Archive for May, 2019

UPHD protest discrimination

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

I’m not a fan of Uber and very seldom a user of taxis or private car hire services, regarding them as a necessary evil for those rare occasions when public transport is not practicable. And taxis in particular are evil, causing large amounts of unnecessary pollution – both oxides of nitrogen and particulates – on the city streets both directly and also indirectly from other vehicles caught up in the congestion they cause by ‘plying for hire’ – an archaic system now made redundant by the smartphone.

Also rendered archaic by modern technology is the ‘knowledge’, made unnecessary at least in principle by sat-navs and sat-nav apps, though there is still room for further development on these. But at least in theory they can determine best routes making use of real-time traffic information. An car magazine recently conducted a very unscientific test of black cab, Uber and the writer’s car with an up to the minute sat-nav on a London journey, and the journalist’s satnav – evidently a better one than that in the Uber – won. And despite the ‘knowledge’ many taxi drivers seem to have and use a sat-nav, or at least the “Cabbies Mate” App .

Learning the ‘knowledge’ is certainly a good way to learn your way around London, but largely retained as a method of entry control to the trade. It’s part of the reason why London’s cabs are still largely driven by white British drivers while most private hire drivers come from various BAME communities. The United Private Hire Drivers union (UPHD) would appear to have a good case in claiming that TfL’s decision to apply the congestion charge to minicabs but not to taxis is discriminatory, though it remains to be seen what the court will make of it.

The UPHD also claim that private hire drivers are four times as likely to be stopped by TfL’s enforcement officers “than taxi drivers despite consistently better compliance performance on a licensed driver & vehicle basis. ”

THe UPHD is a part of the IWGB (Independent Workers Great Britain) one of several grass roots unions which are leading the fight for precarious workers in various sectors , including cleaners, cycle couriers and foster carers. As well as this campaign against TfL and the congestion charge, they are also fighting Uber for proper employment rights for the drivers, who are clearly workers for the company rather than self-employed.

Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK’s Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. 

(IWGB web sute)

The union says drivers currently only earn around £5 per hour and are demanding an increase in fares to £2 per mile, a reduction in Uber’s commission from 25% to 15% and an end to unfair dismissals.

We need to reduce traffic and congestion in London, though the congestion charge is a blunt instrument and unfairly discriminates against less wealthy car drivers. For all private hire vehicles – taxis and minicabs – a per fare surchage paid by the customer would be a better solution. We need to give far more encouragement to cycling and walking, by providing safe routes and also by changes to some traffic laws and road design to give cyclists and pedestrians priority; more bus-only routes (or rather bus and cycle routes), and greater subsidies for buses, trams and local underground and overground trains; to set dates before very long when non-electirc powered vehicles are banned for our cities .

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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Kashmiris call for freedom

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

A YouGov survey back in 2016 found that 43% of UK respondents still felt that the British Empire was a good thing, over twice as many as those who felt it was bad, with a similar figures for those who think we should be proud of colonialism as part of our history or regret it.

I wasn’t one of those asked for my opinion (the chances of that were small, as the sample was only 1733 out of the UK population of around 65.65 million) and would probably have refused to give an answer as there wasn’t a category that expressed my feelings. Clearly the British Empire was a good thing for Britain, as the opulent architecture of our major cities from the 19th and early 20th centuries demonstrates. And while the disastrous effects on other civilisations and many brutal and immoral acts in the building and maintenance of our Empire are clear, there are also more positive instances. And in some countries we took over from earlier invaders or rulers who were even less principled and more harsh and brutal, though for Kashmir this was less clear.

The history of Kashmir is complex but certainly at the start of the ‘Common Era’ (still AD to most of us) it was a considerably more developed and ancient civilisation than anything in Britain. Originally an important centre of Hinduism and Buddhism it largely converted to Islam in the 13th and 14th centuries and around 1580 was conquered and became part of the Mughal empire. Around 1820, it was conquered again by Sikhs, who imposed harsh anti-Muslim laws and exorbitant taxes. The First Anglo-Sikh war waged by the East India Company between 1845 and 1846 resulted in Jammu and Kashmir becoming a princely state under British suzerainty. The persecution of Muslims, now by Hindus, continued under what was a tyrannical feudal system.

Logically, Kashmir, over three-quarters Muslim should have become a part of Pakistan, but after popular protests and a guerrilla campaign supporting this, the country’s ruler appealed to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, for help – and Mountbatten only granted this on condition that Kashmir became a part of India. Pakistan disputed this and the countries went to war over Kashmir, ending with a truce and a UN resolution that the people of the country should have a referendum. This never happened and there were further wars in 1965, 1971 and 1999. Pakistan now controls around a third of the country, India about half and a smaller area is held by China.

The country is still a ‘disputed territory’ and the is a huge presence of Indian military and para-military forces in the area under their control, estimated at around 1 for every 17 Kashmiris. At the 1948 ceasefire Kashmir was promised special status with a substantial autonomy by India, but increasingly this has been abandoned. Recent years have seen greater activity by movements calling for the restoration of autonomy and for freedom and independence.

Maqbool Bhat Shaheed was the pioneer of the Kashmiri Freedom Struggle and in 1968 was captured in Kashmir and sentenced to death following the murder of an Indian CID officer. With others also sentenced he escaped from prison through a tunnel and made his way to the Pakistan administered area – were he was arrested and tortured for several months. In 1971 masterminded the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane which was forced to land in Lahore, Pakistan. The hijackers demanded the release of over 20 members of the Jammu Kashmir Nationalist Liberation Front (JKNLF) in Indian prisons, asked for political asylum in Pakistan and wanted a guarantee from the Indian government that their relatives in Kashmir would not be persecuted.

Although the hijackers were first welcomed in Pakistan, when it was realised that the JKNLF wanted the Pakistan occupied area of Kashmir also to be liberated they were tried in a special court charged with collaboration with the Indian intelligence services. Released after 2 years he returned to Indian administered Kashmir where he was captured in 1976. Bhat appealed for clemency stating that the original trial had been unfair, but after the murder of an Indian diplomat kidnapped in Birmingham demanding his release, his appeal was dismissed and he was executed on 11th February 1984.

Kashmiris call for freedom

Kashmir Awami Party call for Freedom


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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Simple Cyanotypes

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Congratulations are due to Mike Ware for both his development of a new ‘Simple Cyanotype‘ process and for his generosity in making the details of this and all his other contirbutions over the years to alternative photographic processes freely available to all.

Back in the days when I had time for such things, in the 1980s and 90s, I played a little with most of the methods for photographic print-making using hand-coated paper, largely out of interest in the history of our medium, which was one area of my writing and teaching. I made cyanotypes, along with kallitypes, palladium and platinum prints, gum prints, salted paper prints, carbon prints, photogravure and more, some more successfully than others.

I’ve written before about how I started in this area, together with friends Terry King (and here) and Randall Webb, both sadly no longer with us. Terry went on to make a considerable reputation and something of a living as both a teacher and printmaker using these processes, developing his own tweaks on various of them. He came to alternative processes as a poet and an artist, and occasionally I and later several others helped him out a little with the science.

Mike Ware is a scientist, and approached the processes in a much more scientific way, though that did not stop him making the impressive images you can see on his web site galleries. But it did mean that he was able to develop the chemistry in new ways, notably in his improved cyanotype process, and now with the new Simple Cyanotype.

You can read a discussion of the short-comings of the traditional cyanotype, first invented by Herschel in 1842 (and used most effectively by Anna Atkins the following year) and the advantages of Ware’s new simple and safe method in Towards an Unproblematic Cyanotype Chemistry. I found it particularly illuminating in helping to explain why I never encountered some of the problems so many others had – simply the good fortune of having purchased an excellent sample of the light sensitive but “ill-characterised” ferric ammonium citrate, and chosing the right papers to use it on.

The Simple Cyanotype uses readily available chemicals which are relatively safe, though still need handling with care, particularly ammonia. I once made the mistake of sniffing from a bottle whose label had fallen off (having trained as a chemist I should have known better) which turned out to be concentrated ‘880’ ammonia, and staggered back as if punched with my nostrils cauterized.

We are now much more environmentally conscious, and some of those materials which we handled carefully but perhaps disposed down our drains with too little thought are now often rightly subject to much tighter controls. I was rather pleased a few years ago to dispose of virtually all of my extensive chemical collection collected over the years I worked in alternative processes rather than leave a possibly tricky and expensive problem for my executors. Chemical safety is important – and some of those needed for old processes are now unobtainable by private individuals in some countries.

It also allows control of contrast, something which was always a problem in making cyanotypes, where negatives had to be produced specially for the process. It relies on the production of a relatively newly discovered iron complex, made in solution from the cheap and pure iron(III) nitrate – perhaps coincidentally the same starting material that I had used for many of my later iron process prints, though I used it with the much more toxic oxalates. It wasn’t then an orginal idea, but one I adapted from another source and used the same solution with its excess nitrate ions still present to produce various types of print.

Ware gives full details of how to make the solution, coat paper, expose and develop, and it does really seem to be a useful new process, and I feel quite excited by its possibilities. If I had the time and not so much else I want to do it might be something I would try again, but exactly the same thing that stopped me making cyanotypes twenty or more years ago would do so again.

I didn’t really want blue prints. But if you do, this seems the way to go.

April 2019 complete

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

April may only have had 30 days, but it was a very long month for me, particularly because of the actions by Extinction Rebellion, XR. Though many friends have reservations (or worse) about them and their methods, particularly over their attitude to the police and arrests, their protests have begun to change the debate, though so far not actually got our government to take any of the actions needed to save life on earth. Perhaps the only action the Conservative government have so far taken is to put pressure on the Met police to be tougher on any further protests.

I suspect that the total of 41 posts probably is the most I’ve made in any month on My London Diary, though I’ve not gone through the site to check, As you will see from the list below XR was not the only thing happening in April.

My London Diary – Apr 2019

Protest against Israeli Army Recruitment
XR Families and Children at the Treasury
50 days anti-racist occupation at Goldsmiths
Protests at Anglo-American mining AGM


Southall rally for unity against racism
Disabled protest against Facebook
XR March back from City protests
Azerbaijanis & Armenians at Turkish Embassy
Extinction Rebellion at Marble Arch
Extinction Rebellion in Parliament Square
Free Julian Assange
Capital Ring – Hendon to Highgate
Police clear XR from Oxford Circus

Emma Thompson speaks at XR
Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS

XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues
Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus

Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge
Brexiteers march at Westminster
Sewol Ferry Disaster 5 years on
Love the Elephant
Against extinction and trophy hunting
Times end transphobic articles
Regent’s Canal
Scrap Universal Credit Jobcentre protest
Tottenham and Spurs
Brexit protesters
Living wage at Dept of Business
Staines Walk

Brunei Sultan gay sex stoning protest
Sudanese for Freedom, Peace and Justice
Private hire drivers protest congestion charge
Windsor walk

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Angola & Muslims

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

I don’t know how much you know about Muslims in Angola, but when I took the picture above outside the Angolan Embassy just off Baker St in London I knew very little. So of course I Googled it, and came up with several articles, including one in The Guardian and I think on Wikipedia, and wrote a little about why this protest was taking place to go with my pictures, along with rather more about Anjem Choudary who came along to speak at the event.

Thanks to a post by AFP Fact Check, from AFP Kenya, I now know that these pictures have in recent months been shared on social media along with pictures from various countries showing mosques being demolished in posts falsely claming that Islam has been banned in Angola

Mary Kulundu, the author of ‘No these pictures are not evidence of Angola banning Islam‘ searched for the pictures online:

Finally, there are two photographs of Muslims protesting against the Angolan government. A reverse image search on Tineye showed that these two images were originally published in 2013 by the British photographer Peter Marshall on his website, My London Diary.

It isn’t of course true that Islam was banned in Angola, but an Islamic organisation had failed to get legal recognition in Angola, along with many other non-Christian organisations, which greatly restricts their activities. Several mosques have been destroyed and others closed and Wikipedia gives some some details, though the article may not be not up to date. But there are said to be 60 mosques still open in the country and Muslims are free to practice their religion.

But Muslims in Angola are still trying to get official recognition almost six years later, though apparently there is less opposition now, and the number of signatures required by any religious congregation to acheive recognition has been lowered from 100,000 to 60,000. Estimates of the total number of Muslims in Angola vary wildly from around 80,000 to 800,000, almost all of them Sunni Muslims.

Back in November 2013 I speculated on why Choudary had not yet been arrested, and a couple of years later he was, and sentenced for urging others to support ISIS. Of course when I took these pictures in November 2013, few had heard of ISIS, which was only proscribed in June 2014 . When Choudary talked about Sunni armies being on the move and establishing the Khalifa (caliphate) I thought he was being a fantasist, but all too soon the reality became clear.

See and read more at Islamists Protest Angolas Ban on Muslims


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





Whose face in the surf?

Friday, May 17th, 2019

The detailed and forensic investigation of Capa’s D-Day pictures by A. D Coleman and his co-workers continues to come up with fresh information and insights. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be much interested in the precise events of Tuesday, 6 June 1944, or indeed of any other day of World War Two, but two things make it of great interest.

The first is that whatever the precise circumstances (and we now can be sure what with remarkable accuracy what these were) Robert Capa produced on of photography’s most iconic photographs there, and one that has accreted to itself a remarkable body of largely incorrect legend in writing and film, and secondly that in a couple of weeks time the events of that day will be the subject of major celebrations, which will doubtless parade much of the imaginative inventions around the ten or eleven pictures Capa made duing the landing.

The latest addition to our knowledge comes again from ‘combat veteran and amateur military historian Charles Herrick’ and gives us some insight into about how legends about such events arise, through what Coleman has called “borrowed glamour”.

Apparently quite a few ex-soldiers over the years came to believe that they were the ‘face in the surf’ in Capa’s most famous picture, and in the first of three parts of his latest investigations Herrick examines the claims made by two of the men who actually took part in those D-Day landings .

The best known of the contenders is Huston “Hu” Riley, who landed with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment in the first wave of infantry, and claimed that a man wearing a war correspondent’s patch on his shoulder helped him up out of the surf. Herrick points out that Capa didn’t wear the patch and wasn’t on the beach at the time the first wave arrived. Whover helped Riley up, it wasn’t Capa.

The second account he discusses is by Charles Hangsterfer, Headquarters Company commander and adjutant of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, who claimed to have met Capa on the beach, but Herrick shows the details of his story and Capa’s movements on the day make this impossible.

These memories of “borrowed glamour” from the stories recorded by those who took part in the landings usually 50 or 60 or 70 years later are not a case of deliberate deception, but as Herrick writes “When memories fade, it is human nature to reinterpret events in more favorable lights, or place oneself in slightly more important or significant circumstances.” Retelling our stories we always add a little, often confusing our own memories with what others have told us, and with what we have read in books and films (and for D-Day veterans particularly ‘Saving Private Ryan‘) , and bit by bit our memories shift from experience to fabulation.

I don’t expect it will ever be possible to make a positive identification of the face in that surf. Capa’s picture isn’t clear enough to really recognise anyone and too much time has passed. Although we can be sure that whoever it was made it safely onto what was by then a relatively safe beach, he could have been killed minutes, hours or days later during the war; even if he made it safely back to the USA he may well have forgotten the incident and would probably have been unable to recognise himself in the photograph.

But perhaps among those who have put themselves forward as that man, there may be one – or more – who could possibly have been that man. I await parts two and three of Herrick’s post to see if he can cast any more light. But in the end it perhaps doesn’t matter. Like the grave of the unknown soldier, Capa’s picture perhaps gains from his anonymity, the photograph of an unknown man.

Swansong

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Another blog ends, along with that of Lens I wrote about yesterday.

I was very sorry to read that David Secombe has written his last post for ‘The London Column‘, a blog I’ve occasionally read over the years and which has featured the work of several people I know, mainly photographers. It’s “Pictorial reports from the life of a city 1951 to now” began in 2011 and they make some interesting reading, featuring “contributions from some of the best writers and photographers from the past sixty years“.

Swansong, published a couple of weeks ago, but which I only came across yesterday, takes a look at the work of Marketa Luskacova, with her pictures from Spitalfields in the late 1970s and early 80s along with her earlier pictures of middle-European pilgrims and the villagers of Sumiac, a remote Czech hill village, both of which featured in her show which closed last Sunday at Tate Britain.

It’s a show I mentioned on >Re:PHOTO in February, though really only in passing, in a piece mainly about the anti-Brexit SODEM protesters. In it I wrote:

‘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.’

This was echoed at the start of Secombe’ post:

‘Anyone staggering out of the harrowing Don McCullin show currently entering its final week at Tate Britain might easily overlook another photographic retrospective currently on display in the same venue. This other exhibit is so under-advertised that even a Tate steward standing ten metres from its entrance was unaware of it.’

But Secombe goes on to write at some length about Luskacova’s work, around eight well-chosen examples, concluding with the statement “It seems appropriate to close The London Column with Marketa’s magical, timeless images.”

So far as I can recall, I’ve never met Secombe, though we share many interests and his ‘Blogroll’ is largely of web sites which I visit at least occasionally and I’m sure we must have at least occasionally found ourselves at some of the same places at the same time. I do hope that he keeps the site online, as there is much on it that remains of interest.

Keeping up a blog like ‘The London Column’ takes a lot of time and effort – as does this one, and even more so, My London Diary (a blog in spirit though all my own website code, started back when blogs were in their infancy) I’ve often thought about bringing both to an end, but while this still gets a few thousands of readers everyday it seems as useful a way of spending my time.

Lens Ends

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

Sad news to hear that the New York Times Lens blog is to end at the end of this month, May 2019. You can read more about it on PDN News. The closure, described by the NYT as a “hiatus” for an indefinite period means the end of one of the more thoughtful and innovative blogs about our medium after around ten years, with a number of posts by James Estrin and his co-editors that I’ve mentioned here – though not as many as I might.

Meaghan Looram, NYT director of photography, says it is time to rethink and “give serious thought to how to better position Lens for the future.” I suspect that means a dumbing down and an end to contributions by people with any great love or knowledge of photography, though I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

Lens has been more than just another photography blog. As PDN points out it has promoted many emerging photographers as well as highlighting work from earlier eras that has often been overlooked or under-appreciated. And importantly, as it states “Lens is one of the few photo blogs to pay the photographers whose work it features.”

That’s an important point, not just because many photographers need the money – it’s very tough for many, particularly young photographers to make a living, but because so many others seem to assume that photographers can live on ‘exposure’. But exposure won’t pay the bills. Are the journalists, the printers and others involved in publications and campaigns working for free? When anyone asks me if they can use my pictures without payment I have a simple question to whoever is asking – ‘Are you being paid for your work? ‘

Of course my suspicions about Lens are based on my own experience with the NYT, who bought a company I worked for and ruined it because the bean counters were determined to aim at the lowest common denominator and forced out those of us who wanted to write intelligently. By the time they sold it on it had lost most of its financial value and virtually all of its credibility.

Home Office on Trial

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

This wasn’t a normal protest on the wide pavement in front of the Home Office, but a theatrical piece in which the Home Office was represented in the dock of a court by a mysterious figure in blue, and I found it a little difficult to photograph with its rather different structure. It was good to have some better than usual props but I think perhaps it was an event more suited to video than still photography.

There is of course no doubt that the Home Office, in particular under recent ministers Theresa May and Amber Rudd, is guilty as charged, and has set up a vicious and racist system of rigged justice, indefinite detention, ill-treatment and arbitrary arrest and deportation under the name of the ‘hostile environment’, though this has longer and deeper roots.

The UK’s modern immigration laws have always been set up in response to racist popular sentiments, beginning with the 1905 Aliens Act, responding to fears about the numbers of poor Russian and Polish Jews arriving in the country. The huge increase in immigration detention began under New Labour, using PFI schemes in 1998 to build Yarl’s Wood, Dungavel, Oakington (which closed in 2010) and greatly expand Harmondsworth.

This huge expansion was needed because New Labour led a great programme of immigration enforcement within the UK, particularly of failed asylum seekers along with others who had overstayed their visas or entered the country illegally. Under Labour the first enforcement teams were set up, the Immigration Service transformed into a law enforcement agency, and new stricter laws on marriages and employing workers without legal right of residence were brought in.

Labour had begun the hostile environment, but it was Theresa May who gave it the name and ramped it up, with Amber Rudd following closely in her footsteps. After she was forced to resign over lying about the Windrush scandal, her successor Sajid Javid made some minor changes (mainly to the language used) and has suggested the UK ignore international laws on asylum.

Its racist immigration policies and enforcement was not the only only crime with which the Home Office was charged. There was a strong presentation of its policies on sex work, which have resulted in the deaths of many sex workers.

More pictures from the trial at People’s Trial of the Home Office .


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


XR Hackney

Monday, May 13th, 2019

Extinction Rebellion are of course right in their analysis of the situation, that we face an unprecedented challenge to the future of human life on earth, and that governments around the world are failing to take this seriously enough. The scientific evidence keeps stacking up but politicians either deny or let themselves be diverted from real action by the lobbyists from companies still making huge profits from polluting.

What is less clear is whether the actions they are taking will lead to the drastic changes which are clearly needed. They face huge opposition from extremely wealthy and powerful companies and the many ultra-rich who are doing very nicely thank you from our status quo and have yet to realise that there is little point in laughing all the way to the bank in a dying world.

Clearly too, as my pictures I think show, XR’s appeal is still largely to an educated middle class (though my apologies to the minority who will be insulted by this description.) The crowd that gathered on Kingsland High Street for the protest was very different from that thronging the adjoining Ridley Road market.

XR have attracted much flak from parts of the left, particularly for their attitude to the police and arrests, particularly for encouraging people to be arrested and to cooperate with the police, to treat them as friends. For many on the left, ACAB is a matter of faith, and sometimes of bitter experience. Certainly the police seem too ready to act as agents of the state, even where this means perverting justice – and parts of our legal system encourage this.

But at least XR are doing something, and their activities in recent months have begun a shift in the media and perhaps even in our currently Brexit-obsessed politics. While their keyboard critics have nothing to show. The Hackney Street Party may have been just a pleasant event on a nice day causing a little congestion as traffic was diverted by police around it, it was a small step in raising awareness – and part of a much larger campaign, aiming to build a wider movement. Perhaps XR will at some point be overtaken by other more radical actions, with backing from political parties, trade unions and the working class, but at the moment there is little sign of them even putting on their running shoes let alone coming to the starting blocks.

More about the XR Hackney Street Party and of course more pictures.


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