Stewards – March For the Alternative

I’m pleased to see that the NUJ London Photographers Branch has issued a ‘Statement To March 26 TUC Stewards‘ which will be read out at the stewards meeting before the ‘March For The Alternative‘, reminding them that “stewards have no legal power to push, move or obstruct journalists recording the event” and that reporters “should not be corralled or directed as part of the demonstration.

It is perhaps surprising to read the TUC web site for stewards, which for many of the lower level Travel and Route Stewards is the only training they will have had, and find no mention there of photographers and journalists, when the TUC should be making clear to them all that we are fellow union members with a job to do.

Stewards should be given guidelines perhaps similar to those agreed between the police and journalists in the published ACPO Police-Media Guidelines although they of course rightly enjoy much less power than the police.

Stewards at some other large marches have been less than cooperative with the media. Like many other photographers I’ve on several occasions been assaulted by Stop The War stewards and at one march was among a large group of photographers who felt so aggrieved at the way we were being kept away that we sat down on Park Lane and stopped the march until we were allowed to do our job.

From the various reports it would seem that the TUC are determined to try to control the march as much as possible, although it seems very unlikely they they will manage to do so given the various other groups who will be taking part in the protest on the day. The march is after all billed as the ‘March For The Alternative: Jobs – Growth – Justice‘ and it is only to be expected that the alternative groups will demonstrate some of their views of the alternative on the day. I think it is likely to me rather more alternative than many in the TUC would like.

Since the unfortunate displays by police at the student protests in November and early December the police do appear to have been making an effort to police demonstrations in a calmer and more balanced manner – and to have taken seriously the comments that I and many others made about their failure to communicate with protesters. So I’m hoping that this will continue tomorrow.

What does not give me great confidence is the appointment of Commander Broadhurst as Media Liaison Officer – you can see a video of him talking about the press and demonstrations made by Jason N Parkinson  at the 2009 NUJ Photographers Conference. I was standing just a couple of feet to his side photographing him while he spoke (I needed to get rather closer than I might have liked because the only lens I’d taken with me was the 20mm – having agreed to photograph the event I’d forgotten to add a longer zoom to my bag when I had to leave home rather early that morning!)

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Commander Broadhurst looking very uncomfortable – and so he should

His performance there was I think a low point in police-press relations, and I think he realised it. You can read my thoughts at the time – and see more of the pictures in Can Anyone Apply for an NUJ Card who has a Camera ?

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