Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Corbyn’

Occupy & Women’s Equality – 2011

Sunday, November 19th, 2023

Occupy & Women’s Equality – On Saturday 19 November 2011 Occupy London was in full swing in St Paul’s Churchyard and elsewhere and the Fawcett Society were protesting against government cuts that were reversing the movement to greater equality for women.


Don’t Turn The Clock Back – Temple to Westminster

Occupy & Women's Equality

The Fawcett Society were angered by government’s cuts which they said were putting the clock back on the advances which women have made towards equality since the 1950s, and had organised a march in protest with a 1950s theme.

Occupy & Women's Equality

Many of the marchers, mainly women, had come dressed in 1950s styles “ranging from the most elegant of Paris fashion of the day to aprons, hairnets and curlers. Others carried brushes or brooms, wooden spoons or other kitchen implements as symbols of what they felt was the only role our government can envisage for women, the ‘good little wife’.”

Occupy & Women's Equality

Many women had been particularly angered by the sexist and patronising putdown in parliament made by then Prime Minister David Cameron, a man who a few days ago made a surprising return to a leading role in UK politics. Probably insulated as he has been from normal life by an education at Eton and Oxford and wealth he thought little about his sexist and patronising put-down ‘Calm Down Dear!’ to Labour’s Angela Eagle in the House of Commons, but it enraged at least half the nation.

Occupy & Women's Equality

On the march people chanted ‘Calm Down Dear!’ followed by the deafening response ‘No We Won’t!‘ The marchers also had some caustic comments directed at the press (though not us journalists covering the march) for their “belittlling labelling of some groups of women in public life – such as ‘Blair’s Babes‘ – as well as the general predominance of semi-pornographic imagery and demeaning attitudes to women.”

But it was the cuts that really were the focus of the march, particularly the cuts in public services. A majority of those who will lose their jobs are women, employed in the NHS and elsewhere. And women depend more on the various services that will be cut, and will also have disproportionally to provide unpaid services such as care to make up for those cut. Finally the cuts in pensions will also have a larger effect on women who were already seeing a raise in their pension age.

The Fawcett Society was founded in 1866 to campaign peacefully for votes for women and remains a powerful campaigning organisation for equal rights. It had called on a wide range of speakers for its rally including journalist Tanya Gold, Estelle Hart, NUS Women’s Officer, comedians Kate Smurthwaite and Josie Lond, Heather Wakefield of Unison, Vivienne Hayes from the Women’s Resource Centre, Chitra Nagarajan of Southall Black sisters. Aisha Mirza from UK Uncut and a spokesperson for the Turkish and Kurdish Refugee Women’s group.

More at Don’t Turn The Clock Back.


At Occupy London

Morning at St Pauls

I’d visited Occupy in St Paul’s Churchyard briefly before going to photograph the Fawcett Society march and returned later in the day to visit the ‘Bank of Ideas’ in Sun Street and Occupy Finsbury Circus before returning to St Pauls to hear a range of speakers on other campaigns both in London and around the world, including news of the Occupy movement from the USA and Bristol, where the occupation seems not to have attracted the opposition shown by the City authorities and sections of the church in London.

A meeting in progress in the Bank of Ideas

The Bank of Ideas was an empty former UBS bank building in Sun Street that was occupied and used for a wide range of meetings and discussions.

Occupy Finsbury Square
People listen to a wide range of speakers on the steps of St Pauls
Jeremy Corbyn
Vivienne Westwood

Later a group who had taken part in the non-Stop Picket of South Africa House started by the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group on 19 April 1986 shared some of their songs and their experience.

They had defied defied the attempts of British police, the British government and the South African embassy to remove them for almost 4 years until Mandela was released in 1990. There had been around a thousand arrests, but 96% of the cases brought to court were dismissed. Before this they had organised a number of shorter non-stop protests outside the embassy, the first of which in 1981 lasted 86 days and resulted in South African political prisoners including David Kitson being moved to better conditions.

The official Anti-Apartheid Movement opposed their actions and expelled them from the movement, warned trade union and local anti-apartheid groups not to have anything to do with them and asked Westminster Council to remove them. It wanted to avoid any confrontation with the British Government and opposed the City of London group’s support for other African liberation movements as well as the African National Congress.

More from the day at Occupy on My London Diary:
City of London Anti-Apartheid Group
Speakers At Occupy London
Bank of Ideas & Finsbury Square
Saturday Morning Occupy London


Armistice Day Protests 2006

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

Armistice Day Protests – Today I hope to be photographing a huge protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and peace in the Middle East as it makes its way from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. It’s an event some Tory politicians have tried to arouse controversy around, aided by some of the media in their lies. Armistice Day has always been an occasion for protests for peace and making it out as some huge national celebration we all share in is untrue as this post shows.

Armistice Day Protests

Both the BBC and the Tories seized on the fact that some people at a protest in London shouted ‘Jihad!’ but lie in saying it was an offshoot from the huge march taking place in London calling for peace and justice for Palestine.

It’s a lie that the BBC continues to let them promulgate without question, although their journalists must surely know that this was at an entirely separate protest organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamic fundamentalist political organisation dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, whose lead banner at their protest read “Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine!”.

Armistice Day Protests

I’ve photographed many protests by Hizb ut-Tahrir in London since I first came across them in 2004 and they are very different and entirley separate from those organised by mainstream Muslim organisations, Stop The War, CND and the others now leading the protests by hundreds of thousands across the country calling for an end to the killing of civilians – whether Palestinian or Israelis – in Palestine and Israel. Most are particularly enraged by the killing of so many children in Gaza by air strikes which Israel claims are targeted, but are targeted on places where many people live and so die in them.

I think most of us who march – and the many more who support the marches but are unable to attend – want peace and the justice that can only come if there is a thriving country where Palestinians can live normal lives in peace and not under military rule and an apartheid regime.

Armistice Day Protests

Probably that can only come about with a two-state solution and a massive world aid programme to restore the incredible damage in Gaza as well as establishing rational borders for Palestine with the removal of many of the illegal settlements.

I grew up in a largely working class area on the outskirts of London in the 1950s, and then I think it was true that virtually the whole of the country paused to celebrate and commemorate the armistice, joining in with the minute’s silence in schools, shops, works and offices and traffic on the roads coming to a halt.

Armistice Day Protests

But even then relatively few joined in the military style parades on Remembrance Sunday, with most of my friend’s parents who had fought in WW2 having had more than enough of that kind of thing. My attendance was compulsory as a Wolf Cub and Boy Scout but I resented it and my freezing legs as cold November winds blew up my shorts – and the derision from friends who weren’t members. And by the time I was a Senior Scout we collectively refused to take part.

The idea that Armistice Day is not a suitable day for a peaceful protest calling for an end to the fighting and peace in the Middle East seems to me to be beyond absurd – yet again is taken seriously and promoted by the BBC. Armistice Day has I think always seen protests for peace – and November 11th 2006 was no exception.

On that day I began on Park Lane, where there was a brief ceremony in front of the sculpture commemorating animals who died in war in the central area there at 11 am. There were only a small group there, wearing poppies they described as purple, though to me they seemed more lilac or mauve. In 2018, the Peace Pledge Union sold 122,385 white poppies: more than any year since white poppies were first worn in 1933, and many keep their white poppies to wear in following years, as unlike the red poppies their sale is not intended to raise funds but they are simply worn as a symbol of remembrance and peace.

I moved on to Grosvenor Square and the US Embassy where School Students Against The War had scheduled a ‘die-in’. Unfortunately only around 20 had turned up for it – probably now many work on Saturdays or prefer to enjoy a lie-in at home.

Another short walk took me to Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, where a protest was taking place as a part of the fourth International Week of Action against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine.

Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism who had organised this event also hold regular vigils outside M&S every Thursday evening, calling for a boycott of the company as part of a wider Boycott Israel campaign. M&S sell goods including those coming illegally from the occupied territories of Palestine and give financial and moral support to Israel.

School Students Against The War came from the US Embassy to join them and staged their die-in on the wide pavement in front of M&S. This certainly generated a great deal of attention and they made some short speeches to the the crowds milling past M&S before marching off down Oxford Street with their megaphones and banner. They staged a second ‘die-in’ further down the street, again attracting the attention of shoppers, although perhaps surprisingly, not the police none of whom seemed to be around.

I went on to Trafalgar Square where I hoped to photograph the fountains filled with red poppies, but I arrived a little late to find a man in waders fishing them out with a shrimp net. It was bizarre if not surreal, although not quite what I’d been hoping for.

My main event of the day was taking place on Whitehall, at the Cenotaph. Not the military parade ‘at the eleventh hour‘ which I had refused to cover, but a commemoration by some of the families of servicemen killed in Iraq.

Led by a piper they marched solemnly to stand in front of it, while they came up to read out the names of the 121 dead British servicemen killed in the Iraq war. A small selection of names of Iraqi civilians killed was also read out. It’s difficult to estimate the exact number who have died, and more deaths have occured since 2006. The US Brown University Watson Institute now states “we know that between 280,771-315,190 have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through March 2023.”

A deputation then took a letter in to Downing Street for Prime Minister Tony Blair who had misled parliament and ignored the largest protest ever seen in the UK to take the country into a misguided invasion together with the USA.

Among those taking part in what was an extremely moving ceremony were Rose Gentle of Military Families Against The War, and others who have lost sons or partners in Iraq, including Ann Lawrence, Roger Bacon, Natasha Mclellan, Maureen Bacon as well as Lance Corporal George Solomou, from the London Regiment of the Territorial Army who refused to go to fight in Iraq. Families of some serving soldiers also took part.

Also there and supporting the event among others were Kate Hudson of CND, Yvonne Ridley and Lindsey German of Respect and Stop The War, fashion designer Katherine Hamnett, and Jeremy Corbyn MP.

This was an event that attracted considerable media attention; there is a delicate balance between intruding on private grief, but those there had chosen to make their grief public, and we had to record it for them.

More Pictures on My London Dairy – Scroll down the page there for links.


Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs – 2009

Sunday, August 6th, 2023

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs: August 6th is Hiroshima Day, and every year when I’m in London I try to get to the London memorial ceremony organised by London CND in Tavistock Square, and 2009 was no exception. But other events were also taking place that day, with a picket outside the offices of the company that organises the world’s largest arms fair and a rally to keep green jobs a wind turbine manufacturer. And between the last two I made a short visit to see what was happening to Stratford ahead of the Olympics.


London Remembers Hiroshima – Tavistock Square

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

The annual ceremony next next to the cherry tree planted there by the Mayor of Camden in 1967 to remember the victims of Hiroshima follows a similar pattern each year, though the speakers and singers change.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

In 2009 events were introduced Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn and speakers included the then Mayor of Camden and who was followed by an number of others including Frank Dobson MP, Bruce Kent the Vice President of CND, sadly no longer with us and other peace campaigners.

Hiroshima, Arms Trade, Olympics & Green Jobs - 2009

Between some of the speeches there was music from socialist choirs. Raised Voices are a regular contributor and others have joined them in some years, in 2009 it was the Workers Music Association. Often a folk singer and poets contribute and at the end of the event people lay flowers at the base of the cherry tree before everyone sings together one or more of the protest songs including “Don’t you hear the H Bomb’s Thunder.”

Last year here on >Re:PHOTO I wrote the post Hiroshima Day – 6th August which looked at a number of these events from 2004 until 2017, with links to those in 2018, 2019 and 2o21.

More from 2009 in London Remembers Hiroshima.


Stop East London Arms Fair – Clarion Events, Hatton Garden

I left Tavistock Square in a hurry at the end of the ceremony to rush to Hatton Garden, where campaigners from ‘DISARM DSEi’ were picking the offices of Clarion Events in Hatton Garden, calling for an end to the Defence Systems & Equipment international (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair, which Clarion are organising at ExCeL in East London next month.

The DSEi arms fair is a vast event, with over a thousand companies from 40 companies exhibiting and selling there lethal weapons. Among the buyers are those from repressive regimes around the world who will use them to keep control in their own countries. The arms trade results in millions of men, women and children being killed in conflicts around the world. According to UNICEF, in the ten years between 1986 and 96, two million children were killed in armed conflict and a further six million injured, many permanently disabled.

British companies are among those making high profits from equipment designed to kill people, and our High Street banks invest huge amounts in arms companies.

This was an entirely peaceful protest with a small group of people handing out leaflets to people passing by explaining to them what goes in an an office which appears to be for the diamond trade. Many stopped to talk with the protesters, surprised to find that our government backed and encouraged such activities. Government statistics show the UK’s global security exports as ranking third in the world, only behind the USA and China.

Although the only weapon carried by the campaigners was a small plastic boomeragn wielded by a young child, armed police watched them from across the road, together with other officers who took copious notes, although they seemed to show more interest in the four press photographers present, who were mainly just standing around talking to each other as there wasn’t a great deal to photograph. When the protesters left after an hour of picketing a police car drove slowly behind them as they walked to the pub.

More at Stop East London Arms Fair.


Olympic Site Update – August – Stratford Marsh,

Welcome to Hell’ says the graffiti at Hackney Wick – and it certainly looks like hell for photographers

I had a few hours to fill before the next event and had decided to go to Stratford to see how the area was being prepared for the Olympics in three years time. The actual site had been fenced off by an 11 mile long blue fence, but there were still some places where parts of the site could be viewed.

I went to Stratford and them walked along a part of the Northern Outfall Sewer which goes through one edge of the site. Part of this was completely closed to the public (and remained so for some years after the Olympics because of Crossrail work) but a public footpath remained as a narrow strip between temporary fencing north of the main line railway to Hackney Wick.

Security along this section was high, with security men roughly every 50 yards standing or sitting with very little to do, and the fencing made it impossible to get an unobstructed view. Later these temporary fences were replaced by impenetrable metal fencing and it became easier to take pictures. But on this occasion I could only really photograph the opposite side to the main part of the site where a lot of activity was taking place.

Even at Hackney Wick much of the Greenway was still fenced off, and I was pleased to come down into the Wick itself. Here I could photograph the stadium under construction from a distance, but rather more interesting was the graffiti on many buildings and walls facing the Lea Navigation.

Sadly much of this was cleaned up for the Olympics.

More at Olympic Update – August.


Rally For Vestas Jobs – Dept of Energy & Climate Change, Whitehall

I was back in Westminster outside for a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall calling for the government to support wind turbine blade manufacturer Vestas based in Newport on the Isle of White.

It had started to rain before the rally started and was pouring by the time it finished, though those present listened intently to speeches from a Vestas worker, trade union speakers from the RMT, PCW and Billy Hayes of the Communications Workers Unions, as well as former Labour Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Meacher MP (top picture) and Green Party GLA member Jenny Jones, who arrived at the event by bicycle.

Vestas problems were very much Government-made and as I wrote a result of “its failure to put it’s money where its mouth is on green energy policies, relying on hot air rather than support for wind power and other alternative energies.

Things are even worse now, with a government driven by lobbying from the oil industry granting licences for getting more oil from the North Sea. The Rosebank field west of Shetland will totally sink any hope of the UK meeting its promises on carbon emissions.

More pictures at Rally for Vestas Jobs.


Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis

Friday, July 14th, 2023

Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis: Four protests on what started out as a very wet day in London on Saturday 14th July 2012.


Tenants Protest Letting Agents Scam – Drivers & Norris, Holloway Rd

Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis

My working day began on the pavement outside letting agents Drivers & Norris on Holloway Road, condemning them for having taken over £300 from home seekers and providing nothing return but refusing to return the payment.

Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis

Some of the members of the Harringey Private Tenants Action Group taking part in the protest had paid upfront fees of £300 in cash to secure new flats, but the company had failed to provide them with any offers of accommodation but had refused to return the fee.

Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis

Drivers & Norris and other companies say that the cost is to cover the reference checks that they have to make, but these cost them around £19. The fees are simply a scam to increase the company profits at the expense of poor and vulnerable people in need of housing.

Letting Agents, Bears, Bahrain & John Lewis

Police arrived and attempted to get the protesters to stop, suggesting it might distract drivers on the busy main road and cause an accident. It seemed simply another attempt by the police to suppress the right to lawful protest and to take the side of the wealthy against the poor. The protesters of course refused to stop and the officers went in to drink tea with the estate agents leaving the small peaceful protest to continue.

My comment back in 2012 “Agents have profited greatly from the lack of affordable housing in the London area, with property prices well above anything that anyone on an average wage can afford. Coupled with a systematic attack by successive governments on the security of private tenants and on the provision of social housing over more than 30 years this has resulted in a dire shortage of housing for ordinary people in London and the south-east. Even where housing developments are taking place in London, the properties are often many bought by overseas investors interested in high profits in an overheated housing market.” Things since then have got worse.

More at Tenants Protest Letting Agents Scam.


PETA ‘Spare the Bears’ March – Marble Arch

From Holloway Road I rushed down to Marble Arch on the Underground to meet the PETA march as it arrived there from its start close to Waterloo. I’d gone there before going to Haringey, but hadn’t found anything I thought worth photographing in the steady rain, so had gone away to return to the march later.

PETA was demanding an end to killing of bears for the Queen’s Guards’ ceremonial headwear. It takes the skin of a whole black bear to make a busby, and they are cruelly hunted. They say some bears escape after being shot several times and bleed to death and that in “some Canadian provinces, there are no restrictions on the shooting of mothers who have nursing cubs, leading to the slaughter of entire families during hunts.”

The MoD still takes 100 bear skins a year from Canadian hunters and justifies its refusal to move to using synthetic materials by saying “one has come remotely close to matching the natural properties of bear fur in terms of shape, weight and its ability to repel moisture in wet conditions.” Perhaps we should just stop dressing parts of our army as toy soldiers.

More pictures PETA ‘Spare the Bears’ March.


Solidarity with the Bahraini prisoners – Bahraini embassy, Belgrave Square

A short bus ride and walk took me to the Bahraini embassy where protesters were gathering to call for the release of prisoners in Bahrain, to condemn the killing of Mohammad Rahdi Mahfoodh and attacks on his funeral, and for an end to the puppet regime of the Bedouin Al Khalifa tribe.

I arrived as the protest was beginning and some of the protesters and speakers including Jeremy Corbyn had arrived.

But unfortunately I had to leave for the cleaners’ protest in Oxford St before things really got going and before the main speeches from Corbyn and others.

Solidarity with the Bahraini prisoners


John Lewis cleaners step up protest – Oxford St

At the protest during Friday’s strike

I had been at the flagship John Lewis store on Oxford Street the previous day when their cleaners were taking a day of strike action, with a rally and a brief invasion of the store, the first strike at John Lewis since it became the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) following a strike in 1920.

The cleaners have been in dispute with the JLP for some years, campaigning for their service to the company to be recognised and to be treated like the other workers there who are ‘partners’ and benefit from an annual bonus from the company profits. They also are demanding to be paid the London Living Wage. Rather then directly employ its cleaning staff JLP has outsourced them to Integrated Cleaning Management (ICM).

A woman stops to photograph the protest

The strike was precipitated when ICM announced there would be a 50% cut in jobs and hours to clean the store, and refused to pay the living wage. ICM also refuse to recognise the IWW, officially recognised as a trade union in the UK in 2006, for collective bargaining, although almost all the cleaners are now members.

ICM is part of the Compass Group, and the IWW point out this had pre-tax profits of £581 million in the last year and paid its chairman Sir Roy Gardner £477,000 pa. They also say that Gardner is a major donor to Conservative Party funds, and gave £50,000 to Cameron’s election campaign.

Today police had arrived in advance of the protest and were stationed in small groups at each of the shop entrances. Behind those at the main entrance watching the rally cleaners pointed out to me one of the JLP management who scurried away as soon as he saw my camera pointing in his direction – but not before I had photographed him.

Despite talks that have dragged on for some years, John Lewis still refuses to accept that it should treat its cleaners with the same decency as its other workers, hiding behind the fact that they are not the actual employers although the cleaners work in their store and are essential to its running.

The cleaners were employed by ICM on the legal minimum wage, more than two pounds an hour below the London Living Wage, a figure representing the minimum needed to live in London. This is calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation, overseen by the Living Wage Commission and was in 2012 backed by both London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The rally on the pavement in front of the shop was peaceful but lively and noisy and received a great deal of support from shoppers passing by on the busy street including John Lewis customers. The cleaners were to strike again the following Friday with further protests outside the store then and on every Saturday afternoon.

Friday protest Cleaners Strike at John Lewis
Saturday protest John Lewis cleaners step up protest


Hate Crime & Brexit

Sunday, July 2nd, 2023

Hate Crime & Brexit: I tend to think of Brexit as a hate crime, inflicted on the British nation by millionaires out to make a quick buck (or rather a few million) like Mogg, but this title refers to two quite different protests on Saturday 2nd July 2016, both Brexit related.


Love Islington – NO to Hate Crime – Highbury Fields

Hate Crime & Brexit

This protest in Islington was called by Islington Labour Party in reaction to the increase in hate crime against racial, faith and other minorities following the Brexit vote.

Hate Crime & Brexit

Speakers at the event included local MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, London Assembly members Jennette Arnold and Caroline Russell, faith leaders, including a gay Catholic priest, a leader of the Somali community, Richard Reiser of DPAC, the leader of Islington council and councillors.

Hate Crime & Brexit

They came to declare that Islington was proud to be a diverse, tolerant and cohesive community with good relations between all who live there, regardless of race, faith, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity, and to urge everyone to stand up against hate crimes and report any incidents to the police.

Hate Crime & Brexit

For once one of my pictures was picked up by some of the national press, not to talk about the event or the problem of hate crimes and the role of the Brexit referendum in encouraging some very nasty characters out from under their stones, but to make snooty remarks about the jacket which Jeremy Corbyn was wearing. The obviously saw it as another Michael Foot donkey jacket moment.

Foot of course did not wear a donkey jacket at the Cenotaph in November 1981. He wore a short, blue-green Jaeger overcoat bought by his wife at Harrods so he would look smart, and on which the Queen Mother complimented him on. But the press was out to get him and the lie, invented by a right-wing Labour MP, stuck.

I had taken the pictures of Corbyn while wearing a jacket very similar to his, appropriate for the weather that rather cool July morning. Mine certainly didn’t come from a charity shop, and I’ve no idea whether his did but if so he was fortunate to find it and made a very sensible decision to purchase it.

Pictures of the other speakers and more at Love Islington – NO to Hate Crime.


March & Rally For Europe against Brexit

More than 50,000 people marched through London to a rally in Parliament Square to show their love for the EU and in protest against the lies and deception from both sides of the EU referendum campaign.

Many feel that the result did not truly reflect the will of the people and that the majority was too small to be a mandate for such a drastic change.

David Cameron had been so convinced that the result would be to remain in Europe that he had failed to act rationally. It was a decision that has dramatically changed our nation and one that in any sensible system should have required a truly decisive majority, rather than just creeping past halfway at 51.8%.

I was raised in a church where all decisions were made by consensus, with discussions continuing until all were willing to agree, often requiring considerable concessions on all sides. It was sometimes a rather slow process.

Since I’ve belonged to other organisations where constitutional changes required a two-thirds majority. Perhaps this is a little too high, but the Brexit vote was hardly a mandate with only 37.4% of those registered to vote backing it.

We’ve now begun to see what Brexit means in practice, with many of the problems dismissed as false by Brexit campaigners becoming evident, while few if any of the advantages they trumpeted have appeared. Last month an opinion poll showed that 55% now think Brexit a mistake while only 32% think it was a good decision, and their number continues to fall. But there doesn’t seem any easy way out of this mess, though perhaps a new government that understands how to negotiate would one day help ease some of the worst effects.

The march was a huge one. I had arrived at Hyde Park Corner just as it was starting and it was over 90 minutes later that I left the end of the march as its end was getting close to Green Park station less than half a mile away. I took the Jubilee Line the single stop from there to Westminster and only arrived in time for the last few minutes of the rally which had begun and only heard the two final speakers, David Lammy MP and Bob Geldorf speaking to a packed Parliament Square. Marchers were still arriving there after the rally had finished but I went home.

Mand more pictures on My London Diary:
March For Europe against Brexit
Rally For Europe against Brexit


Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn: Parliament Square, London, Monday 27 June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn remains in the news today, although the BBC in its wide coverage of the festival has ignored the dropping of the official screening of ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie’ at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. It was cancelled after various groups, mainly of people who had not seen the film, claimed it was anti-Semitic, a claim vehemently denied by the maker, Platform Films.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Those actually at Glastonbury, despite the ban, have been able to see the film and make up their own minds as it has been screened on several stages there despite the main ban. Many also have attended screenings at venues around the country, although it has not made it to cinemas in this country. You can see a trailer here – and this makes it very clear why those now in control of the Labour Party are trying to stop it being widely seen.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

Platform Films are asking for people who can arrange screenings in their local area and it has been screened in many halls around the country – though pressure from Labour and some Jewish groups has apparently led to some of these also being cancelled. Platform obviously needs to recoup some at least of its expenses in making the film by sales. Once it has done so I think the film will probably be made available widely on DVD and probably on-line free to view to reach a wider audience.

Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn

The film which explores widely the forces behind the downfall of Corbyn is narrated by Alexei Sayle and includes a contribution by film-maker Ken Loach. Its producer, Norman Thomas issued a press statement last Friday in which he says that the Glastonbury ban has backfired “wonderfully”, giving a great publicity boost:

The Glastonbury ban will mean many more people will now be able to see the film. They will be able to see the truth of the film, as opposed to the ridiculous claims made about it. It is NOT a conspiracy film. And it is in no way antisemitic. It simply tries to tell the story of the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn which hasn’t been told.”

It was at a music festival in Tranmere in May 2017 that the crowd first began the chant ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’ to the tune of Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes, but it was at Glastonbury later that year when hundreds of thousands took up the refrain that it became iconic.

The previous year, 2016, thi protest took place against a coup by Labour MPs against their leader, happpening despite the fact that the latest opinion poll had shown that under his leadership the party had caught up with the Tories. And despite the huge support Corbyn had from the majority of party members who had given him a huge mandate in the leadership election. And that party membership had almost doubled under his leadership.

More than ten thousand grass-roots Labour supporters came to Parliament Square to support Corbyn in a rally organised by Momentum as Labour MPs were revolting against him. Three days earlier MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey had tabled a motion of no confidence in him as Labour leader. The previous day, Hilary Benn had been sacked from the Shadow Cabinet after it emerged he had been organising a mass resignation of Shadow Cabinet members – and 23 of 31 others had walked out.

Corbyn was the final speaker at the rally, promising he would not resign if he lost the motion of no confidence – as he did the following day. He made clear that he would stand again if MPs forced a leadership election, and that party rules clearly state as the incumbent he would not need to collect nominations to be on the ballot.

And later in the year, there was a leadership election. Corbyn was proved right about the rules despite attempts to prevent him from being on the ballot, but the National Executive Committee limited the membership vote to those who had been members for over six months and decided that “registered supporters” could only vote if they paid a £25 fee. They were almost certainly shocked that over 180,000 did – mainly Corbyn supporters.

The election took place in September that year, with Corbyn winning decisively with almost 62% of the vote – a small increase over his initial leadership contest.

The message to the right of the party was clear. If they wanted to defeat Corbyn they had to fight even dirtier – and ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie’ exposes some of the ways they did so.

More at Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn.


Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage: Tuesday 4th June 2013 saw quite a mixture of protests around Westminster with a regular daily protest during the Parliamentary session calling for the return of Shake Aamer and in solidarity with Guantanamo hunger strikers, a protest at the Home Office against the deportation of gay asylum seekers to Uganda, at the Ministry of Justice against privatisation of legal aid and protesters for and against outside the House of Lords were debating the gay marriage bill.


Bring Shaker Aamer Home Vigil – Parliament Square

Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage

Protesters were keeping up their daily vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament to remind MPs that British resident Shaker Aamer was still held in Guantanamo despite being cleared twice for release. They called on the UK government to urge President Obama to release him and close down the illegal prison camp.

The Guantanamo hunger strike was now putting the lives of the hunger strikers in danger, with over 40 of more than a hundred taking part now being forcibly fed, including ‘prisoner 239’, Shaker Aamer from Battersea.

Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage

Although today the daily protest was small it drew attention to itself with large bright orange banners and those taking part all in black hoods and orange jumpsuits, and one wearing ‘chains’ around hands and feet.

Bring Shaker Aamer Home Vigil


Stop Deporting Lesbians to Uganda – Home Office, Marsham St

Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage

A few days ago on 30th May 2023, Uganda’s President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act which is said to be among the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws in the world. It imposes the death penalty for some so-called aggravated cases and largely repeats a similar 2014 law which was declared unconstitutional by Uganda’s constitutional court.

Uganda was a British protectorate from 1894 to 1962 and inherited anti-gay laws from colonial penal code, which have been widened since independence. Wikipedia puts it clearly “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Uganda face severe legal challenges, active discrimination, state persecution and stigmatisation not experienced by non-LGBT residents.” It goes on to state “Violent and brutal attacks against LGBT people are common, often performed by state officials.

Despite the dangers the Home Office was continuing to deport gay people who had fled Uganda because of the danger and often violence they had suffered because of their sexuality back to where they faced persecution and probably death.

Shaker, Uganda, Legal Aid & Gay Marriage

The protest came after lesbian Jackie Nanyonjo died following injuries inflicted on her during her forced deportation by thugs contracted to the UKBA in March, and a day before flights were due to return ‘Linda N’ on Qatar Airways and ‘Josephine’ by Royal Air Maroc.


Linda N, a known lesbian activist and member of the Movement for Justice was dealt with under a ‘fast track’ procedure designed to prevent proper consideration of cases, and despite a great deal of evidence was told she had not done enough to prove that she was gay. Josephine, a woman aged 62 with family in the UK, came here for sanctuary after refusing to carry out female genital mutilation (FGM). If returned she will be subjected to punishment beatings for her refusal and possibly killed.

The protesters called for an end to racist immigration policies and the release of these women and others held in Yarls Wood and an end to deportations still taking place to Uganda and other unsafe countries including Afghanistan.

Stop Deporting Lesbians to Uganda


Save Legal Aid & British Justice – Ministry of Justice, Petty France

Around a thousand people including many lawyers and other campaigners for justice blocked the road in front of the Ministry of Justice for a lengthy rally against proposed changes to the legal aid system which would mean that instead of people being defended by lawyers with the relevant expertise they would be assigned to the company who had made the cheapest bid. Large companies with little legal connection including Eddie Stobart and Tesco were expected to bid for the work, putting the many small specialist law firms which currently exist out of business.

As speakers pointed out these changes threaten the very heart of our legal system, severely reducing the chances of those who are not rich to get justice.

The changes were being proposed without proper consultation and regulations to bring them were tocome into effect within 3 months, without any pilot scheme, without an debate in the Houses of Parliament and with no proper examination of the evidence.

Among the speakers were several QCs, including Dinah Rose, Geoffrey Robertson and Michael Fordham, representatives of human rights organisations and charities, MPs David Lammy, Jeremy Corbyn, shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter and Bianca Jagger.

Many more pictures including those of most of the speakers at Save Legal Aid & British Justice.


For and against Gay Marriage – Old Palace Yard

Two groups of protesters were in Old Palace Yard. Stonewall had come with posters, t-shirts and vuvuzelas along with other LGBT protesters including Peter Tatchell and there were others including one in drag waving a rainbow flag.

A short distance to the side were a similar sized group organised by Christian Concern, an evangelical organisation who prayed and sang, murdering ‘Amazing Grace’ several times while I was there. At there centre were a black couple dressed as a bride and groom standing on a base resembling a wedding cake.

As well as these two groups which carefully avoided any direct conflict – one woman from ‘Christian Concern’ who came and began to tell the LGBT protesters that she was praying for them was quickly dragged away by one of their organisers – there were also a number of religious extremists also wandering around the area and protesting much of the day, some holding up large print posters of Bible texts, others standing still and preaching – though as I pointed out there there seemed to be nobody listening to their amplified sermonising.

I think the real debate is not about marriage but about having an established church which has made marriage both a civil and a religious contract. The law should clearly separate the two and religious bodies can now outside the established church do so should they chose. Some Christians would have no problems with having religious ceremonies for gay marriages, but others would not be forced to do so.

My elder son and his bride had two ceremonies some weeks apart, one a religious one with an Imam officiating and the other, some weeks later, with an official registrar present. Marriage law is essentially about the civil contract and I can see no reason against this applying to any couple whatever their genders – nor did the House of Lords.

More pictures at For and against Gay Marriage.


Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023

Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More: My work on Saturday May 23rd 2009 began with a march in North London before coming down to a couple of protests at Downing Street and then a march from Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard against police violence.


March to Defend Jobs, Services and Education – Highbury Fields to Archway

Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More

Around 1500 jobs had been lost recently in North London, including around 550 mainly support workers from London Metropolitan University, 500 civil servants from Archway tower and more at City University, where adult education is under threat.

Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More

Trade unionists from the Islington National Union of Teachers, the Public & Commercial Services Union, London Metropolitan University Unison and the University and College Union and other local groups including GiK-DER Refugee Workers Cultural Association were marching from Highbury Fields to a rally at Archway in protest against these job cuts.

Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More

The cuts in education threaten courses and also the provisions including nurseries that enable many mature students who missed out on education to study and get qualifications later in life.

Jobs, Services & Education, Police Violence & More

Speakers at the rally after the march included those from the UCU, CWU, London Metropolitan University, PCS, Islington Trades Council and local Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn.

More at March to Defend Jobs, Services & Education.


Southern Yemenis Demonstrate For a Separate State – Downing St


The state of Yemen has a long and complex history dating back to ancient times which is dealt with at some length on Wikipedia.

In the 19th century Britain attacked and occupied Aden and the surrounding region with the rest of the country being under the Ottoman Empire. In the 1960s a civil war in the north and a revolt against British rule in the south led to the foundation of two independent states, the Yemen Arab Republic in the north and the People’s Democractic Republic of Yemen in the south, who went to war with each other in 1972. After a ceasefire brokered by the Arab League and a further civil war the two countries were merged in 1990.

This London protest followed protests in Aden a week earlier on the 15th anniversary of an unsuccessful attempt by the southern Yemen leader Ali Salem al-Beidh to end the union with the north, which led to the 1994 civil war, lost by the South.

The protest was organised by Southern Yemenis from the Southern Democratic Assembly (TAJ), based in London who want an end to the union and accuse the Yemeni government of grabbing land and property and human rights abuses. They called for an end to the union with the north.

More at Southern Yemenis Demonstrate.


Rev Billy Performs at Downing St – Downing St

The Reverend Billy and his ‘Life After Shopping’ Gospel choir from New York were in London on their 2009 UK Shopocalypse Tour and gave a brief performance in front of the gates of Downing St.

Police were not impressed and obviously had no idea of who the Reverend was as in response to his questions the officer concerned was diagnosed by Billy as having a “shopping problem.”

The Church of Life After Shopping believes that we need to “back away from the product” and resist the way that advertising and the media persuade us to live only thorough consuming corporate products, and get down to experiencing life directly.

Excessive consumption is clearly at the root of climate change and the demand for incessant economic growth is clearly a long term impossibility in a finite planet. We need to be planning for a fairer sharing of resources between rich and majority worlds and an economy based on sustainability rather than growth – which will clearly mean lower levels of wasteful consumption and a concentration on necessities rather than luxuries.

As Billy made clear, following the G20 summit and the pathetic waste and greed shown in the continuing parliamentary allowances scandal, our government and MPs are clearly in need of the Life After Shopping Gospel.

Rev Billy Performs at Downing St


National Demonstration against Police Violence – Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard.

The United Campaign Against Police Violence was set up following the G20 demonstration in London when Ian Tomlinson, a man not taking part in the demonstration, was assaulted by police and died. Many protesters and some press were also attacked by police during the protest.

It brought together trade unionists and activists involved in organising the G20 Meltdown demonstration as well as campaigners against deaths in police custody particularly those in the United Families & Friends Campaign, UFFC, including the families of two men who died in Brixton Police Station, Ricky Bishop and Sean Rigg.

The protest was led by a coffin with a brass plate “FOR ALL OUR LOVED ONES WHO DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY”, and included a giant red figure representing one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – who led the four marches that converged on the Bank of England in the G20 demonstration. Prominent in the march and rally were Professor Chris Knight and Sean Rigg’s two sisters, Marcia and Samantha and the Rev Billy added his voice through a giant megaphone.

At the rally outside New Scotland Yard on Victoria Street there were speeches and a minute of silence for those who had died before the release of black balloons to represent the dead.

The police had until almost the end of the event acted on their best behaviour, arranging for the safe movement of the protest and joking with press and talking calmly with the protesters. The protesters were clearly angry about police violence but the protest was restrained and orderly

But as the rally was about to draw to a close in front of the police headquarters a police van drove up and a woman officer interrupted proceedings to read a statement telling everyone their presence was illegal. It seemed inexplicable other than as a deliberate attempt to try to provoke a violent reaction from the peaceful crowd, but the organisers managed to quieten things down and the rally continued.

More at Demonstration against Police Violence.

Saving the Whittington

Monday, February 27th, 2023

Saving the Whittington

Saving the Whittington
A huge campaign in 2010 led to Andy Burnham, then Health Secretary stopping the Whittington hospital board’s plans to close its maternity and A&E Departments. A major event in this campaign was the march I photographed on Saturday 27 February 2010 from Highbury Corner to a rally at the hospital at Archway.

Later in 2013 when the board announced plans for more cuts another successful campaign stopped these, and in 2016 there was yet another campaign over redevelopment plans in concert with a private contractor.

Many people tell me that protest never works and that campaigners are simply wasting their time, but in 2022 the hospital announced a £100 million refurbishment of Whittington Hospital’s maternity and neonatal facilities, which still deliver over 3,600 babies a year, and the A&E department is still open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I counted almost 2000 people walking past me a short distance from the start on the two mile march to the hospital, and more arrived for the rally, swelling the numbers to around 3-5,000. Or as the BBC at the time called it, in their usual way of minimising protests, ‘hundreds’ of protesters. But at least, unlike most protests, they did report on it.

Among the marchers and speakers where almost every local politician, including David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and then Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, who pledged his support for the hospital and all its services, revealing that he had been born there. Frank Dobson MP who was Secretary of State for Health from 1997 to 1999 also gave a powerful speech in support, as did Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green. MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry were also at the event, as well as Terry Stacy, the leader of Islington Council.

The proposals for the cuts and downgarding of A&E had come from a rationalisation programme initiated by Lord Darzi, a surgeon and national adviser in surgery to the Department of Health and a Labour Peer from 2007 until he resigned the whip in 2019. His report suggested moving much care from hospitals to GP-led polyclinics and to greater centralisation of trauma, stork and heart attack services to centralised specialist services.

Frank Dobson

Polyclinics remain rare, but although the greater specialisation of acute services made clinical (and financial) sense it failed to take into account the problems of London’s congested streets which would have led to long delays in treatment for many patients. Those inevitable delays would have meant deaths. And the selection of Whittington for closure neglected its good road and public transport connections which make it an ideal location for emergency cases as well as other patients and visitors.

Why Whittington was chosen as suitable for closure probably came down to two factors. One was certainly the age of the buildings, but perhaps more important was that the same factors of location and transport links made it an exceptionally valuable site for property developers. Had the cuts gone ahead in 2010, the rest of the hospital would probably by now also had been closed, with the site developed, including some of those old buildings converted into luxury flats.

Many more pictures from the march and rally at Save the Whittington on My London Diary.


Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

Sunday, February 19th, 2023

Wednesday 19th February 2014 saw me travelling around London for protests calling for the release of political prisoners in Iraq, Ireland and Egypt before a protest at Atos’s offices led by DPAC.


Solidarity vigil for Shawki Ahmed Omar – Elvaston Place

Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

The vigil outside the Iraqi consulate in Kensington was a small one, with only four people taking part while I was there, though a few more were expected later.

Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen held and tortured in Iraq by US and Iraqis since his arrest in 2004, was then held in Abu Ghraib. Arrested by US soldiers while on a business trip he was held by the US in Iraq and tortured but never charged. Later in 2010 he was sentenced to 15 years in jail after a trial where he was unable to defend or even properly identify himself as the US had refused to hand him back his passport. When they left Iraq and handed him over to the Iraqis, who tortured him more.

His treatment has been described by former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark as one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in recent United States history. It is a case where the US government essentially lied to the US Supreme Court to cover up torture and to be able to turn an American citizen over to people who they knew would torture him.

I had previously met Omar’s wife and daughter – who has never seen her father – on some of their series of protests outside the US Embassy. So far as I am aware he is now still in prison in Iraq.

Solidarity vigil for Shawki Ahmed Omar


Free Margaretta D’Arcy picket – Irish Embassy

Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

My next stop was at the Irish Embassy, a short walk from Hyde Park Corner. It was the third picket there to demand the immediate release of Margaretta D’Arcy, imprisoned for protesting against illegal US flights from Shannon Airport, and now in Mountjoy Women’s Prison, Dublin.

D’Arcy, a long-term peace campaigner, member of the Committee of 100 and Greenham Common veteran and writer, actress, playwright and film director, was then 79 and suffering from cancer and arthritis. Two years earlier she had been arrested and imprisoned for lying down on the runway at Shannon in a peaceful direct action by members of Galway Alliance Against War. They were protesting the violation of Irish neutrality by US military flights using the airport.

Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

She was again imprisoned in 2014 after she refused to sign a bond not to trespass again on the airport property in further protests against the US flights. She was released on 22nd March, but later imprisoned again and released in July 2014.

Free Margaretta D’Arcy picket


NUJ demands Egypt release jailed journalists – Egyptian Embassy

Prisoners in Iraq, Ireland & Egypt & Atos Day of Action

A few minutes walk took me into Mayfair and to a protest organised by my own union, the National Union of Journalists, calling for press freedom in Egypt and the release of all jailed journalists, including the four Al Jazeera journalists.

One of these had been in prison for 6 months, but the other three were arrested on 29th December 2013 and were among 20 journalists charged at the end of January with a string of offences including being a “member of a terrorist organization, disturbing public peace, instilling terror, harming the general interests of the country, possessing broadcast equipment without permit, possessing and disseminating images contrary to the truth.

The NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn took a letter up the steps to the main door of the embassy for a photograph but then had to walk to a less impressive neighbouring door to actually deliver it.

This was one of a number of protests organised by journalists in cities around the world. Some of those present had their mouths gagged with tape. The journalists were only finally released in 2015. Wikipedia has more on the case.

Reporters Without Borders now report “Egypt is one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists. The hopes for freedom that sprang from the 2011 revolution now seem distant.” They say that 24 journalists are currently held there in jail.

NUJ demands Egypt release jailed journalists


Atos National Day of Action – Triton Square

Paula Peters of DPAC

Finally I made my way to Triton Square, just north of the Euston Road, close to Warren Street station.

Dennis Skinner MP speaking

A day of action there at the London HQ of Triton was a part of a day of action with protests at each of the 144 ATOS assessment centres around the country. The protesters called for the company to lose its contracts to carry out the tests and to be prosecuted for the way they had been handled, and for the resignation of the minister concerned, Iain Duncan Smith.

Among the many groups supporting the nationwide day of action were Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle, Atos Miracles, the Green Party, NUS, Occupy New Network, PCS and Unite.

The tests, based on tick boxes on a computer form had been widely discredited with a report commissioned by the government pointing out serious flaws. They fail to take account of the complex and differing natures of illnesses and their individual effects and are particularly poor with the assessment of mental illness.

Many of those found ‘fit to work’ have been obviously completely unable to do so – with over ten thousand in the last year for which figures were released dying within six weeks. The government reaction to the adverse publicity after these figures for 2011 were released was simply to stop issuing figures for later years. These numbers include some who committed suicide after being unfairly assessed by Atos.

The Atos administered tests take no account of proper medical evidence. The protesters call for the assessments to be made by qualified medical doctors, ideally by “the GP who regularly sees and treats the sick or disabled individual in question” who they say “is the only person able to decide if an individual is fit for work.”

At the end of the long protest, those remaining moved to the wider square in view of the Euston Road and released yellow balloons in memory of those who have taken their lives because of ATOS unfairly refused them support as Paula Peters of DPAC read a poem about the deaths.

Much more about the protest at Atos National Day of Action on My London Diary – and, as always, more pictures.