Posts Tagged ‘DPAC’

British Gas & Independent Living – 2014

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

British Gas & Independent Living: Two protests on Monday 12th May 2014 in Westminster. the first about fuel poverty and climate change and the second over plans to end the Independent Living Fund which enabled many disabled people to continue to work and have an independent life.


Bin British Gas – QEII Centre, Westminster

British Gas & Independent Living

British Gas were holding their AGM in the QEII centre and a protest outside demanded they stop profiteering from high energy prices and end support for fracking.

British Gas & Independent Living

The protest was called by Fuel Poverty Action who say there were over 10,000 extra deaths last winter because people were unable to heat their homes, while Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, made £2.5 billion in 2013. While they raised gas prices by 10.4% and electricity by 8.4%.

British Gas & Independent Living

They also called for government and energy companies to end support for fracking which as well as threatening water supplies in the UK would also lead to more climate-wrecking carbon dioxide emissions.

British Gas & Independent Living

The campaigners called for greater investment in renewable energy, which in the long term will result in cheaper energy and will help us tackle climate change. But this isn’t popular with the big six energy companies (and the government which is led by their lobbyists) as it enables greater local generation and control of energy, threatening their monopoly of energy production and profits.

At the protest were representatives from fuel poverty, pensioner, climate, housing groups and renewable energy co-operatives. After a number of speeches including from Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts, people came together too tear up British Gas energy bills.

A giant bill was torn up and Lambeth pensioner, Ellen Lebethe, brought out a poster-size Fuel Poverty Action ‘Energy Bill of Rights.’

  • We all have the right to affordable energy to meet our basic needs.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not harm us, the environment, or the climate.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not threaten health, safety, water, air, or the local environment of a community.
  • We all have the right to a fair energy pricing that does not penalise those who use less.
  • We all have the right not to be cut off from energy supply.
  • We all have the right not to be forced to have a prepayment meter.
  • We all have the right to energy that is owned by us and run in our interests.

Inside the Centrica AGM, a member of Reclaim Shakespeare Company had stood up holding a can of beans and a skull to read a version of Hamlet’s iconic monologue, entitled “To Heat or Eat, that is the question”, and this was read out at the protest. Shortly after the actor came out from the building to tell us about what had happened inside.

The protest ended with people planting 100 small windmills made from folded British Gas bills in the grass outside the QEII centre.

More pictures at Bin British Gas.


Save Independent Living Fund – Dept of Work & Pensions

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up in 1988 under the Thatcher government to provided financial support to some of the most severely disabled people in the UK. Its main use was to enable them to have carers and personal assistants so they could live in their communities and for many to continue in useful employment.

The ILF was administered by a separately funded body and was highly cost-effective, providing support at much lower costs than residential care as well as enabling those receiving support to live independent lives Around 18,000 people were being assisted by the fund in 2014.

When the government announced it was scrapping the scheme in England in 2010 it was met with protests by disabled people and in 2013 was taken to court. The government won the case that its decision was lawful, but lost in the Court of Appeal.

A revised proposal was then made by the government to announce once again in March 2014 that ILF would close. A fresh legal challenge failed in December 2014 and the scheme ended in June 2015, with responsibility for supporting disabled people being passed to local authorities who were given funding roughly 12% less than the ILF – and which was not ring-fenced.

Police tried to persuade the protesters to keep to a small area well to one side of the Dept of Work & Pensions but they refused and protested in a larger space in front of the two main doors, which were both locked for the event.

At the centre of the protest was a small cage, with the message ‘NO ILF – NO LIFE‘ across its top, and below the barred window ‘Without Support We Become Prisoners In Our Own Homes – Save the Independent Living Fund’. Squeezed into this was Paula Peters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, the group who had organised the protest.

A number of people told their ‘ILF stories‘ of how the fund had helped them and how they feared its closure would seriously limit their lives. DPAC tried to deliver a letter to Minister for the Disabled Mike Penning but were refused entry to the building and no one from the department was prepared to come and receive it.

One of the protesters who had travelled from Newcastle phoned her MP from here wheelchair outside the DWP, and Mary Glindon, the Labour MP for North Tyneside came down to support the protest. She failed to get DWP security to let the protesters deliver their letter but offered to deliver it for them. She was let in through a side entrance to do so then came out and spoke briefly giving her support to the protest.

More at Save Independent Living Fund.


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DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit – 2018

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

DPAC – Stop & Scrap Universal Credit: A couple of days ago the media were carrying news of a report by the Resolution Foundation on the working of the Universal Credit benefit first introduced in 2013. This found that seven in 10 (71%) families on UC were worse off in real terms now than they would have been under the previous benefits, and that out of work people with disabilities were those likely to have lost most.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Six years ago, DPAC were already pointing this out and on Wednesday 18th April 2018 campaigners from DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network), Black Triangle, Winvisible and others began a nationwide day of action against Universal Credit in London with a rally in Old Palace Yard and a protest inside Parliament.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

Security meant I was unable to cover their protest inside the Houses of Parliament but I met those who had been protesting inside when they came out to join those protesting outside and held a rally in Old Palace Yard.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

As that rally ended the campaigners marched into Parliament Square where they blocked the roadway for around half an hour before ending their protest.

DPAC - Stop & Scrap Universal Credit

DPAC and others say that Universal Credit has so many flaws it must be scrapped, calling it “an economic and political disaster bringing further distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it“.

Back in 2018 they pointed out it has been particularly disastrous for disabled people. The removal of Severe and Enhanced Disability Premiums means single disabled people lose around £2,000 per year and a disabled couple over £4,000.

There have been some changes in Universal Credit since 2018, but these have mainly been administrative and have not affected the basic unfairness towards the disabled. The Resolution Foundation report suggests that a single person with a long-term disability which prevents them from working would now be £2,800 per year worse off than under the old benefits system.

Their report suggests overall cost of Universal Credit in 2028 will be about £86bn a year, while under the previous system it would have been £100bn, a saving of £14bn, which is being made to the cost of those disabled and others out of work – the poorest groups in our society. In contrast those working and also claiming UC will be a little better off than under to previous benefits system.

As always police found dealing with disabled protesters difficult. It doesn’t look good to be harassing them in the way they would normally act to protesters, and they have a great problem in making arrests of people in wheel chairs or on mobility vehicles. Apparently the Met have only one vehicle which can safely carry either – and only in limited numbers, perahps one at a time.

More about the protet and more pictures on My London Diary at Stop & Scrap Universal Credit say DPAC.


As well as this protest there was also a large protest in Parliament Square by Kashmiris and Indians from many sections of the community including Tamils, Sikhs, Ravidass, Dalits, Muslims and others against the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and smaller groups supporting him and his ultra-right Hindu supremacist policies.
Indians protest President Modi’s visit
Hindus support Modi
Save Girl, Educate Girl

And in late afternoon I went to join Environmental group Biofuelwatch holding their ‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball Forest Flashmob outside the Marylebone hotel where the largest international biomass conference was taking place.
‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball


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March 8th – Women Strike And Protest

Friday, March 8th, 2024

March 8th – Women Strike And Protest. In 2021 on International Women’s Day I published a long post, 8 March: International Women’s Day with some images from my coverage of the day from 2002 until 2020, and in 2022 I posted International Women’s Day Marches with a little history and more of my pictures from previous years.

This year I look back seven years to Thursday 8th March 2017 when I covered a number of events on International Women’s Day.


From Russia With Love – Parliament Square

March 8th – Women Strike And Protest

When I arrived to photograph a couple of protests about to take place in Parliament Square I found around a dozen young Russian men in white caps andjackers with a strange heart-based logo clutching large bunches of red roses being briefed before they went around the square stopping women an handing them roses.

March 8th – Women Strike And Protest

Apparently this was a stunt for Rusian TV by the ‘Make Her Smile Movement’ and was taking place in various capitals around the world. Some women refused the flowers, but most took them and seemed pleased if rather confused by the gesture.

More pictures at From Russia With Love


International Women’s Strike – Parliament Square

March 8th – Women Strike And Protest

Global Women’s Strike had come to the square to celebrate the resistance of women worldwide and hold a protest in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike taking place in 46 countries.

March 8th – Women Strike And Protest

They held a rally opposite Parliament as the Budget was being delivered inside, with speakers from a number of groups supporting women including the victims of domestic violence, the disabled and the victims of family courts.

Among the speakers were women from the Scottish Kinship Care Project, Dr Philippa Whitford SNP MP for Central Ayrshire, Denise McKenna, co-founder of Mental Health Resistance Network and Paula Peters of DPAC. Police initially tried to prevent the speakers using a microphone but were persuaded to let them go ahead.

The event ended with a short play by the All African Women’s Group about sexism and racism of the immigration system by the Borders Agency courts and in immigrations detention centres such as Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre.

More pictures at International Women’s Strike.


WASPI at Parliament – Old Palace Yard

A few yards away in Old Palace Yard Women Against State Pension Inequality – WASPI – were holding a rally against the changes in the state pension scheme which are unfair to women born in the 1950s.

The 1995 Pensions Act included plans to increase the pension age for women to 65 but it was only 14 years later that letters were sent to many women born in 1951-3 Their situation was worsened by the accelerated raising of women’s pension age under the 2011 Pension Act, also made without properly informing those affected, with the age for both men and women increasing to 66 by 2020. Many got as little as one year’s warning of the up to a six-year increase to their State Pension age and it was not possible for them to make alternative plans. For men and women born in 1959 the state pension age is now 66 years.

The women affected are still awaiting the result of an independent investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman which was started in 2019.

More pictures at WASPI at Parliament.


Vigil for Thai Farmers – St Martin-in-the-Fields

Global Women’s Strike went on to hold a silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in solidarity with the farmers of Thailand. Many of them are women in the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand and the vigil was also in support of others all around the world risking their lives to defend land and water from corporate land grabs.

More pictures at Vigil for Thai Farmers.


Death By A Thousand Cuts – Downing Street

Fourth Wave London Feminist Activists held a protest at Downing St on International Women’s Day, drawing attention to the impact that cuts have had on women.

The unjust, ideologically-driven cuts to public services are disproportionately felt by women. Their protest contrasted to the more highly publicised corporate events on the day which are given a high degree of coverage in the media and concentrate on getting more women in boardrooms and other highly paid jobs. Though important issues, these are clearly irrelevant to the huge majority of women who have to deal with the realities of low pay, expensive housing, and caring for children and other family members.

More pictures Death By A Thousand Cuts.


International Women’s Strike Flash Mob – St Pancras International

Finally I went to St Pancras International station where London Polish Feminists were joined by Global Women’s Strike in a flash mob celebrating the struggles of women around the world .

Wearing black and red clothing, after practising their routine with umbrellas with messages on them and a large banner at the entrance to St Pancras International they went down to the main concourse to perform it there.

Police came to see what was happening and made sure they did not block the concourse but remained friendly, and the waiting passengers applauded and took photographs.

More at International Women’s Strike Flash Mob.


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Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria – 2012

Sunday, January 28th, 2024

Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria: On Saturday 28th January 2012 I photographed two major protests in London, with disabled protesters calling for the dropping of the Welfare Reform Bill and later several groups of protesters outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square arguing for various reasons against US or Western Intervention in Iran or Syria.


Disabled Welfare Reform Road Block – Oxford Circus

Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria - 2012

Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC, protested at Oxford Circus, chaining wheelchairs together & calling for the dropping of Welfare Reform Bill, urging savings cutting tax evasion by the rich rather than penalising the poor and disabled.

Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria - 2012

I met with some of the protesters outside Holborn Station and others who had arrived by taxi at Great Portland Street. I’m not sure why they had chosen these two meeting points as they are both – like most Central London stations – without step-free access. London Underground has been painfully slow in providing disabled access.

Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria - 2012

I went with them from Great Portland Street to Oxford Circus where they met up with others who had just begun to block the road, going in a line across the end of Regent Street when the lights changed to allow pedestrians to cross and passing a chain through their wheelchairs which they locked to posts on each side.

Disabled Welfare Reform & Syria - 2012

Others walked on the road with placards and banners to support them, but there were enough police in the area to enable them to stop the protesters blocking Oxford Street.

Selma James speaking

Among groups supporting DPAC’s protest were UK Uncut, the Greater London Pensioners and the women’s groups from the Crossroads Centre in north London who had brought their public address system.

Shortly after the street band Rhythms of Resistance turned up and added their sounds to the protest.

Police had quickly managed to divert traffic on streets to get around the protest and were having discussions about how to handle the protest. A FIT team had arrived to photograph everyone (press included) and TSG officers were standing nearby with bolt cutters. But arresting people in wheelchairs is difficult as police need to supply suitable safe transport.

Eventually the officer in charge read out a statement telling the protesters their presence on the road is breaking the law – as of course they knew. He and other officers then went to ask the protesters if they would move. They didn’t and some got out their own handcuffs to handcuff themselves to the chain.

Police kept smiling and talking to the protesters, waiting for them to leave rather than trying to move or arrest them. Eventually after about an hour and a half they did so, having decided they had made their point successfully and it was time to pack up. Probably too nature was beginning to call!

The protest attracted a great deal of coverage in the press for the campaign, while earlier efforts to get their arguments against the bill including earlier less active protests have received very little publicity.

More pictures at Disabled Welfare Reform Road Block.


No War Against Iran & Syria – US Embassy

Tony Benn started the speeches. Jeremy Corbyn waits to speak

I’d left a few minutes before the DPAC protest ended to walk to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square where Stop the War were holding a protest against sanctions and war on Iran and Syria.

When I arrived I found a very confusing situation with several groups of protesters and some noisy heckling with scuffles with the Stop the War stewards.

I think everyone there was against US or Western Intervention in Iran or Syria, but some noisy protests which came to a head while Abbas Eddalat of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran was speaking, from protesters representing the Free Iran ‘Green Movement’ who wanted to make a clear statement of their opposition to the current Iranian regime with its religious bigotry and persecution.

The stewards first tried to argue with them but soon became physical, pushing them roughly away from the protest. Supporters of the Iranian regime joined in along with supporters of Syrian President Asad.

Police seemed bewildered as they tried to sort out the various groups – and there were also some Kurds with a large Iraqi Kurdistan flag.

Eventually the Free Iran protesters were persuaded to hold their own separate protest a few yards away in front of the embassy, though some of them rejoined the Stop the War protest later. Another group, Hands Off the People of Iran were also present and handing out leaflets, against Stop the War which has favoured links with supporters of the regimes in both Syria and Iran.

Police briefly held one young man who was wearing the current Iraqi flag but then released him, with a police officer trying to prevent press taking pictures, saying “He has a right to privacy” – which clearly as I told the officer he has not under UK law when protesting on the public street.

Then there were ‘Anonymous’ in their ‘V for Vendetta’ masks protesting on the other side of the hedge around the gardens to the main protest, and later Stop the War stewards again sprung into action to stop the free expression of dissent when pro-Asad Syrians began their own protest.

Various speakers including Tony Benn, Lindsey German, John McDonnell and others made a clear case against any Western intervention at the main rally – and I give some of their arguments on My London Diary.

More at No War Against Iran & Syria.


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Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October began as just another month, but the world changed with the Hamas attack across the Gaza border with Israel on October 7th. I missed the first emergency protests against the Israeli response but the rest of my year was dominated by protests against the killing of civilians and children in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
‘Stop Starmer’ Meeting Warns Us All. Camden London, 7 Oct 2023.
A day before the Labour conference people meet in Keir Starmer’s constituency to warn everyone how dangerous a Starmer-led government would be. Those present included many former Labour Party members who say he has no principles and list almost 30 pledges he has so far reneged on, including green jobs, NHS outsourcing, Lords reform, free school meals, workers rights, oil contracts, PR, childcare. Paula Peters of DPAC speaking.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Cancel the Debt of the Global South. Bank, London, 12 Oct 2023.
65 bags for Climate Debt against 1 for debt repayments. While the World Bank/IMF meet in Marrakesh campaigners at the Bank of England from Debt for Climate, War on Want and others join in worldwide protests for the cancellation of debts of the Global South. They are owed Climate debt for damage caused by fossil fuels 65 times as much as their debt repayments.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Barclays Told Drop Polluter Drax. Canary Wharf, London. 19 Oct 2023.
Axe Drax. XR and other campaigners at Barclays Canary Wharf HQ demand they end support for Drax, the world’s biggest burner of trees which now gets around £2m a day of UK climate subsidies intended for renewable energy for its highly polluting power station, and is seeking extra subsidies for an unproven and unworkable carbon capture climate scam. Drax burns wood pellets mainly made by clear felling mature trees in the USA.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Stand with the Palestinian Resistance! Oxford St, London. 21 Oct 2023.
Members of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and the Revolutionary Communist Group support Palestinians resisting the Zionist state of Israel which for many years has oppressed Palestinians. They protested on Oxford Street outside British businesses, banks and institutions including Marks & Spencer which have long supported the Israeli apartheid state.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
National March for Palestine – Stop the War on Gaza. London. 21 Oct 2023.
Well over 100,000 march calling for a ceasefire and an end to the violence, for a lifting of Israel’s siege and for full humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza immediately. They called for a just peace in the Middle East and freedom for Palestine. I was too tired after standing watching the march go past for around two and a half hours that I went home rather than photograph the rally.
Peter Marshall
UFFC Annual Rally & Procession 2023. London, 28th October 2023.
The annual remembrance procession by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) marching from Trafalgar Square to Downing St for a rally with speakers from the families whose relatives were killed by police and in penal, mental health and immigration detention. They call for justice and proper investigations of the officers involved suspected of crimes.
Peter Marshall
National March for Gaza – Ceasefire Now, London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Many thousands march through London called for an immediate ceasefire as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall
More Pictures – Gaza Ceasefire Now! London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire Now! Protest At Waterloo Station, London. 28 Oct 2023.
Several hundred protesters sat down in Waterloo Station concourse in a protest calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall

More from my Facebook albums for 2023 tomorrow.


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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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Roma, Olympic Park and Mind – 2016

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind: After a morning protest by Roma at the Czech Embassy in Kensington I took a walk around the Olympic Park in Stratford before joining the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who were holding a Halloween Demo at the national office of Mind.


Roma protest Czech Murder – Czech embassy, Kensington

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Ladislav Balaz, Chair of the Roma Labour Group and Europe Roma Network and others had come to hand in a letter calling for the murder of a young Romani man by neo-Nazi skinheads in Žatec to be properly investigated.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

The man who had lived in the UK until a year ago was a second cousin of Balaz. He was set upon as he went to buy cigarettes at a pizzeria.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Most cases of murders of Roma in the Czech Republic are dismissed by police as accidents and they have already issued false stories about the victim, claiming he was mentally ill and attacked people. The Roma demand justice and equality for everyone in Czech Republic and the elimination of any double standards of justice. Several of the protesters made speeches in Czech as the letter was presented.

Roma protest Czech Murder


A Walk in the Olympic Park – Stratford

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

I had several hours between the protest outside the Czech Embassy and a protest in Stratford High Street and decided it was a good occasion to take another walk in the park at Stratford which had been the site of the 2012 London olympic games and to make some more panoramic images.

It was a year since I had been there, and four years since the Olympics and I had hoped to see the park in much better condition than I found it. Considerable progress had been made in the buildings which are shooting up around it and many of the ways into the park are still closed.

I walked around much of the southern area of the park and found it still “largely an arid and alienating space composed mainly of wide empty walkways rather than a park.”

I took rather a lot of pictures, both panoramic and more normal views before it was time to make my way back through the Westfield shopping centre into the centre of Stratford.

Many more pictures at A Walk in the Olympic Park.


Against Mind’s collusion with the DWP – Stratford

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive came out and spoke to the protesters

The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) came for a Halloween Demo at the national office of mental health charity Mind in Stratford.

They complain that Mind failed to mention the effects of welfare reform, sanctions, or benefit-related deaths in its latest five-year strategy and has dropped its support for the long-running court case aimed at forcing the government to make WCA safer for people with mental health conditions.

Mind’s policy and campaigns manager Tom Pollard had been seconded to work as a senior policy adviser to the DWP and was to start the following day and they demanded the resignation of Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer.

Farmer came out to meet the protesters on the pavement and told them that Mind was still working for people with mental health problems and not for the DWP, and that Pollard’s decision had been entirely a personal one in order to gain more insight into the workings of government rather than to assist them in the any discrimination against the disabled.

The protesters were unconvinced and after he had finished speaking several spoke about how local Mind groups were working against the interests of those with mental health problems. They claimed the local managers were often more interested in empire building than in the welfare of benefit claimants.

More pictures at Mind’s collusion with the DWP.


Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan

Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan: Ten years ago on 28th September 2013 I photographed a protest in Parliament Square against the degrading and wholly unreliable tests administered by Atos to determine whether disabled peole qualify for benefits. The I continued to the Sudanese Embassy where a large crowd of Sudanese were calling for an end to the repressive regime in Sudan.


10,000 Cuts – Deaths After Atos Tests – Parliament Square

Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan

10,000 White chrysanthemums were spread on the mud and grass of Parliament Square in an act of remembrance and solidarity for over 10,000 disabled peole who have died in the three months after being made to take the degrading Work Capability Assessments run for the government by Atos.

Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan

The 10,000 are largely made up of those who already have a terminal diagnosis but still have to come and submit to the tests for ther benefits to continue for their remaining few months of life. And despite compelling medical evidence many are refused benefits and said by Atos to be ‘Fit for work’.

Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan

The ceremony took place in the square bounded by the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Supreme Court and the Treasury and was organised by the 10,000 Cuts & Counting Campaign which included disability activists, Occupy activists, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral and others who recognise that lives are being devastated by the government’s austerity programme.

Atos Deaths & Regime Change in Sudan

The campaigners do not claiming that the test itself kills the 10,000, although some have been driven to commit suicide after being failed by Atos, but that such tests adminstered in the final days of life are unfeeling, unnecessary and persecute the sick and dying.

Sophie Partridge reads the words of Karen Sherlock who died in 2012 after endess pressure and loss of benefits.

A number of disabled people and a mother of three disabled children gave moving testimonies with many damning indictments of the failures of Atos and the Department of Work and Pensions and their lack of understading of the needs of the disabled. They had not been treated with dignity or humanity, with deliberately discriminatory policies, targets to be met, arbitrary decisions and bureaucratic incompetence. And there was a period of silence and prayers to the four corners of the square.

The Tories had obviously seen the disabled as an easy touch for cuts, thinking they would be unable to defend themselves, but organisations such as DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, have signally proved them wrong. Many of the disabled have become desperate and have been some of the most prominent and most effective protesters, not least because the police have great difficulties (and some sympathy) in dealing with them. Arresting people in wheelchairs isn’t easy.

More at 10,000 Cuts – Deaths After Atos Tests.


Sudanese Call for Regime Change – Sudanese Embassy

I left Parliament Square where the protest was still continuing with a number of people including MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn as well as several disabled activists still waiting to speak to rush to the Sudanese Embassy in Cleveland Row at the end of Pall Mall.

There a noisy crowd of around a hundred were in a protest pen calling for Omar al-Bashir and the National Congress Party to resign. The London protest was in solidarity with those that have been taking place in Khartoum over rises in fuel prices and corruption over the past six days. The protests there have been brutally attacked by the regime.

The protesters in London from ‘Sudan Change Now’ and the ‘National Sudanese Women Alliance’ see the government as a total failure in managing the country for over 23 years, presiding over a political, economic and social collapse.

They say the government disrespects the Sudanese people and ignores their education and health, with all the money going into ‘security’ spending, which does not make the people secure but is used to repress the people and fight wars, with many of the best Sudanese men and women being killed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Under the regime of Omar al-Bashir, the judicial system was base on Sharia Law, with stoning, flogging, whipping, hanging and even crucifixtion. Some saw the protests in Khartoum as the start of an ‘Arab Spring’ movement which would lead to regime change but it was not until 2019 that al-Bashir was deposed in a coup d’état, then arrested, tried and convicted on multiple corruption charges.

More pictures at Sudanese Call for Regime Change.


DPAC take Pants to IDS – 2013

Monday, September 4th, 2023

DPAC take Pants to IDS: Wednesday 4th September 2013 was the last day of a week of action by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) against the attacks by the coalition Tory government on the poor and disabled. I photographed protests outside the Dept of Health, Dept of Energy and Climate Change and the Dept of Education in the morning, and then a combined ‘Pants to IDS’ demonstration at the Dept for Work & Pensions in the afternoon. Between the these I also covered a rally in Parliament Square by UK Dalits protesting the failure of the government to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK; government policies on this issue seem to be dictated by their high-caste Hindu donors.


DPAC Picket Ministries

DPAC take Pants to IDS

DPAC was formed by disabled to give a voice to disabled people who are so often patronised and marginalised, despite many being highly intelligent and articulate and obviously being able to speak from experience. As users of services they know better than the highly paid consultants and cronies that governments seem to prefer to rely on to give the answers they want.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

At the Ministry of Health in Whitehall around 50 disablement activists held a protest “to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence.” There were banners, posters, placards, speeches and songs, including ‘Citizen Smart’ (Alan Smart) and Adeola Johnson, who sang her ‘General Strike’

DPAC take Pants to IDS

The protest there was continuing when I went on to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and joined those “angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits” to hear more speeches and songs.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

There were people holding a banner across the door which appeared to be blocked. Again I left before the end, catching a bus to the next of the four initial venues.

The mood at the Dept of Education was angrier, with a group crowding around the single doorway shouting and arguing with a man refusing them entry. They kept asking for either someone from the department to come out and discuss their protest against government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation or for a delegation to be allowed in to deliver their manifesto.

After I left three people were allowed to take the manifesto in, and were told that they might be allowed back to discuss it later in the week. There was so a protest at the Dept of Transport but I was too late by the time I arrived there.

More at DPAC Picket Ministries.


DPAC take Pants to IDS – Dept for Work & Pensions

The pavement outside the Dept of Work and Pensions was rather crowded with roughly a hundred protesters along with reporters and around 35 assorted wheelchairs and mobility vehicles.

They listened intently to speeches by Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, John McArdle of the Black Triangle Campaign (named after the symbol the Nazi’s forced those they considered “asocial” or “workshy” to wear) and Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month, along with several from DPAC members.

There were performances by Heydon Prowse as a man in a white suit and with a three piece gospel choir performing a piece about Atos miracles which certify the dead and dying as ‘fit for work’.

A deputation let to deliver a copy of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Our Futures which was to be launched at a meeting in the House of Commons later in the day to Downing St. Research shows that “disabled people are being disproportionately impacted by the cuts with those with the most complex levels of support need being hit by austerity nineteen times harder than the average person.”

The manifesto was produced by disabled people and their organisations and sets out the key principles, demands and commitments that are important to deaf and disabled people. MPs were reminded that “With around 1 in 5 of the population being disabled and many more affected by disability as family, friends and carers or simply as citizens who care about social justice, policy and pledges on disability will be a key concern of many voters as we approach the next election.”

As the deputation left, Andy Greene of DPAC opened the large bag he had been carrying around all day. He reminded us that Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) had his problems too (earlier McArdle had described him less sympathetically as “the psychopath that is the minister in this office“.)

One of IDS’s problems had been over housing, but had been solved when his daddy-in-law had given him the mansion where DPAC activists had visited him for a protest on his very nice lawn, and another was apparently with some very personal items.

Back in 2003, one of his senior aides gave evidence to a House of Commons Committee that he had claimed expenses from the taxpayer for – among other items – his underwear. So here in the bag were lots of pants for IDS, and we were invited to personalise them with a message saying what we thought of his policies, after which they could be pegged up on a washing line between the lamp posts outside the ministry. None of the comments were positive but there were just a few that were fit to photograph and print.

More pictures DPAC take Pants to IDS


End UK Caste Discrimination Now – Parliament Square

Between the DPAC protests I also photographed a protest by some of the estimated 200-400,000 lower caste Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) living in the UK. Although the House of Lords had twice voted for caste discrimination to be included in equalities law, and section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 requires the Government to introduce secondary legislation to include it under race, the government continues to cave in to high-cast Hindu objections to doing so. Although illegal in India, it is still widespread there, and many in the UK have also suffer abuse because of their caste. But wealthy Hindus are large donors to the Conservative Party (and probably now to Starmer’s Labour.)

I wrote more about this on My London Diary and there are a few more pictures at End UK Caste Discrimination Now.


Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims – 2012

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims: On Wednesday 29th August 2012, the day that the Paralympic Games opened in London, disabled activists held a vigil to remember those who have died as a result of the Work Capability Assessments carried out by Paralympic Sponsor Atos, delivering a coffin to their head office. The vigil was a part of a week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims - 2012

I met with the activists in the two two coffee shops on Triton Square to prepare for the vigil shortly before they moved out towards Atos. It was raining steadily but fortunately there was an area under cover in front of the Atos offices where the could set up a PA system, an electronic organ, a lectern and an altar.

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims - 2012

The event began with a speaker (and a signer) explaining the problems with the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) as delivered by Atos, “a relentless health and disability assessment regime which has been used to slash vital benefits from hundred of thousands of sick and disabled people” and where assessors are told they have to reach strict targets in failing the great majority of claimants, finding ways to fill in the relevant boxes on the forms and often deliberately misinterpreting the claimants responses and misrepresenting their medical condition.

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims - 2012

Stories were read out about people who had committed suicide after incorrect Atos WCA assessments and where there was evidence that this had been at least part of the direct cause of their deaths.

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims - 2012
Claire Glasman of Winvisible holds a poster about June Mitchell, found fit to work when dying from lung cancer

Four disabled people in wheelchairs or mobility scooters then brought a coffin to the vigil and people came forward to lay flowers on it.

The coffin was then carried to be put down directly in front of the Atos office entrance, and more flower petals were then thrown over it.

In 2012 I commented:

The event was a solemn and moving reminder of the scandal of the work capability assessments and the terrible effect they are having on the disabled. Many are losing the allowances that enable them to travel to work, others housing benefits, and are being told they are fit to work when patently they are unable to do so. One of the protesters had a placard with a list of some of the cases, “a suicidal woman – a man with FATAL heart condition – rape survivor of Rwandan genocide – man with kidney cancer – woman with sever MS”. It is a list that could be extended almost indefinitely – and now includes a man in a coma.

Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims

Despite Atos having been discredited, repeatedly been accused of dishonesty and associated with the deaths of disabled people, according to Disability News Service it earned over £465 million before withdrawing from the WCA contract in 2015.

Atos were left out of the awards for disablity assessment contracts worth over £2billion announced this year for 2024-9, with the contracts going to Capita, US company Maximus and Australian multinational Ingeus. But Atos may eventually get one of the five contracts, as they took the DWP to court after losing out to Serco for the southwest England contract, claiming the evaluation of the bids had been unfair. The court action ended with the DWP agreeing to reassess the decision, and the £338m contract may yet go to Atos.

As Disability News Service points out, both Capita and Maximus also been linked to the deaths of disabled claimants. Capita also has had serious data protection problems and has failed to meet acceptable quality standards of its PIP assessements and has been linked to “widespread reports of dishonesty by its healthcare professionals“. Despite this, these companies continue to be rewarded by hugely lucrative contracts. Privatisation apparently saves money but only by providing a service which employs staff often without adequate qualifications, forces them into dishonest practices and shoddy work and claimants pay dearly for this, sometimes with their lives.

More at Disabled Pay Respect to Atos Victims.