Posts Tagged ‘climate crisis’

Climate, Pay & Pensions – 2019

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

Climate, Pay & Pensions – Friday 29th November 2019 was ‘Black Friday’ for some but for others it was ‘Buy Nothing Day’ and Climate Strike students were on the march, while separately University lecturers and others in the UCU along with students and other supporters were marching to Parliament in support of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions.


Youth Climate Strike March

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Over a thousand mainly school students met in Parliament Square to demand the government and other governments world-wide take urgent action to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

They demanded a Green New Deal to save their future and for the school curriculum to make clear the urgent need for changes in attitudes and action.

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Of course their protest fell on deaf ears in the Tory government, and although it did seem for some time that the Labour opposition was beginning to think seriously about the environmental crisis, as it seems more likely they might get into power their climate polices for a https://www.labourgnd.uk/gnd-explained Green New Deal are rapidly being abandoned and it now seems they are “unlikely to meet its £28bn green pledge at all.”

Climate, Pay & Pensions

Well over a thousand marched up Whitehall and on through Trafalgar Square to Regent Street, intending to go to Oxford Street on ‘Buy Nothing Day’, but police stopped them on Regent Street and diverted them into Mayfair and eventually back to Whitehall and Parliament Square.

Earlier they had been met by a group of XR’s ‘Red Brigade’ mimes who had come to salute the student march.

Many more pictures at Youth Climate Strike March.


UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions

The UCU march from London University was on the 4th day of their 8 day strike over pensions, pay and conditions and in solidarity with the Youth Climate Strike also taking place in London the same day.

Some had been on the picket lines since the early morning before the march began in Malet Street.

I saw the march as I came back from Regent Street where I had left the student march as I came on to the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, and ran down to catch up with the front of the march on Whitehall, close to Downing St.

The march stopped there for some time, lining the road opposite the entrance to Downing St and shouting towards it, before moving on towards Parliament.

As well as their call for proper working conditions and better pay many of the marchers also came calling for changes in what is taught and with posters and placards about climate change. Some had already marched to support the students.

They then marched on to Parliament Square, where I left them as they moved towards a rally.

More pictures UCU March for Planet, Pay and Pensions.


Housing For Need Not Greed

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Housing For Need Not Greed: Mostly my posts here look at old work, either from a few years ago or my work on London back in the 1980s and 90s. But I’m still goining out at taking pctures if not quite as often as I once did. So this post is about one of the two events I photographed last weekend.

Housing For Need Not Greed - Aysen Dennis - Fight4Aylesbur
Aysen Dennis – Fight4Aylesbury

Last Saturday, 8th July 2023 was National Housing Action Day, and a march from the Elephant to the Aylesbury Estate was one of 16 across the country on National Housing Day. Others were taking place in Lambeth, Islington, Kensington, Cardiff, Glasgow, Abbey Wood, Wandsworth, Harlow, Merton, Ealing, Cornwall, Folkestone, Devon, Birmingham, and Hastings.

Housing For Need Not Greed -Tanya Murat - Southwark Defend Council Housing
Tanya Murat – Southwark Defend Council Housing

The Southwark protest demanded Southwark Council stop demolishing council homes and refurbish and repopulate estates to house people and end the huge carbon footprint of demolish and rebuild. They demanded housing for need not corporate greed, refurbishment not demolition, filling of empty homes and an end to the leasehold system.

Housing For Need Not Greed
Marchers at the Elephant on their way to the Aylesbury Estate

Demolition and rebuilding of housing produces huge amounts of CO2, and whenever possible should be avoided now we are aware of the real dangers of global warming. Instead existing buildings should be insulated, retrofitted and refurbished and properly maintained.

Housing For Need Not Greed

Southwark Council’s estates have for well over 20 years been deliberately run down and demonised with some being demolished and replaced. Around 1000 council homes on the Aylesbury Estate have already been demolished buy around 1,700 are still occupied but currently scheduled for demolition.

Marchers on Walworth Road on their way to the Aylesbury Estate.

These homes were well built for the time to higher standards than their replacement and could easily and relatively cheaply be brought up to modern levels of services and insulation with at least another 50 years of life. The estate was carefully designed with open spaces, natural daylight and a range of properties, many with some private outdoor space. The planned replacements are at higher density, less spacious and unlikely to last as long – and only include a small proportion at social rents. Current tenants are more secure and the properties are far more affordable.

People on the street watch and video the march

Many of those whose homes have already been demolished here and on the neighbouring Heygate estate have been forced to move outside the area, some far from London as they can no longer afford to live here.

Bubbles and Marchers on Walworth Road on their way to the Aylesbury Estate.

Although the developers have profited greatly from their work with Southwark Council here and in other estates, and some officers and councillors involved have personally landed well-paying corporate jobs and enjoyed lavish corporate hospitality, the schemes have largely been financial disasters for the council and council tax payers.

Fight4Aylesbury was formed in 199 as Aylesbury Tenants and Residents First, and has been fighting Southwark Council’s plans to demolish the estate since then. While these schemes – part of New Labour’s regeneration initiative – have always been destructive of local communities and disastrous for many of those whose homes have been demolished, we now see that they are also environmentally unsupportable.

You can watch a video on YouTube of Aysen Dennis, Fight4Aylesbury and Tanya Murat, Southwark Defend Council Housing talking about the protest, and FIght4Aylesbury recently released a newsletter, The Future of the Aylesbury with more details on the estate and their proposals. A few more of my pictures from the event are in the album Housing For Need Not Greed – National Action Day, London, UK and are available for editorial use on Alamy.


Climate, Universal Credit and Boycott Israel

Thursday, December 1st, 2022

Three protests in London four years ago on Saturday 1st December 2018


Stop Universal Credit day of action – Camden Town, Saturday 1st December 2018

Climate, Universal Credit and Boycott Israel

Protests were taking place across the country called by Unite Community in a day of action against the continuing problems of Universal Credit, a reform and simplification of benefits. The main drive behind the move to this was to cut the amount that benefits cost the country and its implementation has been extremely badly thought out and managed, largely under the control of IDS, the widely detested Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2010 to 2016.

I chose to photograph the protest at Camden largely because it was taking place next to an Underground station which I could conveniently travel to and then back to the main event I was covering. I could have taken similar pictures at other locations across London or elsewhere.

Climate, Universal Credit and Boycott Israel

The campaigners want an end to the long wait which leaves claimants penniless for six weeks or more before UC kicks in and for them to be able to make their applications in person at job centres as well as online, which causes difficulties for many, either because they lack the equipment and connection or particularly among older people competence on-line. They point to UC having created incredible hardship, pushing many into extreme poverty and destitution, making them reliant on food banks and street food distributions and greatly increasing the number of homeless and rough sleepers. Thanks to Tory policies, more than 120,000-plus homeless children in Britain will spend Christmas in hostels and B&Bs, many without the means or facilities to provide a Christmas meal.

Climate, Universal Credit and Boycott Israel

Academic studies suggest that UC is a part of a “state euthanasia” system for the poor, with academic estimates that it and other benefit cuts and sanctions since the 2010 elections having caused 110,000 early deaths, including many suicides. A cross party committee has called for its rollout to be halted until improvements are made, but the government has dismissed virtually all criticism of the system, making only insignificant changes.

Partly the problem obviously comes from the complete failure of IDS and others planning the system to understand what it is like to be poor. They have savings and resources – families with money and the ability to get loans and overdrafts, well-stocked cupboards, quarterly energy bills rather than having to pay in advance and so on. They are used to being paid their larger salaries on a monthly basis. Most of those claiming benefits have no savings and no one to help them tide over even a few days without money.

Stop Universal Credit day of action


Together for Climate Justice – Saturday 1st December 2018

The Campaign against Climate Change has organised marches, protests and rallies since its formation in 2001 when it protested against Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto treaty, including an annual event around the time of the UN Climate talks since 2005, and I’ve photographed most of these. Particularly in recent years they have been joined by many other groups as concern over the climate disaster has convinced a wider audience of the need for urgent action to save our life on Earth.

In 2018 they were extremely worried that the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, taking place the following week, were being sponsored by leading firms in Poland’s fossil fuel industry. Several thousand marchers gathered outside the Polish embassy for a rally before marching through central London to Downing St.

Outside the embassy we listened to a whole raft of speakers including ncluding Labour MP Clive Lewis, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, Anna Gretton from Extinction Rebellion, UCU Vice President Nita Sanghera, Neil Keveren of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, Paul Allen from Zero Carbon Britain, Beatriz Ratton of Brazilian Women Against Fascism, Asad Rehman of War on Want who all expressed solidarity with protesters in Poland and stressed the urgent need to cut CO2 and methane emissions.


We then learnt and practised a few Polish slogans, some of which were on the placards for the protest including ‘Razem dla klimatu’ (Together for the Climate) which appeared on a number of placards, and the rather less pronounceable Polish for ‘Time to limit to 1.5’, as well as for ‘Climate, jobs, justice!’.

We got more speeches at a rally at the end of the march opposite Downing St, with Labour MP Barry Gardiner, Liz Hutchins of Friends of the Earth, a woman from Frack Free United, In the final speech Claire James of Campaign against Climate Change introduced a speaker on behalf of the Global South, where people are already dying because of climate change.

Together for Climate Justice


BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019 – Broadcasting House, Sat 1 Dec 2018

Finally after the climate rally ended I rushed up to Broadcasting House where the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others were calling on the BBC to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, to avoid being complicit in Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Campaigners said that the contest was being used to ‘artwash’ Israel’s human rights record as a state whose laws have created an apartheid system in Israel and Palestine, and whose forces in the last eight months since protests began in Gaza have killed over 200 Palestinians.

As well as the PSC, the protest and the #BoycottEurovision2019 was supported by the Stop The War Coalition, Palestinian Forum UK and Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA). Also present in a pen a few yards away were around 15 Zionist counter-protesters who waved Israeli flags and shouted insults and lies, with one man loudly insistent that Palestine had never existed.

I’m happy to boycott Eurovision wherever it is taking place, and have been doing so ever since it began.

BBC Boycott Eurovision Israel 2019


NHS, Parental Leave & Fridays For Future

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022

Scrap the ICP Contract, Keep the NHS Public – Westminster, Fri 26 Oct 2018

Later on Friday 26th October 2018 Eleanor Smith’s private members bill calling for the scrapping of plans for Integrated Care Providers which break up the NHS into smaller business units which can be competed for by private sector organisations was due for its second reading.

Eleanor Smith MP

ICPs were planned by NHS England whose CEO Simon Stevens was previously a senior executive of the giant US healthcare and health insurance company United Health Group, to be a way for the backdoor privatisation of our National Health Service.

The rally outside parliament had already begun when I arrived. It’s expensive for me to use the trains in the rush hour and in any case I don’t like getting up early now, but I had run much of the way from Waterloo and only missed the first few minutes. Speakers at a rally by Keep Our NHS public, Health Campaigns Together and We Own It included Eleanor Smith MP and Green Party Health spokesperson Larry Sanders (Bernie’s older brother) as well as other health campaigners.

The petition from ‘We Own It’ with 31,870 signatures to scrap the ICP contract

At the end of the rally campaigners marched to deliver a petition to the Dept of Health, which had recently moved to offices on Victoria Street. It isn’t easy to spot and the march at first went past it before I and others realised, and had to turn around and go back to it. There was only a very small notice outside and it was only by looking through the large glass windows that it was clear that this was the building.

There was then a short protest on the pavement outside before a small group went inside to hand over the box containing the petition which had over 31,000 signatures.

As we walked in a security man told us that we were not allowed to enter the building and could not take photographs. The campaigners told him he could not be serious and ignored him as they handed the petition over at the desk.

There was then a final speech on the pavement outside by Tony O’Sullivan of Keep Our NHS Public and the event ended with a group photograph in front of the Ministry offices. As expected the private members bill failed to get a second reading and the privatisation of the NHS continues.

More pictures on My London Diary at Scrap ICP Contract, Keep NHS Public.


Support self-employed parental leave – Old Palace Yard, Fri 26 Oct 2018

I returned to Old Palace Yard outside Parliament where a photocall was taking place for the second reading of another private member’s bill. Tracy Brabin MP’s #SelfieLeave bill was listed, which would give self-employed parents access to shared parental leave and pay.

Tracy Brabin had appeared in several soap operas including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Casualty and Emmerdale before becoming MP forBatley and Spen from 2016 to 2021. In May 2021 she became the first elected Mayor of West Yorkshire. Her bill was supported by members of Equity, UK Music, the Music Producers Guild and the Musicians Union. Currently women are forced to be the main carer, regardless of circumstances and fathers are denied any paid leave to look after their children, reinforcing outdated stereotypes and causing stress for thousands of families.

Although there would be no additional cost to the exchequer as the existing entitlement to Maternity Allowance for self-employed women would simply be shared with a partner, this bill too failed to get its second reading. I did my best, but I think the pictures are generally rather uninteresting and demonstrate why I don’t usually bother with such photocalls.

Support self-employed parental leave


Fridays for Future – act on climate change – Parliament Square, Fri 26 Oct 2018

Elsie Luna who produces The Politics Podcast for Young People in the UK

In August 2018 Greta Thunberg instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break protested outside the Swedish Parliament, breaking the law to start the School Strike For Climate.

This was the first protest in London hosted by Extinction Rebellion as a part of a #FridaysForFuture movement taking place in many cities and towns across the world inspired by her example. The group announced weekly protests would take place here in London.

Elise Luna with a message for Angela Merkel – Watch out – I see your dirty coal

They began the protest where I met them in front of the statue of Millicent Fawcett at the back of the square, but were soon told by the GLA heritage wardens they were not allowed to protest there and moved to the pavement at the front of Parliament Square which is not covered by the GLA bylaws.

Among the protesters was Elsie Luna who produces the remarkable ‘The Politics Podcast for Young People in the UK’. Few had come today, but it was the first protest and the organisers hope it will grow week by week.

Fridays for Future – act on climate change


Police Ban London Protests – 2019

Sunday, October 16th, 2022

Police Ban London Protests - 2019
Police arrest protesters in Whitehall

After a week of protests which brought much of central London traffic to a standstill in October 2019, the Metropolitan Police, egged on by Tory politicians, announced a ban on any Extinction Rebellion protests anywhere in Greater London under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986. This draconian measure across the whole of London meant that any two or more people coming together anywhere across London to protest over the climate crisis would form an illegal assembly and would be subject to arrest.

Police Ban London Protests - 2019

XR continued to protest and also began legal action challenging the ban which was later ruled illegal; the police probably knew that this was the case, but also knew they could put it into effect and use it until the court came to its decision in a cynical but rather typical misuse of their powers.

Police Ban London Protests - 2019

XR did continue their planned ‘No Food No Future’ protest on Tuesday 15th, immediately after the illegal ban was announced, and there were a few arrests, and the police began clearing the XR camp at Vauxhall. At short notice the Green Party organised a protest in Trafalgar Square against the ban where speakers included Labour MP David Drew, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry, peace activist Angie Zelter and Extinction Rebellion’s Rupert Read as well as three British Green MEPs and an Irish and German MEP.

A couple of hundred XR protesters also came to the square and took part in this protest, clearly in breach of the Section 14 Order, but while police watched and photographed the event they made no arrests. But XR’s big emergency protest against the ban came following day,


XR defies protest ban – Trafalgar Square, Wednesday 16th Oct 2019

Police came and warned some of those sitting in the square before the start of the event that they were committing an offence and might be arrested, but I saw no actual arrests, though police did come and take away a tent from one man as carrying camping equipment is banned in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square under laws made against Brian Haw’s protest and the Occupy Movement.

There were speeches, speeches and more speeches to a crowded audience in Trafalgar Square, with speakers including XR members, prominent environmentalists, politicians and a former police Chief Superintendent and Green Party MEP Ellie Chowns who had been arrested defending the right to peaceful public protest in Trafalgar Square the previous day.

The XR ‘Red Brigade’ made a spectacular entrance during the speeches, making their way slowly up through the crowd to stand at the top of the steps where they remained for some time responding to the occasion.

In his speech George Monbiot expressed his resolve to get arrested when the protest and XR General Meeting which was to follow it ended. He invited others to join him then and walk into the road in Whitehall and sit down.

Monbiot carried out this intention and was arrested by police along with a number of others including the Green Party Mayor of Woodbridge Eamonn O’Nolan who had worn his Mayoral robes for the event.

More on My London Diary at XR defies protest ban


XR demands Murdoch tell the truth – London Bridge Wednesday 16th Oct 2019

The same evening Extinction Rebellion continued with their planned vigil at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp HQ at London Bridge demanding that his papers tell the truth about the climate crisis.

Much to their surprise this XR protest turned out to be legal as the blanket ban imposed by the Metropolitan Police on protests by XR across London only applies to public places and not to the private area here in front of the offices.

They came to protest here as the Murdoch press has a particularly bad record of climate denial and the support generally of fossil fuel interests.

Speakers called on the press to end its support of fossil fuel extraction, climate deniers and unnecessary consumerism and instead actively promote lifestyle changes to combat the climate emergency.

More at XR demands Murdoch tell the truth.


Rainy London – XR Strength in Grief Procession

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

Rainy London - XR Strength in Grief Procession

Saturday 12th October 2019 was a rainy day in London, but that didn’t stop people coming to take part in Extinction Rebellion’s Strength in Grief procession from Marble Arch to Russell Square, although probably it rather kept the numbers rather lower. I don’t like photographing in the rain, but in London you have to be prepared for it, though I still have problems.

While you can try to keep cameras dry, you can’t take pictures without exposing the front of the lens to the weather. It’s less of a problem if you work with long lenses that have lens hoods that help to keep raindrops off the lens, but if like me you mainly use wide-angles anything that would help much to keep the lens surface dry would be in the picture.

I work clutching a cloth or chamois leather in my hand and try to wipe off any drops immediately before taking each picture, but still a proportion of them are ruined as rain falls before I press the shutter release. But worse still, with humidity high lenses steam up on inner elements and become unusable – zoom lenses more so as zooming draws in or expresses air from the lens. On some occasions I’ve been left only able to use a fixed focal length fisheye, or simply have to go somewhere warm and dry for to restore lenses to use.


Trade Unionists join the Rebellion – Trafalgar Square

Rainy London - XR Strength in Grief Procession
Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU

My working day began in Trafalgar Square, where trade unionists were holding a rally to show their solidarity with Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers. Unlike the government they recognise that the climate and ecological emergency means that the very future of life on this planet is at stake and we need to take radical action without delay to avoid catastrophe.

Rainy London - XR Strength in Grief Procession

They joined the huge number of scientists and others in what Liz Truss has now stigmatised as the ‘anti-growth coalition’ of those who haven’t firmly buried their heads in the ground to realise that we need deeds not words urgently. As David Attenborough put it, “Anyone who believes in indefinite growth on a physically finite planate is either mad, or an economist.” Though a shortsighted economist. Many of those present went on to join XR’s procession later.

Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


Brexit unfair for EU citizens – Trafalgar Square

Also in Trafalgar Square were protesters from the 3million organisation who had come to express their love for the UK and to remind the Prime Minister of the broken promise made to them on 1 June 2016 when Vote Leave had stated “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

Instead they have had to apply for permission to remain, and many who have applied have not been granted settled status. Recently Government minister Brandon Lewis had stated that they are at risk of deportation.

They had come prepared for the weather with ponchos in the blue and yellow colours of the European flag. They held up copies of Vote Leave’s broken promise and tore it up.

Brexit unfair for EU citizens


XR Strength in Grief Procession

October 12th is the Day of Indigenous Resistance on the anniversary of Colombus’s landing in the Americas. The procession began with a rally at Marble Arch where speakers included those from various indigenous communities and women from the Global Women’s Strike who spoke about the climate crisis which is already killing thousands in the Global South as well as others who spoke on the power of grief.

Eventually the funeral procession set off past Marble Arch and along Oxford St, led by XR’s Red Brigade.

Behind them came skeletons, a jazz funeral band and many people carrying coffins, banners and placards and expressing their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life.

I began at the head of the procession, then stopped on Oxford Street to photograph the rest of the marchers as they came along the street.

By now I was wet, my cameras were getting wet, and I was getting cold and I decided to leave rather than continue with the procession to its final rally in Russell Square.

Much more at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

Carmen leads the XR Carbon Procession at Hyde Park Corner

Extinction Rebellion had obviously put in a lot of thought and effort into their Carmen’s Carbon Procession on July 2nd, 2019, and there were quite a few photographers and videographers who came to photograph it. Doubtless all of us filed our pictures with the agencies or publications, but I don’t know how many got published. Probably the only pictures used came from later in the day when they ended the event with a protest in Trafalgar Square close to where a large audience had gathered to watch the opera.

Protests in the UK seldom get reported, unless they result in considerable disruption, violence or involve celebrities behaving badly. So far as most editors are concerned they are not ‘news’. Of course much of the press and media is owned by a small group of billionaires whose interests those editors have to bear in mind even where there is not explicit direction. But more generally they operate under a general restraint of upholding the status quo and from their personal position as part of the well paid middle class – something which has been very apparent in the coverage of the recent RMT strikes.

But overall Extinction Rebellion have done much to bring the climate crisis into a wider public consciousness, and I applaude them for this even if I agree with some of their left and anarchist critics. And perhaps an opera-based protest exemplifies the middle-class nature of the organisation. But mobilising such a large middle-class movement is certainly an acheivement, and many of their harshest critics are those who have failed to mobilise more than a tiny fraction of the working class. Though nothing at the moment suggests that XR’s efforts will result in any of the decisive action needed to be anything but too little too late.

Relatively few people actually see protests on the streets, and most who do are too intent on getting on with their life, shopping or hurrying to meetings or to catch trains to take much notice. Much of XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession in any case took part on fairly empty back streets and it was more an event staged for the media than a protest.

The protest took place on the day that BP, a company which began life in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd, a part of our imperial exploitation of Iran’s vast oil reserves was greenwashing its polluting and climate-damaging activities through sponsorship of a Royal Opera House performance of Carmen to be relayed to 13 BP giant screens in major cities across the UK.

An opera singer performs a little from Carmen

It toured the offices of oil companies belonging to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) urging them to abandon the pretence they can combat global warming without a huge cut in oil production and delivering copies of the Extinction Rebellion Handbook ‘This is Not A Drill’.

As well as Carmen in costume, there was a fine opera singer and a group of musicians, XR drummers to draw attention to the event and a team who marked out the company offices as crime scenes.

The procession found a floral arch in Grosvenor Square

The event met on Ebury Bridge before marking to perform in front of the nearby offices of Italian petroleum company ENI, on an otherwise rather empty street in Pimlico. They then moved on for another performance on a busy lunchtime street corner in Eccleston Square and then the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) close to Victoria Station. By then they needed a rest in Hyde Park before going through Mayfair to the offices of Saudi Aramco at 10 Portman Square.

And an illegally parked symbol of the kind of extreme wasteful consumption that has got the planet in such a mess

It had taken them around three and a half hours to get there, and I decided I’d taken enough pictures and was getting tired. But probably the parts of the event more likely to be featured as news in the UK were to come. Their next planned performance was outside BP in St James’s Square, from where they were going on to protest close to the giant screen in Trafalgar Square, hoping to make clear to the audience there that the Royal Opera House should end their greenwashing sponsorship by BP.

Security at Saudi Aramco take a copy of the XR Handbook ‘This is not a Drill’

More at XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession


Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals – on Monday 4th May 2015 Occupy Democracy were on the fourth day of their ‘Festival of Democracy’ in Parliament Square “building a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!”

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy had come to Parliament Square in defiance of the law criminalising the use of tarpaulins, tents and other protection in the square, and were making six key demands:

• reform of party funding so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them rather than the 1% who bankroll them
• major democratic reform of the media to break the stranglehold of vested interests
• a fundamental overhaul of lobbying and the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government
• the introduction of proportional representation so that everyone’s vote counts
• that MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings
• a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy.

Occupy Festival of Democracy
Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

On Monday 4th they began a rally and meditation at the foot of the statue of Gandhi, noted for his direct action civil disobedience, calling for fossil fuel exploration and investment to be made a crime. Donnachadh McCarthy laid out a large blue banner with the message ‘Criminalise Fossil Fuel Exploration‘ and a mock tombstone with the inscription ‘RIP – 300,000 Dying from Climate Crisis Every Year Said Kofi Annan UN Gen Soc‘.

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

People then brought tarpaulins to sit on around these on the paved area in front of Ghandi’s statue and began a series of short speeches, meditation and songs about climate change and fossil fuel use.

They took a small blue tarp to the statue of Gandhi and wrapped it carefully around him. After a short pause two of the GLC’s private security heritage wardens who had been watching the event with a few police officers came up and removed the blue tarpaulin. A replacement was brought up and carefully held by two of the protesters without touching the statue (much) and the meditation continued.

There was another minor intervention by the heritage wardens who objected to burning incense sticks being placed in the flower beds. The protesters removed them and instead held them.

Donnachadh McCarthy then produced a blue folding tent and erected it, announcing that he was going to defy the ban on tents and inviting others who wished to join him.

People climbed in and after posing for a photograph with the tent the protest continues, with Donnachadh joining them inside as police approached. The police warned those inside the tent they were committing an offence and warned them they could be arrested – and then walked away.

Some minutes later, at exactly 2pm a larger group of police returned and surrounded the tent.

They gave those inside a final chance to leave without being arrested. Three people remained inside the tent, holding each other tight.

Finally they were arrested, handcuffed and taken away to waiting police vans. The whole police operation seemed a massive waste of public money enforcing a ridiculous law. The real criminals are not a few protesters with tents and tarpaulins in public squares, but those who sit in boardrooms and continue promote and produce fossil fuels which are driving us towards extinction, plotting actions to derail attempts to make the changes the planet needs in order to increase their profits.

More pictures at Occupy Gandhi – stop fossil fuel criminals.


Scientists Demand Politicians Listen, Family Justice & Chechnya

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Scientists Demand Politicians Listen, Family Justice & Chechnya – Five years ago on Saturday 22nd April 2017, thousands of scientists marched from outside the Science Museum to a rally at Parliament to demand policies based on proven research rather than fake news and fake science. Elsewhere in London people called for urgent reform of our secretive Family Courts and against the torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.

Scientists Demand Politicians Listen, Family Justice & Chechnya

Scientists march for Science – Kensington

Scientists Demand Politicians Listen, Family Justice & Chechnya

I began my working day on Exhibition Road outsed the Science Museum where a large crowd of people was gathering, many wearing white lab coats, to clebrate the vital role of science in our lives and to demand that the UK and other governments stop listening to fake news and fake science and base policies on proven research.

Scientists Demand Politicians Listen, Family Justice & Chechnya

They saw a particularly dangerous situation in the USA, where President Trump was promoting climate denial and other policies in the face of the well-established science and giant US companies particularly the fossil fuel producers have been spending unimaginable sums over the years to promote biased research and lobby to produce doubt over established facts – just as the tobacco lobby did to undermine the science behind the cancer risks of smoking.

‘The New Greenwashing’, an article just published by Nick Dowson’s article in the May-June 2022 issue of New Internationalist spells out the 6 ‘Tricks’ that Big Oil has used to prevent any meaningful action to make the drastic reductions needed in fossil fuel use and ensure that they continue to make massive profits from oil and gas as we move closer and closer to extinction.

They “Distract, delay and obfuscate” by setting distant targets and coming up with vague ideas like ‘net zero’ when what is needed is an end to fossil fuels, “Sell false solutions” such as carbon credits, carbon offsets, ecosystem services, “Greenwash gas” as being natural and clean, “Peddle futuristic-sounding fictions” particularly around hydrogen use, “Divert subsidies from renewables to unproven technologies” in particular carbon capture and storage and “Individualise, demobilise” making us feel it is our personal responsibility through gadgets such as the carbon footprint calculator invented by BP rather than a problem caused by their activities

Here in the UK Brexit is threatening our international cooperation in science and the BBC uses the excuse of impartiality to give equal billing to accepted and tested science and fake science often presented by non-scientists.

I spent some time watching the march go past, turning into Kensington Road on its way to Parliament Square, wondering what people who saw them going past would make of some of the slogans, such as like ‘Do I have large P-value? Cos I feel Insignificant‘ or ‘dT=α.ln(C1/C0)‘. Many scientists do seem to have a problem in communicating with the rest of us. Fortunately there were others easier to understand.

Scientists march for Science


Scientists Rally for Science -Parliament Square

I rejoined the scientists rather later than hoped after the rally in Parliament Square had begun, missing quite a few of the speeches.

Scientists Rally for Science


Reform Family Courts – Kensington Gardens,

When the scientists marched off from Kensington to Parliament I went in search of another group of protesters who had marched in the opposite direction, from Parliament Square to the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

The had come to protest against the injustices perpetrated by our secret Family Court system and police and social services, and several told horrific real stories of children being taken away from victims of domestic violence, mothers who had reported child abuse by partners or former partners, and other cases of what appeared to be miscarriages of justice. Among those taking part were some unable to speak because they had been gagged by court orders. One woman was being forced to live away from friends, job and family. Another told us how the battle to regain her daughter had taken 7 years and cost her £14,000.

One of the organisers explains why we cannot mention the name of the woman the protest was organised to support

The protest had been arranged, along with another taking place in Nottingham to support a woman currently involved in a family court case. But on the afternoon before this protest, a family court judge had ruled her name could not be mentioned. Although everyone at the protest knew it, we had to refer to her only as ‘S’ to avoid committing an offence and the protest had to be renamed as ‘Justice4S’.

Also present was Sir Benjamin Slade, the owner of two castles in Somerset who had hit news headlines earlier in the week by advertising for a young wife to serve his needs. He had fought the case for one of his former workers whose children had been taken away by social services for what appeared to be trivial reasons, getting a friend who was a major newspaper editor to run a campaign which eventually got them returned. He came to the protest together with a young woman whose case he was currently involved in who was being forced against her will to live in Torquay.

Reform Family Courts


LGBT rights abuses in Chechnya – Russian Embassy, Kensington

After rushing back by tube from Kensington Gardens to Westminster for the Scientists Rally, as soon as that ended I was back on the tube to the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy on Bayswater Road where people had brought pink flowers and wrote messages on pink triangles to leave outside the tall gates of the Consular department of the Russian Embassy in a vigil to show solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya.

The vigil was one of several taking place across the UK after over a hundred men, suspected by the authorities of being homosexual have been rounded up an put into camps and tortured, with three thought to have been killed. Those held include many well-known in the country, including TV personalities and religious figures. An Amnesty petition stated “The Chechen government won’t admit that gay men even exist in Chechnya, let alone that they ordered what the police call ‘preventive mopping up’ of people they deem undesirable”.

LGBT rights abuses in Chechnya


My London Diary – 25th January 2008

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

My London Diary – 25th January 2008

Here is my diary entry for the day, now 14 years ago, reproduced from the My London Diary web page. I’ve included the headings for the four events which in the original are separated from the text in a different column, and a few more of the pictures, but there are many more on the linked pages. The original format makes it more difficult to associate pictures with text, particularly on mobile phones.


Stop Kingsnorth – No New Coal

E.ON Office, Pall Mall, London.

Police kept demonstrators back against the wall and refused me permissio to work sensibly

Friday was a busy afternoon for demonstrations in London. I started in Pall Mall, outside the E.ON offices. This power company is a massive producer of pollutants, and its latest plans, recently approved by Medway Council, are for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.

Currently this is awaiting government approval, but since it entirely contradicts their stated environmental policies it seems almost inevitable it will be given the go-ahead. When I left soon after the start of the demo there were perhaps 50 people present, but more may have come later.

Police were being rather officious in keeping the pavement clear, impeding myself and another photographer trying to cover the event. My reminder that police were supposed to allow the press to do their job was disregarded and I was told I was not allowed to stand on the edge of the pavement in the gaps between the police, although I would clearly not have been obstructing the pavement or getting in the way of the police carrying out their duty. So much for cooperation.
more pictures

Kenyans protest against Ugandan President

Ugandan High Commission, Trafalgar Sq, London.

The demonstration was just starting as I ran by

From there I headed up to Whitehall, on my way passing the start of a demonstration by Kenyans against the Ugandan President Museveni, who has lent support to the fixing of the elections in Kenya.
more pictures

Pakistanis protest at Musharraf London Visit

Whitehall, London.

Waiting for Musharraf to arrive

In Whitehall, a number of Pakistani protesters were waiting the arrival of President Musharraf who was expected to arrive by car at the Banqueting House. I took a few pictures and then left, deciding that I was unlikely to be able to get a decent picture when he arrived given the level of security.

One of the other photographers present mentioned that he had no difficulty in photographing Musharraf in Leicester, where he was allowed to be close enough to be able to reach out and touch him. It wasn’t clear to us why photographers are thought to be so much more of a risk in London
more pictures

Feminist Fightback protest CMF Abortion lies

Christian Medical Fellowship, Southwark, London

Hanging washing on Marshalsea Street outside the CMF office

Finally I headed for the Borough, where Feminist Fightback were demonstrating outside the offices of the Christian Medical Foundation. The CMF gave misleading evidence to the Parliamentary Committee which was considering possible reforms of the abortion act last year, and a number of its members with little direct scientific knowledge also gave evidence as if they were expert witnesses. They also support (and host) the minority report, which is in part based on their unreliable evidence.

In particular the CMF is still pressing the government to reduce the current 24 week time limit on abortions. FF fixed up a washing line outside the CMF offices on which to hang cloth pieces with a number of their slogans and demands.

The CMF issued a press release stating that they welcomed the demonstrators and supported their right to protest – and also offered soft drinks and biscuits, as well as coming out to talk to the demonstrators (and film and photograph them.)

I think most of us would welcome a lowering in the number of abortions, but the way to do this is not by stricter laws on abortion. Similarly, the best approach to reducing the already small number of late abortions is to reduce some of the procedural bottlenecks that lead to delay in the system.

The practical arguments seem almost entirely on the side of the measures proposed by the feminists in simply being more effective and less hypocritical. But I also felt very much more at ease talking to the feminists than the christians, who somehow seemed to exude a self-righteousness that rather made my flesh creep. I’m with Charlotte Bronte when she wrote “self-righteousness is not religion.”

more pictures


There are more pictures on My London Diary, including a few hidden away and not covered by the text taken as I walked from Westminster to Southwark.