Posts Tagged ‘Mayor’

St George’s Day 2016

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022

April 23rd 303 was not a good day for George from Cappadocia. Diocletian, then the senior Roman Emperor had previously purged the Roman Army of Christians but had not really otherwise bothered too much about them, but he was persuaded by fellow emperor Galerius to take a harder line, and after consulting the oracle of Apollo began a general persecution across the empire on February 23, 303, which continued for the next 10 years or so.

For some reason George had escaped the previous army purge was was still serving as a member of Emperor Diocletian’s personal bodyguards. Tradition has it that he refused to recant his faith and was sentenced to death, being beheaded at Nicomedia on 23rd April. Rather different versions of his life (and death) grew up in the Greek and Latin churches. But certainly many Christians were killed by the Romans and George certainly represents one of many brave men who died rather than recant, most probably in the earlier years of Diocletian’s reign.

St George, Emperor Diocletian, the priestess or haruspex and the emperor’s daughter

Legends built up around him, few of which like that of the dragon (an 11th century addition) will have been true. It’s unlikely that he was subjected to more than twenty separate tortures over the course of seven years or that his martyrdom led to “40,900 pagans were converted to Christianity, including the empress Alexandra.” You can read more about him on Wikipedia.

His martydom began to be celebrated in Lydda in Palestine where he was thought to have died, and pilgrims came there and later to Cappadocia where he is thought to have come from. He was made a saint by Pope Gelasius I in 494, who said his was one of those “whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God“.

St George fights the dragon on the Passmore Edwards Public Library, long closed

His fame spread across Christendom, though it was only in the ninth century that the first church was dedicated to him in England – and not until 1152 that he displaced Edward the Confessor as the patron saint of England, although he had become a part of some English battle cries in the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and among the Crusaders, when many went from England to fight against the Muslims in Palestine between 1095 and 1291.

St Georges Day was made a major feast here in 1415 and 1421, a holiday where church attendance was compulsory and other festivities took place. Later its celebration declined, particularly after the union with Scotland, and had more or less died out by the 20th century.

In recent years there has been something of a revival, spurred on in part by the increasing festivals of other communities, sometimes supported by local councils. There has been an increasing emphasis too on our national teams, particularly the English Football and Rugby teams, with minor fixtures being promoted through the mass media in a way that in earlier years was reserved for the major sporting events – the Grand National, the FA Cup FInal and the Boat Race.

London’s dragons are mainly Chinese

The St George’s Flag had become something seldom seen outside football matches, except in the hands of small racist right-wing groups who called themselves patriots. Unfortunately recent years have seen a growth in these, and some have organised celebrations of St George’s Day, but there has also been a growth in less political events, with even English Heritage encouraging celebrations. Radio 3 has celebrated it, and both Conservatives and the Labour Party have campaigned for it – with Labour calling for it to become a public in both 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

The pictures here are from 23rd April 2016, I started the day photographing a couple of protests over the sale of illegal ‘blood diamonds’ from Sierra Leone at Selfridges in Oxford Street and Tiffany in Sloane Square before going on take pictures about St George’s Day, beginning around lunchtime in Trafalgar Square, where despite the support of mayor Boris Johnson little was happening. I went to the Roman Catholic St George’s Cathedral in Southwark, calling in briefly at the peace garden in the Imperial War Museum across the road as I waited for people to arrive for the St George in Southwark Procession.

This, led by led by St George, a Roman Emperor, the Mayor of Southwark and others and with a dragon at its rear made its way from the St George’s RC Cathedral to the Church of England St George the Martyr in Borough High Street.

I’d not been inside this before and went in with those taking part for a short address before we came out and the procession formed up. It wound its way through the back streets of Southwark and I was pleased as we went past the Priory on Webber Street to be able to tell the mayor something about Bert Hardy who had recently got a blue plaque there. I’d only met Hardy a couple of times, but one of my friends had worked at Grove Hardy as a printer.

The procession ended with a play in the yard beside St George the Martyr, but I left before it finished. Earlier I’d agreed to meet a couple of photographer friends at the start of the procession, but I think they had got lost on the way there, but I’d now arranged to find them on London Bridge. There seemed to be little going on at the George Inn on Borough High St, but at the King’s Head we walked into the bar and were seated by the window when St George walked in with a few mates. It obviously wasn’t the first pub they had visited. After he had got a pint I went and asked if I could take a few pictures, and he began posing, though moving rather too much in the low light.

After I had taken his picture a rather friendly dragon came up to the bar, followed by a second St George, and I photographed the two St Georges together. And as we left the bar, there in the street was the second of them with his dragon friend – and I took a few more frames.

More on most of these events and the other two protests I photographed that day:
St George in Southwark Procession
Peace Garden at War Museum
St Georges Day in London
Sierra Leone Blood Diamonds at Tiffany
Sierra Leone Blood Diamonds at Selfridges


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Focus E15 Mothers Party Against Eviction 2014

Monday, January 17th, 2022

Focus E15 Mothers and children party in the show flat – 17th January 2014

Focus E15 Mothers Party Against Eviction 2014
Housing remains one of London’s larger problems, with sky-high house prices and market rents. At the start of 2022 the average flat rent in London is over £360 per week – around £19,000 per year, while the average property price according to Zoopla is £681,427.

Housing has always been a problem in London, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s things were beginning to improve, largely due to both Labour and Conservative councils building council houses and flats. By the 1960s over 500,000 new flats were added in London and nationally around a third of UK households lived in social housing.

The government’s minimum wage for 2022 will be £9.50 per hour from April – an on that rate you would need to work for around 38 hours a week just to pay for a flat – and of course would have no chance of ever buying a flat or house. Things have got considerably worse since 2010, and in boroughs like Newham average rents now are 65% of average wages.

The building programme slowed down in the 1970s as governments made it more difficult for councils to build, but the real watershed came with Margaret Thatcher’s 1980 Housing Act which gave council tenants the right to buy their properties at between 33-50% of market value – and stopped councils from using the proceeds to built more properties.

Further housing acts under Thatcher led to the transfer of much social housing to housing associations, which were allowed to access private finance while councils were very much restricted in their borrowing. Housing associations continue to build some new properties, but the numbers are small in relation to demand, and much lower than those built by councils in the 1950s-70s. Official figures for 2019 show only 37,825 new homes built for letting at below market rents while over 1.1 million households are on housing waiting lists – around 30 times as many.

So it is not surprising that councils such as Newham have a huge housing problem, and the council says it has the highest levels of overcrowded housing in the country, one of the highest proportion of people living in insecure private rented homes and in houses of multiple occupation and the largest number of homeless people – including those in temporary accommodation.

Newham was one of the first councils to get an elected Mayor in 2002, and Robin Wales held that post until 2018 when he was deselected as candidate. Many blame him for the particular failures over housing in the borough and point to properties on the Carpenters Estate in particular, some of which have been deliberately left empty for around 15 years.

The first group to organise and call out the council on their failures over housing were young single mothers who were threatened with eviction after Newham Council removed funding from East Thames Housing Association’s Focus E15 Foyer in Stratford. Newham Council had tried to get them to move well away from London, in Hastings, Birmingham and elsewhere, away from friends, families, colleges, nurseries and support networks. These offers were for private rented accommodation, with little or no security of tenure and would leave them at the mercy of often unscrupulous or uncaring landlords.

For once the group stood together and determined – helped by friends – to fight the council, not just for their own cases, but also for others whom Newham is failing to provide accommodation. Though they attracted national publicity and won their fight to stay in the London they continue to hold a weekly protest and advice stall in central Stratford every Saturday – I visited it again in late 2021. Their fight exposed the failures of Robin Wales and was certainly one of the factors in his losing support in the borough.

You can read more about the protes when a group of the mothers with their children went into the East Thames offices and held a party in their show flat on on My London Diary in Focus E5 Mothers Party Against Eviction. The East Thames staff who came to talk with them were generally sympathetic and attempted to reassure them but told them it was the responsibility of the council and not the housing association to rehouse them.


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Hiroshima Day – August 6th

Friday, August 6th, 2021

2018

On 6th August 1945 a US B-29 bomber dropped a atomic bomb, code name ‘Little Boy’, from a height of 31,000 ft over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It took almost 45 seconds to fall to a height of 1,900 feet where it detonated, by which time the bomber, Enola Gay was over 11 miles away.

2014

Hiroshima was a large city, a port with many industrial and military sites and a population of around 350,000. Because it had been selected as a target for a nuclear bomb it had not suffered the intensive conventional bombing of most other Japanese cities. The USA wanted to be able to see clearly the damage an atomic weapon could cause.

2019

Around 70,0000 people, 30% of the population were killed by the initial blast and firestorm which was caused, with around the same number badly injured. Around 70% of the city’s buildings were destroyed, an area of almost 5 square miles devastated. Those killed included over 90% of doctors and medical staff who were concentrated in the central area of the city.

2017

Two days later on August 8th the US decided to drop the second atomic bomb, one of a different design using plutonium rather than uranium, code-named ‘Fat Boy’. The intended target was Kokura, an ancient Japanese city with a huge arsenal, but dark clouds obscured the city, and the B-29 ‘Bockscar’ diverted to the city which was the secondary target, Nagasaki.

2016

The black clouds may have come from the the previous days US conventional fire-bombing of nearby Yahata, but workers at the steel works in Kokura had apparently decided to burn coal tar to try to make a smokescreen. Or it could just have been bad weather or some combination of all three than saved Kokura and condemned Nagasaki.

2009

There were clouds over Nagasaki too, but a patch of clear sky allowed the bomb to be dropped. The plutonium bomb was almost one and a half times more powerful than that which devastated Hiroshima but it exploded over a valley which slightly contained its effects. At least 35-40,000 were killed immediately, almost all of them civilians, including many foreign workers. Unlike in Hiroshima there was no firestorm as the area it was dropped on was less intensively developed.

2009

Although it was the US who dropped the bomb, the British government was deeply involved. Under the 1943 Quebec agreement between Roosevelt and Churchill which brought scientific development of atomic weapons by the two countries together, the consent of the UK was needed for these weapons to be used.

2011

Of course deaths continued after the explosions. Acute radiation syndrome killed many who survived the initial attack, mostly within 20-30 days. Radiation induced cancer and leukemia takes longer to emerge, reaching a peak around 6-8 years later. Radiation also causes miscarriages and birth defects.

2014

Around 650,000 people were recognised by the Japanese government as ‘hibakusah’, survivors affected by the bombs, and around 1% of these had illnesses attributed to their radiation exposure.

2015

Ceremonies in the two cities and around the world remember the bombings and call for the outlawing of nuclear weapons, a total of around 13,000 of which are now held by China, North Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted by the UN in 2017 and entered into force on 22 January 2021. Countries voting for its adoption included two former nuclear states, South Africa and Kazakhstan, who gave up their weapons voluntarily and North Korea. So far 55 states have ratified or acceded to the treaty.

2016

The pictures, taken in various years, come from the annual Hiroshima Day event held every 6th August in Tavistock Square in London organised by London CND. The square is in the London Borough of Camden and take place next to the Hiroshima cherry tree planted there in 1967 by the then Mayor of Camden.


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.

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.


No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Protesters kettled outside City Hall as the Mayoral election results announced in 2008


London’s electors in a few days time will be faced with a rather bewildering array of candidates, with 20 names appearing on the ballot paper.

Ian Bone of Class War and banner ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ 2008

Current mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping for re-election and his chances are probably good and he has enjoyed a good lead in opinion polls with a roughly 20-25% lead over his nearest rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey. He could even get the 50% needed to win on the first preference votes and is likely to end up with over 60% when second preferences are included.

Anarchists raise the anti-fascist banner at City Hall 2008

Bailey, like Conservatives standing in the various elections around the country, is rather likely to pick up votes because of the success of the Covid vaccination rollout, a rather unfair consequence as it was Tory incompetence that really got us into the huge mess – with bodies piling up in mortuaries if not on the streets, and the NHS, which they have been doing their best to privatise out of existence over the years, which got ahead and got on with the jabs – and fortunately the government, having perhaps learnt a little from the test and trace debacle, let them get on with it rather than giving jobs to their mates.

It’s a slightly unusual voting system, with the second round of counting including only the two leading candidates. But it does mean that if you are a Khan supporter you could safely vote for any other candidate than Bailey as first preference, knowing that you second preference for Khan would count for him in the end.

Fitwatch hold their banner in front of the police photographer 2008

Opinion polls suggest that on this basis YouTuber Niko Omilana might come out third on the first preference votes, well above either the Green Party’s Sian Berry or Lib Dem Luisa Porritt, either of whom would clearly make rather better mayors than him.

Police TSG arrive to clear the area. 2008

The 15 other candidates seem unlikely to gain much benefit from the voting system and will almost certainly all lose their £10,000 deposit. They cover a wide range from various fringe parties, serious single-issue candidates to various more or less entertaining idiots such as Count Binface. Even at odds of 800 to 1 it isn’t worth betting on him.

Police arrest a man who had been sitting quietly by the river

Back in 2008 there were fewer candidates, but it was sadder times as London was announcing the election of its worst mayor yet, though at least he did continue some of the previous incumbent’s policies, and some of the advisers he employed were competent. But the years Johnson was mayor were something of a disaster for Greater London – which he has gone on to repeat for the country as a whole.

Some of the protesters were surrounded and held for several hours

The ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ protest by anarchists had its moments of farce, beginning with the police photographer taking an unusual interest in me as I sat reading a paperback. I just happened to be in the middle of John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ at the time. Although I clearly watched him taking pictures, when I later made a freedom of information request about this an other occasions I’ve been photographed, the answer came back that there were no pictures of me.

Others had escaped as police moved in and showed the banner from a balcony before going to the pub

You can read more about what happened and see more pictures on My London Diary:
No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop


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.