Posts Tagged ‘Ken Loach’

Stop Bush National Demonstration – 2003

Monday, November 20th, 2023

Stop Bush National Demonstration – It seems so long ago; on Thursday 20th November 2003, 20 years ago today, I photographed the protest against then US President George Bush in London.

Stop Bush National Demonstration

The protest came just 8 months after the US under Bush had led the invasion of Iraq, aided by Tony Blair who had lied to Parliament and presented a fake dossier to take Britain to war as well.

Stop Bush National Demonstration

The US had claimed their action was necessary to “disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free Iraqi people”. It wasn’t long before it became clear that those who had always said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were proved correct, and although Saddam was killed the invasion encouraged support for terrorists across much of the world, and rather than becoming free the people of Iraq were subjected to still continuing years of misery.

Stop Bush National Demonstration

A 2023 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute comments that the invasion “ushered in years of chaos and civil war, as a variety of armed groups vied for power and territory and targeted coalition forces and the fledgling post-Ba’athist Iraqi Army. A period of relative calm in the early 2010s was broken by the rise of the extremist Islamic State group, which occupied large parts of the country from 2014 until it was largely defeated by Iraqi forces with the support of a US-led international coalition in 2017.”

Stop Bush National Demonstration

It goes on to say that the country is now in 2023 at its most stable since the invasion, but “Armed violence persists in different forms, but it is sporadic, fragmented and localized. However, the country remains fragile and divided, and its people face an array of deepening challenges that the state is struggling to address.

Twenty years ago I was just beginning to work using a digital camera. The Nikon D100 was one of the first affordable generation of digital SLRs, released in the USA at around the same time as the Canon EOS D60, both with a price tag of just under $2000, though I forget what I paid for it here in the UK.

It was still a rather primitive beast, with a 6Mp sensor roughly half the size of a 35mm film frame in what Nikon dubbed DX format. It’s viewfinder was small and dim, making working with it rather more difficult than the film cameras – both SLR and rangefinder – that I had been using.

And having spent so much on a camera, I also had to buy a lens. I’d long been using Olympus SLRs along with Leica and other cameras with the Leica-M mount and had a full range of lenses for these, but nothing with a Nikon mount. So along with the camera I’d bought what was the cheapest zoom in their range, a 24-85mm with a maximum aperture of around f3.5. On the D100 that worked as a 36-127mm equivalent.

It was a useful lens, and a very decent performer, but still rather limiting, with no real wide-angle capability. So alongside the D100 I would also be working most of the time with two other cameras, one loaded with colour negative film and the other black and white.

But there was a huge advantage with digital, in that I could send off files to an agency within hours of taking them, while with the black and white it was probably a day or two before I made prints to take or send. Publishing too had largely moved to colour and colour images were now wanted rather than black and white.

Although I developed and at least contact printed the films I took then, I think I’ve made very few if any prints from this or other events at the time. And any I have made since will have been printed digitally from scans of the negatives.

Digital gave an immediacy, but there were still problems with handling the files. Software to process the RAW images that were needed to get the most out of the digital files was still rather primitive by current standards, and most of the images I processed back then have a slightly muddy look. Nikon’s colour rendering was I think more to my taste than Canon, but still not up to that from film, though now we get far more accurate colour from digital. When Adobe introduced Lightroom in 2007 it was a little of a step backwards, but since then it has improved dramatically.

Those early sensors also were not too great with high contrast subjects and for some years I worked much of the time with fill-in flash on sunny days. Fortunately this was something that digital camera and modern flash systems made a simple routine.

On My London Diary I was still experimenting in how to present digital work on the web, and the thumbnail pages I created here were not the best of ideas. But the 80 images presented there – around a third of the exposures I made – perhaps give a good idea of how I worked. Clicking on any of them gives a page with slightly larger views of several of them.

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.

Guantanamo, Privatisation, the Elephant, Social Cleansing & a Book Launch

Saturday, February 5th, 2022

Guantanamo, Privatisation, the Elephant, Social Cleansing & a Book Launch.
Thursday 5th February 2015 was an extremely varied and rewarding day for me.

Close Guantanamo – 8 Years of protest

The day started rather quietly with the London Guantánamo Campaign and their monthly lunch-time protest at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square which had been taking place every month for 8 years, calling for the closure of the prison and release of those still held, including Londoner Shaker Aamer. I’ve not photographed them every one of those almost a hundred months, but most times when I have been working in London on the day they were protesting.

Close Guantanamo – 8 Years of protest

From Grosvenor Square I went to Trafalgar Square, joining protesters outside the National Gallery where management had told 400 of its 600 staff they were no longer to be employed by the gallery but by a private company. Staff there were incensed when on a five day strike one of their PCS union reps, Candy Udwin, was suspended.

Nobody answered the door.

The National Gallery was then the only major museum or gallery in London not paying its lowest paid staff the London Living Wage. The privatisation further threatened the pay and conditions of loyal and knowledgeable staff already living on poverty pay. These staff are responsible for the security of the paintings and the public, provide information about the collection, organise school bookings and look after the millions of visitors each year.

Eventually the petition was handed to the Head of Security

Staff who were then on a five-day strike had come with supporters to present a 40,000 signature petition to management against the privatisation and call for the reinstatement of their union rep. First they tried the management door, but no one came to open it, so some entered the Sainsbury Wing of the gallery to try to deliver it. Security asked them to leave, and promised that the Head of Security would take the petition would personally hand it to management who were refusing to come down to meet the strikers.

Jeremy Corbyn joins the march and Candy Udwin speaks

After consultation with the members the petition was handed over and the strikers and supporters marched down Whitehall to the Dept of Culture, Media and Sport where the minister concerned had agreed to receive a copy of the petition. A rally took place outside, with speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, while the petition was being handed in.

No Privatisation At National Gallery

Around the Elephant

I took the tube to the ELephant and Castle on my way to visit the continuing occupation against Southwark Council’s demolition of the Aylesbury Estate and had time to walk a little around the area before and afterwards.

Around the Elephant

Aylesbury Estate Occupation

Protesters against the demolition of council estates and its replacement by private developments with little or no social housing across London had marched to the Aylesbury Estate and occupied an empty block, part of Chartridge in Westmoreland Road at the end of the previous Saturday’s March for Homes.

Entering the occupied building required a rather tricky climb to the first floor, and both my age and my heavy camera bag argued against it, although I was told I was welcome. Instead I went with a group of supporters who were distributing flyers for a public meeting to flats across the estate. They split into pairs and I went with two who were going to the top floor of the longest single block on the whole estate, Wendover, where one of them lived.

There are I think 471 flats in the block and from the top floor there are extensive views to the east, marred by the fact that the windows on the corridor seem not to have been cleaned since the flats were built. But there was one broken window that gave me a clear view.

Aylesbury Estate Occupation

Getting By – Lisa’s Book Launch

Ken Loach, Jasmine Stone and Lisa McKenzie

My final event of the day was the book launch for Lisa McKenzie’s ‘Getting By’, the result of her years of study from the inside of the working class district of Nottingham where she lived and worked for 22 years, enabling her to view the area from the inside and to gather, appreciate and understand the feelings and motivations of those who live there in a way impossible for others who have researched this and similar areas.

St Ann’s in that time was undergoing a huge slum clearance project, but though providing more modern homes relieved some of the worst problems of damp, dangerous and over-crowded housing, it left many of the social problems and provided new challenges for those who lived there.

It was a great evening, attended by many of those I’ve photographed over the years at various housing campaigns.

Getting By – Lisa’s Book Launch

More on all these on My London Diary:
Getting By – Lisa’s Book Launch
Aylesbury Estate Occupation
Around the Elephant
No Privatisation At National Gallery
Close Guantanamo – 8 Years of protest