Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Gaza March in London 3rd Feb 2024

Friday, February 9th, 2024

Gaza March in London – Another huge march through central London called for an immediate ceasefire and for an end to the Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024

I didn’t hear any news reports of the march, and over the past few days other events have largely pushed reporting over the continuing genocide to the edges of coverage.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

If anything the deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza appears to have increased since the ICJ ruling calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent genocide in the area.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Israel is still keeping international journalists out of Gaza and feeding the world’s press with misleading information. The BBC have some good reporters but they cannot work in Gaza. They have had interviews with some families and doctors in Gaza – some now killed. Papers such as The Guardian also carry reports from people in Gaza – such as Mondays Gaza diary part 44: ‘The angel of death is roaming the skies, nonstop’. But to get real information about what is actually happening on the ground you need to also go to alternative news sources.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of those is Double Down News, who say “Far too many Journalists sit comfortably trapped in their own bubble of privilege and power, talking to each other and the so-called political class, rather than serving the people they’re meant to inform.” They aim to “prioritise people, ideas, evidence and community above all.” DDN carries no advertising but is supported by over fourteen thousand of subscribers who give what they can afford rather than being owned by governments or billionaires. And you can be one and become a part of the community equally with the others.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of their latest videos is ‘Israel’s AI Killing Machine‘ by Palestinian-American lawyer and activist Lara Elborno which exposes by how Israel is using modern technology to target civilians across Gaza. Like other videos on the platform it provides a chilling insight missing in the mass media.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Before writing this a few days ago I read Al Jazeera’s Israel War on Gaza coverage, with its list of key events on day 123 published on Tuesday 6th February. Under the Humanitarian crisis in Gaza it begins its report with “At least 27,478 people have been killed and 66,835 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

It goes on to give other significant news on the humanitarian crisis, before news on Regional tensions and diplomacy and on what is happening in the Occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera was the first independent news channel in the Arab world and is funded by the Qatari state.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

All pictures here are from the march in London on Saturday 3rd February 2024 which was I think uneventful. It was certainly large and several streets around the BBC were densely crowded before the start. I photographed the start and then slowly went down Regent Street with the marchers, stopping a number of times to photograph them as they walked past me.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. ‘Sunak’ and dead babies.

At Piccadilly Circus I decide to wait until the end of the march arrived there, and it was a long wait. It was almost two hours after the start of the march before the end arrived, and most of that time the streets were crowded across both carriageways with slowly moving people.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. London Mothers and Children Say Stop Killing Babies.

It was too late to be worth trying to get to the rally on Whitehall and so I began my journey home. I uploaded 35 images to Alamy but later put these and around 35 more into an online album Ceasefire Now – Stop The Genocide In Gaza.


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BBC Bans Gaza Appeal – 2009

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

BBC Bans Gaza Appeal: On Saturday 24th January 2009 marchers gathered outside the BBC in Portland Place to draw attention to the biased reporting of the Israeli attack which had begun on 27 December 2008 and had ended with a ceasefire by Israel on 18th January.

BBC Bans Gaza Appeal

The attack, known by Israel as Operation Cast Lead but in Arabic as the Gaza Massacre had killed around 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis and had destroyed over 46,000 homes in Israel. It had begun with air attacks but was followed on January 3rd by a ground attack.

BBC Bans Gaza Appeal

The protest called for for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaze and for the UK to stop its arms sales to Israel, and for a free Palestine and demanded Israli war criminals to be brought to justice. It also castigated the BBC which although claiming to be impartial had accepted and broadcast much Israeli propaganda during the war while not giving a proper hearing to the views and aspirations of the Palestinians.

BBC Bans Gaza Appeal

After the war, the United Nations Fact Finding Mission and human rights organisations criticised Israel for the large number of civilian casualties and having a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. Among the war crimes that they found evidence for was the use of children and other civilians as ‘human shields’ forcing them “blindfolded, handcuffed and at gunpoint to enter houses ahead of Israeli soldiers during military operations.”

BBC Bans Gaza Appeal

International media were denied access to the war zone by Israel in defiance of a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court and many details only emerged later and the media in Gaza itself came under military attack. The Israeli foreign minister “instructed senior ministry officials to open an aggressive and diplomatic international public relations campaign to gain support for Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip” and the BBC was among those news organisations who lapped up their offerings.

As the ceasefire was announced, humanitarian organisations around the world launched campaigns to bring much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. In the UK, the the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which includes Oxfam, Save the Children and the Red Cross launched a nation-wide appeal, but the BBC (and Sky) refused to broadcast it although it went out on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five.

It was a decision which clearly made the BBC management’s pro-Israel position crystal clear to the nation and was widely seen, including by many BBC journalists as a failure by the BBC to uphold its reputation for impartiality.

Which is perhaps why Tony Benn was invited onto the Today programme that morning to talk about the decision – and he came on and read the appeal for them. At the start of the protest I photographed him before and after he went in with a deputation to deliver a letter of protest to the BBC – police stopped me going in with him. Among those who also spoke outside the BBC was Jeremy Corbyn.

Pro-Israel press bias continued with the Press Association, who reported this press conference as the protest, giving the number present as 400. Even the police gave a figure of 5,000 – as usual roughly half of the actual number.

The protest was largely peaceful, though some had brought shoes to throw at Broadcasting House, but policing outside there was rather heavy-handed. When police made a few arrests when the march approached Piccadilly Circus the march halted and threatened to stay blocking traffic until the arrests stopped. They did and the march moved on to its final rally in Trafalgar Square.

More on My London Diary at Gaza: Protest March from the BBC.


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Freedom Protests in London – 2010

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024

Freedom Protests in London: Two protests on Saturday 23rd January, 2010 were against the increasing powers which have been given to police and misused by them to control and harass lawful actions on the street.


I’m A Photographer Not A Terrorist – Tragalgar Square

Freedom Protests in London

Around 1,500 photographers and supporters turned up to the I’m A Photographer Not A Terrorist rally in Trafalgar Square to protest at the increasing harassment of people taking photographs by police, and in particular their abuse of powers under the Terrorism Act.

Freedom Protests in London

I think those there included virtually every photographer who works in London as well as many amateurs. Almost all of us who work on the streets have been approached by police, questioned and then subjected to a search, usually under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (S44.)

Freedom Protests in London

As I commented in 2010:

These stop and searches appear to have continued unabated despite a Home Office Circular in September that made it clear they should not be used to target photographers. Searches can also be carried out under Section 43 of the act, but for this officers must have reasonable grounds to suspect someone of being a terrorist. S44 stops can only be carried out in “authorised areas”, which although intended by Parliament to apply in very restricted areas for short lengths of time have been used by police – for example – to permanently to cover central London and some other areas.

I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist

Freedom Protests in London

The Press Card that we carry has the text “The Association of Chief Police Officers of England Wales and Northern Ireland and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland recognise the holder of this card as a bona-fide newsgatherer.” But despite this, one of my colleagues was the subject of roughly 30 searches in 2009.

Personally although I’ve been approached and asked why why I’m taking pictures on a number of occasions I’ve only been been subjected to a S44 stop once. Being a still photographer I tend to work fast and keep on the move and I think videographers who stay around longer have suffered more. But certainly there was a lack of cooperation from the police and I was often finding my Press Card being unrecognised by offiers. Others told me that they didn’t regard those issued through the NUJ, one of the recognised gatekeepers to the system, as being valid. And most months if not most weeks I would be threatened with arrest when taking pictures.

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of this protest was listening to a BBC News reporter, standing in the middle of a crowd of experienced journalists and giving a report in which he gave the number attending the protest as “three hundred“. It drew immediate shouts of protest from those of us standing around him and was certainly “not a good advertisement for the competence or impartiality of the BBC who appear to have a policy of playing down dissent.” It’s a policy which still seems to govern the BBC reporting of protests in the UK which are either simply ignored or very much played down.

Among the protesters was a small “Vigilance Committee with a man on stilts wearing a number of CCTV cameras accompanied by a male and female vigilance officer, who picked on individuals and questioned them, taking their fingerprints before finding them guilty and sentencing them to a choice of six years hard labour or contributing to the Vigilance Committee.”

Also present were three Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, but police and ‘heritage wardens’ largely kept away. Although this had been planned as an illegal protest taking place without the permission from the Mayor required by the bylaws, the authority had put in an application for it without any reference to the protesters.

More pictures at I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist.


Life Is Too Short to be Controlled – St Pancras to Piccadilly Circus,

Later in the day protesters met at St Pancras for the ‘Life Is Too Short to be Controlled’ protest against the increasing control over our lives through increased police powers to stop and search, increased surveillance and controls on freedom of movement.

The protest, organised by ‘London NoBorders’ began outside St Pancras Station where the Border Authority detains migrants arriving by Eurostar and marched to Piccadilly Circus, beneath which Westminster’s CCTV HQ keeps a constant watch on the streets of London, the “City of CCTV”. Across the city there were then over 500,000 CCTV cameras watching us, installed by councils, public bodies, companies and individuals and on a typical day the average person in London will be recorded by 300 of them.

Police kept a relatively discrete watch on the event, with police vans parked out of site and even when the group marched along the busy Euston Road, holding up traffic for a few minutes not a single officer appeared. The march was well-ordered “and when an ambulance answering an emergency came along, the whole march cleared the road for it with remarkable speed. At Russell Square, one taxi driver decided to try to force his way through the marchers, but was soon stopped, with several people sitting on the bonnet of his vehicle.”

At Piccadilly Circus there was a short token road block before the protesters moved to the pavement around Eros for more speeches and some dancing. A Police Community Support Officer appeared briefly after someone climbed up and taped a Palestinian flag to Eros’s bow and tried to identify who had done this. The statue is rather fragile and could have been damaged. He soon gave up and went away and was replaced a few minutes later by a single police officer who was embarrassed by being greeted with hugs, and moved back a few yards to watch.

“Not me officer, someone borrowed my scarf”

The police had monitored the progress of the protest as it marched through London, both from some distance on the streets and also on CCTV. It had been peaceful and had caused only very minor disturbance. Few protests do, and the kind of heavy policing sometimes employed often means police cause more disruption that the protest, as well as sometimes provoking a response from protesters who would otherwise have protested peacefully.

More at Life Is Too Short to be Controlled.


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Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists – 2019

Friday, January 19th, 2024

Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists: Three events I photographed on Saturday 19th January 2019.

Bread & Roses is again relevant now in January 2024, with the release of a new version of the song a few days ago by the ‘Orchestra of Cardboard‘, part of the amazing ‘Every street a POWER STATION campaign‘, a project of Walthamstow’s community interest company Optimistic Foundation CIC set up by artist and filmmaker Hilary Powell and filmmaker and musician Dan Edelstyn. The recording is a part of their fundraising campaign and your can read, see and hear more about it and their other campaigns which are already having an effect in the area on their crowdfunder page.

But back to January 2019, five years ago today.


Women’s Bread & Roses protest

Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists - 2019

Inspired by the Bread & Roses protests which revolutionised workers’ rights for women in 1912, Women’s March London marched from the BBC to a rally in Trafalgar Square against economic oppression, violence against women, gender pay gap, racism, fascism, institutional sexual harassment and hostile environment in the UK, and called for a government dedicated to equality and working for all of us rather than the few.

Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists - 2019

The London march was part of an international day with women marching in many countries around the world, particularly in cities across the USA.

Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists - 2019

At the start of the march was opposite the BBC on the steps of Langham Place a few of the women organising the event were being directed and filmed by a BBC film crew. Supposedly this was a documentary but it seemed to be more a scripted drama closely controlled by the director and with the women involved holding orange folders from which they read.

Bread & Roses, Morales & Russian anti-fascists - 2019

But there were a rather larger group of women (and just a few men with them) standing around outside the BBC building and largely ignoring the filming that was taking place. Many had made placards especially for the event, with some using words from the poem ‘Bread and Roses‘ written by James Oppenheim and published at the end of 1911. The phrase ‘Bread and Roses’ came from a speech the previous year by Helen Todd, speaking about the need for laws to regulate wages, working hours and conditions.

A few days later a strike was started by textile workers, largely immigrants, in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The strike was organised by the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, led largely by women and they took up Oppenheims poem and sang it at their meetings and marches, as well as apparently marching with a banner ‘We want Bread, and Roses too!’ during their three-month strike.

Eventually, when the BBC had finished making their movie the women gathered for a march and I walked with them to Trafalgar Square.

Many more pictures on My London Diary at Women’s Bread & Roses protest.


Bolivians protest against Morales – Trafalgar Square

A small group of Bolivians had come to protest following a decision in December by the Electoral Commission that President Evo Morales could stand for a fourth term in office in the October 2019 elections which were starting with primaries at the end of January 2019. But I was not convinced that this was truly a protest about democracy rather than simply against his socialist policies.

Morales, Bolivia’s first president to come from the indigenous population was first elected in 2005. He supported the 2009 constitution which allowed only two consecutive terms in office but was able to stand for a third term as his first term had been before the limit was imposed. In 2016 tried to increase the limit to three terms by a referendum which was narrowly defeated. But after this the courts ruled that the limitation infringed the human rights of citizens, allowing him to stand for a further term.

Morales won the October 2019 but their were widespread protests alleging electoral fraud, although later investigations suggested he had indeed gained the 10% lead required for a first-round victory. But the protests grew and he was endangered by armed groups; eventually he resigned on 10th November 2019, fleeing to Mexico where he was granted political asylum. Allegations made against him of sedition and terrorism were later found to be politically motivated and in 2020 a Bolivian court found his rights had been violated and judicial procedures breached.

His successful policies which reduced poverty and illiteracy and combated the influence of the USA and multinational companies made him very unpopular among the middle class and particularly the groups accustomed to running the country. Many in the USA encouraged and financed the opposition to him as he was widely seen to have shown a successful alternative to the growth of international capitalism.

Bolivians protest against Morales


Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists – Whitechapel

Finally I went east to the Cable Street Mural where anarchists and anti-fascists were meeting l to oppose racism, xenophobia, fascism and the upsurge of far-right populism and to show solidarity with Russian anti-fascists who have been arrested, framed and tortured in a brutal wave of repression.

Russian and Ukranian comrades spoke at the rally. telling us of the persecution taking place. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested six in Penza in 2017, charging them with belonging to a non-existent organisation, ‘The Network’. Beatings and torture before their trial were used to make them give false confessions.

Two others were arrested in 2018 in St Petersburg and charged with belonging to the same fictional network and again tortured into making confessions and further similar arrests have followed. A total of 11 where then in prison for belonging to’The Network’, facing 5 to 25 years in jail.

The date for the protest was chosen as the anniversary of the brutal murder of two Russian anti-fascists, journalist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov, by fascists in broad daylight on the streets of Moscow on January 19th 2009. Russian anarchists and anti-fascists hold events to remember them on this day every year.

There was then a march to a further rally in Altab Ali Park, named for the 24-year-old clothing worker murdered in a nearby street on 4 May 1978.

More pictures at Solidarity with Russian anti-fascists.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana 2014

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana: The Marikana massacre when 34 striking mine workers were shot dead in South Africa took place on 16th August 2012, so today the 11th anniversary will be marked in London by a commemoration beginning at 16.00 outside the South African Embassy in Trafalgar Square. You can read more about the massacre and these commemoration in my post last year, London Solidarity with Marikana Miners.

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

On Saturday 16th August 2014 I attended the event on the Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre and you can see more pictures from this on My London Diary.

But the Marikana commemoration was not the only event on that day, and here are also some of the other things I photographed.


Boycott Israel – Boycott M&S – Brixton

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

Protesters outside M&S in the centre of Brixton argued that the store legitimises the illegal occupation of Palestine and supports Zionist racism and brutality by selling Israeli goods and called for a boycott in solidarity with the people of Gaza. I made a brief visit as the RCG picket was beginning and then took the tube to Bond Street.

More pictures at Boycott Israel – Boycott M&S.


R4BIA remembers Egyptian massacres – South St, Mayfair

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

Marchers met at the Egyptian Embassy to march to Downing St on the anniversary of the massacres by Egyptian forces at Rabaa and Nahda squares on 14th August 2013 in which over 2600 were killed, 4000 injured and many arrested.

Israel, Egypt, ISIS, Sewol & Marikana

The Rabaa hand sign with four fingers extended and the thumb pressed into the palm was adopted in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters following the overthrow of President Morsi by a military coup. After his election Morsi had given himself unlimited powers to make laws and moved the country towards an Islamist state, eventually leading to mass protests which led the army to move on 3 July 2013, deposing him and suspending the new constitution. Pro-Morsi demonstrations were brutally dispersed with Human Rights Watch documenting over 900 deaths.

More pictures at R4BIA remembers Egyptian massacres.


March against ISIS massacres – Portland Place

The Kurdish People’s Assembly and others met in front of the BBC to march against the attacks on Kurds, Shia, Sufi, Christian and Yezidi communities in Iraq, calling on the UK government for greater action including pressure on Turkey and Qatar to end support for jihadism.

They met in front of the BBC to emphasise the lack of proper reporting of what is happening in Iraq and as one poster said, ‘Your silence is Killing people‘. The BBC has failed to report on the support that Turkey with its increasingly Islamic regime has given to the Islamic State jihadist forces. ISIS relies on oil exports smuggled through Turkey to support its existence and murdering attacks.

Our government keeps quiet about Turkey and refuses to condemn its activities as Turkey is a key member of NATO, and as in so many areas, the BBC toes the government line. While it employs many fine journalists they are constrained by their editors and managers up to the highest level and not allowed to report impartially, particularly on the UK domestic channels. Sometimes the World Service does rather better.

More pictures at Kurds Protest against ISIS


Koreans call for special Sewol Ferry Act – Trafalgar Square

Koreans had been holding regular silent vigils in Trafalgar Square since the Sewol ferry disaster in April that year when schoolchildren on board were told to ‘Stay Put’ below decks and drowned.

The protest on 16th August was part of global day of support for the Sewol Tragedy Victims’ Family Committee petition, already signed by around 4 million, for a special bill to investigate the deaths of 304 people, mainly high school students in the ferry disaster.

Koreans call for special Sewol Ferry Act


Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre

Taking place later in Trafalgar Square was the commemoration of the Second Anniversary of Marikana Miners Massacre mentioned at the start of this post.

Among those taking part was mime protester Charlie X, who came with a poster of the constitution of the Republic of South African and stood holding this and with a miner’s lamp in front of the locked gates of the embassy.


Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Monday, May 15th, 2023

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran: Events I covered in London on 15th May 2023 and one I just missed.


Nakba Protest For Free Palestine – Downing St

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

May 15 is Nakba Day, remembering the 1948 disaster when Palestinians were expelled from their land and calling for an end to Israeli occupation and breaches of international law.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed and the 1948 partition of Palestine to create the state of Israel created around 700,000 Palestinian refugees, many of whom or their descendants are still in refugee camps. Protests take place on or around May 15 every year around the world calling for justice for Palestine.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

The biggest in London is on the nearest weekend to the 15th, and the 2023 London march organised by Palestine Solidarity Campaign together with Stop the War Coalition, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was last Saturday, May 13th, marching from the BBC.

Nakba, South Africa, Fair Votes & Iran

Organisations supporting this rally included Artists’ Union England, BFAWU, CWU, The MU, NEU, PCS, RMT, TSSA, UCU, UNISON and Unite the Union. In most recent years I’ve photographed these protests, but this year the rail strike meant I was unable to do so.

Back on 15th May 2010 the Nakba protest was a static one opposite Downing Street. Last Saturday the march to the rally began at the BBC, deliberately chosen to yet again expose the failure of our major broadcaster to report on protests in the UK, particularly those calling for freedom for Palestine.

It may not be written down anywhere in the BBC, but the broadcaster definitely has a policy of playing down or usually totally ignoring protests in the UK, at least unless it can condemn any acts of violence of criminal damage by protesters. Occasionally any involving major celebrities may also get a mention, though they may need to get arrested for the BBC to notice. You have more chance of your protest getting a mention if it occurs in another country, preferably one with a regime our government disapproves, than under their noses in London.

Other UK media tend to follow the example of the BBC and if you want to know about protests that are happening in the UK you need to follow foreign media such as Al Jazeera or RT, or read left wing publications in print or online. There you may even find out what the protests were about.

Among the protesters were many Jews opposed to the actions of the State of Israel who form a major part of most if not all left wing and anarchist groups. Most obvious were those from the ultra-orthodox ‘Neturei Karta’ who are totally opposed to Zionism and the idea of a Jewish political state. They say the Torah prohibits the use of human force to establish a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah, and support the right of the Palestinians to their land, which should be returned to them. The say Jews should live in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbours in Palestine as their ancestors did for many centuries.

Nakba Protest For Free Palestine


South African Right March in London – Trafalgar Square

I arrived in Trafalgar Square too late to see a march by expatriate right-wingers, part of a campaign to persuade football supporters not to go to South Africa for the the World Cup. They say the country is too violent with around 18,000 murders a year.

Unfortunately that high rate is fairly typical among many countries in the global south and lower than in many of them. Perhaps the main difference between South Africa and the others is the large white population who also suffer from the violence and murders.

The march organisers had earlier regretted that police had prohibited any marchers carrying flags or banners of the extreme right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) or other white nationalist groups. The extreme racist AWB protest at the ‘Boer Genocide’ and is committed to setting up an independent Volkstaat on parts of South Africa with extreme apartheid policies.

Although there were only a handful of people in red shirts who had taken part in the march I was able to photograph some of the crosses, posters and banners they had left behind in front of South Africa House before police removed them.

South African Right March in London


Purple Protest Demands Fair Votes – Old Palace Yard

More than a thousand people, mainly wearing purple, had come to Westminster to demand a fair voting system, feeling cheated by the recent election results which failed to produce a government reflecting how people voted.

The 2010 election had clearly failed to reflect the votes cast, particularly for the Lib-Dems who got almost a quarter of the votes but less than one tenth of the seats. Perhaps even more importantly it showed that over a third of the population had so little confidence in our political system that they didn’t bother to cast there vote.

These results had left to a movement springing up rapidly through the Internet, using Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and other social networking sites, and it also attracted the backing of existing electoral campaigning groups such as the Electoral Reform Society, Unlock Democracy (incorporating Charter 88), 38 Degrees and Power2010.

Most of us have experience of elections taking place using the single transferable vote system with give much greater fairness. The Lib-Dems had demanded a UK-wide referendum on the Parliamentary voting system for taking part in the coalition governement, but the proposals were dismissed as more an attempt to defuse the issue than to deal with it. The vague proposal was in any case decisively rejected, though only 42% of the electorate bothered to vote.

This year has seen another attack on the fairness of our elections with the introduction of the need for photo-ID to cast a vote. I don’t know how many were put off from trying to vote by this requirement, but apparently 1.2% of those who turned up to polling stations were not allowed to vote.

Purple Protest Demands Fair Votes


Protest Against Executions in Iran

Around a hundred people demonstrated in Trafalgar Square and then marched for a rally opposite the Iran Embassy following the execution last Sunday of 5 political activists, the latest of many such death sentences.

In the previous year millions in Iran had protested for greater freedom in Iran, with the protests making headlines around the world after the fatal shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan in June 2009. Thousands have been arrested, tortured to make untrue confessions and then condemned in unfair trials and many have been executed.

The death of Jina Mahsa Amini after being arrested by the religious morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards in September 2022 has led to a series of protests in Iran and around the world on an even more widespread scale than those in 2009-10, 2007 and 2019. Again the protests in Iran have been brutally repressed with at least 476 people killed by the end of 2022, and many arrested and tortured and a number of protesters hanged.

The protest on 15 May 2010 came after the executions of five political activists – four men and a woman – on Sunday 9 May; Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Mehdi Eslamian and Shirin Alam-Houli.

The protests in London around the world in 2022-3 have been on a larger scale than in 2010, with large and continuing protests with the slogan ‘Woman Life Freedom’.

Protest Against Executions in Iran


Streets Kitchen March with Homeless – 2016

Saturday, April 15th, 2023

Streets Kitchen is a UK & Ireland grassroots group working to help the homeless community, providing daily outreaches with food, clothing and information. In London they are active in Camden, Hackney, Kilburn, Clapham, Haringey and elsewhere – and new volunteers and donations are welcome. You can see a short video about their work made by Liberty on YouTube.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

On Friday 15th April 2016 Streets Kitchen oranised a rally and march around central London in solidarity with London’s growing homeless community. A giant banner called for ‘No More Deaths On Our Streets’. They brought tents, sleeping bags and food intending to join the Kill the Housing Bill sleepout in Southwark and collected donations.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

I met them at a rally on the pavement opposite Downing Street, with speakers who described the effects of government policies on increasing homelessness but also pointed out the role of London Labour Councils including Southwark and Newham who have turned people out of council estates in order to ‘regenerate’ them largely for the benefit of private tenants paying much higher rents, as well working with private developers to enable them to evade their responsibilities to build social housing.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

They move on to Whitehall, blocking the traffic and then marching to Trafalgar Square where they held a brief protest before marching up Charing Cross Road to Oxford Street.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

The march continued along Oxford St to Oxford Circus, where they set off flares and blocked the junction for a few minutes.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

Their next stop was at the BBC, where a line of police blocked the entrance, and they then moved off up Portland Place. They were still marching further away from the final destination, Southwark Council’s offices on Tooley St, south of the river close to Tower Bridge, and it was getting rather dark to take pictures.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

I decided I’d had enough and left them for my journey to a warm and comfortable home. We don’t live in luxury but too many in our society don’t have a home to go to, a shameful situation in one of the richest countries in the world – and a country where there are more empty homes than homeless people. Housing is a human right, and one which too many are denied.

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

More at Streets Kitchen March with Homeless.


UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Saturday, March 18th, 2023

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today, 18th march is the UN Anti-Racism Day, and in 2017 it was also a Saturday, and tens of thousands marched through London, starting as they will today outside the BBC and ending with a large rally in Westminster.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today’s march, as in 2017, is organised by Stand Up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music, Hate Racism and the TUC and supported by many other groups, including football fans from around the country who will be wearing team colours.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

This years march is perhaps even more important, with the UK Government pursuing clearly racist policies against immigrants in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, its attempt to deport refugees to Rwanda and Suella Braverman’s recently announced Illegal Migration Bill.

Phyll Opoku of PCS ‘Stand Up to Racism’

Football fans have been energised by the BBC’s reaction to Gary Lineker’s tweet. He was clearly correct in observing the hostile anti-refugees language used by the government to language used in Germany in the 1930s. They say the government are trying to stir up division and racism to deflect attention from their multiple crises and turn refugees into scapegoats.

Unfortunately it isn’t just the government, but also the official opposition who continue to up the ante over immigration, refusing to stand up to the government with any real attempt to improve our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Real opposition to racism has been left to a few increasingly isolated figures on the left of the party – including many of those who have been ejected for supposed anti-semitism, increasingly being used to expel Jewish members who support the Palestinian people. And of course left to footballers or former footballers.

Even Theresa May, who the 2017 march was strongly opposed to for promoting racist measures against immigrants and in particular Muslims in concert with Donald Trump has found Braverman’s latest proposals which will break international law on the human rights of migrants a step too far.

The 2023 march organisers say:

In Britain we face a crisis-ridden government attempting to use racism to make ordinary people pay for the cost of living crisis. The ‘Rwanda plan’, the Nationality and Borders Act, racist deportations and the hostile environment for refugees and migrants are all about divide and rule.

The government deny the reality of institutional racism – despite massively disproportionate deaths in black communities during the pandemic – and the reality of deaths in police custody, racist stop and search and discrimination across society.

Internationally we are seeing the growth of the racist and fascist right and an alarming rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism, Sinophobia, anti East/South East Asian racism and attacks on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Despite a rail strike this Saturday I hope to be there later today, again taking photographs and marching with many thousands of others.

Much more from the 2017 march and rally on My London Diary: Thousands March Against Racism.


Turkey’s War on Kurds, Bunhill Fields – 2016

Monday, March 6th, 2023

Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds – BBC to Trafalgar Square

Turkey's War on Kurds

Turkey’s War on Kurds. On Sunday 6th March 2016, several thousand of Kurds and their supporters marched through London in solidarity with the Kurdish people calling for an end to the silence from Turkey’s NATO allies and the western press over Turkish war being waged against Kurds in northern Syria.

Turkey's War on Kurds

This area of Syria has successfully broken away from control by the Syrian regime under President Assad and set up a popular progressive participatory democracy under the name Rojava. Although Kurds form the majority, the impressive constitution of the new area guarantees the rights of all the minority groups and also has enshrined the equal rights of women. Many see it as a model for future democratic states elsewhere.

Turkey's War on Kurds

The Kurds also call for the UK to decriminalise the PKK Kurdish liberation Movement here, and for the release of their leader Abdullah Ocalan who has been in jail in Turkey since his illegal kidnapping in Kenya in 1999. In 2003 the European Court of Human Rights ruled his trial unfair, and called for a retrial. Turkey lost an appeal against this decision in 2005 but have still refused to hold a retrial.

The march began with around 5,000 people massing outside the BBC, who have consistently failed to cover the real issues over the Kurdish struggle and like to almost totally ignore any political protests taking place in the UK. True to form there appeared to be no mention of this large march in any BBC national or local news in the following few days.

The protest was called by his protest was called by Stop the War on the Kurds and supported by a huge array of groups, which I listed on My London Diary. Here it is again.

Peace in Kurdistan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNC), Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, Day Mer, GIK-DER/RWCA, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT), Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), Trade Union Congress – International Section, Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils (GLATUC), Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), Unite Housing Branch, Unison Islington, Stop the War Coalition, People’s Assembly, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Resistance, Plan C, Revolutionary Communist Group, Left Unity, Green Party, Kurdish Community Centre, Halkevi, Roj Women’s Assembly, Kurdish Students Union, Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL), Anti-Fascist Network (AFN), National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), Democratic Union Initiative & PYD and other groups.

The march slowly went down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus where the head of the march stopped and briefly sat down, blocking the junction. A few minutes later they got up and marched down Haymarket to a rally in Trafalgar Square. I left them to go to another event as te rally began.

More pictures on My London Diary: Break the Silence! Turkey’s War on Kurds.


Bunhill Fields Under Threat

Bunhill Fields is one of the City of London’s most special places, a Grade I cultural heritage site owned by the City of London and enjoyed by many nearby office workers in the area as a quiet space for their lunch breaks, though I think these are rapidly becoming, like the cemetery a thing of the past, with many working from home or snatching a quick sandwich at their desk still staring at a terminal.

William Blake was buried a little this side of the tree on the far side of the path. His wife on the south side of the cemetery close to Susannah Wesley

It’s a quiet place, a sanctuary and every similar cliche you like to throw at it, and of course always under threat from rapacious developers (are there any other kinds?) Although the cemetery itself is protected by its listing, I’d signed a petition against a development immediately on the north-east boundary which will result in this small and important site being overshadowed by a large and inappropriate development.

Tomb of John Bunyan

The proposed 10 and 11 storey skyscrapers would set a precedent soon to be followed by others and would severely change its nature, depriving it of light and altering its micro-climate. Islington Council had rejected the planning application but it was called in by then London Mayor Boris Johnson who allowed it to go ahead, along with other damaging schemes around the city.

Bunhill Fields was a burial ground mainly for nonconformists who could not be buried in Church of England churchyards and cemeteries and was in use from 1665 to 1854. It is best-known as the burial place of William Blake, Daniel Defoe, Isaac Watts, George Fox and John Bunyan, as well as others including Susannah Wesley.

Susannah Wesley’s stone is brilliant white. Now you can only walk along the path by it if accompanied by an attendant

The cemetery, which has a public path through its centre, is opposite Wesley’s Chapel on the City Road, with the path leading through to Bunhill Row. Most of the monuments in it, many listed, are in enclosed areas behind fences and can only be viewed from the paths, though years ago it was possible to wander more freely. There is still a garden area at the north of the site, where many, including Blake, were buried, with a lawn and seating.

More pictures at Bunhill Fields Under Threat.


Saving the Whittington

Monday, February 27th, 2023

Saving the Whittington

Saving the Whittington
A huge campaign in 2010 led to Andy Burnham, then Health Secretary stopping the Whittington hospital board’s plans to close its maternity and A&E Departments. A major event in this campaign was the march I photographed on Saturday 27 February 2010 from Highbury Corner to a rally at the hospital at Archway.

Later in 2013 when the board announced plans for more cuts another successful campaign stopped these, and in 2016 there was yet another campaign over redevelopment plans in concert with a private contractor.

Many people tell me that protest never works and that campaigners are simply wasting their time, but in 2022 the hospital announced a £100 million refurbishment of Whittington Hospital’s maternity and neonatal facilities, which still deliver over 3,600 babies a year, and the A&E department is still open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I counted almost 2000 people walking past me a short distance from the start on the two mile march to the hospital, and more arrived for the rally, swelling the numbers to around 3-5,000. Or as the BBC at the time called it, in their usual way of minimising protests, ‘hundreds’ of protesters. But at least, unlike most protests, they did report on it.

Among the marchers and speakers where almost every local politician, including David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and then Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, who pledged his support for the hospital and all its services, revealing that he had been born there. Frank Dobson MP who was Secretary of State for Health from 1997 to 1999 also gave a powerful speech in support, as did Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green. MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry were also at the event, as well as Terry Stacy, the leader of Islington Council.

The proposals for the cuts and downgarding of A&E had come from a rationalisation programme initiated by Lord Darzi, a surgeon and national adviser in surgery to the Department of Health and a Labour Peer from 2007 until he resigned the whip in 2019. His report suggested moving much care from hospitals to GP-led polyclinics and to greater centralisation of trauma, stork and heart attack services to centralised specialist services.

Frank Dobson

Polyclinics remain rare, but although the greater specialisation of acute services made clinical (and financial) sense it failed to take into account the problems of London’s congested streets which would have led to long delays in treatment for many patients. Those inevitable delays would have meant deaths. And the selection of Whittington for closure neglected its good road and public transport connections which make it an ideal location for emergency cases as well as other patients and visitors.

Why Whittington was chosen as suitable for closure probably came down to two factors. One was certainly the age of the buildings, but perhaps more important was that the same factors of location and transport links made it an exceptionally valuable site for property developers. Had the cuts gone ahead in 2010, the rest of the hospital would probably by now also had been closed, with the site developed, including some of those old buildings converted into luxury flats.

Many more pictures from the march and rally at Save the Whittington on My London Diary.