Posts Tagged ‘ethnic communities’

More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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


Shrinking May Day

Friday, August 30th, 2019

There has been a march in London on May Day, May 1st, for many years now, and since I went freelance I think I’ve attended it most or all years. Before when I was working as a full-time teacher, I was usually working on the actual May Day and unable to celebrate it, though back in the 70s I would turn up to work with a sprig of Lily of the Valley in my lapel, provided by a left-wing colleague, with French connections – there they have a public holiday to celebrate La Fête du Travail which is also know as La Fête du Muguet .

Back in 1978, the then Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan lost his nerve in creating a May bank holiday, and instead of declaring May Day as a holiday we got the rather ridiculous first Monday in May. Despite it not being May Day it remains contentious, with the Tory right Little Englanders wanting to replace it with a nationalistic UK Day ‘Best of Britain’ celebration in Ocotober. Next year it is to be moved to Friday May 8th to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Without London’s ethnic communities, I think the London march would have died years ago, with Kurds and Turkish communist groups really keeping the event alive and many other nationalities taking part. There is a small hard-core of left wing trade unionists and British communists, as well as various issue groups also.

This year Clerkenwell Green seemed very empty when I arrived at the time marchers were supposed to gather from noon, though more came later, knowing it would only start around 1pm.

But there were a few speeches in front of the Marx Library, notably from an man from the Indian Workers Association about the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre  and their demand for a formal apology from Britain and the Venezuelan ambassador who spoke in support of their government against media lies used to promote the  US-inspired and supported right-wing coup

Two unwelcome marchers held a banner with an anti-trans message woman an adult human female. Later following complaints they were challenged by march stewards and forced to leave the march. There is little support for this ‘Terf’ bigotry on the left which almost universally supports LGBTQ+ rights as an important area of human rights.

You can see more pictures at London May Day .

My next post will look at some of the banners on the May Day March


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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

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