Posts Tagged ‘benefit cuts’

DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit – 2018

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit: A couple of days ago the media were carrying news of a report by the Resolution Foundation on the working of the Universal Credit benefit first introduced in 2013. This found that seven in 10 (71%) families on UC were worse off in real terms now than they would have been under the previous benefits, and that out of work people with disabilities were those likely to have lost most.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Six years ago, DPAC were already pointing this out and on Wednesday 18th April 2018 campaigners from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network), Black Triangle, Winvisible and others began a nationwide day of action against Universal Credit in London with a rally in Old Palace Yard and a protest inside Parliament.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Security meant I was unable to cover their protest inside the Houses of Parliament but I met those who had been protesting inside when they came out to join those protesting outside and held a rally in Old Palace Yard.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

As that rally ended the campaigners marched into Parliament Square where they blocked the roadway for around half an hour before ending their protest.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

DPAC and others say that Universal Credit has so many flaws it must be scrapped, calling it “an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it“.

Back in 2018 they pointed out it has been particularly disastrous for disabled people. The removal of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums means single disabled people lose around £2,000 per year and a disabled couple over £4,000.

There have been some changes in Universal Credit since 2018, but these have mainly been administrative and have not affected the basic unfairness towards the disabled. The Resolution Foundation report suggests that a single person with a long-term disability which prevents them from working would now be £2,800 per year worse off than under the old benefits system.

Their report suggests overall cost of Universal Credit in 2028 will be about £86bn a year, while under the previous system it would have been £100bn, a saving of £14bn, which is being made to the cost of those disabled and others out of work – the poorest groups in our society. In contrast those working and also claiming UC will be a little better off than under to previous benefits system.

As always police found dealing with disabled protesters difficult. It doesn’t look good to be harassing them in the way they would normally act to protesters, and they have a great problem in making arrests of people in wheel chairs or on mobility vehicles. Apparently the Met have only one vehicle which can safely carry either – and only in limited numbers, perahps one at a time.

More about the protet and more pictures on My London Diary at Stop & Scrap Universal Credit say DPAC.


As well as this protest there was also a large protest in Parliament Square by Kashmiris and Indians from many sections of the community including Tamils, Sikhs, Ravidass, Dalits, Muslims and others against the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and smaller groups supporting him and his ultra-right Hindu supremacist policies.
Indians protest President Modi’s visit
Hindus support Modi
Save Girl, Educate Girl

And in late afternoon I went to join Environmental group Biofuelwatch holding their ‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball Forest Flashmob outside the Marylebone hotel where the largest international biomass conference was taking place.
‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball


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London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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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.


BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Friday, May 19th, 2023

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts – Thursday 19th May 2016 – Seven years ago today.


Greenpeace ‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show – British Museum

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

There are some protests which are advertised well in advance and other actions which are kept highly secret with only a small group taking part being in the know. And the action on the opening day of the BP sposored exhibition Sinking Cities at the British Museum was definitely one of the latter.

I heard about it only as I was on my way up to London for another event close by, and detoured slightly to cover it. I live on the edge of London, just inside the M25 and can’t usually respond to ‘breaking news’ as it takes me too long to get there.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

Clearly the BP sponsorship of ‘Sinking Cities’ was going to be controversial as there has been a long campaign, particularly by ‘BP or Not BP’ to get the British Museum to end the deal which has allowed BP to ‘greenwash’ their polluting and climate destroying activities, which have significantly contributed to global warming and so to recent floods in cities across the globe.

Greenpeace had come with very professionally produced large banners for ‘Sinking Cities’, naming some of the places which have been flooded recently by global warming induced climate change and had managed to come inside and hang this down the columns across the front of the museum’s Main entrance. At first glance they really looked as if they were a part of the Museum’s own publicity.

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

It really was impressive, and the Museum had been caught on the hop, reacting in panic they closed the whole museum for the day, dissapointing many who had come. This seemed unnecessary as the museum could simply have closed this front entrance to deal with the climbers and remove the banners. The climbers on the columns were obviously experienced and operating safely and apparently without damage to the museum structure.

It served as rather a good advertising stunt for the show, but of course was rather embarrassing for the sponsors BP which is why the Museum felt it necessary to remove them. Most other major arts organisations in London including the Tate Museums, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery had dropped BP as a sponsor following pressure by protests such as these and pressure from artists, musicians and staff who work in them.

‘Sinking Cities’ banners at BM/BP show


No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts – Tottenham Court Rd

BP Greenwashing & Benefits Cuts

I had come to London that morning as delegates at the TUC disabled workers conference led by activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Winvisible (Women with visible and invisible disabilities) were to hold a lunchtime protest which I had been invited to photograph.

They came out and marched, led by people in wheelchairs from Congress House to Tottenham Court Road calling for an end to government benefit cuts which have led to the deaths of many disabled people – including 2 DPAC members the previous day.

Two long banners gave the message ‘NO MORE DEATHS FROM BENEFIT CUTS’ and on arriving at Tottenham Court Road they held these across the road stopping traffic in both directions.

Another banner was full of the names of some of those known to have died because of sanctions and cuts in benefits, among them David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier who died penniless, alone and starving after being sanctioned. He didn’t even have enough money to keep the refrigerator to store his insulin running.

Another banner asked the question ‘IS THIS HOW 2 TREAT Disabled People?’. The protesters held a short and noisy rally, getting considerably support from many around including many workers also on their lunch breaks. There were a few short speeches before it was time for the protesters to march back for the afternoon session at Congress House, with a police officer arriving just as they were about to leave. As usual he is confused to find that no-one is in charge.

When the Tories got into power, at first in coalition in 2010, they determined they would save money by cutting benefits thinking the disabled would be an easy target. Groups such as DPAC and the others at this event have shown them how wrong they were. These people rely on benefits to live and to have a decent life and have organised and reacted to try to retain them against the government’s attacks.

More at No More Deaths from Benefit Cuts.

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts – 2011

Thursday, May 11th, 2023

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts: On Wednesday 11th March 2011 around 10,000 people, many in wheelchairs came to march in London calling for an end to harassment and benefit cuts for the disabled.

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts - 2011

The Hardest Hit march was supported by a huge range of charities and organisations representing and supporting the physically and mentally disabled, including major unions such as PCS, UCU and Unite.

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts - 2011

The protest came a year after the formation of the coalition government led by David Cameron with Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg as his deputy, with real power staying with the Tory majority and is now widely seen as a disaster for the Lib-Dems. Under Chancellor George Osborne the coalition plunged the country into the start of ten years of austerity, with particularly swingeing cuts to local government services as well as a drastic attack on all those claiming benefits.

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts - 2011

The cuts disproportionately affected the poor and the disabled while the wealthiest in our society were hardly if at all affected. In 2018 the UN special rapporter on extreme poverty concluded his visit to the UK by reminding us that ‘Poverty is a political choice‘ and that ‘Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so’.

Hardest Hit March Against Cuts - 2011

For the disabled and those on benefits there were cuts and freezes and the situation was made worse by the ignorance and incompetence of Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 to 2016.

It was under Labour in October 2008 that Work Capability Assessments were introduced but the numbers made before 2010 were relatively small and they were used for new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants and a small number of ESA reassessments. It was only in Spring 2011 under the coalition government that a programme began to move those on existing benefits onto ESA using the WCA tests administered by Atos began.

Already by 2011 there had been serious criticisms both of the unsatisfactory nature of the tests and of the failures by Atos to administer them correctly, and this protest march called both for an end to the cuts in benefits for the disabled and “and in particular for an end to the discredited and iniquitous testing regime administered by Atos Healthcare, which has replaced proper medical tests by a computer-based system that often ignores the actual needs of those being assessed, and has as unacceptably high error rate, with a majority of appeals against its assessments succeeding.

The Braille spells out SHAFTED

Despite the huge body of evidence and the many deaths the system caused, only minor changes were made and it was not until 2014 that the contract with Atos was ended, only for them to be replaced by Maximus who carried on the same way. Atos, now renamed IAS, remains now a part of the assessment system for ESA, Universal Credit and PIP along with Maximus and Capita.

Both New Labour and the Coalition made cuts in many positive projects and organisations set up to help the disabled. One of these was Remploy, whose last state-run sheltered factory set up to employ disabled labour closed in 2013 with the loss of over 1700 jobs. It is now a part of Maximus.

This protest got more media attention than most, largely because of the presence among those leading the march of Sally Bercow, the wife of the then Speaker of the Commons, and actress and activist Jane Asher, president of three of the organisations involved, Arthritis Care, National Autistic Society and Parkinson’s UK. It was followed by a mass lobby of MPs.

Since then there have been many more protests against the unfair treatment of the disabled as various benefits have been scrapped and Universal Credit has led to further problems, but nothing on this scale. Disabled people have not only suffered most they have also become some of the more active protesters, particularly led by groups that were on this march including Disable People Against Cuts (DPAC), Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), Winvisible, Black Triangle and others.

This ‘Hardest Hit’ march came during a ‘National Week of Action Against Atos Origin‘ organised by disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners and two days earlier they had protested outside the offices of Atos Healthcare in London. You can see more on My London Diary in Disabled Protest Calls Atos Killers.

More at Hardest Hit March Against Cuts.


Climate Revolution Fracked Future Carnival 2014

Sunday, March 19th, 2023

The Climate Revolution is an organisation set up by the late fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (1941-2022) at the London Paralympics closing ceremony in 2012 and she spent the last years of her life campaigning to halt climate change, stop war and defend human rights and protesting against capitalism. Her work is now continued by the not-for-profit organisation she set up, the Vivienne Foundation.

Climate Revolution Fracked Future Carnival

I’m not a follower of fashion, as those who know me will have noticed. But Westwood’s activism reached a rather different and wider audience than the more usual campaigning groups, gaining publicity across the whole world of fashion and at times attracting the kind of mass media attention that follows celebrities, rather than issues, now attract.

Climate Revolution Fracked Future Carnival

Protests taking place in the UK seldom seem to be news – last Wednesday striking workers brought much of London to a standstill and possibly 100,000 people marched through the streets and protested in various places but when I came home and searched on the BBC news site in the early evening there was not a mention of it, though there may have been a little coverage later.

Climate Revolution Fracked Future Carnival

Others did rather better, but it needs something else for a protest to be news for our media. It can be that it happens abroad and particularly if it is against some regime unpopular with our (and the US) government. But it can also be if it is violent or particularly quirky or involves a major celebrity such as Dame Vivienne Westwood – and those protests she organised and her designs were always rather quirky too.

Although Westwood very much did her own thing, she was also great at cooperating with other groups working in the same area – such as the anti-fracking ‘Nanas from Nanashire’ who came down to London for this protest.

The protest was arranged to take place outside the Shale Gas Forum, where the CEOs of IGas, Cuadrilla and various government officials were plotting new ways to bring fracking to the UK, and to change our to allow this to happen. In particular they want to stop people being able to prevent dangerous mining beneath their properties which could cause dangerous and damaging subsidence. Their proposals would allowed companies to proceed without proper concern for safety and environmental consequences and give them some indemnity against damages and government would promise to pay a high price for the gas.

The Forum had been scheduled to take place at an expensive hotel in Belgravia, but after arrangements had been made for protest carnival to take place outside, it was moved to a ‘secret’ location elsewhere in London. Climate Revolution obviously had friends in high places who leaked the details to them.

It was Budget Day, but rather than going to take pictures around Westminster I decided it was more important to cover the protest against fracking. I met Westwood and her supporters, mainly fashion students, outside the Royal College of Arts Battersea location just south of Battersea Bridge and marched with them to the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Cadogan Place which had been the original venue for the frackers.

We knew the event had been relocated and their was some confusion at the end of the march as to whether it should entrain immediately at Knightsbridge station or go to the hotel. Eventually this was resolved and there was a rally outside the hotel with speakers including Vivienne Westwood and Vanessa Vine of BIFF (Britain & Ireland Frack Free).

The new location was still a secret as we followed the Rhythms of Resistance samba band to Knightsbridge station, where more protesters were waiting and took the underground to Old Street.

People were slow to arrive at Old Street, with some stopping off to buy coffee or sandwiches and others getting lost on the way, but eventually we were on the march again, on our way to the rear gates of the Territorial Army Centre on Bunhill Row, guarded by a few police.

Outside the event, people danced to Rhythms of Resistance, and there were speeches by Vivienne Westwood, Tina Louise from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Vanessa Vine, Frack Free Bristol, and others, some of whom had also spoken at Knightsbridge.

Some of us then walked through Bunhill Fields cemetery to City Road to protest on the other side of the military centre, and later most of the other protesters followed for a further rally at the main gates.

The protest was beginning to wind down and people were leaving and I left too, going to cover a protest by The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and Peter Tatchell Foundation held a noisy protest at Uganda House calling for the repeal of Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws.

And from there I went on to Downing St, where the People’s Assembly were holding their Budget Day Protest before finally I could go home.

More on all these stories on My London Diary:

Climate Revolution March to Fracked Future Carnival
Fracked Future Carnival in Knightsbridge
Fracked Future Carnival at Shale Gas Forum

Protest over Uganda Gay Hate Laws
People’s Assembly Budget Day Protest


Disabled Protest at BBC in London

Friday, September 2nd, 2022
Disabled Protest at BBC in London
“Hands OFf” protester Andy Greene tells BBC secuirty

Disabled Protest at BBC in London: On Monday 2nd September 2013 I went with disablement protesters, some in wheelchairs, who were protesting at Broadcasting House in London at the BBC’s failure to report truthfully the effects of government cuts, particularly on the disabled. They blocked the main BBC entrance for an hour, with some locking themselves to the doors.

Disabled Protest at BBC in London
DPAC activists meet in McDonalds near the BBC

The BBC eventually called the police, who arrived not long before the protest was to end, and when they told the police this, the police stood back and watched until they did pack up and leave. Of course the protest was only a minor inconvenience to the BBC as there are alternative entrances which people were able to use.

They join hands before going to the BBC

At one point a BBC TV cameraman turned up who had been asked to film the protesters. I joked with them that perhaps he would be able to sell his footage to ITV news as it was most unlikely that it would be shown by the BBC. And I was correct in that there was no mention of the protest at all on BBC news programmes. Perhaps a few years later the footage might appear in some feature about disabled people.

The protesters took turns in speaking out about the failure of the BBC to report the real hardship caused by ATOS assessments and the withdrawal of benefits, benefit cuts and caps and the bedroom tax. All were fed up with the BBC repeating the lies and half-truths of government and asked why the real problems and numerous deaths from the austerity programme and the protests over these were not being properly reported.

Outside the main BBC entrance

The situation was critical for many poor and disabled people, with over 500,000 having to resort to food banks set up by churches and charities to fend off starvation. The protesters chanted ‘BBC, Tell the Truth’ and requested someone from the BBC to come and discuss the issue with them – but no one would.

They made clear they were not asking for special treatment for the disabled, but for full, accurate and impartial reporting – something the BBC once had a reputation for, but sadly no more.

They were joined by chance by activist comedian Mark Thomas who had been inside the BBC when they arrived. Some had recently met him during his ‘Mass Miracle’ performance outs Atos’s Edinburgh office which had been a part of the previous months Edinburgh fringe. He was persuaded to speak briefly and gave his support to the protest, praising the protesters for coming to make their views known to the BBC.

I have mixed feelings about the BBC which still does produce some fine programmes but also I think has failed in many ways. Although they are supposedly independent they are very much an establishment mouthpiece and they very much work from the point of view of the wealthier parts of our class-ridden society.

BBC Security failed to persuade them to move

Journalist Emily Maitlis has recently spoken out about the ‘Tory cronyism at the heart of the BBC’ and their misguided approach to impartiality which led, for example, to climate deniers being given equal prominence to the huge body of scientific evidence over the extreme dangers of climate change.

Protesters took turns to speak about the effect of the cuts

Maitlis is clearly an accomplished journalist and presenter with a long and successful career. But she was in a very well paid post at the BBC, is married to an investment manager and lives and works in a very different world to the great majority of the British people. At least she was one of relatively few in such positions who was educated at a state school (though certainly not a bog-standard one) before going to Cambridge.

Eventually police arrived – and protesters told them they would leave shortly

But for years it has been clear that we can not rely on the BBC for a comprehensive view of events in the UK and around the world. If you want to be well-informed about what is happening and why you need to look and listen to other sources – including the BBC’s own World Service, and other UK and foreign news services (which often have a very different bias), as well as alternative UK media such as Double Down News, Novara Media and The Canary.

But the BBC has increasingly come under threats from governments who control its purse-strings – if at a slight distance. I don’t pay a licence fee because I don’t view TV but do listen to BBC radio for an hour or two most days, though usually with half and ear while doing other things. The BBC is still much better in many ways than the commercial alternatives and in a different league to those in some other countries – such as the USA.

More pictures at DPAC at BBC – Tell The Truth.


Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis

Monday, March 21st, 2022

Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis. Saturday 21st March 2015 was another busy day for me in London, covering protests against the criminal activities of UK banks, a large march and rally against racism in the UK (and a few racists opposing this) and customers of John Lewis calling on the company to treat its cleaners fairly.


Great British Tax Robbery – HSBC, Regent St.

UK Uncut campaigners arrived at the HSBC Regent St branch dressed as detectives and robbers to highlight the bank’s crimes in causing the financial crash and tax dodging, which have led to drastic cuts in vital public services and welfare and attempt a ‘Citizen’s Arrest’.

UK Uncut had a clear message for both HSBC and the government, accusing them of being criminals:

The government told us they’d “protect the poorest and most vulnerable”. They said “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the brunt of the cuts”. And what have we seen? Dismantling the NHS and wrecking the welfare state. Cutting schools, youth clubs, sure start centres, domestic violence refuges and libraries. Slashing local council budgets. Attacking disabled people with inhumane ‘work capability assessments’ and cuts to vital benefits. Removing access to justice through legal aid cuts. Allowing the big six energy companies to push people into fuel poverty. Cutting jobs, wages and pensions. Selling off social housing and moving people away from their communities. Driving hundreds of thousands into food banks and making families choose between heating or eating

My London Diary, March 2015

The bank closed a few minutes before the protesters arrived and kept its doors shut as the protesters’ ‘forensic team’ chalked around ‘crime victims’ on the ground and put crime scene tape around the area, sealing off the door with a banner. There was a speech from a NHS campaigner from East London about the effects of the cuts on the NHS and ‘criminals’ with HSBC on their chests posed for pictures. After a few minutes the protest was ended as many of those taking part were, like me, joining the Anti-Racism protest.

Great British Tax Robbery


Stand Up to Racism March – BBC to Trafalgar Square

Thousands came to the Stand Up to Racism march from the BBC to Trafalgar Square to reject the scapegoating of immigrants, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and to celebrate the diversity of Britain, with the message ‘Migrants are Welcome Here!

The march began at the BBC, who campaigners accuse of having a policy of ignoring protests in the UK, especially those against government policies – such as the racist hounding of immigrants under their ‘hostile environment’.

Among those marching were DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts. Government policies have also targeted disabled people, cutting benefits and subjecting them to unfair ‘fitness to work’ tests which largely ignore medical evidence.

Stand Up to Racism March


Britain First Protests anti-Racist March – Piccadilly Circus

A small and rather sad extreme right-wing group stood on the steps around Eros waving flags and shouting insults at the anti-racist marchers as the thousands marched past. It was a reminder of the kind of bigotry the great majority were marching against.

Some of the marchers paused to shout back at them, while others followed the advice of the march stewards and ignored the small group. There were a few scuffles but generally police kept the two groups apart, though later I learnt that after I had gone past a group of anti-fascists had seized the Britain First banner.

Britain First Protests anti-Racist March


Stand Up to Racism Rally – Trafalgar Square

Lee Jasper holds up a large poster responding to Trevor Phillips saying he is not a criminal, murderer or thief

Several thousand who had marched to ‘Stand up to Racism’ through London stayed on to listen to speeches at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Speakers included Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Zita Holbourne, Omer El Hamdoon, Lee Jasper and many others, whose photographs you can see on My London Diary.

Stand Up to Racism Rally


John Lewis customers support Living Wage – Oxford St

John Lewis is a company proud of its history and its reputation as a company based on its constitution as the UK’s largest employee owned business with both John Lewis and Waitrose owned in Trust by its 80,000 ‘partners’. They say everyone who works in its stores are not just employees, but a partners in the company, and in almost every year they enjoy a share in its profits.

Everyone who works there, except the cleaners who play a vital role in the proper running of the stores. John Lewis gets out of making them partners by using other companies to employ them and provide the cleaning as a service, choosing its cleaning company through competitive tendering. Cleaning companies cut wages and conditions of service such as sick pay, maternity pay, pensions, holiday pay to the bone – usually the absolute legal minimum – so they can put in low tenders and still make good profits. They exploit the workers – a largely migrant workforce with limited job opportunities – while John Lewis can claim it isn’t them who are doing so and try to maintain their reputation as a good employer.

For some years the cleaners have been protesting to get a living wage and also for John Lewis to recognise their responsibility as the actual company the cleaners are providing a service to. They want to be treated equally with the others who work in the stores, rather than the second-class employees they are now. The least John Lewis could do would be to insist on contractors paying the living wage and giving employees decent conditions of service as a condition of tender, but they had refused to take any responsibility.

Many customers of John Lewis – a very middle-class group – back the cleaners’ case for fair and equal treatment, and a few had come to hand out flyers and talk to shoppers to back their case in a very restrained protest. One of them told me it was the first time she had ever taken part in any protest. They were supported by a few members of the cleaners union, the IWGB, who had brought some of their posters.

John Lewis customers support Living Wage