More from a long May Day

The rally outside Parliament to publicise the dangers of Lyme Disease and call for government action had no particular connection with May Day. The Chronic Lyme Disease Support Group UK has been campaigning for some years to get the NHS to take Lyme disease more seriously and to get better testing and treatment for sufferers, as well as to raise public awareness of the danger of tick bites and the correct way to remove ticks from pets and people. It isn’t clear why the NHS is so reluctant to take action over the problem.

I was fortunate to have photographed one of their earlier protests in May 2015, a few months before taking a holiday in Silverdale. Both I and several of my friends on the holiday suffered from ticks, finding them attached to various areas of our bodies. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but the risk is greatly lessened if the ticks are removed as soon as possible, and usually this is a fast and simple process with a tool such as the O’Tom Tick Twister, available from vets, many chemists and, of course, on-line. They aren’t expensive, and cheap versions are available that probably work as well and they must cost virtually nothing to make, and it would be good to see them made readily and freely available at surgeries etc. If you ever walk through grass or forests you should get one.

The protest outside the Home Office was taking place not because it was May Day, but as the as the Home Office intended to carry out a mass deportation to Jamaica later in the week. Despite it being in the middle of the Windrush scandal, the flight would include members of the Windrush generation – although the government is very concerned to make the right noises about Windrush, it hasn’t greatly changed the institutional racism of the Home Office and the racist attitudes put into law in Theresa May’s 2014 Immigration Act.
Against Deportation Charter Flights

Fortunately the times of these two events made it possible for me to leave the May Day march as the end of it left Clerkenwell Green and rush down to Farringdon station to catch the Underground to Westminster to cover both, before rushing back to the Strand to meet the May Day marchers on their way to the rally in Trafalgar Square.

My next event began at the rally, where precarious workers had decided to gather for their own action. A couple of them spoke as a part of the May Day rally before that ended and they moved off. They first went to the Ministry of Justice, where cleaners in the UVW are demanding to be paid a living wage – the London Living wage – and to be directly employed by the Ministry so they get the same conditions of service as comparable workers there. At the moment they are employed by cleaning contractors and get only the statutory minimum conditions – as well as providing bullying managers.

Next they marched to Kings College, where cleaners are also campaigning to be directly employed by the college and held a rally there. At the nearby Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, they met briefly with the open-top bus which had spent May Day touring offices across London where cleaners from CAIWU are demanding the London Living Wage and better working conditions.

I stayed at the Royal Opera House with CAIWU while the other precarious workers went on to protest elsewhere in the West End. The protest there was noisy but fairly short and I was soon on the tube on my way to Brixton for the final event of my day.

The emergency protest outside Lambeth Town Hall, Lambeth Housing Tell Us the Truth, was poorly attended, reflecting the general lack of interest in local politics. Most people only think about the actions of their local councils when it is too late – and they find their council homes are being demolished. It had been called because the ruling Labour Party manifesto for the local elections coming up in a few days was making ridiculous claims about its housing policy, stating ‘By early 2018 we had over 950 homes completed, being built or already approved by Lambeth’s cabinet …’ The actual number completed by May 2018 is thought to be 8 or 9, and the council is engaged in a large-scale programme to demolish council estates together with private developers and replace them with expensive private housing with only a token proportion of social housing.

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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