Posts Tagged ‘fair votes’

25th July 2015

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Six years ago I photographed three events in London on Saturday 25th July. The first was a protest outside the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy at Craven House on Kingsway by members of the British left and the Turkish Popular Front in the UK calling for the immediate release from Turkish jail of Scottish left-wing activist Steve Kaczynski. In Istanbul to interpret at an anti-imperialist conference, he apparently shouted “Repression Cannot intimidate Us” in Turkish as he was arrested on 2nd April 2015. He was finally released in late September 2015.

The arrest was a part of a Turkish clampdown on political opposition following an unrelated hostage incident elsewhere in the city when a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed. The Turkish government issued rumours to the media that Kacsynski was a British or German spy and kept him under poor conditions and in isolation, leading to him going on hunger strike.

From Kingsway in Holborn a short bus ride took me to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament for a protest against our crazy parliamentary voting system. Over half a million people had signed petitions calling for voting reform after May’s elections, where the winning party were voted for by just under 24% of the electorate, gaining 36.1% of the votes.

The ‘First Past the Post’ system makes it impossible for small parties to gain proper representation, particularly when their votes are spread widely across the country. So although the Green Party got over a million votes it only got one seat, as did UKIP despite over 3 million. The Tories with just three times their vote got 330 times as many MPs.

The system has always favoured the two major parties – and until recently very much suited their interests. But seeing the current position of the Labour party and possible constituency boundary changes it seems likely to condemn them to permanent opposition.

Under a thousand people turned up for the protest, which was themed around a map of the UK laid out on the grass and marked by coloured balloons for the different parties, the kind of bright idea that has photographers like me wringing their hands in desperation. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought a helicopter with me in my camera bag, and even if I owned a drone it would have almost certainly been illegal to fly it.

I finished my day just a short walk up Whitehall to Downing Street, where a large group of Kurds and supporters were protesting at the involvement of the Turkish State in the massacre of 32 young activists by ISIS as they were on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobane.

The Turkish Government has a long history of treating its Kurdish citizens as inferior, outlawing their language and culture, and and imprisoning the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan and others from the political and military groups opposing them. Turkey sees ISIS as an ally in its fight against the Kurds, and has aided or turned a blind eye to the smuggling of oil and other goods through Turkey and allowing supplies and recruits through to them.

The London Kurds organising this protest say that many Kurds and Turkish socialists here “have seen friends and family murdered in recent days and increasingly over the last few years by the Turkish state as it’s nationalist, imperialist and Islamist project has been damaged by the progressive politics of the Kurdish movement.”

After the protest at Downing St, the Kurds marched off for a further protest in front of the BBC to try to persuade them to properly cover the massacre and other atrocities of the Turkish state against Kurds.


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.