Posts Tagged ‘Class War’

13 December 2014

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

I started work on December 13th 2014 in Brixton, where a well-dressed Santa was with other Lambeth Living Wage protesters including National Shop Stewards Network chair Rob Williams, calling for all workers to be paid a living wage. They entered a number of shops on the main shopping street where workers are only paid the minimum wage, spreading their message through a megaphone and placards and handing out leaflets and union membership forms to shop workers.

They left when asked to do so by security staff and continued along the street to the next shop on ‘Santa’s Naughty List’.
‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage


The Victoria line from Brixton tube took me to Green Park and I made my way to join the ‘Advance to Mayfair’ protest organised by Class War at the Mayfair offices of US property developers Westbrook Partners. The protest was in solidarity with the tenants of the Hackney New Era Estate who Westbrook are intended to evict before Christmas.

There had been some disagreements expressed on social media before the protest and the organiser was ill and unable to publicise the event over the previous few days and the protest was rather smaller than anticipated. The police had however come out in force for what was a small and well-behaved protest in which after some speeches, Class War delivered a Christmas card to Westbrook – and someone came out from their office to accept it.

This and other protests by and in support of the residents and the publicity they generated in the media worked, and a few days later Westbrook sold their interest in the New Era estate to the Dolphin Square Foundation and the New Era tenants were saved from eviction.
Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’


My final destination for the day was the flagship John Lewis Store in Oxford St, not for some Christmas shopping, but to meet with members of the IWGB and John Lewis customers who were campaigning for equality for the cleaners. Cleaners who work in the store receive less than the living wage, and are not entitled to the considerable bonus payments that other staff who work in John Lewis receive as ‘partners’ in the business. John Lewis outsources the cleaning to cleaning contractors to avoid having to give them decent wages and conditions while retaining its reputation as a decent employer.

We met up in the café on the fifth floor of the store, and after unrolling there banners there was a brief speech about the unfair treatment of the cleaners from Alberto Durango before the protesters marched around the top floor to the escalator blowing vuvuzelas. They made their way slowly around to the down escalator on each floor, pausing to hang their banners over the balcony and continuing the noisy protest.

By the time they arrived at the ground floor, police had arrived and were confusing the issue, with some trying to stop the protesters leaving the store and others trying to force them out. Most of the protesters were trying to leave and like me had to push our way past police to get onto the pavement where the protest continued. Police made one or two arrests, though I think all were released without charge as John Lewis would not welcome the publicity a court appearance would provide.

Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Change Makers: Ways of Protest

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
DPAC 19 Feb 2014 20140219-316_2400
Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts speaks outside ATOS offices in National Day of Protest against mishandling of Work Capability Assessments. 19 Feb 2014

I am one of the very long list of artists taking part in the show currently at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea, Change Makers: Ways of Protest.

Here is the full list from the gallery web site:

Asim Ahmed | Phoebe Beckett | Nazma Botanica | Jason & Becky | Beltalowda | Frans Van Den Boogard | Bourdon Brindille | Ben Browton | Hazel Cardew | Louise Burston | Elsa Casanova | Philip Cheater | Michael Cheung | Jonah Brucker-Cohen & Mark Ramos | Lucy Donald | Judit Csobod, Marcela Echeverki & Stephen Donnelly | Plein Le Dos | Angus Eickhoff | Camila Espinoza | Gisela Ferreira | Mark Folds | Virginie Foloppe | Dawes Gray | Amy Goldring | Emily Grimble | Carol Harrison | Vinay Hathi | Hannah Jones | Paul Jones | Julia Justo | Ken Kamara | Tim Kelly | Shona Davies, David Monaghan & Jon Klein | Bob Bicknell-Knight | Hannah Lawson | Catherine Lewis | Laura Elisabeth Levick | Peter Lewis | Peter Marshall | Alice Mason | Steph Mastoris | Celia Mora | Karl Morgan | Sarah Poland | Jota Ramos | Euros Rowlands | Fiona Roberts | Si Sapsford | David Sladeck | Ekene Stanley | Ben Steiner | John Thomson | Daniel Trivedy | Vladimir Turner | Kenechi Unachukwu | Undercurrents | Natacha Voliakovsky | Eef Veldkamp | Aisling Ward | Thais DeMelo & Pedro H.C |Dawn Woolley & Davin Watne | Caroline Wilkins | Ian Wolter | Tess Wood

Elysium gallery in partnership with Swansea Museum, Swansea County Council and Fusion presents ‘Ways of Protest’, an extensive exhibition looking at how the arts can be used as a vehicle for protest, and how activism and a desire for social change can drive individual and collective creativity.

Contemporary artworks by Welsh and International artists will be accompanied by archival artefacts from the vast Swansea Museum collection as well as memorabilia, photographs, interviews, and artworks provided by members of the public and protest groups from Swansea and Wales.

http://www.elysiumgallery.com/events/event/change-makers-ways-protest/

If you are in Swansea you can book a free time slot to see the show which continues until Saturday 23 January. New lock-down restrictions announced for Wales this week means that the show will have to close from 6pm on Friday 4th December it but it will re-open in January.

But otherwise you can find out more about the show on the Change Makers Festival Facebook Group or Instagram feed.

My contribution to the show is six A2 prints of protests in London by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and I accompanied my submission with this short text:

Disabled People Against Cuts

When the Tories came to power (with the Lib-Dems) in 2010 and began their savage austerity programme they turned the screw hardest on the disabled, thinking they would be an easy target. DPAC soon proved them wrong.

DPAC 8 Jan 2012 20120128-0234_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts and supporters block Oxford Circus in protest against the Welfare Reform Bill, which will penalise the poor and disabled. 28 Jan 2012
DPAC 18 Apr 2010 20120418-0421_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts chain wheelchairs to block roadway at Trafalgar Square in protest against benefit cuts and unfair fitness assessments. 18 Apr 2010
DPAC  4 Sep 2013 20130904-463_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts hang pants with messages outside the Dept of Work and Pensions at launch of UK Disabled People’s Manifesto. 4 Sep 2013
DPAC 12 May 2014 20140512-692_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts protest at the Dept of Work and Pensions against plans to end the Independent Living Fund. 12 May 2014
DPAC 2 May 2017 20170502-350_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts protest at Conservative Party HQ the day before the General Election against Tory policies which have killed and impoverished the disabled. 2 May 2017

Click on any of the pictures to go to see the group larger on Flickr.

There were several reasons for my choosing this set of pictures (there were four more in my original submission.) Foremost was my great admiration for the people in DPAC and the way they have stood up to the cuts, putting themselves on the line as these pictures attempt to show. I wanted to present something coherent rather than simply choosing my most striking images and while there were several groups and issues among the hundreds I have photographed I could have chosen, DPAC was one that stood out, and also one that I thought would have considerable public appeal. The government may have little concern about the disabled who it writes off as unproductive, but the great majority of the people have a heart.

Because the show was to be in Swansea I did briefly consider sending pictures of Class War – which had its origins in that city – as readers of Bash The Rich will know (if you’ve not read it, get your copy now.) But Class War are perhaps the Marmite of protest (and I do like Marmite.) Of course if anyone other gallery would like to invite me to show work on protest, other pictures are always available. After all I have several hundred thousand of them.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


November 2014 (2)

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

The Wednesday of the final week of November in 2014 was an easier day for me as I was able to spend most of it at home and catching up on various things including a little shopping and visiting the library to borrow new books to occupy me on my train rides to London. I only had to leave home around 5pm to arrive in Aldgate for the Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special outside the tower with separate entrances for its wealthy and its social housing tenants.

After 19 weekly protests outside the ‘rich door’ the tower owners had finally agreed to talk with Class War and try to reach a solution to the problem, and in response Class War had agreed to call off further protests unless the talks failed. So this was more of a celebration than a protest, although the talks, when they took place didn’t really reach a satisfactory conclusion.

But there were some concessions and the protests did lead to some real improvements including new paving and lighting and better cleaning for the side alley which lead to the ‘poor door’, and perhaps more importantly they raised the whole issue of segregated entrances very much into the national agenda.

I was sorry to have to rush away from the celebrations, which I suspect continued afterwards in one of the local pubs.


A tube ride took me across town to the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, and the Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown.

In August, police officer Darren Wilson had shot and killed Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old black man in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s companion said that Wilson had grabbed Brown through his car window after calling on them to stop as they walked down the street; Brown, who was unarmed, tried to grab the officer’s gun as he threatened him and two shots were fired, one hitting Brown’s hand. Brown and his friend fled and when Wilson fired again, Brown turned around, raised his hands in surrender and shouted ‘Don’t Shoot!’ and Wilson fired six more bullets into his body. Wilson’s account differed greatly and a grand jury having heard decided not to indict him.

Riots followed the shooting, continuing for over a week in Ferguson, and there were protests across America and worldwide against the shooting, using the slogan ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’ There were further protests in 170 cities after the grand jury verdict was announced, and elsewhere across the world including this candlelit vigil in London called by London Black Revolutionaries and the NUS Black Students Campaign. Among those who spoke at the event were the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence, Malia Bouattia of NUS Black Students Campaign, Zita Holbourne of BARAC (above), Marcia Rigg, Carole Duggan, the RMT Paddington Branch Secretary, Wail Qaisim of Defend the Right to Protest and some people from London Black Revs.

Whatever actually happened in Ferguson, it is clear that US policing is racist, killing black people disproportionately, and acting – as Wilson did – out of fear due often due to racist stereotyping. Black Lives Matter – but not very much to some US Police forces and officers.

There was little or no street lighting in the area in front of the US Embassy where this protest took place, and for most of these pictures the main light present came from the candles and nightlights that were held by the protesters. A very tightly packed crowd made working in it difficult. When I got to the front of the protest there were some videographers at times using lighting which I took advantage of, but it seldom produces an attractive effect.

It was unfortunate the the Socialist Workers Party had decided to hold their own separate protest before this, probably because the organising groups had declined to let them take it over, but at least they did allow this vigil to use the public address equipment they had brought for their event. And many of those taking part are holding the placards that they provided in very large numbers.

When covering events at night I usually carry a small LED light which can illuminate people or objects a up to a few metres from the camera, usually holding it high and away from my body in my left hand while holding the camera to my eye with my right hand to give better lighting than using it in the hot shoe. If I have to, I’ll use my Nikon SB800 flash in the hot shoe, still using high ISOs to try and avoid a black background, usually with the camera on manual or shutter priority with speeds around 1/30s.


More on both events:
Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown
Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special


Remember, Remember – Nov 5th

Thursday, November 5th, 2020
Nov 5th 2014

As England begins four weeks of partial lockdown I ponder briefly on the significance of the date and the incompetence of our government before looking at some protests in recent years on November 5th.

Nov 5th 2014

Guy Fawkes was it is often said, the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions, perhaps a slightly harsh judgement on our politicians, but events over the past few years have certainly shown that being honest has not served Jeremy Corbyn well. Although we no longer openly torture prisoners and Corbyn, though clearly put on the rack by the media is unlikely to be actually hung, drawn and quartered – much though some might revel in it – and he is unlikely to have to jump from the scaffold like Fawkes to avoid this excruciatingly gory fate. But the establishment have become no less weak, simply more devious and discrete in protecting their enormous wealth and privileges against all-comers.

And Covid has given the government an excuse to clamp down on protests across the board, though some have still continued. But with various police actions and Acts of Parliament we are clearly moving closer to a police state, with the active support of a failing opposition in Parliament.

Nov 5th 2013

Fawkes was the inspiration behind  the anonymous anti-hero of the graphic novel ‘V For Vendetta’ written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd later made into a film. It shows an England without political or personal freedom caused not by a pandemic but after a devasting war.

Anonymous, a loose internet based movement of hacker activists took on the Guy Fawkes mask from the film as a symbol, uniform and disguise for their activities, in online videos and street protests – ironically greatly benefiting the mask copyright owners Time Warner who get a royalty from every official sale. And one of their main protests in ‘meat life’ is the ‘Million Mask March’ taking place on November 5th every year.

Nov 5th 2014

But Anonymous is not the only Nov 5th game in town. Guy Fawkes celebrations traditionally include bonfires, and in 2014 Class War took their own guy, an effigy of then London Mayor Boris Johnson to their ‘Poor Doors’ protest at One Commercial St in Aldgate. 

Class War’s guy dressed as London Mayor Boris Johnson burns vigorously at the protest at One Commercial St, Aldgate against separate doors for rich and poor residents. Nov 5th 2014

I wasn’t quite clear how Boris got set on fire (my back was possibly deliberately turned at the time as I don’t seem to have any pictures), though it was always inevitable, and he burned merrily but safely in the middle of the wide pavement.

For reasons best known to them, the police went ballistic, calling in first the Fire Brigade, who were clearly not pleased to have been troubled and arrived some time later with just a bucket of water when the fire was already more or less burnt out, and then making the scene a major emergency with police vans, cars and blue flashing lights, before surrounding and arresting Class War’s Jane Nicholl.

Jane is arrested – Nov 5th 2014

The crowd surrounded them and tried to prevent her being taken to the police van, but there were now probably more police then protesters and they managed to force their way through. Another protester was also arrested and taken to a van, I think for being one of the fifty or more who had tried to stop Jane’s arrest.

Surprisingly Jane Nicholl’s case was actually taken to court, but the police were unable to produced any evidence that anyone had been ‘injured, interrupted or endangered’ by the burning Boris – with the prosecution having already admitted that burning effigies on Bonfire night was perfectly lawful and the case – which had already been altered three times to try to find different offences – collapsed. Clearly the police and Crown Prosecution Service were using the arrest and trial simply to harass and intimidate Class War into ending their ‘Poor Doors’ protests. As they did with other arrests on other occasions, none of which led to a conviction.

I don’t know if there will be people trying to take part in a ‘Million Mask March’ in London this year despite the lock-down; the Facebook pages have only small numbers signed up though already well over 6,000 have expressed an interest for Nov 5th 2021. I suspect police will be out in force as in previous years to stop the event taking place. But I’ll certainly be staying at home.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


Levitation, Police Robbery and Catalonia

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Three years ago on October 21st I spent an interesting Saturday travelling around London and photographing several quite different events – unlike last Saturday when all I did was sit at a computer and work on old pictures and take a short walk along a familiar stretch of the River Thames close to my home, taking care to avoid getting close to the other strollers.

The Catalan protest at Piccadilly Circus was colourful, with many of the several hundred present fyling or wearing flags and calling for independence. And many of the placards were in English, unlike some other protests about overseas events. While Spain seems to have managed so far to have stopped the indepenence movement by forceful policing and political trials in the longer term I think there has to be movement towards a more federal approach with much greater autonomy for the region. We are begining to see a similar trend here in the UK, where our government appears to be failing to honour the 1707 Acts of Union between England and Scotland as well as creating increasing division between Wales, Northern Ireland and Westminster, with the likely no-deal (or very limited deal) over Brexit seeming certain to lead to to a break-up of at least parts of the union.

Conveniently the Catalan march took me to Parliament Square where I could take the Circle line to Kensington and join a small group of Class War in their attempt to levitate the offices of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower.

It was also a celebation of the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests, and Class War’s Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) stood on the steps of the town hall and called “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!” to the demons of councillors Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell in their attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. Unfortunately I failed to capture a photograph of the building in mid-air.

As I reported in My London Diary:

Inspired by their success at the town hall, Class War’s Levitation Brigade then moved on to Northcliffe House, the home of the Daily Mail.

Security staff there reacted angrily to Class War calling out the demon of Paul Dacre and their attempt to raise the building by over 70 metres, perhaps fearing it might damage the Rolls-Royce parked outside, but the levitation ceremony went ahead despite considerable interference.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail

Several security staff objected to the protesters and told me that I couldn’t take pictures, although there is strong evidence that this was not the case, though I did have to move back several times when one attempted to grab my lens. But most of the time at least I was on the public highway and knew I had the right to photograph as I liked and told him so. But it was perhaps this harassment that again made me miss the moment of actual levitation – or perhaps not.

It was a rather longer journey to Kentish Town by Underground, but only around half an hour (Circle to Embankment and then the Northern line) and I arrived in good time for the protest outside Kentish Town Police Station. Police, urged on by Camden Council had been removing and stealing tents from homeless people on the nearby streets ‘in the interest of public safety‘.

A small group of protesters met outside the police station carrying tents before five of them went inside to hand themselves in for being in possession of these now illegal items, calling on the police to arrest them. The police were rather suprised and kept them waiting for an hour or so, before telling them after I had left that carrying a tent was not a crime.

Later both police and Camden Council denied they were harassing the homeless – in direct contradiction to the evidence from the street that they had done so. Perhaps this small protest meant that at least in Camden this cruel policy used in some other boroughs in London and elsewhere will no longer apply.

More at:
Stop Robbing the Homeless
Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall
March in Solidarity with Catalonia


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


6 Years Ago: 24 Sept 2014 Poor Doors

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Six years ago Class War were holding weekly protests outside One Commercial St in Aldgate against the seperate entrances to the building for those in social housing and private residents. The private residents came into a spacious foyer with comfortable furniture and a reception desk with a concierge on the main street, while social housing tenants entered a bleak corridor down a filthy and badly lit alley at the side of the building.

This was the ninth weekly protest and I think the eighth I’d photographed in the series, which continued for around another 20 protests. Although it didn’t succeed in its main aim, the protests did take the issue onto the national agenda, and the alley leading to the poor door was cleaned up, resurfaced and given new lighting.

When the building manager came and escorted one of the residents out through the rich door, one of the protesters standing close to it moved in front of it, preventing it being closed. The manager made the mistake of moving away back towards the reception desk, and the protesters walked in.

They brought their banners in with them, and Ian Bone of Class War began to speak about the protest. The protesters made no attempt to stop residents who walked in or out past them, mostly taking little interest in what was happening.

Some of them were tourists staying a week in flats that are let on Airbnb; other flats in the building are permanently empty or only used for perhaps a week a year from foreign owners who hold them as investments, taking advantage of rising London housing prices to earn a good income when they sell.

Ian Bone had picked up the framed notice from the concierge desk as he spoke, reading out from it and making comments about how differently the rich were treated compared with the poorer residents. The woman who had been at the desk (it has someone on duty 24/7) had retreated with the building manager and was watching from a distance. He replaced the notice carefully beside a vase of flowers on the desk when he finished speaking, and stood beside them.

Later as I was photographing others I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye Ian hook the curved end of his walking stick around the vase, and we all heard the vase shatter as it hit the floor.

A few minutes later a couple of police officers arrived and talked with the protesters and the building manager.

After a few minutes of argument the protesters left the foyer and continued their protest on the pavement outside. There were more speeches, including from a local resident who stopped as he walked past to talk with the campaigners and backed their protest.

More police had arrived, and as the campaigners decided it was time to end the evening’s protest and began to walk away, a woman officer stood in Ian Bone’s way. Other officers came to surround him, and after some talking he was arrested, put in a police van and driven away.

At the police station he was shown CCTV of him pulling the vase from the desk and then admitted he had deliberately broken it. He was made to pay compensation for the broken vase, but no charges were brought against him.

Class War Occupy Rich Door

Lucy Parsons

Monday, June 1st, 2020
Poor Doors protest, Aldgate 30 Jul 2014

I’ve just been reading a guest post on A D Coleman’s Photocritic International by Colleen Thornton on Paul Grottkau and Lucy Parsons, the first in a series of posts in what Coleman describes as her “painstaking inquiry” which “introduces to the medium’s history two extraordinary figures: a German-born 19th-century U.S.-based anarcho-socialist photographer, Paul Grottkau, and his subject, the African-American anarcho-socialist Lucy Parsons, widow of one of the men railroaded to public hanging in the prosecution of the suspects of the Chicago Haymarket Riot.”

Her research was prompted by finding a cabinet portrait of Parsons on eBay with the photographer’s details on the card below the picture. It is to be published on Photocritic International in three parts of three instalments each. As I write the first two of Part I are online, introducing the photograph of ‘an attractive, well-attired “woman of color”’ for which surprisingly Thornton was the only bidder, and with the photographer, who was previously unknown to me.

I’ve long known a little about Lucy Parsons, a remarkable figure in the history of the USA, and about the Haymarket massacre which led to May 1st being celebrated by socialists as May Day – here’s a brief paragraph I wrote on this site in 2018:

Since around 1891, May 1st has also been celebrated as a socialist festival, usually called May Day, but often also referred to as International Workers’ Day, Labour Day or Workers’ Day, the date chosen in memory of the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886, where a bomb was thrown at police as they attempted to disperse what had been a peaceful rally of trade unionists. Eight anarchists – none of whom had actually thrown the bomb – were convicted of conspiracy, and seven were sentenced to death, though the sentences on two were commuted to life imprisonment. The trial was widely criticised as a miscarriage of justice and the three men still alive were pardoned and freed in 1893. The massacre was on May 4th, and the date of May 1st was almost certainly chosen because it was by tradition May Day.

Lucy Parson’s husband, Albert Parsons, was one of the “Haymarket Martrys”, a union leader with no connection to the actual bombing who was executed on November 11, 1887. She had been born a slave on a plantation in Virginia in 1851 and had married Parsons in Texas in 1871, the couple having to move to the north because of racist hostility to their marriage. She became one of the USA’s leading anarchists, a labour organiser and journalist with an international reputation, one of the founders of the  Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Famously described by Chicago police as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” she continued her political activities until shortly before her death in 1942.

I think Lucy Parsons first came to my attention through Class War, one of whose banners carries the text “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” Lucy Parson 1853-1942 CLASS WAR“. It has on it another portrait of her, a far less formal image – and one that appeals to me rather more than the younger and slightly dreamy vignetted pose in the image that attracted the attention of Thornton. The photographer of this picture, made in the 1920s, is unknown.

The ‘Lucy Parsons banner’ was one they used in the long series of ‘Poor Door’ protests – around 30 in all – that I photographed outside 1 Commercial St, Aldgate, calling attention to the socially divisive separate entrances being provided for wealthy private residents and social housing tenants in this and other blocks.

It has also been carried by them at many other events. In December 2014 Class War used the banner outside the Mayfair offices of US property developers Westbrook Partners who were intending to evict tenants from the New Era Estate in Hackney before Christmass so they could refurbish these low rent social properties and re-let them at market rents – roughly four times as much.


Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era

It’s a banner I’ve made so many picture of, both at protests about various housing issues and at other events. So I thought I’d share just a few here, and an hour later I was still finding more and more to share from My London Diary. So perhaps as more of Thornton’s research is published I may share another set. Those in this post are all from 2014.


More From May Days: 2017

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Class War put in a strong presence at Clerkenwell Green both with banners and with a newspaper, rather more interesting than many left-wing publications. Numbers of marchers were down after the previous year’s Corbyn-inspired peak, with the usual representation of communist groups from London’s immigrant communities, various left groups and trade unionists with banners. There were perhaps rather more from the trade unions and left as this march was also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution.

As usual when the march began I tried to photograph as many of the banners as I could as they came down the road, and there is a large selection of them on My London Diary. Although there were a few anarchist groups on the march I wasn’t surprised that Class War, always dismissive of A to B marches, had stayed behind and were now in the pub, where I joined them.

The plan had been for them to make their way by tube to Trafalgar Square, but it’s always difficult to leave a good pub, and by the time a small group had dragged themselves out carrying a rolled up banner they were running rather late. The journey took rather longer than I expected, as having been in the pub they decided on a route via Baker St, one of the few Underground stations with a public toilet, and by the time we arrived in Trafalgar Square the rally was rather past its peak, though I was pleased to be able to photograph Mark Serwotka speaking.

People were meeting in the Leake Street graffiti tunnel under Waterloo Station for the May Day F**k Parade, and I was pleased to find some familiar faces among the crowd. There isn’t a huge amount of light in the tunnel, and I was mainly working at shutter speeds of around 1/25s or a little faster, and quite a few pictures were blurred by people moving. I took a few using flash, but couldn’t really get what I wanted with it.

I was pleased when the parade moved off and there was more light. People were celebrating and there was a good atmosphere, at least until it got to Waterloo Bridge. Here’s my description from My London Diary for what happened there:

“On the bridge a black-clad protester set off another flare, and I heard a police officer shout ‘Let’s go and get him’ or something similar. I was pushed to one side as police rushed past me and a crowd of them surrounded a protester and grabbed him, throwing him to the ground.

The mood of the crowd changed instantly and some tried to grab their friend back, but police piled into them, some clearly enjoying the opportunity of a little rough handling of the public. Fortunately no one seemed badly injured.

As usual police tried to hide what they were doing to the man on the floor, standing around him to try to stop people seeing and photographing. There did seem to be some excessive use of force and the usual unnecessary painful forcing of his arms up behind his back as he was led away.

I was surprised by this sudden use of force against people who had really been causing no harm. There seemed to be no good reason for it, and it rather seemed as if the police simply wanted a bit of action and perhaps to intimidate the protesters who included a number of young children. And perhaps the fact that there were few if any other people on the bridge meant they felt they could get tough with the parade.

May Day F**k Parade

There had been a number of flares set off earlier – and more later in the event – which police seemed to ignore, so it was hard to see why they decided to act on this occasion.

Eventually the parade moved on across the bridge and then up through Covent Garden Market (with more flares) and then on to Leicester Square. By now the light was fading and so were my legs, and I left for home.

May Day F**k Parade
May Day F**k Parade Meets
May Day Rally
May Day March
May Day March Gathers


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


More from May Days: 2016

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Clerkenwell Green was more packed than ever for May Day 2016, with the big attraction being a rally before the start of the march with Jeremy Corbyn as the main speaker, along with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.

While the event usually attracts little media attention, TV crews and photographers were out in force, with a crowd of photographers around the open-top bus from which he was speaking, and mobbing him as he arrived and left. The stewards became rather heated and there were some who threatened the photographers and a considerable amount of pushing from both them and the photographers. I was glad I had decided to keep well clear.

The march was much as usual, and I tried to photograph all the banners – and most of them are on My London Diary.

Having had the main speakers before the march started, the rally which followed was perhaps something of an anticlimax, though there was perhaps a wider range of speakers than usual having got the political big guns out of the way earlier. The event was enlivened by a colourful protest by Ahwazi Arabs against their repression over many years by the Iranian regime which has stolen their land and is trying to eradicate their culture.

I left for Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, where the Bangladeshi Workers Council along with Red London, trade unionists, labour movement, political and community activists had organised a rally to commemorate and celebrate May Day.

 I met up with a small group from Class War at a pub in Aldgate and walked down with them to 1 Commercial St, the ‘Poor Doors’ tower block where the fourth in a series of anti-capitalist street parties organised by anarchists in East London was to start.

Several hundred turned up, some in fancy dress and others in black and the party got started. After partying and blocking Whitechapel High St the set off to protest elsewhere, first outside the sleazy misogynistic Jack the Ripper tourist attraction in Cable St, and then on to block Tower Bridge for a few minutes, where as well as the usual smoke flares we also get a show of fire breathing.

As they paused by the Southwark Council Offices in Tooley St I kept walking. I’d been on my feet for far too long and needed to rest on a train home. I had to take several days off before getting back to taking pictures.

F**k Parade 4: Ripper & Tower Bridge
Anti-Capitalist May Day Street Party
May Day Rally & Gonosangeet
May Day Rally
Ahwazi Protest at May Day Rally
May Day March
Day at Clerkenwell Green


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More from May Days: 2015

Monday, May 11th, 2020

My May Day started as usual with the march from Clerkenwell Green, dominated visually by members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities and with the usual mix of trade unionists and left-wing groups, perhaps even more international in nature than in previous years.

The march to Trafalgar Square was made a little livelier than usual by the presence of Class War and other anarchist and anti-capitalist protesters, some of whom took over the whole of the road rather than keep to one carriageway. Police tried hard to control them and made at least one arrest, which led to some scuffles.

One issue that dominated the rally in Trafalgar Square was the strike against privatisation at the National Gallery which overlooks the square, and in particular the victimisation by the management of Candy Udwin, the PCS rep there.

Later in the afternoon anti-capitalist protesters met up at Tower Hill, and led by lass War and their Lucy Parsons banner went on to block Tower Bridge this afternoon and blocked traffic, calling for social housing rather than social cleansing for Londoners and an end to cuts in foundation courses and other aspects of education. It was a lively event, and I left them when they marched off along Tooley St past London Bridge to protest in Westminster.

I walked back across Tower Bridge and on to Aldgate where Class War were organising their ‘Reclaim the Beats’ “epic street party” outside the tower block where they had held around 30 weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against the separate entrance down a side alley for the social housing tenants in the block.

A huge cheer went up as they unfurled a new banner showing leading politicians with the message “All Fucking Wankers”, a replacement for that seized by police at an earlier protest. Although it had later been judged to be an acceptable political comment, the police contrived to lose it rather than face the indignity of returning it to Class War.

A few minutes later a mobile sound system in the form of a small house on wheels with ‘Affordable Housing’ across its roof and the party really kicked off. After a few minutes people moved out to block the main road and then to march off to protest at Tower Bridge and in Bermondsey. I was too tired to go with them and instead went down the stairs into Aldgate East tube.

‘Reclaim the Beats’ at ‘Poor Doors’
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge
May Day Rally supports National Gallery
May Day march against austerity and racism


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.