Trump & May

Mobile phones are a mixed blessing. I don’t like the thought that your every movement can be tracked whenever you carry one, though it was very useful when I left mine on a bus earlier this year – and was able to watch it slowly moving along the map towards the depot, from where a couple of days later I collected it. But as a journalist I don’t like the idea that the police can now track my movements – and would like it even less if I was working in some foreign countries.

And on my recent holiday it was great to be able to see my own position on the OS map I’d bought and downloaded to the phone, something I used far more than the paper copy. This year, rather unusually I didn’t get lost at all.

But being available for people who know your phone number to contact you at any time – or at least when your phone is switched on and has battery – is not always a good thing. Though much of the time when I’m actually working there is too much noise for me to hear (or notice a vibration) from the phone in my pocket.

Dawn Butler MP

At lunchtime on 4th Feb I was more or less at the front of a densely-packed crowd in front of the US embassy, in a good position to photograph the speakers at a rally calling for Trump to end his Muslim ban and for May to withdraw the invitation to a State Visit here. It was at a quiet moment in the proceedings when a refugee poet was reading one of her works that I heard a faint ringing and answered the call.

It was my wife, and she was locked out as the lock on our back door would not open with her key. And she wasn’t well, or I might have stayed to finish the job before making the fairly long trip home, but I began walking to the bus stop as I talked to her, abandoning the protest. An hour and a quarter later I found my key didn’t work either, but fortunately I had the keys to the front entrance which did. More bad news was that we needed a locksmith who came, couldn’t open the lock and had to use a jemmy and then an angle grinder to cut through the lock and fit a new one. It wasn’t cheap.

Fortunately I’d already taken enough pictures to file a decent story, including probably the two most important speakers, Brent Labour MP Dawn Butler, shadow minister for diverse communities before she resigned to vote against the Brexit Bill and NUT General Secretary Kevin Courtney, and plenty of the protesters and their placards – it was a protest that brought out wit and obscenities – so I was able to file a decent story, though I had to miss the march to Whitehall and the further rally there.

It’s often the case with marches than the best opportunities for pictures are before they start, when people are often more closely packed and a little less organised. Back when I photographed some carnival processions with a few of my photographer friends we would usually pack up and go the the pub as the procession began. And for many of the longer political marches in London don’t walk the whole way.

Taking photographs means a lot of walking backwards as well forwards, going too and fro, and is considerably more tiring than simply marching. And as I usually want to cover marchers at the back as well as at the front (and those in-between) with large marches I try to find a convenient point to take the tube to the destination.

I often see other photographers standing around talking with each other before a protest starts, and while I like to be sociable (and often we have useful information to exchange) I sometimes feel they are missing opportunities and will leave them and get on with the job. And at some marches there are some photographers who only photograph the people carrying the banner at the front and just walk ahead of this all the way. It’s seldom a place to get the most interesting pictures.

And a small note to event organisers. A red roof to the stage is not a good idea. It really doesn’t provide a good background and it bathes the speakers in red light which isn’t flattering. Please chose a fairly neutral colour, perhaps a light or mid grey.  18% would help with our exposures!

More pictures at: No Muslim Ban, No State Visit.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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 taken by and copyright of 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.