Posts Tagged ‘Lisa McKenzie’

LSE Resist – Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners

Friday, September 29th, 2023

LSE Resist – Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners: in September 2016 then LSE research fellow Lisa McKenzie and a couple of students organised a series of discussions, films, lectures and exhibitions in the 3 day campus-wide 3-day free ‘Resist: Festival of Ideas and Actions’. The festival explored how political resistance is understood within academic research, the arts, grassroots activism campaigns, student debate and mainstream politics.

LSE Resist - Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners

As a part of this festival LSE cleaners began a campaign for parity of treatment with other workers at the LSE. I had contributed some protest pictures to be used in publicity for the festival and attended some of the events on 28-29th September 2016.

LSE Resist - Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners

The success of this festival was perhaps one of the reasons why Dr McKenzie was not given a further contract at the LSE. She has since worked at Middlesex University, Durham University and the University of Bedfordshire and is Board Chair of the Working Class Collective.


Working Class debate at LSE Resist – Wednesday 28th September 2016

LSE Resist - Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners

There was a lively open debate around ideas of the working class at lunchtime on the steps in front of the LSE building in Lincoln’s Inn Fields led by LSE Professor of Anthropology David Graeber and Martin Wright of Class War with contributions from others including LSE research fellow Lisa McKenzie and Class War’s Ian Bone.

LSE Resist - Working Class, Kidbrooke & Cleaners

I arrived late, partly because the LSE then was a huge building site and the Facebook invitation to the event had included a map incorrectly suggesting it was taking place in Houghton Street, so unfortunately missed the some of the opening remarks by Graeber.

He was followed by Whitechapel anarchist Martin Wright, a working-class activist from East London who told us he was proud of his record of not working. He now regularly broadcasts his pithy comments on current affairs on the ‘Red and Black’ channel on You Tube.

Ian Bone, the founder of Class War, once described by the gutter press as the ‘The Most Dangerous Man in Britain‘ gave a typically witty and thought-provoking contribution.

And of course Lisa McKenzie spoke at some length and depth, and there was a great deal of discussion among the main speakers, with contributions from many of those sitting around on the steps, mainly LSE students. I took a great many pictures some of which you can see on My London Diary, but think I managed to keep my mouth shut and listen rather than speak.

More pictures at Working Class debate at LSE Resist.


Simon Elmer of ASH indicts LSE

The following day I was back on the same steps to hear Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing (ASH) give a lengthy and detailed indictment, ‘The Intellectual Bloodstain’ on a report by a group of LSE academics on Kidbrooke Village, a development by Berkeley Homes and Southern Housing, on the site of a council estate which was demolished between 2009 and 2012.

The Ferrier Estate had been built for the Greater London Council in 1968-72 on the site of a former RAF base. The first section had five 12 storey towers and three years later a second section six more were added. The estate had around 1,900 flats.

When the GLC was abolished in 1986 for having opposed the Thatcher government it was a sad day for London in general, with the capital being left without its essential city-wide authority, something it has not yet recovered from despite the setting up of the GLA in 2000. But for the Ferrier estate in was even worse news as the estate was transferred to the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Greenwich made Ferrier a sink estate and failed to maintain the estate properly; its population were markedly multi-ethnic, including many refugees while most of the rest of the borough’s estates were predominantly white.

You can read Elmer’s talk in full on the ASH web site and it makes interesting reading. Perhaps the key fact is that the estate still had 1732 flats which were housing council tenants at social rents, but in the replacement Kidbrooke Village although there will be 4,763 new apartments, only 159 will be at social rent. Some of the others will be ‘affordable’, meaning at up to 80% of market rent, but that means completely unaffordable to those who previously lived there – or to almost all of the 15,000 on the council’s housing waiting list.

As a former member of Greenwich Council was quoted by Elmer as stating, ‘Ten years ago residents on the Ferrier Estate were told that they would have the right to come back. What Greenwich Council didn’t mention is that they would need to win the Lottery to do so.

Elmer uses the case of Ferrier to ague about a key tropes behind the LSE produced report, the idea of ‘urban villages’ and also points out some of the omissions and inaccuracies of the report as well as attacking their use of inadequate and often misleading concepts such as ‘human scale‘, ‘unique identity‘, ‘social interaction‘ (which means going to shop at Sainsbury’s), ‘locally driven‘, ‘mixed communities‘ and more as well as pointing out some simple lies lifted directly from the developers’s marketing book.

His report points out “the white elephant standing in the middle of the living room of every one of these luxury apartments – that is, their complete failure to meet the housing needs of the local community” and went on to look more widely at housing issues in the UK before concluding his talk by convening a People’s Court for the indictment of the LSE Four, listing four charges and calling for their suitable punishment “in the name of Architects for Social Housing and on behalf of the former residents of the Ferrier Estate.” I think they were unanimously found guilty.

At the end of the meeting Petros Elia, General Secretary of the United Voices of the World trade union spoke briefly about the failure of LSE management to protect the interests of the LSE cleaners in outsourcing them to a cleaning contractor with no insistence on decent working conditions and conditions of service and inviting all present to a meeting later that do to discuss further action.

More pictures at Simon Elmer of ASH indicts LSE.


LSE Cleaners Campaign Launch

Later on Thursday I went to the meeting where cleaners at the LSE began their campaign for parity of treatment with other workers at the university.

The cleaners, employed by Noonan on a LSE contract, are paid the London Living Wage, but have only the statutory minimum holidays, sick pay and pension contributions, while workers directly employed by the LSE have more generous terms. They also complain they have lost rest facilities, are not allowed in the canteen with other workers, exposed to dangerous chemicals, not allowed to use lifts to move heavy equipment between floors and are generally treated like dirt.

We were all shocked when one of the cleaners stood up and told how she had been sacked by Noonan after 12 years of service at the LSE. The UVW will fight her unfair dismissal as well as pursuing their other claims.

Others attending the meeting included most of the students from a new graduate course at the LSE on issues of equality, something the LSE has a long history of campaigning for outside of the institution but seemed rather blind to on its own campus. Support for the cleaners was expressed by the LSE Students Union General Secretary and by several LSE staff members, and Sandy Nicoll from SOAS Unison told the meeting about their 10 year fight to bring cleaners there in-house.

Several of the cleaners spoke in Spanish, and their comments were translated for the benefit of the non-Spanish speaking in the audience,

There were suggestions for further actions to improve conditions and fight the unfair redundancy, and I was to photograph some of these in the months that followed, eventually leading the them being taken back in-house as LSE employees in 2017.

More pictures at LSE Cleaners campaign launch.


Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest & More

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

Too much was happening on Thursday 2nd April 2015 to fit it all into a headline, with protests against evictions, jailed Palestinian children, arms companies, sacking of trade unionists at hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives, a politically motivated arrest and a failed visit to a squat in a prominent London building.


Sweets Way at Annington Homes – James St,

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

I began work at a lunchtime protest outside the offices of Annington Homes, the tax-dodging equity investor owned company which owns the Sweets Way estate in north London, calling for an end to evictions and the right to return for all decanted residents.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

It was a small but lively protest and attracted considerable attention and support on a street busy with office workers taking their lunch break.

Despite the efforts of the campaigners this small former Ministry of Defence estate of 142 social homes was finally forcibly evicted by evicted by dozens of High Court bailiffs and 7 vans of Met police on 23-24th September. Annington planned to replace these with around 170 homes for private sale at up to £700,000, along with just 59 so-called ‘affordable’ homes at £560,000. Nothing on the new estate was to provide social housing and this was clearly an exercise in social cleansing for profit.

Sweets Way at Annington Homes


Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L. – The Mall

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

Admiralty Arch, the landmark Grade I listed building providing an impressive entrance to the Mall from Trafalagar Square was commissioned by King Edward VII to commemorate Queen Victoria’s death, designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1912. Initially a residence for the First Sea Lord and offices for the Admiralty it was later more general government offices. The government sold it off in 2012 to be developed as a hotel.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

Activists from the Autonymous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians had entered the building through the roof at night and were occupying it. I photographed the various notices and banners on the outside of the building and some activities of security and occupiers outside, and talked to a couple of the them. I and a couple of other journalists were offered entry if we brought tobacco or alcohol but felt it wise to refuse and left. I think the squatters were evicted within 24 hours.

Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L.


Free the Palestinian Children – G4S, Victoria St

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

G4S provides security services for Israeli jails in which Palestinian children are held, some as young as 12 years old. The most common charge is throwing stones. Typically there have been 500-700 of them a year in the Israeli military detention system with between 120 and 450 held at any one time. In 2014 Israel held 1266 Palestinian children for interrogation; campaigners say 75% of them are physically tortured and many sexually abused.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

One of the protesters who spoke about G4S involvement in the imprisoning and torture of Palestinian children also spoke about her mistreatment by Israeli Security, who forced her to remove her clothes and stand naked to be inspected in public because she was going to visit Palestinians in jail

Free the Palestinian Children


Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage – Westminster

Thursday 2nd April 2015 was Maundy Thursday and Catholic Workers were taking part in a walk around the “geography of suffering” in London halting outside the offices of companies in the arms trade for prayers against the arms trade, war, torture, nuclear weapons, international debt, homelessness, immigration policy and climate change. The ‘Stations of the Cross’ was a day early as this usually takes place on Good Friday.

Among the companies whose offices they prayed outside were arms company Qinetiq in Buckingham Gate, where a security man came out and told them they could not protest there. They told him they were on the public highway and if they wanted to protest they could do so. But they had come to pray not to protest and continued, leaving as they finished their service.

Among other companies I photographed them outside were Rolls-Royce, another weapons manufacturer, where the pilgrimage ended. I had only joined them part way through the event, when the came past the protest at G4S.

Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage


Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers – Mayfair

Workers at Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives have been sacked for trade union organising and members of the fast-growing Unite Hotel Workers Branch protested in solidarity with them outside Sheraton’s two Mayfair hotels.

Hotel workers are one of the most marginalised groups of workers in the UK, and many are exploited because their English is poor or non-existent. Here in the UK they can also get sacked for joining a union but despite this, the Hotel Workers branch is the fastest growing branch of Unite because of its determined support for the workers.

I met and photographed their protest outside Le Meridien on Piccadilly for around half an hour before walking down with the to the Park Lane Hotel where I had to leave them to go to Aldgate.

Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers


Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors – One Commercial St, Aldgate

Police clearly had it in for Lisa McKenzie and during this weekly Poor Doors protest outside One Commercial St a woman officer came up to her a and told her she was being arrested, accused of criminal damage. The officer said she had stuck a Class War sticker on the glass next to the rich door two weeks earlier on March 19th. A snatch squad surrounded her, and despite opposition from the protesters she was led away and put in a waiting police van to be taken to Bethnal Green police station.

While many people had stuck posters and stickers onto the glass windows at almost every Poor Doors protest, this was the first arrest. It’s doubtful whether this is an offence, and it is certainly not criminal damage, as glass is not damaged, with posters and any glue residue being easily removed leaving the surface in as new condition.

I had photographed Lisa and others at the Rich Door fairly extensively on March 19th and was ready to testify that she had not herself stuck anything on the glass – though when her case eventually came to court it was thrown out before I was called.

Lisa was certainly a very vocal protester (as usual) but it’s hard to avoid thinking what picked her out was political pressure because of her candidature for Class War against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford in the forthcoming general election.

Before her arrest the protest had been hampered by barriers for work on the wide pavement outside the Rich Door of the building, and the protest had started on the opposite side of the main road.

Two incidents caused some hilarity, one where a police officer came to deal with a yellow smoke flare that had been thrown into the road, first seeming to kick it, then picking it up and carrying it away down the alley towards the poor door. It had burnt out by the time he reached this, but as I commented “Everyone else may throw their rubbish here but I was surprised the police thought it a good idea.”

The second was when Lisa pointed out that one of the two women officers standing behind the banner she was holding had taken part in plain clothes in a previous ‘poor doors’ protest, and Ian Bone offered her the megaphone to speak – but this was immediately followed by another woman officer coming to arrest Lisa.

There were some angry scenes as she was driven away, and police refused to talk with the protesters. The protest continued with several speeches before people went home.

Much more at Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors.


Coal Drops, Libraries and Housing – 2018

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

On Saturday 3rd Novemeber I got to London earlier than anticipate and had time for a little walk before photographing the first protest I had come to cover, over the cuts to public libraries. Later I went to photograph another protest about the plans to demolish many London council estates under so-called ‘regeneration’ plans which involve demolition and rebuilding by developers with little social housing.


Euston to Kings Cross Coal Drops – Sat 3 Nov 2018

Problems on my railway journeys into London are rather common, often involving considerable delays. Last weekend a replacement bus for part of the way meant that my usually slow journey scheduled to take 35 minutes to travel 20 miles instead took an hour and a half. But on Saturday 23rd November 2018, there was something of a miracle. When I arrived at the station a train which should have arrived half an hour earlier was just pulling in and an announcement told me it would be running non-stop to Waterloo.

Where possible I like to arrive at events perhaps 10 or 15 minutes before the advertised start time make sure I don’t miss anything. Travelling across London is often a little unpredictable, with odd holdups so I usually allow plenty of time. I’d arrived at my station a few minutes early, and with the non-stop service got me to Waterloo around 25 minutes before I expected. The normal timetable schedule gives a 5 or 10 minutes slack to make it less likely that train operating company has to pay fines for late running, and without stops the journey is significantly faster. Together with an Underground train that came as I walked onto the platform I arrived at Euston with around three quarters of an hour to spare.

This gave me time for a walk to the newly opened retail development in the former King’s Cross coal drops. I’d photographed the disused coal drops many years earlier, taking pictures of the demolished bridges across the Regents Canal and the still standing drops on the north side where coal brought from the North in railway goods waggons was transferred into carts for delivery across London. At first the waggons were lifted and tipped, later waggons had opening doors in their bottoms to dischage directly in the waiting carts and lorries.

My walk also took me through Somers Town, which has some of inner London’s more interesting social housing and past the new Francis Crick Institute before reaching the canal and a new walkway to Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square, and gave some views of the gasholders relocated across the canal from Kings Cross, some of which are now filled with flats. I made my way back with just enough time to visit the toilets in St Pancras Station before going to the meeting point for the Library protest at the rear of the British Library in Midland Road.

Euston to Kings Cross Coal Drops


Save Our Libraries march – British Library, Sat 3 Nov 2018

The march and rally against cuts in library services, which are a vital part of our cultural services, especially for working class schoolchildren and young people was organised by Unison and supported by PCS and Unite, but they seem to have done very little publicity and the numbers were far fewer than expected.

Unfortunately the march clashed with another event I wanted to cover and I had to leave a few minutes before it was due to start. Perhaps more joined the protest for the rally at the end of the march outside Parliament.

Save Our Libraries march


No Demolitions Without Permission – City Hall, London. Sat 3 Nov 2018

‘Axe the Housing Act’ had called a protest to demand an end to the demolition of council estates unless these were approved by a ballot of all residents, and for public land to be used to build more council homes rather than being turned over to developers to make huge profits from high-priced flats.

Most of those who came were from London council estates under threat of demolition by Labour London councils and speaker after speaker from estate after estate got up and spoke about the lies, evasions and often illegal activities of London Labour councils bent on demolishing their council estates.

Green Party co-leader and London Assembly’s Housing Committee chair Sian Berry

Instead of looking after their working class populations Labour councils are time and time again forcing through demolition of council estates, enabling developers to make huge profits by building flats for sale largely at market rent, with a small proportion of high rent ‘affordable’ homes and a miserably small number of homes at social rent, promoting schemes which cut by thousands the number of council homes.

Tanya Murat, Chair of Southwark Defend Council Housing

Although a new policy was about to come in to insist their should be residents ballots, London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan had responded to this by fast-tracking 34 demolition schemes by Labour councils before it was implemented. He allowed some schemes to go forward without a ballot, and had failed to insist that all residents were allowed to take part in such ballots.

Former Lambeth Council leader and veteran Labour politician Ted Knight

Among the groups taking part in the rally were Class War and the Revolutionary Communist Group, both very much involved in campaigns across the capital on housing, and among the most effective at raising the issues involved in London’s housing. For some reason the rally organisers would not allow representatives of either of these to speak at the event, which led to a loud confrontation when Labour supporter Ted Knight came to speak. More below on this.

At the end of the rally people marched around City Hall with their banners.

No Demolitions Without Permission.


Class War protest Labour Housing record – City Hall, Sat 3 Nov 2018

Whitechapel anarchist Martin Wright

Although Class War supporters were one of the larger groups taking part in the ‘No Demolitions Without Permission’ rally at City Hall they and others were denied any opportunity to speak as a part of the official rally.

Class War have been the most active group in supporting and raising the profile of campaigns in London against estate demolition mainly by London Labour councils who are responsible for the great bulk of estate sell-offs and demolition involving over 160 council estates – social cleansing on a massive scale. Among those protesting at the rally with Class War was Leigh Miller, recently illegally evicted from Gallions Point Marina under orders from the Labour Mayor of London.

Leigh Miller, recently illegally evicted from Gallions Point Marina and Lisa McKenzie hold the banner high

It was no surprise that when a prominent Labour politician got up to speak, Class War erupted, shouting him down to make clear that it was Labour who was responsible for estate demolitions. It was perhaps unfair on Ted Knight, a former Lambeth Labour leader who together with other councillors defied Thatcher and was surcharged and banned from holding public office for 5 years.

Ted Knight (right) and Martin Wright (left) shout at each other

Knight has supported Central Hill Estate residents in their fight against Lambeth Council’s plans for demolition, singing from much the same hymn sheet as Class War on housing issues. As Lambeth council’s leader he was clear that “Nothing is too good for the working classes” and estates such as Central Hill reflect this. And there was a little of old scores in the verbal attack on him by Whitechapel anarchist Martin Wright.

Finally at the end of the rally, Leigh Miller did get a chance to speak.

As a number of those estate residents allowed to speak at the rally pointed out, homes will only be saved if people become more militant and engage in the kind of direct actions which Class War advocates – and not by rallies like today’s outside a closed City Hall.

Class War stood to one side at the end of the rally when most of the rest taking part marched around the empty offices, they were calling for a rather different revolution.

Class War protest Labour Housing record


Class War Protest Jack The Ripper Opening

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Class War Protest Jack The Ripper Opening

Class War and others protested on Wednesday 5th August 2015 outside the newly opened Jack The Ripper “museum” in Cable St days after it first opened. Class War had called this protest as soon as the news became public, and others had organised another protest the previous evening which I had been unable to attend. Class War later organised further protests outside the museum which I also photographed.

Class War Protest Jack The Ripper Opening

Unfortunately the Jack the Ripper tourist attraction in Cable Street is still open, pandering to a popular taste, particularly among tourists to the city, for the sensational and to wallow in the grisly details of this brutal and horrific series of murders in London of five working-class women on the streets of Victorian London.

Class War Protest Jack The Ripper Opening

The museum was set up according to its planning application as the “first women’s museum in the UK” which “will recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society.” A number of people gave advice or worked for free or at cost because they supported the project on this basis, and felt disgusted at how they were duped.

Class War Protest Jack The Ripper Opening

As I commented in 2015, ‘People who have seen the museum have been revolted at its sensational presentation of violent crimes against women. One of the politer comments was to call it “salacious, misogynist rubbish.“‘

I’ve only seen the shop through the doors and windows, and there does seem to be a lot of merchandise for sale. The on-line reviews of the place are extremely polarised. There are many positive, even fawning examples, though some do seem to follow a very similar pattern.

I think the window had been smashed earlier in the day

Others are damning. One comments “The museum is pretty small. It’s effectively 5 small rooms. You could whizz round it in 10 minutes easily. In no way does it represent good value for money. One of the rooms was pure conjecture too (What Jack the Ripper’s living room might have looked like…!?). It’s rather light on any kind of detail. For people with anything more than a superficial interest in the history etc, this is a waste of your time and money.”

Another states “I have no idea how it got so many positive reviews… It’s £12 per person and we’ve basically seen everything after 10 minutes. There’s nothing in this museum that isn’t already in the Google images.” Others are far more negative about the exploitation of the sadistic murders of women for profit.

So if you are someone who thinks we should celebrate the work of a serial killer who eviscerated five defenceless women – three of them mothers – on the streets of London and feel your holiday would not be complete without wallowing in more of the bloody details you may well enjoy this “museum”, even though it is in the wrong location and has little authentic content.

If you are not sure about the details of the killings and have a strong stomach you can read more, rather too much more, on Wikipedia; it isn’t pleasant reading. For once I’d advise you not to click on the link, or if you do to skip some parts of the entry.

Of course the whole Ripper industry is a tacky area, with many more imaginative and profitable books speculating on the identity of the deranged killer. Although the evidence is only circumstantial the most likely suspect remains Montague Druitt who committed suicide shortly after the last of the five murders, and was one of three named in a letter written five or six years later by a senior police officer who though not involved in the investigation will have had access to the officers and the – now largely destroyed – police records of the case.

More about the protest at Class War at Jack the Ripper ‘Museum’.


Tories Out March – 1st July 2017

Friday, July 1st, 2022

Class War wrap a march steward in their banner at the start of the march

Tories Out March – 1st July 2017: Five years ago, shortly after the Labour right working inside the party had managed to prevent a Corbyn victory by sabotaging the campaign for the 2017 General Election, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity organised a march through London calling for Theresa May and the Conservatives to go.

Of course they didn’t go, and later when Boris Johnson called an election over Brexit, he gained a landslide victory, rather than the close call in 2017 which left Theresa May having to bribe the Northern Irish DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists to support her.

This reliance on the DUP has eventually led to the current problem over the Irish Sea border arrangements which Boris Johnson persuaded the EU to adopt as a vital part of his Brexit deal, and which the government is now pushing through a bill to enable us to renege on.

And the Johnson administration has continued and worsened the Tory policies which in 2017 should have resulted in a Labour victory. In my account of the protest march 5 years ago today I wrote

“The election showed a rejection of … austerity policies and the Grenfell Tower disaster underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people. The protesters, many of whom chanted their support of Jeremy Corbyn, say the Tories have proved themselves unfit to govern. They demand a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.”

Rev Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty rings his bell

The full facts of the sabotage of the Labour election campaign from inside the party had not then come to light – and we are still waiting for the Forde inquiry into the leaked report which exposed the racism, hyper-factionalism and electoral sabotage by party officials as well as the misguided attempts of the Corbyn leadership such as the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the resignations of Chris Williamson and Ken Livingstone.

But although this was largely a march of Labour supporters there were still a number of groups on the march who were critical of Labour’s policies and the practices of London Labour councils, particularly on housing, where councils are “demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing. It is a massive land grab, giving away public land often at far below market value and pricing the former residents out of London in what they call ‘regeneration’ but is quite clearly a process of social and ethnic cleansing.”

It is also a process that has resulted in considerable personal financial advantage for some of those who have led it, with councillors and officers either leaving to work for the developers or in organisations set up by councils to manage their estates. Setting up organisations such as the TMO responsible for the unsafe condition of Grenfell Tower has enabled these bodies to hide information about such activites as using consultants to advise them on circumventing adequate fire inspections outside of the purview of Freedom of Information requests.

Most obvious among these groups was Class War, alway ready to make their views known and to challenge authority. At the start of the march close to the BBC they had a little run-in with the march stewards, which resulted in them briefly wrapping their banner around one of him – though of course they soon released him. Later at the rally in Parliament Square I unfortunately missed a confrontation in which Lisa McKenzie stood in front of both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and loudly asked them the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away.

Much more about the event and many more pictures at Tories Out March.

Class War Notting Hill Pub Stroll

Saturday, March 5th, 2022

Class War Notting Hill Pub Stroll. The peaceful pub crawl on Saturday 5th March 2016 by a small group of Class War supporters revisiting sites important in the early years of the movement attracted rather more police than participants; several venues closed for the event and Notting Hill Foxtons was fully boarded up.

The event had been widely publicised as ‘Historic – Riotous – Fun’ although it lived up to the first and last of these three words, it was never likely to be more than a little good humoured horseplay.

The event started with something of a whimper; unfortunately the Ground Floor Bar, formerly the Colville Hotel at 186 Portobello Road on the corner of Talbot Road which was the advertised starting point was unavailable as the whole pub had closed down shortly after the event was conceived and was boarded up awaiting sale. It did reopen briefly a few months later before becoming The Ginstitute.

Class War’s first conference was held in a private room at the Colville on 27th August 1983, shortly after the second Class War magazine had been published, and according to the speech Ian Bone made outside the closed pub it ended with a fight between Sean Mason and the landlord. In his entertaining memoir ‘Bash The Rich‘, still available, Bone writes “To be honest, I doubt if anyone who was there can really remember what the fuck happened” over the course of an 8 hour lock-in when even the landlord joined in the political arguments over “Stonehenge, IRA, sexual politics“, though he does give considerable detail.

Class War has been described as “fearless, hilarious and, for the rich and powerful of this benighted isle, absolutely terrifying” and this still appeared to be the case with their activities of a small handful of people in Notting Hill on this afternoon being closely watched and followed by a small team of police who appeared on every street corner. Class War found the second pub on the trail, ‘The Castle’ mysteriously ‘closed for maintenance’ as they arrived, though the staff were still working inside and it was open as usual later in the afternoon, with staff trying hard to scrape off an number of Class War stickers from its frontage.

The Castle was once Portobello Road’s the Warwick Castle, but it was sadly gutted some years back, gentrified and is now called simply ‘The Castle’. You can read about its heyday in the book by book ‘3000 Hangovers Later’ by Ray ‘Roughler’ Jones, another Class War stalwart who briefly joined the event later.

It was at the Warwick Castle that Ian Bone saw Joe Strummer of The Clash drinking, came up on the spot with the idea of a ‘Rock Against the Rich’ tour, and found the man to be enthusiastic for it – prepared not only to take part, but put money into it. Class War recorded the event by putting up a number of ‘Blue Plaques’ to Strummer and to Rock against the Rich – actually ‘Blue Plates’, paper plates fixed to the windows and walls with Class War stickers.

The Duke of Wellington had remained open, though perhaps with rather more bouncers than usual on the door, but they let us in and Class War settled down for a pint or two, with several more joining the group, including Lisa McKenzie who made a dramatic entry, throwing off her coat to reveal her ‘Class War Womens Death Brigade’ t-shirt. This used to be the main H H Finch’s bar on the Portobello Rd but was subjected to an entire refurbishment after being taken over by Young’s in 1991, now catering to the tourist trade.

Class War after a few expensive pints were led out again by Rita the Raven down Portobello Road where they danced briefly outside at the record stall before settling in the only remaining real pub in the area, the Earl of Lonsdale, a Sam Smith’s pub that was once Henekey’s. Sam Smith’s in many of their pubs have gone to a great deal of trouble to keep or recreate the character of a real British pub, and then their bitter was reasonably cheap (for London) as was the chips and other food.

Class War had published a route with timings for the afternoon but of course were running well behind. Despite this some supporters managed to find them and join in, though others I met at another event the following day had tried but failed. Most of us made it out of the pub to walk down to George Orwell’s former house – a venue that had gone viral with a faked image on social media showing a photoshopped CCTV camera next to its blue plaque. Here Lisa McKenzie gave a speech praising George Orwell, a scholarship boy at Eton, for recognising the nature of the war by the elites against the working classes.

Next came a visit to the Notting Hill branch of Foxton’s, securely boarded up for the day, outside which Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing spoke about the housing crisis and the role of estate agents in gentrification and the Foxtons sign gained a few stickers.

After he had been speaking for around ten minutes a number of police vans and motorcycles drew up noisily to reinforce the small group of officers who had been watching all afternoon from a polite distance of a few yards, and Class War quickly melted away into a nearby pub and I went with them.

An hour later, after the unexpected bonus of seeing a Class War make-up demonstration for a comrade it seemed unlikely that they would complete their tour with visits to the homes of Tory Chancellor George Osborne and his father and the Daily Mail, and I left for home.


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


At the LSE – Sept 29, 2016

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

I’d gone to the LSE to attend a session in the LSE’s 3-day ‘Resist’ festival organised by Lisa McKenzie, then a research fellow in the Department of Sociology there, though I imagine that this was one of several reasons her contract was not renewed. It’s OK if your work is purely academic, or if it supports the kind of people and companies that fund universities, but anything practical which supports the working classes is definitely infra-dig.

At the end of the session (more about it below) McKenzie called upon Petros Elia, General Secretary of the United Voices of the World trade union to which many of the LSE cleaners now belong. He accused the management of the LSE of failing to protect the interests of cleaners working there who they have outsourced to a cleaning contractor in a cost-cutting exercise without insisting on decent working conditions and conditions of service. He invited all present to a meeting to discuss action by the cleaners which was to be held as a part of the Resist festival later that day. I hadn’t intended to stay for that, but decided to do so.

Covid has made many re-evaluate the contributions of many low-paid workers, and to realise how essential their services are to the running of society. Cleaners are one such group and the meeting organised by the UVW made clear how terribly they were being treated by their employers, Noonan, while the LSE was happy to pocket the few pennies they were saving by outsourcing and look the other way to the injustices taking place under their own roof – while claiming the moral high ground and uncovering and moralising on those in societies around the world.

It was also a meeting which would have shattered any prejudices about low-paid workers being less intelligent, less aware or less articulate than those in higher positions. Many of them were migrant workers and speaking in their second (or third) language, though some through interpreters, but made themselves heard more clearly than the average cabinet minister in a radio or TV interview.

The cleaners’ campaign for parity of treatment with other workers employed directly was supported by students – including those on a new graduate course in Equality – and the students union General Secretary, several post-graduate students and staff. One of those present was LSE Professor of Anthropology David Graeber who so sadly died aged 59 just over a year ago and is much missed.

Students and staff continued to support the cleaners in various actions and the campaign was partly successful. The cleaners were brought in house in June 2017, but are still remained “frustrated and grieved by their continuing treatment as “second-class” workers.” A petition was launched in April 2021 making 14 demands. A major continuing problem is that the LSE does still not recognise or talk with the cleaners’ trade union, the UVW, but talks with Unison which never consults the cleaners and fails to represent many of their needs.

The earlier session of ‘Resist’ was a lengthy and detailed indictment by Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing of a report by a group of LSE academics on Kidbrooke Village, a development by Berkeley Homes and Southern Housing. This replaced the LCC-built Ferrier Estate in SE London, which was deliberately run-down, demonised and emptied by Greenwich Council from 1999 onwards.

Elmer accused the report of lies about the estate regeneration, of basing their report on that of the property developer and passing it off as their own, of placing the cultural legitimacy of an LSE report in the service of Government policy and the profits of Berkeley Homes and of accepting financial backing to validate the desired conclusions of their backers.

Elmer made a convincing case, but none of those responsible came to make any defence of the report, and it was hard to know whether there could have been any – though I suspect it might well have been only a matter of picking a few holes and making minor corrections to his analysis. Clearly universities should not be places where property developers or even governments call the tunes and the LSE would appear to have been caught out kowtowing to capital.

More at:
LSE Cleaners campaign launch
Simon Elmer of ASH indicts LSE


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.


Rich Door, Poor Door: 2014

Friday, July 30th, 2021

A foot in the Rich Door

I used the text for this protest on 30th July 2014 as the opening text for my ‘zine’ ‘Class War: Rich Door. Poor Door‘ published in 2015 and still available from Blurb. It was the first in a series of around 30 weekly protests (and a couple of special events, pictures from most of which are in the zine, by Class War at this block in Aldgate where the small proportion of social housing tenants have to use a door down a side alley rather than the plush entrance on the main road for those in the private flats.

Class War arrive for their first protest

The series of protests had some success – it had immediately resulted in the alley being cleaned up and later it was given much better lighting and it placed the whole idea of ‘poor doors’ firmly on the national and architectural agenda – but eventually failed to resolved the issue for this particular building.

And put up posters and stickers

Here’s that text, written on 30 July 2014:

Class War, including three of their candidates for the 2015 General Election, protested at 1 Commercial St in Aldgate against London’s new appartment blocks providing separate ‘poor doors’ for the affordable flats they have to include to gain planning permission for the development. Class War characterise this as ‘social apartheid.’

The building manager removes a poster

The front entrance on Whitechapel High St (One Commercial St is the name of the block) has a hotel-like reception desk, and is staffed. It leads to the lifts for the expensive flats, many owned by overseas investors. Like most such buildings, some of them are empty and seldom used, while others are short term holiday lets.

Arguments continue over the door

There is apparently no internal connection* between this part of the building and that containing the social housing, which has been given a different name and a separate door some way down the alley on the west side of the building. Their door, the ‘poor door’ has a card entry system which leads to a bare corridor with some mail boxes on one side.

Lisa makes her views clear

The alley is dark at night, and even though today it was unusually clear of rubbish, it smelt strongly of urine. Certainly a far less friendly place than the well lit main street on which the ‘rich door’ opens. There seems to me to be no reason why all those who live in the building cannot share the same entrance even if their flats are on different floors or different sides of the building, and certainly no reason at all to hide the poor door down a mean alley like this.

Police try to persuade the protesters to move across the road

The protesters arrived with a banner carrying a quotation from the radical US labour activist Lucy Parsons (1853-1942) “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live“. The Class War posters – with their skull and crossbones – had the message “We have found new homes for the rich” and showed long rows of grave crosses stretching into the distance, and they were stuck on the windows around the poor door using Class War election stickers with their promise of a 50% mansion tax.

But the protesters are unmoved by the police arguments

A few people were still entering and leaving the building, with the protesters talking and shouting at them but not actually stopping them, and at one point the protesters grabbed the door when it was open. There followed a brief tug of war with several from inside the building, including one of the residents as well as those from the ‘concierge’ attempting without success to close it. The protesters made little attempt to enter the building but wanted those inside to be able to hear the protest through the open door.

The Poor Door. When I visited a few days earlier the alley was filthy

By the time a couple of police arrived and hurried into the building to talk to the people inside around a quarter of an hour the protesters had stopped holding the door. The police came out a few minutes later and tried with little success to get the protesters to move further away from the door.

The rubbish had gone but it still stank of urine and had no lighting

The protest continued until after an hour or so Class War decided they had made their point and left, some for the pub. I went around the building to find the poor door and photographed it and the alley it was in.

Class War – Rich Door, Poor Door

* This was a lie by the building manager. On a later occasion I was taken inside the building by one of the private residents, and after taking me to her flat we then went down and out through the ‘poor door’ which she told me she used when taking her dog for a walk.


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.


April 2nd 2015

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

April 2nd in 2015 was Maundy Thursday and a rather busy day for me, though only one of the events was related to Holy Week.

My working day started around noon outside the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, where the monthly protests by the London Guantánamo Campaign were continuing, handing out leaflets and talking with passers by calling for justice and freedom for the remaining 122 prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.

From there is was a short walk to a lunchtime protest by residents from Sweets Way in north London outside the offices of the estates owners who I described as “the tax-dodging equity investor owned company” Annington Homes, calling for an end to evictions and the right to return for all decanted residents.

I’d heard that the previous night activists from the Autonymous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians had entered Admiralty Arch through the roof and were occupying the building and went along to investigate, along with a couple of other journalists. We were offered entry if we brought tobacco or alcohol but felt it wise to refuse and left, having taken a few pictures of the banners and notices on the outside of the building.

I hadn’t wanted to spend too much time at the Admiralty Arch as I was on my way to a protest outside the offices of G4S on Victoria St calling for the release of the 300 Palestinian children then held in G4S secured Israeli jails to be released. In 2014 Israel held 1266 Palestinian children for interrogation; 75% of them were physically tortured and many sexually abused. One of the speakers was a woman who was forced to undress and stand naked in public by Israeli security on a visit to Israel to visit Palestinians in jail.

I left the protest to catch up with Catholic Workers on a Holy Week procession around the “geography of suffering” in London, stopping outside the offices of companies in the arms trade for prayers against the arms trade, war, torture, nuclear weapons, international debt, homelessness, immigration policy and climate change.

Next came a visit to the Meridien and Park Lane Hotels on Piccadilly in Mayfair where the Unite Hotel Workers Branch protested in solidarity with fellow workers for Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives who have been sacked for union organising.

And finally I made the trip to Aldgate East, where Class War were holding the 26th of their series of weekly protests against ‘Poor Doors’, the separate entrance down a side alley for social housing tenants at One Commercial St.

It had been getting increasingly difficult to keep up photographing these protests without taking the same pictures again and again, but this evening the police made my job easier first by putting on a little light entertainment as an officer tackled a smoke flare thrown onto the highway and later, considerably more seriously sending in a squad to snatch and arrest Lisa McKenzie, who was at the time standing as Class War candidate against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford – see the picture at the top of this post. Fortunately when the case came to court the police had no credible case against her and her barrister was not even required to speak in her defence – or call witnesses (much to my relief as I was one of them) – and the case was dismissed. Clearly the police had been leaned on – perhaps by IDS or his colleague the Home Secretary- to harass Lisa for her impertinent electoral challenge.

More on all of these events:

Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors
Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers
Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage
Free the Palestinian Children
Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L.
Sweets Way at Annington Homes
Shut Guantánamo!


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.