Posts Tagged ‘Irish’

Defend All Migrants

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Five years ago on the day after the Brexit vote, Friday 24 Jun 2016, socialists and anarchists marched in London in support of migrant rights and against racism and against the attacks and scapegoating of immigrants not only by right wing extremists but by mainstream parties and media over many years. The pictures in this post are from that march. The most recent of these attacks has come from a Tory peer who has proved herself a serial failure over the years and seems likely to be rewarded for this by being put in charge of the NHS.

One of the most disturbing trends during the last eleven years of Coalition and Tory governments has been the increasing politicisation of public appointments, with jobs in charge of public bodies increasingly being awarded to people on the basis of their political views rather than any relevant experience or competence.

Of course there are many other things to be worried about, not least the many dodgy contracts awarded to family, friends and party donors, particularly those lucrative Covid-related contracts. One major benefactor has been Conservative peer Baroness Dido Harding, married to the Tory MP and United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Champion at the Cabinet Office since 2017. No, you really couldn’t make it up.

In 2015, when Harding was the much criticised CEO of TalkTalk, following a cyber-attack in which the personal and banking details of up to four million customers, many not encrypted, were though to have been stolen, Marketing Magazine ran a story under the headline “TalkTalk boss Dido Harding’s utter ignorance is a lesson to us all”. The Information Commissioner agreed, though the fine of £400,000 seems far too low for a company which she said failed “to implement the most basic cyber security measures.” Harding, who had been made a Tory Life Peer the previous year, stood down from TalkTalk in 2017 to concentrate on her public activities, following the party line on all her Lords votes and joining the board of the Jockey Club.

Her appointment as Chair of NHS Improvement in 2017 was a clearly political one, and Harding rejected the recommendation of Parliament’s Health Select Committee that she should resign as a Conservative peer and become a cross-bencher.

Her appointment to run the track, trace and test programme in 2020 (later misleadingly named NHS Test and Trace) was highly controversial. It had little or no connection with the NHS, simply outsourcing work to private contractors including Serco, Mitie, G4S, Boots and Sodexo and paying several thousand consultants from Deloitte and elsewhere on average £1,100 a day each.

Harding is now expected to be appointed as Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) and has pledged to make the NHS less reliant on foreign doctors and nurses. At the moment about 1 in 7 NHS staff are not British, including many Indian, Filipino and Irish. There are many others too who while themselves British are the sons and daughters of migrants to this country, some of whom came here as health workers.

We currently have over 40,000 nursing vacancies and are heavily reliant on the contribution of foreign healthcare professionals who have made great sacrifices during the Covid pandemic. They already suffer from having to pay an immigration health surcharge fee of £470 per person per year for themselves and their families.

Nursing Notes quotes Andrew Johnson of the grassroots campaign Nurses United UK as saying:

“Dido Harding remains as incompetent as ever as she panders to her political party.”

“The UK has always benefitted from international staff. Whether it was Indian, Pakistani or Caribbean nurses like my grandma in the 50s and 60s, or our colleagues from Europe and the Philippines in more recent times, we needed them to keep our loved ones safe.”

“The NHS would not exist without international staff and if Dido wants to grow homegrown staff, we would need greater investment in our schools, a living bursary, a substantial restorative pay rise and an end to the privatisation she has been a part of.”

Nursing Notes

There are good reasons for the UK to train more doctors, nurses and other medical specialists. We are a wealthy nation and as well as caring for the health of our own population should be sending trained staff to other countries around the world, particularly those less able to train them. But as well as sending people abroad there is also much to be gained from having migrants coming to work here and foreign medical staff should be welcomed, not denigrated.

More about the 24th June 2016 Defend All Migrants rally and march.

St Pat’s Day

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

I don’t think March 17th 2002 was the first time I photographed St Patrick’s Day celebrations in London, but it is the earliest that I have pictures of on My London Diary. It looks as if the picture above was taken outside Westminster Cathedral, and later images are clearly in Trafalgar Square.

In later years the parade went from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, and the event, with backing from London Mayor Ken Livingstone and considerable sponsorship grew larger and trickier to photograph. I became more interested in smaller St Patrick’s Day events taking place elsewhere in the capital, and especially in Brent, where there was usually a parade on the actual day itself, with a large local Irish population coming out on their own streets.

The London Borough of Brent for years supported a number of community events including this, but also others that reflected the multicultural nature of its population – until government cuts made this impossible to continue, and funding was withdrawn in 2013. These were events that drew the communities together, with others joining in with their Irish neighbours and local schools getting all their pupils involved. They also celebrated Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chanukah and Navrati, as well as Holocaust Memorial Day, and had a black history programme, their own ‘Respect’ festival and a world food and music festival.

I think I first photographed the Brent parade in 2007, going there with several photographer friends, including Bronx-born Irish-American John Benton-Harris who has covered St Patrick’s Day celebrations for many years and whose Saint Patrick’s People is available from Cafe Royal books.

I went to Brent again in several years, and it was always a great event to cover. The only problem with it was that once the parade was over the local pubs were far too crowded and we had to go elsewhere to get a drink.

There are far too many pictures to show here – I’ll add some links at the bottom of the piece as usual.

In these later years I did find myself faced with a problem. While the Irish were celebrating their saint, a Romano-British missionary who converted Ireland to Christianity at some time in the early Fifth century – Syrians in the UK were marking the anniversary of their revolution – which was being brutally repressed by the Assad regime. While timings made it possible to cover both stories, it did mean rushing away from one or the other, perhaps missing the end of the events, and I found the necessary switch in mood difficult.

St Patrick’s Day on My London Diary
2002
2004 (scroll down the page)
2005 (scroll down the page)
2006 (scroll down the page)
2007 (scroll down the page – 2 stories)
2008
2009 – London and Brent
2010
2011
2012
2013


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.


More from May Days: 2013

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Another London May Day March and rally – and I went into some details on My London Dairy:

The march, organised by The London May Day Organising Committee, was supported by the Greater London and South East TUC ( GLATUC & S&ERTUC), UNITE London & Eastern Region, CWU London Region, PCS London & South East Region, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, MU London, FBU London & Southern Regions, GMB London & Southern Regions, UNISON Greater London Region, NPC, GLPA and other Pensioners’ organisations and organisations representing Turkish, Kurdish, Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, Portuguese, West Indian, Sri Lankan, Cypriot, Tamil, Iraqi, Iranian, Irish, Nigerian migrant workers & communities plus many other trade union & community organisations.

London May Day March

As in previous years the rally, although it had some rousing speeches from some leading figures on the left, including Len McCluskey, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, didn’t really reflect the diversity of the march – which was emphasised by the many young protesters who had climbed up onto the plinth and continued their protest there.

There were relatively few anti-capitalist and anarchist groups present this year, and I wasn’t aware of any separate events organised by them, so it was perhaps a rather less interesting May Day than some.

It was a large march and rally, though not massive, and it brought much of central London to a standstill for an hour or two, with strikes on the day at closing some government offices. But as usual,, although many newspapers and broadcasters reported May Day events around the world, and some of the odder events in towns and villages in the UK, there appeared to be a total media blackout on what was happening in London.

As so often, if you want to know what is happening you can’t rely on the mainstream media to tell you. Reports on Facebook and elsewhere by independent media organisations as well as some foreign-based news sources had reports on London’s May Day – and of course my own pictures and short description were online within a few hours of my arriving home, and shortly after on Facebook, with a larger selection of images appearing a few days later on My London Diary.

TUC May Day Rally
London May Day March


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.