Posts Tagged ‘Fitwatch’

11 October 2008

Monday, October 11th, 2021

It was the start of the final 100 days of the Bush adminstration and the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil’ coalition whose members included Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, PLATFORM, Voices UK, and War on Want and was supported by the Stop the War Coalition and others had come to Shell’s UK headquarters at Waterloo to protest against plans by Britain and the USA for Iraq to hand over most of the country’s oil reserves to foreign companies, particularly Shell and BP.

Iraq had nationalised its oil by 1972, and it provided 95% of its government income. Many had seen the invasion of Iraq by the US and UK (along with Australia and Poland) as largely driven by the desire to gain control of Iraq’s huge oil reserves and the US had engaged consultants to help it write a new oil law which it got the Iraqi cabinet to approive in 2007 which would give foreign oil companies – including Shell and BP, long-term contracts within a safe legal framework. But large-scale popular opposition meant the Iraqi parliament failed to approve the new law. But in June 2008, the Iraqi Oil Ministry went ahead with short-term no-bid contracts to the major foreign oil companies – including Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell, Total and Chevron and later these and other contracts were made more favourable to the oil companies.

After the protest at Shell’s offices the protesters marched to protest outside the BP HQ in St James’s Square and then to the US Embassy, and I left to cover the London Freedom not fear 2008 event outside New Scotland Yard. Similar protests were taking place in over 20 countries to demonstrate against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses, organised by a broad movement of campaigners and organizations.

The London event highlighted the restrictions of the right to demonstrate under the Labour government’s The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005, (SOCPA),, the intimidatory use of photography by police Forward Intelligence squads (FIT), the proposed introduction of ID cards, the increasing centralisation of personal data held by government, including the DNA database held by police, the incredible growth in surveillance cameras, ‘terrorist’ legislation and other measures which have affected our individual freedom and human rights.

For something completely different I walked a quarter of a mile down Victoria Street to Westminster Cathedral where people were assembling for the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, one of the larger walks of public witness by Catholics in London.

This tradition began in Austria in 1947 with the roasary campaign begun by a priest praying for his country to be freed from the communist occupiers. The first annual parade with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima took place in 1948 in Vienna on the feast of the Name of Mary, Sept 12, which had been established by Pope Innocent XI in 1683 when Turkish invaders surrounding Vienna were defeated by Christian armies who had prayed to the Blessed Virgin.

As the procession to a service at Brompton Oratory began I walked back up Victoria St to Parliament Square, where a number of other small protests were in evidence. All over the centre of London there were people giving out leaflets about the growing problems faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka, where they allege a program of ethnic cleansing is being carried out by the government. International media are banned from the Tamil areas of the country and NGOs have been ordered out of some areas, so there are few reports of the war. Worse was to come and in 2009 in the final stages of the war conservative estimates are that 70,000 civilians were killed in the the Mullivaikkal massacre.

Others in the square were protesting against the UK’s scandalous treatment of asylum seekers and calling for the asylum detention centres to be closed down.

Brian Haw was still there, and I wrote:

Facing Parliament, Brian Haw‘s peace protest continues – he has been there for almost 2700 days – over 7 years – and it will soon be his 60th birthday. Brian says that now the police seem to have largely abandoned attempts to get rid of him legally there have been a number of odd attacks against him and others in the square – which the police have ignored. I took some time talking to a man who smelt of alcohol, was talking nonsense and acting unpredictably – and who then went and started to insult Brian. One of the other demonstrators stood between him and Brian who was filming him. I put down my bag as I took photographs in case I needed to step in and help, but fortunately he eventually moved away.

There were others protesting in Parliament Square, including one man who asked me to take his picture. He told me his name was Danny and that he had been there on hunger strike for two weeks, protesting over his failure to get his case investigated. He claimed to have been abused by police and social services following an incident in which as a seven year old child in Llanelli he was implicated in the death of a baby brother. I was unable to find any more information about his case.

Finally I saw a group of people walking past holding leafelts with the the word CHANGE on them and rushed after them to find they were Obama supporters hoping to persuade Americans they met to register and vote in the election. It was time for me to go home.

Parliament Square
Rosary Crusade of Reparation
Freedom not Fear 2008
Bush & Cheney’s Iraq Oil Grab


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.



No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Protesters kettled outside City Hall as the Mayoral election results announced in 2008


London’s electors in a few days time will be faced with a rather bewildering array of candidates, with 20 names appearing on the ballot paper.

Ian Bone of Class War and banner ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ 2008

Current mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping for re-election and his chances are probably good and he has enjoyed a good lead in opinion polls with a roughly 20-25% lead over his nearest rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey. He could even get the 50% needed to win on the first preference votes and is likely to end up with over 60% when second preferences are included.

Anarchists raise the anti-fascist banner at City Hall 2008

Bailey, like Conservatives standing in the various elections around the country, is rather likely to pick up votes because of the success of the Covid vaccination rollout, a rather unfair consequence as it was Tory incompetence that really got us into the huge mess – with bodies piling up in mortuaries if not on the streets, and the NHS, which they have been doing their best to privatise out of existence over the years, which got ahead and got on with the jabs – and fortunately the government, having perhaps learnt a little from the test and trace debacle, let them get on with it rather than giving jobs to their mates.

It’s a slightly unusual voting system, with the second round of counting including only the two leading candidates. But it does mean that if you are a Khan supporter you could safely vote for any other candidate than Bailey as first preference, knowing that you second preference for Khan would count for him in the end.

Fitwatch hold their banner in front of the police photographer 2008

Opinion polls suggest that on this basis YouTuber Niko Omilana might come out third on the first preference votes, well above either the Green Party’s Sian Berry or Lib Dem Luisa Porritt, either of whom would clearly make rather better mayors than him.

Police TSG arrive to clear the area. 2008

The 15 other candidates seem unlikely to gain much benefit from the voting system and will almost certainly all lose their £10,000 deposit. They cover a wide range from various fringe parties, serious single-issue candidates to various more or less entertaining idiots such as Count Binface. Even at odds of 800 to 1 it isn’t worth betting on him.

Police arrest a man who had been sitting quietly by the river

Back in 2008 there were fewer candidates, but it was sadder times as London was announcing the election of its worst mayor yet, though at least he did continue some of the previous incumbent’s policies, and some of the advisers he employed were competent. But the years Johnson was mayor were something of a disaster for Greater London – which he has gone on to repeat for the country as a whole.

Some of the protesters were surrounded and held for several hours

The ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ protest by anarchists had its moments of farce, beginning with the police photographer taking an unusual interest in me as I sat reading a paperback. I just happened to be in the middle of John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ at the time. Although I clearly watched him taking pictures, when I later made a freedom of information request about this an other occasions I’ve been photographed, the answer came back that there were no pictures of me.

Others had escaped as police moved in and showed the banner from a balcony before going to the pub

You can read more about what happened and see more pictures on My London Diary:
No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop


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.