Posts Tagged ‘anti-capitalists’

May Day – International Workers Day

Sunday, May 1st, 2022

May Day – International Workers Day – May 1st was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day in 1889 by the Second International socialists and communists, and adopted by anarchists, labor activists, and leftists in general around the world, to commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair and the struggle for an eight-hour working day. It continues to be celebrated in many countries around the world.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Anarchist Cricket, Parliament Square, London, May 1, 2005

Although I tested negative for Covid on Wednesday I’m still short of breath and short of energy, with still a little of a cough and have been strongly advised to take things easy for the next week or two. So I’m not sure if I’ll be out celebrating May Day today, much as I yearn to be.

May Day - International Workers Day
Justice for Cleaners, Westminster Cathedral, London, May 1, 2006

Before 2000 I was usually unable to celebrate May Day properly as May 1st was usually a normal working day and I went out around 8am and arrived home from work around 5.30pm, usually with more to do at home after an evening meal. Not much time to celebrate International Workers Day!

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Police Victory Party – Bank, May 1, 2006

Of course, May Day sometimes fell at the weekend, so I would have been free to take part in events that were taking place, but even in 1999 when it was a Saturday I think I had other things on.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Mayfair Mayfayre – May 1st 2008

There were of course May Day related events that I went to most years, but usually these were on the Saturday or Sunday before the early May bank holiday Monday which was introduced by a Labour government in 1978, when they lacked the nerve to make May Day itself a public holiday. We still have that bank holiday despite plans made by Conservative governments under both John Major and David Cameron to replace it by a Trafalgar Day holiday in late October.

May Day - International Workers Day
Rave Against The Machine – Leake St, Waterloo, London. Saturday 1 May 2010

By 2003 I was getting rather blasé about the London May Day march, writing “May Day Has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. The socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from Clerkenwell to Trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protesters do not a lot around town“, but that didn’t stop me going again to photograph it that year or in 2004, 2005, 2006, and every year until 2019. Covid put an end to the sequence in 2020, but I came out of seclusion for May Day 2021, though perhaps I’ll miss it again today.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge – Tower Bridge, London. Fri 1 May 2015

And I will miss it. Miss the sense of solidarity on the streets. And most of my life I’ve been feeling a loss of what might have been had we ever had a socialist government since my first few years growing up in a welfare state. Tory governments largely did what was expected of them but the various Labour administrations largely failed the people. Perhaps the final straw came in 2017, when people inside Labour actively worked against a Labour election victory.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalist May Day Street Party Starts – One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Sun 1 May 2016

The pictures here come from some of the other May Day events I’ve photographed in the last 20 years or so. You can find other May Day pictures on My London Diary simply by choosing a year at the top of the page and then the month of May at the left of the year page.

May Day - International Workers Day
May Day F**k Parade – London. Mon 1 May 2017

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Waving to Copenhagen – 5th Dec 2009

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Remember Copenhagen? This was COP15, and generally thought to have been a great failure, with developed countries’ refusing to adopt targets on limiting emissions by 2020 and developing countries insisting on their right to develop their economies and catch up with the big polluters.

But 2009 did see an upsurge in general interest in climate change, and one of the largest events in London against it, with many large charities combining in the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and conducting what seemed more a PR exercise than a protest, culminating in a ‘Big Wave’ outside the empty Houses of Parliament at 3pm. Everybody around Parliament waved, made a lot of noise and then wondered what to do next.

As I wrote at the time:
Although it was good to see a wider participation – although despite that huge potential and massive publicity the march was perhaps only a little more than five times the size of previous years – this year’s event, entitled ‘The Wave’ did seem more a stunt for the media than an informed political event. Surely with the backing of 11 million the coalition should be making demands, not just waving, and it’s perhaps hard to see the significance of blue hands and faces in a demonstration about global warming.

It did appear to have been an opportunity lost to adopt a more robust attitude and push our government at least into some action. The day of protest also involved all the other groups who had been protesting over climate change for some years – and seemed to me to rather be hi-jacking the annual climate march by the Campaign Against Climate Change rather than getting behind them and working with them. That feeling underlies much of my reporting of the day, which I split into the seven sections on My London Diary – as below.

Climate Emergency Bike Ride

After two speeches at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the ride, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change went on to hold demonstrations outside the London offices of two multinationals guilty of activities that are contributing to climate change, BP in St James’ Square and E.On in Pall Mall. Speakers there outlined some of the damage the companies were doing to the environment and how their activities were accelerating climate change.

Climate Emergency Bike Ride.

Climate Emergency Rally

The Campaign Against Climate Change had also organised a rally in Hyde Park before the march organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition who were gathering in nearby Grosvenor Square, presumably to avoid anything political. While the Coalition were simply calling for “a fair and effective international agreement” , CACC made clear that “there is no chance of an effective agreement until the North wins the trust of the South and it will only do that if Northern countries like the UK match words with action and take radical emission-reducing measures at home.” The failure of Copenhagen showed they were right.

Climate Emergency Rally

World Association of Carbon Traders

The ‘World Association of Carbon Traders’, group of around 50 smartly dressed ‘city gents’ – who included a few ‘gentesses’ and rather more bad false moustaches – along with power-dressed business women, joined the joined the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition march under the banner ‘Carbon Trading: The Final Solution’. Their ‘ CO2$’ logo and placards including ‘Trust Me, I’m a Banker, Capitalise On The Climate’, ‘In Markets We Trust’, ‘One Solution. Trade Pollution’, ‘Greed is Green’, ‘Carbon Trader = Eco Crusader.’ and ‘Cash In On Climate Change’, which as well as the ‘Permits to Pollute’ they were handing out made their ironic intention clear.

I recognised some of the faces of these agents from previous demonstrations by the Space Hijackers, a group who call themselves ‘Anarchitects’ whose various projects over the last ten years given a new creative face to protest.

World Association of Carbon Traders


The Wave – Before the March

I took a few pictures of the crowds gathering in Grosvenor Square for the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition march on my way to and from the CACC rally.

The Wave – Before the March

Anticapitalist Block – Not Much Waving

For a minute or two this banner led the march as it came through Berkeley Square while march stewards came and argued with them. After a short while and the intevention of a rather stout cop these protesters were persuaded to roll up their banner and suggested they join the march rather further back.

There they joined a few others dressed mainly in black, some carrying red or black flags behind another black banner with the message “NO BOMBS NO BAILOUT NO CAPITALISM“. The block left the march and went to Jubilee Gardens rather than stay for the wave at Parliament.

Anticapitalist Block

Marching to the Wave

Marching to the Wave

The Wave

They waved. And then the stewards tried to get them to disperse. Some stayed on in Parliament Square., and I photographed some of them with banners, including Climate Rush. Their banner with a large heading ‘EQUITY’ carried the message “Emission Quotas Must Be Per Capita. The RIch Have No More Right to Pollute Than the Poor”.

In my caption I commented “It’s a principle seemed certain to prevent real progress at Copenhagen – as the rich and in particular the USA – won’t accept it.” And so Copenhagen was doomed to fail.

The Wave


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More from May Days: 2015

Monday, May 11th, 2020

My May Day started as usual with the march from Clerkenwell Green, dominated visually by members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities and with the usual mix of trade unionists and left-wing groups, perhaps even more international in nature than in previous years.

The march to Trafalgar Square was made a little livelier than usual by the presence of Class War and other anarchist and anti-capitalist protesters, some of whom took over the whole of the road rather than keep to one carriageway. Police tried hard to control them and made at least one arrest, which led to some scuffles.

One issue that dominated the rally in Trafalgar Square was the strike against privatisation at the National Gallery which overlooks the square, and in particular the victimisation by the management of Candy Udwin, the PCS rep there.

Later in the afternoon anti-capitalist protesters met up at Tower Hill, and led by lass War and their Lucy Parsons banner went on to block Tower Bridge this afternoon and blocked traffic, calling for social housing rather than social cleansing for Londoners and an end to cuts in foundation courses and other aspects of education. It was a lively event, and I left them when they marched off along Tooley St past London Bridge to protest in Westminster.

I walked back across Tower Bridge and on to Aldgate where Class War were organising their ‘Reclaim the Beats’ “epic street party” outside the tower block where they had held around 30 weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against the separate entrance down a side alley for the social housing tenants in the block.

A huge cheer went up as they unfurled a new banner showing leading politicians with the message “All Fucking Wankers”, a replacement for that seized by police at an earlier protest. Although it had later been judged to be an acceptable political comment, the police contrived to lose it rather than face the indignity of returning it to Class War.

A few minutes later a mobile sound system in the form of a small house on wheels with ‘Affordable Housing’ across its roof and the party really kicked off. After a few minutes people moved out to block the main road and then to march off to protest at Tower Bridge and in Bermondsey. I was too tired to go with them and instead went down the stairs into Aldgate East tube.

‘Reclaim the Beats’ at ‘Poor Doors’
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge
May Day Rally supports National Gallery
May Day march against austerity and racism


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.