Posts Tagged ‘City Hall’

XR London Tax Rebellion

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion launched their campaign for a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse with a protest outside City Hall on Thursday 18th July 2019.

They were particularly concerned about three major GLA projects, the Silvertown tunnel under the Thames, the Bow East concrete plant in Newham, and the Edmonton incinerator in Enfield, and called for a citizen’s assembly to formulate an “Emergency London Plan”, replacing the current 2020 London Plan with sustainable policies on air quality, land development and transport for the City of London and 32 London Boroughs.

Sian Berry, Green Party

The rebellion called on London residents to withhold the average proportion of their council tax – 22% – which goes to the GLA and to pay that into a special fund which would be used for climate related projects. To have any impact it would have to be supported by large numbers of London council tax payers, and XR set a threshold of 2,700 for it to go ahead – needing the support of around 15% of their London members.

Although some other XR actions involving tax are proceeding, I’ve been unable to find any more announcements about the London Tax rebellion from XR, and suspect that they may not yet have managed to sign up enough supporters for this action which is no longer listed on the on-line platform which was being used to carry the forms concerned.

Possibly the reluctance to take part may have been influenced by the change in policy towards those arrested for minor offences at XR protests. Normally only a fairly small fraction of those arrested are actually charged and brought to court, but political pressure from Home Secretary Priti Patel, who called XR criminals threatening the “UK way of life” has resulted in almost 100% of those arrested during the 2019 protests being brought to court. There is now a very long back-log of cases awaiting trial.

Many more pictures at XR London Tax rebellion.


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.


No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Protesters kettled outside City Hall as the Mayoral election results announced in 2008


London’s electors in a few days time will be faced with a rather bewildering array of candidates, with 20 names appearing on the ballot paper.

Ian Bone of Class War and banner ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ 2008

Current mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping for re-election and his chances are probably good and he has enjoyed a good lead in opinion polls with a roughly 20-25% lead over his nearest rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey. He could even get the 50% needed to win on the first preference votes and is likely to end up with over 60% when second preferences are included.

Anarchists raise the anti-fascist banner at City Hall 2008

Bailey, like Conservatives standing in the various elections around the country, is rather likely to pick up votes because of the success of the Covid vaccination rollout, a rather unfair consequence as it was Tory incompetence that really got us into the huge mess – with bodies piling up in mortuaries if not on the streets, and the NHS, which they have been doing their best to privatise out of existence over the years, which got ahead and got on with the jabs – and fortunately the government, having perhaps learnt a little from the test and trace debacle, let them get on with it rather than giving jobs to their mates.

It’s a slightly unusual voting system, with the second round of counting including only the two leading candidates. But it does mean that if you are a Khan supporter you could safely vote for any other candidate than Bailey as first preference, knowing that you second preference for Khan would count for him in the end.

Fitwatch hold their banner in front of the police photographer 2008

Opinion polls suggest that on this basis YouTuber Niko Omilana might come out third on the first preference votes, well above either the Green Party’s Sian Berry or Lib Dem Luisa Porritt, either of whom would clearly make rather better mayors than him.

Police TSG arrive to clear the area. 2008

The 15 other candidates seem unlikely to gain much benefit from the voting system and will almost certainly all lose their £10,000 deposit. They cover a wide range from various fringe parties, serious single-issue candidates to various more or less entertaining idiots such as Count Binface. Even at odds of 800 to 1 it isn’t worth betting on him.

Police arrest a man who had been sitting quietly by the river

Back in 2008 there were fewer candidates, but it was sadder times as London was announcing the election of its worst mayor yet, though at least he did continue some of the previous incumbent’s policies, and some of the advisers he employed were competent. But the years Johnson was mayor were something of a disaster for Greater London – which he has gone on to repeat for the country as a whole.

Some of the protesters were surrounded and held for several hours

The ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ protest by anarchists had its moments of farce, beginning with the police photographer taking an unusual interest in me as I sat reading a paperback. I just happened to be in the middle of John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ at the time. Although I clearly watched him taking pictures, when I later made a freedom of information request about this an other occasions I’ve been photographed, the answer came back that there were no pictures of me.

Others had escaped as police moved in and showed the banner from a balcony before going to the pub

You can read more about what happened and see more pictures on My London Diary:
No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop


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.


A Busy Monday

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Kashmiris call for independence

Monday 11th of February 2019 was an unusually busy day for me covering protests in London, with several unrelated events taking place across Central London.

My day began outside in Marsham St, where groups outraged at the callous hostile environment introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary from 2010 to 2016 and carried on by her successors Amber Rudd and Sajid Javid (and of course from later in 2019 by the despicable Priti Patel) held a mock trial of the the Home Office.

The Home Office were represented by a figure in Tory blue

The Home Office runs a violent, racist, colonial, and broken asylum, detention and deportation regime which treats refugees and asylum seekers as criminals, judged guilty without trial and often faced with impossible hurdles as they attempt to prove their innocence and claim their rights. It puts pressure on police and the CPS to launch false prosecutions – such as that of the Stanstead 15 who peacefully resisted an asylum flight and were charged and convicted under quite clearly ludicrous and inapplicable terrorism laws – and whose conviction was recently quashed on appeal.

Two years ago I wrote:

There were testimonies from individuals, groups and campaigns about suffering under the vicious system of rigged justice, indefinite detention, ill-treatment and arbitrary arrest and deportation. Two judges watched from their bench and those attending were members of the jury; I left before the verdict, but it was never in doubt.

People’s Trial of the Home Office

I left early to cover a protest at India House in Aldwych by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front calling for freedom, there on this day as it was the 35th anniversary of the hanging by India of Maqbool Bhat Shaheed in 1984. The population of Jammu and Kashmir is around 12.5 million, and India has over 800,000 troops in Kashmir, who shoot to kill, torture, rape and burn homes with impunity, killing over 100,000 Kashmiris since 1988. More recently India has even tightened its control over Kashmir, getting rid of the constitutional limited autonomy of the area, politically integrating it with India although this seems unlikely to lessen the continuing fight of the Kashmiri people for independence.

Later I photographed a protest by a second group of Kashmiris, the Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party UK, calling for the remains of Maqbool Bhat Shaheed to be released and for independence for Kashmir.

In late afternoon, private hire drivers came to London Bridge in their cars to protest against the decision by Transport for London (TfL) to make them pay the London congestion charge. London’s traditional Licenced Taxis – ‘black cabs’ – will remain exempt in what clearly seems unfair discrimination.

Minicab drivers have been organised by the International Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) into the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) which includes the British Bangladesh Minicab Drivers Association, the Minicab Drivers Association and the Somali All Private Hire Drivers, SAPHD. Most private hire drivers are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups while black cab drivers are almost entirely white and the UPHD claim that TfL’s decision is a case of race discrimination.

London’s Licensed Taxi system dates back to the era of horse-drawn vehicles (Hackney Carriages) and seems largely inappropriate now in the age of smart phones and sat navs. ‘Plying for hire’ creates both congestion and pollution on our overcrowded city streets, and is now unnecessary when cars can be summoned by phone, and good route-planning software with real-time traffic information out-performs the archaic ‘knowledge’ routes.

The drivers parked on London Bridge and blocked both carriageways, then locked their vehicles to march along the bridge and hold a rally, then marched to hold a noisy protest outside City Hall. From there some went to Tower Bridge to block that, but were persuaded by the UPHD stewards to leave and return to their vehicles.

UPHD drivers protest unfair congestion charge
Kashmir Awami Party call for Freedom
Kashmiris call for freedom
People’s Trial of the Home Office


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.


Tax Rebellion

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Travelling around London as I do is often frustrating, with traffic often blocking the streets rather than moving through them. If I had any sense I would have picked up my folding bike, a Brompton, and took it with me to get to this protest at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, more or less next to Tower Bridge.

My journey had started badly, with my train into London arriving around 25 minutes late – impressive for a journey which normally only takes 35 minutes. If I’d brought the bike I could have jumped on it and still got to City Hall on time, and if I’d been thinking more clearly I would have rushed down to the Jubilee line station to take a train to London Bridge, leaving me with just a short walk.

But when I’d planned the journey I’d given myself plenty of time, and the bus had two advantages. First my National bus pass meant it was free, and secondly it took me almost to the doorstep of where I was going so I decided to keep to my plan and take a bus. It was a bad call, and as I waited longer and longer at the stop I wondered whether to give up and go back for the tube, but finally the bus arrived and I got on. The first half mile was fine, but then we hit more traffic.

I ran up the path towards the protest, and saw the die-in starting from a couple of hundred yards away. I hadn’t missed it completely but it would have been rather better to have arrived and been available to photograph the start of the event.

The protest was to declare a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse. They want a citizen’s assembly to re-write the London Plan to stop all infrastructure projects polluting London’s air and invest in measures to cut carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles

Many of London’s problems were made much worse by the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher back in 1986, leaving the city without any proper overall authority. The GLC under Ken Livingstone had made a good start in improving public transport in the city, but things more or less came to a halt, only to pick up again when he returned as Mayor with the newly formed GLA in 2000. Rail privatisation in 1994 made matters worse, with so many different companies responsible for overground services in the area – and recent franchisees seem even less competent than their predecessors.

The development of London in most respects also took a setback with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor, who was able to claim the kudos for Livingstone’s cycle hire scheme, but was generally ineffectual, as well as wasting time and considerable money on a garden bridge that served no purpose and few wanted.

Progress with better cycling facilities has been slow, though much of the blame for this lies with the boroughs rather than the GLA. Some boroughs have been clearly anti-cyclist, and a strong lobby from cab drivers organisations has opposed innovation. Progress has been very piecemeal.

The Green Party has of course been pushing for better cycle facilities and other changes that would make London a healthier place, and both Sian Berry and Caroline Russell spoke. There were also protesters against the Silvertown Tunnel, which will greatly increase traffic on both sides of the river, particularly in Greenwich. This has now been given the go-ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan who seems to have rather less concern for the environment even than his predecessor.

I don’t know how successful – if at all – the tax boycott has been, but I’ve heard nothing about it since. I think it would take rather more than this single protest, where many of those present will not have been London council tax payers, to get such a boycott going on a scale large enough to have any real effect.

XR London Tax rebellion


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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


UPHD protest discrimination

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

I’m not a fan of Uber and very seldom a user of taxis or private car hire services, regarding them as a necessary evil for those rare occasions when public transport is not practicable. And taxis in particular are evil, causing large amounts of unnecessary pollution – both oxides of nitrogen and particulates – on the city streets both directly and also indirectly from other vehicles caught up in the congestion they cause by ‘plying for hire’ – an archaic system now made redundant by the smartphone.

Also rendered archaic by modern technology is the ‘knowledge’, made unnecessary at least in principle by sat-navs and sat-nav apps, though there is still room for further development on these. But at least in theory they can determine best routes making use of real-time traffic information. An car magazine recently conducted a very unscientific test of black cab, Uber and the writer’s car with an up to the minute sat-nav on a London journey, and the journalist’s satnav – evidently a better one than that in the Uber – won. And despite the ‘knowledge’ many taxi drivers seem to have and use a sat-nav, or at least the “Cabbies Mate” App .

Learning the ‘knowledge’ is certainly a good way to learn your way around London, but largely retained as a method of entry control to the trade. It’s part of the reason why London’s cabs are still largely driven by white British drivers while most private hire drivers come from various BAME communities. The United Private Hire Drivers union (UPHD) would appear to have a good case in claiming that TfL’s decision to apply the congestion charge to minicabs but not to taxis is discriminatory, though it remains to be seen what the court will make of it.

The UPHD also claim that private hire drivers are four times as likely to be stopped by TfL’s enforcement officers “than taxi drivers despite consistently better compliance performance on a licensed driver & vehicle basis. ”

THe UPHD is a part of the IWGB (Independent Workers Great Britain) one of several grass roots unions which are leading the fight for precarious workers in various sectors , including cleaners, cycle couriers and foster carers. As well as this campaign against TfL and the congestion charge, they are also fighting Uber for proper employment rights for the drivers, who are clearly workers for the company rather than self-employed.

Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK’s Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. 

(IWGB web sute)

The union says drivers currently only earn around £5 per hour and are demanding an increase in fares to £2 per mile, a reduction in Uber’s commission from 25% to 15% and an end to unfair dismissals.

We need to reduce traffic and congestion in London, though the congestion charge is a blunt instrument and unfairly discriminates against less wealthy car drivers. For all private hire vehicles – taxis and minicabs – a per fare surchage paid by the customer would be a better solution. We need to give far more encouragement to cycling and walking, by providing safe routes and also by changes to some traffic laws and road design to give cyclists and pedestrians priority; more bus-only routes (or rather bus and cycle routes), and greater subsidies for buses, trams and local underground and overground trains; to set dates before very long when non-electirc powered vehicles are banned for our cities .

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images