Posts Tagged ‘hyde park’

March & Rally for Palestine – 2002

Saturday, April 13th, 2024

March & Rally for Palestine: I find it interesting to look back at the march and rally in support of Palestine which took place in London on Saturday 13th April 2002 for several reasons.

March & Rally for Palestine

The march was organised by the Muslim Association of Britain and came after the start of the large scale Israeli Operation Defensive Shield in towns and villages across the West Bank and battles against Palestinians in Jenin and Nablus in early April.

March & Rally for Palestine

Operation Defensive Shield was aimed at at halting Palestinian suicide bombings against civilians in Israel which were taking place during the Second Intifada.

March & Rally for Palestine

Around 30,000 people, mainly Muslims, had gathered at Hyde Park to march to the rally at Trafalgar Square (police estimates of the number at 10-15,000 were clearly too small.) According to CNNthey clambered on to Nelson’s Column chanting slogans before burning and tearing Israeli flags.”

March & Rally for Palestine

Well, a few of them did burn flags, though not in my sight, but rather more joined in the chanting of ‘”Down with Israel,” “Down, down U.S.A.” and “Jihad!” or holy war.’ Later in their article CNN do quote a MAB spokesman telling them that jihad “means ‘struggle', it does not mean war“.

They also quote the MAB spokesman telling them that the youth “tend to get a bit excited just as a large crowd does at a football match” and making clear that the MAB “do not believe in the burning of any flag.”

I think you can see from my pictures that this protest had a very different atmosphere from the current protests calling for a ceasefire and the end of the massacres of the Palestinian people. The current protests involve the whole range of the British population – including many Jews – and are largely about ending the senseless wholesale killing and destruction while many in 2002 were clearly showing support for the activities of Palestinian militants including suicide bombers. There are a number of posters and placards in my pictures which would now result in arrests.

Tony Benn was one of the speakers at the rally and is of course no longer with us, but Jeremy Corbyn still speaks at today’s protests. CNN quotes him in 2002 as saying:

This is a demonstration by thousands of British people, Muslim and non-Muslim, demanding peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state and withdrawal by Israeli forces. And the message to Tony Blair is now clear, he must stop speaking on behalf of George Bush and instead on behalf of peace and justice in the Middle East.”

Replace Blair by Sunak, Bush by Biden and it still makes sense.

This was also I think the first time I had posted colour pictures of a protest on My London Diary. Back in March 2002 I was still working with film, both black and white and colour negative.

Of course film does not come with EXIF data, but I think the colour pictures were probably made using a Konica Hexar F, with various Leica M fitting lenses, with those in the crowd using a 15mm Voigtlander. They were scanned with the first film scanner I bought, a Canoscan which had just come out in 2002, and neither hardware or software were really up to the job. The final picture is not one I posted in 2002, and I have improved the scan made then a little in Photoshop.

A few more pictures on the April 2002 page of My London Diary.

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Extremists and Mob Rule

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

Extremists and Mob Rule: Last Saturday I walked along with around 450,000 others from Hyde Park to the US Embassy in Nine Elms calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israeli genocide. The IDF has now killed over 30,000 people, mainly women and children and many more are threatened with starvation and disease as Israel continues only allow a trickle of the food and medicines needed into Gaza.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Humanitarian agencies including UNRWA are ready to distribute aid, but far too little is coming across the borders and the Israeli army are disrupting their activities, while Israeli spokesmen continue to produce lies which even the BBC now feels it has to challenge. The pictures here all come from this march.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Of course it wasn’t a mob, but a peaceful protest. It wasn’t Islamists taking over the streets of London, though there may well have been a few taking part among the more than 99% of us who were protesting because of the terrible scenes we have seen on even the limited reporting which has been allowed to come from Gaza – where Israel still prevents the international press from reporting. And because many of us believe that we should have a peaceful solution which gives freedom to both Palestine and Israel.

Extremists and Mob Rule

It wasn’t one of of my better days. I was feeling a little weak and walked twice as far as I should have done. The march may only have been around two and a half miles, but photographing it I walked at least twice that, going back and forth. And after collapsing for a short rest beside the Thames opposite the US Embassy I walked back to the middle of Vauxhall Bridge. From there I could see almost the length of Vauxhall Bridge Road, around three quarters of a mile still packed with marchers and no end in sight. But I was tired and turned back and took the train home from Vauxhall station.

Extremists and Mob Rule

Later today the UK Government is expected to announce its new definition of extremism, which is expected to be something along the lines of:

promotion or advancement of ideology based on hatred, intolerance or violence or undermining or overturning the rights or freedoms of others, or of undermining democracy itself

The point behind this re-definition is to enable the government to list organisations which it considers extremist and to ban these from meetings with ministers and elected officials or receiving public money and ban individuals who belong to them from serving on government boards.

It is clear that it will be used by the current government to list a wide range of organisations that are seen as left-wing in an attempt to embarrass the Labour Party, including those that support the Palestinian opposition to Israeli occupation, and with Sunak’s crazed accusations of “mob rule” could be applied to any organisation that supports large protests on any issue, but particularly calling for freedom for Palestine. And I expect to see Stop The War and CND on that list along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Muslim Association of Britain and the Palestinian Forum in Britain.

Peter Tatchell

Reports suggest that the largest Muslim group in the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), as well as Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) and Palestine Action will be on the list and any other groups opposed to the UK’s Prevent programme. Government departments have boycotted the MCB since 2009.

Listing will not ban these groups, though it might deny funding to some organisations which many might feel important in maintaining effective democracy. And if this wretched government remains in power much longer we will certainly see further powers given to the police particularly over the policing of protests, probably giving them much greater control over the activities of listed groups.

It will almost certainly be used to stigmatise groups which campaign against the monarchy, and perhaps also those calling for changes to our parliamentary system such as the abolition or reform of the House of Lords or proportional voting systems. And groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil will surely be there.

Michael Gove has apparently rejected suggestions that trans rights activists will be among those listed, but suspicions remain that these and some gay rights groups might also be targeted.

Perhaps too, human rights organisations that launch legal cases against government legislation might feature, and when we have had government ministers in recent years labelling the Supreme Court as anti-democratic it is hard to see where this definition might end.

Like many recent statements from the government, this one from Gove seems dangerous and divisive. It might even itself be seen as “undermining democracy itself.

You can read more about the protest march last Saturday, 9th March 2024 and see another seventy or so of my pictures at End Gaza Genocide Massive March To US Embassy

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Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Saturday, March 2nd, 2024

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn – Saturday 2nd March 2002 saw a huge protest against Britain becoming involved in the US plans to invade Iraq and depose Sadam Hussein.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

It’s hard to know how many marched that day, though I think there may have been around half a million of us on the streets of London,but it was certainly a very large march though not quite on the scale of that on 16th February 2003. Unfortunately I had to miss that one as I had only come out of hospital the previous day and could only walk a few yards.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

George Galloway, then Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has come back into the news recently by winning the Rochdale by-election. He along with Tony Benn and others was one of the founders of Stop The War following the US invasion of Afghanisatan and the coalition organised this and other protests against the invasions of Iraq then being prepared by the US Miitary. Galloway was and still is a flamboyant figure and a powerful speaker, though I was rather more attracted to others in the movement such as Tony Benn, who appears in more of my pictures.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

But then as now, I wasn’t at the protest to photograph celebrities, but to tell the story of the event, mainly through photographs of the ordinary people taking part. Of course my pictures concentrate on those who caught my attention, sometimes by their expressions and actions, but more often through their banners and placards which link them to the cause they were marching for.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Although I’d been photographing protests for some years – occasionally since the 1970s and more intensively since the 1990s, my pictures had simply gone into picture libraries and a few exhibitions and few had been used in the mass media.

Hands Off Iraq, George Galloway & Tony Benn

Shortly after Indymedia, a global network of independent news media was set up in 1999 I began publishing work on the UK site – and some of it may be still be available on the now archived site. This was of course entirely non-commercial, and had a very limited readership on the left, among anarchists and the security services.

But I also set up a new web site of my own, My London Diary, which is still available online, though its now several years since I have added new work. Although I have unlimited web space there is a limit to the number of files my web server can handle, and I was very close to this. Covid also played its part in various ways.

In the early years of My London Diary I was still working with film and only had a black and white flatbed scanner. So the pictures for Hands Off Iraq online were all in black and white, though I will also have taken some in colour, but so far I’ve digitised few colour images from these years. The 24 black and white images on My London Diary will have been made from 8×10″ black and white press prints submitted to a picture library and scanned on a flatbed scanner. In 2002 although many magazines were printed in colour the main sales for news images were still black and white, though things were rapidly changing, and I was soon to begin moving to working mainly in digital colour.

Here, with a few corrections is the text I put on line back in 2022 with these pictures:

The Stop the War, Hands off Iraq demonstration on 2 march was a large sign of public opinion. people were still leaving Hyde Park at the start of the march when Trafalgar Square was full to overflowing two and a half hours later.

Police estimates of the number were risible as usual – and can only reflect an attempt to marginalise the significant body of opinion opposed to the war or a complete mathematical inability on behalf of the police.

Tony Benn told me and other photographers it wasn’t worth taking his picture – “it won’t get in the papers unless I go and kick a policeman” but he didn’t and he was quite right.

More pictures on My London Diary

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Ashura Day & Italian Gardens – 2007

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

Ashura Day & Italian Gardens: On Tuesday January 30, 2007 I came to Hyde Park close to Marble Arch where Shi’ite Muslims were gathering for their annual Ashura Day Procession from there to the Notting Hill Mosque.

Ashura Day & Italian Gardens

The procession celebrates the life and ideals of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet, and mourns his martyrdom at Karbala in Iraq in 61 AH (AD680.) His example in dying for human dignity, human rights and the aims of his faith inspire them in trying to live a good and moral life and they seek Husain’s blessing on their daily lives.

Ashura Day & Italian Gardens

Here is part of the post I wrote in 2007 of the event (with slight corrections):

Several thousand people joined in the annual procession in London, making their way slowly from Hyde Park to the mosque in Notting Hill. Many wore black, and all joined in the chanting of “Ya Husain” accompanied by the beating of drums clashing of sanj (cymbals) and the blowing of trumpets, along with calls to prayer. Those taking part beat their breasts, largely in a symbolic fashion, although there were groups of young men who from time to time swung their arms vigorously.

Ashura Day & Italian Gardens

The Ashura Procession is impressive to see, and everyone taking part seemed to welcome my interest in what was taking place and were happy to be photographed.

Ashura Day & Italian Gardens

The weather was dull and it soon began to get dark; it didn’t help that I had one of my fiddle-fingers technical disaster days, where I kept finding I’d altered the camera settings without being aware of doing so. But it was the kind of occasion where it would be hard not to get some interesting images.

The procession was slow-moving – I wrote “it was moving at a speed that would not have embarrassed a snail” and by the time it reached Lancaster Gate I had taken many pictures and also needed a rest. Dusk was approaching rapidly – and there had been little enough light all day. I went into the Italian Gardens and took a few pictures there in the falling gloom, experimenting a little with flash for some of them.

The Grade II listed Italian Gardens were Prince Albert’s idea, and built for Queen Victoria in 1862 as a part of the gardens of Kensington Palace which had been opened to the public in 1841. Albert had previously created an Italian garden at their Isle of Wight Osborne House.

The gardens were designed by some of the big names of the day. Sir Charles Barry and Robert Richardson Banks designed the Pump House (now a shelter), Sir James Pennethorne the overall layout, and the reliefs and sculptures were by the unfortunately named John Thomas. The first monument in the garden erected in 1862 by public subscription was a statue by William Calder Marshall of Charles Jenner, the pioneer of vaccination against smallpox. The gardens were renovated a few years ago.

The gardens are at the point where the River Westbourne (known by a dozen different names at various times and places) once flowed into Hyde Park. The river comes from various sources in West Hampstead and Brondesbury, flowing through Kilburn and through Hyde Park (where it was dammed in 1730 to produce the Serpentine) and then on through culverts and a large pipe across Sloane Square Station and on into Bazalgette’s Northern Low Level Sewer – with only storm discharges reaching the Thames at Pimlico. These should end with the completion of London’s Super Sewer.

By 1834 the growth of London and widespread adoption of water closets had largely turned the river into a foul sewer and it could no longer be used to supply the Serpentine, The water for this lake and the gardens now comes from three artesian wells bored in Hyde Park.

More pictures from both the Ashura Procession and the Italian Gardens on My London Diary:

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge – 2007

Friday, December 1st, 2023

Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge. Saturday 1st December 2007 I came to London mainly to photograph the National Anti-fur march, but arrived rather early and took a walk around Knightsbridge and Hyde Park and after the march went on to see what was happening in Oxford Street and Regent Street where there was a traffic-free day to promote what the Church of Stop Shopping labels the Shopocalypse and stoke global warming. But I was warmed just a little by free hugs from Danny’s Karma Army.

National Anti-fur March – Belgrave Square – Harrods, Knightsbridge

Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge

Although farming of animals for fur was banned in this country in 2003, both fur farming and extensive trapping of wild animals for fur still take place in other countries.

Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge

Many of the countries where fur farming still takes place allow far more cruel practices than those that led to the ban here on the grounds of animal cruelty. Animals are reared in extremely crowded conditions and killed inhumanely – and on some farms skinned while still alive.

Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge

Trapping of animals for their fur also involves cruel practices, with wild animals caught in steel jawed traps, often only found and clubbed or suffocated after several days of agonising pain. Still in use in the USA and Canada, leg-hold traps were banned in the UK in the 1950s.

Anti-Fur, Karma & Knightsbridge

Yet despite this it remains legal to import most furs into the UK, although imports of seal, cat and dog fur are banned. But the UK still imports £55 million worth of fur a year, and estimated 95% of which comes from fur farms. The government abandoned promises to bring in legislation though they have now stated a willingness to support a private members bill on the matter should one be promoted. It seems unlikely that this will happen before the coming election.

Public opinion is very much against the use of animal fur, with opinion polls showing over 90% would like to see a ban. And most consumers now think that fur on garments is synthetic, but many of the big names in fashion and fashion stores are still designing with and selling animal fur. Their wealthy clients, including many overseas customers perhaps still see expensive animal furs as something to desire rather than as it should be, a badge of shame.

The marchers gathered in Belgrave Square and then marched past many of the shops which in 2007 were still selling garments using animal furs, which then included most of the famous names including Gucci, Versace, Fendi, Amani, Dolce and Gabana. Various stores, including Escada, Joseph and Burberry are also targets for the campaign, but the loudest condemnation was reserved for Harrods, the only department store in the UK still selling fur – and still selling animal fur in 2023.

Protests like this one and the continuing pressure from organisations such as PETA have led to many of thes brands end the use of animal furs. A post on Panaprium lists some who no longer do so: “Versace, Furla, Armani, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Shrimps, and Vivienne Westwood” and also high street brands “Topshop, Zara, Gap, French Connection, AllSaints, Hobbs, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Ted Baker, H&M and Whistles“.

But there is still more to do. The Panaprium post by Alex Assoune is headed 28 Shameless Fashion Brands Still Using Fur in 2023 and lists them, as well as stating “There are too many fashion brands that use animal fur to list them all. It’s shockingly disgusting that clothing brands still engage in such barbaric practices for vanity and profits.”

More on My London Diary National Anti-fur March.

Knightsbridge and Hyde Park

I’d often walked past St Paul’s Church in Wilton Place, a nineteenth century Gothic building (erected in 1840, but much altered 50 years later) but had never before been inside. I’d arrived in Belgrave Square rather a long time before the anti-fur march was ready to start and as the church as open took the opportunity to go inside.

The building is worth a visit, not least for the interesting sepia tile pictures by Daniel Bell dating from 1869-79.

I crossed to Hyde Park, where there was an extensive funfair for the Christmas season and I wandered through it taking a few pictures before hurrying back to the march, stopping to take a couple of pictures of the French Embassy.

Knightsbridge & Hyde Park

Danny’s Karma Army – Taking Kindness Very Seriously – Regent St / Oxford St

Back in 2001, Scottish comedian and presenter Danny Wallace put an advert in a free newspaper call on people to ‘Join Me’ inviting people to join him in carrying out a random act of kindness for a stranger every Friday. To his surprise thousands did and in 2003 he wrote the book ‘Join Me’ about how he he “accidentally started a ‘cult‘” .

Initially known as ‘Join Me’ this movement became known as Danny’s Karma Army, and on December 1st 2007, some of them were out on Regent Street which together with Oxford Street was enjoying a traffic-free day for shoppers.

As I wrote in 2007:

There were a few street performers and musicians, but generally it seemed a recipe for incredible levels of boredom and immoderate spending, with one credit card company offering special prizes to big spenders.

The only relief from this was offered by members of Danny’s Karma Army who were offering free sweets and free hugs – and I took advantage of both as well as some pictures.

They do “random nice things for strangers on Fridays” but were putting in a bit of overtime on a Saturday. As well as rather silly and pointless things, some also apparently do rather more useful things like becoming first-aiders and supporting charities with money or time. So although personally I’d run a mile from a cult leader like Danny, good luck to them. And thanks for the sweets and hugs.

Danny’s Karma Army

You can hear more about Danny Wallace in a podcast interview with James O’Brien and hear Wallace now every week when “The Great Leader and his I.B.S (Important Broadcast Squad) assemble every Sunday morning from 11am – 1pm!” on an Apple Podcast Radio X, also available live on DAB.

Danny’s Karma Army

Cable Street – Labour Lost

Monday, October 9th, 2023

Cable Street – Labour Lost: Over recent days I’ve seen a number of posts and articles celebrating the ‘Battle of Cable Street’, when people from the East End of London prevented a march through their streets by Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists on October 4th 1936.

Battle of Cable Street 80 March – Altab Ali Park & Cable St

Cable Street - Labour Lost

Back on Sunday 9th October 2016 along with many others I went to Cable Street to celebrate the 80th anniversary of that event, and here are a few of the pictures that I made.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

I also wrote a little about what actually happened back in 1936, though of course I wasn’t around then, so what I know about it relies on what others have written and said, including the testimonies I’ve heard over the years from some of those who were there and have spoken at this and various earlier celebrations.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

Cable Street has acquired a mythical status that it doesn’t entirely deserve, or at least one which distorts the actual nature of the event. It certainly was not a great victory for the organised left – with the Labour Party actively urging people to stay away. They urged people instead to attend a rally in Hyde Park, miles away in West London. If anything it was a victory for the ordinary common decency and solidarity of the working class population of the area who came out and fought the police (and generally not the fascists) who were trying to clear the streets to allow Mosley and his blackshirts to march. A victory for the kind of community self-organisation which is at the centre of anarchism.

Cable Street - Labour Lost

So in 2016 for me the anarchist groups taking part were the real centre of attention rather than the more official aspects of the celebration – this was really their day, though none were invited to speak at the official rallies at the start or finish of the event. And here I’ll repeat a little of what I wrote about the event 4 years ago.

“Probably many of those present already knew that the battle wasn’t fought by the political parties – Labour told people to stay away and urged them to protest in Hyde Park, while the official communist party opposed any opposition on the streets until almost the last minute, when it was pretty clear it was going to happen anyway.

“It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley, people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.

“Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place and their people.

“It wasn’t a great defeat for Mosley and his National Socialists; they actually became more active in the East End after it, and areas such as Bethnal Green remained strongly supporting the Nazis. There was an even larger ‘battle’ the following year in Bermondsey. But Cable Street was undoubtedly an important event for the left, and one that has come to be associated with a much greater battle of the era, the Spanish Civil War. Cable Street radicialised many on the left.”

Many more pictures and more comments on My London Diary:
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural
Battle of Cable Street 80 March
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally

Animal Rights & McStrike – 2017

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023

Animal Rights & McStrike: After photographing the start of the 2017 Official Animal Rights March on Saturday 2nd September 2017 I took the tube to East Finchley for a rally outside the UK Headquarters of McDonald’s.

Vegans call for Animal Rights – Hyde Park

Animal Rights & McStrike - 2017

Several thousand vegans met to march from Hyde Park through London demanding an end to all animal oppression in the 2017 Official Animal Rights March, supported by The Save Movement and HeartCure Collective.

Animal Rights & McStrike - 2017

Many carried posters or placards calling for an end to regarding animals as food or sources of wool and fur, and there were some dressed as animals.

Animal Rights & McStrike - 2017

In nature there are predators and prey and a complex interdependence between species. We are in some ways at the top of this pyramid in which some animals eat other animals as well as some eating plants, and our species has evolved as omnivores. We’ve developed some rather complex and industrial ways of doing this through agriculture and food processing, but essentially we are no different from lions eating goats though we have a rather greater choice of food. Are those lions being speciesist?

Animal Rights & McStrike - 2017

Unless we ate their meat, drank there milk, ate their eggs or fried their bacon, farm animals would not exist. There might I suppose be a few wild boars and deer roaming our countryside and certainly rather more rabbits but it would be a very different landscape and populated by very different animals to those that now adorn the vegan posters. Everyone going vegan would destroy all reason for their existence.

I’m certainly against cruel practices in farming and don’t condone the inhuman practices in some modern farming. I gladly pay the extra for eggs and meat that has been produced without cruelty, though it’s not always possible.

I can see no justification for fur farming, as there are good alternatives to the uses of fur and nobody needs a mink coat, and the trapping of animals for their skins seems barbaric. But while I’m against the use of animals for testing cosmetic products etc, I find it impossible to object to some use of animals in some medical research, though perhaps this could be ended as better methods are developed. There are strict rules governing it, though they could be tightened, but I wouldn’t be alive but for drugs whose development critically involved some use of animals.

For environmental reasons it is a good thing to eat less meat and I’m happy that many of us have reduced our reliance on meat and that some have decided to cut it out of their diets, and that others have gone further and vegans. Even more doing so would be a good thing, but everyone becoming vegan would be a disaster.

But meat is certainly not murder, though slaughter should certainly be as humane as possible – and it certainly isn’t always so. And milking cows certainly isn’t stealing their milk when they have been bred to produce many times the volume that their calves could possibly consume. Not milking them would certainly be cruelty.

Animals are not ‘Just Like Us’, though of course we have much in common. Animals interact in rather different ways to us (and to other animal species) it infantilises and confuses to refer to them in terms we use for our human relationships and culture. Human rights are different and more important than animal rights and I often found myself wishing that we could have as many people as active in protests over these as over animal rights.

More pictures at Vegans call for Animal Rights.

McStrike rally at McDonalds HQ – East Finchley

I left the animal rights marchers as they passed Green Park station and took the tube to East Finchley. The rally there was in support of McDonald’s workers who are holding the first UK strike against the company on Monday, US Labor Day, calling for an end to zero hours contracts, £10 an hour and union recognition.

McDonald’s workers complain about bad management and bullying at work and the strikers report threats and insults by managers. There was a table with chairs in front of the McDonald’s building calling for them to come and sit down and negotiate with the BFAWU, but McDonald’s refuse to have any dealings with trade unions

Ian Hodson and Joe Carolan from Unite New Zealand

Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) President Ian Hodson led the rally at which organisers from the New Zealand Unite union as well as strikers and other supporters spoke in solidarity. New Zealand Unite fought a successful campaign which ended all zero hours contracts and forced McDonald’s to recognise the union and pay higher wages and the BFAWU is determined to do the same.

More pictures at McStrike rally at McDonalds HQ.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil: I thought people might like some more naked cyclists so here are some pictures from the 2012 ride, eleven years ago today on 9th June 2012. Men were in a fairly large majority in the thousand or so riders taking part and photographically they represent rather more of a challenge, at least to make pictures that editors think suitable for family viewing. So I’ve chosen pictures of men, though there is a woman in one of them.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

The only country from where I’ve had any negative feedback about my pictures of naked cyclists is the USA, where I’ve had emails from teachers and librarians requesting that I remove these pictures from My London Diary as they say they make the site unsuitable for young people.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

I find this difficult to understand but reply politely refusing to do so. Their complaints seem to come from some kind of warped religious objection and I like to remind them “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” and to somehow find that image offensive seems to me to be blasphemy.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

Perhaps the most striking thing about the ride is not the nudity in itself but the variety of the human form it illustrates compared to the photographs of naked or near-naked people we usually find in newspapers or on our screens.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

I tried hard to find pictures that reflected the purpose of the ride, a protest against dependence on oil and other forms of non-renewable energy and a culture based on cars and to “expose the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians” in modern cities. Some of the riders did so with a considerable sense of humour.

Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil

And some good drawing skills.

Careful timing and cropping sometimes makes the pictures more acceptable to a wider range of publications. And a bus with the message ‘Get Your Socks Off’ seemed rather appropriate though few in the frame were wearing them.

Another bus had three men in dark glasses who unlike all those watching the event from the pavements seemed to view it rather sternly. This is an event that causes a tremendous amount of hilarity on the streets as it goes past, but they are clearly not amused.

And finally, close to the former City Hall I photographed The Vitruvian Man.

There is a description of the ride and many more photographs – including some that would apparently shock some people at Naked Cyclists Ride Against Oil.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

Five years ago today on Saturday 3rd June 2018 I photographed two events in London, beginning with a protest opposite Downing Street by campaigners against gun and knife crime and moving on to an annual march remembering the 1984 Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar where thousands of Sikhs were massacred, and the Indian government encouraged mob killings of Sikhs across the country following the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards later in the year.

Anti-Knife UK protest – Downing St

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

The event was organised by Anti-Knife UK, founded by Danny O’Brien in 2008 which monitors knife crime incidents from across the UK on a daily basis. 2008 had been a particularly bad year for the murder of teenagers on London’s streets, with 29 deaths, and thought the numbers had gone down until 2012 when there were 9 such deaths by 2017 they back up to 27.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

All of these deaths are tragedies for the teenagers and their families, and the numbers of crimes involving knives across England and Wales is huge – now over 45,000, though many of those are for possession of knives – and the total number of deaths is the year ending march 2022 was 261.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Many of those at the protest were bereaved family members and their supporters and were wearing t-shirts or holding placards with photographs of the knife victims and pairs of empty shoes as well as banners.

Knife Crime & 1984 Sikh Genocide

Speakers called for measures to tackle the problem including tougher sentences, tagging of all knives, knife arches in night clubs, equal rights for victims and families, a review of the laws governing self-defence and reasonable force and work in schools and communities.

More pictures at Anti-Knife UK protest.

Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide

I went to meet a large crowd of Sikhs at a rally in Hyde Park before the march, sitting on the grass. It was 24 degrees in London, and without any shade I was far too hot. Few of the speeches were in English, but many of the placards were and others graphically made their message clear.

Sikhs were badly treated by the British at the time of partition which divided the country up between the Hindus and Muslims, with millions of people having to flee across the borders of the new states and millions were terribly killed in doing so. Sikhs had called for an independent Sikh state in the Punjab, but most were simply lumped in, along with Buddhists and Jains with Hindu dominated India, although large numbers also remained in the part of the Punjab which had been designated as Muslum Pakistan.

Although there were large numbers of Sikhs across the Punjab before partition were still a minority population and they were not united in their demands for an independent state of Khalistan. Althugh they would probably have been better joining Pakistan, their cultural ties to Hinduism as well as a history of persecution by Muslims led them to instead unite with India. Many Sikh leaders had been involved with the Indian Congress Party which had made them promises about their position in India where the are less than 1% of the population but these were never kept.

The idea of a separate Khalistan became talked about more widely particularly in the diaspora in the 1970s, with the movement in Punjab led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale advocating an autonomous state within India. The movement had become increasingly militant with a number of armed supporters, setting up in 1982 what Wikipedia describes as ‘what amounted to a “parallel government” in Punjab‘.

In June 1984, the Indian Army launched Operation Blue Star to remove Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, killing Bhindranwale and large number of his supporters as well as many civilians as the temple was packed with pilgrims. The figures for deaths are disputed but probably between 5-7,000, with around 700 of the Indian army also dying.

In 2018 I commented “Since this 1984 Sikh genocide there has been a continuing program of police arrests, torture and killing of Sikh males in the Punjab and crippling economic and social policies. Sikhs demand independence from India and a Sikh state, Khalistan.”

After the rally the march set off, led by Sikh standard bearers and five Khalsa representing the Five Blessed Ones or Panj Pyare holding swords and walking barefoot in their orange robes and followed by several thousand Sikhs with flags, placards and banners. I talked with them past Marble Arch and down to Hyde Park Corner where I left them going down Piccadilly towards another rally at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square.

You can see many more pictures and captions describing the event on My London Diary at Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide.

St Patrick’s Day Celebrations in London

Friday, March 17th, 2023

St Patrick's Day Celebrations in London

It’s now 21 years since St Patrick’s Day was first celebrated on a large scale in London, thanks to then London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who had long been a supporter of Irish republicanism, and MP for Brent East, from 1987 to 2001. His constituency included areas around Kilburn – Brent is the London Borough with the largest Irish population.

St Patrick's Day Celebrations in London

Until forced to drop its policies because of Tory cuts, Brent had a great record of supporting celebrations of a number of festivals for its different communities, and and last year I posted here about the various years I photographed the Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade.

St Patrick's Day Celebrations in London

In 2002, London had its first St Patrick’s Day Parade, from the Catholic Westminster Cathedral to Trafalgar Square, where there were a range of Irish performances and a great deal of singing and drinking to celebrate the event.

Unlike the Brent celebrations which were on the day itself, the official London celebrations which have continued annually since then happen on the day itself. In 2002 St Patrick’s Day was on a Sunday (and in 2013 and 2019) and the parade took place on the day, but in other years it has been celebrated on the nearest Sunday.

I did go back in 2003 to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, when the parade began from Hyde Park, but found it rather less interesting. Somehow I never got around to uploading any of the pictures I took to My London Diary, so these colour images are on-line for the first time.

Irish Piper, 2003
Parade Steward, 2003

These pictures were taken on my first digital camera capable of professional results, a Nikon D100, which was capable of making high quality digital images, although its 6.1Mp now seems meagre. Its small, dim viewfinder was also rather primitive and at the time I only owned a single lens to fit it, a 24-80mm zoom, which on its DX sensor gave the equivalent of a 36-120mm on 35mm film.

I was also working with two film cameras, one with black and white film and the other with colour negative, both I think using wider lenses. The pictures might be better, but I’ve only ever got around to printing one of them. It was coverage of events like these that really made me appreciate the huge advantage of digital, that the results were immediately available. I’ve still not digitised any of the colour pictures from 2002 or 2003.

It was this that really made possible ‘My London Diary’, though I had begun it a little earlier – and there is some earlier colour work taken with consumer-level digital cameras on it among the mainly black and white images which then were scanned from the 8×10″ RC prints I made to give to a picture library.

My London Diary has taken something of a rest recently, though I may go back to it at some later date. The reasons for this are mixed. The pandemic meant there was nothing much to add for rather a long time, just a lot of pictures taken on local walks and bike rides. the software I used to write it doesn’t work on my more recent computer, and I’ve almost reached the limit of the number of files that my web server allows. If I’d kept uploading files I could not have continued with >Re:PHOTO.