy day for them protesting against the visit of Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan who they say is a dictator and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kurdish civilians.

One or two of them were not happy to be photographed, one man in particular complaining to me that I “put people’s faces on-line“.  If you protest you will be photographed, and if Erdogan and the Turkish security services have any interest (as I’m sure they do), you can be sure they will be taking pictures, though probably rather more discretely than me, rather than relying on my rather idiosyncratic selection of images.

People who have a real need to protect their identity but decide to take an active part in protests need to take suitable steps to disguise their appearance, perhaps with face paint and wigs or other disguises which don’t attract the attention of UK police, or with face masks which may, though usually only if worn together with black clothing.

The Kurds soon left and were replaced by people who had come for an emergency protest called after the news that Israeli army snipers had opened fire on unarmed protesters a few hundred yards from the separation wall in Gaza, killing 58 and seriously wounding over 2700.

Many of them had been shot in the back as they ran away from the wall, and it was clear that the snipers were following orders to shoot, and either to kill or seriously maim the protesters, using bullets designed to expand inside the body on impact and cause maximum damage, which are thought to have been supplied from the UK. Most not killed were shot in the legs, leaving many unlikely to walk again.

Among those killed were medics treating the wounded and clearly identified journalists wearing distinctive blue press vests. At that range both would have been clearly identifiable to the snipers.

Videos and reports of these killings horrified the world and were widely condemned internationally, even by many supporters of Israel. Gaza has been under siege by Israel with supplies of most materials including medical supplies only allowed through in very limited quantities, and few of the wounded are likely to be able to receive the level of treatment which would be acceptable in this country, despite the dedicated efforts of medical staff. Many of us were revolted by what we saw on the Internet to donate to give medical aid to Palestine, but actually getting it there is difficult.

Among those who spoke were MPs from Labour, SNP and the only Green MP, Caroline Lucas, and there were also Muslim, Jewish and other speakers, as well as some from the peace movement and Palestinian supporters, as well as journalist Owen Jones and Tariq Ali. Also at the protest were a group of ultra-orthodox Jews opposed to Zionism who view the existence of a Jewish state as an offence against their religion.

Although the protest had been called at short notice, well over a thousand people managed to get to Downing St for the protest on a Tuesday evening.

A few yards away, ignored by most of the large crowd, and behind a line of police stood a small group of Zionists, hurling insults at the crowd which few could hear. They insisted that all those killed were terrorists who deserved to die. I was disgusted but tried to keep calm as I photographed them.

Erdogan, Time To Go
Israeli massacre of protesters
Zionists defend Israeli shootings

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Grenfell at Parliament

Monday, August 20th, 2018

May 14th saw protesters from Grenfell Tower and the surrounding community protesting outside Parliament as MPs were to debate a petition with 150,000 signatures calling for the Prime Minister to appoint a panel of decision making experts to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick in the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.

The petition reflected the fears of the community and many others that the inquiry will turn into a deliberately long-winded affair which acts to prevent real investigations into those responsible for the tragedy. The debate and protest came exactly 11 months after the fire, and many there would be going on to take part in the silent walk which has taken place every month on the 14th of the month, the day of the fire last June.

So far much time has been wasted in getting to the truth, and while various independent investigations have told us a great deal there has been little movement by the police who are apparently investigating some aspects.

The inquiry so far appears to have been mainly an attempt to put blame for the number of deaths onto the fire fighters, who the community who watched them working regard as true heroes, working in terrible conditions to save lives.

Had the building been up to the proper specifications, with non-flammable cladding, there would have been no deaths. If the fire doors had met the specifications more lives would have been saved. Had the building had the wet riser it should have had, rather than a dry riser, fighting the fire would have been much easier. The specialist fire engine needed for the tall building had to come from Surrey (which doesn’t have that many tall buildings) as London didn’t have one, probably due to the cuts made by the then London Mayor Boris Johnson, which also left the fire fighters short-handed. And so on…

Obviously the main blame has to be with the Kensington & Chelsea council and the organisation it set up to manage its council housing, which appears to have deliberately set out to reduce safety standards and to have carried out modifications to the tower at least partly for cosmetic reasons and with little or no regard for the safety of residents. It also failed to respond to legitimate complaints from residents, instead labelling them as troublemakers, and refusing to give them proper information about the work that was being done.

Given the severity of their offences it will be hard to think that justice has been done unless some of those concerned end up in jail. But this seems unlikely, with our political and justice system conspiring together as usual in such cases to cover up and obfuscate, with one of their main tactics being delay. Eleven months on, police had still apparently not yet interviewed any of the key figures who might be involved in prosecutions under oath.

Quite a few of those active in the community protests were also at the Windrush protest a few days earlier. Many of those living in Grenfell, and among its victims were migrants and others see links between the two causes.

One of the groups that has been most active over Grenfell is the Revolutionary Communist Group, and they were at the protest with their banner and posters. They advocate a more active approach than the silent marches which have taken place (and in which they have joined), and have organised stalls on Ladbroke Grove on Saturdays as well as a noisy march to protest outside the homes of some of the councillors and protests outside council meetings. Although there was a wide range of speakers at the event, including two Labour shadow ministers, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon, local MP Emma Dent Coad and the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, and no real shortage of time, the RCG were refused permission to speak at the main microphone, and instead spoke using their own PA system a few yards to one side. The decision not to give them a platform appeared to be part of a long-running feud between them and the much larger Socialist Workers Party, which it would have been good to have seen put to one side for the sake of Grenfell.

Grenfell Parliamentary Debate Rally

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Windrush shows Tory racism

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Stand Up to Racism came to Downing St to call for Theresa May’s racist 2014 Immigration Act to be repealed and for an immediate end to the deportation and detention of Commonwealth citizens, with those already deported to be bought back to the UK.

Although the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush has brought the treatment of people of Commonwealth origin back into public debate, this is not a new problem. It has its roots in the kind of attitudes which we had to our Empire. The British Empire was – at least financially – a very good thing for Britain, making the country wealthy and putting the Great in Britain, which without it would have been a small country on the edge of Europe.

It was the wealth from the Empire (much of it based on slave and exploited labour in our colonies) that built our great cities and which enabled us to pursue the kind of industry and education which provided the opportunity for the Industrial Revolution in which British scientists and engineers played such a leading role.

Of course there were many great myths of the empire, including a conviction of racial superiority which enabled us to see it as a civilising mission as it was destroying existing civilisations. And it wasn’t all bad, and at least in some places it did improve the lot of some of those who became British, and, at least until 1948, all those born anywhere in His Majesty’s dominions were automatically British subjects, as well as any child whose father was a British subject and any woman who married a British subject. These rights, which existed under Common Law, were codified by the 1914 Aliens Act.

Things became more complicated after the Second World War – and many British subjects from across the Empire fought in both World Wars. The 1948 British Nationality Act made all of us in the UK and its remaining colonies a ‘Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies’ and until 1962 this generally included the right to come and live and work in the UK. The Commonwealth Immigration Act brought in under Harold Macmillan then removed that right for Commonwealth citizens and immigration controls were then put in place. Edward Heath’s 1971 Immigration Act brought in a new concept, patriality, restricting the right of abode to those who were born in the UK, or had parents or grandparents who were born here. This actually prevents some British nationals from living here and is in breach of international law and the Fourth Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Further restrictions came with Margaret Thatcher and the British Nationality Act 1981, which essentially set the current pattern. All the major restrictions on immigration have been brought in under Conservative governments, though there were some minor changes when Labour was in power, including the right to deprive people of British nationality.

Theresa May’s personal contribution during her time at the Home Office was the establishment of a ‘hostile environment’ through the Immigration Act 2014. Perhaps even more important than the actual legislation was the creation of a hostile and uncaring culture within the Home Office, and her work with the UK Border Agency and its replacement in 2013 by the UK Border Force and Immigration Enforcement.

Windrush rally against Theresa May
Windrush Immigration Act protest

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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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

More from a long May Day

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

The rally outside Parliament to publicise the dangers of Lyme Disease and call for government action had no particular connection with May Day. The Chronic Lyme Disease Support Group UK has been campaigning for some years to get the NHS to take Lyme disease more seriously and to get better testing and treatment for sufferers, as well as to raise public awareness of the danger of tick bites and the correct way to remove ticks from pets and people. It isn’t clear why the NHS is so reluctant to take action over the problem.

I was fortunate to have photographed one of their earlier protests in May 2015, a few months before taking a holiday in Silverdale. Both I and several of my friends on the holiday suffered from ticks, finding them attached to various areas of our bodies. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but the risk is greatly lessened if the ticks are removed as soon as possible, and usually this is a fast and simple process with a tool such as the O’Tom Tick Twister, available from vets, many chemists and, of course, on-line. They aren’t expensive, and cheap versions are available that probably work as well and they must cost virtually nothing to make, and it would be good to see them made readily and freely available at surgeries etc. If you ever walk through grass or forests you should get one.

The protest outside the Home Office was taking place not because it was May Day, but as the as the Home Office intended to carry out a mass deportation to Jamaica later in the week. Despite it being in the middle of the Windrush scandal, the flight would include members of the Windrush generation – although the government is very concerned to make the right noises about Windrush, it hasn’t greatly changed the institutional racism of the Home Office and the racist attitudes put into law in Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act.
Against Deportation Charter Flights

Fortunately the times of these two events made it possible for me to leave the May Day march as the end of it left Clerkenwell Green and rush down to Farringdon station to catch the Underground to Westminster to cover both, before rushing back to the Strand to meet the May Day marchers on their way to the rally in Trafalgar Square.

My next event began at the rally, where precarious workers had decided to gather for their own action. A couple of them spoke as a part of the May Day rally before that ended and they moved off. They first went to the Ministry of Justice, where cleaners in the UVW are demanding to be paid a living wage – the London Living wage – and to be directly employed by the Ministry so they get the same conditions of service as comparable workers there. At the moment they are employed by cleaning contractors and get only the statutory minimum conditions – as well as providing bullying managers.

Next they marched to Kings College, where cleaners are also campaigning to be directly employed by the college and held a rally there. At the nearby Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, they met briefly with the open-top bus which had spent May Day touring offices across London where cleaners from CAIWU are demanding the London Living Wage and better working conditions.

I stayed at the Royal Opera House with CAIWU while the other precarious workers went on to protest elsewhere in the West End. The protest there was noisy but fairly short and I was soon on the tube on my way to Brixton for the final event of my day.

The emergency protest outside Lambeth Town Hall, Lambeth Housing Tell Us the Truth, was poorly attended, reflecting the general lack of interest in local politics. Most people only think about the actions of their local councils when it is too late – and they find their council homes are being demolished. It had been called because the ruling Labour Party manifesto for the local elections coming up in a few days was making ridiculous claims about its housing policy, stating ‘By early 2018 we had over 950 homes completed, being built or already approved by Lambeth’s cabinet …’ The actual number completed by May 2018 is thought to be 8 or 9, and the council is engaged in a large-scale programme to demolish council estates together with private developers and replace them with expensive private housing with only a token proportion of social housing.
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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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