Archive for the ‘Political Issues’ Category

Universal Credit & Eurovision Boycott

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

As well as the Climate Justice march there were other protests in London on 1st December, and I managed to photograph a couple of them, the first vaguely on my way to the Climate protest. I took the tube a little further north to Camden Town, one of several London locations in a country-wide day of actions against Universal Credit.

It appears to be universally recognised – except among a few die-hards in the DWP and the ministers concerned – that Universal Credit has been very much a Universal Disaster. Part of the reason for this has certainly been that it was for years led by that universal disaster of a politician Iain Duncan Smith, an outstanding example of Tory incompetence, reaching levels only surpassed by his confidence in his own abilities.

While the aim of UC to simplify the benefits system was certainly laudable, it carried with it the aim to cut benefit payments, and is being implemented with a complete failure to understand the way that people in poverty actually live. There would have been few problems had this scheme designed by middle class people been for middle class people with their bank accounts, savings, friends and familiesto support them and tide them over the introduction, but applied to those living in poverty its results have been brutal;  evictions, homelessness, destitution and even death by starvation.

Although the main problems have been over the transition from previous benefits and for new claimants, with some being left for several months without any payments – and even when the system has worked as intended for around five weeks, various large categories of claimants have found themselves getting significant less after the transition.

There is of course one area of success; food banks. Although the government has proved itself callous and hard-heated, people across the country have responded with warmth and generosity, making donations and working as volunteers.  But it should never have been necessary, and the sight of Conservative MPs in a concerted Tory party campaign around the time of this protest posing for photo-opportunities at their local foodbanks was sickening and angered many of us.

Stop Universal Credit day of action


After the rally at the end of the Climate Justice march, I made my way more or less back to where it had started, to the BBC, where a protest was taking place calling on the BBC to boycott Eurovision 2019 because it is being held in Israel.

It’s hard to think of a less compelling regular TV event than Eurovision, which must mainly appeal to tone-deaf masochists. But clearly it is something that the Israeli government is using in an attempt to heighten its reputation as they increasingly turn Israel into an apartheid state – most recently with the passing of the Jewish nation state law – and the continuation of its aggresive polices towards Palestinians, particularly in Gaza. There should be a peaceful solution in the area that fully recognises the Palestinian rights in the area as well as those of Israel – as indeed Balfour stated back in 1917.

I supported the boycott of the apartheid South Africa regime for many years, applying pressure on South Africa through economic and cultural boycott – at a time when many, including almost all the Conservative Party was opposed to it – and labelled people like Nelson Mandela as terrorists. Back then I often thought nothing would ever change, or at least not in my lifetime, but it came, and things changed more rapidly than we ever imagined. It gives me hope that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign will eventually lead to a similar reconciliation and change in the Middle East.

Some idea of the hate that will have to be overcome was provided by a small group of vociferous zionists who had come to try and shout down the protest. Hate is never an attractive sight.

BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019

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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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Campaign Against Climate Change

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019


March 2002

The first protestI photographed organised by the Campaign against Climate Change (CaCC) took place in March 2002, though I had come across the organisation and its founder Phil Thornhill the previous year at a climate protest at the US Embassy organised by the Green Party. The US was then and remains the chief villain in our fight to save the planet from extinction, and it was then Preseident Bush who was in bed with the fossil fuel companies, notably Esso, whose advertising campaigns claimed to ‘put a tiger in your tank‘.

So CaCC literally put a very attractive female ‘tiger’ on a bed with an activist with a George Bush mask and began pushing it towards Parliament from the gardens of the Imperial War Museum, with the tiger holding a placard showing Bush ‘Wanted For Crimes Against The Planet’.

The bed was on castors, and to begin with rolled along smoothly, but as we got to Westminster Bridge, disaster struck. The castors were designed to make it easy to move the bed around in a room, not for long distance, and certainly not to take the weight of a single bed loaded with two people, and one fell off, ripping out the screws from the wooden base, and there was no way it could be replaced.


Dec 2005

There were more protests in London by CaCC I photographed over the years, particularly the annual march they have organised at the start of December, and 2018 was no exception.

This year’s march began at the Polish Embassy, and we practised slogans in Polish as well as listening to speeches before the march set off, and you can see some of them on placards. UN climate talks were due to begin in a couple of days in Katowice, Poland, and it was very worrying that they were being sponsored by Polish fossil-fuel companies, producing some of the dirtiest fuel currently in use.


Face paint calls for planet-centred decisions

One campaigner came dressed as a ‘gilet jaune’ and with a placard ‘Brulons la Planete pour notre diesel!!’, presumably meant as an ironic comment on the French protesters whose protests were first ignited by increases in the cost of fuel, particulary diesel. But as the protests across French cities continue it has become clear that they are not about the price of oil but reflect a deep disatifaction with the way society is run by elites with little regard for the majority of the population.

I don’t know what it will take to get the British public to wake up to the seriousness of the situation over climate change. It was good to see people from Extinction Rebellion taking part in the march and speaking; but the high-profile actions by XR have only so far touched a minute fraction of the people. It’s a start, but I’m unsure it can really take off, or that its strategy will work.

It is certainly an uphill struggle, against the complacency of our political parties, who listen far more to the highly paid lobbyists working for coal and oil interests than to scientific evidence or protests such as these. Uphill against the dominance of the media controlled by a handful of billionaires pursuing short-term interests in dirty energy and polluting products. And a national character that grumbles in private rather than gets out on the street in protest.

At some point there will be a series of disasters that will finally prompt politicians into action, though the lesson from Grenfell is that one huge disaster won’t be enough – but will just be subject to the usual cover up and long grass.  By then I fear it will be too late. But while there is still some hope we need to battle on.

Together for Climate Justice

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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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Shahidul News

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

I’m not a great fan of the Lucie Awards for photography, modelled on the Oscars, which seem to me to bring out the worst of Hollywood, although I’ve never attended the awards ceremony. When they began and I was writing as About Photography guide I used to get invitations to them – and offers of free tickets – but never took these up, partly because I was on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Also because I felt that the last thing that photography needed was something like this, and particularly one that seemed so entirely US-centric.

Part of my mission as a guide was top extend the horizons and to try to promote photography as a worldwide medium. I’m not sure how much my meagre efforts helped, with features on photography in countries around the world and on photographers from other countries than the USA and Western Europe, but things have now changed at least to some extent.

One of the many I wrote about was of course Shahidul Alam, and I’ve written about him on several occasions on this site, most recently following his arrest last August at his home in Bangladesh and the international outcry, particularly by photographers this led to. Of course he is much more than a photographer, setting up agencies to promote majority world photograph, photographic schools and festivals and making photography relevant to the politics of Bangladesh.

Shahidul Alam was – as I’ve previously mentioned – honoured at the 16th Lucie Awards in October 2018 with their Humanitarian Award, and now that he is out of prison (though not out of trouble, still under threat of a trial and lengthy sentence) publishing regular posts on Shahidul News. One recent post was about his Lucie Award and was a link to the video they produced on him for this. I suggest you watch it full-screen, and you can go direct to it on Vimeo.

While you are there you can also watch other short videos on the other honorees, including Lee Friedlander who gained the Lifetime Award and Raghu Rai, along with those from previous years.

Also at Shahidul News is a post reproduced from PIX by Rahaab Allana, The Place of Shahidul Alam, which looks in more detail at some of his acheivements and has a number of comments by others.

You can read a longer piece I wrote about him in 2011 on this site at From the Lions Point Of View.
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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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Extinction Rebellion Buckingham Palace

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Perhaps the most surprising part of the Extinction Rebellion Day came outside Buckingham Palace, where protesters marched up to the impressive front gates behind teh ‘OUR FUTURE’ coffin, at first raising it up, and then lowering it to the ground in front of them.

I think people didn’t know what to do next, though there was some noisy shouting of slogans and then many of us started to wander away and see what was happening behind us.

There was a crowd behind the ‘REBEL FOR LIFE’ banner, with an empty space in front so that people could take pictures. This was one of many occasions where the 18-35mm was not quite wide enough, and I really needed the extra 2mm of the 16-35mm, unfortunately broken beyound economic repair.  I do have another, even wider full-frame lens, a Sigma 12-24mm, but the image quality falls short of the Nikon lenses so it gets left at home.

Normally I’d use the 16mm fisheye to get a wider view, but I know this isn’t really satisfactory when looking at rectangular objects – such as the banner and the palace – head on. The banner would be considerably taller in the centre  than at the edges, as the camera to subject distance is further for peripheral objects; while this makes sense in terms of optics, it just doesn’t look right.

I seldom like to photograph banners (or buildings) head  on, but for this image it makes sense, and I was just able to get back far enough to squeeze it all in. I did also move to one side to use a more oblique view – as you can see on My London Diary.

There was some uneasy grumbling in the crowd as Gail Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion read a very humble address calling on the Queen to get her government to take the urgent action needed to save her country – and the world. Certainly as I noted, some in the crowd would have been happier to bring a guillotine. There was rather more unity behind yet another joint reading of the ‘Declaration of Rebellion’.

There was then a period of silence in memory of those who have already died because of glabal warming, after which people were invited to bring their wreaths flowers, placards and other objects to lay on top of the coffin, which was soon under a large pile.

The protest ended with dancing, while at least one person superglued herself to the railings by the main gates. Pictures of this and much more are on My London Diary at Extinction Rebellion Buckingham Palace.

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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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Extinction Rebellion Funeral March

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

The coffin was carried off of the grass in Parliament Square and to the roadway in front of Parliament, where slowly the protesters formed up behind it. A short flight of steps at the back of Parliament Square enabled me to photograph it looking down and to show the large crowd in the square behind. Using the 16mm fisheye gave me a usefully wide angle of view (about 147 degrees horizontal) which meant including at left the lens of a photographer standing next to me at the top of the steps.

One man had brought a coffin of his own, complete with an animal skull, and another protester had a similar skull on her head, and there were plenty of other creative placards and artifacts. Others carried flowers. It was raining slightly as the march went up Parliament Street into Whitehall and many put up umbrellas, though I found none to photograph with slogans on them.

When the front of the funeral march reached Downing Street, there was a sit in for around 10 minutes, followed by some loud shouting of slogans as they got up and moved on.

I let the front of the march go on and waited for others to pass, wondering if there might be other actions taking place in Whitehall. As I stood next to the memorial for the Women of World War II, a man got out a paint spray and began painting a slogan across it. He gets as far as ‘MOTHE’ and tries to write an ‘R’ as a police officer grabs him, and he is led away and arrested.

I turned back to the crowd still outside Downing St, and see they are standing around in a large circle round a circle of people lying on the ground. Inside them are other bodies making out the double triangle ‘hourglass’ symbol, completing the XR symbol, which has also been chalked or painted on the roadway in several places.  I held the 16mm fisheye as high as I could above my head and took a number of pictures. By using this on the D750 (rather than the D810 which has a fixed rear screen) and working in Live View I was able to swivel the rear screen and have a good idea of the framing. For once the curved horizon adds to the image. Unfortunately I forget to switch from ‘movie’ to ‘still’ mode in Live View, and so get a 16:9 frame rather than the normal ’35mm’ 1.5:1, an annoying feature of the camera.

Others are writing on the walls in Whitehall – and getting arrested for it. Many of those taking part in Extinction Rebellion are deliberately seeking to be arrested, working on the hope that large numbers of arrest give the protests a higher public profile and may prod the authorities into doing something about the problems.

The front of the protest halted at the top of Whitehall, for me and the other protesters to catch up with them, before setting off under Admiralty Arch (now owned by a hotel company) and along the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. A few police try to stop them, but are ordered back to allow the protest to go through – and on to the next stage in the protest.

Many more pictures at Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession.

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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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Extinction Rebellion burial thwarted

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

It was a big day for XR (Extinction Rebellion) which began with several groups blocking the roads around Parliament Square where a rally was taking place in the newly turfed centre.

The XR ‘Declaration of Rebellion’ was again read by all, pointing out the failure of government and of “corrupted, inept institutions”  to take action, thus threatening our future, and declaring it to be “our duty to act on behalf of the security and well-being of our children, our communities and the future  of the planet itself“, and then there were speakers, singers, a flute player and more before it was time for XR to carry out a burial, with a black coffin, topped by lilies being carried by pall bearers into the centre of the square. The protesters formed a tightly-packed ring around the centre of the square and the grave-diggers brought in their spades and began work.

Unfortunately when they began digging, caerfully lifting the turf and putting it to one side, they found the turfing had been done on the cheap, and the ground beneath, compacted by years of feet and occasional heavier use, was like concrete, making digging almost impossible. No wonder too that the grass which had grown there previously had never shown much resilience, turning to mud after almost any slight footfall – as it will have had no roots below the top inch or so.

But the protesters care – and their intended digging out of a grave, which after refilling would almost certainly have been beneficial for the lawn – was for naught, as police forced their way through the crowd, trampling the carefully laid aside turves to pieces and further compacting the bared soil. It’s arguable whether or not the protesters were guilty of ‘criminal damage’, but the police certainly were.

Things got rather intense, with a great deal of forceful pushing and shoving by police and we were all packed together. Using the 16mm fisheye and the 18mm end of the 18-35mm lens enabled me to continue taking photographs, though at times it was difficult to lift a camera. The XR organisers tried to keep the protest going and calling for calm and for people not to be provoked by the police action.

I was right at the centre when I saw the coffin surrounded by police near the edge of the crowd, and it was had to get out of the crush, even though everyone was happy to let me through. I managed to rush around the outside of the crowd and then make my way in again towards the coffin.

More pictures: Extinction Rebellion Parliament Square

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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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Police had surrounded and stopped the coffin being carried further onto the square, where they also apparenlty stopped a second attempt to dig a grave, though the crowd in the middle of the square was too dense for me to see or photograph this. For some minutes, everything came to a tightly-packed standstill until eventually XR decided the time had come for the next stage of their action.

Founders Day

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Workers protesting outside the University of London’s Senate House where Founders Day is being celebrated has become something of a tradition, and the IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain) were there again this November.

Banners and placards make the workers’ demands clear. They work for the university, keeping it running, and demand to be employed by the university, and not, as at present, by contracting companies that offer rock-bottom conditions of service and wages. They work in the university under conditions so poor that the university itself would not dream of being seen to impose – but is happy to turn its back when soemone else does it on the university’s behalf. There is no moral justification for London University’s position.

This is a dispute that has been going on for some years, both in various constituents of London University and in the central university administration, based on the Senate House, which is responsible for the Senate House, Halls of Residence and other aspects of the university. Among the workers who work for them but are employed by other are cleaners, catering staff, porters, receptionists and security staff.

It took over ten years of campaigning by SOAS Unison, along with staff at all levels and students, under the banner ‘One Workplace, One workforce’ to get the cleaners at SOAS University, next to the Senate House to be brought back in house. The campaign at the LSE, led there by the United Voices of the World was much shorter, and more recently, staff and Kings College (also in Unison) have also gained victory and are being brought in-house.

Even the University of London sees that it current position is untenable, but “continues to drag its feet over bringing workers into direct employment. They have announced that although recommending that workers be brought in-house this will be subject to “in-house comparator bids” and that it will not happen until 2020 or 2021. As the IWGB point out this is in great contrast to the response of Kings College and the LSE who have agreed to take their workers back in house.”

The IWGB brought with them a very long red banner – just a roll of red cloth – which they stretched out in front of the heavily guarded entrance to the Senate House. Police ensured it was possible for guests to walk around behind it to enter, but some iinsisted on a more direct route. There was a little pushing and shoving by security and police, with a little resistance by the protesters, but generally the atmosphere remained fairly calm.

But it was extremely noisy, with a sound system, and rather variable amounts of light, but always fairly low. After a handful of exposures at ISO3200, I change both Nikons to work at ISO 6400. Though this was reasonably satisfactory, with both lenses at full aperture and shutter speeds from 1/20s to 1/80s and mainly around 1/30th, quite a few images were blurred by subject movement even though most of the protest was fairly static. I made sure I took enough to get a reasonable number sharp. But I had to switched to flash when people began to try and get past the red banner and things became a little more active. I kept the camera at ISO6400, working with the camera set at 1/60s and still at full aperture to get a reasonable exposure of the background where the flash didn’t reach.

More at IWGB at London University Founders Day.

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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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Sodden London

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Monday 19th November was a night when rain almost stopped play, at least for me. I’ve seldom been as cold and wet when taking pictures.  Although rain had been forecast it came earlier than expected and was  heavier as I stood with a small group of protesters on a poorly lit central London street.

We were outside an office building which houses the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange where former Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales now works and was speaking at a housing conference. I was with half a dozen supporters of Focus E15, the Newham-based housing protest group which waged a long battle with the Mayor and his housing policies.

What began with his decision to stop supporting a hostel for single mothers and children, forcing the housing association to give them notice of eviction, when they decided to stand together and fight to get themselves rehoused in London rather than dispersed to far-flung areas of the country in private lettings later turned into a much more widespread campaign for an end to social cleansing and decent treatment for those in social housing and others needing it.

Their fight gained national attention, newpaper articles were written about it, plays were written around it and the young women who led it invited to speak at conferences. The campaign continues, though now with a new Mayor in place and some slight changes in council policy, with its street stall every week in the centre of Stratford, a small community centre for meetings, films etc and occasional protests such as this, along with support for those with housing problems or threatened, as they were, with eviction.

As the pictures show, the protesters looked pretty bedraggled, and like them I was getting wet and cold. For once I put up my umbrella for some of the time while taking pictures, though it really needs a third hand. Though I now rely on autofocus almost all of the time, altering the focal length using the zoom ring really does need two hands and perhaps my framing was a little less good than usual. Because I was able to work close to the protesters, I didn’t feel any need to use a longer lens than the 18-35mm which I had on the D750, and all the pictures were taken with this. It’s also a lot easier to keep one camera dry than two. AL pictures were taken at ISO 6400.

It really was too dark to work without extra lighting, mainly supplied by using my cheap LED light, a 216 LED Neewer unit. It seems to now have a rather lower light output than it should and the AA batteries seem to lose power very fast. I’m wondering whether it just needs a better set of batteries or I should look at a more expensive replacement unit. It’s more flexible than the flash in that I hold it in one hand (on this occasion I had to put the umbrella down to do so) and so have some limited control over the light direction. Flash was more convenient as the Nikon SB800 fits into the hot shoe and I could keep the umbrella up. But it isn’t a great idea to use flash in the rain as it is at its most powerful on raindrops falling close to the camera, and some frames were unusable. About half the pictures were made using the LED and the rest with flash.

The people in the office took pity on us, and a man came out with a tray of hot tea, though a couple of the protesters refused on principle to accept any gifts from them, but I found it very welcome.

Focus E15 protest former Newham Mayor

As I left the protesters and made my way the short distance to Downing St the rain eased off, and photographing the Stop Brexit protest there was considerably more pleasant. There was also rather more light, and I was able to take some pictures without any additional lighting uysing the D810.


For the staged performance by Boris impersonator Drew Galdron and EU Supergirl Madelina Kay and a three person chorus, I mainly worked without flash, though subject movement and slow shutter speeds meant rather many were too blurred. I did make just a few exposures with flash to be sure of getting a sharp image, but felt a lot of flashing would have been rather annoying for both audience and performers.

The performance came to an abrupt end when we were told that people were about to leave Downing St after partying about Brexit with Theresa May, and everyone rushed across to protest. It was rather darker in front of the gates, so nearly all the pictures I made there were taken with flash as I rather liked the way it isolated the EU flags and berets against a darker background.

No10 Vigil says stop Brexit
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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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Unity Against Fascism and Racism

Saturday, January 19th, 2019

There are days when I’d like to be in two different places at the same time, with events I’d like to cover at the same time, and Saturday 17th November was one of them – though it was actually six places at the same time, with XR (Extinction Rebellion) blocking five bridges.

Well away from the river at BBC Broadcasting House, people were gathering for a march to show unity against racism and fascism, organised by Stand Up To Racism, co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism.

The march was prompted by the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, particularly the several aspects of the Football Lads Association, with a level of support for fascism not seen in Britain since the 1930s. The rise of the FLA (or the DFLA – the D standing for Democratic, though it’s unclear what this means) and marches to ‘Free Tommy’ who was arrested for action that could have prejudiced a criminal trial of pedophiles but which hi-jacked the idea of ‘Free Speech’ have angered many as well as emboldening and encouraging others to commit anti-semitic and anti-Muslim acts.

Broadcasting House has become a popular starting place for marches, as well as a venue for protests outside in recent years partly because of the BBC coverage of some political events, but mainly for its lack of coverage of domestic protests. While those overseas often get well covered, any taking place in this country are usually ignored. Making them start outside the BBC where reporters and editors can’t help but notice them hasn’t actually increased the BBC coverage, but it does make clearer what side the BBC are on, and their policy of minimising coverage of any domestic dissent.

I got held up taking pictures on Blackfriars Bridge, waiting for something that didn’t happen, and despite running much of the way from there to Waterloo Bridge, by the time I was sitting on the tube on my way to Broadcasting House I realised the march would already have started. So instead I alighted at Piccadilly Circus and walked up Regent Street to meet it, not far south of Oxford Circus.

I stayed in roughly the same position as the march went past, moving back and forth and slowly down towards Piccadilly as I took pictures until the end of the march came in sight. With probably 10,000 people on the march, this took around 30 minutes before I could jump back onto the tube to go to Westminster. I went back onto the bridge and photographed things happening there for a while rather than go up Whitehall for the rally at the end of the march.

I had expected the march to be rather larger, more like the organisers’ estimate, but the protest taking place on the bridges possibly took a thousand or two away. But perhaps marches like this which attract little or no attention and seem to have no effect need to be rethought, with more imaginative protests like those by Extinction Rebellion taking their place.

Unity Against Fascism and Racism

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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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Five Bridges against Extinction

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Unfortunately our mass media have failed to respond honestly to the major challenges we face in alomost every area of life. A provocative and controversial statement but one that appears to me incontrovertable, whether one looks at Brexit and our current problem over that, at inequality in our society and globally, at our housing crisis, and most obviously and most dangerously about the environment and the ecological crisis – the sixth global mass extinction which is rapidly approaching, though there may be legitimate arguments about the fine print.

The reasons for this failure are also fairly clear. Mass media that are largely owned and controlled by a tiny group of the ultra-wealthy and a public sector broadcaster that largely supports the status quo, with staff and board who are also part of a highly privileged few; don’t rock the boat is their mantra.

But unfortunately the boat is sinking fast, and even the extreme rich will soon find the same old way no longer works, though only too late to do anything about it, almost certainly for themselves and certainly for the rest of us. What used to be apocalyptic and dystopian is fast becoming the new reality.

So (I think) argue those behind Extinction Rebellion, and I think they are convincing, though exactly when we reach the tipping points and what these are may still be up for scientific debate. But beyond debate is that urgent change is needed – and that currently it is not even on the agenda. They want to get people to take notice, and know the media in general seldom cover protests taking place in this country, even if thousands come out on the streets. Something more is needed to get attention.

The answer they came up with was blocking five major bridges in central London. Previously they and activists trying to get action over air pollution in London (which causes almost 10,000 early deaths each year) have blocked roads and road junctions for short periods – around 7 minutes at a tiem, often repeated a few times after short pauses to allow traffic flow, with perhaps the most ambitious block by Stop Killing Londoners bringing the whole of Trafalgar Square to a halt. But holding the five bridges for most of the daylight hours took disruption to a different level – and did gain them some publicity.

London does of course have many bridges, but blocking the five central ones meant longish diversions, with no road crossing between Vauxhall Bridge and London Bridge. Of course the publicity tended to be negative, with some commentators almost comparing it to the end of the world – just what the protesters are hoping to prevent. And it was hard to feel anything but contempt for those who accused the protesters of being selfish for being prepared to be arrested to try to stop our mass extinction. It’s perhaps also worth remembering that sporting events including cycle races and the London Marathon cause even more traffic disruption on the days they take place.

I managed to photograph on four of the five bridges, which involved quite a lot of walking, though I did start by taking the Underground from Westminster to Mansion House and Southwark Bridge, the further downstream of the five, coming back to Westminster on foot via Blackfriars Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, and taking the tube from Embankment to cover a different protest on Regent St. By the time I’d returned to Westminster Bridge after that detour it was too late and I was too tired to attempt the fifth bridge, Lambeth Bridge, a short distance upstream. But things were still happening on the bridge.

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly

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

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