A Busy Friday

Demonstrations are sometimes rather like buses, with none for ages and then three come along together. On the afternoon of Friday 25 Jan it was four rather than three, and I think there were a couple more I didn’t manage to get to.

Stop Kingsnorth – No new coal fired power stations

The first I photographed was outside the Pall Mall offices of energy company E.ON who have recently got planning permission from Medway Council to build a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth on the Thames Estuary. It’s now up to the government to decide whether to give it the go-ahead – another test of whether they take environmental issues seriously.

Of course it’s time we were moving away from large power stations and the high energy losses that come with transferring electricity long distances on the grid, moving to a decentralised low energy use society.

I like the picture above because of the way it lines up demonstrators and police facing each other and shows the whole situation with a speaker addressing the demonstration at the left of picture.

In fact I largely had to work from the side as the officer in charge told me I was obstructing the pavement when I stopped in front of the demonstrators to take photographs. We had a small argument and I reminded him that the police had reached an agreement with the press that recognised we had a job to do and should be allowed to do it, but it didn’t help. I pointed out that if I stood in the large gaps between the officers on the kerb I would not be either obstructing the pavement or impeding the police in any way, but was simply refused permission to do so, without any attempt to justify the decision – but with the clear suggestion I would be arrested if I disobeyed the instruction. So much for police cooperation. As you can see from the other pictures I took, I didn’t entirely do as I was told, but it did make my work difficult.

From Pall Mall I walked along to Trafalgar Square, stopping briefly outside the Uganda High Commission where a group of Kenyans was beginning to gather to demonstrate against the Ugandan president who has given support to the fraudulent Kenyan President. I didn’t stop long as I wanted to go to a larger gathering in Whitehall.

President Musharraf was visiting England, and expected to arrive in Horseguards Avenue by car. A group of around 50 Pakistanis was waiting their to protest against him. I took some pictures of them (and as with the other demonstrations you can see them on ‘My London Diary’.)

Finally I went to Borough in Southwark, where ‘Feminist Fightback‘ were demonstrating outside the offices of the Christian Medical Fellowship.

The CMF gave misleading evidence to the Parliamentary Committee which was considering possible reforms of the abortion act last year, and a number of its members with little direct scientific knowledge also gave evidence as if they were expert witnesses. They also support (and hosts) the minority report, which is in part based on their unreliable evidence.

Here there were no police and I was able to work without hindrance. Several people came out of the CMF office to talk to the demonstrators and they also had a table with soft drinks and biscuits although I don’t think anyone took any.

Although it was only a small demo, it was more interesting than many to photograph, and presented a few interesting problems, particularly because of a stiff breeze that kept blowing the items of ‘washing’ on the line that the demonstrators strung between a couple of roadside posts, making it hard or impossible to read the slogans on them. But I also liked the contrast between the CMF people and the demonstrators (with whom I felt considerably more at home despite a religious background.) Abortion is a subject that arouses strong and not always rational feelings, often with a failure to understand or appreciate what others are saying.

More about all these events – and of course more pictures – on My London Diary:
Stop Kingsnorth – No New Coal
Kenyans protest against Ugandan President
Protest against Musharraf
Feminist Fightback

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