Pants to IDS

A woman in a wheelchair pegs up a pair of pants with a message for Ian Duncan Smith

I’d hoped that the protesters from DPAC were going to repeat their occupation of the Dept of Work and Pensions as I photographed them doing last August (DPAC Occupy Dept of Work & Pensions) but it wasn’t going to happen. The police were probably ready for it this time, with the lunchtime protests in four other Whitehall ministries it was perhaps fairly obvious that they might be considering a visit to the DWP afterwards, even though this had not been advertised.

DPAC do have a couple of advantages over other protesters so far as keeping their plans quiet are concerned. The police don’t I think have any disabled officers, which makes it harder for them to go ‘underground’ and become central to the movement as they have done in many other protest groups. And most police officers are unhappy about pushing and shoving people in wheelchairs in the way they treat able-bodied protesters, and pictures of riot police wielding their batons or tasering people in wheelchairs would be very bad publicity.   There is a notably different approach to their protests when they block roads or carry out other actions which might normally get a vigorous response.

Protesters spread across the pavement in front of the DWP

But by the time the more active members of DPAC arrived, others who had come earlier were already protesting outside the ministry, with police at its entrance preventing entry to the protesters. So the protest continued on the pavement outside, and even though it was effectively blocked by around 35 wheelchairs along with the other protesters, police made no attempt to keep a path clear.  Of course the road wasn’t a very busy one, and it was easy for pedestrians to cross to the other side, but that doesn’t usually stop police threatening protesters (and photographers) with arrest for ‘obstructing the pavement’. But there was non of that at this protest.

Citizen Smart singing

There were some excellent speeches from a number of people, mainly themselves disabled, some songs from Citizen Smart (Alan Smart) from Glasgow, including a hilarious English translation of his ‘You Canny Have a Spare Room in A Pokey Coouncil Flat’ (he makes a cheap CD available including the original version which he will sell at cut price to all bona fide Anti-Bedroom Tax groups in UK who can then sell it to make a profit for their funds) and some other appropriate songs.

Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month speaks

The only low point for me was an performance by TV performer Heydon Prowse, a man who let the Evening Standard know that he “finds some of what David Cameron says appealing“, who closely follows right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes “and has a co-operative relationship with the Taxpayer’s Alliance“, a right-wing pressure group funded mainly by wealthy Conservatives and their businesses.

Heydon Prowse gives a pale imitation of the Rev Billy

Prowse has appeared at a number of protests, recording material for TV shows. Of course some of what he has produced is pretty funny, and it’s hard to fault things like his expose of Pay Day loans, but at times he seems to be taking the piss out of real protesters and laughing all the way to the bank. Protest for profit? But his performance here as the Rev Billy (complete with a three woman choir)  was a pretty pathetic attempt. If you want to put the Rev on TV insist on the real thing.

Complete the phrase for IDS, ‘Kiss…’
But fortunately things brightened up considerably after that, with pairs of pants being handed out to all who wanted to write a message on them for Ian Duncan Smith (who was caught out in 2003 claiming his underwear on parliamentary expenses.) The pants were then hung on a line between a couple of lamp posts on the street outside the DWP.

They did present a slight problem, in that few of the messages were fit to print!


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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.