Budget Strike!

I often have a problem with photographing pickets, although there have been plenty of opportunities in recent times. They tend to be at their best early in the morning when people would be turning up to start work – and I’m not really a morning person. When  I had to start work at 8.30am it was always a struggle, and when I got the invitation a few weeks back to photograph a picket at 5.30am it didn’t take long for me to say no.

My first train into town on a weekday doesn’t get in until a little after that – I don’t think I’ve ever caught it, though I have at times travelled ridiculously early when I’ve been making long distance trips, but generally I don’t like to do anything that starts before around 10.30am unless it is sure to pay well as it means I have to pay the excessive full fare.

Of course there are times when pickets keep on later, and there was still a group of PCS members outside the House of Commons as I walked by around 11.30am on Budget Day, and with them showing their support were two of the MPs I often photograph at protests. I’d photographed the two of them separately with some of the pickets when Jeremy Corbyn asked me if I’d like to take both of them together, and called John McDonnell over.

It would perhaps have been better had I moved a little lower or used a wider lens and got the clock on that tower in the background in the picture.

Just down the road, the PCS were holding a strike rally, with a giant screen on which the proceedings inside Parliament were being played. Every time I see Prime Minister’s Questions I’m appalled by the failure to engage in proper discussion and the silly points scoring from almost all of those who take part. It rather clearly makes the point that parliament has become a farce.

Hearing ministers stand and make statements that are clearly untrue, and that you know they must know are untrue doesn’t inspire any confidence in democracy, and I think the two women in the foreground here were thinking much the same as me.

The giant screen made a useful background to photograph the speakers against – and while they were speaking the sound from the chamber was off so we didn’t have to hear the lies.

But I would certainly trust Zita Holbourne or Mark Serwotka rather more than the gentleman behind them.

The PCS members present had come her to see the budget speech by George Osborne, and to give their reaction. It was loud and negative, with a great deal of booing, blowing of whistles and shouting.

And one protester in particular had come with a poster which made very clear the distress and deaths that the cuts are causing.

People are dying because of inappropriate management targets in the NHS, because of the Atos work capability tests which remove benefits from the severely ill and disabled (the Glasgow test centre is known as ‘Lourdes’ because all those who go in with severe disabilities emerge somehow miraculously fit for work), because of poverty which forces many to choose between fuel and food. Even relatively prosperous areas such in the London suburbs now need food banks, mainly kept busy by people who, under the strict targets set by the politicians, are now cut the victims of a cut the benefits first, ask questions later policy, with emergency support now largely unobtainable from official sources.

More pictures and text at PCS Strikers Boo Budget.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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