Posts Tagged ‘LSE’

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.


LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa: On Wednesday 15th March 2017, students and supporters joined cleaners on the picket line at the London School of Economics for a lunchtime rally on the first day of the 2 day strike by members of United Voices of the World union.

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa

Cleaners at the LSE have felt let down by management at least since January 2012 when the contractor who the LSE had outsourced them to cut their hours and was bullying them into signing new contracts.

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa

As I wrote back then, “Outsourcing – as doubtless research by the LSE will have shown – almost invariably leads to lower wages and poorer working conditions for the staff involved. And although the cuts and alleged bullying is being carried out by Resource Group, the responsibility for it must lie with the LSE who are responsible for the contract with them.”

David Graeber (right) at the protest

In September 2016 the cleaners with the United Voices of the World trade union launched a new campaign for parity of treatment with other workers at the university with a meeting which was a part of the LSE’s 3-day ‘Resist’ Festival organised by LSE research fellow Lisa McKenzie which had featured talks and debates often critical of the LSE, with contributions by LSE Professor of Anthropology David Graeber and Martin Wright of Class War and in particular a damning indictment by Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing (ASH) of a report by a group of LSE academics on the redevelopment of the Ferrier Estate, deliberately run-down, demonised and emptied by Greenwich Council from 1999 onwards, as Kidbrooke Village.

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa
Protesters walk into the estates office foyer

The protest on 15th March 2017 began with a rally on the LSE campus demanding equal sick pay, holidays and pensions etc to similar workers directly employed by the LSE and an end to bullying and discrimination by their employer Noonan.

LSE Cleaners Protest, Police Arrest Lisa

Grim Chip of Poetry on the Picket Line performed and there were several speeches by UVW members including LSE cleaner Mildred Simpson.

Dvid Graeber and Petros Eila

The protesters then marched the short distance across Kingsway to the LSE Estates Division where cleaning contractors Noonan have their LSE office. They walked in and occupied the foyer there for over and hour, only leaving after being promised that Allan Blair LSE Director of Facilities Management would talk with the cleaners union the United Voices of the World.

As they left the foyer, police jostled some of them before assaulting and arresting LSE academic Lisa McKenzie, charging her with assault and then bundling her into a waiting police van.

Apparently the receptionist at the estates office had complained that she had been assaulted by McKenzie as the four people holding the UVW banner pushed past her on their way into the office. I had been following close behind them and neither I nor the other protesters had seen any evidence of assault.

None of the other three holding the banner were arrested and it seemed fairly clear that the arrest was not for any offence. Perhaps the police were still aggrieved after a case against her when she was wrongly charged for three offences at a protest in Febnuary 2015 was thrown out of court. That had taken place at the time she was standing in the General Election against Iain Duncan Smith and was an arrest that appeared clearly politically motivated.

But on this occasion it could well have been that the LSE management had pointed her out as a trouble-maker. McKenzie, a working class academic and author of a highly acclaimed study of class and culture on the Nottingham estate where she lived for more than 20 years has been the a subject of constant criticism from others both inside the LSE and in the wider academic community, and when her contract there came to an end it was not renewed.

The protesters were left angry and confused. Why was Lisa being picked on? The protesters felt it must be politically motivated and it was difficult to see any other reason. I think she was later released without charge, possibly because there was CCTV evidence that showed there was no case to answer.

More on My London Diary:
Police arrest Lisa again
LSE cleaners strike and protest


Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism – my Saturday 27th July 2013 began with a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London, continued with a vigil for Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes and ended with a march and rally against and Injustice.


Rev Billy at HSBC – Victoria

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism
Golden Toads to the rescue with ice

I met the Rev Billy and his choir on the Stop Shopping Church Tour England in a green open space on Victoria Street, opposite New Scotland Yard (which has since moved to the Embankment.) There they practised their performance as species – monkeys, jaguars and eagles – among those threatened by climate change.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Some had heads of Golden Toads, a Costa Rican species already made extinct by climate change. These were hidden away as the group walked towards the HSBC bank at Victoria, and we all walked in trying our best to look like normal customers and going up to the long line of ‘Express Banking’ cash machines.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Then the group erupted into dance action, with the Rev Billy using a megaphone to tell bank staff and customers what is happening and why we are in HSBC. Fossil Fuels are killing life on this planet and London banks and the London Stock Exchange play a key role in this – a quarter of all fossil fuel shares are traded on the LSE and in 2010-12 the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with the HSBC in the lead. He promised that they would leave the bank after the short performance.

Then the Golden Toads arrived to save the species, bringing with them some large eggs of ice to help cool the planet down, and then as promised people left the bank to continue to the end of the performance on the wide pavement outside. Police arrived and went into the bank as the players were leaving to celebrate their action in a nearby cafe and bar.

More at Rev Billy at HSBC


Free Bradley Manning Vigil – St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 27th July 2013 was an international day of action by the Bradley Manning Support Network, and in London they held a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Bradley Manning’s trial had started on 3rd June in Fort Meade, US, and protests have continued both inside and outside the court, with the ‘gay whistleblower’ being celebrated in countries across the world and awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Many see Bradley – later Chelsea Manning as a hero who should be honoured rather than imprisoned. Her trial ended on 30th July with a sentence of 35 years, but in 2017 this was commuted by President Obama to seven years, dating from her arrest in 2010.

Free Bradley Manning Vigil


Against Global Racism and Injustice – US Embassy to Whitehall

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK held a rally outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square before marching to Whitehall in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US.

The protest was supported by many anti-racist organisations including Operation Black Vote, the National Black Students Campaign, Global Afrikan Congress, PCS, RMT Black Members, Counterfire, UAF, Love Music Hate Racism, Lambeth TUC and Lambeth People’s Assembly and a number of well-known faces from the British left were among the marchers, some were scheduled to speak at the Downing Street rally.

The US Embassy was chosen as the starting point because of the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin and the global outcry against the acquittal of his murderer under the Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

But although this was a protest against global racism and injustice, and it had a particular focus on this country, and as Lee Jasper stated “We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney.” And others also made clear in speeches they were appalled by UK cases, including We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney and many, many other cases.

I followed the march as it went through Mayfair, but then had to leave rather than attend the final rally.

More at Against Global Racism and Injustice.


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.


More London 1987

Friday, September 18th, 2020
Windsor Court, Moscow Road, Bayswater, Westminster, 1987 87-7c-13-positive_2400

Moscow Road and St Petersburg Place were probably named at the time of the visit by  Tsar Alexander I to England in 1814, when print seller Edward Orme was beginning to develop the area. I think that Windsor Court replaced Salem Gardens which had around 350 people living in 35 houses with many working-class families living in single rooms, and was built in or shortly before 1907. A large 4 bedroom flat here is currently on sale for £2.4 million and the there are doubtless high service charges for the portered block.

LSE, Houghton St, Westminster, 1987 87-7c-32-positive_2400

This view of the London School of Economics is from Clare Market looking towards Houghton St and the area has for some years been a building site. The LSE  Centre Buildings Redevelopment is re-shaping Houghton Street and Clare Market and this view may emerge rather differently.

Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, Camden, 1987 87-7c-34-positive_2400

The original house on this site, built in 1638-9 was rebuilt after it was bought by then solicitor-general Charles Talbot in 1730, but this semi-circular porch was added to the designs ofSir John Soane in 1795. Among early visitors to the house was Samuel Pepys whose patron Edward Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich lived here in 1664-1666. Apart from apparently inventing a useful portable food, Montagu was also largely responsible for bringing back the monarchy to England, a yoke we are still suffering under 360 years later. Dickens made it the home of the lawyer Tulkinghorn who was found dead here, shot through the heart in his Bleak House. Having been for 96 years the home of patent agents Marks & Clerk, in 2004 it became part of Garden Court Chambers.

New Court, Temple, City, 1987 87-7c-44-positive_2400

Not far away and still in legal London this picture shows New Court and Devreux Chambers in the Temple, an unduly picturesque image.

Camdonian, Barry Flanagan, sculpture, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Holborn, Camden, 1987 87-7c-54-positive_2400

Sculptor Barry Flanagan exhibited a smaller version of this sculpture, Maquette for Camdonian, for the 1980 Camden Sculpture Competition and they commissioned its big brother, Camdonian, to put at the north-east corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Its a site I often visited when photographing in this area of London, as a few yards to the south are one of London’s relatively few remaining public toilets. Camdonian is a structure that is different on every visit, changing with the lighting and with the graffiti which it regularly gathers.

It has its admirers (and I’m somewhat grudgingly one) but it has also probably attracted more negative comments than any other piece of public art in London.

An alley to its north, Great Turnstile, leads to High Holborn and to one of the better Wetherspoon’s pubs, Penderel’s Oak. Much though I abhor its owner’s politics and treatment of his staff this is a pub I’ve often visited in the past; one of my friends, now sadly deceased, used to add to his meagre earnings as an artist and photographer as a Wetherspoons Secret Diner, and recommended this as the best of their establishments. And although many have called for a boycott of ‘Spoons, my union friends advised against, well asking us not to cross any picket lines they may have, advice I was happily following until the Corona lockdown.

Kings Reach, Memorial, George V, Westminster, 1987 87-7c-56-positive_2400

It wasn’t enough just to have a mug and postage stamps, King George V’s silver jubilee was marked a by plaques under Temple Stairs Arch, part of Bazalgette’s 1868 Embankment plans on the bank of the River Thames and the Port of London Authority “renamed” this stretch of river between Westminster and London Bridges as Kings Reach. Although it’s always said to have been renamed, nobody appears to know any previous name for this part of the river.

There are two cherubs, one on each side of a large block at the centre of the arch. This one, on the upstream side has ripped out the mast and sail of a ship he is sitting on and is waving them in his right hand while his left points towards the river. A rather angry looking sea-god looks down over him. These are said to be by Charles Leighfield Jonah Doman (1884-1944) who also provided sculptures for Lloyd’s 1925 building in Leadenhall St and Liberty’s in Regent St and were presumably added in 1935.


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.