Parliament Square

While I used to think of Trafalgar Square as being the centre of protests in London, and it still is a place where protests take place, over the years there does seem to have been a shift towards Parliament Square (and the nearby Old Palace Yard), largely I think after the years of vigil there by Brian Haw and supporters. And often when I’m in the area for one or two events I’ll come across others that I’d not known about it advance.

Of course Steve Bray and his SODEM campaigners against Brexit are always around when Parliament is sitting, day in day out – and even during the recent recess they only moved as far as the Cabinet Office. But today was a special day for them, marking the number 50. Not the number of years they have been protesting, but the fiftieth birthday of their founder.

There was so much else going on that I managed to miss the peak of the celebrations, arriving back just as they were finishing. But though I try, you just can’t be everywhere all of the time. I should have asked them when I walked past earlier about their plans, but I was in a hurry to get elsewhere.

And that elsewhere was in front of the gates to Parliament, where Operation Shutdown , a group of families and friends bereaved by knife crimes were calling for urgent action by government over knife crimes. I don’t share their faith that a meeting of the government’s emergency ┬áresponse committee COBRA would do much to help – or that tougher sentences for carrying and using knives and guns would have any real impact on knife crime, but there is clearly a need for action.

Clearly a starting point should be to reverse the government cuts to youth services and family support and to look at programmes to work with young people. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come in for a great deal of criticism, but has set some reasonable policies in this area, but it really needs a reversal of the harmful policies imposed on local councils by the Coalition and Tory governments. So Operation Shutdown were clearly demonstrating in the right place, and of course their pain and grief is only too clear. Though they were I’m afraid talking to a government with little idea of how most people live and close to zero concern so long as they and their friends are getting richer.

Sometimes I have a problem with cropping. Often there is a tension between making an image visually strong and the text which locates and explains what the picture is about, and perhaps this image is a good example, where I think I have cropped just slightly too tightly. It’s often a good idea to give the reader some slight puzzle, but it’s hard to know if most people on seeing this will actually decipher ‘Stop the Mass Slaughter Of a Generation Now!’ Another inch or two at the left would have helped.

On the Olympus camera which has now become a part of my standard outfit, I work with the camera set on RAW and the aspect ratio as 3:2. But when working with raw images, the camera actually always records the whole sensor, with a roughly 4:3 ratio, which includes a small strip on top and below the 3:2 frame. When editing the pictures I do sometimes find that including some or all of this improves the images. Just a pity that there isn’t any similar leeway at the picture edges!

Just across the street, on the pavement in front of the grassed centre area, there was another protest, by the UK Chapter of the Free Balochistan Movement. It was the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and they were calling for an end to the large-scale disappearances, arrests and torture of anyone suspected of having links to the Baloch nationalist movement by Pakistan military forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

My day which had begun with the mass lobby, hadn’t ended, and I returned just a little too late to SODEM, before going on to photograph two other protests, to which I’ll refer in a later post.

More pictures from these three protests at:

SODEM Steve’s 50th Birthday
Operation Shutdown against Knife Crime
End torture in Balochistan

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

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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