Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals – on Monday 4th May 2015 Occupy Democracy were on the fourth day of their ‘Festival of Democracy’ in Parliament Square “building a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!”

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy had come to Parliament Square in defiance of the law criminalising the use of tarpaulins, tents and other protection in the square, and were making six key demands:

• reform of party funding so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them rather than the 1% who bankroll them
• major democratic reform of the media to break the stranglehold of vested interests
• a fundamental overhaul of lobbying and the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government
• the introduction of proportional representation so that everyone’s vote counts
• that MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings
• a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy.

Occupy Festival of Democracy
Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

On Monday 4th they began a rally and meditation at the foot of the statue of Gandhi, noted for his direct action civil disobedience, calling for fossil fuel exploration and investment to be made a crime. Donnachadh McCarthy laid out a large blue banner with the message ‘Criminalise Fossil Fuel Exploration‘ and a mock tombstone with the inscription ‘RIP – 300,000 Dying from Climate Crisis Every Year Said Kofi Annan UN Gen Soc‘.

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

People then brought tarpaulins to sit on around these on the paved area in front of Ghandi’s statue and began a series of short speeches, meditation and songs about climate change and fossil fuel use.

They took a small blue tarp to the statue of Gandhi and wrapped it carefully around him. After a short pause two of the GLC’s private security heritage wardens who had been watching the event with a few police officers came up and removed the blue tarpaulin. A replacement was brought up and carefully held by two of the protesters without touching the statue (much) and the meditation continued.

There was another minor intervention by the heritage wardens who objected to burning incense sticks being placed in the flower beds. The protesters removed them and instead held them.

Donnachadh McCarthy then produced a blue folding tent and erected it, announcing that he was going to defy the ban on tents and inviting others who wished to join him.

People climbed in and after posing for a photograph with the tent the protest continues, with Donnachadh joining them inside as police approached. The police warned those inside the tent they were committing an offence and warned them they could be arrested – and then walked away.

Some minutes later, at exactly 2pm a larger group of police returned and surrounded the tent.

They gave those inside a final chance to leave without being arrested. Three people remained inside the tent, holding each other tight.

Finally they were arrested, handcuffed and taken away to waiting police vans. The whole police operation seemed a massive waste of public money enforcing a ridiculous law. The real criminals are not a few protesters with tents and tarpaulins in public squares, but those who sit in boardrooms and continue promote and produce fossil fuels which are driving us towards extinction, plotting actions to derail attempts to make the changes the planet needs in order to increase their profits.

More pictures at Occupy Gandhi – stop fossil fuel criminals.


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Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Refugee Children, Dead Cyclists & A Squat – 11th February 2017

Dubs Now – Shame on May

Five years ago, on Saturday 11th February 2017, a crowd of supporters of Citizens UK and Safe Passage joined Lord Alf Dubs at Downing St to take a petition to Theresa May urging her to reverse the decision to stop offering legal sanctuary to unaccompanied refugee children.

The Tory government had been forced into an unusual humanitarian response when Parliment passed the Dubs amendment, and they were then given a list of over 800 eligible children – although there were known to be more whose details were not recorded. And because of Lord Dubs, around 300 have been allowed into the UK. But although twice that number remain in limbo, many in the Calais camps, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to end the scheme.

Lord Dubs speaks

Among those who spoke at the protest before an emergency petition with over 40,000 signatures was taken to Downing St were speakers from four London Labour councils who all said they had told the government they would take more children but their offers had not been taken up.

Dubs Now – Shame on May


Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists

Cyclists and supporters met in Trafalgar Square to march to the Treasury on the edge of Parliament Square to call for a significant increase in spending on infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on our streets.

That week five people were killed on London streets as a result of careless or dangerous driving – accidents are rare, but such deaths are made much more likely by a road system engineered around the needs of car and other vehicle drivers and cutting their journey times through the city. Facilities for cyclists and pedestrians have long been treated as secondary and chronically underfunded.

But these 5 killed, who were remembered in the protest and die-in are a small fraction of the numbers who die prematurely each week in London as a result of high and often illegal levels of air pollution – estimated at around 180 per week, as well as the much higher number of those whose lives are seriously affected by health problems – both figures including many who drive. Powerful lobbies for motorists and vehicle manufacturers have led to the domination of our cities by cars and lorries.

There are huge health benefits from cleaning the air by cutting down traffic and congestion, and also by encouraging healthy activities including walking and cycling. And the main factor discouraging people from taking to bikes for journeys to school, work and shopping etc is the danger from cars and lorries. Better public transport also helps, particularly in cutting pollution levels, and anything that cuts the use of petrol and diesel vehicles will reduce the major contribution this makes to global warming.

Invest in Cycling – Stop Killing Cyclists


ANAL squat in Belgravia

My final event that day was a visit to 4 Grosvenor Gardens, a rather grand house short distance from Buckingham Palace (and more relevant to me, from Victoria Station.) Squatting collective the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians (ANAL) had taken over this house on February 1st after having been evicted from the Belgrave Square house owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko which they occupied for a week.

I’d meant to go there a week earlier, but a domestic emergency had called me away earlier in the day from a protest at the US Embassy before a programme of workshops and seminars in the seven-storey squat had begun. There was nothing special happening on the afternoon I visited (though some things were happening in the evening) but I was welcomed by the occupiers, several of whom recognised me, and they were happy for me to wander around the building and take photographs.

Apart from being careful to respect the privacy of some of the occupiers who were sleeping or resting in a couple of the rooms I was able to go everywhere from the basement to the top floor, but the door leading onto the roof was locked, probably to stop any possible access from there by bailiffs. Like many other houses and hotels in the area it has a view into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, but I had to make do with the view from a rather dusty window, or the less interesting view from lower down where windows could be opened.

Few squats have blue plaques – this one for soldier and archaeologist Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, but more recently it has been in use for offices, business meetings and conferences. The squatters have tried hard to cause no serious damage and had last week turned out some people who had come to make a mess of the place.

There are around 1.5 million empty buildings in the UK, many like this deliberately kept empty as investments, their value increasing year on year. The number is enough to enough to house the homeless many times over. ANAL say that properties like this should be used for short-term accommodation while they remain empty and they have opened it as a temporary homeless shelter for rough-sleepers.

It remained in use for almost month, with the squat finally evicted at 8am on 27th February. As I ended my post, “There clearly does need to be some way to bring empty properties back into use, and councils should have much greater powers than at present to do so. Until that happens, squatting seems to be the only possible solution.”

ANAL squat in Belgravia


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Dec 4th 2010 in London

Saturday, December 4th, 2021

UK Uncut protest Topshop Tax Dodge

UK Uncut protested outside and briefly inside Topshop and other Oxford Street stores in Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, one of the major companies who together are alleged to dodge £12 billion per year in UK tax.

Eleven years on we still haven’t seen effective action by our government against the huge amount of tax evaded and avoided by the wealthy in the UK. Hardly surprising since many of those in government and their friends and supporters benefit greatly from these practices.

It was the threat by the EU to clamp down on some of these legal fiddles that was a major factor behind the huge funding and lies of the Brexit campaign, something that we are now paying the price for while the billionaires are doing very nicely thank you – and some profiteering hugely from the government’s Covid contracts for their mates.

It was the threats that a centre left government under Jeremy Corbyn might have made some slight changes that, along with his support for Palestinian rights, led to a hugely vitriolic campaign against him by the press and inside the Labour Party.

UK Uncut labelled Sir Philip Green, the boss of the Arcadia Group, which included include Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge Wallis and British Home Stores, as “Britain’s most notorious tax-avoider. While Green himself paid tax on his salary, the companies are owned by a holding company in the tax haven of Jersey, which is owned by his wife and immediate family who live in Monaco, and pay no tax. Arcadia are certainly not the only huge scale tax avoiders – and later the protesters also briefly visited Oxford St branches of two others, Boots and Vodafone.

They also point out that when Green awarded himself a huge dividend payout – £1.2 billion – in 2005, it went through various offshore accounts and tax dodges to his wife’s Monaco bank account. The loss in tax to the UK was £285 million.

We should have a tax system based on a simple principle. If people or companies make the money in the UK then you should pay tax on it in the UK, and any of the dodges now still used to avoid this should be illegal. At the moment the large accountancy firms are mainly used to aid the avoidance of tax, and they need to be completely re-purposed to with the role of ensuring the correct tax is paid.

Of course it won’t happen. It would destroy a huge part of the business of the City of London, currently the world capital of financial skullduggery and with a curiously intimate connection to our parliament. All we have seen over the 11 years since this protest are a few sweetheart deals with the tax office with some rather token repayments and things are unlikely to change.

More at March for Zero Carbon UK 2030.


March for Zero Carbon Britain 2030

Happening the same day was a march to Parliament by the Campaign Against Climate Change calling for urgent action over climate change including a Zero Carbon Britain by 2030. The march and rally was the seventh annual climate march organised by the CACC, which has spearheaded the campaign to get effective action to meet the climate challenge since its formation, aiming to put climate change at the top of our political agenda as the greatest threat that humanity faces.

While our government still seems shackled to business as usual and only making rather half-heated committments to tackling climate change with the necessary urgency, most of the rest of us are now convinced of the need for real action. From being regarded by many as cranks, CACC are now a small part of a huge mainstream.

Back in 2010 they were joined on the march largely by other relatively small campaigning groups, including Friends of the Eath, Greenpeace, the World Development Movement, the Climate Rush, the Green Party and many local groups, trade union branches etc. But as with most protests in Britain it was largely ignored by the media, dominated by a press owned by a handful of billionaires.

Things outside government were beginning to move back in 2010, particularly with the publication of an in-depth report compiled for the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), ‘Zero Carbon Britain 2030: A new energy strategy earlier in the year, but since then we have seen another largely wasted eleven years.

More at March for Zero Carbon UK 2030.


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Stop Heathrow Expansion – Nov 2016

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Post COP26 and the various official reports on the climate crisis it should now be clear to everyone that we need not to increase air traffic but to drastically reduce it if we are to succeed in limiting the global temperature rise even to the highly damaging level of 1.5 degrees Celsius. But still those with large financial interests in aviation are wanting to continue with the expansion of aviation despite its contribution to ruining the world.

The environmental case against Heathrow expansion was clearly won when plans were dropped after years of campaigning against a third runway over the first decade of this century, but despite this our government was persuaded by the industry to change its policies and put the expansion back on the table.

The case against Heathrow is of course even stronger than the case against air travel and air freight generally because of the location of the airport in the west of London. It was always in the wrong place, too close to the city centre and on the wrong side, with prevailing winds meaning aircraft approached over the city and the pollution from them being blown into it. Possibly even those who planned it during WW2 realised this when they avoided any real public debate by pretending the airport was needed for military use.

John Stewart of HACAN

Back in the fifties when I grew up under the flightpath it was less of a nuisance as planes then were smaller and quieter, though we did on several occasions find small parts from them dropped in our garden but fortunately hitting nobody. But over the years noisier aircraft and more frequent landings have made things much worse – though fortunately I’ve moved to a quieter zone but still near Heathrow. The pollution is still with us, not just from the airport itself but also from the road traffic and congestion it generates in the motorways and roads around.

On Saturday 19th November I went to Richmond Green for a rally organised to support Zac Goldsmith who resigned to stand as an anti-Heathrow expansion candidate and supported by Richmond Heathrow Campaign, Teddington Action Group, SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion), Residents Against Aircraft Noise (RAAN), Chiswick Against the Third Runway and others campaigning against the noise, pollution and catastrophic climate change the third runway and expansion of aviation would cause.

Harmondsworth campaigner Neil Keveren at Richmond

It was perhaps a strange decision by Goldsmith, as both Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates who he was standing against were also strongly opposed to another Heathrow runway, and many locals, particularly members of the Lib-Dems and Green Party were still aggreived at Goldsmith having taken the seat in 2010 from one of the most active campaigners against Heathrow expansion, Susan Kramer. But Goldsmith had resigned as a matter of principle when the government reneged on earlier promises and approved construction of the third runway the month before this protest. Goldsmith lost the election by a fairly narrow margin to the Lib-Dem candidate. Both Kramer and Goldsmith now sit in the House of Lords.

On the Bath Road overlooking the airport at Sipson

It was a strange protest too, though many of the real Heathrow campaigners were there and some spoke, and I was harassed by a member of Goldsmith’s team who followed me around and tried to stand in my way while taking pictures, telling me it was a private meeting. Eventually I had to ask a police officer to speak to him and get him to stop.

Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion

I left as speakers from various West London boroughs where coming to the microphone to make clear their opposition to Heathow expansion to rush to another protest on the issue on the Bath Road overlooking the airport. This was a ‘family friendly’ rally taking place at the same time as a short distance away Rising Up activists were blocking the link from the M4 into the airport – and police stopped me from going to photograph them.

There was a large crowd of police at this peaceful and legal protest as well, although it seemed totally unnecessary; as I commented “it did seem a considerable waste of police resources, perhaps an attempt to intimidate the protesters. The police did behave in a friendly manner, though they did restrict the movement of protesters to an unnecessary extent.”

Environmental campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy

I had already heard several of the speakers earlier at Richmond, though Goldsmith and his Conservative supporters had not travelled here but were presumably busy campaigning in Richmond.

Harmondsworth resident Neil Keveren of Stop Heathrow Expansion speaks at Heathrow

Here are the final three paragraphs of the acrount I wrote back then, still appropriate:

The main concerns of speakers were that expansion at Heathrow will cause the UK to break its own national laws to reduce emissions, as well as undermining the international climate commitments agreed in Paris, and that the new runway will devastate local communities with families losing their homes and many over a wider area suffering dangerous levels of air pollution. The construction of a new runway would create enormous problems across the area around the airport, and if completed would bring chaos to an already overstressed transport system in the whole region.

We need to totally rethink the aviation industry and evaluate the contribution it makes to our economy, and to remove its privileged status and subsidies which currently allow it to expand and pollute for the benefit of its shareholders and the convenience of rich frequent flyers. The industry greatly inflates the contribution it makes to the economy while refusing to acknowledge the many problems it creates.

Of course it isn’t something that can be looked at in isolation. We don’t just need to stop airport expansion, but to reassess much of they way we live. We need System Change if we are to avoid the disastrous effects of Climate Change.

Climate Crisis rally against Airport Expansion
Rally against Heathrow Expansion


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Five Bridges: XR – 17 Nov 2018

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021

COP26 was in some respects a great disappointment, or rather would have been had we expected very much to arise out of it. But there were some advances, and just a slight glimmer of hope that it may prompt a little more progress in our efforts to save our future on the planet. But that it happened at all and in the way it did is very much down to the efforts of people on the street to raise awareness of the realities of climate change.

Without groups that have been campaigning for years we would have no hope at all, and whatever people think about some of the policies of Extinction Rebellion, it has been one of the more effective movements in bringing the message to the attention of the media, politicians and the public.

Even in the unfortunately toned down words of the COP26 final resolution, the message from the banner in the assembly at the top of this post is now clear: ‘FOSSIL FUEL ERA OVER’ though it still remains to be seen if it can be brought to an end fast enough for us to survive.

On Saturday 17th November 2018, Extinction Rebellion rebels managed to block five of the bridges in central London: Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark. It was an ambitious project that brought much of London’s traffic to a standstill and gauranteed extensive media coverage. You can march 50,000 through London and it won’t merit a mention on the BBC unless windows are broken or police injured – but this was something that could not be ignored, and despite the interests of the billionaire media owners, at least some journalists began asking the right questions and writing the right answers.

I tried to photograph events on as many of the bridges as possible, though with no buses able to run in central London this involved rather a lot of walking. In the end I failed to make it to Lambeth Bridge, where some of the more robust actions by police against the protesters took place.

Here’s my description of XR from one of the three posts I made about them that day:

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent rebellion against the British government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse which is currently on course to make human life extinct. They demand the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, reverse their inconsistent policies and work to communicate and educate everyone, that they bring in legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce our consumption of all resources, with a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create a real democracy.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2018/11/nov.htm#westminster

More protests will be needed around the world to make politicians do what needs to be done – and I was photographing Extinction Rebellion in London last Saturday when they protested in the annual Lord Mayor’s Show.


My day was made busier as there was another unrelated event taking place that I also wanted to photograph, a Unity against Fascism and Racism march from the BBC to a rally in Whitehall calling for unity against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s. I missed the start but spent around half an hour taking pictures as it came down Regent St.


More on all these and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly

Unity Against Fascism and Racism


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COP23 & Calais – 24th October 2017

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Guardians of the Forest

Four years ago today we were waiting for the start of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, though for various reasons it didn’t get the same publicity as COP26 coming up shortly in Glasgow. There were certainly fewer hopes of anything positive emerging as it was the first such meeting since Donald Trump had stated he was going to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

Those talks were unusual in that although held in Germany (who did most of the organising) they were actually the first hosted by a small-island developing state, with Fiji taking the Presidency.

As usual at such events, not a lot was achieved, with the US decision dominating much of the business in various ways. Syria announced that it would sign up to Paris during the event, leaving the US as the only country in the world saying it would not honour the agreement. And the US withdrawal made China a rather more important player.

Britain actually took part in the one major positive outcome, coming together with Canada to launch the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, calling for the phasing out of coal in OEC and EU countries by 2030 and in the rest of the world before 2050. Unfortunately none of the major coal producing countries signed the pledge.

The Guardians of the Forest, indigenous leaders from Latin America, Indonesia and Africa, had stopped off in London on their way to Bonn and held a rally in Parliament Square to commemorate those who have lost their lives defending the forests against mining, the cutting down of forests for palm oil production and other crops and other threats to the forests and those who live in them.

Many companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are among those responsible for damage to the forests and the murder of indigenous people in search of profits, with whole tribes forcibly removed from their homes and their rights to the land they have lived in for many generations ignored.

Increasingly we are becoming aware of the importance of forests as sources of oxygen and in removing carbon dioxide and so combating global heating and the need for proper stewardship of these huge natural resources – rather than their destruction for short-term profit. Indigenous people have maintained them for hundreds or thousands of years in a renewable manner and their knowledge and continuing maintenance has a vital part to play in the fight against climate change.

Safe Passage

Earlier I’d photographed a rally by Safe Passage on the anniversary of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. Although around 750 child refugees had been brought here from France, they urged the government to provide safe and legal routes for the hundreds of refugees still living in Calais, many sleeping rough in terrible conditions.

Lord Alf Dubs

In particular they called on them to fill the remaining 280 places allocated under the Dubs law to children but not yet filled 18 months after Parliament passed the law. Many of those still in France are entitled to come here to be reunited with their family and they called on the Home Office to have an official in France to aid their transfers.

More at:
Guardians of the Forest – COP23
Safe Passage for the Children of Calais

Thunderbird, Olympic Park & Transphobia at the Mail

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

On Friday 19th October 2018 ‘Commander Neil Godwin Tracy’ of International Rescue came from Tracy Island carrying his ship Thunderbird 2 to the Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London to offer his organisation’s assistance to produce policies which which recognise the desperate need to cut carbon emissions to avoid disastrous global warming and climate change by banning all fracking.

Campaigners say BEIS has spent more time on changing its name than developing sensible policies, and the ministry refused his generous offer of health, and security removed the International Rescue poster he tried to past to the front wall. Police requested he remove a second poster with the message ‘Fracking Awful Business’.

I had another event to cover later in the day and took the opportunity of the several hours between the two to pay a visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford, walking from the station through Stratford Westfield, a vast shopping centre I described as a 21st century version of Hell to do so.

I came out at the back of John Lewis and walked along the road towards the park, over the railway which takes Eurostar speeding through Stratford International station. There are more local trains that stop but I’ve yet to feel a need to go to either Ebbsfleet or Ashford (Kent) a place that has always seemed to me only to exist to confuse those who really want to go to Ashford, Middlesex, now called by the railway Ashford (Surrey).

The part of the park called the Waterglades was actually looking rather good, with the trees beginning to change colour, and I took rather a lot of pictures.

The lake was looking a very bright green. Soon I found I was at a dead end and needed to retrace my steps to cross the River Lea and make my way towards my destination through some of the more arid and desolate areas of the park.

There is a useful bridge now across the Lea Navigation to Hackney Wick where I had time to wander round and photograph some of the graffiti as I made my way to Fish Island and then on over the East Cross Route to catch a bus on Old Ford Road to Bethnal Green tube station.

Sister Not Cister UK had organised a protest outside the Daily Mail building in Kensington after articles demonising trans people, particularly trans women, in The Metro which they publish, and their printing an advertisement campaign for the hate group, “Fair Play for Women”.

The protesters, including many trans people, say that these attacks on the trans community will hurt the most marginalised – trans women, working class trans people and trans people of colour – who are also the most likely to be in need of the services that such hateful campaigners seek to deny them. More were arriving to join the protest when I decided I needed to leave for home.

Mail group end your transphobic hate
Olympic Park walk
BEIS refuse International Rescue help


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Eight Years Ago… 27 July 2013

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Eight years ago on Saturday 27th July 2013 my working day began with the Rev Billy on a small green space on Victoria Street preparing the Stop Shopping Choir and volunteers for a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” performance against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London.

I’m not sure what staff and customers at the HSBC close to Victoria station made of the event, which pointed out that in the two previous years the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with HSBC in the lead. The Golden Toad costumes were for the Central American species forced into extinction by climate change in the 1980’s and recent weather events have now forced even the more sceptic to take the crisis seriously, even if so far to take little actual action.

After the performance in the bank, and as police began to arrive the group made their way to a wide area of pavement outside and staged another performance watched by pedestrians in the busy street close to the station, before leaving to celebrate in a nearby café.

I left to go to Trafalgar Square where as a part of an international day of action the Bradley Manning Support Network held a vigil at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The ‘gay whistleblower’, now Chelsea Manning, was being celebrated in countries across the world for passing documents to WikiLeaks which exposed a great deal of illegal and immoral actions by the US and other governments and had recently been awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize and was then on trail in Fort Meade. She was later sentenced to 35 years in a maximum security jail, but this was commuted to around seven years by President Obama and she was released in 2017.

From there I made my way to the US Embassy, then still in Grosvenor Square, for a rally before the start of march organised by BARAC against Global Racism and Injustice in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others, aimed a highlighting the reality of racism and demanding justice, both in the UK and US.

Although the march had been prompted by the acquittal in Florida of the murderer of Trayvon Martin which had led to a global outcry, the emphasis of the speeches at the Embassy was very much on events here in the UK. In his speech Lee Jasper of BARAC after mentioning the Martin case went on to say:

“We march to support the call from the Lawrence family for a full and independent judicial led public inquiry into the allegations that the Metropolitan Police sought to smear both the family and supporters through a covert police surveillance unit.”

“We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney. We march for justice and equality in the 50th anniversary year of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1968 March on Washington. The truth is that his dream is a threadbare vision here in the UK where racism is on the rise amplified by austerity.”

My London Diary

After an hour or so of speeches the marchers left to march to a further rally at Downing St, but I left them as they went down Oxford St.

Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC


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Scientists Call For Research-Based Policies

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Recent events have brought scientists much more into centre stage, and politicians now claim to be “following the science” although this often means simply picking and choosing those bits from the wide range of scientific advice that suits their particular agenda.

Science isn’t monolithic, and its predictions are generally in terms of probabilities rather than certainties. Different disciplines may bring rather different emphases to aspects of complex problems and sometimes we need a wider view than that of a particular specialism – and even some common sense.

It seems clear that at the beginning of the Covid outbreak our government placed to much confidence in the advice of some mathematical modellers and failed to follow that based on medical experience in dealing with earlier pandemics on wearing masks and tightly controlling international travel that kept infection rates near zero in some countries. And that they had dismissed the evidence of earlier exercises in pandemic control and failed to follow the conclusion that we needed stockpiles of protective equipment.

Simple mathematical predictions close to the start of 2020 – like those I made metaphorically on the back of an envelope from then available data – suggested that by leaving the progress of the virus essentially unchecked we might expect around 400,000 deaths. It was perhaps calculations such as these that led to a massive programme of ordering vaccines.

Our various lockdown control measures – too little and too late – and gradual improvements in the care of those infected have so far managed to keep the numbers down to a little under half that initial estimate, though another wave may take us rather closer, particularly if variants prove more resistant to current vaccines.

A couple of days ago I was invited to complete an online opinion survey about the political challenges facing our government. One question asked me to pick one from a list as the major political challenge facing the UK government. I read through the list, which began with something about immigration and was shocked to find after reading the 10 choices I had to pick ‘Other’ and type in ‘Climate Change’.

It was climate change that essentially prompted the protest by scientists on April 22nd 2017 to march through London from the Science Museum to a rally at Parliament. They came to celebrate the vital role that science plays in our lives and to call for an end to the fake news and fake science such as climate denial by politicians such as Trump which will prove disastrous.

The march drew attention to the need for international cooperation to combat the existential challenge of man-made global warming – and warned of the danger to this from Brexit and isolationism around the world.

It was an unusual event in many respects. As I pointed out on My London Diary and elsewhere:

“It was a considerably more nerdy protest than most, and some of the posters and placards were difficult event for someone like me with a couple of science degrees in my past to understand. Many scientists do seem to have a problem in communicating with the rest of us and write slogans like ‘Do I have large P-value? Cos I feel Insignificant’ or ‘dT=α.ln(C1/C0)’.”

My London Diary

As well as covering the march and rally by scientists I also photographed campaigners calling for the reform of our secretive Family courts, Poice and Social Services which cover up their failures and corruption by gagging orders, and a protest outside the Consular department of the Russian Embassy to show solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya, where over a hundred men suspected of being homosexual have been rounded up an put into camps and tortured, with three thought to have been killed. You can see more about these events and the scientists’ protest on the links below.

Reform Family Courts
LGBT rights abuses in Chechnya
Scientists Rally for Science
Scientists march for Science


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.


Climate Change and the Budget

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

Once again the recent budget has failed to show any real commitment to make the changes we need to combat the climate crisis. The chancellor’s speech and the treasury details were strong on rhetoric, telling use that we need to make radical changes and that cutting carbon was a major government priority, but there were few and only minor changes announced that will combat climate change, while more major announcements that will accelerate it.

Perhaps one of the more disappointing areas were the announcements on infrastructure and on road building. The expected UK national infrastructure strategy was not yet available and is now expected “later in the spring” but it is unlikely to change the commitment made already to wrongheaded project of which HS2 is the most glaring. And the promise of the “largest ever investment in England’s motorways and major A roads” goes completely against the need to get more people using sustainable public transport and will certainly lead to increased road traffic.

Another way the budget encourages car use is of course the continued freezing of fuel duty, which has remained at 58p per litre (+VAT) since 2011. Had the increases promised in the June 2010 budget taken place it would now be at 84p. While fuel duty has been frozen, rail fares have continued to rise.

Although there were minor changes intended to encourage the decarbonisation of heating buildings, any long term plans on the scale needed are still lacking. It is an area which could be addressed in that long promised infrastructure strategy, and one that could be an important source of ‘green jobs’ so fingers are firmly crossed – but I fear we will get yet another disappointment.

There are other disappointments in this budget too. The support for measures to combat the increasing risks of flooding seems lukewarm, and the ambitious programme of tree planting seems to be only roughly a fifth of that in earlier promises, and clearly insufficient. The budget also restates a commitment to invest in carbon capture and storage which still seems very unlikely to deliver any real dividends. It is also very unclear if the £900m for research into nuclear fusion, space and electric vehicles will make any positive contribution to combating climate change.

Six years ago, on Saturday 7th March, I was with over 20,000 protesters marching through London to a rally outside Parliament demanding action on climate change with divestment from fossil fuels, an end to fracking and damaging bio-fuel projects and for a 100% renewable energy future which would create a million new jobs.

The case then was clear and the protest made it firmly, but since then governments had spent six years talking about it but doing very little, listening more to the lobbyists from fossil fuel companies rather than the science. Slowly there have been some changes, and more politicians are now saying the right kind of things, but there has been precious little action. It’s probably now too late to avoid some pretty disastrous effects of the inevitable global temperature rise, but we may still be able to mitigate them and avoid the worst possible consequences. But it will need governments to stop fiddling while the planet burns.

More on My London Diary:
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change


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.