Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Kent’

CND Easter Monday Protest – 2013

Monday, April 1st, 2024

CND Easter Monday Protest: On Easter Monday 2013 CND organised a large protest at the UK’s nuclear weapons establishment at Aldermaston, 12 miles to the west of Reading.

CND Easter Monday Protest

As this year, Easter Monday was also April Fool’s Day, and on Monday 1st April 2013 this was the Nuclear Fool’s Day – Scrap Trident rally. But Aldermaston is a huge site and the protesters were spread between the half dozen gates around its 5 mile fenced perimeter, with speakers travelling between the gates in a number of cars and lorries.

CND Easter Monday Protest
Pat Arrowsmith

I’d put my bike on the train to Reading, then cycled from there to the event. I found it quite a tiring ride with some long uphill sections against a prevailing westerly wind, and was rather tired by the time I arrived.

CND Easter Monday Protest
Natalie Bennett, then Leader of the Green Party

Every time I’ve been to Aldermaston I’ve always felt a slight tension in the air.I don’t really believe the air there is any more radioactive than around my home on the edge of London, and it’s certainly otherwise less pollution laden. And although it’s possible that many of the pictures I take are going to contravene our draconian Official Secrets Act 1911 (now replaced by the National Security Act 2023) I know that it is remotely unlikely I will have any problems reporting the event.

CND Easter Monday Protest

But having the bike with me enabled me to ride around to each of the gates in turn and take pictures of what was happening at them, as well as some people stretched out along the fences away from the gates. By the start of the protest at noon there were groups of between 50 and several hundred at each of half a dozen gates around the over 5 miles of the site perimeter, with others walking around the path around the site, attaching messages and banners to its tall security fence.

Gates had been allocated to different groups from around the country, and there was also a women’s gate and a faith gate, with Christians, Buddhists and others. Police were standing behind the gates, with a few mixing with the protesters, and others driving around the roads by the site.

Among the speakers I heard were CND Vice-Chairs Jeremy Corbyn MP and Bruce Kent, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and South East Green MEP Keith Taylor, Stop the War’s Chris Nineham and CND founding member Pat Arrowsmith and another veteran Walter Wolfgang, as well as US activist Linda Pentz Gunter, the founder of ‘Beyond Nuclear’.

The ‘Allelulia’ is taken from the coffin where it was placed outside the Defence Ministry on Shrove Tuesday

At the ‘Faith Gate’ there was a short ‘Easter Resurrection Hope‘ service in which an ‘Alleluia’ which had been symbolically placed in a coffin at the Ministry of Defence in London on Shrove Tuesday at the beginning of Lent was lifted out and held aloft, with a call for ‘a new heaven and a new earth‘ and the hope that ‘light and love might overcome the shadow of destruction in this place.’ This was followed by some Buddhist prayers, and some statements from other faith groups about peace.

Walter Wolfgang

The event ended with everyone around the site making a loud noise and some had brought various musical instruments while others joined in banging pots and pans, whistling and shouting.

I still had 12 miles to cycle back to Reading Station, but at least this way much of it was downhill and I had the wind behind me.

More pictures on My London Diary at Nuclear Fool’s Day – Scrap Trident.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – 2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2024

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – Saturday 16th March 2013 saw me travelling around London to cover three events, starting at a march against hospital cuts, then a march supporting the Syrian revoltuion on its second anniversary and finally an Irish parade on the day before St Patrick’s Day.


Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts – Highbury & Islington

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

Dick Whittington, more formally Sir Richard Whittington (c1354 – 1423) was four times Lord Mayor of London and did a lot for the medieval city, including financing drainage systems in its poorer areas and setting up a hospital ward for unmarried mothers and leaving his considerable fortune to set up a charity which still 600 years later helps those in need.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

He made his fortune as a mercer, importing luxury fabrics such as silk and velvet and exporting English woollen cloth and later as a money lender to wealthy noblemen and kings. It isn’t clear if he ever had a cat, but the legend about him fleeing London with one and turning back when he heard Bow Bells from Highgate Hill first made it to print in 1612.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

The Whittington Stone was placed at the foot of Highgate Hill in 1821, though earlier it had been the base of a cross there; it only gained a cat on top in 1964. But Whittington’s name is remembered in a number of pubs across the country, including The Whittington & Cat on Highgate Hill, which closed in 2014. Islington Council and local residents fought to keep it, and prevented its demolition in 2012 by declaring it to be an asset of community value, but it became a flooring shop.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

More importantly Whittington’s name became that of the major hospital formed when earlier hospitals on three nearby sites were amalgamated when the National Health Service was formed in 1948.

Three years before this march, huge local oppositin had forced the cancellation of plans to end Accident and Emergency, Paediatrics, Maternity and Intensive Care at the Whittington Hospital, but now it was threatened again by a new hospital trust with plans to reduce maternity services, close wards, provide fewer beds for the elderly, cut 570 jobs privatise some services and sell off around a third of the site, closing all onsite accommodation for nursing staff.

I met several thousand protesters close to Highbury & Islington Station where they were preparing to march to a rally outside the hospital. Among those marching were local MPs, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Bruce Kent and various celebrity supporters of the campaign, as well as the truly remarkable Hetty Bower, born in 1905, who became a pacifist at the time of the ‘Great War’, and took part in the 1926 General Strike.

You can read more about the event and see my pictures of many of the marchers on My London Diary. I left the march shortly after it started to go to my next event.
Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts.


Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom

I arrived outside the Syrian Embassy in Belgrave Square while the rally before the march was taking place with members of the Syrian Community in Britain speaking.

Most of the speeches and chanting were not in English, and the Free Syria campaign appears to have little support from the British left who might have been expected to support their freedom fight. There were a few protests at the start, but often confused and mainly opposing any involvement in Syria by British forces.

The Syrian revolution against the Assad regime had also received little actual support from the UK Government and US support seemed halfhearted. When Assad began using chemical weapons against the Syrian rebel held areas there was strong condemnation but no action and any threats soon melted away once Russia became involved in supporting Assad.

One of the placards carried by marchers included a question which now seems particularly relevant in view of what has been happening in Gaza: ‘Hey World, How Many Kids Should Be Killed Before You Do Something?’

I walked with the marchers on their way to Downing Street as far as the Hyde Park underpass where it looked impressive as it made its way under the Hyde Park underpass, fairly densely packed and with flags waving it spread wide across the road, stretching back into Wilton Place over 200 yards away. Then left for Willesden Green.

Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom


St Patrick’s Parade Brent – Willesden Green

For several years I had enjoyed the Brent St Patrick’s Day parade, sometimes going together with friends including John Benton-Harris who had photographed St Patrick’s Day here and across the USA as well as in Ireland over many years. The parade in Brent, usually on the day itself, had always seemed rather more authentically Irish than the larger London parade held on the nearest Sunday since Ken Livingstone introduced it in 2002 and I made some pictures.

Brent Council had a fine record of supporting cultural events celebrating its various communities including the Irish, but with government cuts since 2010 no longer had the funds to do so.

This year too, the main London event was taking place the following day, St Patrick’s Day itself, so the Brent event was on the day before. So the crowds were rather thinner than in previous years, and the poor weather may have put some off too.

More pictures at St Patrick’s Parade Brent.


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Refugee Rights & Stop Trident – 2016

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident – On Saturday 27th February 2016 I photographed two large protest marches in London. The first was part of a protest across Europe calling for safe passage for refuges and the second was against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons which recently for a second time failed a test launch in 2023.


European March for Refugee Rights – Hyde Park

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

Several hundred protesters, including many who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and some who had volunteered in Syria with Medicins Sans Frontiers, marched from Hyde Park Corner to a rally at Speakers Corner before going on to Trafalgar Square as part of a day of protest in cities across Europe calling for safe and secure routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

They want an end to the deaths in sea crossings and other borders and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

Groups supporting the protest included the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

Refugee Rights & Stop Trident

A woman who had volunteered at Lesvos came a child’s life-jacket worn on the dangerous sea crossing to there, more suitable for a beach holiday; others wore similar life-jackets on the march which have become a symbol for the refugees and those who drown on the journey from Turkey to Lesvos. Refugee support groups from Brighton brought a splendid banner they had made based on Picasso’s Spanish Civil War painting ‘Guernica‘.

I marched with them through Hyde Park to Speakers Corner where there was a short rally before they marched on to Trafalgar Square in front of the CND Stop Trident march which was then beginning to march from Marble Arch.

Some then decided to join the CND march but others decided to march in front of it. CND stewards at first tried to stop them but then halted the Stop Trident march for around ten minutes to leave a gap between the two marches which were following the same route.

More at European March for Refugee Rights.


Stop Trident March – Marble Arch to Trafalgar Square

Around sixty thousand had come to Marble Arch to join the march to a rally in Trafalgar Square against government plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons at a cost of £180 billion or more.

CND say Trident is immoral and using it would cause catastrophic global damage. These weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing.

In 2024 CND estimates that the total cost of building and maintaining Trident has been £205 billion. The UK has hung on to nuclear weapons largely as a matter of prestige and to justify its position on the UN Security Council and it has never been an important deterrent – and the recent test failures make it even less of a credible threat to other countries.

I arrived late for the official photocall before the start of the march on Park Lane because the crowd of marchers was so dense and we were soon moved well away from the front banner and those holding it by stewards in the usual somewhat unfriendly ‘Stop the War’ manner.

At the southern end of Park Lane the march halted for around ten minutes to make a gap between it and the marchers for Refugee Rights who had come to join them. I went to take a few pictures of this march and then returned to the ‘Stop Trident’ march.

After taking some pictures of the marchers, working my way through the crowds I had to leave and take the tube from Green Park to Charing Cross for the start of the rally, meeting the head of the march as it arrived at Trafalgar Square.

It was a long rally with a long list of distinguished speakers including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka, Tariq Ali and many more including some younger activists, and you can see photographs of most of those who spoke. They all opposed the renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

The rally went on longer than expected as we were waiting for the final address by Jeremy Corbyn who was travelling down from Sheffield where he had been speaking at a conference. He arrived on the platform to an enormous round of cheering and applause and gave a rousing speech ending the protest on a high note.

Many more photographs of the march and rally on My London Diary:
Stop Trident Rally
Stop Trident March

Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023

Monday, January 1st, 2024

Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023: Continuing from yesterday’s post some more pictures from 2013, from my albums on Facebook from March 2003.

Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Croydon Residents Protest 15% Council Tax Hike. London, UK. 1 Mar 2023. People from the London Borough of Croydon protest outside the Council offices against the council raising Council Tax by 15%. The huge rise is needed because of of swingeing cuts in support from central government and years of mismanagement by both Labour and Tories, particularly in the council’s housing company. The proposed rise comes on top of years of cuts to essential services in the borough. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
A Tree Is Planted In Memory of Bruce Kent. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. Jeremy Corbyn and Valerie, Bruce Kent’s widow, come to plant the tree. Several hundred came to the planting of a tree in Finsbury Park in memory of Bruce Kent who died last June. A prominent Catholic priest he became a political activist and one of the great peace campaigners of our times. Speakers included Jeremy Corbyn and Kent’s wife Valerie who together planted the tree. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Million Women Rise 2023. London, UK. 3 Mar 2023. Women, including many from migrant groups, met just off Oxford Street for a march organised by Million Women Rise, a collective led by Black women, which welcomes all women to attend. They called for an end to male violence against women and girls in all its forms. They want an end to everyday and structural racism at the heart of policing and our immigration system and society generally. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Bank of England – Hand Back Venezuela’s Gold. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. A protest at the Bank of England on the 10th anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s death demanded they return the 31 tonnes of Venezuela’s gold in their vaults. The UK government has refused to recognise the elected government of Venezuela and insists the gold belongs to the opposition led by Juan Guaido whose interim presidency has been dissolved by the democratically elected National Assembly. Peter Marshall
Save The NHS, Support Strikers and Welcome Migrants. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023.Thousands marched in London from a short rally at Warren Street calling for decent pay for all NHS workers. They demand an end to NHS privatisation and a return to a publicly funded public service. Migrants Are Welcome with and have played a vital role in the NHS, with large numbers of nurses, doctors and other staff from abroad, and they supported Gary Lineker in his description of the substance and tone of Government policies. Peter Marshall
Iranians Continue Protests For Regime Change. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023. Iranians continue their protests in London in solidarity with protesters in Iran calling for the end of rule by Mullahs. In Parliament Square a group held placards against the gassing of schoolgirl protesters and Iran and calling for Twitter to ban the Taliban, as well as pictures of those killed and held Iranian flags and banners supporting the mourning mothers and fathers of Iran. Peter Marshall
Save Our Schools Carnival, London, UK. 15 Mar 2023. Striking teachers, parents and supporters march to a carnival event in Trafalgar Square organised by the National Education Union as a huge Budget Day show of strength to demand the Chancellor and ministers deliver a fully-funded above inflation pay rise to #SaveOurSchools. They demand action to end poor pay, low funding, the SEND crisis and excessive workload, to support pupils in poverty and end inappropriate inspection and tests. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. London, UK. 18 Mar 2023. Women Life Freedom, Iran. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. 18 Mar 2023. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government.
Peter Marshall

More pictures from these and other protests in March 2023 in my Facebook Albums.


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Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – 2016

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – Three protests in London on Saturday 17th December 2016.


Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday – Trafalgar Square

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

A silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square marked the 29th birthday of trans-gender whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, jailed for 35 years in 2013, whose courageous leaks revealed war crimes by US, UK and other governments.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria
A Queer Strike protester and veteran peace activist Bruce Kent

Working for the US Army as a specialist intelligence analyst as Bradley Manning she released almost 750,000 documents to Wikileaks in 2010 showing the US, UK and other governments’ war crimes and corruption in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Israel & the Palestinian Authority, Peru, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some were classified and many others were highly sensitive and incriminating. In 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years and held in the maximum security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

The London vigil was a part of an international day of action for her release. Since she came out as a trans woman in 2013 she had been repeatedly harassed by the military in prison and twice in 2016 had attempted suicide. Protesters around the world called on President Obama to release her on the basis of the prison time she had already served before he left office. The following month he commuted her sentence to around seven years and she was released from jail. She spent a further year in 2019-2020 after she refused to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday


Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan – Downing St

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

Kurds, many wearing or waving the flag of Free Kurdistan called on the civilised world to recognise the sacrifices made by the Peshmerga in fighting for freedom and against Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria.

The Peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, first formed in the18th century as border guards but more recently fighting for Kurdish autonomy, although it also includes Assyrian and Yazidi units. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Iraq, and under the Iraqi constitution the Pershmerga is responsible for the security of the region.

They played a key role in US missions against al-Qaeda after 9/11and were with other Kurdish forces now fighting against ISIS with some support from the USA. But the USA was refusing to directly supply any weapons except through the Iraqi government who were failing to pass any on the the Pershmerga as they feared they would be used to promote an independent Kurdistan. And in London people seemd to be clearly calling for a free Kurdistan.

The result of this failure to pass on weapons is that the force is poorly armed, mainly using Soviet-era weapons they captured in earlier Iraq uprisings and now weapons captured from ISIS in 2014. This protest called for greater support to provide them with modern weapons and other support they lack including ammunition, ambulances and military communications equipment.

Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan


Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

A short walk away in front of the Houses of Parliament Healthcare workers held a die-in at Parliament in solidarity with the Syrian people.

They called for an end to the bombing of civilians, hospitals and schools by the Assad regime and for the UK government to put pressure on the Syrian government to allow the delivery of aid. They urged the UK to make airdrops of aid, provide safe passage to all those trapped and grant asylum to refugees.

The protest was organised by Medact’s Arms and Militarisation (MAM) group along with Syria solidarity activist groups and individuals including the Syrian British Medical Society.

Peter Tatchell holds a poster

Between 2014 and 2021 when the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme closed, the UK accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees. When adjusted to reflect the population size of European countries this puts the UK well down among European countries. For the total number of resettled refugees from 2008-20021 the UK comes fifth behind Germany, Sweden, Norway and France but adjusted for population size we are in 10th position.

But along with the USA, Britain failed to take any effective action in support of the Syrian revolution and the crimes against the people committed by the Assad regime, and were severely outplayed by Russia who backed Assad.

Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria


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Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs – 2009

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs: August 6th is Hiroshima Day, and every year when I’m in London I try to get to the London memorial ceremony organised by London CND in Tavistock Square, and 2009 was no exception. But other events were also taking place that day, with a picket outside the offices of the company that organises the world’s largest arms fair and a rally to keep green jobs a wind turbine manufacturer. And between the last two I made a short visit to see what was happening to Stratford ahead of the Olympics.


London Remembers Hiroshima – Tavistock Square

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

The annual ceremony next next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967 to remember the victims of Hiroshima follows a similar pattern each year, though the speakers and singers change.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

In 2009 events were introduced Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and speakers included the then Mayor of Camden and who was followed by an number of others including Frank Dobson MP, Bruce Kent the Vice President of CND, sadly no longer with us and other peace campaigners.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

Between some of the speeches there was music from socialist choirs. Raised Voices are a regular contributor and others have joined them in some years, in 2009 it was the Workers Music Association. Often a folk singer and poets contribute and at the end of the event people lay flowers at the base of the cherry tree before everyone sings together one or more of the protest songs including “Don’t you hear the H Bomb’s Thunder.”

Last year here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote the post Hiroshima Day – 6th August which looked at a number of these events from 2004 until 2017, with links to those in 2018, 2019 and 2o21.

More from 2009 in London Remembers Hiroshima.


Stop East London Arms Fair – Clarion Events, Hatton Garden

I left Tavistock Square in a hurry at the end of the ceremony to rush to Hatton Garden, where campaigners from ‘DISARM DSEi’ were picking the offices of Clarion Events in Hatton Garden, calling for an end to the Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next month.

The DSEi arms fair is a vast event, with over a thousand companies from 40 companies exhibiting and selling there lethal weapons. Among the buyers are those from repressive regimes around the world who will use them to keep control in their own countries. The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between 1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further six million injured, many permanently disabled.

British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.

This was an entirely peaceful protest with a small group of people handing out leaflets to people passing by explaining to them what goes in an an office which appears to be for the diamond trade. Many stopped to talk with the protesters, surprised to find that our government backed and encouraged such activities. Government statistics show the UK’s global security exports as ranking third in the world, only behind the USA and China.

Although the only weapon carried by the campaigners was a small plastic boomeragn wielded by a young child, armed police watched them from across the road, together with other officers who took copious notes, although they seemed to show more interest in the four press photographers present, who were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn’t a great deal to photograph. When the protesters left after an hour of picketing a police car drove slowly behind them as they walked to the pub.

More at Stop East London Arms Fair.


Olympic Site Update – August – Stratford Marsh,

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti at Hackney Wick – and it certainly looks like hell for photographers

I had a few hours to fill before the next event and had decided to go to Stratford to see how the area was being prepared for the Olympics in three years time. The actual site had been fenced off by an 11 mile long blue fence, but there were still some places where parts of the site could be viewed.

I went to Stratford and them walked along a part of the Northern Outfall Sewer which goes through one edge of the site. Part of this was completely closed to the public (and remained so for some years after the Olympics because of Crossrail work) but a public footpath remained as a narrow strip between temporary fencing north of the main line railway to Hackney Wick.

Security along this section was high, with security men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do, and the fencing made it impossible to get an unobstructed view. Later these temporary fences were replaced by impenetrable metal fencing and it became easier to take pictures. But on this occasion I could only really photograph the opposite side to the main part of the site where a lot of activity was taking place.

Even at Hackney Wick much of the Greenway was still fenced off, and I was pleased to come down into the Wick itself. Here I could photograph the stadium under construction from a distance, but rather more interesting was the graffiti on many buildings and walls facing the Lea Navigation.

Sadly much of this was cleaned up for the Olympics.

More at Olympic Update – August.


Rally For Vestas Jobs – Dept of Energy & Climate Change, Whitehall

I was back in Westminster outside for a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall calling for the government to support wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas based in Newport on the Isle of White.

It had started to rain before the rally started and was pouring by the time it finished, though those present listened intently to speeches from a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP (top picture) and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who arrived at the event by bicycle.

Vestas problems were very much Government-made and as I wrote a result of “its failure to put it’s money where its mouth is on green energy policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other alternative energies.

Things are even worse now, with a government driven by lobbying from the oil industry granting licences for getting more oil from the North Sea. The Rosebank field west of Shetland will totally sink any hope of the UK meeting its promises on carbon emissions.

More pictures at Rally for Vestas Jobs.


International Day in support of victims of Torture

Monday, June 26th, 2023

International Day in support of victims of Torture: The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force internationally on 26 June 1987, and in 1998 the UN declared the 26 June of every year to be the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Over the years I’ve photographed a number of vigils and protests marking the day in London by various groups concerned with human rights, mostly organised by the London Guantánamo Campaign but often joined by others.


No to Torture Vigil – Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 26 June 2012

Supporters of the The London Guantánamo Campaign and other human rights activists held up placards saying “NO to torture” in over 30 languages. Other protesters against various human rights violations joined in the protest, including campaigners calling for an end of the Iranian executions of the Baloch people, those against the extraditions of Babar Ahmer, Talha Ahsan and others to the US and the Free Mumia campaign.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

More on My London Diary at No to Torture Vigil.


Say No To Torture – Trafalgar Square, London. Wed 26 Jun 2013

International Day in support of victims of Torture

The London Guantanamo Campaign which has been active in calling for the closure of Guantanamo and other prisons including Bagram in Afghanistan since 2006 again held a vigil in Trafalgar Square.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

Some wearing orange Guanatanamo-style jump suits and black hoods, they stood in a lin in front of the National Gallery, calling for the release of London resident Shaker Aamer and the other detainees held and tortured without trail. Shaker, along with most of the other prisoners was on the 141st day of a hunger strike, being subjected to regular beatings, being brutally forcibly fed and held in solitary confinement – which also constitues torture under the UN definitions.

International Day in support of victims of Torture

Among those taking part in the vigil was veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent. The ‘Say No To Torture’ protest overlapped with another human rights protest over Balochistan, a ‘nation without a state.’ Balochs live mainly in Pakistan and have been subject to arrests and other human rights violations including torture by the Pakistan authorities for campaigning for independence.

More on My London Diary at Say No To Torture.


Torture Solidarity Vigil – Trafalgar Square, London. Thu 26 Jun 2014

In 2014, Kashmiris wore black hoods and headbands with messages ‘Mutilated’, ‘Raped’, ‘Tortured’, ‘Executed’ and waved Kashmiri flags to protest at the widespread human rights abuses by the 7,000 custodial killings and torture of prisoners by the Indian state Indian state in Kashmir- 1 in 5 Kashmiris is a torture victim.

Also in Trafalgar Square was a vigil by the The London Guantanamo Campaign with people holding posters and blindfolded or gagged, calling for the release of prisoners from the US prison camp and an end to impunity for torturers.

The UK has failed to take proper action over allegations of prisoner abuse by the British military in Iraq and Afghanistan and has continued to be involved in the “rendition” and torture of British and foreign nationals abroad. Our government prevents violations becoming public knowledge, relying on secret courts and partial and biased investigations.

More on My London Diary at Torture Solidarity Vigil.


UN Day for Victims of Torture – Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 26 Jun 2015

The London Guantánamo Campaign and others were back again in Trafalgar Square in a solidarity vigil in recognition of the suffering and rights of victims and survivors of torture, calling on those in positions of power able to put an end to the use of torture.

Obama had promised in 2010 to end the shame of Guantanamo, but the detentions and torture continued throughout his presidency, though there were some releases.

More on My London Diary at UN Day for Victims of Torture.


Here are links to further protests I covered in recent years on 26 June against torture, in Trafalgar Square in 2016, at the US Embassy in Nine Elms in 2018 and by Balochs in Trafalgar Square in 2019. In 2017 I had a day off work for medical tests, and in 2020 there was no vigil because of the lockdown.


Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

On Saturday 24th January 2015, eight years ago, I photographed three protests against the replacement of our so-called independent nuclear deterrent, Trident with new nuclear submarines and missiles and Occupy Democracy asserting the right to protest and challenging the attempt by then London Mayor Boris Johnson to prevent protests in Parliament Square.


Christian CND against Trident Replacement – St Martins-in-the-Fields to Whitehall

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

I began work at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square with a Christian CND service. Thet held a long piece of the seven mile knitted pink peace scarf which had been joined together the previous August between the UK atomic bomb factories at Burghfield and Aldermaston on Nagasaki Day in a protest against the senseless waste of £100bn in replacing Trident missiles, which would clearly breach the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

CND has since revised the figure of the costs of this senseless programme, which was stated by the defence minister in the parliamentary debates and in the November 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review to be £31 billion. This turned out to be simply the estimate for the four new submarines. Using government figures CND later calculated the total cost to be £205 billion, well over a year’s total spending on the NHS. And of course like all defence programmes it will end up costing considerably more. Of course cost is not the main reason why people oppose nuclear weapons but this is an entirely senseless waste of resources that should be put to better use.

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

After their brief service they walked with the part so the scarf to the main CND protest against Trident replacement outside the Defence Ministry.

Christian CND against Trident Replacement


Wrap Up Trident’ surrounds Defence Ministry – Whitehall

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

Several thousand CND supporters met at the Defence Ministry before surrounding the block with a knitted peace scarf and then moving off for a rally opposite the Houses of Parliament calling for the scrapping of the UK’s Trident missiles.

A group held the front of the scarf outside the Ministry of Defence building in Horseguards Avenue and then led off down Whitehall, left into Bridge St and left again up the Embankment and back to the MOD. While the leaders set off with the scarf at a cracking pace, gaps soon developed further back as those adding lengths from the many rolls of scarf were unable to keep up. So while there was far more scarf than needed to wrap the whole block – and it went back and forth on the river side of the ministry – it may never have entirely joined up completely.

When the leading group arrived back at the MOD there where certainly people spread out along the whole of the course holding parts of the knitting, and most seemed at a loss of what they were supposed to do next. Eventually the message came for them to walk on and take their pieces of knitting back to the MOD.

Here the knitted and crocheted lengths of scarf were rolled up. Rather than being wasted most of it was later turned into blankets for refugees, with just a few of the more interesting lengths being retained for further protests and displays.

The CND supporters then marched the short distance down Whitehall and Parliament Street and on to Old Palace Yard where they were to hold a rally.

Many more pictures at ‘Wrap Up Trident’ surrounds Defence Ministry.


CND Scrap Trident rally at Parliament – Old Palace Yard,

Lindsey German of Stop the War

Among the speakers were at the rally were Lindsay German,

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MEP Julie Ward, Shahrar Ali, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party,

Kate Hudson and

Bruce Kent of CND,

Rebecca Johnson, an internationally-recognized expert on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,

Heather Wakefield of UNISON, the Rt Revd Alan Williams, Bishop of Brentwood, Khalil Charles from the Muslim Association of Britain, Ben Griffin, of Veterans for Peace,

and Angie Zetter, who thought up the idea of the peace scarf.

The rally ended with a new song composed for the occasion by Leon Rosselson. There are more pictures including all the speakers and those in the crowds at the rally at CND Scrap Trident rally at Parliament.


Occupy defy GLA ban on Democracy – Parliament Square

As people streamed away from the CND Trident protest, several hundred supporters of Occupy Democracy most of whom had been at the CND protest walked on to the grass of Parliament Square to hold discussions on foreign relations and war as the GLA private security guards (Heritage wardens) and police watched.

This was one of a series of monthly events in which Occupy are asserting the right to protest and challenging the attempt by London Mayor Boris Johnson to prevent protests in Parliament Square.

Police and the Mayor’s ‘Heritage Wardens’ watched the protest. I followed the wardens as they went across to the police and asked them to take action to stop the protest. Police lacked the officers needed to take effective action and if they had tried to do so many more of those leaving the CND protest would have joined those on the square. They told the wardens that the protesters would eventually leave of their own accord, which apparently they did a few hours later.

More pictures at Occupy defy GLA ban on Democracy.


Arms Fair Protests Come To Central London

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

On Tuesday 13th September 2011, protesters against the worlds largest arms fair being held at the Exel Centre in East London brought their protests to some of the companies selling arms and to key sites including Parliament Square and th National Gallery which was hosting a dinner for the arms traders and their customers, including representatives of many of the most repressive regimes around the world.

Arms Fair Protest At Parliament, Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Arms Fair Protests Come To Central London
A queue with loaded baskets waits to pay at the arms fair supermarket opposite Parliament

Around 250 people came to protest against the DSEI arms fair which was opening that day in East London. Many were people who had been protesting at the site of the fair during the previous week. The fair is the largest in the world, a private event supported by the UK government, and despite government denials, many deals are made there for illegal arms and arms are sold to some of the worlds most repressive regimes who use them against their own civilians.

Arms Fair Protests Come To Central London

Many had come with posters and placards, but organisers CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) came with fake arms to set up a supermarket where people could queue to buy riot gas, guided missiles, ammunition and other essentiaql supplies to keep their population down.

Arms Fair Protests Come To Central London - Bruce Kent
Bruce Kent with Riot Gas

People held up letters spelling out ‘THIS IS NOT OK’ and then other posters and banners.

There were some songs, and anti-drone protesters staged a die-in as targets.

The country’s only Green MP (and one of the most sensible in the House of Commons) came to speak.


Dr Zig’s ‘Bubbles Not Bombs’ -Thames Embankment, Tate Modern.

‘Kids need human rights NOT cluster bombs’

Those remarkable bubbers from Dr Zigs in Wales and made their “seriously HUGE bubbles” on the riverside walk outside Tate Modern, shouting “Bubbles not Bombs” as a child-friendly protest against the DSEi Arms Fair.

They say the DSEI fair is “where bad people the world over can come and buy the latest in guns, drones, warships etc.” and call for it to stop.

Dr Zig’s ‘Bubbles Not Bombs’ Protest


Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood

I just had time between protests to pop up to St John’s Wood and the Queens’s Terrace Café, where my show ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood’ had been hung at the weekend when I had been too busy to be there. Jiro Osuga who had done the design and decoration and owner Mireille Galinou whose idea it had been had done a great job and it was ready for the opening.

Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood


Down the Drones Arms Fair Protest – Tower 42, Old Broad St

General Atomics ,makers of Predator and Reaper drones had their London office in Tower 42, still better known to many of us as the Nat West Tower, on Old Broad St Although there are wide areas of empty pavement most is land owned by Tower 42 and City police harassed protesters by ensuring they keep to the small area of public highway and then clearing them from most of it as they were then causing an obstruction.

There seemed to me to be no good reason why the police shold enforce the civil property rights of the estate owner which would not be harmed by a small incursion, nor harass the protesters on the public highway when others could easily walk by – as many always do – on the private land.

The protesters managed to chalk slogans and body outlines on the pavement, displayed banners, sang and handed out leaflets to passers by about the dangers of militarism but were not allowed to lie down on their target and invite passers by to ‘zap’ them with a Playstation controller in their game of ‘Remote Control Killer Robots’.

The US was then using around 48 Predator and Reaper drones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the UK around 10 MQ-9 Reapers in Afghanistan, all controlled by pilots in an airforce base in Nevada. Various documents released by whistleblowers show that drone strike often take place on the basis of very limited and often unreliable evidence often killing innocent victims and any males in these countries who appear to be of military age and likely to be targets.

Using drones turns warfare for those ‘piloting’ them from a centre perhaps several thousands of miles from the battlefield into something very much like a computer game, removing any normal human inhibitions about the indiscriminate killing of others.

In the final few minutes police allowed three protesters to lie down on the pavement for a few seconds to enable photographers to take pictures.

Down the Drones City Arms Fair Protest


DSEi Protest at BAE Systems

I’m not sure if there were any police for the protest outside BAE Systems in Carlton House Terrace which was the final advertised protest of the day. Perhaps the police were acting on advice from one of their plain clothes operatives who had told them there would be no trouble at this event.

BAE Systems is Britain’s largest manufacturing companies, formed in 1999 by the merger of British Aerospace with parts of Marconi Electronics and traces its history back to 1560 and the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey, over the years having incorporated many of the famous names in UK industry, particular those involved in aviation and arms manufacture. It also has a US subsidiary, BAE Systems, Inc. The company was a nationalised industry from 1977 to 1981, with the UK government in 1985 selling its remaining shares except for one very special £1 share which it can use to prevent it becoming foreign-owned.

The company has been involved in a number of trade scandals, particularly over its deals with Saudi Arabia. Most recently in 2006 the Serious Fraud Office was forced by the Labour government to drop enquiries into bribery over an arms deal by BAE Systems with Saudi Arabia after a Saudi royal prince threatened cancellation of the order in 2006. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) obtained a High Court decision that this government action breached the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, but the government appealed and the law lords decided that national security should be an overriding principle and overturned the decision. So bribery, as well presumably as any other crime, is OK when it is in the national security interest.

The government’s decision to cancel the investigation was seen by most as an admission of BAE’s guilt in the matter, and they have also been under investigation for bribery in Chile, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, the Czech Republic and Qatar and possibly elsewhere.

BAE systems are one of the world’s largest arms companies, producing fighter aircraft, warships, missiles and tanks along with other weapons. They are also one of the companies that will profit hugely from the replacement of Trident nuclear missiles, a high-spending and potentially dangerous project with no military significance.

After some short speeches about BAE, almost all of those present laid flat on the pavement for a die-in before getting up and leaving. Although this was the last advertised protest for the day, a message bad been passed around that there would be an action at the National Gallery, which was hosting a dinner for those attending the DSEi arms fair.

DSEi Protest at BAE Systems


Arms Fair Fracas At National Gallery

After a day of peaceful demonstrations against the DSEi Arms Fair in London, a fracas developed as police attempted to clear the National Gallery steps while a peaceful protest continued below in the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square. Well over a hundred protesters had come to the National Gallery as it was closing to protest at a dinner being given there for those attending the DSEi arms fair, including representatives of many of the most repressive regimes around the world.

The protesters attempted to enter the Gallery as it was closing but were ushered out by security staff, and then began a peaceful protest on the steps of the gallery. Gallery staff asked protesters to leave the steps but some decided to stay and display banners there, while others continued to protest peacefully on the North Terrace in front of the gallery, displaying banners and holding a ‘die-in.

Eventually police got most of them moving slowly down the steps, though a few were still refusing to move. There was quite a lot of joking between some of the police and protesters and the atmosphere was generally friendly, although the protesters were not being very cooperative. Suddenly one of the protesters was seized and roughly carried away by police towards a nearby van. He did not appear to be formally arrested, and police would give no reason for his detention either to press, legal observers or protesters.

This changed the mood completely. Police reinforcements arrived and were able to force the protesters from the steps. There were a few incidents of what seemed thuggish violence towards both men and women. Some were arrested and dragged off to waiting vans; it was hard to be sure but their offence appeared to have been arguing and trying to protect themselves against police violence.

Meanwhile the protest continued peacefully on the North Terrace with a die-in and speakers explaining to the crowd that had gathered that the protest was calling for an end to UK arms sales to authoritarian regimes including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, both responsible for the ruthless suppression of people in the ‘Arab Spring’ as well as countries involved in major armed conflicts and human rights abuses. I think many were shocked to learn that the UK was playing such a major part in this killing of people around the world – not something our media often dwell on.

Arms Fair Fracas At National Gallery


Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Saturday, August 6th, 2022

Hiroshima Day – 6th August

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Rev Nagase, Japanese monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda, 2011

While I was still teaching full-time I was usually away from London in August, often in Paris or on holiday with friends in different parts of England. But since 2004 I’ve usually been in London on August 6th and attended and photographed the annual Hiroshima Day Ceremony organised by London CND close to the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Tavistock Square. The first year for which I used a digital camera was 2004, when the event was compèred by local MP Jeremy Corbyn and among those attending were Michael Foot and Tony Benn. There was a significant non-attender too, Mordechai Vanunu had been invited to come from Jerusalem where he is under house arrest for having made public Israel’s nuclear weapons, but was prevented from coming by the Israeli government.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Tony Benn, 2011

Back then I think the processing of digital files left something considerable to be desired, and the images on-line are rather dull, though I think could now be greatly improved if I found time to reprocess the raw files.

Hiroshima Day - 6th August
Bruce Kent, 2009

By the time photographed the ceremony in 2009, the pictures looked much better. Jeremy Corbyn was again introducing the speakers, who included CND stalwart Bruce Kent.

Bruce Kent spoke again in 2011, as did Tony Benn, but the star of the event was Hetty Bower who had begun her campaign against war in 1914 when she was a young schoolgirl, almost nine. Her’s was a remarkably powerful performance from a 105 year old who 97 years later was still taking part in every major UK anti-war march.

Nobo Ono, 2013

Hetty Bower was there again in 2013 and made a short speech. Other speakers included Bruce Kent, Peter Tatchell, Jeremy Corbyn, Walter Wolfgang, amd Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett as well as several peace activists, among them Val Brown from the London Guantanamo Campaign who talked about their work and the regular protests at the US Embassy, and Nobo Ono who spoke about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima and the weekly protests organised by Japanese Against Nuclear UK.

In 2014 my train to London was held up and I arrived after the event began, when a speaker was reminding everyone of the long life as a peace activist of Hetty Bower, and a several of those present were wearing t-shirts with her picture.

As usual, towards the end of the event there was a period of silence in memory of the dead and wreaths and flowers were laid at the Hioroshima Cherry Tree, planted in the garden here by the then Mayor of Camden in 1967.

In 2015, because of the Labour leadership contest, the event which usually attracts only a small handful of press was attended by several TV crews and a large number of photographers, many of whom more or less ignored anything but Jeremy Corbyn, seen in my picture standing for a few moments in thought after laying a sunflower at the foot of the tree.

Cllr Nadia Shah, Mayor of Camden lays a wreath, at left Anthony Flaum who had sung earlier, 2016

It was back to the usual lack of media interest in 2016, but the event was well attended with a number of familiar faces among the speakers, performers and the audience. Walter Wolfgang and Kate Hudson of CND, Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque and Shahrar Ali from the Green Party were among those who spoke, and there were fine and very different perfomances from opera singer Anthony Flaum, radical folk singer Jim Radford and rap artist Potent Whisper, as well as the Raised Voices choir who as usual both performed on their own and led those at the event in singing some well-known peace songs.

Among the more memorable speakers in 2017 was writer A L Kennedy – but as usual all were worth listening to.

You can also see pictures and read the accounts from 2018, 2019 and 2021 on My London Diary.

I hope be again in Tavistock Square for today’s London CND Hiroshima commemoration – Saturday 6th August 2022 – starting at noon.