Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

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


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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


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Schools Climate Strike

Monday, March 15th, 2021


A bill is currently being introduced into the UK parliament which will severely restrict our ability to protest, giving police new powers to control both static protests and marches. Many of us see it as a major attempt to limit democratic and human rights and a major step in our movement towards a police state. Even the police are worried about some aspects of it. I think there are some aspects which the House of Lords may seek to alter or remove, but given the large Tory majority it seems likely to be passed more or less intact.

The proposals by Home Secretary Priti Patel are widely seen as a knee-jerk right-wing reaction to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement, and come at a time when Covid restrictions are being widely used by police to prevent protests, even where these seem to present little danger of spreading the virus.

XR promoted a policy of encouraging its supporters to be arrested, and were widely criticised on the left for doing so. In its earlier protests, relatively few of those arrested came to trial and many charges were found to be unlawful – as was the London-wide ban on protests the police later enforced. In later XR protests the Home Office clearly put pressure on police and CPS to ensure that charges were brought and the new bill reflects that much tougher attitude.

We already have a criminal justice system that is failing under extreme pressures, and was even before the extra constraints of Covid. Police are failing to pursue many types of crime and the chances of criminals being caught – always the most effective deterrent – are rapidly falling. In the 12 months up to March 2019, only 7.8% of reported offences in England and Wales led to someone being charged or summonsed – roughly on in every 13 – and unless a crime number is needed for insurance many now think it isn’t worth reporting most crimes. It’s a figure that halved since records were first published only four years previously.

I doubt if this bill will actually have the intended effect of reducing protests, but it will increase the number of arrests and further clog up the justice system – probably leading to the introduction of yet more draconian measures including the loss of civil rights.

Quite how the Old Bill will react in future at protests like the London Schools Climate Strike on Friday 15th March 2019 is a matter for conjecture. If the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill comes into law will they be prepared to undertake mass arrests of minors who refuse to accept direction? Clearly the police (and military) revelled in the freedom and encouragement from Thatcher to wade into the miners, but I hope they will still have sufficient human decency to draw the line when Patel’s orders come to attack children.

Of course what we really need is not to attack climate protesters but to take urgent actions to avoid climate disaster – as the several thousand school students who took part in the Big School Strike for the Future were demanding.

More about the protest at London Schools Climate Strike


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.


Students for democracy

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

After a lengthy rally in a packed Whitehall, so full that police asked the organisers to tell people at the end only to move out in the direction of Trafalgar Square to avoid the danger of people being crushed as the Parliament Street end was so packed, Youth Strike for Climate and other mainly young protesters decided it was time for some more direct action.

It had been a long rally, with speaker after speaker, and the crowd in front of the stage was so packed that I was unable to move through it as I usually do during the more tedious of the speeches. There were some good speeches, and some well-known speakers, but I now find standing in one place for a long time makes my legs start to itch and throb, inflaming my varicose eczema.

So when the Youth Strike moved off, I was more than happy to follow them, though I did hope they would not move too far. There were other groups that marched as well as those I was with, some going into the West End, but fortunately these marchers went to a rather more convenient place for my journey home.

As they marched up Whitehall, police appeared to be forming a cordon across the top of the street, and they turned right down Whitehall Place, then continuing up Craven Street to The Strand. Police made no further effort to stop them, with just a few officers marching with them as they made their way onto Waterloo Bridge and sat down, blocking the south-bound carriageway.

They began their own rally there, and there were several short speeches, but the lure of Waterloo Station just a short distance further on soon proved too great, and I left to go home. As I walked off the bridge, several vans full of police arrived and were doubtless about to attempt to re-open the bridge to traffic, but I’d had enough.

More pictures Students March to Defend Democracy.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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


Democracy under threat

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Democracy in this country is certainly not perfect, but what we have is the result of hundreds of years of history, of the fight for power between the monarchy and a parliament which has long represented the interests of the rich and powerful. An early victory along the road came with Magna Carta, when the barons who had spent the night just a few hundred yards from where I now live, forced King John to sign a document that outlined some basic freedoms and the principle that the monarch was subject to the laws of the land.

It wasn’t a document that did a great deal for the peasants or the serfs, though two years later another charter by Henry III did restore some of the rights of free men which had been appropriated following the Norman invasion.

Despite the rise in the twentieth century of the Labour movement, our democracy remains one that largely protects and serves the interests of the rich and powerful. And although theoretically we are all equal under the law, in practice this has never been the case. And although the constraints and enforcements are generally more subtle than in most countries we are still a feudal country in many ways, with power still residing in the ownership of land, including huge areas by the descendants of those Runnymede barons, as well as the ownership of media. And occasionally the monarchy and its agents still bites – as Dr David Kelly’s staged suicide shows.

Much of the more recent amelioration in areas such as worker’s rights has of course come from our membership of Europe, driven by countries which had the sense to behead their royalty or lost them in wars. There is a huge irony in the continual parroting by some working class Brexiteers that Brexit is “taking our country back“. It is – but giving it back to the rich.

Boris Johnson’s government is a part of this process of restoring control to wealthy elites, taking power away from Parliament. The government tried to close down debate on leaving Europe without a deal by simply shutting down Parliament. Eventually the Supreme Court decided that the move was illegal. Now that the Tories have a large majority it seems certain that the powers of the court will be limited to prevent such legal scrutiny occuring again. And already parliament is having its powers to debate any new trade agreements removed.

Although ‘Boris’ cultivates the image of a clown, it’s wrong to think he is one, or indeed that he is really in charge, rather than just a figure-head being allowed to perform by others with far more serous designs. And while some posters featuring the monarchy were amusing, the suggest that they carry that we would somehow be better off if the monarchy was more powerful is misguided. We may well be heading to become an unconstitutional ‘Banana State’ but we would be better fighting for a people’s republic.

More pictures: Defend democracy, Stop the Coup.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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


August 2019 on My London Diary

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

It has taken me a long time to complete putting my work from August on-line. Partly because I had a week’s holiday at the start of September. But while I covered quite a number of protests in August – and they all take time to put onto the web, I also found time to continue with one of my other projects with panoramic images, which take me rather longer to prepare.

Most of the pictures of protests are available for editorial use from Alamy, where the easiest way to find them is probably in my pages there. The latest images there are on the first page of many. Other pictures can be obtained direct from me.

August 2019

Students March to Defend Democracy
Defend democracy, Stop the Coup
Staines Moor
Solidarity with Polish LGBTQ+ community

Anti-fascists outnumber Protest for ‘Tommy’
Camden, Kings X & Regent’s Canal
Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In
Charing Cross to Greenwich
Official Animal Rights March 2019
Stand with Hong Kong & opposition
XR Rebel Rising March to the Common

Stand up to LGBT+ Hate Crime Kiss-In
Justice for Marikana – 7 years on
Stand with Kashmir

Kashmir Indian Independence Day Protest
Stop Turkey’s Invasion of Kurdistan
Kashmiris protest in Trafalgar Square
Vegans Protest Diary Farming
Kashmiris protest at India House

City & Thames
SODEM at the Cabinet Office
Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered
Legalise Personal Light Electric Vehicles
‘Free Tommy’ protest

Anti-Racists march against the far right
LouLou’s stop exploiting your workers
North Woolwich Royal Docks & Thames
DLR – Bank to London City Airport


Afrikans demand reparations

London Images


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Sudanese celebrate 6th April revolution

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

On 6th April 1985, a revolution in Sudan overthrew dictator Jaafar Nimeiri, and on the 34th anniversary of that event, Sudanese came to the London embassy to support the new revolutionary movement in Sudan that had then been protesting for 17 weeks demanding freedom, peace and justice in their country.

Back in 1985 it had been a group of military officers who had taken power, forcing Nimeir to flee to Egypt and setting up a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to rule Sudan. Rather a lot has happened in Sudan since then, including both the seizing of power by Omar al-Bashir in 1989 and the secession of South Sudan in 2011, with the loss of its oil revenues.

It was rises in the price of basic goods including bread and a hugely increasing cost of living that began the protests, which quickly turned into demands for al-Bashir to go and for an end to military rule and for freedom and democracy. Attempts by al-Bashir to use force to end the protests failed, despite the declaration of a state of national emergency.

The protest in London in these pictures took place as there were also large protests in Sudan, particularly in the capital Khartoum, where it became clear that while the security forces were still trying to subdue the protests, the military were moving to back the protesters demands to remove the president. Within five days, al-Bashir was deposed and arrested.

The protests continued – and there was further violent repression by the security forces with well over a hundred deaths on June 3 which led to a 3-day general strike and nationwide civil disobedience campaign. But on 5th July an agreement was reached between the TMC and Forces of Freedom and Change alliance negotiators representing the protesters, and the future for Sudan appears more hopeful.

More pictures at Sudanese for Freedom, Peace and Justice.


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images



Brexit moan

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

I don’t like to mention Brexit. It’s a subject about which more nonsense has been talked over the past few years than any other, both before and after the referendum, which of course should never have been held.

But if you argue that one referendum is democracy in action and should be respected, it seems illogical to suggest that we should not have another one now that we have a far better idea of what leaving Europe will mean. I don’t know of course what result a new referendum would give, whether it would again generate the kind of lies and disgust with politics that drove the previous vote just over the halfway mark.

Most of the organisations I’ve belonged to have had clear rules about amendments to their constution, generally requiring a fairly high quorum and a 60% or even two-thirds majority or a majority of those entitled to vote rather than simply more votes than the other side. There were no such safeguards for the Brexit vote, which constitutionally was only advisory (although Cameron had said he would respect the decision, thinking it was certain to be to remain in Europe.)

Probably by now enough of the elderly leave voters will by now have died and new young Europe supporters will have got the vote, and together with those who have changed their minds would change the result.

Europe supporter Madeleina Kay came dressed as Brittania with a quote from Oscar Wilde ‘We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’

It now looks increasingly likely that we will leave Europe in an extremely messy way, with Boris, Farage and the DUP shouting insults at the Europeans in what they will call attempts at negotiation. We will see a hard border in Ireland, a loss in our living standards, chlorinated chickens and yet more privatision of the NHS. We’ll have a general election leading to an even more hung Parliament, probably leading to a right-wing coalition. The only consoling feature of the disatrous election results will be most of the right-wing Labour MPs who have spent almost all of their time over the past few years undermining Corbyn and their party losing their seats.

And then, perhaps in the election after next, perhaps a new revitalised socialist Labour party led by one of those now a shadow minister under Corbyn, probably a woman, will run on the platform of taking us back into Europe, win with a thumping majority and go back to Europe cap in hand. We won’t get as good a deal as we have at the moment, but they will be happy to have us back again!

Of course this isn’t an entirely serious political prediction, though I think it has more chance of coming to pass than most that we hear in the mass media, and certainly better than anything Laura K has so far come up with. Take it more as a rather dark and slightly humourous reflection on what seems an entirely desperate situation the country has got itself into.

And you can see more pictures of disgruntled Brexiteers at Brexiteers protest Betrayal.


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

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Algerians protest

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Protests have been taking place every Friday in Algeria for 16 weeks as I write this, and the protest I met in London came close to the start of this peaceful call for change.

The protests in Algeria were triggered in the middle of February when the wheelchair-bound President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 82 on the day of this protest, announced he would stand for yet another term in office in the April elections. People took to the streets to say he had to go and to call for a civilian-led replacement to the military regime.

Bouteflika was coming to the end of his fourth 5-year term in office, heading a repressive and corrupt military government and has hardly been seen in public since a stroke in 2013. Algeria has seen few benefits from its huge earnings from oil and gas exports, much of which is unaccounted for, and almost a third of young people are unemployed.

Although police have used tear gas and violence against the protests in Algeria, unlike in the Sudan the regime (and protesters) have tried to avoid escalation, probably fearing a repeat of the civil war the country suffered in the 1990s. The regime probably fears that many of its soldiers would refuse to carry out orders to attack the protesters.

So since February there have been attempts to conciliate the protesters. In April Bouteflika was forced to resign, and some of his close associates arrested, with the speaker of the parliament Abdelkader Bensalah  being elected as interim President. The protests are now calling for him and others associated with the old regime to also go, including the head of the army, Ahmed Gaid Salah.

I hadn’t been aware that this protest was taking place, and was walking towards Trafalgar Square for another event when I saw the march moving off in the distance and ran to catch up with them. I always take care to read (and photograph) the banners and placards at protests, and with these (at least those that were in English) I was soon clear what this protest was about. Usually when I plan my diary I also do at least a little research about the events and causes, but this time I had to do this after the event.

Algerians say no 5th term for Bouteflika


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images