Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Colonial Matters

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

When I grew up our education system still proudly proclaimed the positive nature of the British Empire, even though it was more or less in its death throes, being replaced in part by the ‘Commonwealth’ (until 1949, the ‘British Commonwealth’). But we were never told about any of its less positive aspects, including often the total ignoring of the rights and laws of the people of the lands we conquered. Many of course were killed, either deliberately or by the introduction of diseases against which they had no natural resistance.

The area now in Canada around Hudson’s Bay, known as Rupert’s Land, was granted to the Hudson Bay Company by Royal Charter in 1670. The French set up ‘New France’ covering much  of what is now USA, including Canada, then the districts of Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. At the peace treaty following the global Seven Years’ War in 1763, Canada became a British colony. In 1821 the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) took over the North-Western Territory, putting them in charge of most of the rest of modern Canada. The country came together when the UK Parliament in its Rupert’s Land Act 1868 approved the sale of all of the territory held or claimed to be held by the HBC to Canada.

Back in 1670, the charter had made it clear that so far as land rights were concerned it only recognised the land rights of “our Subjects, or … Subjects of any other Christian Prince or State.” I’m not entirely sure if the Christian in that document always included Catholics, but certainly the indigenous peoples of the area we annexed were considered to have no rights at all, and the same continued to be true in 1868.

The First Nations were clearly in possession of the land when the British and others arrived in the 17th century but they had no concept of ownership of land and any treaties they later made were for them not about ownership of land but of sharing its use. It was only in 1973 that a Canadian court acknowledged “that the aboriginal title, otherwise known as the Indian title, to their ancient tribal territory has never been lawfully extinguished“.


A passing artist, Margaret Dawn Pepper and her friend stop to show support

The Wet’suwet’en of British Columbia have never signed treaties with Canada or given up rights and title to their ancestral lands and say Canada is violating Anuk Nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law) as well as Canada’s own colonial laws in building the Coastal GasLink pipeline across their land to carry fracked natural gas to a processing plant. 14 of them were arrested at gunpoint on Jan 7th for obstructing the building of the pipeline, after an injunction had been obtained ordering them not to block it.

The day after this protest in London took place the Wet’suwet’en leaders came to an agreement with the RCMP to allow limited work on the pipeline to go ahead, so long as they were allowed access to their healing lodge and the back country to continue trapping.


Claire James, Campaigns Coordinator of Campaign against Climate Change

The Wet’suwet’en remain opposed to the pipeline project which they say endangers their water supplies and traditional trapping areas, and there have been continuing complaints about the pipeline workers bulldozing traps, endangering the health centre and restricting access to areas of their land.

The Wet’suwet’en have been backed locally, nationally and internationally by groups concerned with the protection of indigenous rights and by enviromentalists, worried at the huge amount of carbon dioxide that will be produced by gas exported through the pipeline and the global warming this will produce. We should be cutting our use of fossil fuels, not promoting new sources such as this.

The protest started with just a hundful of protesters but was over twice as large by the time I left. They protested at three different entrances to Canada House.

More pictures at Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Pipeline Protesters

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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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February 2019 complete

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Finally I’ve finished uploading pictures and text for February.  It was a busy month and I seem to have taken a lot of pictures despite it being a short month. I’ve been trying to ignore Brexit and hope it will go away, but there were a few things to do with that, including a group of extreme right-wing Brexiteers who continue to be a nuisance, and although I never set out to photograph them I kept meeting.

Other things were more pleasant. It’s always a pleasure to photograph Class War, and their performance at the London Palladium was no exception, and it was good to meet Ken Livingstone again on the two Venezuela protests. And I was particularly pleased to meet Venus again at the ‘Reclaim Love’ Valentine Party – and there is a rare picture on the site that was not taken by me of the two of us.

Feb 2019

Class War protest Rees-Mogg freak show
North Woolwich


Outsourced Workers at Justice ministry
Outsourced Workers protest at BEIS
Rally for an end to Outsourcing
Eton & Windsor
Staines & the Thames
Leake Street graffiti
Bolivians protests against President Morales
Yellow Jackets continue protests
Sudanese support non-violent uprising


Stop Trump’s Venezuela gold & oil grab


Against political trial of Catalan leaders
Reclaim Love 2019 street party
End BP sponsorship at British Museum


Bring Goldsmith’s Security In-House
Pro-EU campaigners and Brexiteers
Workers strike at Business ministry
UPHD drivers protest unfair congestion charge
Kashmir Awami Party call for Freedom


Kashmiris call for freedom
People’s Trial of the Home Office
Extinction Rebellion Hackney Street Party
Bank of England return Venezuela’s Gold
Aylesbury residents protest lack of heating
Tamils protest on Sri Lanka Independence Day
Staines walk
Canada Goose
Sudanese support the uprising
Yellow Jackets in Westminster
Hands Off Venezuela

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

________________________________________________________

Shame on Debenhams

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

It was rapidly approaching the time of year when most sentient activities close down for the holidays. For what used to be Christmas but has now developed into a rahter longer holiday apparently stretching for most until some time in the New Year. Except of course for people who work in shops, who endure the last minute rush to get provisions and presents and then return for the frenzy of the Boxing Day and New Year sales.

Unsung and under-appreciated among these workers are the cleaners, who keep the shops fit to shop in. Most of them come from London’s migrant communities, and many work for wages that keep them in poverty and working conditions that are shameful. Some employers event try to withold or evade the statutory minimums, and arbitrary and repressive management with disregard for worker’s health and safety seems to be  more or less routine.

With a few honorable exceptions, mainly down to union activists in particular branches, the problems of these low paid migrant workers have tended to be ignored by the larger established trade unions. Low paid workers who joined them  too often found the people who were meant to represent them had little interest in those at the bottom in organisations and were more concerned with keeping differentials and promoting the cause of the better paid – and left to set up their own grass roots unions.


A passing bus has a suitable message; cleaners want to be recognised and treated with dignity and respect

I’ve photographed a number of actions by these unions over the years and almost all have ended with significant gains for the workers, both in terms of pay and conditions. The difference between the current minimum wage (the Government misleadingly call the minimum rate for over 25s the ‘National Living Wage’, though it is well under the  UK Living Wage) of £7.83 and the London Living Wage, currently £10.55 per hour is a huge one for low paid workers, perhaps best appreciated by the calculation that to earn the minimum the Living Wage Foundation calculates is needed to live in London at the lower rate would mean a worker doing an extra 14 hours on top of their 40 hour working week.

For some, getting the higher rate means they can afford to travel to work by tube instead of by bus, and for those who can only afford rents in the outer areas but work in the city centre this may cut travel times to and from work by a couple of hours each day. Buses are cheap but longer journeys can take an age.

Like many companies, Debenhams does not directly employ the workers who clean its shops. It saves money by paying another company, Interserve, to employ them. Interserve cuts costs by paying low wages, giving them the minimum conditions of service, and increasing workloads to an intolerable extent, employing them under conditions that a more responsible company like Debenhams would be ashamed to offer.

Back in May 2018, the workers asked Interserve to pay them the London Living Wage, but the company have refused to discuss the situation, saying that it will not recognise the trade union, CAIWU, the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union that the cleaners belong to.  So today the workers were on strike, protesting on the pavement outside the Oxford Street store along with other CAIWU members and trade unionists, making a great deal of noise, dancing to Latin-American music, making short speeches about why they were on strike and handing out leaflets to the passing shoppers. Those who stopped to find out what the dispute was about almost all expressed their support, and some stopped for a few minutes to join in the dancing.

Debenhams so far have I think said the cleaners pay and conditions are nothing to do with them. They claim to have no responsiblity for this people who work in their store. But usually in disputes like these once the shop’s operations are disrupted they start to take an interest and put pressure on the outsourcing company, even if only behind the scenes, and a succesful conclusion is reached.

Unfortunately with some workplaces, the gains made are only temporary. Outsourcing contracts come to an end and a new round of bidding leads to a new employer whose low bid (and shareholder profits) again depends on screwing the workers, either by reneging on the earlier settlements or by cutting the number of workers, increasing their workloads.  The only real solution is to end out-sourcing, something which various Labour shadow ministers have promised they will do when they get into office.

More pictures at Debenhams Pay Your Cleaners

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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

________________________________________________________

BBC and Climate Crisis

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

I used to think the BBC was a fine example of broadcasting, and in some ways it still is, with some excellent reporters around the world, and programmes on radio and TV with high production levels. But in recent years I’ve been very disappointed, even apalled, at a general failure to address some important issue, and with a consistent bias in favour of the status quo and the upholding of some widely held but cleary fallacious views. And with its often slavish following of what our overwhemling right-wing press decides is news and what the view on it should be, most evident in recent years over its assault on Jeremy Corbyn. Academic studies have confirmed the anecdotal impression that his views and actions have been consistently misrepresented, often even falsified.

The BBC employs people who mainly come from a limited section of society; middle-class, university educated, well-off and conservative with a small c – and for its political commentators, usually with a large C too. The board that oversees it comes from the same type of people, part of a metropolitan elite. Perhaps we need quotas to slim out the Oxbridge and Eton mobs and other over-represented groups.

Perhaps most damning has been its failure to properly address the crisis of climate change, potentially the most disastrous issue we all face (though too many still have their backs turned), with the potential to make our own species extinct, along with most others. While the BBC hasn’t entirely ignored it, it has generally failed to recognise the huge amount of sceintific interest and studies, and has often given the views of fossil fuel investors and the flat-earthers of climate studies the same importance as those of climate scientists in the pursuit of a false impartiality.

Climate campaigners from Extinction Rebellion came to protest at the BBC calling it to stop ignoring the climate emergency & mass extinctions of species already taking place and to end its promotion of destructive high-carbon living through programmes such as Top Gear and those on fashion, travel, makeovers etc. Virtually every programme the BBC broadcasts displays a high resource high pollution lifestyle as the norm and is an aspiration for the great majority of viewers in the UK to live beyond their means and well beyond what our planet can support for the great majority of its population.

I’m not sure we can expect TV ever to come real. I gave up regular watching of television back in 1968 for variouis reasons, largely because I saw the time sitting in front a screen as preventing me from doing things I felt both more interesting and more important – like forming and illustrating my own view of the world. It seemed to me to be too passive, allowing others to write my agenda and discouraging of critical thought. And while there have been programmes since which I have watched and admired, the great mass of output from the BBC and commercial channels which I’ve occasionally and rather randomly seen since have fairly definitively confirmed my views.

Every time I’ve come awake in a hotel room to TV’s breakfast shows I ask myself ‘How can anyone watch this drivel?’ which makes even Radio 4’s often infuriating Today programme seem remarkably adult. We truly need a cultural revolution, and I don’t mean red books and Chairman Mao.

The protest outside the BBC was organised by the Climate Media Coalition (CMC) and its director Donnachadh McCarthy; they brought mannequins wrapped in white cloth to the BBC representing the bodies of a Greek village killed by fire, increasingly common as global warming brings higher temperatures and greater instability to the world’s weather systems.

It was a protest directed both at the BBC to live up to the terms of its charter and agreement, and to the mass media in general to wake up and realise and report the real problems the planet faces. We don’t need to know celebrity trivia but we do need to have a future for life on Earth, both human life and that of other species. The current extinction rate from man-made causes, according to the WWF “is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate,” and is rapidly increasing.

Taking place on their doorstep – and with crowds and security barriers through which those working at the BBC had to cross and a volume of noise that they could not ignore even though they chose as usual not to report it, following their policy of not reporting dissent unless it fits a particular agenda (or involves one of their favourite celebrities, political or otherwise) and above all of not rocking the boat.

You can read more about it and see the pictures at Extinction Rebellion at the BBC.

Unfortunately I missed the most newsworthy part of the action, as when the protest organiser deliberately got himself arrested climbing over the barriers I was making pictures at the barrier on the other side of the plaza.

______________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________________

SODEM harassed

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

SODEM are a dedicated bunch of people opposed to Brexit who come every day in Parliament to hold peaceful protests to show their opposition to leaving the EU.

Steven Bray, who founded the ‘Stand of Defiance European Movement’ with a name to reflect his opinion of the people who had told lie after lie to voters to get them to vote for Brexit has been there every sitting day I’ve visited Westminster since September 2017. Sometimes on his own, more often with a handful of supporters, and recently with perhaps a dozen or two or even three as the date for Brexit approaches.

SODEM hold EU flags, tie them to lamp posts and railings, bring banners, dress in various items of clothing in EU blue with the ring of stars, hold placards, wear badges, occasionally shout ‘Stop Brexit’ or other similar slogans, and generally protest peacefully without causing any nuisance to others. Passing motorists hoot in agreement or drive by in silence, while tourists and others sometimes stop to commiserate. Very occasionally people have stopped to argue, and these conversations have been quiet and reasoned. The occasional pro-Leave protester has come along over the past 18 months too, and Steven or some of the others have sometimes engaged in quiet conversations.

There have been occasional times when people walking past have shouted at the SODEM protesters, sometimes rather abusively, but now something far more organised is taking place, with a group of pro-Brexiteers who come along not to protest about Brexit, but to harass pro-Europe protesters. Some of them wear yellow vests in imitation of the French ‘gilets jaunes’ though it seems like a hijacking of the symbol that has failed to realise what the events happening in France are about for some quite unsavoury issues.

Among these – and shown on the jackets – is the ‘Our Boys’ campaign backed by Tommy Robinson, which is campaigning to have a Hindu origin man who has been imprisoned for killing three teenage boys in Hayes by drunk driving tried again under terrorism laws or for murder, along with his passenger. The driver was found to have 2.5 times the legal alcohol limit and received a sentence of 13 years. They disrupted the hearing of his appeal against sentence which reduced it to 10.5 years as a mistake had been made in the earlier court.

Other slogans on their yellow jacket concern a number of tin-foil hat type theories and conspiracies, including the ridiculous “Freeman of the Land”-type beliefs in the illegitimacy of the legal syste, false claims of ritual abuse, discredited claims of sexual abuse and pedophile activity and more. One that perhaps has more reality concerns allegations about a Finchley Road address, now defunct, which does appear to have been used as the registered address for a very large number of companies involved in frauds, scams and tax evasion.

It was a morning which made me think that video might have been rather better at covering events such as this, showing both the movements of people and in particular the insults and bad language. Police did warn the protesters both about the possiblity of defamation and their use of language, and tried hard to get between the abusive yellow jacketed people and the generally polite and restrained SODEM protesters, though I felt they perhaps should have called for reinforcments and acted more assertively. Those in yellow accused the police of taking sides and were abusive towards them.

More about the later activities of the yellow group in another post.

Some more pictures at: Extreme Brexiteers clash with SODEM

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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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January 2019 complete

Monday, February 18th, 2019

It has been a struggle for me to get all of the events I covered last month on line on My London Diary, though I’m not entirely sure why that is. Perhaps it’s the time of the year or the weather or, more likely it’s Brexit, thinking of which is just so depressing.

And although I’m still trying to cut down on the number of things I do and have turned down several commissions I still seem to be rather busy, with a long list of things I intend to do but haven’t got around to, particularly web projects and books.

I’ve also got to think about the future of My London Diary and the other web sites I run, as the file count on my web space is fast approaching the limit. It would be good to find some other solution other than simply having to pay for another contract for web space, and any suggestions are welcome.

Jan 2019

Pro- and Anti-Brexit protests
No imperialist coup in Venezuela
End TfL Discrimination against private hire
Pro- and Anti-Brexit protests
No imperialist coup in Venezuela
End TfL Discrimination against private hire
Sudanese protest against al-Bashir


Defend Rojava from Turkish invasion
Yellow Jackets in Westminster
Balochs protest abductions by Pakistan


‘No Whaling’ rally and march
Lambeth protest Children’s Centre cuts
Marzieh Hashemi arrest protest


Stop Arming Saudi while Yemen starves
Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists
Bolivians protest against Morales


Women’s Bread & Roses protest
Bus Day of Action for disabled
Earth Strike Kickoff Protest
Brexit protest against May’s Deal
Vedanta Zambian pollution appeal
Eton Wick


Vigil marks 17 years of Guantanamo torture
Brexit Protests continue
Pro- and Anti-Brexit protests at Parliament
Solidarity with Pipeline Protesters
Stand Up for the Elephant
Tower Bridge & Shad Thames

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

________________________________________________________

Stansted 15 scandal

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

Sometimes the law is an ass. And sometimes the law realises it is being an ass and decides to try and mitigate its asinity, though in this case rather inadequately.  The Stansted 15, peaceful protesters who prevented an illegal deportation flight taking place by going on to the runway and chaining themselves to the plane, should never have been charged with an offence under terrorist legislation because they clearly had no terrorist intent. Eleven of the 60 who were put on the flight have not yet been deported and should not have been on the plane; the Home Office should be in court for putting them there.

Equally clearly the government and the Home Office in particular put on a lot of pressure to get them tried under this entirely inappropriate legislation. It paints both police and Crown Prosecution Service in an extremely poor light that they bowed to this pressure, and it is perhaps surprising that the court went along with them.

Using a terrorism charge meant that the accused could have been sentenced to 15 years in jail.  They should not have been found guilty, but they were, though its hard to see why. Had the court really thought they were terrorists they would not have been on bail awaiting sentence, as they were at the time of this protest, spending a couple of months over Christmas worrying about what might happen, and whether they would spend years in jail.

Even though none was given an immediated custodial sentence, three who had previous convictions for aggravated trespass in an earlier direct action were given a suspended sentence of 9 months along with long hours of unpaid work, with the other 12 receiving community orders, again with long hours of unpaid work. All the sentences seemed disproportionate, and the judge in sentencing repeated the lie that their action had endangered anyone at the airport – except themselves. In fact they had saved a number of the passengers – including four victims of trafficking – from the danger that their deportation would have put them in.

I don’t know if there will be an appeal against the convictions or the sentences, though there are probably grounds for both. But it’s shocking that such as serious charge should be misused in this way, clearly in an attempt to deter further acts of legitimate protest.

Usually I try to remain as an observer when photographing protests, but this was a liturgy rather than a protest and one I felt I had to take part in.  So I stood with the others when not taking pictures, and when as a part of it a list was passed round with the names of some of the many refugees who have died, some drowned on their way to Europe, others trying to cross the channel , some in our deportation prisons, while being deported or deported to die in another country, I didn’t just pass it on, but read out some of those names.

More about the protest, and a few more pictures at London Stands With The Stansted15.

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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 – 18 months

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Eighteen months after the terrible fire so little seems to have been done. No real changes to the systems that made it possible. No prosecutions of those responsible for making the tower into a fire-trap and for ignoring or taking steps to silence residents who pointed out the problems. A council that still seems to be failing its duty of care towards the local community, particularly those still in temporary accomodation. None of the government promises kept. No one held to account.

The inquiry has revealed some horrific details, but also seems to have been used to try to push blame onto the firefighters, who made heroic efforts at the scene of the crime, and is widely seen as trying to push any real action longer and longer into the future, hoping that people will forget. Which is why these monthly marches really matter, with thousands marching through the streets carrying green candles, green Grenfell hearts and wearing green scarves to keep the memory alight

But while of course many still suffer the trauma and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives, perhaps the response is now too passive and it’s time to make a lot more noise than this monthly silent walk.  Some feel their real purpose is to divert people from more active resistance.

It isn’t an easy event to photograph. This walk started at Kensington Town Hall, where the yard is at best gloomy. A few people have a very negative attitude to the media and one man followed me for some time telling me I shouldn’t be taking pictures. It remains a rather emotional event, and I try hard not to aggravate anyone’s distress, but it’s hard not to be affected. None of my friends died in Grenfell, but I meet a number of people I know who were friends of some of the victims, and sometimes find my eyes full of tears as I try to frame an image.

It gets a little easier once the walk starts, not least because there is more light on the streets. Most of these pictures were taken with the lenses wide open at around f4, with shutter speeds varying from around 1/8 to 1/50th at ISO 6400. Some in the council yard are still several stops underexposed and require considerable help from Lightroom.

On the walk I still try to be as unobtrusive as possible. There is the added complication of movement, but progess is deliberately slow with many halts. The lighting changes as people go along the street, from lamp post to lamp post, coming into the light then moving back into shadow. The major routes are of course considerably brighter than the side streets, and I made more pictures on them, particularly at Notting Hill Gate, where the walk took a long rest and more walkers joined. In places there was enough light to make using longer focal lengths possible, with shutter speeds up to around 1/100th.

As the march turned off to go towards Grenfell, I made my way to the Underground for the journey home. I’d been on my feet long enough and was cold – and the streets get darker as you go north.

Grenfell silent walk – 18 months on

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

________________________________________________________

Hand Back Venezuela’s Money

Friday, February 15th, 2019

On a cold wet evening I asked myself why I was standing on a dimly lit street corner in the CIty of London taking photographs of a small group of protesters. And I had an answer, that I wanted to try to draw attention to the real causes of the current situation in Venezuela, a country running out of money.

Venezuela is rich in natural resources, the largest known oil reserves in the world along with gold and other minerals. It was, and should be a wealthy country, but the problems have come because under Hugo Chavez, President from 1999 to 2013, it made a determined effort to share that wealth widely, eneacting wide-ranging social reforms and nationalising industries, creating neighbourhood councils and greatly improving access to food, housing, healthcare and education for the poor.

These policies brought the country into conflict with western dominated world economic agencies and countries, particularly the United States, leading to various sanctions, which, together with a steep drop in the price of oil have led to the current economic problems there, helped by a certain amount of corruption as well as political manouevering by the opposition largely right-wing middle classes whose dominance is threatened by the socialist programme.

Opposition voices dominate in the media coming out of the country and are widely reported in the UK media, with great prominence being given to anti-Maduro protests and little or no reporting of the large demonstrations in support of the government. The sanctions, particularly those imposed by the US seldom get a mention. As the US Congressional Research Service notes “For more than a decade, the United States has employed sanctions as a policy tool in response to activities of the Venezuelan government or Venezuelan individuals.” Sanctions were imposed under President Obama and have been stepped up under Trump, particularly over finanacial transactions and the oil industry.

The protest I was photographing was against one result of these sanctions, outside Euroclear, a J P Morgan Subsidiary in the City of London calling for the company to return over $1billion belonging to the Venezuelan government, sent to buy medicines and food for Venezuela. Euroclear accepted the money despite US sanctions which were in place, but has failed to release it, meaning that many Venezuelans, particularly children, will die because of lack of medicines.

So I was there taking pictures, though there wsn’t really a great deal to photograph, as you can see. And I sent them into the agency, knowing exactly how little interest there would be from the media in the story and little chance of them being used by the UK media as they don’t support the story the UK press want to tell. But perhaps one day they may help to tell a story which I think should be told about Venezuela’s stolen money.

Hand Back Venezuela’s stolen money

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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SODEM Night

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

December 12th wasn’t really a day for taking photograph for me, more a day off to go out for a few drinks and a meal with some photographer friends. But as I sually do on such occasions I took a camera with me, just in case I wanted to take some pictures. Not one of the Nikons I usually use for work, but a Fuji X-E3, with the 18-135 lens fitted, and as something of an afterthought I also put the smallish 18mm f2 in my bag too.

The day out started a little late, as when we agreed to meet at the Tate. For some unknown reason (senility?) I had in mind Tate Modern but everyone else got it right and went to Tate Britain, where at my request we were aiming to start at a show by photographer Markéta Luskačová of her Spitalfields pictures. A couple of phone calls later I was on the Jubilee line to Westminster and then hurrying down past the Houses of Parliament, where I saw a bus coming and rushed to just miss it.

Finally arriving at Tate Britain I had to find the show, which wasn’t easy – the gallery does really need to look at its signage. Finally I asked one of the gallery staff who didn’t really know but gave me a map and pointed in roughly the right direction. The show does continue until May 12th 2019, so if you start now there is some chance of finding it by then.

Finally we were all met, and after I’d run around the show (worth seeing though I was familiar with all the work already) we left for the pub, a journey where I at least part redeemed myself by actually knowint the way as it was the same one I’d gone to meet Class War before their visit to the Rees-Moggs a few months earlier. We’d hoped by around 2pm it would be getting a little less busy, but approaching Christmas it was rather full, with several parties about to take place, and after a drink or two we left for the next venue, a theatre bar I’d often walked past but never visited,  which was quieter and cosier.

An hour or so later we’d had enough of expensive beer and got on a bus towards a Wetherspoons where we were also to eat. Not a gourmet location, but almost always edible and good value, with fast service. Spoons do differ despite all being a part of the same empire, and this was the preferred choice of our late colleague-in-arms Townly Cooke, who at one time was a part of their quality control, being paid to eat and drink unannouced at their pubs across London.

We finished early as one of our number had to get back to Oxfordshire for an early start to work the following day and I found myself going across Waterloo Bridge at around 6.30pm and realising I couldn’t use my Super Off-Peak rail ticket until half an hour later.  I remembered there had been quite a lot of Brexit-related activity outside Parliament when I’d run past earlier in the day and decided to return to see if anything was still happening.

I changed the f3.5 maximum aperture zoom for the 18mm f2 fixed lens and set to work photograph SODEM who were still keeping up their vigil, along with a rather impressive Brexit monstrosity on the back of a lorry. The extreme-right who had been noisy and disruptive were long gone, and things were pretty quiet.

I was interested to see how the Fuji would cope under the failry dim conditions, working at f2 and ISO 3200.  Shutter speeds varied, but were generally usable, around 1/50s and the camera usually focussed fairly easily on something, though not always exactly where I had intended, though I suspect this was my fault. As always under such conditions, depth of filed is always a problem, but the smaller sensor compared to full frame does improve this. Working in low light like this not everything works, and I always have to overshoot, but there weren’t that many absoluted failures. I’ve put most of the frames that didn’t have obvious problems on the web site rather than edit more tightly to perhaps half a dozen frames as I might usually have done.

Although I’ve decided the Fuji cameras I’ve tried can’t really replace the Nikons for my work, I’ve been wondering for some time about trying a micro four thirds system. I think my first step will be to evaluated using one with a telephoto zoom alongside the Fuji X-E3  with the wide-angle zoom.

As I walked back into Parliament Square I saw a bus to Waterloo just entering the square and ran towards to stop to catch it. This time I got there in time.

You can see the pictures I took at SODEM vigil against Brexit

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

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