Posts Tagged ‘Class War’

London 22nd October 2014

Friday, October 22nd, 2021

ILF

The Independent Living Fund enabled many disabled people to continue to live with dignity and to work making a positive contribution to society and the government decision to close it led to many protests and to legal actions to try and stop it under the Equality Act.

Although a court ruled that the minister concerned had acted illegally, all it required was that the new minister reconsidered the plans. He did so, and decided to go ahead, though with a three month delay. And a judge ruled in December 2014 that although in axing the ILF he knew that the closure would mean many disabled people would lose their ability to live independently in the community his decision was legal.

The decision to end ILF was clearly wrong, clearly immoral, but so long as the legal niceties were observed the government was able to go ahead with it, and our law gave no protection.

The vigil outside the court while the case was being heard attracted wide support, including from Inclusion London, Norfolk and Suffolk DPAC local DPACs, the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Transport for All, Winvisable, PCS Union, the TUC, and other organisations,and there was even a simultaneous vigil in Toronto, Canada. Three MPs, John McDonnell, Andy Slaughter and Jeremy Corbyn, came to give their support, and there were speeches by campaigners including Paula Peters and Andy Greene, with John Kelly singing.

As expected the vigil ended with a short direct action by DPAC and others, briefly blocking the Strand outside the law courts.

Free Shaker Aamer

This was one of a long series of regular vigils opposite Parliament for Shaker Aamer, an innocent charity worker arrested by bandits and handed over to US forces who have imprisoned and tortured him for over 12 years. He was cleared for release in 2007 but remained in Guantanamo with our government failing to press for his release because his testimony could embarrass MI6 as well as the US.

London Panoramas

I had time before another protest to visit an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands and on the journey to pause and make some panoramic images.

Probably the most interesting were inside Westminster station, where “the beams and buttresses, designed by Hopkins Architects and completed in 1999 for the opening of the Jubilee Line are also the foundations of the block of parliamentary offices above the station, Portcullis House, and were deliberately Piranesian, though sometimes I get more of the feeling of Escher as you seem to walk endlessly up escalators and around the interior.”

Democracy Camp – Poet Arrested

I returned to Parliament Square where the Democracy Camp was still holding workshops, though police and the GLA ‘heritage wardens’ had fenced off the main grass area.

Danny, one of the protesters had been sitting on the plinth next to the statue of Churchill since the previous afternoon and poet Martin Powell arrived with a pot of food for him, which he tossed up to him, going straight into his hands, despite police warning him he could be arrested.

How can feeding the hungry be a crime?” he asked and he was arrested and led away in handcuffs around two sides of Parliament Squareperforming his poem ‘The Missing Peace’. I left while Danny was still on the plinth, though later that evening police finally found a ladder and brought him down after over 26 hours.

Musical Poor Doors

It was Class War’s 14th weekly protest at the ‘rich door’ of Redrow’s One Commercial St flats and it was a lively affair, with the banners dancing to the music of Rhythms of Resistance, a poetic performance and some rousing speeches against social apartheid.

There were a lot of police present and some stood in front of the door and ushered a few people in and out but made no attempt to stop the hour long protest, which though noisy remained entirely peaceful. Some of the police clearly enjoyed the music and watching the dancing.


More at:
Musical Poor Doors
Democracy Camp – Poet Arrested
Canary Wharf & Westminster Tube
End UK shame over Shaker Aamer
DPAC High Court Vigil for ILF


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Pay Rise, Occupy, Blessed Sacrament & Poor Doors

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Saturday 18th October 2014 was another long and busy day for me. After briefly looking in at Parliament Square, where a few from Occupy Democracy had defied police to spend the night on the pavement I went to the Embankment where thousands were massing for the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise‘ march which was due to begin in a couple of hours time.

I returned to the TUC march a little later for the Press Call, seldom very interesting events to photograph, and then the start of the march where Frances O’Grady was doing her best for the camera.

Things got a little more interesting as the march filed part me, and towards the end of the 80,000 or so I met rather more people I knew, including those with CND, Focus E15, Occupy London, Class War and other radical groups.

An hour and a quarter after the start the people at the back were getting close to the start of the march, and I went back for another look at things in Parliament Square. Not a lot was happening, apart from some illicit sleeping (its a crime there.)

I went on to Westminster Cathedral, arriving in time to meet the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament leaving to walk to St Georges Cathedral in Southwark, and walking with them across Lambeth Bridge, from where I walked back towards Parliament Square.

I arrived back as more people who had been on the TUC march were arriving, including a group from UK Uncut dancing to a music centre on a shopping trolley. Police and a warden from Westminster Council – who are responsible for the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament came and tried to seize the music centre, but after much argument allowed the to keep it so long as they left the square.

Shortly afterwards others arrived, with a group of anarchists running across the grass with black flags, chased by ‘heritage wardens’, then others poured onto the grass with the two towers with the messages ‘Power’ and ‘Democracy’ they had carried on the TUC march. A rally then took place, gathered around these to protect them, with John McDonnell MP as the first speaker, while police lined the edge of the square watching. Then small groups of police began to gather, ready to charge, and police reinforcements arrived; it seemed only a matter of minutes before they tried to clear the area.

But after Russell Brand arrived to speak, the police rapidly melted away and the many vans drove off. I suspect they knew that had they attacked when he was present there would have been massive media coverage and decided it was better to come back at dead of night after most of the press and TV have left – as they did.

I left to go to Aldgate, where Class War were holding a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, with a larger than usual group who had come from the nearby Anarchist Book Fair. It was a livelier protest than usual with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo up from Wales for the event, as well as a rather larger than usual police presence.

Inevitably at the end of the protest the group decided to move onto the busy Whitechapel High Street and block it, ignoring orders by the police to leave the highway. It’s a fairly dark area of street and my flash unit was having problems, but I managed to make a few pictures, some by the headlights of the blocked cars. After around ten minutes the protesters decided it was time to leave the road and end the protest, and I went home.

More at:

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Democracy Camp takes the Square


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Four Years Ago

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Four years ago, on October 14th 2017, I found myself in the unusual position of looking for a Michelin starred restaurant in Mayfair, definitely something well outside of my normal social and financial territory. But I wasn’t looking for somewhere to eat, but to photograph a protest outside calling on the restaurant’s owner and his head chef not to break the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel by participating in Brand Israel culinary event ‘Round Tables’ in Tel Aviv in November 2017.

The protesters say that events like these are part of an Israeli government’s Public Relations efforts to distract from its policies of occupation and apartheid by bringing international prestige to Israel’s culinary scene and that his event is sponsored by Dan Hotels who have a branch built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

This was a peaceful protest, with Palestinian flags, banners about Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleaning and supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) and calling for justice for Palestinians. Those protesting included both Palestinians and Jews. A small group of counter-protesters also came, holding an Israeli flag, one of whom came to tell me that everything it stated on the protesters banners were lies. I told him that I had friends in Palestine and know how they were treated both by the Israeli government and by Jewish settlers who came and destroyed their olive trees while Israeli forces stood and watched taking no action against them.

I left to join Class War and London 4th Wave Feminists who were protesting again outside the tacky tourist trap in Cable St which glorifies the exploits of ‘Jack the Ripper‘ and his brutal series of 19th century murders and exhibiting materials relating to the death of working class women who were his victims.

The so-called ‘museum’ only gained planning permission by claiming it would celebrate the history of women in the East End and not their horrific slaughter, and although Tower Hamlets council were unable to withdraw the consent they were now failing to enforce decisions about inappropriate signage and unuathorised metal shutters. Class War came with plastic inflatable hammers to symbolically attacked these.

Police tried hard to get the protesters to move away from the shop with no success, and escorted a few customers past the protesters inside. There were few during the hour or so of the protest, and at least one group went away when they heard what the protesters had to say, while another group who had been inside came out and told them that they thought the “museum” was very disappointing in the way it treated the murders.

I left as the Ripper protest was coming to an end to go to the Zimbabwe Embassy, where every Saturday afternoon the Zimbabwe democracy and human rights vigil takes place. Today was a special day as the first vigil was held on 12th October 2002 and they were celebrating 15 years (780 vigils) having vowed to continue until the human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime are ended and there free and fair elections in the country.

Among those present were several who had been at that first vigil in 2002 including human rights activist Peter Tatchell who had been badly beaten when he attempted a citizen’s arrest on Mugabe in Brussels in 2001, and his is one of the hands holding the knife to cut the cake.

Zimbabwe vigil celebrates 15 years
Class War return to Ripper “Museum”
Little Social don’t break the cultural boycott


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Class War Occupy Rich Door 24 Sep 2014

Friday, September 24th, 2021

A few days ago I had to sit down and write some explanations to a friend who lives on a smallholding in rural France who doesn’t have a computer or internet access. It made me realise how much has changed for most of us since some time in the 1990s, when we all began to be connected by the World Wide Web and browsers such as Mosaic which really made the breakthrough to something like the web we now know and most of us spend large parts of our life in.

Some time ago I’d sent him a copy of my book – or rather ‘zine’ – ‘Class War: Rich Door, Poor Door‘ I published in 2015:

“A photographic account of the protests from July 2014 to May 2015 at One Commercial St, Aldgate, London against separate doors for rich and poor residents. The book includes over 200 images from 29 protests. ISBN: 978-1-909363-14-4”

It is still available, and at the very reasonable price of £6.00, though given Blurb’s postage rates it only makes sense to buy it if you get together with a few mates to order several copies.

More recently my wife sent him a copy of a postcard with my picture from 2014, ‘Vigil for Ferguson, US Embassy – No Justice, No Peace’ and he wrote back asking who Ferguson was – and included a couple of questions about the Class War book.

Google of course would have supplied him the answers in the twinkling of a mouse click, and told him Ferguson was a town in Missouri where riots had followed both the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer and the failure to indict the officer for the murder. He could have got the answer even quicker on my own web site, My London Diary, where putting ‘Ferguson’ in the search box at top right on most pages returns links to the Solidarity with Ferguson vigil, Hands Up! Against Racist Police Shootings protest following the shooting and this Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown following the decision not to charge Darren Wilson with his murder.

His second question was about the Class War banner with its message “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” Lucy Parsons 1853-1942, and was simply to ask “Who was Lucy Parsons”. Again Wikipedia and other web sites such as the IWW Archive would have given a fast and far more comprehensive answer than the brief reply I wrote.

The final question was one that amused me. “Who, ” he asked, “was that elderly gentleman with a walking stick” and “why was he being arrested and being put into a police van in one of the pictures“. It was of course Ian Bone, and again my web site contains much about him on many occasions, including pictures and an explanation of his arrest on Wednesday 24th September 2014.

When the building manager had held open the ‘Rich Door’ for a resident to go through, the person holding one end of the Lucy Parsons banner had stepped in front of it to prevent him closing it. He made the mistake of walking away to the concierge desk, probably to ask the concierge to call the police, but leaving the door open and unguarded. So Class War walked in unopposed, bringing two banners with them and continued to protest in the the foyer.

Ian Bone talked to the building manager, then held up a couple of framed notices from the desk, and talked about them and the objections to social tenants being made to use a separate door on a dirty alley at the side of the building, before putting them back carefully on the desk next to a vase full of flowers. Others spoke briefly and people loudly shouted slogans.

And then “there was a crash and the vase of flowers was no longer on the reception desk. Ian Bone had knocked it off with his walking stick, which he had been swinging around rather wildly as he spoke. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t tell if it was deliberate or accidental.” Though I was fairly sure it would have been on purpose.

Shortly after, the police arrived, and there was some discussion; I went outside and a few minutes later the protesters followed and the protest continued as usual on the pavement, with more speeches and noise. Eventually the protesters decided it was time to leave and were moving away when a police office approached Ian Bone and told him he was being arrested as the CCTV in the ‘rich door’ foyer showed him breaking the vase. There was considerable argument as he was led away and put in the van, but no attempt at resistance.

Later we heard that Ian Bone had agreed to pay £70 for a replacement vase and the building owners had decided not to press charges. And at the following week’s Poor Doors protest Class War brought along a couple of vases of flowers to play with and to try and get the building manager to take, though as they probably came from a Pound Shop they “they were perhaps a little plastic and tacky looking compared to the one that had been broken the previous week.”


The building manager refused to take the replacements, but later made the mistake of grabbing hold of one which was thrust in his face, “probably by reflex. His face when he found himself holding it was interesting, and he quickly put it down, placing it on the desk in the reception area in the same place as the one knocked off last week, complete with its with a ‘Toffs Out!’ Class War card.” And I was just able to photograph it through the window there on the desk.

More on My London Diary:
Class War Occupy Rich Door
Class War Poor Doors Week 10


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.


Rich Door, Poor Door: 2014

Friday, July 30th, 2021

A foot in the Rich Door

I used the text for this protest on 30th July 2014 as the opening text for my ‘zine’ ‘Class War: Rich Door. Poor Door‘ published in 2015 and still available from Blurb. It was the first in a series of around 30 weekly protests (and a couple of special events, pictures from most of which are in the zine, by Class War at this block in Aldgate where the small proportion of social housing tenants have to use a door down a side alley rather than the plush entrance on the main road for those in the private flats.

Class War arrive for their first protest

The series of protests had some success – it had immediately resulted in the alley being cleaned up and later it was given much better lighting and it placed the whole idea of ‘poor doors’ firmly on the national and architectural agenda – but eventually failed to resolved the issue for this particular building.

And put up posters and stickers

Here’s that text, written on 30 July 2014:

Class War, including three of their candidates for the 2015 General Election, protested at 1 Commercial St in Aldgate against London’s new appartment blocks providing separate ‘poor doors’ for the affordable flats they have to include to gain planning permission for the development. Class War characterise this as ‘social apartheid.’

The building manager removes a poster

The front entrance on Whitechapel High St (One Commercial St is the name of the block) has a hotel-like reception desk, and is staffed. It leads to the lifts for the expensive flats, many owned by overseas investors. Like most such buildings, some of them are empty and seldom used, while others are short term holiday lets.

Arguments continue over the door

There is apparently no internal connection* between this part of the building and that containing the social housing, which has been given a different name and a separate door some way down the alley on the west side of the building. Their door, the ‘poor door’ has a card entry system which leads to a bare corridor with some mail boxes on one side.

Lisa makes her views clear

The alley is dark at night, and even though today it was unusually clear of rubbish, it smelt strongly of urine. Certainly a far less friendly place than the well lit main street on which the ‘rich door’ opens. There seems to me to be no reason why all those who live in the building cannot share the same entrance even if their flats are on different floors or different sides of the building, and certainly no reason at all to hide the poor door down a mean alley like this.

Police try to persuade the protesters to move across the road

The protesters arrived with a banner carrying a quotation from the radical US labour activist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live“. The Class War posters – with their skull and crossbones – had the message “We have found new homes for the rich” and showed long rows of grave crosses stretching into the distance, and they were stuck on the windows around the poor door using Class War election stickers with their promise of a 50% mansion tax.

But the protesters are unmoved by the police arguments

A few people were still entering and leaving the building, with the protesters talking and shouting at them but not actually stopping them, and at one point the protesters grabbed the door when it was open. There followed a brief tug of war with several from inside the building, including one of the residents as well as those from the ‘concierge’ attempting without success to close it. The protesters made little attempt to enter the building but wanted those inside to be able to hear the protest through the open door.

The Poor Door. When I visited a few days earlier the alley was filthy

By the time a couple of police arrived and hurried into the building to talk to the people inside around a quarter of an hour the protesters had stopped holding the door. The police came out a few minutes later and tried with little success to get the protesters to move further away from the door.

The rubbish had gone but it still stank of urine and had no lighting

The protest continued until after an hour or so Class War decided they had made their point and left, some for the pub. I went around the building to find the poor door and photographed it and the alley it was in.

Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door

* This was a lie by the building manager. On a later occasion I was taken inside the building by one of the private residents, and after taking me to her flat we then went down and out through the ‘poor door’ which she told me she used when taking her dog for a walk.


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.


Tories Out! July 1st 2017

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

It was the so-called Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists, that saved Theresa May’s bacon after the 2017 election, bribed to give their support after an election result which showed a rejection of the toxic austerity policies of the Coalition and Tory governments.

And in response, Boris Johnson agreed a Brexit deal which put a border in the Irish Sea which the DUP are now up in arms about. Probably the EU will agree to some relaxation of the rules – and exporters will eventually get used to making the changes in the ‘paperwork’ (surely mainly now digital) which will be required and the Tory government may eventually realise that they need to respect and implement treaties that they sign up to. But it seems inevitable that the sea border will remain, and probably eventually lead on to a united Ireland.

A Grenfell resident holds up some of the flammable cladding

Grenfell had also recently underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people.

A huge number of groups came together for the Tories Out march, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, with around 20,000 gathering outside the BBC (who if they deigned to mention the event in any of their extremely lengthy news broadcasts will probably have called it ‘several hundreds’) to march to a Parliament Square rally calling on the Tory Government to go, saying they had proved themselves unfit to govern, and demanding a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.

Had the DUP not sold themselves to the Tories, another election seemed inevitable, and perhaps having seen the closeness of the result, at least some of those Labour MPs an officials who had been actively campaigning against their leader might have decided to change sides, backing Labour and the popular policies which had led the Party to its highest vote share since 2001 (40%) and got behind a leader they had previously discarded as ‘unelectable’ to get back into power.

There was certainly huge support for Corbyn on the march, much expressed through that rather inane singing (which I suspect he finds embarrassing.) But there were a significant number who also showed their anger at the housing policies of London Labour boroughs who are demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing.

Lisa from Class War greets Victor from the United Voices of the World

One of those groups was Class War, and later at the rally, unfortunately after I had left, Lisa Mckenzie confronted both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, asking the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away, though Corbyn did look a little shame-faced. His eccentric brother, Piers Corbyn, has long campaigned on the issue, and I suspect Jeremy, like others on the Labour left, would like a change in policy.

More on My London Diary: Tories Out March.

Jack the Ripoff

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

Tower Hamlets council were pleased to apporpve a planning application in 2014 to convert an empty Victorian building in Cable St into a ‘Museum of Women’s History’, particularly since Whitechapel’s Women’s Library had closed the previous year. Owner Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe’s application featured pictures of suffragettes and trade union campaigners and promised the museum would be “the only dedicated resource in the East End to women’s history” and “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.” (Quoted in Wikipedia.)

On the basis of these promises the architects were persuaded to carry out the work for a lower than normal fee, and various others provided consultancy services at no cost. All, including the council, where shocked and felt duped when the covers were removed from the site in 2015 to reveal instead a ‘Jack the Ripper’ museum glorifying the unknown murderer of a number of working class women in the East End in 1888.

There were various protests organised outside the museum including some backed by the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, who found his council unable to take any real action over the deception, various women’s groups and Class War. Finally the local council did refuse retrospective planning permission for the shop front and ordered changes to the shop’s signage and the removal of a metal roller shutter installed after a window was broken during protests in 2015. The shop owner appealed against the decision and lost. The projecting sign was removed at some time in 2017-8 but I think the shop has failed to comply with some other aspects.

On Sunday 19 June 2016 Class War and supporters including London Fourth Wave Feminists in cat masks, protested outside with toy plastic hammers offering to take down the shutter which had been declared illegal.

Police guarded the shop and prevented the protesters going inside but seemed generally fairly relaxed about the protest, with at least one making clear his distaste for the tacky tourist attraction they were having to protect. At one point they and the protesters were engulfed in red smoke after a couple of black-clad men arrived to join the protest, quickly fading away as the smoke cleared, with the protest then continuing in good spirits.

The good news is that the shop was put up for sale in April 2021 and is expected to close and take on some new use once sold. I’m not aware of any plans for its use and it will quite likely end up as some kind of offices, but it would be rather more satisfactory if it were bought and actually opened as a ‘Museum of Women’s History’. As I write it appears to still be unsold.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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.


Housing Awards – 2016

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

A resident of the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark speaks about the council’s terrible record

Most people have never heard of the annual Municipal Journal Local Authority Awards, a kind of self-congratulatory back-slapping beanfeast for local authorities on the lines of the Oscars and a dinner at the Hilton, doubtless on our council tax.

Protesters ignore hotel staff and police who tell them they must move

The news in 2016 that two of London’s councils with the worst records for housing were nominated for awards angered London housing protesters and Focus E15, the Revolutionary Communist Group, Class War, Architects 4 Social Housing and others organised a protest outside the Park Lane Hilton including a rather different awards ceremony.

Protesters from Newham blame Labour Mayor Robin Wales ‘Robin the poor’

They pointed out that Southwark had by 2016 demolished 7,639 units of social housing, sold off public land to developers, and evicted people unlawfully and accuse Newham of social cleansing, rehousing people in distant parts of the country while council properties remain empty, and of causing mental health problems through evictions, homelessness and failure to maintain properties.

Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing objects to being assaulted by a police officer.

Police tried to move the protesters away from the hotel entrance and across the service road, but most resisted and held their ground, with police keeping the entrance clear, A few did move across the road were they could hand out flyers people arriving by taxi. There were a a few minor incidents when police pushed a protester holding a banner and again when several protesters held banners and placards in front of the restaurant windows.

Class War had brought their banner with a quote from US anarchist Lucy Parsons “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” particularly appropriate for a protest in Mayfair and outside the Hilton. Police made a rather unwise and ineffectual attempt grab this from them but soon gave up.

People continued to arrive for the event and to walk past the protesters. Many had come from towns and cities across the UK for the event and where probably not particularly away of the situation in London boroughs.

I played around a little with the reflections in the polished metal canopy above the Hilton entrance, which was doing a good job in keeping the light rain off most of the protesters, though I was getting a little wet.

Looking up from the service road we could see those attending the awards ceremony talking and drinking before the dinner, while outside the protesters were beginning their own awards.

There were quite a few speeches from various of the activists, and Southwark won the award as London’s worst council, with Newham a close second.

State Opening, Class War and Student Protests

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

I usually make a point of keeping away from the big occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, but made an exception on Wednesday May 27th 2015, partly because I had been told that Class War were planning to come and protest, but mainly as there were other events I was intending to photograph later in the day.

Class War arrived too late to reach the centre of Parliament Square where they had hoped to display their banner and the area was already tightly sealed off by police. Police security for royal events is always very tight and as on this occasion often goes well beyond what is legal. So although they managed to briefly display their banner well before the Queen’s coach arrived they were quickly forced to take it down and pushed away. Around 50 police then followed the dozen or so as they made their way to a nearby pub and a few more supporters, and stood around for an hour or so looking as if arrests were imminent before most of them moved off, but police continued to follow the group until they left Westminster. Two other people who had been showing posters against austerity in Parliament Square were arrested despite their actions being perfectly within the law; they were released without charge a couple of hours late.

I walked from the pub up to Downing St, where a line of people from Compassion in Care where holding up posters and calling for ‘Edna’s Law’ which would make it a criminal offence to fail to act on the genuine concerns of a whistle-blower, and would make the state protect whistleblowers rather than them having to spend thousands of pounds on taking their cases for unfair dismissals to industrial tribunals. They say current law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which has failed to protect the public, the victims or the whistle-blowers. So far nothing has changed.

As I arrived in Trafalgar Square where people were gathering for a protest against education fees and cuts there was an angry scene when a squad of police surrounded and arrested a man, refusing to talk with any of those in the crowd around about their actions. Had they explained at the time that the man being arrested had been identified as someone who was wanted for an earlier unspecified offence and was being taken in for questioning, it would have defused the incident, but this was only revealed after the man – and one of the protesters who had questioned the police about their action – had been put into a police van a short distance away and driven off.

Back in Trafalgar Square there was music as we were waiting for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts protest to begin, provided by ‘Disco Boy’ Lee Marshall from Kent who had brought a mobile rig to Trafalgar Square. Apparently as well as running local discos he has a huge social media following.

Finally the NCAFC protest got under way, with a good crowd of mainly students in Trafalgar Square and speakers on the plinth of Nelson’s Column.

Class War came along (still followed by police) and there were cheers as they displayed their several banners; also taking the stage and marching with the students were the Hashem Shabani group of Ahwazi Arabs, who later held their own protest.

After the speeches in Trafalgar Square the NCAFC protesters set off to march to Parliament. Police tried to stop them with a line of officers and barriers at Downing St, but there were too few officers and many of the protesters walked around them and the barriers. Police apparently randomly picked on a few of the demonstrators and tackled them with unnecessary force making several arrests. The protesters continued marching around Westminster for some hours, but I left them at Parliament Square.

I finished my day’s work in Parliament Square with the Ahwazi Arabs who protested there against the continuing Iranian attacks on their heritage and identity since their homeland, which includes most of Iran’s oil was occupied by Iran in 1925. The occupation was important in protecting the interests of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, effectively nationalised by the UK government in 1914 (later it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and then in 1954, BP) and even after the nationalisation of Iran’s oil, BP remained a leading player in the consortium marketing Iranian oil.

London 14 May 2016

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Class War at UVW protest against Topshop sacking and suspensions of cleaners

May 14 has always been a special day for me, and five years ago I celebrated my birthday on the streets of London photographing various protests around town before going home to a more private event. The day’s work ended for me on Oxford St, where the United Voices of the World union were protesting against Philip Green’s Topshop after members who work as cleaners were suspended and one sacked for their union activities – demanding the London Living Wage. The protest was supported by other groups including Class War, cleaners from the CAIWU and other trade unionists including Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Although Philip Green makes millions, the cleaners were on the national minimum of £6.70 per hour, nothing like a enough to live on in London.

Police were out in force to prevent the protesters entering the Topshop store and there was a noisy protest on the pavement for some time facing the line of police before Class War led the protesters into the centre of the road to block Oxford St.

Police tried to clear the road, and began threatening arrests and the protesters decided to march west down Oxford St, briefly blocking Oxford Circus

before stopping to protest outside John Lewis, where the UVW have been campaigning for several years to get the cleaners recognised as a part of the workforce with similar respect and conditions of service to other John Lewis staff.

There were heated arguments as police manhandled some of the protesters there, but things calmed down a little and the campaigners moved on for a final protest outside the Marble Arch Topshop.

Things seemed to be coming to an end and I was late for dinner so I hurried away.

My day’s work had begun in Holloway, where Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network were holding a rally and march to HMP Holloway, demanding that when the prison closed the site be used for much-needed social housing and community facilities, rather than for expensive private flats. Local MP and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn rode up on his bike to speak at the rally.

I moved on from the rally at the end of the march outside Holloway Prison to Oxford St, where the Revolutionary Communist Group and friends were reminding shoppers of the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The rolling picket urged shoppers to boycott stores which support and fund Israel, including Marks and Spencer, and stopped for brief speeches in front of some of them for short speeches.

A small group of militant Zionists had come along to wave Israeli flags and shout insults at them. The protesters (who included several Jews and some Palestinians) made clear that this was not an anti-Semitic protest but against some actions of the Israeli government and it took place the day before Nabka Day, the ‘day of the catastrophe’, remembering when roughly 80% of the Palestinian population were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. This year the attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem have largely been precipitated by the continuing attempts by Jewish settlers to displace the Palestinian population of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Founded in 1865, the area became home to Jerusalem’s Muslim elite, but in 1948 became home to Palestinian refugees from Jerusalem.

Vegans had come to Trafalgar Square holding laptops and tablets and wearing masks to show the film ‘Earthlings’ which includes scenes of horrific cruelty to animals and calling for an end to the farming and eating of animals. Some also pointed out the contribution that becoming vegan could make towards solving the climate crisis as Vegan dietts use less water, land and grain and produce less CO2.

Also on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square were a small group of protesters standing in front of the National Gallery who held posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons’.

More about all these protests on My London Diary:

Topshop protest after cleaners sacked
Refugees Welcome say protesters
Vegan Earthlings masked video protest
68th Anniversary Nabka Day
Reclaim Holloway