Posts Tagged ‘Andy Greene’

DPAC take Pants to IDS – 2013

Monday, September 4th, 2023

DPAC take Pants to IDS: Wednesday 4th September 2013 was the last day of a week of action by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) against the attacks by the coalition Tory government on the poor and disabled. I photographed protests outside the Dept of Health, Dept of Energy and Climate Change and the Dept of Education in the morning, and then a combined ‘Pants to IDS’ demonstration at the Dept for Work & Pensions in the afternoon. Between the these I also covered a rally in Parliament Square by UK Dalits protesting the failure of the government to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK; government policies on this issue seem to be dictated by their high-caste Hindu donors.


DPAC Picket Ministries

DPAC take Pants to IDS

DPAC was formed by disabled to give a voice to disabled people who are so often patronised and marginalised, despite many being highly intelligent and articulate and obviously being able to speak from experience. As users of services they know better than the highly paid consultants and cronies that governments seem to prefer to rely on to give the answers they want.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

At the Ministry of Health in Whitehall around 50 disablement activists held a protest “to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence.” There were banners, posters, placards, speeches and songs, including ‘Citizen Smart’ (Alan Smart) and Adeola Johnson, who sang her ‘General Strike’

DPAC take Pants to IDS

The protest there was continuing when I went on to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and joined those “angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits” to hear more speeches and songs.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

There were people holding a banner across the door which appeared to be blocked. Again I left before the end, catching a bus to the next of the four initial venues.

The mood at the Dept of Education was angrier, with a group crowding around the single doorway shouting and arguing with a man refusing them entry. They kept asking for either someone from the department to come out and discuss their protest against government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation or for a delegation to be allowed in to deliver their manifesto.

After I left three people were allowed to take the manifesto in, and were told that they might be allowed back to discuss it later in the week. There was so a protest at the Dept of Transport but I was too late by the time I arrived there.

More at DPAC Picket Ministries.


DPAC take Pants to IDS – Dept for Work & Pensions

The pavement outside the Dept of Work and Pensions was rather crowded with roughly a hundred protesters along with reporters and around 35 assorted wheelchairs and mobility vehicles.

They listened intently to speeches by Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, John McArdle of the Black Triangle Campaign (named after the symbol the Nazi’s forced those they considered “asocial” or “workshy” to wear) and Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month, along with several from DPAC members.

There were performances by Heydon Prowse as a man in a white suit and with a three piece gospel choir performing a piece about Atos miracles which certify the dead and dying as ‘fit for work’.

A deputation let to deliver a copy of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Our Futures which was to be launched at a meeting in the House of Commons later in the day to Downing St. Research shows that “disabled people are being disproportionately impacted by the cuts with those with the most complex levels of support need being hit by austerity nineteen times harder than the average person.”

The manifesto was produced by disabled people and their organisations and sets out the key principles, demands and commitments that are important to deaf and disabled people. MPs were reminded that “With around 1 in 5 of the population being disabled and many more affected by disability as family, friends and carers or simply as citizens who care about social justice, policy and pledges on disability will be a key concern of many voters as we approach the next election.”

As the deputation left, Andy Greene of DPAC opened the large bag he had been carrying around all day. He reminded us that Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) had his problems too (earlier McArdle had described him less sympathetically as “the psychopath that is the minister in this office“.)

One of IDS’s problems had been over housing, but had been solved when his daddy-in-law had given him the mansion where DPAC activists had visited him for a protest on his very nice lawn, and another was apparently with some very personal items.

Back in 2003, one of his senior aides gave evidence to a House of Commons Committee that he had claimed expenses from the taxpayer for – among other items – his underwear. So here in the bag were lots of pants for IDS, and we were invited to personalise them with a message saying what we thought of his policies, after which they could be pegged up on a washing line between the lamp posts outside the ministry. None of the comments were positive but there were just a few that were fit to photograph and print.

More pictures DPAC take Pants to IDS


End UK Caste Discrimination Now – Parliament Square

Between the DPAC protests I also photographed a protest by some of the estimated 200-400,000 lower caste Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) living in the UK. Although the House of Lords had twice voted for caste discrimination to be included in equalities law, and section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 requires the Government to introduce secondary legislation to include it under race, the government continues to cave in to high-cast Hindu objections to doing so. Although illegal in India, it is still widespread there, and many in the UK have also suffer abuse because of their caste. But wealthy Hindus are large donors to the Conservative Party (and probably now to Starmer’s Labour.)

I wrote more about this on My London Diary and there are a few more pictures at End UK Caste Discrimination Now.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby’s – 2015

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby’s: Wednesday 8th July 2015 was budget day, and campaigners were out in Whitehall to protest. For the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign it was just another Wednesday and they lined up to remind MPs of the need for action. Later United Voices of the World were back at Sotheby’s who had sacked four workers for taking part in the previous week’s protest.


DPAC Protests – Downing St, Westminster Bridge & Parliament Square

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

Disabled People Against Cuts supporters, some in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, were protesting against the changes to benefits which will hit the disabled hardest. Their supporters included Global Women’s Strike, Winvisible, Women Against Rape, Unite Community and Class War.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

They began at Downing St with a ‘Balls to the Budget’ protest, arriving with footballs and balloons and and after some speeches on the pavement opposite Paula Peters led protesters across the road towards the gates, which were protected by two lines of police.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

From there they tried to throw balls carrying messages such as ‘If the Tories had a soul they’d sell it’, ‘Cuts Kill‘ and ‘Blood on your hands‘ over the gates, but most fell short.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

They then moved off down Whitehall and Parliament Street on their way to Westminster Bridge. Police who had largely stood back and watched earlier tried to persuade them to go on to the pavement but were ignored.

They moved to the middle of Westminster Bridge as a small group on the Embankment in front of St Thomas’s Hospital facing the Houses of Parliament displayed a huge banner with the message ‘#Balls2TheBudget #DPAC’ with ahand making an appropriate two-finger sign.

This was then brought up onto the bridge and stretched across its full width, and along with the protesters it completely blocked traffic in both directions.

After some minutes Paula Peters called for the protesters to move to Parliament, leading the protesters and the huge banner on her own chariot past Boadicea.

Here they made use of the banner to completely block all traffic moving through the busy road junction.

They held a short rally on the street and were joined by strikers marching down from the National Gallery led by the sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin, victimised for her trade union activities.

By now police patience had grown thin, and reinforcements arrived to try to clear the protesters from the streets. They tried to grab the large banner and began to push protesters and press onto the pavements.

The press as usual obeyed the police instructions more or less, though that didn’t stop some being pushed rather too violently. Most of the protesters let themselves be pushed to the pavement, but many of those in wheelchairs refused to move. Eventually police made some arrests, including Andy Greene of DPAC who was on his mobility scooter.

Eventually police brought a specially adapted van they had hired into which they could put Andy, still on his mobility scooter and the others arrested and take them safely to the police station. Unlike normal police vans it had large windows through which I was able to take pictures.

More on My London Diary
DPAC Parliament Square Budget Day protest
DPAC blocks Westminster Bridge
DPAC ‘Balls to the Budget’


Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally

Public sector workers striking against the privatisation of the council services in Barnet and Bromley came to join the PCS strikers and held a rally in Parliament Square, along with various trade union speakers, including one of the four cleaners sacked by Sotheby’s.

Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally


Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign was also in Parliament Square, holding its regular Wednesday weekly vigil calling for the immediate release and return to the UK of Londoner Shaker Aamer and for the closure of the illegal torture prison at Guantanamo.

Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil


Sotheby’s 4 sacked for protesting

Later I met the United Voices of the World and their supporters at Oxford Circus, marching with them to Sotheby’s.- in Old Bond Street. As well as their original demands for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions they were now demanding the reinstatement of the ‘Sotheby’s 4’, cleaners sacked for taking place in the protest a week earlier.

At Sotheby’s police tried to move them away to the other side of the road, but the protesters, including a group from Class War and supporters from Lewisham People Against Profit, SOAS Unison, the National Gallery strikers and others ignored their requests. They left the entrance clear but wanted to make their presence clearly felt, protesting on the road outside.

Eventually two vans of police reinforcements arrived and started to push the protesters away, leading to a number of arguments. Eventually protesters were pushed to the pavement opposite, making it easier for taxis to drop clients directly in front of the entrance to Sotheby’s rather than having to walk past the noisy protest.

The protest was continuing when I had to leave after around an hour later.

Much more on My London Diary at Sotheby’s 4 sacked for protesting.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Olympic Area & Budget Cuts – 2012

Monday, December 5th, 2022

December 5th 2012 was a fine winter’s day and I took advantage of the weather to try and walk around the area which had been fenced off for the London Olympics for around 5 years. In the evening I joined a protest in Westminster against the continuing cuts being aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable by George Osborne and the Conservative-led government.


Olympic Area Slightly Open – Stratford Marsh. Wed 5 Dec 2012

It was around April 2007 that an 11 mile long blue fence went up around the whole of the London Olympic site at Stratford, barring access to the whole site except for those working on it. Parts were replaced in 2012 with a 5,000 volt 4m tall electrified perimeter fence in 2012 for the games itself.

St Thomas’ Creek still blocked to boats

Even the public footpath along the Northern Sewage Outfall, the Greenway, had been closed in May 2012, but after I heard this had reopened on December 1st I had been wanting to visit the area again to walk along it.

Crossrail works

The View Tube, a cafe and viewing area set up on the Greenway had also reopened, under new management, and it was only signs for this that kept me going past a maze of fencing and hostile signage. The Greenway was still closed between Stratford High Street and the main railway lines because of ongoing work for Crossrail, and roads north of the railway were still fenced off.

Wire fences and yellow fences have replaced the blue

Despite it being a fine afternoon for a walk I was the only customer to enter the View Tube while I was there and the Greenway, normally a useful through route for cyclists and pedestrians, was still deserted.

I could see no signs of work going on to bring the area back into use. Ten years later the area is still largely a desert and most of the promises about the ‘Olympic Legacy’ have been reneged on. This is still an Olympic waste; though the developers have done well out of it, the people haven’t.

I walked along the Greenway, finding there was no access from it to any part of the area, with those electric wire fences still in place, and made my way along the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick, making a number of pictures on my way.

Many more pictures including panoramas at Olympic Area Slightly Open


Osborne’s Budget Cuts – Strand to Westminster, Wed 5 Dec 2012

I around 200 people outside Kings College at Aldwych who were meeting to march to join the rally at Downing St where Stop the War and CND were protesting against Osborne’s attacks on the vulnerable, continued in his autumn statement.

The march had been called by the UCU London Region, and was joined by students, trade unionists, socialists and others, and went down the Strand and into Whitehall shouting slogans against public service cuts, the rich, David Cameron and George Osborne in particular to join a similar number already protesting at Downing St.

Speakers at the rally pointed out the huge cost of military expenditure which was being poured into futile projects – and the pockets of the arms manufacturers:

The Afghanistan war — which everyone knows is futile and lost — is costing around £6 billion a year. The yearly maintenance costs for Trident are £2.2 billion a year. The cost of renewing the Trident system — which this government is committed to do — would cost up to £130 billion. Two aircraft carriers are being built at a cost of £7 billion. Then there’s the £15 billion to be spent buying 150 F-35 jets from the US, each of which will cost £85 million plus an extra £16 million for the engine.”

John McDonnell MP

By now it was freezing, and when the speeches began the speakers were asked to cut their contributions short because of the extreme cold. Among those who spoke were John McDonnell MP, Kate Hudson of CND, author Owen Jones, Andy Greene of DPAC and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.

Kate Hudson CND

We heard from a nurse about the campaign to keep Lewisham hospital open, where a few days earlier 15,000 had marched and formed a human chain around the hospital. The hospital is successful and well run, but huge PFI debts from another hospital in the area threaten its future.

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett

A NUT member talked about the problems the cuts were making in education and campaigners had come from Connaught School in Waltham Forest where they are striking against the decision by school governors to pursue academy status despite the opposition of the teachers, parents, the local MP and councillors.

A speaker from UK Uncut urged people to join the protests against Starbucks the following Saturday and many of those who spoke called for trade unions to take action against the cuts, calling on union leaders to stop simply speaking against them and start organising strike action.

More at Osborne’s Budget Cuts.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Discriminatory Welfare Reforms 2016

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard speaking

Five years ago it was a cold, wet and windy night on Wednesday 16th December as I tried to photograph a protest in Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament by Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle as inside Tory MPs were voting for the Welfare Reform and Act 2016 which abolished the work-related activity component of the Employment and Support Allowance for new claimants from April 2017.

Candle tribute to DPAC co-founder Debbie Jolly

ESA is a benefit for those who have a health condition or disability which limits their ability to work. To claim it people have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment, which either find them fit for work and so not eligible, decides they should go into a group which has to undertake ‘work-related activity’ which might at some later date make them capable of work or puts them into a support group where they are not required to undertake such activities.

Equivalent measures were also introduced for those who have been transferred to Universal Credit, and mean that those who have to undergo work-related activities will get roughly £30 a week less, a huge proportion of their benefits which would go down from £102 to £73 per week. The government claimed that this will “remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work” and when proposed said it would save £640 million a year by 2020-21.

Andy Greene of DPAC chaired the event

The House of Lords amended the bill to remove the cut, but the amendment was overturned by the Tory majority in the House of Commons.

Green Party co-Leader Jonathan Bartley

The protest came after the report of a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) inquiry had published a report condemning the ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights’ which had resulted from the UK government welfare reforms.

Claire Glasman of WinVisible speaking

The event also included a vigil with candles and a silence in memory of one of the co-founders of DPAC, Debbie Jolly who had died the previous week. The group was founded to campaign against the unfair Work Capability Assessments in 2010. Unsound in their nature the tests were conducted by largely unqualified staff working with incentives and targets to fail claimanst by commercial companies including Atos.

John McDonnell MP with Rebecca Long-Bailey holding an umbrella

There was a long list of speakers including SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDOnnell, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, Claire Glasman of WinVisible and John McArdle of Black Triangle and I tried hard to take photographs and keep my cameras and flash unit and LED light as dry as possible. The LED light was really not powerful enough except at very close distances and there was very little ambient light in the area. I was having problems taking pictures and these were not helped when at a critical point the six AA batteries fell out of the LED unit as I had forgotten to fix the back in place, and rolled across the pavement and into the crowd listening to the speeches. Fortunately those around me picked them up and handed them back to me.

This wasn’t an occasion for great pictures, but I was pleased to have been able to produce a reasonably decent set of images despite the weather and the lousy light.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.