Posts Tagged ‘march’

Global Climate Strike – 2019

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Two years ago, Friday 20 September 2019 saw Earth Day Global Climate Strike protests around the world inspired by Greta Thunberg. Many thousands came to the events in Central London, packing out quite a length of Millbank in the morning, but there were others around Westminster who didn’t quite get down to the rally, as well as local events in other parts of London.

The school kids get it, but even two years later it is quite clear that our government really doesn’t, though is happy to pay lip-service. The world is going to change and unless we act urgently it will change very much for the worse so far as human life is concerned.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in August 2021 makes the severity of our position clear, and floods and fires this year in countries across the world have underlined the need for urgent action to change our way of life.

Yet a few days ago, the government yet again confirmed its support for airport expansion and another runway at Heathrow, and is still backing oil exploration in our coastal waters, as well as a new coal mine, still subsidising gas-fired power stations and encouraging wood-burning which is causing large-scale environmental devastation in forests as well as churning out carbon dioxide and still failing to put the investment needed into green policies and green jobs.

It’s hard to believe the stupidity of our government, something only increased by reshuffles, particular when they promote people who have obviously failed. But most governments around the world are driven by short-term political considerations and by the interests of the rich and powerful, and this latter is perhaps nowhere more paramount than in the UK, where as well as the interests of huge companies and their bosses we also have the interests of the establishment and Crown and the City of London.

Brixton

The late Duke of Westminster who died in 2016 once told a reporter from the Financial Times who asked what advice he would give to a young entrepreneur who wanted to succeed. His reply “Make sure they have an ancestor who was a very close friend of William the Conqueror” is usually reported as being a joke, but certainly contains a great deal of truth. Britain is still very much owned and run for and by those who profited from that occupation, enacting laws which stole the land from the people. 955 years later we are still occupied.

After managing to extract myself from the crowded rally I went to pay brief visits to Climate Strike events elsewhere. The Elephant & Castle was a quick trip on the underground, and I photographed a march starting from there before jumping back on the tube to Brixton.

Children from Brixton primary schools were at a lunchtime rally in Windrush Square, and when that finished some were intending to travel into central London to join the main protest. I rushed away as the rally ended to get back too, and found a largish group of secondary school students joining activists who were already sitting down to block Whitehall. When they got up and began to march away, police stopped them – and after a while they came back and blocked Whitehall again. Eventually they got up and marched back towards Parliament Square.

Protests were still continuing with much of Westminster at a standstill when I left for an unrelated protest in Carnaby Street (yes it’s still there, though it really belongs to the Sixties) by pro-Palestine activists in front of the Puma store there. The say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, a war crime under international law.

Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally


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.


Housing in Crisis – Newham 2015

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Six years ago I posted about a march through Stratford on Saturday 19th September against social cleansing in Newham, where the council has been rehousing people in private rented properties outside the borough, sometimes as far away as Wales or Liverpool. The directly elected Mayor of this almost monolithically Labour borough until 2018, Robin Wales, made clear his views that if people couldn’t afford to live in London they shouldn’t expect to live there, and council policies appear to reflect this. But Newham – and London generally – needs large numbers of relatively low paid workers – and Covid has helped us appreciate their contribution. Many, even those in jobs well above the London Living Wage, can’t afford market rents and certainly not to buy homes.

Local people, many of whom have lived in the area for years and have developed connections in the area – friends, families, schools etc – who for any reason become homeless want to be rehoused close to these people and services and demand that local resources be used to house local people.

Newham currently in 2021 has 27,000 people on its housing waiting list and 7,000 children in temporary accommodation. Until very recently the few social homes that were available were allocated using a system that gave priority to those in work and the new system will instead focus on health, need and overcrowding.

But the real problem that there is simply not enough social housing remains, and this is more the fault of national government policies over the years, under both Tory and New Labour. The most obvious and and damaging was of course Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ which has drastically reduced to number of social housing homes, and in particular removed many of the more desirable properties, but councils have also been largely prevented by successive governments from building new and much needed social housing, as well as being starved of the cash needed to properly maintain existing properties and estates.

Many existing council estates were transferred to housing associations, which increasingly seem to be catering for those able to afford the very high ‘market’ rents in London. Councils too, thanks to New Labour housing policies have been demolishing council estates and developing the sites together with private developers to produce mainly homes for sale at high market prices, with often a great reduction in the number of social housing homes available.

Newham has seen a huge amount of building housing in recent years, both on the former Olympic site and elsewhere, with more tower blocks every time I visit the area, but almost all are high rent properties suited to young professionals, mainly working outside the borough, residencies for wealthier students, or expenive investment properties – usually bought with no intention of being lived in but simply to benefit from the increases in London property prices.

In 2013, Newham announced it was going to close a hostel for young single mothers who would then be dispersed in rented flats across England. The women decided to fight and the Focus E15 campaign began. Backed by members of the Revolutionary Communist Group and others who supported them in direct actions that often gained media coverage their fight succeeded and they became well-known nationally and developed into a much wider campaign for proper housing, particularly supporting others in the area with housing problems. As well as holding a street stall in the centre of Stratford every Saturday they accompanied people to the housing offices, gathered to prevent evictions and more.

The march in 2015, two years after the start of their campaign attracted the support of over 40 other organisations, mainly small local groups from around London and the South-East also fighting housing problems. Fortunately not all of them had speakers at the rally before the march but there were quite a few before it moved off from Stratford Park to march around the Town Centre.

As the ‘Housing for All’ march passed Foxton’s estate agency in the centre of Stratford, Class War rushed inside with their ‘New Homes for the Rich’ banner and staged a brief occupation while most of the marchers supported them from outside. They caused no damage and left after a few minutes for the march to continue.

There was another brief halt outside LB Newham’s Housing Office at Bridge House, which was closed. The marchers held banners and posed for photographs and Focus E15 spoke briefly about how their interventions here have prevented homless people from being sent to unsuitable private rented accomodation hundreds of miles away, getting them re-housed in London.

The march ended in the square on the Carpenters Estate in front of the block of four flats which Focus E15 occupied for four weeks as a protest a year earlier. This had made the national news and had ended with the council promising to bring some homes back into occupation – though a year later only 28 of around the 400 empty homes had been re-let. There were a few more speeches and then a party began.


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.


London, Saturday 17th September 2011

Friday, September 17th, 2021

Peter Tatchell and Outrage!

I’d gone up to London mainly to cover the march and rally by the Secular Europe Campaign which was calling for an end to religious privileges and for European institutions to remain secular. Its main focus is the Vatican which still has enormous power and privilege – and a three billion Euro tax exemption.

Maryam Namazie holding the ‘One Law For All’ banner

Among the groups on the march was ‘One Law For All’, opposed to all religious laws and in particular to any attempt to impose Sharia law in the UK. It was also supported by humanist and gay rights groups including the British Humanist Association, the Central London Humanist Group, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, OutRage! and the Rationalist Association.

I left the march to go to Bank, where I had expected to cover a protest, but all I found was the group having a picnic, as well as a long queue of people waiting to take a look at the interior on ‘Open House’ day. So I walked back towards Temple, pausing to take a few pictures on the way – such as the legendary giants Gog and Magog on St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street, who strike the hours and quarters using their clubs on the bells. Traditionally they were simply known at the Giants of St Dunstan, and the ‘real’ Gog and Magog are figures in London’s Guildhall, though these are only replacements installed in 1953, made by David Evans to replace those carved in 1709 and destroyed in the Blitz. These ‘Guardians of London’ are honoured every year in the Lord Mayor’s show – and according to an anonymous commentator are “Symbolic of how The City of London is a Sovereign Satanic Masonic Criminal Bankster Headquarters” and it remains a secretive and undemocratic global centre of money laundering, a criminal cartel “officially outside the authority of parliament“.

Among other things I also photographed the ‘Roman Bath‘ in Strand Lane, a slightly embarrassing National Trust property, though now managed by Westminster Council. A cistern built in 1612 that once fed a fountain in the gardens of old Somerset House, its reputation as Roman remain was an imaginative invention to promote visitors to pay to bathe in it in the 1820s. Normally visits are by appointment, but it opens on Open House weekend and the queue was short.

I was on my way to photograph the City of London Campsie Club, a branch of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, who were holding their annual Carson Memorial parade. You can read more about its origins in my post on My London Diary. Unlike the secular rally I had photographed earlier, this was an event at which I was not welcome by a small minority of those taking part.

As I wrote in 2011:

I’ve photographed this and other Orange parades over the years, and many on them have seen my work on the web and appreciated it – and sometimes used my pictures.

But a few of the nastier elements of Northern Ireland remain, and in 2008 and again while photographing this year’s parade I was threatened and pushed away by some of those taking part. It’s a thuggishness that has no place on English streets, and something that the Orange Order should take firm action against. I fully support religious freedom and the freedom to demonstrate on our streets, but there is no place for this kind of conduct. It sullies the memory of one of our great British (and Irish) jurists, and is an insult to the Protestant faith into which I was born and in which I grew up.

I don’t know why my reporting on these events should lead to such animosity from a few of those taking part. I think it has always been accurate and factual and the pictures show a colourful event and a part of the Orange tradition. Perhaps it is because I also photograph other Irish events but I think more likely that they are aware of my pictures of extreme right protests by groups including the EDL where some of them may have also been in attendance.

Apprentice Boys Carson Memorial Parade
London Oddments
March For A Secular Europe


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.


Darfur – International Day of Action: 2007

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sudan became independent in 1956 and ever since it has suffered civil wars and political instability. Since 1899 it had effectively been a British colony though Anglo-Egyptian in name, with British policy largely being directed at ensuring the Sudan did not become united with Egypt. Under British rule it was effectively administered as two separate regions, North and South Sudan.

After the 1952 Egyptian revolution Egypt and Britain decided to give both regions a free vote on independence but the country gained independence without an agreed constitution, and arguments continued among the political parties. These were resolved by a military coup in 1958, and the country was under military rule (with three attempts at further military coups) until civil disobedience in 1964 led to a return to civilian rule.

Stability of a sort only came to Sudan in 1989 when Colonel Omar al-Bashir carried out another coup and set up a one-party state with himself as President in 1993. Massive protests in 2019 eventually led to him being overthrown and to a new constitution with a transitional joint milatry-civilian government.

Although there had been previous conflicts in Darfur, a region roughly the size of Spain at the south-west of Sudan with borders with Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan it was only in 2003 that the War in Darfur began when rebel groups accused the government of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.

According to Wikipedia, “The government responded to attacks by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Darfur’s non-Arabs. This resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the indictment of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.”

Estimates of the number killed “range up to several hundred thousand dead, from either combat or starvation and disease” and millions were forced to flee into refugee camps or across the border. Many seeking asylum in Europe are refugees from the Darfur war.

UN attempts to intervene were largely ineffective and the Sudanese government made clear its opposition to foreign involvement. Various peace talks and ceasefires failed to stop continuing violence and war crimes, but by 2009 the war had quietened down. Peace talks and donor conferences in Doha continued but so did attacks, with villages burnt and mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in 2014. Sudan was accused of having used mustard gas on civilians in 2016.

Finally in 2019 a draft declaration was signed to make a peace agreement, and some deals were signed in 2020 with the UN and African Union peacekeeping mission coming to an end after 13 years. But deadly tribal clashes have continued in 2021 in Darfur, often fuelled by disputes over land, partly a legacy of the changes to the principles of land ownership from communal to individual imposed under British rule, and exacerbated by climate change.

More from 2007 on My London Diary at Protect Darfur


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.


NHS Victory Parade in Lewisham: 2013

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Among years of gloom for the NHS, under various reorganisations which have furthered the Tory project for privatisation a few bright spots have stood out, mainly where local people have stood up and fought to retain NHS hospitals and their services. One of these was celebrated on 14th September 2013, when the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign held a community march through Lewisham past the hospital to a free celebration in Ladywell Fields of their High Court victory which overturned the government closure plans.

The government had planned to close most of Lewisham Hospital, a hospital serving a large area of South London simply to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals at Woolwich and Orpington through contracts that were badly negotiated under a Labour government when interest rates were high; these contracts had already by 2013 delivered huge profits to the banks with payments of over £60m a year.

The popular campaign was also backed by the London Borough of Lewisham and both the council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for judicial review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – and both were successful.

A new Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust was established in October 2013 as it states “following a period of intense controversy” and after early problems claims to have made considerable progress in maintaining a good service at the two hospitals in Lewisham and Woolwich including 24/7 emergency services at both as well as some other services in the area.

There had been previous large protests against the closure plans – which I photographed in November 2012 and January 2013 along with a couple of smaller events. But rather fewer came for the victory celebrations, which were led by a council dustcart with large posters on it. Behind the marchers were a couple of nurses in uniforms that they wore to take part in the Olympic opening ceremony, along with a small street band.

The parade ended in Ladywell Fields behind the hosptial, with live music, dancing and a children’s dance competition, although it and the parade were a little dampened by the continual light rain. But it was a good day for the people of Lewisham and for those of us who support an NHS free at the point of service, for “everyone – rich, or poor, man, woman or child” to “relieve your money worries in times of illness”.

Although they were celebrating victory, Jeremy Hunt had then yet to concede defeat, announcing the government would appeal against the decision. I think his advisers probably told him there seemed no chance an appeal would succeed and any appeal would simply waste public money. Eventually the policy was dropped.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

See also:

Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Nov 2012
Save Lewisham Hospital – Jan 2013


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Refugees and Corbyn Welcome – 2015

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Saturday 12th September 2015 was both the day that the Labour Leadership election results were being announced and also of a large demonstration with over 50,000 people of all ages from across the UK marching through London to show their support for refugees facing death and hardship and their disgust at the lack of compassion and inadequate response of the British government.

People celebrate Corbyn’s landslide victory

It had been clear from the start of the leadership election that Labour MPs were completely out of touch with the mood of the party and of the country after five years of cuts made by the coalition government. A number of those who had given Corbyn the nomination needed for him to stand in the election had only done so with the expectation that it would lead to a humiliating defeat for him and the left, and even those who truly supported him had done so with no hope of victory. Corbyn himself had almost certainly not expected to do well, and had probably only allowed his arm to be twisted to stand after being told it was his turn to do so.

When opinion polls indicated Corbyn was the front runner, many Labour MPs panicked, with leading New Labour figures including Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Miliband all over the media saying his election would be a disaster, making the party unelectable. It was the beginning of a long campaign against him both in public and with many dirty tricks in private that resulted in Labour losing the 2017 and 2019 elections. The result of the leadership election, with a resounding 59.5% for Corbyn, three times that of his nearest rival seemed definitive proof they were wrong (and was confirmed by an increased vote of 61.8% in the 2016 leadership challenge) but the plots and back-stabbing continued to ensure defeat in the 2017 general election. But it was a close thing and Starmer and his Brexit policies were needed to make sure Labour lost dramatically in 2019 and could begin the process of purging the party of socialists.

People in Park Lane for the Refugees Are Welcome march

When Corbyn’s vote was announced I was with a crowd of a couple of hundred Corbyn supporters in Hyde Park, with around as many media people, including many TV crews. I’d taken a position before the announcement sitting on the grass with many of them behind me, but both the supporters and the media went wild, photographers and TV crews knocking me flying as I tried to get up and join the rush to get closer to where the champagne corks were popping. All the usual niceties of media scrums went tothe wind and my gear was scattered. I still managed to get a few pictures.

Maimuna Jawo a refugee from Gambia

Most of those celebrating Corbyn’s victory were like me also waiting for the start of the Refugees Welcome Here march protesting against the government’s failure to respond to the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, risking their lives to travel across the Mediterreanean and other dangerous routes to reach safety from civil wars and persecution. Countries on the front lines of these escape routes are flooded with more refugees than they can cope with, and while some other European countries have taken large numbers of refugees the UK has resisted doing so. Many want to come here as they speak English or have relatives or friends already in this country.

Speaker after speaker on a stage in Park Lane gave damning condemnation of the UK government to act humanely and to meet its international obligations. On My London Diary I list most of those I heard: Jean Lambert, MEP; Claude Moraes; Sabby Dhalu; Zita Holborne of BARAC; Maurice Wren from the Refugee Council; Kevin Courtney, NUT; Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP; Antonia Bright of Movement for Justice, Maimuna Jawo, Women for Refugee Women; Zrinka Bralo, Citizens UK; and Sam Fairbairn of People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Park Lane was packed with people along its length and I walked though to the head of the march at its southern end and went with it for the first couple of hundred yards into Piccadilly, where I stopped to photograph the rest of the march as it came past. Fairly densely packed and spreading across the whole of the roadway (and sometimes on to the pavement) it took exactly an hour to go past me.

I took the tube from Green Park to Westminster and arrived just in time to meet the head of the march as it got to Downing St, going with it from there the short distance to its end in Parliament Square, which soon filled up. I photographed more marchers arriving and coming down Whitehall and Parliament Street and then realised I was rather tired and hungry. I sat down on a wall and had a late sandwich lunch before deciding I’d heard enoough speeches and taking the train home.

More at:
Refugees Welcome march reaches Parliament
Refugees are welcome here march
Rally Says Refugees Welcome Here
Victory Party for Jeremy Corbyn


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.


A Wet Day at Yarls Wood

Friday, September 10th, 2021

Five years ago Movement for Justice organised a protest outside Yarls Wood on Saturday 10th September 2016, and I took the train to Bedford where there was a coach to make the five mile or so journey to the remote site on a former WW2 airfield, now a business park. Unfortunately it is so remote that the coach driver didn’t know the way, and we ended up making a lengthy detour and arriving over half an hour later than we should have done.

The coach set us off as usual on the road outside the Twinwoods Business Park entrance, around 3/4 mile from the Immigration Removal Centre. A rally was taking place on the grass there while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Eventually we set off marching down the road to the public footpath that leads along mainly muddy tracks beside several fields to that beside the immigration prison. The prison has a 20ft high fence around it, the first 10ft with solid metal sheeting and the upper half with a thick gauze through which we could see the women at the windows welcoming and signalling to us.

The field rises up quite steeply from the fence, enabling us to see the two top floors of the nearest wing of the centre, a private prison run by Serco. Going further back the lower floor where famiilies were housed became partly visible. Those held inside are in indefinite detention, never knowing when they will be released or deported – and one woman was kept locked in there for just one day less than three years.


Many of the supporters of Movement for Justice have previously been held in this or similar detention prisons, and a number of them spoke at the protest about their experiences inside. We also heard from some of the women inside, who unlike those in our normal jails, are allowed mobile phones. Some told us how Serco security guards had prevented them from coming to the windows and were threatening those who greeted the protesters with solitary confinement.


Other groups from around the country had come to support the protest, and among them were Latin American women and Sisters Uncut, who at one point provided a display of coloured flares from the top of the hill. Unfortunately be the time I had clambered up to muddy slope to take pictures it was past its peak.


The rain continued, though fortunately it was not too heavy, but the slope towards the fence meant that some areas were waterlogged and others were slippery mud. It was a noisy protest as people shouted and kicked the fence and battered it with branches. On my way back to the coach I went to take a look at the real wood called Yarl’s Wood to the south. I’d hoped I might find another view of the prison, but was disappointed. it seemed a shame that such a peaceful wood should be mired by taking its name for this shameful immigration prison.

Many more pictures at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood on My London Diary.

Tower Hamlets Against the EDL

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

On Saturday 7th September 2013 the English Defence League led by Tommy Robinson tried to march into Tower Hamlets. Police had laid down strict conditions for their protest which included an exact route for their march, a limit on length of the rally in Aldgate and a prohibition on going across the border of the CIty of London into Tower Hamlets.

When I arrived well before their march was due to start those EDL supporters present were generally in a good mood and happy to pose for the press and we were able to move and photograph freely. Gradually things got a little edgier, though I was still able to photograph standing next to Tommy and the other leaders when they arrived.

Then the police arrived in large numbers, surrounding the marchers and moving the press away from them. Photography of the march when it began was difficult, with police stopping us going close to it. I was able to take some pictures with a longer lens than I like to use, but police kept moving us further and further away, preventing us from doing our job.

I gave up, and went away in search of the anti-fascists who I knew would be trying to disrupt the march, and had set off some smoke flares in the distance. Police had blocked their route with police vans and were keeping them kettled several hundred yards from the march route. The EDL were still some distance away when I walked out past the police at the north end of the group of protesters to go down a side street and join the EDL. I wasn’t stopped there but did have to show my press card to go through two other police lines before getting fairly close to the march.

I joined on to a small TV crew and we found a raised position from where we could photograph the marchers as they came up to Aldgate, and was then able to move to where I could see the rally beginning. Fortunately I managed to get close enough to make some decent pictures with my short telephoto zoom, working on DX format to get a longer equivalent focal length of arond 158mm. I liked using DX format on the full-frame Nikon D800E as it allowed me to see what was happening outside the image frame and still gave an entirely usable 15Mp image.

I soon tired of hearing the angry and ill-informed Islamophobic speech by Robinson (and the racist comments from the crowd) and moved away. It wasn’t easy to get past the half a dozen police lines between the rally and the people who had come to Whitechapel to oppose the march, even with a UK Press Card and I had to find a senior officer or try again on the other side of the road in some places to get through.

Here a large crowd had gathered including many from Tower Hamlets including the then mayor and many councillors as well as religious leaders, and they were supported by trade unionists and others from across London. The atmosphere here was so different from the hate a block to the west with people defiant but in good spirits and happy to be photographed.

The huge police presence kept the groups apart, and prevented all but a very few minor incidents, and without them there would certainly have been a great deal of violence on the streets with the EDL being heavily outnumbered and forced to flee. It would have been something like a repeat of the humiliating defeat of Mosley and his fascists in 1936 when the police tried to force the march through, but failed. Although this time the police did make the EDL march possible, they also very sensibly stopped it on the edge of the City before it could reach Tower Hamlets.

More text and pictures on My London Diary:

EDL March returns to Tower Hamlets (or rather it tried to but didn’t quite make it)
Anti-Fascists Oppose EDL
Tower Hamlets United Against the EDL



Peoples March Against NHS Privatisation 2014

Monday, September 6th, 2021

Almost all of my life has been lived under the NHS, although the free orange juice and cod liver oil from our local clinic just predated it. But it’s been there through my life when I needed it whether for minor complaints or more serious including a heart attack and diabetes.

When it began, everything was free – except for dental treatment which never became fully a part of the system, though I still get NHS dental treatment, but for many years there have been large areas of the country where it is almost impossible to do so. It was a Labour government that made the introduction of prescription charges possible – something that led Aneurin Bevan to resign from government, but they were actually introduced by the Conservatives in 1952.

Currently those not exempt pay £9.35 for each item on a prescription, and surveys show that around a third of those who have to pay have failed to collect items because of the cost. I’ve been exempt since my diagnosis of diabetes – and would have been so a few years later when I reached the age of 60, just as well as last week I collected 8 items from my local chemist that otherwise would have cost me around £75, though for those who can afford it would be cheaper to pay for a season ticket (PPC) at £108.10 for 12 months.

Increasingly parts of our NHS are being provided not by the NHS itself but by commercial providers. Some of these are the simpler treatments for patients – such as the annual photograph of my eyes or routine surgery. This leaves the more difficult (and expensive) work being carried out by the NHS – who also take over from private hospitals when more difficult or intensive procedures are required.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 opened up the entire NHS to this backdoor privatisation, and it is now estimated by the Kings Fune that approximately a quarter of NHS spending goes on the private sector, though probably Covid has led to an increase.

There have been some spectacular failures in this privatisation, notably Hinchingbrooke Hospital, franchised to private company Circle under New Labour in 2019. After they were put into special measures as a result of significant failures in care – and were failing to make sufficient profits – they walked away in 2015, leaving the NHS to clear up the mess.

The People’s March for the NHS was set up to oppose the continuing privatisation of the NHS, and was inspired by the 1936 Jarrow Crusade when 200 men marched to London in protest against unemployment and poverty. Rather fewer made the whole distance in 2014, but they were met by supporters who marched with them for parts of the way, and by several thousands when they arrived in London on the last section of their route on Saturday 6th September 2014.

Their message was simple:
The NHS is ours.
We built it, we own it, we use it.
It’s under attack and if we don’t fight for it, we’ll lose it.

The current proposals for NHS reform leaked in February 2021 recognise some of the failures of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act but leave its core elements in place, while giving central government greater powers to meddle. As the authors of the NHS Reinstatement Bill commented:

These proposals are incoherent, de-regulatory, off-target, and badly timed. They will do next to nothing to remedy the serious shortcomings highlighted by the pandemic: a depleted NHS, a privatised social care system, with over-centralised, fragmented and part-privatised communicable disease control and public health systems. Joined-up legislation is needed to revitalise local authorities and to rebuild public services.


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.


Londoners Defeat the EDL: 2012

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Londoners came out to defeat the racist EDL when Tommy Robinson decided to hold a march to a rally in Walthamstow against Muslims and Sharia Law. The area is one of London’s more ethnically diverse, with a large Muslim population as well as others of Asian and Caribbean origin and, at least in 2012, many from Romania, Poland, Hungary and other EU countries. Roughly a quarter of the population of the borough of Waltham Forest call themselves Muslim though around twice as many identify as Christian.

The ‘We are Waltham Forest’ campaign brought together many groups from the community to oppose the march, including many from the churches and mosques in the area as well as the main political parties and trade unionists as well as more active anti-fascist groups including Unite Against Fascism.

From a well-attended rally in the centre of Walthamstow people marched to block the road along which the EDL intended to march. As they marched people came out of shops and houses to applaud them and it was clear they enjoyed wide community support.

When they reached the crucial road junction, many of them sat down on the street, while others stood and watched. A samba band played and people danced and it was clear that there were more than a thousand people determined that the EDL were not going to be allowed to pass.

I went to meet the EDL march on its way into the area, and found a group of perhaps 200 surrounded by a police escort which made taking photographs difficult. But since I was getting sworn and and threatened by the marchers the police presence was welcome, and they held back one man who made a determined effort to assault me. I followed their march for some distance; there were a few protesters at the side of the road against them, but police stopped them coming close. Along around half a mile only one person shouted support, leaning out of a first floor window, and was met with a huge response from the marchers.

Police took the EDL along some back streets that led them close to the site where they had intended to hold their rally but then kettled them. Tommy Robinson and the other EDL leaders had set up a PA system but the police held the marchers a short distance away and it soon became clear that a rally there would be impossible. Although most of the opposition was non-violent, stones and other objects were soon flying through the air, and the EDL leaders had to retreat, as I did too, watching from the sidelines.

I’d decided long ago that I was not prepared to wear the kind of protective armour that many photographers use to cover protests – including various kinds of helmet, bullet proof vests, shin pads and more. Fortunately such things are seldom needed at protests in the UK, though photographers have often been targets, particularly at extreme right protests. Here it was the anti-fascists who were throwing things, not at photographers but towards the EDL, but many were falling short.

It seemed to me that a stalemate had been reached and that nothing of interest was likely to happen and I decided to go home. For once I was right – often my leaving seems to be a signal for things to kick off – but this time little more happened. Eventually the police escorted the kettled EDL march away to an Underground station so they could safely leave the area.

More about the event and many more pictures at Waltham Forest Defeats the EDL.


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.