Posts Tagged ‘Brian Haw’

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Saturday, June 18th, 2022

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds. 18th June 2017 was a Sunday, and though I now prefer to observe Sunday as a day of rest, five years ago it was for me another working day. Since the lockdown I get tired much more quickly and I’m cutting down a bit on work. Today I’ll probably go for a walk with my wife after lunch, stopping off on the way home to sit and eat an ice cream before picking more strawberries from the garden and relaxing a little before dinner.

But back in 2017 I was making good use of a Travelcard, going first to the Central Hill Estate which looks down over London close to Crystal Palace then travelling to Westminster to remember Brian Haw before taking the tube up to Oxford Circus and walking to the BBC to join marchers gathering for the annual Al Quds march.


Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill – Central Hill Estate

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds
A woman comes to talk to me about living on the estate since it was built

I deliberately arrived very early at Central Hill so I could take a walk around and make more pictures of one of London’s finest council estates, but almost missed the start of the talk I had come to hear opposing Lambeth Council’s plans for its demolition as I spent some time talking with a woman who had seen me taking pictures who was still living in the home she had moved into when the estate was built and had raised her family here. She told me how good it had been living here in a fine home that was still in good condition and had never needed any major repairs.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Ted Knight, former leader of Lambeth Council, had come to speak in support of the campaign to save the Estate, passed for demolition by the council despite the almost unanimous vote of residents for plans to refurbish rather than demolish and the plans by Architects for Social Housing which would achieve the increase in density desired without demolition.

Central Hill, Brian Haw & Al Quds

Knight as council leader earned the name ‘Red Ted’ from the gutter press for standing up to the Tory Government’s rate-capping 1984 Rent Act which severely limited the spending of local councils – which eventually led to him and 31 other councillors being surcharged and banned from political office for five years in 1986. He remained an active trade unionist and in the Labour Party and when he spoke was Branch Chair of the Gypsy Hill ward which includes Central Hill. Although his politics and mine were not entirely the same, I was sad to hear of his death in 2020.

As Knight said, under borough architect Ted Hollamby the estate was planned by Rosemary Stjernstedt as a living community and had remained remarkably successful, with a number of original residents from the 1970s still living there and wanting to continue to do so. At that time Labour believed that nothing was too good for the working people and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. A deliberate process of managed neglect – like that which had resulted in the Grenfell Tower disaster had – had been carried out by Lambeth Council to legitimise its demolition.

Lambeth council now refuse to allow the community to use the resource centre

Although the meeting was poorly attended, surveys of estate residents have shown a very high proportion of residents want to remain on the estate and oppose the demolition. The council quotes very different figures and its response to feedback from estate residents has been to remove the estate representatives from the consultative body.

Faults in the paving are marked but left without repair

Lambeth Council has also ridiculously inflated the estimate for the refurbishment of the estate and rejected without proper consideration a carefully planned alternative scheme for a much cheaper limited infill of the site rather than demolition which would involve far, far less disruption to the families who live here and also result in the retention of much-needed social housing. The only real problem with the alternative scheme proposed by Architects for Social Housing is that it would not generate excessive profits for the developers.

Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


Brian Haw remembered – Parliament Square

This was the sixth anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Brian Haw who had made a ten-year political stand against war in Parliament Square despite considerable harassment by police urged on by politicians, laws introduced against his and other protests, Westminster Council officials and almost certainly MI5 agents.

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death.

His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

Brian Haw remembered


Al Quds march – BBC to US Embassy

Several thousands came from around the country for the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London. Organised by a Quds committee with the Islamic Human Rights Commission it was supported by various groups including the Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. At the front of the march were a group of Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews.

The march called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’ and for all oppressed peoples across the world. It supports of the BDS campaign for a boycott of Israel Israeli goods, divestment from companies supporting Israel and sanctions against the Israeli state. It demands that Israel ends its breaches of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people in what is an apartheid system, and ends its siege and attacks on Gaza.

Zionists oppose the march with a protest close to the final rally at the US Embassy, but a small militant group carrying Israeli flags attempted to stop the march on its route, calling those taking part supporters of the banned terrorist group Hezbollah.

A number of the marchers were holding Hezbollah flags, which carried a message indicating they were supporting Hezbollah as a political organisation – it is one of two main parties representing Shia Muslims, Lebanon’s largest religious group – as a part of national unity governments in the Lebanese parliament.

Police seemed very reluctant to move the Zionists off the road in front of the march which was held up for some time, with marchers simply waiting for the police to clear them. After some time the the marchers held their planned minute of silence for the Grenfell Tower victims before getting up and telling police that unless the police cleared the road they would simply push them aside and march through.

The Al Quds day march is very much a family event but with the numbers involved the march stewards would clearly have been able to do so and the statement did galvanise the police into action, and the march was able to move on slowly.

The event organisers make it very clear that this is not an anti-Semitic event, and I think one or two placards which might have suggested this were rapidly removed by stewards. In 2019 Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to proscribe Hezbollah’s political wing as well as the military wing which had been proscribed in 2008, so showing any support for Hezbollah would be an offence carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March


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Democracy, Black Cabs, Murad & Zionists

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Democracy, Black Cabs, Murad & Zionists – My agenda for Wednesday 2nd June 2010 was a busy one, with protests about democracy in Parliament Square, London’s Black Taxis at Aldwych, a picket at BP’s St James’s Square HQ, trade unionists protesting at the Turkish Embassy and Zionists supporting the Israeli attack and killings on the Gaza aid flotilla.


Democracy Village Protest – Parliament Square

People had been camping in the Democracy Village in Parliament Square for just over a month and a few of them had come across the road with banners to protest. They held up banners, including a large one saying ‘We Respect The Soldiers We Do Not Support The War‘ and another ‘We Demand Peace In Afghanistan and No More War‘ and several made speeches with a megaphone. Another very artistically written notice on a large square of cloth on the pavement read ‘With Each Conscious Breath May You Know How Loved You Are in All Ways. You Are Divine. Let Your Light Shine’.

Democracy Village Protest


Brian Haw – Summons Marks 9 Years in Parliament Square

I went back to the other side of the road to talk with Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker who I had come to visit on the 9th anniversary of the start of Brian’s protest vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament in Parliament Square. A week ago they had been arrested and held for 30 hours on the day of the state opening of Parliament before the court released them on bail.

The arrest had come after Brian objected to police searching his tent in the early morning without a warrant – the 13th or 14th illegal search they have made, all part of a continual campaign of harassment. As we were talking we became aware of three police a few yards away standing and watching us. They then came over and served Barbara Ticker with a summons for using a megaphone in Parliament Square.

Brian and Barbara asked why she was being singled out for attention as there were at that time others In the Democracy Village actually using a megaphone and she was not at the time doing so. The officers made no attempt to answer this question.

BrianHaw – Summons Marks 9 Years


Black Cabs Protest – Aldwych

I don’t use taxis in London – or at least very seldom. I can only remember two occasions in the last thirty or so years, both when others insisted I go with them. It’s a wasteful, outdated and overpriced system which is responsible for much of the congestion in London, both by cabs carrying only small numbers of people compared to other public transport and also by ‘cruising for hire’ with no passengers on board.

My account on My London Diary gives some of their grievances, some of which I have some sympathy with, and I agree the police should be enforcing the law (rather than harassing protesters) but the whole system needs to be updated, taking into account the general availability of smart-phones and improvements in satellite navigation systems which increasingly make the ‘knowledge’ redundant and can provide real-time congestion information.

I didn’t find it an easy protest to photograph, which I think shows in the results. Lots of taxis are frankly rather boring, and not that unusual in London, where I commented that “While standing at a bus stop a couple of weeks ago I counted over 30 empty taxis going past before my bus arrived, and I couldn’t help but think we could have a better public transport system without taxis.”

Black Cabs Protest


BP Picket for Colombian Oil Workers – St James’s Square

BP have a long-running dispute with the workers on the Cusiana oilfield in the Casanare department of Colombia, and its one where they are playing dirty, with union members accusing BP of carrying out a campaign of misinformation about what is happening in the plant, and in particular of falsely claiming the support of government officials for their lies about the action.

More or less as this picket was taking place, armed commandos from the Colombian army leapt over a security grid at the plant and attacked the workers who were carrying out a peaceful occupation of the Cusiana CPF (Central Processing Facility) in Tauramena.

Previously BP had come to an out of court settlement on a UK High Court challenge over the pipeline from this oilfield to the coast, when farmers alleged that BP benefited from the actions of Colombian paramilitary forces who harassed and intimidated them in their protection of the pipeline. During the preparation of the case, of the lawyers for the farmers discovered she was on a death list and fled the country; she was granted political asylum in the UK.

The protest was organised by the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and was supported by the ICEM, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Worker’s Unions, based in Switzerland which represents more than 20 million workers around the world, uniting trade unions in its sector around the world.

BP Picket for Colombian Oil Workers


Protest for Murad Akincilar Turkish Embassy, Belgrave Square

Trade unionist Murad Akincilar was arrested on a spurious charge of belonging to a terrorist organisation while on an extended holiday in Turkey last September and was in prison in Istanbul. His treatment in prison has resulted in serious eye damage and partial blindness. He was known personally to some of the protesters as he studied for a Masters Degree at the LSE, but since 2001 he has lived in Switzerland and worked for Swiss trade union Unia which was leading the campaign for his release.

The protest opposite the Turkish Embassy was organised by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Gik-der, an organisation founded in north London in 1991 by migrants fleeing political and racial persecution in their home countries of Turkey and Kurdistan.

Protest for Murad Akincilar


Zionist Federation Support Israeli Atrocity – Israeli Embassy, Kensington

The Zionist Federation together with members of the English Defence League demonstrated opposite the Israeli embassy in support of the Israeli Defence Force killings in the attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.

A smaller group of pro-Palestinian protesters had come to oppose them, although both the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition had decided not to support the counter-demonstration to avoid conflict.

Although official Zionist sources had expressed some regret at the violence and loss of life, the mood of the supporters here appeared to be one of a gloating triumphalism that seemed entirely inappropriate to the situation. I was “sickened when at one point a large group of the demonstrators began chanting ‘dead Palestinian scum’ ” and appalled to find this was “a demonstration jointly with the Zionist Federation and the English Defence League, some of whose members many of us have seen and heard chanting racist slogans on our streets. It seems unbelievable that a Jewish organisation should align itself – even if unofficially – with people like this.”

Attempts to justify the summary execution of one of the victims by shots to the head at close range by the existence of so-called weapons on the ships seemed insulting – almost all those shown in the photographs are “exactly the kind of tools that would be expected to be found on any ship in its galley and for general maintenance, as well as items being taken for building work in Gaza. The possible exceptions are a few canisters of pepper spray, some catapults and what looks like some kind of ceremonial knife.”

I’m very much in favour of peace in Palestine and Israel, but like many I feel “the actions of the state of Israel in their attacks on Gaza, their disruption of everyday life for the Palestinians and the blockade is making the possibility of peace much more distant… Like other conflicts, resolution depends on winning hearts and minds and this can’t be done with tanks and bulldozers.”

Police had to step in at the end of the protest when four press photographers were surrounded and chased by a an angry group of threatening Zionist demonstrators but all I suffered were a few threats and hostile gestures.

Zionist Federation Support Israeli Atrocity


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Police & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

PPolice & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days of the Parliament Square Peace Campaign approaches – some of my pictures from Thursday 10th May 2012.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor – Westminster

Occupy supporters in plastic helmets joined the police march

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Occupy, Right To Protest and others joined in to protest for justice in policing.

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union, but the Police Federation can organise demonstrations like this when thousands of off-duty police, some with family members made a impressively large if rather dull protest past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St. Most wore one of the 16,000 black caps produced for the protest, the number of officers expected to be lost over the next four years as the police budget is cut by 20-30%.

Police officers attempt to intimidate the Space Hijackers

Like other public sector workers, police had suffered a two year wage freeze, as well as increases in pension contributions and many have also had large cuts in overtime. As well as those protesting, police were also on duty controlling the protest, though it was unlikely to get out of hand. But there were others as well as police, including the Space Hijackers who had a stall giving advice on how to protest, and also Occupy protesters who were calling for “a fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!

Others were there to protest against various aspects of police corruption and faced some aggravation from the officers on duty as well as some protesters. The Defend The Right To Protest group reminded police marchers of Alfie Meadows, Sean Rigg, Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes and many others killed or seriously injured by police officers. Officers on duty made some attempts to intimidate some of the non-police protesters – and also photographers covering the event.

More at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March – St Thomas’ Hospital to Westminster

Public sector workers in Unite, PCS and UCU were on a one-day strike against cuts in pensions, jobs and services, and picketed workplaces and marched from a rally at St Thomas’ Hospital across Westminster Bridge to Methodist Central Hall for a further rally.

PCS picket at Tate Britain

Some of the pickets had begun at 5am, and a few were still in place as I walked past workplaces in Westminster – including the Houses of Parliament to meet the marchers coming over Westminster Bridge.

As they marched, many chanted “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late”, as retirement age is set to increase to 68 and beyond, while retirement contributions are increasing. They are also losing out because the government has decided to index pensions to the lower CPI inflation figures which mans they get around 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

More on My London Diary at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square – Parliament Square Peace Campaign

Brian Haw came to Parliament Square to begin his protest there on the 2nd June 2001, and the Parliament Square Peace Campaign he started had been there for almost 4,000 days, with a presence night and day, 24 hours a day since then.

Barbara Tucker

After Brian’s death from cancer the protest was continued by Barbara Tucker and other supporters who have maintained the protest on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight. Over the years the campaign has been subjected to frequent illegal harassment by police officers, Westminster Council officials and thinly disguised members of the security service, and laws have been enacted intended to bring the protest to an end.

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. Clearly a blanket is not a structure, and police and council have also removed other items of property. Later her umbrella was also taken away. Barbara’s health deteriorated and she eventually had to leave the square, and the protest finally ended early in May 2013.

4000 Days in Parliament Square


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Freedom To Protest Under Threat

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

Back in 2008, people were protesting against the severe restrictions against our freedom to protest, that had been brought in by the Labour government under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. As well as greatly widening the powers to arrest people and widening the scope of harassment, the act had criminalised trespass at certain protected sites and severely limited the holding of protests in a wide designated area of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square.

CSG border post “To the left you have lost your freedom to protest

This latter provision was particularly aimed at Brian Haw and his Parliament Square Peace Campaign, but also prevented many other protests, and led to a number of arrests of campaigners. Parliament Square in particular had become the main focus of protests against the government and may government ministries were also inside the prohibited area.

There was wide disquiet about the effect of SOCPA on protest, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown had begun a public consultation with the Home Office on October 2007 issuing a document ‘Managing Protest’ which many felt threatened further threats to freedom of assembly throughout the UK.

The provisions regarding protests in the area around Parliament were replaced in 2011 by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which gave police more draconian powers to restrict certain prohibited activities in and around Parliament Square – and have been used to seize tents, umbrellas, tarpaulins, sleeping bags and other equipment in the area.

Brian Haw complains that a police officer pushed his camera into his face and caused this injury

The Freedom to Protest is under even greater threat now, with the current passage through Parliament of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – which a select committee has said “would curb non-violent protest in a way that is inconsistent with our human rights” and has led to many ‘Kill the Bill’ protests. Also disturbing is the reaction of many Tory politicians to the jury verdict in the Colston statue trial, which apears to be threatening state control of our legal system.

On Saturday 12th January 2008, I covered protests in Trafalgar Square and in front of Downing St upholding the freedom to protest. Earlier I had covered Hizb ut Tahrir marching to the Saudi Embassy against Bush’s Middle East tour and a small group of rich young people outside the National Gallery on the last day of the Siena exhibition protesting against the expansion of Siena airport which would bring more less well-heeled tourists into the area.

Although I’m very much against any expansion of air travel – the planet simply can’t afford it, I found it hard to take this particular protest too seriously – it seemed to be rather more about protecting privilege than opposing environmental crime.

And while I had gone to Downing St mainly for the Freedom to Protest demonstration, while there I photographed another protest calling on an end to the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza. This included a number of British Jews, including those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Also present opposite Downing St were another large group of Kenyans, protesting against the re-election of the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. A US commissioned exit poll suggested opposition leader Raila Odinga had won by a 6% margin and there was widespread international agreement that the election was rigged.

More on My London Diary:
Hizb ut Tahrir against Bush tour
Siena Airport Protest
CSG Border Post
Freedom to Protest – Downing St
End Gaza Seige
Kenyans Protest Election Fraud


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11 October 2008

Monday, October 11th, 2021

It was the start of the final 100 days of the Bush adminstration and the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil’ coalition whose members included Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, PLATFORM, Voices UK, and War on Want and was supported by the Stop the War Coalition and others had come to Shell’s UK headquarters at Waterloo to protest against plans by Britain and the USA for Iraq to hand over most of the country’s oil reserves to foreign companies, particularly Shell and BP.

Iraq had nationalised its oil by 1972, and it provided 95% of its government income. Many had seen the invasion of Iraq by the US and UK (along with Australia and Poland) as largely driven by the desire to gain control of Iraq’s huge oil reserves and the US had engaged consultants to help it write a new oil law which it got the Iraqi cabinet to approive in 2007 which would give foreign oil companies – including Shell and BP, long-term contracts within a safe legal framework. But large-scale popular opposition meant the Iraqi parliament failed to approve the new law. But in June 2008, the Iraqi Oil Ministry went ahead with short-term no-bid contracts to the major foreign oil companies – including Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total and Chevron and later these and other contracts were made more favourable to the oil companies.

After the protest at Shell’s offices the protesters marched to protest outside the BP HQ in St James’s Square and then to the US Embassy, and I left to cover the London Freedom not fear 2008 event outside New Scotland Yard. Similar protests were taking place in over 20 countries to demonstrate against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses, organised by a broad movement of campaigners and organizations.

The London event highlighted the restrictions of the right to demonstrate under the Labour government’s The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005, (SOCPA),, the intimidatory use of photography by police Forward Intelligence squads (FIT), the proposed introduction of ID cards, the increasing centralisation of personal data held by government, including the DNA database held by police, the incredible growth in surveillance cameras, ‘terrorist’ legislation and other measures which have affected our individual freedom and human rights.

For something completely different I walked a quarter of a mile down Victoria Street to Westminster Cathedral where people were assembling for the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, one of the larger walks of public witness by Catholics in London.

This tradition began in Austria in 1947 with the roasary campaign begun by a priest praying for his country to be freed from the communist occupiers. The first annual parade with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima took place in 1948 in Vienna on the feast of the Name of Mary, Sept 12, which had been established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683 when Turkish invaders surrounding Vienna were defeated by Christian armies who had prayed to the Blessed Virgin.

As the procession to a service at Brompton Oratory began I walked back up Victoria St to Parliament Square, where a number of other small protests were in evidence. All over the centre of London there were people giving out leaflets about the growing problems faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka, where they allege a program of ethnic cleansing is being carried out by the government. International media are banned from the Tamil areas of the country and NGOs have been ordered out of some areas, so there are few reports of the war. Worse was to come and in 2009 in the final stages of the war conservative estimates are that 70,000 civilians were killed in the the Mullivaikkal massacre.

Others in the square were protesting against the UK’s scandalous treatment of asylum seekers and calling for the asylum detention centres to be closed down.

Brian Haw was still there, and I wrote:

Facing Parliament, Brian Haw‘s peace protest continues – he has been there for almost 2700 days – over 7 years – and it will soon be his 60th birthday. Brian says that now the police seem to have largely abandoned attempts to get rid of him legally there have been a number of odd attacks against him and others in the square – which the police have ignored. I took some time talking to a man who smelt of alcohol, was talking nonsense and acting unpredictably – and who then went and started to insult Brian. One of the other demonstrators stood between him and Brian who was filming him. I put down my bag as I took photographs in case I needed to step in and help, but fortunately he eventually moved away.

There were others protesting in Parliament Square, including one man who asked me to take his picture. He told me his name was Danny and that he had been there on hunger strike for two weeks, protesting over his failure to get his case investigated. He claimed to have been abused by police and social services following an incident in which as a seven year old child in Llanelli he was implicated in the death of a baby brother. I was unable to find any more information about his case.

Finally I saw a group of people walking past holding leafelts with the the word CHANGE on them and rushed after them to find they were Obama supporters hoping to persuade Americans they met to register and vote in the election. It was time for me to go home.

Parliament Square
Rosary Crusade of Reparation
Freedom not Fear 2008
Bush & Cheney’s Iraq Oil Grab


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Freedom and the Law

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

Freedom is something we almost universally value, but which is often hijacked by various groups, particularly on the extreme right to support particular causes which have little real connection with our undamental rights. Freedom is certainly not the freedom to do what we like regardless of the effect it has on others.

Freedom is not the right to own and carry guns or other weapons. It isn’t the right to spread disease we may have by not taking sensible precautions such as wearing a face mask in crowded places. It isn’t the right to increase the risk of others getting lung cancer or to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs.

Arguably the most important of our freedoms is the right to hold and express political and religious ideas and to express these. But that is not absolute, and rightly there are laws against hate speech and incitement to others to commit criminal actions or threaten the lives of others.

Back in 2005, the Labour government brought in a law to criminalise protest in Parliament Square. It was clearly a law which imposed unnecessary restrictions on our freedom and one which was brought in for a trivial reason, to end the embarrassment to the Labour ministers of one man, Brian Haw, continuing to protest, particularly over Iraq war and its disastrous consequences. That Tony Blair was annoyed by a regular reminder of his lies was not a suitable basis for legislation.

A regular series of harassment by police and others – almost certainly at the urging of the Home Secretary – had failed to shift this persistent protester, and civil servants were ordered to add a section to the bill which became the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to make his protest illegal. In the event the act failed to apply to his protest and I wondered if this was a little deliberate subversion by at least one of those responsible for its drafting rather than simple incompetence. Because his protest had begun well before the SOCA law came in on 7th April 2005, it was apparently not covered by it. As I commented, “rather a lot of egg on government faces there.” This initial ruling by the High Court of Justice was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal and these sections of the law were replace by other restictive laws in 2011.

On Sunday 7th August 2005, protesters came to Parliament Square to deliberately disobey the law, and the police came, some rather reluctantly, under orders to arrest them. The protestors argued that protest is a human right and cannot be restricted by law in a free society.

Brian Haw was there, but protesting legally as it appeared that the act didn’t include him. He held up a placard with the words from a speech in Boston by US Scretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a ‘fear society’ has finally won their freedom.”
interleaved with his own comments on Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Belmarsh and the Iraq war and more.

The police swooped on a few of those with posters or placards and arrested them, leading them away but their heart was clearly not in it and the great majority of the protesters were untouched, though
they were warned that their protest was illegal. As I commented: ” I saw five people arrested for simply peacefully holding banners supporting the right to protest. It happened on the square opposite our Houses of Parliament, and it made me feel ashamed to be British.”

When the protest in Parliament Square ended, protesters were invited to take part in another illegal protest inside the one km restricted zone around Parliament, but on Westminster Bridge. Again taking their lead from Boston, though this time from 1773, and tipping tea into the water, campaigners calling for a low-level tax on foreign currency exchange transactions, as proposed by Nobel prize-winning economist James Tobin in 1978. This would deter speculation on currency movements, giving governments greater control over their fiscal and monetary policies, and reducing the power of speculators to affect the markets.

The connection between the tea bags torn to tip tea into the Thames, produced by large multi-national companies who are among the currency speculators, and the Tobin Tax, seemed a little weak – as doubtless was the brew in the river – though it did all alliterate nicely for the Westminster Tea Party – Time for Tobin Tax.

We are now seeing a law going through Parliament which will even further restrict our right to protest, increasing discriminatory policing, criminalising some traditional ways of life and seriously restricting and controlling protests in a huge shift further towards a police state. Unfortunately a large Conservative majority makes it seem inevitable that our freedoms will be significantly reduced.

More on My London Diary for August 2005.


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Central Hill and more

Friday, June 18th, 2021

One of the original tenants comes to talk with me She tells me she dreads having to move

I began work on Sunday 18th June 2017 on the Central Hill Estate at the south-east tip of Lambeth, built on a hill with splendid views towards central London. Across the road (also Central Hill) at the top is Norwood in LB Croydon, a few yards down from the estate takes you in to the LB of Southwark, while 5 minutes walk east brings you to Crystal Palace in the LB of Bromley.

As Ted Knight, the leader of Lambeth Council from 1978 until disqualified for refusing to cap rates in 1985 and demonised by the press as ‘Red Ted’, told us later in the morning when he came to express his support, the estate was designed and built in 1967-74 when Labour believed that “nothing was too good for the working people” and the estate was built to high specifications and is still in sound condition. Borough Architect Ted Hollamby had earlier brought in Rosemary Stjernstedt from the LCC where she was their first senior woman architect, and she was the team leader, working with structural engineer Ted Happold from Arup & Partners and architect Roger Westman.

The scheme was seen from the start as a living community, and included a burses’s hostel, a day card centre and a doctor’s surgery as well as a small row of shops, a club centre and community hall. It also had a district heating system, though this is no longer in use. The plans made great use of the sloping site and the estate is certainly one of the finest of that era. It has remained a popular estate, with relatively low crime rates, and quite a few of the original residents still live there and wish to stay.

It’s an estate that clearly should be listed, but Historic England decided not to do so in 2016, probably under pressure from politicians, particularly because of the scale of the site and the very attractive possibilities it presents for developers. The Twentieth Century Society were dismayed that their application was dismissed – and you can read their application on-line.

In 2017 Lambeth decided to completely demolish the estate and develop it with an extra 400 homes, roughly doubling the size, most of which will be for private sale. Many residents objected and Architects for Social Housing have developed alternative plans showing how the extra capacity could be achieved at lower cost retaining the existing housing and the main features of the estate.

Nicola Curtis, one of the elected representatives the council refuses to talk with

The council seem to have little concern for the current residents of the estate or their wishes. They have been banned from using the community resource centre on the estate, which was locked. A large mural was painted with council agreement on one of the walls in the estate – but the council then insisted that they remove the name ‘Central Hill’ from it. The council refused to talk with the two representatives of the residents elected to the Resident Engagement Panel. Normal maintenance of the paths and other aspects of the estate appears to have been stopped, and I found examples of very shoddy work by the council on the estate.


I took the train back into central London and to Parliament Square, wherre Veterans for Peace had organised a remembrace of Brian Haw on the 6th anniversary of his death. They held a small banner with the message ‘War is is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century’

Brian Haw began his camp here on 2 June 2001, and remained in place despite many attempts, legal and otherwise to remove him for almost 10 years, leaving only when arrested, for court appearances and to speak at protests at Trafalgar Square and Downing St until 1 January 2011 when he left England to receive treatment for his lung cancer in Berlin. He died in Germany in the early hours of 18 June 2011.

His ten years of protest and the frequent and repeated harassment undoubtedly hastened his decline and death. His protest in Parliament square was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005 and had been imprisoned twice for her role in the protest and arrested 48 times. The level of harassment increased and she went on hunger strike on 31st December 2012. Late in January 2013 she was taken into hospital close to death, and was treated for frostbite and exposure. Her protests continued on-line.

It was also the day of the annual Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day march in London, attended by several thousand from all over the country. Led by Imams and Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews, it called for ‘Freedom for Palestine’, and for all oppressed people’s across the world, and for a boycott of Israel.

As usual the march met with opposition from a small group of Zionists with Israeli flags and they were better organised than in previous years, with around 20 of them managing to block the route for around a quarter of an hour before police managed to move them on and allow the march to continue, though rather more slowly than usual.

Al Quds Day was inaugurated by Ayatollah Khomeini and some of the groups which support it may still receive support from the Iranian regime. Some of the protesters carried a small flag with both the Palestinian flag and that of Hezbollah and the message ‘Boycott Israel’. Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group uses the same flag for both, and the militant wing is a proscribed group in the UK. The flag carried by some on the protest made clear in the small print it was in support of the political party.

Al Quds march
Zionists protest Al Quds Day March
Brian Haw remembered
Ted Knight speaks for Central Hill


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.


Election Day 2010

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Thursday 6th May was also an election day in 2010 with a UK general election that saw Labour losing over 90 seats to end with 48 fewer MPs than the Conservatives. But back then we still had a Lib-Dem party with 57 MPs who, after five days of horse-trading agreed to form a coalition government with the Tories – a decision that condemned them to oblivion, losing all but 8 seats in the 2015 election.

I spent most of election day – after voting in the early morning – in and around Parliament Square, where there was also considerably politics taking place. Three distinct group were camping in the square.

Brian Haw

Brian Haw and the Parliament Square peace campaign had been there for 3260 days since 2nd June 2001 and was still there despite an Act of Parliament designed to remove him, attacks by individuals with connections to the police and security services, illegal police raids, provocations, assaults and arrests by police officers and more.

Barbara Tucker

A year earlier Haw had dissociated his Parliament Square Peace Campaign (PSPC) from the ‘Peace Strike’ protest in the adjoining area of the square led by Maria Gallestegui “by mutual consent”, wanting to end any confusion between the two campaigns. The Peace Strike had not been harassed by police to the same extent and was allowed a greater physical presence in the square, and were regarded by some, probably incorrectly, as being partners with the establishment to discredit the PSPC.

Since May Day the square had also been home to ‘Occupy Democracy’ who saw themselves as supporting the PSPC by their presence. But the PSPC suspected some of them too of being agent provocateurs in police pay to provide a pretext for more draconian police action against them. Certainly some of these more temporary occupiers were breaking the rules against drinking alcohol in Parliament Square, despite the Democracy Camp notices banning this.

In my account I wrote:

“At one point the dispute between the camp and the PSPC deteriorated with a man on the camp’s sound system making what were possibly intended as humorous put-downs of Barbara Tucker who was then attacking the Tory Party for the backing it receives from the oil giants. Clearly some of the campers were distressed by this and he was asked to desist, and some of those present tried to calm the situation.
But generally the camp’s activities were more positive, and while I was there considerable work was taking place making banners and placards, as well as people discussing and dancing.”

Election Day in Parliament Square

Shortly before I left around 6pm, people from Democracy Village walked with placards to College Green where the TV media have their tents and cameras to cover political events and had been conducting interviews about the election. There had been little if any media coverage of Democracy Village or the peace campaigns and they wanted to make a point of this. But most of the media simply ignored the protesters, and eventually police came to talk with them and they returned to Parliament Square.

Protests in the UK are almost never seen by the mass media as news – unless police are injured or property destroyed and they can run negative stories. Occasionally if a celebrity takes part they may get a mention, or some particularly quirky and preferably non-political event captures their whimsy. But political protests are largely only news if they take place overseas against regimes which our government disapproves of.

The government that resulted from the election was led by a party that got just under a third of the votes and once again demonstrated the iniquities of our first past the post electoral system. A year later we had a referendum on an alternative voting system, but this was largely scuppered by Conservative opposition and a lack of real support from Labour.

The 2010 election had left the Tories holding the whip hand in the coalition, and they certainly made use of it, both through imposing drastic and ill-considered cuts on public and in particular local authority expenditure and in attacks on protests such as those in Parliament Square. The current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill takes these attacks on human and civil rights, the right to protest, migrants and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people to new levels, incompatible with any free society.

Election Day in Parliament Square


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.


Occupy Gandhi – 4 May 2015

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

All pictures from Occupy Ghandi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals, 4 May 2015

Successive UK governments have legislated in various ways to restrict the right to protest, particularly concentrating on the area of Westminster close to the Houses of Parliament, and the current Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill amends the “Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to expand the “controlled area” around Parliament where certain protest activities are prohibited” as well as creating a new prohibited activity of “obstructing access to the Parliamentary Estate”.

The 2011 Act (which was also amended by the Anti-Social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014) replaced previous restrictions which had been brought in under SOCPA, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which the New Labour government had brought in as an attempt to stop the long-term protest in Parliament Square by Brian Haw who had set up his camp there on 2 June 2001 in protest against the effect of economic sanctions which were resulting in child deaths in Iraq.

Haw’s campaign widened into a more general protest against war and became the Parliament Square Peace Campaign, and he was joined by other long term protesters as well as receiving support from many others which enabled him to remain in the square. Various attempts to remove him legally failed and SOCPA was passed in an attempt to stop his protest. But poor drafting led to the eventual failure to achieve this, though Haw had to apply for permission which was granted subject to strict conditions – which he and his supporters failed to adhere to.

Police carried out a major raid in May 2006, removing most of the placards and other material and Haw was taken to court for breach of SOCPA. But after several hearings he was acquitted as the judge found the conditions lacked clarity and were not workable. He was assaulted on numerous occasions by police and by others believed to be working for the security services and arrested again on the day of the State Opening of Parliament for the Tory-LibDem coalition in 2010. But his protest was continued even after he left for cancer treatment in Berlin on New Years Day 2011, by his colleague Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005, and stayed in Parliament Square until 2013, despite being denied the use of tent, blankets and eventually even a chair and umbrella in 2012.

The whole grass area of Parliament Square was fenced off and the protest moved onto the pavement in 2011 after Boris Johnson gained a High Court injunction. Early in 2013 more protesters had arrived to support Tucker who had begun a hunger strike in December 2012. She left the square for urgent medical treatment and the Westminster Council removed the tents which supporters had brought there in March 2013, reopening the square for public use in May.

In October 2014, Occupy Democracy arrived to occupy Parliament Square “for 9 days in October, to broadcast and demand the solutions we already know exist, to inspire people to be the active citizens required to take back democracy from powerful economic interests.” They were met by police and private security ‘Heritage Wardens’ (outsourced by the GLA) and signs put up the previous day stating the grass was ‘closed for repair’, and there was considerable harassment with the police seizing anything they thought might be ‘camping equipment’ the occupied the square. The following day, much larger numbers of protesters turned up, including a number of MPs and some celebrities, and after trying hard to stop them, the police melted away and the camp was set up.

Over the following three days there were a number of arrests and police moved protesters off the main grass areas, but the various workshops and activities continued until the whole square was cleared. There had been a number of battles between police and protesters over large squares of blue plastic tarpaulin they had used to sit on the wet grass and mud, and the Democracy Camp had gained the name ‘Tarpaulin Revolution’ (#tarpaulinrevolution).

On May Day 2015, Occupy Democracy returned for a 10 day ‘Festival of Democracy’ in Parliament Square “building a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!” just a few days before the general election. On Monday 4 May there was a rally and meditation by Occupy Democracy at the statue of Gandhi, noted for his direct action civil disobedince, called for fossil fuel exploration and investment to be made a crime, and defied the ban on tarpaulin and tents in Parliament Square.

After short speeches there was a period of meditation, and the protesters wrapped a blue tarpaulin around the statue. Heritage wardens demanded its removal, and seized it when their request was ignored. Other protesters then stood with another blue tarpaulin, holding it around the statue but taking care not to touch it.

At the end of the mediation, Donnachadh McCarthy who had been leading it announced an act of civil disobedience and pulled a folding tent onto the tarpaulin on the pavement in front of him and erected it. Several people then came and sat inside it, and the protest continued. Police came and told them they were committing an offence and might be arrested if they failed to leave. Shortly after 20 police came and surrounded the tent and arrested those who refused to leave.

Occupy Gandhi – stop fossil fuel criminals
Occupy Festival of Democracy