Posts Tagged ‘general election’

Keep Corbyn – June 2016

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

Emergency protest on the day of the coup

It’s probably never a good idea to say “I told you so”, but it was clear to many of us that that after Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party he represented the party’s only hope of winning a general election in the foreseeable future – and probably within my own lifetime.

And although he lost the 2017 election, it proved the case. It was an election the Labour Party could and should have won. They would have won had not many officials and MPs been actively sabotaging the campaign, diverting resources away from marginal constituencies and failing to give the party their full support. Some even went as far as seeming to celebrate the loss.

Ever since Corbyn won the leadership in September 2015 many officers and MPs had been fighting against him, some openly. Things came to a head in 2016 after the EU referendum when he was accused of only giving lukewarm support to the Remain campaign, though he had certainly spoken against leaving the EU at numerous large rallies. The issue was picked up as a pretext for a coup attempt that had long been in planning.

This began on 25th June when Hilary Benn contacted other shadow cabinet ministers telling them he had lost confidence in Corbyn and was sacked. On 26th June 11 other members of the shadow cabinet resigned with another eight leaving the following day.

The emergency protest on the day the coup attempt began was small, but two days later more than ten thousand grass-roots Labour supporters filled Parliament Square in a rally organised by Momentum to vigorously oppose the coup. All except the top picture come from the rally on 17th June.

Angela Rayner and Richard Burgon both came to support Corbyn

Corbyn was able to form a new if rather smaller shadow cabinet with a number of joint portfolios, including 13 new members. But on the 28th June the 229 MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in him by 172 votes to 40.

It was hard to find anyone to stand against Corbyn, but finally on 11 July Angela Eagle launched a leadership challenge and was followed by Owen Smith. Opponents of Corbyn tried to get him left off the ballot, but a secret ballot of the Labour National Executive Committee confirmed by a small majority that the incumbent leader should automatically be listed, in line with party rules, and their decision was later confirmed by the High Court. Eagle dropped out as Smith got more nominations, though neither was particularly popular.

In the leadership ballot that followed, Corbyn confirmed his popularity. He was supported by 285 Constituency Labour Parties, with only 53 CLPs supporting Smith, and ended up with 61.8% of the vote to Smith’s 38.2%.

Jeremy Corbyn smiles after speaking at the rall

It should have been a clear message to MPs and party officials to get behind Corbyn and stop undermining his leadership. A united Labour Party could have fought the prejudices of our predominantly right-wing media including a BBC increasingly dominated by right-wing commentators and editors. Their continued opposition to him and some popular manifesto commitments threw away the chance of winning the next election – whenever it was called. Though it was only the weak and disunited state of Labour that convinced Theresa May to gamble on 2017; but even then had the party got fully behind the campaign we would have been saved the shameful Tory governments that have followed since then.

More on My London Diary:
Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn
Keep Corbyn – No Coup


Election Day 2010

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Thursday 6th May was also an election day in 2010 with a UK general election that saw Labour losing over 90 seats to end with 48 fewer MPs than the Conservatives. But back then we still had a Lib-Dem party with 57 MPs who, after five days of horse-trading agreed to form a coalition government with the Tories – a decision that condemned them to oblivion, losing all but 8 seats in the 2015 election.

I spent most of election day – after voting in the early morning – in and around Parliament Square, where there was also considerably politics taking place. Three distinct group were camping in the square.

Brian Haw

Brian Haw and the Parliament Square peace campaign had been there for 3260 days since 2nd June 2001 and was still there despite an Act of Parliament designed to remove him, attacks by individuals with connections to the police and security services, illegal police raids, provocations, assaults and arrests by police officers and more.

Barbara Tucker

A year earlier Haw had dissociated his Parliament Square Peace Campaign (PSPC) from the ‘Peace Strike’ protest in the adjoining area of the square led by Maria Gallestegui “by mutual consent”, wanting to end any confusion between the two campaigns. The Peace Strike had not been harassed by police to the same extent and was allowed a greater physical presence in the square, and were regarded by some, probably incorrectly, as being partners with the establishment to discredit the PSPC.

Since May Day the square had also been home to ‘Occupy Democracy’ who saw themselves as supporting the PSPC by their presence. But the PSPC suspected some of them too of being agent provocateurs in police pay to provide a pretext for more draconian police action against them. Certainly some of these more temporary occupiers were breaking the rules against drinking alcohol in Parliament Square, despite the Democracy Camp notices banning this.

In my account I wrote:

“At one point the dispute between the camp and the PSPC deteriorated with a man on the camp’s sound system making what were possibly intended as humorous put-downs of Barbara Tucker who was then attacking the Tory Party for the backing it receives from the oil giants. Clearly some of the campers were distressed by this and he was asked to desist, and some of those present tried to calm the situation.
But generally the camp’s activities were more positive, and while I was there considerable work was taking place making banners and placards, as well as people discussing and dancing.”

Election Day in Parliament Square

Shortly before I left around 6pm, people from Democracy Village walked with placards to College Green where the TV media have their tents and cameras to cover political events and had been conducting interviews about the election. There had been little if any media coverage of Democracy Village or the peace campaigns and they wanted to make a point of this. But most of the media simply ignored the protesters, and eventually police came to talk with them and they returned to Parliament Square.

Protests in the UK are almost never seen by the mass media as news – unless police are injured or property destroyed and they can run negative stories. Occasionally if a celebrity takes part they may get a mention, or some particularly quirky and preferably non-political event captures their whimsy. But political protests are largely only news if they take place overseas against regimes which our government disapproves of.

The government that resulted from the election was led by a party that got just under a third of the votes and once again demonstrated the iniquities of our first past the post electoral system. A year later we had a referendum on an alternative voting system, but this was largely scuppered by Conservative opposition and a lack of real support from Labour.

The 2010 election had left the Tories holding the whip hand in the coalition, and they certainly made use of it, both through imposing drastic and ill-considered cuts on public and in particular local authority expenditure and in attacks on protests such as those in Parliament Square. The current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill takes these attacks on human and civil rights, the right to protest, migrants and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people to new levels, incompatible with any free society.

Election Day in Parliament Square


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.


A Day Out with Class War

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Lisa McKenzie’s election address in Chingford

Class War had decided to stand candidates in the 2015 General Election, and a handful of people had volunteered to stand under their banner including in three constituences around London. These included Lisa McKensie, then a research fellow at the LSE who was standing against Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith in his Chingford constituency on the north-east border of London. An on Saturday 14th Mar 2015 I went with Class War for the launch in Chingford of her election campaign to give his constiutents a chance to kick out him and the evil policies he represents, which inflict misery on the poor and disabled. Unfortunately few in Chingford seem to care much about the poor or the disabled and although there was an almost 5% swing away from the Tory in the election only 53 votes went to Class War.

Police take away Class War’s election banner

What Class War didn’t have with them for the launch of their campaign in the constituency was their banner showing pictures of their banner stating clearly their opinion of leading politicians, which controversially police had ripped from their hands at a protest earlier in the week because of its large text ‘ALL FUCKING WANKERS’ rather than the disturbing faces of party leaders. Some months later they were directed to return it, but somehow had managed to lose it – I hope Class War were re-imbursed.

Police had turned up in some force at Chingford station to welcome the group of around 20 supporters who had turned up for the launch, and continued to harass the group as it made its way along the street, stopping occasionally for speeches.

A police officer threatens a man with arrest for holding a poster

There were remarkably few people on the streets of Chingford and none of them made complaints about the posters that were being held up, though there were one or two who made ‘V’ signs and shouted obscenities, largely from passing vehicles. But most of the few who walked by either failed to notice the protest or pretended to, with others expressing similar views to Class War of their MP, in seat since 1992.

Lisa puts a leaflet in the door at the Chingford & Woodford Green Conservative Party office

There was a convenient space in front of the Methodist Church for Lisa to give her election address, and there were other speakers, including Class War’s candidate for South Croydon Jon Bigger, all watched intently from across the road by a police officer, though there were now fewer following the event. After the speeches the group wandered back up the road towards the station, with Lisa stopping to put a leaflet through the door of the local Conservative Association office before most of us made our way into a local pub to celebrate the election launch.

After a drink or two we made our way across the road for the train back to central London, with police still following us until the train pulled out of the station. Some of those present including the two candidates were on their way to the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark to show solidarity with occupiers who continue to highlight the shameful treatment of residents whose homes there are being demolished, and I went along with them on what was a rather hilarious journey.

It was a little tricky to get into the estate as Southwark Council had tried to block all the entrances, but fortunately we met some activists who were able to show us a rather lengthy detour to gain access. It did at one stage involve swinging across a small gap, made a little more difficult by the heavy camera bag I was carrying, but eventually we were there and something of a party was taking place. The occupied flat was on the top floor and had splendid views of south London.

I didn’t take many pictures, as undertandably many of the activists did not want to be photographed. It was the kind of curious situation where many were taking pictures on their phones, but I was shouted at for using a camera – though carefully framing so only those who I had permission to photograph have their faces shown.

Much more about an interesting day out on My London Diary:
Class War go to Aylesbury Estate
Class War celebrate Election Launch
Class War Chingford Election Launch


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.