Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Big School Strike for the Future

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

School students can see clearly the threat that faces the planet – especially with some predictions that human life will be extinct on Earth before they reach middle age. I’ve never expected to be still alive in 2050, though it’s just about possible, but these people clearly should be – but quite likely won’t if we continue “business as usual“.

But its also good to be with them and to feel the energy they have, and the enthusiasm they show. As well as in the actions on the day it comes out too in the many placards. There are some mass produced from the usual culprits, Socialist Worker and the Socialist Party, but even the SWP have produced a decent one for the cause, with a nice Wave and the message ‘System Change Not Climate Change’. But clearly there are many schools where the art department is full of people making their placards.

We clearly are at a point where we need drastic change, and are unfortunately stuck with dinosaurs in charge, fiddling about with Brexit and internal party politics (both Tory and Labour) while the planet almost literally burns.

We won’t of course go on like this. It’s a simple choice, change or die, and one that has become far more critical since I first got up in front of a microphone almost 50 years ago and said we can’t go on like this. We now know much more in detail about what is going on.

Police tried to stop the protesters at the end of the Mall, but while a crowd gathered in front of their line, others coming up behind simply swarmed around the sides and ran across the grass to get to the Victoria Monument in front of Buckingham Palace.

The police gave up and the others came through to gather around the monument, and their were speeches from several of the protesters to a tightly packed crowd – and I managed to squeeze my way through to take photographs. Mostly I was so close that the fisheye became almost essential, though the one at the head of this post was made with the 18-35mm at 18mm.

After the speeches there was something of a lunch break, with people making their way along various routes back towards Parliament Square – I chose the shortest way – where some protests continued. The largest block made its way over Westminster Bridge and then turned to the east; I left them on Stamford St, deciding I’d walked far enough, but they were still going strong.

London Schools Climate Strike


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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.

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Million Women March

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

I photographed the first of these all-woman Million Women Rise marches in London in 2008, and have covered the event in most or all years since, always on a Saturday close to International Women’s Day. It’s an event that is supported over a hundred human rights and women’s groups around the country and is “led and organised by a majority of black women” and also includes many from other minority ethnic communities.

It’s an organisation that welcomes support from men in various ways, but on the day of the march asks them to “come and stand on the pavement and cheer us on.” And I do, though most of the time I’m too busy taking pictures to actually cheer.

Their web site has a list of ten demands, beginning with:

To acknowledge the continued discrimination faced by all women, the additional discrimination faced by Black women and women from other minority groups, and reflect this in all public policy in the UK and internationally

Million Women Rise web site- http://www.millionwomenrise.com/demands.html

I took pictures in the side road where the march gathered, where the marchers spill over onto the pavement and I could mix a little with the marchers before the march began, but for the march itself I stayed on the side as requested.

One slightly different aspect of this years march was the Pan Indian Dance Group who danced their way along Oxford St at the rear of the march – and I think went on to dance at the rally in Trafalgar Square, but by then I had left the event.

More pictures: Million Women March against male violence


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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.

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Boris’s Biggest Blunder?

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Earl’s Court

Probably the largest desert in London – thanks to Boris!

Boris Johnson’s time as Mayor was in many ways a disaster for London, but while the media obsess about his sexual peccadilloes and to a lesser extent his racist comments, little is said about his more important failures, which may have enriched some of his city friends but whose consequences will remain to impoverish Londoners for many years after he has left office. One of these, and probably the biggest, is the stalled £12 billion Earls Court redevelopment, which makes even the £53 million Garden Bridge Fiasco fade into insignificance.

The vacant site where one of London’s iconic 1930s building once stood

It’s wrong of course to call it a blunder. It was a deliberate scheme for the enrichment of a few, undoubtedly including friends and financial supporters of the Conservative Party at the expense of London and Londoners, aiming to provide a huge high-rise development of investment properties largely for sale to foreign investors, a huge empty triangle in what was once a thriving part of London, contributing greatly to the local area and more widely, housing several thousand people who would lose their homes and removing jobs from the area.

Along with Boris, and Transport for London, then a part of his fiefdom, the villains in this £12 billion scheme are developers CAPCO, (Capital & Counties Properties) whose development proposals bear no relation to the considerable history, needs of the area and its locality and the contribution it would pay to the local economy, simply wiping the whole area clean and imposing a solution based on maximising profit to the developers. As soon as they acquired the site in 2008 they applied to English Heritage for a Certificate of Immunity from Listing for the 1930s Earls Court Exhibition Centre, granted despite its iconic status – and the fact that some aspects of it were apparently already listed.

We look at the site of Earls Court 2, with a photograph before demolition

The site falls into two London Boroughs, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham, both when the project began under Conservative control. Hammersmith and Fulham council agreed to sell off the two council estates which cover a large part of the area to Capco in 2012. Since Labour took over in H & F in 2014 they have set up an inquiry into the decision to sell and have called for Capco to return the two housing estates. In February 2019 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, stated that he wanted the two estates to be transferred back to the council by Capco unconditionally after they demanded unacceptable planning permission in return for their release.

Empress Place would make a fine entrance to a new estate – but Capco will knock it down

There are two large office blocks on the site, both visible in the top picture. The tower at left has already been sold and is now occupied by the Metropolitan Police. The smaller block, at right, belongs to TfL and is a part of their site which also includes extensive workshops; it seems that they have so far failed to find suitable alternative sites for these essential facilities.

Thanks to determined opposition from local people the scheme has so far failed to materialise, and the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates are still there, along with the TfL workshops, but the demolition of the two exhibition centres has created the largest desert in London. The cleared area, left as dusty bare cleared rubble is a local eyesore and pollution source, with wind carrying dust into local homes and businesses, creating thick and possibly dangerous grime.

West Kensington, a well built and much loved estate that Capco would demolish

Opposition to the demolition of the exhibition centres is led by the Earl’s Court Area Action Group, one of whose members took me and other journalists on a tour of the area last week. They now demand the demolished area be developed with a replacement venue for the demolished iconic Earls Court Exhibition Centre as a large green space for exhibitions, sports and cultural events, along with “low rise, high density, exemplary green housing with a wide range of housing options including social housing, green space, community and social infrastructure, reflecting the demographic and unique characteristics of Earl’s Court.”

The residents of West Ken & Gibbs Green estates have been campaigning against the demolition of their homes since 2009, and as a part of their campaign for ‘The People’s Estates’ commissioned Architects for Social Housing (ASH) who in 2016 produced ‘the People’s Plan’ for improvements and new homes on the estates without demolition. They want the estates to be transferred to community ownership.

Gibbs Green estate also well built, loved and in good conditions and under threat of demolition by Capco

Earl’s Court Area Action Group
WKGGCH – West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes
ASH – Architects for Social Housing


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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.

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Blood of Our Children

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Extinction Rebellion had hoped that police would make arrests when they poured fake blood onto Whitehall, but the police just watched (and doubtless videod and photographed) the event. It was after all doing no real damage and the next shower of rain would wash the street clean if it had not already been hosed down.

It did seem a remarkably sensible approach by the police, though one that will have infuriated some of our politicians, with many on the right feeling the police are being too soft on protesters. But we enjoy a right to protest and it is something that the police often tell us they protect and facilitate, though sometimes I rather feel with a codicil “so long as you do it in a way that nobody much notices” with protest areas being designated at some distance from where protesters want to protest.

Many events in London disrupt traffic, including the many wreath-laying ceremonies just a few yards down Whitehall, as well as major events such as the Trooping of the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament, Royal weddings and the like. Many sporting events also have a major impact, with the London Marathon virtually shutting down the city for a day.

I’ve long thought and suggested that much of central London be pedestrianised and that all through routes should be removed. There have been a few minor improvements to areas such as Trafalgar Square, where traffic no longer flows beside the National Gallery, but I think the city could be much improved by more dramatic restrictions on traffic.

Whitehall could be restricted to emergency vehicles, pedestrians, buses and bikes, along with Westminster Bridge and an end put to though traffic in Parliament Square, which could then benefit from some much-neede landscaping – which could also provide adequiate security without t he current ugly tank traps.

Visually I found the pouring of blood just a little disappointing, one of those ideas that sounds good on paper but didn’t quite deliver in practice, at least for still photographers. It was perhaps too spread out and we were kept too far away and as always there were too many people taking photographs and finding various sometimes ingenious ways to get in the way. I’ve not seen any really interesting still pictures from it, though it looks better on some videos.

It was perhaps an event designed with video in mind, and I’ve sometimes thought I should go back to my roots and work (I did my first serious visual work as a student behind TV cameras, video cameras and a tiny bit of film) with video rather than persist with still photography. But I find making still images much more interesting and challenging.

More about the protest: Blood of Our Children – XR


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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.

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Women’s Strike Assembly

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

The Women’s Strike Assembly unites a range of feminists (of all genders) and is a part of an international women’s movement which has led protests on the streets in many countries, from “Argentina to Poland, from Ireland to Kurdistan” as well as in London, with women “making connections, building alliances and taking action against our current conditions of womanhood.” It “rejects the decades of economic inequality, criminalization and policing, racial and sexual violence, and endless global war and terrorism.

On the evening of International Women’s Day, the met in front of the Bank fo England to make the point that “it is our labour that keeps the world turning and profits flowing.

They had called for a “tidal wave of red feminist energy and righteous rage” at the end of the Women’s Strike day. After speeches they marched towards Soho, where sex workers were taking part in an evening strike in Leicester Square.

My own energy was by this time becoming rather low, having been out taking pictures since the morning, and, inspiring though the event was, my spirits and cameras were rather dampened by the rain, which turned from light to heavy as the march began.

I was also having problems with the light and exposures, and my Nikon SB800 flash was in one of its moods. When it works I think the Nikon flash system is the best there is, and it always works when I test it back at home, either inside or outside in my back yard. But something about the dark streets or perhaps the rain often seems to upset its delicate nature, and the exposures were wildly fluctuating, often washing out the image completely.

I was cold, wet, tired, hungry and fed up by the time the march reached Aldwych, and rushed ahead to catch a bus before they were held up by the march, missing the events in Soho, where some of my friends made some interesting exposures. I’d done all I could and had to accept there are limits to what I can cover.

Women’s Strike Red Feminist March


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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.

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Global Women’s Strike

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

International Women’s Day began as a socialist festival in New York in 1909 and was adopted more widely by the socialist movement in the following years. In 1914 it moved from the last day of February to May 8th and has since been celebrated on that date.

Largely observed by communists in the early years, it was taken up more generally by feminists in the 1960s and 70s but remained a day of radical protests, calling for equal rights, equal pay and for women’s control of their own bodies in areas such as abortion, sexual preferences and consent.

In 1975 the UN celebrated the day as part of a year dedicated to women’s rights and two years later declared it as  UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. Although this gave it a much wider audience, it also extended the celebrations to include many less radical events and organisations, including some that seem to be more media beanfeasts than any real part of the fight for women. As Wikipedia comments:

In the twenty–first century, in the West, the day was increasingly sponsored by major corporations and used to promote feel–good messages, rather than radical social reforms.[30] In 2009, the British marketing firm, Aurora Ventures, set up a “International Women’s Day” website with corporate sponsorship.[31][32] The website began to promote hashtags as themes for the day, which became used internationally.[33] The day was commemorated by business breakfasts and social media communications that were reminiscent of Mother’s Day greetings.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women%27s_Day

One organisation that has certainly kept its radical edge is Global Women’s Strike, who I first met on a protest march on International Women’s Day  back in 2002, protesting at the offices of the World Bank, the Defence Ministry and elsewhere.

This year they were at Royal Courts of Justice, outside the High Court to protest against destitution, detention, deportation, benefit cuts, sexism, racism and other discrimination, criminalisation, pollution and in particular the state use of Family Courts to take children from their mothers. And alongside them were others, including anti-fracking Nana from Nanshire Tina Louise Rothery, DPAC’s Paula Peters, a speaker from the English Collective of Prostitutes and two speakers from Extinction Rebellion.

It was a lively protest, and ended with a short road block on the pedestrian crossing in front of the courts. Many of those present were going on to meetings in the afternoon and another women’s protest in the evening which I was also intending to photograph.

More pictures at Global Women’s Strike.


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.

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Solidarity with hunger strikers

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

The political situation in Turkey seems to be getting even worse, with more and more opponents of President Erdogan being arrested and jailed, including members of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) and the Free Women’s Congress, as well as many journalists, socialists and LGBTI+ campaigners.

Many of those jailed are Kurds, and the Turkish Army has also killed thousands of them since the the peace process broke down in 2015. Many Kurds have been involved in the fight against ISIS (Da’esh) in Syria; Turkey, having invaded and occupied Afrin with the aid of Islamist fighters now threatens other Kurdish areas in Syria.

A few weeks after I took these pictures, there were local elections in Turkey, and a surprise defeat for Erdogan’s candidate in the  Istanbul mayoral election. His response was to refuse to accept the democratic vote and declare the election invalid – with a re-run later this month.

I’ve photographed many Kurdish protests in London over the past 20 years, beginning with a protest in Whitehall against the illegal arrest of Kurdish leader Abudullah Öcalan in 1999. He has been in a Turkish island prison, mainly in solitary confinement since then, but demands for his release continue unabated.

On 7th November 2018 HDP MP Leyla Güven, then a prisoned in a Turkish jail, began a hunger strike calling for an end to the isolation of Öcalan . Many others, both prisoners in Turkish jails and outside, joined in her protest, which she continued after being released from prison pending her trial. The hunger strikes ended on 26th May after they acheived their aim and the isolation of Öcalan was ended.

After the protest in Trafalgar Square, the Kurds marched down to protest opposite Downing St, where the group of right-wing Brexiteers were also protesting. Rather to my surprise they greeted the Kurds with loud applause, I think, recognising them as fighting for their rights against authority, but perhaps unaware of their very different political views.

More at:
Rally supports Kurdish hunger strikers
Yellow Vests applaud Kurdish protesters


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.

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My London Diary – May 2019

Friday, June 14th, 2019

May always starts with a busy day on May Day, and there were plenty of things happening later in the month, but I’m trying hard to cut down on what I do, partly because I often get rather tired.

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
City and Spitalfields walk

Youth Strike for Climate
Canary Wharf
City Churches Christian Aid Walk
Brexiteers support Trump
10 Years since Mullivaikkal massacre

Wood Green Universal Credit protest
Veterans demand end of NI prosecutions
Bethnal Green Canal Walk
XR tell Hackney stop killing insects

Tamil Genocide Hunger Strike
XR International Mothers’ Day March
Anti-Abortion ‘March for Life UK’
March for Choice defends women’s rights

National Demonstration for Palestine
Guardian lies about Venezuela
Regent’s Canal – King’s Cross
Drivers shut down Uber
Highgate to Stoke Newington
British Museum Stolen Goods Tour

Yellow jackets continue protests
Algerians press for regime change
Camden
Fridays For Future climate protest
Die-In against Nuclear Weapons celebration
Wapping and the Thames
London May Day Banners
London May Day

London Images


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.

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Algerians protest

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Protests have been taking place every Friday in Algeria for 16 weeks as I write this, and the protest I met in London came close to the start of this peaceful call for change.

The protests in Algeria were triggered in the middle of February when the wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 on the day of this protest, announced he would stand for yet another term in office in the April elections. People took to the streets to say he had to go and to call for a civilian-led replacement to the military regime.

Bouteflika was coming to the end of his fourth 5-year term in office, heading a repressive and corrupt military government and has hardly been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. Algeria has seen few benefits from its huge earnings from oil and gas exports, much of which is unaccounted for, and almost a third of young people are unemployed.

Although police have used tear gas and violence against the protests in Algeria, unlike in the Sudan the regime (and protesters) have tried to avoid escalation, probably fearing a repeat of the civil war the country suffered in the 1990s. The regime probably fears that many of its soldiers would refuse to carry out orders to attack the protesters.

So since February there have been attempts to conciliate the protesters. In April Bouteflika was forced to resign, and some of his close associates arrested, with the speaker of the parliament Abdelkader Bensalah  being elected as interim President. The protests are now calling for him and others associated with the old regime to also go, including the head of the army, Ahmed Gaid Salah.

I hadn’t been aware that this protest was taking place, and was walking towards Trafalgar Square for another event when I saw the march moving off in the distance and ran to catch up with them. I always take care to read (and photograph) the banners and placards at protests, and with these (at least those that were in English) I was soon clear what this protest was about. Usually when I plan my diary I also do at least a little research about the events and causes, but this time I had to do this after the event.

Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika


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


Busy Friday

Monday, June 10th, 2019

I didn’t expect Friday March 1st to be particularly busy in Westminster. Fridays generally aren’t a very busy day for protests not least because many MPs rush off back to their constituencies for the weekend. I’d gone up to take pictures largely because I knew that protesters from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) were protesting against Universal Credit, which is causing widespread hardship and extreme poverty, particularly for disabled people.

They are a group I admire and the treatment of the sick and disabled by the current government has been calculatedly cruel; as a small gravestone they had brought recorded, over 12,980 people have died within six weeks of being found fit for work by a deliberately ill-designed biased scheme adminstered to make a huge proportion of incorrect decisions – which if people live long enough for their appears to be heard are overturn in over two thirds of cases – though often by the time this happens it it time for another fake assessment. It is all about cutting costs and academic studies point to around 120,000 early deaths from the Tory cuts since 2010.

That protest turned out to be rather smaller than I had hoped – and then those taking part had anticipated. In part the small number reflected the difficulties of travel for disabled people that I’ve also photographed protests about.

My own travel on that morning took me on a slightly unusual route. Usually I take the train to Waterloo and walk from there to Parliament Square, but I think I was feeling lazy, and instead got off the train at Vauxhall and took a bus from there, which took me past the Home Office, now also home to DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In front of their entrance was a giant plastic bottle, made up of single use plastic bottles, drawing attention to the need to take action against the huge amount of plastic waste that ends up in our oceans and in landfill.

Apart from the problem of disposing of this waste, there are also the problems caused by the extraction of the petroleum and the energy required to produce the plastic from this and fabricate it into bottles. I carry a plastic bottle of water in my bag when taking pictures, which I bought on a very hot day a couple of years ago, as a single-use bottle containing a fizzy lime and lemon drink. Since then I’ve refilled it several hundred times with water, rinsing it out every day when I get home, and it is still going strong.

The first person I met on getting off the bus at Parliament Square was a lone protester with sandwich boards and a placard with plastic bottles hanging from it calling for a ban on all disposable plastic trash. This was the first time I’d met him there though I’ve seen him several times since.

I’d known that there would be other protests taking place in the square, and one was by Climate Strike, one of many weekly #FridaysForFuture events taking place in many cities and towns across the world inspired by the action of 15-year old Greta Thunberg. The weekly protests here – like this one – have not really grown much since they started, but there have been several much larger and noisier protests Friday protests involving many school children.

Another that I hadn’t really been aware of before became apparent when a large number of London’s black cabs came to a halt around Parliament Square, one of a number of protests by them demanding to be allowed to use all roads and bus lanes in London. I think it’s time to look again at taxis in London, and to replace the outdated system of ‘plying for hire’ and ‘the knowlege’ with one based on smartphone apps and professional sat-nav systems. Black cabs cause too much pollution and congestion to keep running as they now do in London. But I was pleased when a group of them came to support the DPAC protest against Universal Credit.

The final group of protesters in Parliament Square were at the start of a march to the Japanese embassy against the barbaric annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji cove. I went with them as far as Downing St before returning to Parliament Square.

More at:
Scrap Universal Credit
End Japanese dolphin slaughter
Black Cab Drivers blockade
Weekly climate protest
Plastics protests in London


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