Posts Tagged ‘downing st’

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth – On Wednesday 25th February I photographed a number of protests in London, starting in Westminster with the Free Shaker Aamer campaign, striking firefighters and welfare rights activists, then with tube workers at Edgware Road and finally outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton.


Free Shaker Aamer – Parliament Square

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

A protest opposite Parliament called for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The Free Shaker Aamer Campaign had been holding weekly protests opposite Parliament whenever it was in session to remind government of the need for act over his release. He had long been cleared for release but was still held in the illegal prison camp with both US and UK governments dragging their feet as his testimony would be embarrassing to their security agencies, making clear their involvement in torture.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The protest was longer than usual as an international event was taking place at the nearby QEII centre and they wanted to remind delegates there of Shaker’s torture and imprisonment. Eventually the long campaign of protests by this and other groups led the UK government they needed to back his release in practice and he was finally released on 30th October 2015.

More pictures: Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament


Striking Firefighters block traffic – Westminster

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Firefighters in England held a 24 hour strike on 25th Feb 2015 against the unworkable pension scheme the government intended to implement. They say that the devolved governments had recognised the problems in the scheme and made improvements but in England government ministers were refusing to talk with the union, simply ignoring requests for meetings. They accused the government of lies about the union, saying they were being labelled as militants despite them being ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.

After a rally in Westminster Central Hall, several thousand striking firefighters protested on the street outside Parliament before marching to Downing St. Their protest brought all traffic in the area to a standstill until they marched away.

They stopped outside Downing Street and refused to move, saying they would wait there until someone came out to talk to them. A senior police officer come to talk with Matt Wrack and the other FBU leaders there and was extrememly politie, taking Wrack’s mobile number before going away to see if anyone could be persuaded to come out from Downing St to meet the protesters.

I left them leaning on the barriers and looking into Downing Street waiting for someone to come and see them, though I doubted if anyone would ever emerge.

The Fire Service has also suffered like other public services from government cuts; in London these led to Mayor Boris Johnson making dangerous reductions, closing some fire stations and reducing equipment and staffing, which left the London Fire Brigade ill-equipped to deal with major disasters such as the Grenfell fire.

The FBU union later won a number of legal cases against the government over the changes that were made to the pensions scheme, leading to significant compensation for some members.

More at Striking Firefighters block traffic.


Welfare Advocacy not a Crime – DWP, Westminster

Welfare activists protested outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in Caxton Street as a part of the national day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox. He had been arrested when he tried to accompany a vulnerable claimant to her job centre interview to argue for a fairer claimant agreement.

As well as several banners, one man was gagged in protest. By law claimants are allowed to have and adviser present with them at the interview, but when a claimant turned up with Cox, his interview was cancelled.

Cox and the claimant then left the job centre, but later in the day police arrived at his him and arrested him, charging him with threatening behaviour.

Welfare Advocacy not a Crime.


RMT protest Underground Job Cuts – Edgware Road Station (Bakerloo)

Around 20 RMT members handed out fliers at the busy Edgware Road Bakerloo Line station against the proposed 50% cut in station staffing and the closure of the ticket offices which they say will endanger the safety of both passengers and staff.

They got a very positive reception from many of the public going in and out of the station or walking past, although a PCSO came to harass and try to stop their picketing. Most of the public seemed to realise that staff do far more than sell tickets and offer service and protection to the travelling public.

Many promises were made to Underground staff and the public about how they would be protected when cuts were made, but most were later broken.

RMT protest Underground Job Cuts


Lambeth against £90m cuts – Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

After taking some photographs of the protesting RMT staff I got on the Underground there, changing at Oxford Circus to take me to the end of the Victoria Line at Brixton.

There I walked down to Lambeth Town Hall on the corner of Acre Land to join around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents who were gathering for a lively rally outside Lambeth Town Hall.

A lively rally took place urging councillors who were arriving for the council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts which were being passed there by the large Labour majority on the council. Labour then held 59 of the 63 council seats. Among the speakers at the rally was the only Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie, who was to vote against the cuts. The Green Party gained four more seats in the 2018 council elections but lost three of these in 2022. Right-wing Labour councillors still have an overwheming majority and the council continues its policies which fail the community.

Lambeth’s finances were stretched by the development of a new Town Hall or Civic Centre the cost of which roughly doubled from the original contract of £55 million ot £104 million. Policies such as the closure of libraries and the demolition and sale of popular and well-built council estates like Cressingham Gardens had already produced a great deal of protest in the borough.

The £90 million cuts passed at the council meeting later that evening have had a disproportionate impact on children, old people and the disabled who always rely on local services more than the average person. Council employees at the rally opposed the cuts not only because they feared for their own jobs, but because they knew those that remain in post will not be able to offer the public the same quality of service that they do at present.

Lambeth against £90m cuts


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Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice – 2008

Tuesday, February 6th, 2024

Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice – pictures from Ash Wednesday in London on 6th February 2008, with an Ash Wednesday Witness and prayer against War at the Ministry of Defence and a Downing Street protest against a visit by US warmonger and then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. A week tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday Wednesday 14th February 2024, Pax Christi together with Christian CND and others will again be meeting at 3.30pm for a similar witness against war.


Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance and Resistance – Ministry of Defence, Whitehall

Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice

Pax Christi, Catholic Peace Action and Christian CND began their an annual liturgy of Repentance and Resistance around the Ministry of Defence in protest against the continued reliance on nuclear weapons on Ash Wednesday 1982, 42 years ago, and the 2008 event was their 26th.

Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice

Looking back at the pictures I made in 2008 has a particular resonance for me, in that two of those in them are people that I knew who have died in the past couple of years. One was the well-known peace campaigner Bruce Kent who I’d photographed at various events since around 1990 if not earlier and though I didn’t know him well we often exchanged a few words when I took his photograph and had a little joke in recent years. Bruce died in June 2022 and in March 2023 I photographed Jeremy Corbyn planting a memorial tree to him in Finsbury Park.

Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice

The other was a family friend who died recently and we were disappointed other appointments meant we were not be able to go to his funeral last week. He also appears in a some of my photographs of this and other peace events, sometimes singing in the Raised Voices choir.

Ash Wednesday, Charcoal and Condi Rice

Here is the description of the event I wrote in 2008, although the story is mainly told in the pictures and their captions on My London Diary:

Although the ministry and nearby buildings such as the Old War Office were surrounded by police – rather as if they were expecting a massive attack, the police made no attempt to disperse what was undoubtedly an illegal unauthorised protest under the terms of SOCPA. They did hold a couple of people they caught writing on the walls of the Old War Office, and were at least threatening to charge one of them with causing damage to the building, but otherwise watched benignly, at least until I left to catch my train shortly before the liturgy had finished.

The most moving part of the liturgy was outside the Defence Ministry, where a wooden cross was laid on sackcloth. Ashes were sprinkled on it, and then while those present chanted a ‘litany of the martyrs’, including the names of Franz Jaegerstaetter, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and Mary Lampard, 21 ‘Theses for today’s church’ by Philip Berrigan were read and then nailed to the cross.

Ash Wednesday Liturgy of Repentance and Resistance


Protest at Condi Rice’s London Visit – Downing St

A couple of hundred ‘Stop the War’ demonstrators were on the pavement facing Downing Street. They had come with a clear message to give Condoleezza Rice, that it was time for the US to get out of other people’s affairs in other countries.

However there was no sign of Condi, who had obviously avoided using the front entrance to miss the protesters, either entering by the back entrance or through another Government building, possibly making use of the extensive network of tunnels underneath Whitehall.

A large crowd of press photographers were also waiting impatiently opposite the front door of Number 10, waiting for her to appear for a press call along with Gordon Brown, but I think they were waiting until after the protesters dispersed.

I could have joined them, but although the press likes to use pictures taken in front of the famous door I find the great majority of them supremely boring. And I don’t carry the long heavy lenses you really need for the situation to take the one in a million images that has some interest. It’s been years since I bothered to go through the security check and into Downing Street.

Welcome for Condi Rice


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Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution – 2011

Monday, January 29th, 2024

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution: People were protesting on the streets of London on Saturday 29th January 2011 in solidarity with demonstrations in Egypt at the Egyptian Embassy. Elsewhere students, teachers, parents and others took part in a large peaceful march against increases in student fees and cuts in education and public services.


Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution – Egyptian Embassy, South St. Mayfair

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Around 200 people, mainly Egyptians living in the UK had come to the street outside the embassy for peaceful but noisy protest “to show our solidarity & support of our fellow Egyptians in our beloved country, who decided on making Tuesday 25/01/2011 a day of protests & demonstrations in Egypt against the unfair, tyrant, oppressive & corrupt Egyptian regime that has been ruling our country for decades.

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

The protest had brought together Egyptians from differing political & ideological backgrounds, inviting “inviting all supporters of human rights & civic democracy to come & support us in delivering our message to the Egyptian regime.”

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Their stated goal was to achieve “a democratic, free & civil nation capable of ensuring a dignified, honourable & non-discriminatory life for all Egyptians.

Education Cuts & Egyptian Revolution

Although the Arab uprising in Egypt in 2011 achieved some of its aims, including the end of the 30 year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, it was followed by a struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood gaining power and Mohamed Morsi being elected as president in June 2012 only to be overthrown a few months later and the countrycpoming under the military regime led by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi since 2014.

In an interview with German news organisation DW ten years after the upraising an Egyptian activist commented “The counterrevolution has pushed the country into a state that is even more oppressive than before the 2011 revolution. The uprising has taken a terrible turn and has led to a tremendous regression.”

The protesters aimed to bring together people from across a wide range of political viewpoints, they refused to allow Hizb Ut-Tahrir protesters to join them, as they are opposed to human rights and democracy.

More pictures Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution


Hizb ut-Tahrir Turned Away – South Audley St

Hizb Ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamist group calling for the establishment of a Muslim caliphate, marched to the Egyptian Embassy to take part in the protest there but were turned away.

When they arrived they were met by Egyptians taking part in the protest and told very firmly that the embassy protest – like the Egyptian revolution – was to be entirely non-sectarian and that they were not welcome there.

Instead they had to hold their own separate demonstration around a hundred yards away around the corner along South Audley St, where they were spread out along the pavement between South Street and Hill Street.

As always at their events, everyone was dressed in black and the men and women were segregated. The men filled most of the pavement along South Audley St, with just a few women at one end, with most of them around the corner eastwards on South Street, away from the loundspeakers and the embassy.

As I commented it seemed a clear demonstration of the lack of equality they would like to impose. None of the speeches while I was there was in English, but I was able to gather that they were calling for Egypt to come under the rule of an Islamic Khalifah (caliphate), the “real change” which they see as the answer to everything.

It was a call diametrically opposed to the aims of the Egyptian revolution, which aimed to get rid of the oppressive regime and make Egypt a free and democratic nation, a secular state where there is no discrimination based on gender, religion or political views. The last thing they wanted was to replace one repressive regime by another, though depressingly that was what the future held for their country.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Turned Away


No Fees, No Cuts! Student March

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts had organised two large national protests in London and Manchester to defend education and the public sector. They took place a little over two months after another large student march had ended with a small group walking into the Tory HQ at Millbank and occupying it.

On that occasion the police had tried to carry out a brutal eviction and were met with an angry response, with the protesters smashing large plate glass windows to allow others to enter, though few did. A number of protesters and press were injured by police (and a few police injured too), though most of those at the scene simply watched from outside in the courtyard and were appalled when a stupid idiot threw an empty fire extinguisher from the roof and began to chant against him. Fortunately no-one was killed. But the event made the headlines of those media organisations which generally turn their blind eye to protests, though the reports didn’t much engage with the reasons for the protest or report fairly on all that had happened.

Police seemed to have learnt some lessons from their mistakes on that occasion and made much greater efforts to communicate sensibly with the protesters and not to kettle them or push them around. As I wrote “Despite the number of protesters in anarchist dress with facemasks, most students are not out to cause trouble.”

The march had begun with a short rally in Malet Street and I met it as the front was making its way out of Russell Square walking with it and taking pictures of the marchers and of short protests at Topshop and Vodaphone shops in Strand against their tax avoidance. Police lined the front of the shops and soon persuaded the protesters to move on.

Things livened up a little outside Downing Street were the march paused for some angry shouting and several people let of smoke flares before moving on. Many stopped for a while in Parliament Square, with some dancing to a samba band, but after a while everyone moved off to where the march was to end outside Tate Britain on Millbank.

Unlike in the previous November there was a large group of police lined across the entire frontage of the Millbank tower complex – bolting the stable door as I think it unlikely that there would have been any trouble.

The only sign of any conflict between police and protesters I saw did come outside here, when there was a brief sit-down after police tried to drive two vans full of reinforcements through the crowd. Sensibly the police simply brought in a line of officers to allow the vans to drive along the pavement rather than try to force people to move.

By the time I arrived outside Tate Britain with the tail of the march they rally there had ended and I decided it was time to leave, though some of those on the protest were planning to continue elsewhere – including going to the Egyptian Embassy where I had been earlier. Later at home I read reports on-line that half a dozen people had been arrested in minor incidents.


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Protest Under Threat – 2008 and 2024

Friday, January 12th, 2024

Protest Under Threat – On Saturday 12th January 2008 I photographed six protests in London, and two of them were against the increased restrictions on public protest introduced by SOCPA, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which considerably increased the powers of arrest of police, criminalised trespass at designated ‘Protected Sites’ which included nuclear sites and a long list of royal, parliamentary, and government sites.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

But most controversially it seriously restricted our right to demonstrate within a “designated area” of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square. Although Trafalgar Square was excluded from this, it was a wide area which included areas on the south bank of the river including County Hall, the Jubilee Gardens, St Thomas’ Hospital and the London Eye and extended west on the north bank as far as Tate Britain.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

These sections of the act were repealed or rather replaced in 2011 by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which narrowed its scope to prohibiting some activities in Parliament Square, more specifically aimed at protests such as that by Brian Haw.


Hizb ut-Tahrir protest Bush’s Middle East tour – Marble Arch – Saudi Embassy

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

Other protests on the day included a march by supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain from Marble Arch to the Saudi Embassy in Mayfair to show their opposition to George Bush’s Middle East tour and American policies in the region as well as against the current corrupt ruling elites in the area.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

Although I don’t support the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir and was certainly worried by their global intentions which we later saw put into practice by Islamic extremists in ISIS in Syria and others elsewhere as well as uneasy about their treatment of the women who were at their protests clearly as second-class citizens (and who I was often requested by stewards not to photograph), this like their other protests was extremely tightly managed by the organisation.

Clearly the protest presented no real threat to public order and it was hard to see why there was such a large police presence, when all that was needed was some traffic control and perhaps a few officers to monitor the speeches for any illegal content – though I don’t think there were any present who could understand those not in English.
more pictures


Young Rich Protest Siena Airport Expansion

There were two protests taking place around Trafalgar Square, and one of them I found it a little hard to take seriously. This was what I described as a “small but very select” protest against the expansion of Sienna airport “led by the young grandson of a Lord” by “models and young people from some of the richest families around (the kind of people who own Guinness rather than drink it)” who enjoy their times at nice big villas there and don’t “want all sorts of riff-raff coming in on cheap flights“. Of course we should all be against airport expansion.
more pictures


 CSG Freedom to Protest Border Post – Trafalgar Square/Whitehall

On the traffic island at the south of Trafalgar Square and the top of Whitehall a group calling themselves the CSG (Citizens Supporting Government – rather than the Met’s TSG, sometimes said to stand for Thugs Supporting Government rather than its official Territorial Support Group) set up a ‘Freedom to Protest Border Point’ again on Saturday on the edge of the SOCPA zone to advise the public about the danger of passing into the an area where freedom is severely restricted.
more pictures


Freedom to Protest – outside Downing Street

But the main Freedom To Protest demonstration was taking place at the gates of Downing Street with a couple of hundred protesters. Although police usually try to move protesters away from the gates, things as I arrived seemed fairly relaxed.

But when a number of protesters decided to sit or lie down in the middle of the road this prompted the police to take action. “They grabbed the first couple of guys who went down on the tarmac and handcuffed them as well as seeming to try out a few strange holds.”

And when a dozen or so laid down in a neat line along the carriageway a squad of around 20 officers who had been waiting 50 yards down the road rushed in and began by clearing photographers and others standing on the road back onto the pavement. “Any who showed a reluctance to move were given a hand, sometimes with what seemed like unnecessary force. I was almost knocked flying when they threw one man bodily backwards – and I was in his way, probably rather luckily for him, as otherwise he could well have cracked his head open on the pavement.”

They then carried those sitting or laid on the ground back to the pavement, warning them they would be arrested if they returned to the road. Some who had linked arms were separated with some of the police clearly seeming to be enjoying themselves using pain compliance holds and inflicting unnecessary pain as they twisted arms behind backs and generally pushed the guys around.

Brian Haw – whose continuing peace protest in Parliament Square had been one of the main targets of SOCPA – was there using a small video camera to record the police violence and I photographed him with a nasty trickle of blood running down his left cheek after an officer had forcefully pushed the camera into his face. When he tried to complain to the officers in charge he was ignored and finally told to go to a police station if he wished to complain. Some of the police were rather obviously amused at both his injury and his complaints.
more pictures


Kenyans Demand Justice after Election Fraud

Across Whitehall in the designated protest area there were two protests taking place. Kenyans were protesting against election fraud in their country, where the man who had almost certainly lost the vote set up an electoral commission that was certain to declare him as the winner, and he remains President. SOCPA was having an effect on their protest as my picture shows, with a man using a megaphone hidden under brown paper!
more pictures


End the Siege on Gaza

Also across Whitehall from Downing Street were a group of protesters calling for an end to the Israeli siege of Gaza which severely limits the supply of essential goods including medicines and for an end to the military occupation of Palestine.

Among the protesters still present when I arrived rather late to photograph it were Jewish activists supporting Palestine and a boycott of Israeli goods, part of the growing campaign for BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. In 2024 the UK government is putting through a Bill to stop “businesses and organisations–including those affiliated with Israel-being targeted through ongoing boycotts by public bodies” because of the increasing success of this campaign. If passed it will stop public bodies, “including universities, local authorities, and government departments, from making investment decisions that align with their human rights responsibilities and obligation.” They will be unable “to avoid causing or contributing to human rights abuses and international crimes” such as “the Chinese government’s systematic repression of Uyghurs, Israel’s crimes of apartheid or war crimes in Israeli settlements, Saudi Arabia and UAE’s war crimes in Yemen, or the Myanmar junta’s crimes against humanity.
more pictures


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Goodbye & Good Riddance – May – June 2023

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance – May 2023; Continuing my series of posts about some of the many protests I covered in 2023, a year when there was much to protest about.

May always starts with May Day, but after that things went downhill with the coronation weekend, when I found other things to do in Derbyshire, though I did take a few pictures of the decorations, as well as finding a couple of hours to walk around the centre of Chesterfield. But most of the month I was preoccupied with other matters, including a book launch and an exhibition opening by two friends, birthday celebrations and other family matters. Things got a little more back to normal in June.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - May - June 2023
London May Day March – 1st May 2023. Indigenous Ecuadorian dance group Warmis UK march with United Voices of the World trade union. Several thousand gathered at Clerkenwell Green for the International Workers Day March to Trafalgar Square. Those taking part came from a wide range of trade unions and political organisations and included many from London’s wide range of ethnic communities. Peter Marshall

Click the link to see more pictures including many of the banners on the march.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - May - June 2023
Baslow, Derbyshire 14 May 2023.
I didn’t entirely escape the coronation as “I couldn’t avoid a short glimpse when some twit put the TV on” though I did walk out of the room and there were quite a few decorations on the street. The following day I had a couple of hours before my train left Chesterfield for London and you can see some pictures from there and elsewhere in Derbyshire in Coronation Weekend – Baslow & Chesterfield.
Goodbye & Good Riddance - May - June 2023
Unite to Defy Protest Against Racism and Police State, London. 27 May 2023
Protesters at Downing St. Gypsy Traveller League, Black Lives Matter, Just Stop Oil, DPAC, Not My Bill, Republic, Stand Up to Racism and others united in a rally calling for an end to all racial discrimination and against the draconian measures in the Police and Crime Act and other recent laws which remove human rights and make the UK a police state, before marching to Downing St where the GTL handed in a letter. Peter Marshall

Another 70 pictures in the album on the link above.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - May - June 2023
Jeremy Corbyn – 40 Years As Islington North MP. Highbury Fields, 10 June 2023.
I was pleased to have a ticket for the celebration of Jeremy Corbyn’s 40th anniversary as MP for Islington North as all were taken up quickly for the event in a small area of Highbury Fields. It was sweltering and there was little shade and I was only able to stay for the first 90 minutes of the 4 hour event, unfortunately having to leave before Corbyn arrived. Tosh McDonald, Vice President of Aslef, Andrew Feinstein, Stella Assange and others. Peter Marshall
Time to Act on Abortion Law, London, UK. 17 June 2023.
People at the Royal Courts of Justice before the march to a rally opposite Downing St called by British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Women’s Equality Party and the Fawcett Society demands for urgent reform of UK abortion law after a woman was sentenced to 28 months in prison after using abortion pills to end her own pregnancy, prosecuted under an 1861 law. Peter Marshall
Puma End Your Support of Israeli Apartheid, Carnaby St, 24 Jun 2023.
Campaigners from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign continue their regular protests at the Puma shop on Carnaby St calling on the company to end sponsorship of the Israel Football Association. Puma is the main international sponsor of the IFA, aiding Israel to whitewash its human rights abuses and normalising the illegal settlements. Peter Marshall
Early Years Equality Protest, Downing St. 24 Jun 2023.
Campaigners protest opposite Downing St at the way in which the government treats children under 5 and the Early Years Sector. Many came dressed in orange and hung ribbons with their demands onto a Rights on RIbbons Tree. They say the government policy is to put babies in underfunded infant storage units so parents can go back to work neglecting the development and rights of the children. Peter Marshall
Just Stop Oil – Don’t Deport Marcus, London. 24 Jun 2023.
Hundreds marched from Parliament Square to the Home Office to demand that environmental protester and German citizen Marcus Decker not be deported after serving his 2 year 7 month sentence, one of the longest ever for a non-violent protest after hanging a Just Stop Oil banner on the Dartford QEII bridge. Marcus gave an eloquent speech by phone calling for continued actions to save the world. Peter Marshall
Free Assange Rally – ‘Anything to Say? 24 Jun 2023.
Hundreds protest at a rally in Parliament Square around Davide Dormino’s ‘Anything To Say?’, life-size bronzes of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning who all had the courage to say no to the intrusion of global surveillance and to lies that lead to war standing on chairs. They called for the release of Julian Assange from Belmarsh prison and for him not to be deported to the USA. Peter Marshall

You can see more pictures from these and other protests and events in my Facebook Albums.


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Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – 2012

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – On Saturday morning, 24th November 2012 I joined marchers against the then recent Israeli attacks on Gaza and the continuing blockade which makes normal life there impossible. Although still a clearly disproportionate response, the death toll in 2012 was minuscule compared to the current ongoing destruction. In the afternoon I went to Lewisham for a march against proposals to close A&E and maternity services, and possibly also the the children’s wards, critical care unit and emergency surgery by the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw.


Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now – Downing St

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

Despite persistent rain, several thousands turned up to protest at Downing Street before marching towards the Israeli Embassy following the start ten days earlier of ‘Operation Pillar of Defense‘ by the the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

In the eight days before a ceasefire, Wikipedia statesthe IDF claimed to have struck more than 1,500 sites in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchpads, weapon depots, government facilities, and apartment blocks” with the UNHCR reporting “174 were killed and hundreds were wounded. Many families were displaced.”

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

There were also deaths and casualties among Israelis, but on a much smaller scale, with 6 Israelis being killed and 240 injured by rockets fired from Gaza.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in this year, “Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries expressed support for what they considered Israel’s right to defend itself” , or condemned the Hamas attacks, while some other countries condemned the Israel attacks. Human Rights Watch said both sites committed war crimes.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in 2023, many of hose killed in Gaza in 2012 where children, and at the front of the march, ahead of the main banner were a group of children, each carrying a placard hanging around their neck with the names and ages of some of the dead children.

And as in the recent marches I’ve photographed, both the National Marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and those in Camden and Lewisham, among those taking part there were many individual Jews and Jewish groups including Jews Against the Siege of Gaza, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a group of Jewish Socialists.

Before the march began 163 while balloons printed with the Palestinian flag – one for each of the Palestinians then known to have been killed – were released. The march then moved up Whitehall and I went with it as far as Trafalgar Square where I took pictures for the next 15 minutes or so as the crowd moved past before catching a train from Charing Cross to Lewisham.

More at Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now


Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Lewisham

Thousands of protesters – perhaps as many as 15,000 – formed a human chain to hold hands around Lewisham hospital after a march from the centre of Lewisham to oppose plans to close its A&E department to pay debts from mismanagement at other hospitals in south London, which have huge PFI debts.

The march had seemed rather smaller than expected when I arrived at the start close to Lewisham station, but the numbers grew greatly as we got closer to the hospital and Ladywell Fields, with the road still packed with people coming to join this as the human chain began to form.

At Ladywell Fields the march divided into two, with hospital workers making their way to the front of the hospital in an anti-clockwise direction and the others going clockwise to meet them. Soon people were filling the whole thre-quarters of a mile ring around the hospital and holding hands in a human chain. The organisers had asked people to go in single file, but there were far too many in most places for this and in some areas the pavements were filled ten deep.

Traffic around the hospital was brought to a stop with people still flooding in on the High Street and Ladywell Road and nothing was moving on the roads by the time I left and caught a train home, except for ambulances which police and stewards were ensuring could still reach the hospital, clearing a route through the crowds.

Lewisham Hospital is well run and well used by people in the area around, and has played no part in the financial problems faced by the South London Hospitals Trust, which were largely caused by disastrous private finance schemes entered into to build the trust’s hospitals in Orpington and Woolwich. The planned closures would drastically cut health services in the area and almost certainly lead to many deaths as well as huge inconvenience for millions and are driven entirely by the financial gain in selling off 60% of the site.

But even this makes little sense as the expected £17 million this would raise would be only a minor one-off contribution towards the over £60 million the Trust has to find each year for its PFI debts which were then expected to total around £1,200 million before they were paid off.

The problem of PFI debt is not of course limited to this trust. Government figures in 2018 were that the total value of PFI investments in the NHS was then £12.8 billion – and that by the time these were paid off the NHS will have paid over £80 billion for them – more than six times as much. The figures have worsened since then as many contracts include inflation-based cost increases – leading to an extra £264 million in payments in the past 2 years. Some trusts now have to spend 10-13% of their total income on their PFI debts, and these payments cannot be cut and are prioritised. over other expenditure such as than on staff costs and drugs.

Lewisham Hospital’s campaign against the cuts was successful. They were ruled unlawful by the High Court and eventually dropped by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after he lost an appeal.

More at Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital.


Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More – Saturday 2nd November 2019 was a busy day for me and I made six posts from different events on My London Diary – and here is a little about each in the order of my day.


Day of the Dead – Columbia Market, Bethnal Green

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

I walked from Hoxton Overground station to Columbia Market which was holding a festival for the Mexican Day of the Dead, arriving at the time this was supposed to start. But it had been raining heavily and had only just stopped which had put off others from coming early and the streets were pretty deserted. So all I was able to photograph were the decorations on the street and on some of the shops.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Things would almost certainly have become more interesting had I stayed, but I had other things to attend and had to leave after around half an hour. I’d intended to return later but was too busy. I did take a few pictures as I walked to and from the station as well.

Day of the Dead


Against constitutional change in Guinea – Downing St

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

Back in central Westminster I photographed protesters from the UK branch of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) who were demanding that President Alpha Conde abandoned the constitutional chages that would enable him to seek a third term in power.

Hate Crime, Turkish Invasion, Hong Kong & More

The London protest came after massive protests in Guinea in October during which 11 people had been killed in government violence against the opposition and peaceful protesters. They called for an end to and end to the killing and the release of all political prisoners, with posters showing the victims and calling for peace and justice in their country.

Against constitutional change in Guinea


Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity – Downing Street

Also at Downing Street, campaigners from Stand Up to Lgbtq+ Hate Crime condemned the increasing incidence of hate crime and bigotry against LGBTQ+ people and defended the teaching of lessons which feature LGBTQ+ families and relationships.

Their message was one of celebrating love, inclusion and diversity and say No to Homophobia, Islamophobia and Transphobia. I took some pictures and left as some began to speak about their own experience of discrimination at school before before the group marched to Eros in Piccadilly Circus for a further rally.

Stop Hate Crime, Educate for Diversity


Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion – Marble Arch & Oxford St

The largest protest of the day was a a rally and march in support of Rojava in North-East Syria against Turkish invasion which gathered at Marble Arch.

Since soon after the start of the revolution in Syria a large area of the country had been under the de-facto control of a Kurdish-led democratic administration which has put ecological justice, a cooperative economy and women’s liberation at the heart of society, enshrined in a constitution which recognises the rights of the many ethnic communities in the area.

Many have seen this area, Rojava, as an important model for more democratic government, particularly in multi-ethnic areas, but Turkey sees it as a threat on its borders. For generations it has been discriminating and fighting against its own Kurdish population which makes up almost a fifth of the country’s population, and the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, held in prison in Turkey since he was abducted from Kenya in 1999.

In prison Ocalan continued to campaign for the Kurdish people but had moved away from militancy towards political solutions. In jail he wrote about the rights of women and developed the philosophy of democratic confederalism which forms the basis of the constitution of Rojava.

Rojava has received wide support for its principles from environmental groups, green movements, feminists, human rights supports and those generally on the left, but not from western governments who see it as a threat to capitalist hegemony.

Despite this, the Kurdish people’s defence forces in Syria with the aid of US air power led the successful fight against ISIS. Turkey had backed ISIS although denying to do so, aiding them in getting the massive funds they needed by smuggling out oil from the ISIS held regions. Again they saw ISIS as an ally in their fight against the Kurds.

When Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, Turkey took advantage of this to invade areas of Syria controlled by the Kurds, and to encourage and aid Islamic groups to join them in their attacks. Turkey as a member of NATO has been encouraged and helped to develop its armed forces and is second only to the USA within Nation and is said to be the 13th largest military power in the world.

The Turkish invasion threatened the existence of Rojava, who had been forced to go to both Russia and President Asad of Syria for support. Obviously this threatens the future of the area and its constitution and its long-term hopes of autonomy in the area.

I left the protest on Oxford St on its way to the BBC who they accuse of having failed to report accurately on what is happening in the area. There had certainly been very little coverage of the recent events and a long-term failure to address issues of discrimination against the Kurds in Turkey.

Defend Rojava against Turkish Invasion


March for Autonomy for Hong Kong – Marble Arch & Oxford St

Also meeting at Marble Arch were protesters, mainly Chinese from Hong Kong living in the UK, and in solidarity and supporting the five demands of those then protesting in Hong Kong. Many wore masks to protect their identity, either because they may return home or fear their families there may be persecuted.

They demanded complete withdrawal of the Extradition Bill, a retraction of characterising the protests as riots, withdrawal of prosecutions against protesters, an independent investigation into police brutality and the implementation of Dual Universal Suffrage.

More pictures at March for Autonomy for Hong Kong


Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary – Soho Square

Bi Survivors Network, London Bi Pandas, Sister Not Cister UK, BwiththeT and LwiththeT held a rally in Soho Square pointing out that the newly announced LGB Alliance’, which claims to be protecting LGB people is actually a hate group promoting transphobia.

They pointed out that trans and non-binary people have always been a part of the gay community and played an important part in the fight for gay rights and in particular Stonewall, and there is no place for such bi-phobic and gay-separatist views in the gay community.

More pictures: Queer Solidarity for trans and non-binary



Dear Suella, Please Resign

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

Dear Suella, Please Resign – I and I think most of the British public have had enough of your hate speech, and your latest tirade against the half million or so people who came out onto the street to call for a ceasefire in Gaza plumbed new depths in hypocrisy.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

Those hundreds of thousands who marched last Saturday – and I was there – were marching for a ceasefire to end the humanitarian catastrophe which is underway in Gaza, where thousands of civilians have already died through Israeli attacks and more will do so if the attacks continue from bombing and shelling, the lack of food and clean water and the almost complete breakdown of medical services.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

There was no celebration of Hamas on the march and certainly none for the particularly barbaric actions in Israel on October 7th. Nor for the taking of hostages, although some on the march will certainly have felt it was the only way that Palestinian prisoners in Israel might be freed – over 4,000 of them, many locked up without charge, including (April 2022 figures) 32 women and 160 children. The continuing attacks on Gaza also threaten the lives of the hostages held by Hamas and appear to have stopped for the moment negotiations which would have led to further releases.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

Together with the BBC and some other news media you continue to collude to suggest that people at these protests shouted for Jihad. As you well know, these shouts took place at an entirely separate protest by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, an extreme Islamic organisation calling for the establishment of a caliphate, whose protests I have covered since 2004. Their protest was not for peace but was calling upon Muslim Armies to liberate Palestine. To use their activities to denigrate those taking part in the huge protests for an end to the fighting and occupation in Palestine is dishonest in the extreme.

Dear Suella, Please Resign

The world needs peace in Palestine and so does Israel as well of course as the Palestinians. We have seen over the years since Israel was set up that war is not the way to achieve this.

As the UN Secretary General made clear when condemning the Hamas attack, it did not take place in a vacuum. It took place after years when Palestinians have been forced out of their homes, their lands occupied, and they have been subjected to arbitrary military rule under an apartheid regime with Gaza held under siege. Years in which the peace process has been put to one side. The only hope for peace is if Palestine is allowed to grow and to flourish rather than continue to be oppressed.

I grew up in a country which prided itself for its sense of fair play and decency, even though this ideal was not usually extended in practice to those we colonised.

We were a country that led the way in the establishment of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other conventions.

Now we seem to be a country that is ruled by politicians that have no real regard for human rights and the rights of asylum seekers, that are massively incompetent and put their own personal aggrandisement before the national interest, and are directed by corporate interests rather than those of the people or the planet. With some politicians from both main parties claiming huge expenses and often fiddling unnecessary second homes and increasingly frequent sexual scandals.

Government ministers and shadow ministers alike seem prepared to come onto the media and bluster and lie for the party, backed up by an electoral system that fails to provide any real democracy. Our current parliamentary election system is actually rather less democratic than the system that brought Hamas to power in 2006 – despite considerable interference by the US and Israel in the electoral process, though since Hamas took over Gaza completely by military force in 2007 and there have been no elections there.

The Covid inquiry continues to reveal government failures which led to many early deaths and its now clear that our current government have decided to abandon any real attempt to slow down or reverse our excessive global heating despite almost daily scientific evidence of the increasing risks – and the evidence we all fell as our weather becomes more and more chaotic. And rather than try to deal with the many problems that various protests bring to the fore, successive governments have enacted laws to restrict the right to protest and free speech and have encouraged police to prevent protests and courts to impose harsh ‘exemplary’ punishments.

Frankly Suella, you and your government are a disaster. And you are the leading edge of that disaster. The sooner you all go the better for Britain. Resign Now.

Pictures here are from London last Saturday, 28th October 2023. You can see more of those I made during the protest at:
National March for Gaza – Ceasefire Now, London 28 Oct 23
More Pictures – Gaza Ceasefire Now! London 28 Oct 23
Gaza Ceasefire Now! Protest At Waterloo Station, London 28 Oct 23


Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

Friday, October 20th, 2023

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats: Saturday 20th October 2012was a busy day for protests in London with a huge TUC march against austerity with various groups on its fringes and other smaller protests around.


Against Austerity For Climate Justice! – St Paul’s Cathedral

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The climate block of the TUC ‘A Future That Works’ march held a rally on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral before marching to join the main TUC march.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The block was joined people from Occupy London and UK Uncut who made up a ‘No cuts, no tax-dodging’ block.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

The main banner called for a ‘Massive Shift’ to invest in jobs and renewable energy and there were other banners, flags and placards with the Uncut logo calling for an end to tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Climate, Malala, TUC, Workfare & Tax Cheats

I left them as they began to make their way to join the main TUC march, hurrying to Downing Street for an unconnected protest.

More pictures: Against Austerity For Climate Justice!


Edequal Stands with Malala – Downing St

Members of the Edequal Foundation, an educational charity founded by Shahzad Ali and based in north London which supports teachers and students demonstrated in a show of support for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban because of her campaigning for education for women.

She began her campaign in 2009 by writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under Taliban control and was later filmed by the New York Times. She became well-known for these and other interviews and in 2011 was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Rev Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.


Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban while returning by bus from an exam on 9th October 2012 and this made her the centre of international attention and support. After treatment in Pakistan she was transferred to hospital in Birmingham and after recovering settled there continuing her campaigning. She has since received other awards, becoming the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 when she was 17.

Edequal Stands with Malala


A Future That Works TUC March – Westminster

The TUC march for ‘A Future That Works’ against austerity was impressively large with a reported 150,000 people taking part.

I’d gone to photograph the marchers going past Parliament and up Whitehall to Traflagar Square and Piccadilly Circus. I’d begun taking pictures about half an hour after the front of the march had passed, and two hours later people were still passing me in a dense mass, waving flags and carrying banners.

Most had come with trade union groups and there were many fine union banners, but there were also others taking part. Police generally stood well back and the march with just a few trade union stewards proceeded peacefully along the route.

Quite a few stopped for some minutes outside Downing Street to shout noisily in the direction of No 10, though I think Prime Minister David Cameron was miles away. Certainly the march had no effect on his policies.

There were a few police here and at other key points, but one group on the march got special attention, with a line of officers in blue caps walking in line on each side of around 200 black-clad anarchists. Earlier I had seen one small group of anarchists being chased by a police FIT team who called in other police to surround them while they attempted to take their photographs.

Many more pictures at A Future That Works TUC March.


Against Workfare and Tax Cheats – Oxford St

Boycott Workfare were “a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare.” They say that “Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage.”

Their campaign was supported by a wide range of organisations including a number of trade union branches and several hundred people turned up on Oxford Street for their protest, including a number dressed in black and masked with scarves or wearing ‘Anonymous’ masks.

They marched to protest at shops and businesses in the area which are taking part in workfare schemes which many of those unemployed had to work without pay or lose their benefits. Many of the shops closed as the protest went part and the protesters briefly occupied others.

Although this had been planned as a ‘a fun and family-friendly action’ and was led by a samba band, while it started peacefully a number of scuffles broke out when police tried to stop or arrest those taking part, and by the time it ended many on both sides were clearly angry.

There was a nasty moment after the protesters had crowded inside a hotel which uses people on workfare on Great Marlborough Street. They made some noise but there was no damage and they would almost certainly have moved on after a few minutes as there were other places to visit. Police entered and tried to forcibly push the protesters out, while police outside were preventing them from leaving. I fortunately avoided injury when pushed down the stairs by police.

From there they returned to Oxford Street and tried to rush into a number of shops known to be using workfare and some also known to be avoiding payment of huge amounts of UK tax. Some got their shutters down and police managed to get to others and block the entrance before the protesters arrived – doing the protesters job for them in closing the shop.

The Salvation Army, one of a number of charities involved in the scheme got a kid glove treatment – with just two protesters standing in the doorway and making short speeches before the protest moved on.

At Marble Arch the protester turned around to march back up towards Oxford Circus, and police tried to put a cordon across the street to stop them. But the gaps between officers were too large and most protesters simply walked through the gaps when officers grabbed one of two of them. Some of the police clearly lost their tempers and many protesters were shouting at them to calm down.

One officer who had tackled a protester was apparently injured and a group of police grabbed a protester and pushed him roughly down on the pavement in front of a shop. As I reported:

While several police forcefully pushed him to the ground, others stood around them. They seemed to see their main purpose as preventing photographers and others from seeing what was happening, with one woman officer in particular following my every move to block my view, while I could hear the protester on the ground shouting that he was not resisting and asking why they kept on hurting him. From the brief glimpses I got as police attempted to prevent me seeing what was happening they appeared to be using entirely unnecessary force.

The protest was continuing but I’d seen enough and taken as many pictures as I could over the day and it was time to go home.

More at Against Workfare and Tax Cheats.

Access to Work & Harvest Festival – 2015

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

Access to Work & Harvest Festival: On Saturday 26th September 2015 I was pulled in two directions, wanting to attend both a protest for disabled people in Westminster and the harvest festival at Grow Heathrow in Sipson on the western edge of London. In the end I managed to get to both, leaving the first early and arriving a little late at the second, going more or less to the end of the Piccadilly line at Heathrow Central and then catching a bus.


Deaf & Disabled Access to Work protest – Westminster

Access to Work & Harvest Festival

The Access to Work scheme was set up in 1994 to provide disabled people with funding to pay for extra disability-related expenses which enable them to work, including travel, support workers and specialised equipment. It was a significant milestone in equality for the deaf and disabled in the UK, and at the end of the Labour government in 2010 was supporting almost 28,000 people. Under Tory cuts this number had been reduced by 15% to around 22,000 with many applications being refused by the DWP.

Access to Work & Harvest Festival

In 2015 the government put a cap on the amount which could be claimed annually by those on the scheme of around £42,000, applying immediately to new claimants and in a couple of years to those already part of the scheme.

Access to Work & Harvest Festival

According to the protesters the cuts would not only prevent many currently supported by the AtW scheme to be able to continue their jobs but would also would lose the government revenue as the current scheme brings in £1.48 for every pound invested.

Access to Work & Harvest Festival

Many of those taking part in the protest were disabled people on the AtW scheme who fear they will be unable to continue in their careers if the cuts are implemented, including many deaf people. Many signed with their hands as I photographed them, and the hand, a symbol for British Sign Language was prominent on some of the banners and on at least one face.

The campaigners met in Old Palace Yard and then assembled to march through Parliament Square and a short distance up Victoria Street and then past the Department of Work and Pensions in Caxton House and on to a rally opposite Downing Street.

I left as the rally there was about to start to take the District line and then the Piccadilly to Heathrow Central from where I could catch a 111 bus to Sipson.

More at Deaf & Disabled Access to Work protest.


Grow Heathrow celebrates Harvest Festival – Sipson

Grow Heathrow which had occupied an abandoned and overgrown nursery in Sipson in 2010 were holding a harvest festival to celebrate another year’s harvest there with ‘music, pumpkins and pizza’ as well as holding an open ‘No Third Runway!’ discussion. which I was keen to attend and take part in.

The discussion was already underway when I arrived a little out of breath after running the short distance from the bus stop, but I was able to ask several questions and make some comments as well as taking pictures. With John Stewart and other campaigners including Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion and Sheila Menon of Plane Stupid taking part it was an interesting discussion, and if fairly small the group taking part was certainly a select one.

As I commented then, “Whatever decision the current government take over the curiously defective considerations of the Davies committee (and I think we may well see some very long grass coming into play) it seems to me unlikely that Heathrow expansion will be deliverable.”

The commision had been set up in order to approve Heathrow expansion and it became official government policy in October 2016. It was supported by a parliamentary vote in 2018, but an application for judicial review by environmental groups, the Mayor of London and local councils ruled the decision unlawful as it had failed to to the government’s commitments to combat climate change into account. The government accepted the court’s decision, but Heathrow appealed to the Supreme Court who overruled this decision.

Although this theoretically allowed the expansion to go ahead, it currently seems unlikely to do so, with increasing environmental concerns, changes in forecasts of future air traffic, increasing costs and also increasing capacity at other UK airports almost certainly make it no longer viable.

After the discussion I took the opportunity to walk around the site to see what had changed since my last visit, and take more pictures. The case for eviction of Grow Heathrow had been recently adjourned until Summer 2016. Half the site was lost by an eviction in early 2019 but the site was only finally evicted in March 2021.

More at Grow Heathrow celebrates Harvest Festival.