Posts Tagged ‘2007’

Strangers Into Citizens 2007

Friday, May 7th, 2021

One of the great failures of British politicians in my lifetime has been over immigration. Since Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham in April 1968, both major parties have engaged in a desperate contest to show they are tougher on immigration than the other.

Immigration as we moved from Empire to Commonwealth wasn’t just a moral issue of living up to the promises the country had long made to its overseas subjects – but had failed to live up to. It was also a matter of economic and social need, for workers, nurses, bus conductors, doctors and more to keep the United Kingdom running. By the 1960s, a third of junior doctors were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and in 1963 Enoch Powell, then minister of health launched a campaign which recruited a further 18,000 doctors from India and Pakistan.

Immigration controls had of course begun earlier, but the 1962 Conservative Commonwealth Immigrants Act began a new series of anti-immigration measures. Labour followed this with their 1968 Act, a panic measure to restrict the arrival here of Kenyan Asians. The 1971 Immigration Act and further legislation restricted even restricted the numbers of foreign nurses – who the NHS was and is still very reliant on.

On and on the politicians have gone, increasing the restrictions and playing the numbers game promoted by racists rather than adopting a positive approach and stressing the great advantages that immigrants have brought to this country. While in the Tory party attitudes have largely been driven by straight-forward racism and the residues of imperialism, Labour’s policies seem more cynical and solely based on middle-class electoral assumptions about working-class racism.

Of course there are working-class racists. But there is also working class solidarity that crosses any lines of race, and which could have been fostered by the Labour Party and the trade unions. Instead they have left the field largely open to the likes of the EDL and the lies of the right-wing press. In this and other ways Labour has not lost the working class, but abandoned it.

The vicious and racist policies imposed in recent years by Theresa May against migrants, particularly those here without official permission but also those with every right to be here but without a huge archive of paperwork by which to prove this – the Windrush generation have met with opposition from some mainly on the left in Labour, but they built on the policies of the New Labour government before here.

Labour have abstained rather than voted against so much discriminatory legislation, and their opposition to Priti Patel’s draconian bill which aims to criminalise Roma, Gypsy and Traveller lifestyles and increase the surveillance powers of immigration officers as well as introducing new ‘diversionary cautions’ against migrants to allow police to force them to leave the country has at best been half-hearted.

Of course there are exceptions. Honourable men and women in both parties who have argued against racist policies, and MPs who have voted with their consciences rather than follow the party line – and sometimes lost the party whip. And of course those in some of the smaller parties and outside parliament, particularly various religious leaders, some of whom took a leading role in the Strangers into Citizens March and Rally on May 7th 2007 which called for all those who have worked (and paid their taxes) here for more than four years to be given a two year work permit, after which if they get suitable work and character references they would be given indefinite leave to remain.

Although this still would not change our terrible mistreatment of those who arrive seeking asylum, it did seem a pragmatic solution to a major problem which governments have found intractable. But as the organisers of the event and many of the speakers insisted, it needed to be part of a wider package of fair treatment for those applying for asylum or immigration. But the political parties were not listening and seem only able to think of more and more restrictive, racist and authoritarian policies which drive us further into becoming a police state.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm


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.


Brasilia 2007

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Cyclists protest. Critical Mass 10th anniversary, South Bank, London, April 2004.

Thirteen years ago in 2007 I was not in London but in Brasilia, where I had gone for the opening of my show on environmental protests in London, part of Foto Arte 2007, a huge photography event that stretches on for 3 months with over 20 international shows and more than a hundred individual and group shows from Brazil, apparently in 57 locations across the city. The theme of the festival was ‘Natureza, Meio Ambiente e Sustentabilidade‘ or in English, ‘Nature, The Environment and Sustainability’ and my contribution representing the UK was a set of 24 colour pictures of environmental protests in London – including a picture of Brazilians leading the last mile of a 1000 mile Christian Aid ‘Cut the Carbon’ march past Tower Bridge.

My work was in show in a local community centre in one of the ‘Quadra’ which make up the living quarters of the city around its central core. My show was backed by the British Embassy and they had also arranged for me to give a lecture – and provided simultaneous translation for my Portuguese speaking audience.

‘No Fumes Here’. World Naked Bike Ride, London, June 2006.

Because I was very aware of the planned nature of Brasilia, a new capital city built from scratch, which I described as “really the ultimate flowering of the modern movement in architecture and planning, planned by LĂșcio Costa (1902-98) and with many buildings by the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, 100 on December 15, 2007 and still working” I had decided my talk would be about my own photographs around London and more generally about “the photography of the urban environment and some of the changing ideas in planning, and how the invention of the car had completely altered our cities. Ideas about Garden Cities at the end of the nineteenth century had been overtaken by urban sprawl.”

‘London Underwater 2050 Tour of the G8 Climate Criminals’, European Social Forum, London, October 2004.

During my stay I also got to see all the other shows then taking place, and also was treated to several of the finest restaurants in the city (including a lunch with the Ambassador and the director of the festival) and was taken around the various sites of the city – including the many Niemeyer buildings by a daughter of one of Costa’s team of planners. It was an exciting few days, though very stressful at times.

One of Niemeyer’s most famous buildings, the cathedral in Brasilia – Fuji FinePix F31fd

I’d known I would have a busy time with little chance for any serious photography and had taken with me just a small pocketable digital camera, a 6Mp Fuji FinePix F31fd, and used it as a notebook during my stay. A few of the almost a thousand pictures I took are on My London Diary, but there are many more which I now find of some interest, and perhaps I’ll upload more onto Flikr shortly.

Uncle Sam’ as the Grim Reaper in Trafalgar Square, Kyoto Climate March, London, February 2005

I wrote quite a few posts about the visit here on >Re:PHOTO, including brief review of some of the other exhibitions in Foto Arte 2007, starting with one just before I caught the plane, Foto Arte 2007 Brasilia with my full set of 24 pictures and continuing after I arrived home and into January 2008.


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.


More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


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.