Posts Tagged ‘NHS’

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – 2013

Saturday, March 16th, 2024

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick – Saturday 16th March 2013 saw me travelling around London to cover three events, starting at a march against hospital cuts, then a march supporting the Syrian revoltuion on its second anniversary and finally an Irish parade on the day before St Patrick’s Day.


Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts – Highbury & Islington

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

Dick Whittington, more formally Sir Richard Whittington (c1354 – 1423) was four times Lord Mayor of London and did a lot for the medieval city, including financing drainage systems in its poorer areas and setting up a hospital ward for unmarried mothers and leaving his considerable fortune to set up a charity which still 600 years later helps those in need.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

He made his fortune as a mercer, importing luxury fabrics such as silk and velvet and exporting English woollen cloth and later as a money lender to wealthy noblemen and kings. It isn’t clear if he ever had a cat, but the legend about him fleeing London with one and turning back when he heard Bow Bells from Highgate Hill first made it to print in 1612.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

The Whittington Stone was placed at the foot of Highgate Hill in 1821, though earlier it had been the base of a cross there; it only gained a cat on top in 1964. But Whittington’s name is remembered in a number of pubs across the country, including The Whittington & Cat on Highgate Hill, which closed in 2014. Islington Council and local residents fought to keep it, and prevented its demolition in 2012 by declaring it to be an asset of community value, but it became a flooring shop.

Whittington, Syria and St Patrick

More importantly Whittington’s name became that of the major hospital formed when earlier hospitals on three nearby sites were amalgamated when the National Health Service was formed in 1948.

Three years before this march, huge local oppositin had forced the cancellation of plans to end Accident and Emergency, Paediatrics, Maternity and Intensive Care at the Whittington Hospital, but now it was threatened again by a new hospital trust with plans to reduce maternity services, close wards, provide fewer beds for the elderly, cut 570 jobs privatise some services and sell off around a third of the site, closing all onsite accommodation for nursing staff.

I met several thousand protesters close to Highbury & Islington Station where they were preparing to march to a rally outside the hospital. Among those marching were local MPs, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Bruce Kent and various celebrity supporters of the campaign, as well as the truly remarkable Hetty Bower, born in 1905, who became a pacifist at the time of the ‘Great War’, and took part in the 1926 General Strike.

You can read more about the event and see my pictures of many of the marchers on My London Diary. I left the march shortly after it started to go to my next event.
Whittington Hospital March Against Cuts.


Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom

I arrived outside the Syrian Embassy in Belgrave Square while the rally before the march was taking place with members of the Syrian Community in Britain speaking.

Most of the speeches and chanting were not in English, and the Free Syria campaign appears to have little support from the British left who might have been expected to support their freedom fight. There were a few protests at the start, but often confused and mainly opposing any involvement in Syria by British forces.

The Syrian revolution against the Assad regime had also received little actual support from the UK Government and US support seemed halfhearted. When Assad began using chemical weapons against the Syrian rebel held areas there was strong condemnation but no action and any threats soon melted away once Russia became involved in supporting Assad.

One of the placards carried by marchers included a question which now seems particularly relevant in view of what has been happening in Gaza: ‘Hey World, How Many Kids Should Be Killed Before You Do Something?’

I walked with the marchers on their way to Downing Street as far as the Hyde Park underpass where it looked impressive as it made its way under the Hyde Park underpass, fairly densely packed and with flags waving it spread wide across the road, stretching back into Wilton Place over 200 yards away. Then left for Willesden Green.

Syria – Two Years Fight for Freedom


St Patrick’s Parade Brent – Willesden Green

For several years I had enjoyed the Brent St Patrick’s Day parade, sometimes going together with friends including John Benton-Harris who had photographed St Patrick’s Day here and across the USA as well as in Ireland over many years. The parade in Brent, usually on the day itself, had always seemed rather more authentically Irish than the larger London parade held on the nearest Sunday since Ken Livingstone introduced it in 2002 and I made some pictures.

Brent Council had a fine record of supporting cultural events celebrating its various communities including the Irish, but with government cuts since 2010 no longer had the funds to do so.

This year too, the main London event was taking place the following day, St Patrick’s Day itself, so the Brent event was on the day before. So the crowds were rather thinner than in previous years, and the poor weather may have put some off too.

More pictures at St Patrick’s Parade Brent.


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Save Our NHS – 4th March 2017

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Save Our NHS – The NHS was under attack by the Conservatives before it was established in 1948 and has come under repeated attacks since by governments of both major parties particularly since the 1990s.

Save Our NHS

Providing universal healthcare costs and the current financial year (2023/24) figure of £160.4 billion is around one seventh of total government spending of around £1,200 billion. So it isn’t surprising that governments should wish to see that the money is being spent wisely. But that isn’t was most changes in government health policy have been about.

Save Our NHS

Even with that large sum, the UK is still getting healthcare on the cheap. According to Statista the spending per person is less than in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Australia, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland and Finland and roughly the same as in Iceland and Japan.

Save Our NHS

It’s perhaps not surprising given this that we often hear reports which compare the results of NHS care critically with those in other countries. But those reports on the BBC and in the papers seldom if ever mention the poorer funding the NHS receives than many of those with better health outcomes.

Save Our NHS

The US spend per person is considerably higher than all other countries and roughly two and a quarter times that in the UK. But many of the NHS reforms made this century have been based on making our health system more like the American model, which would be a disaster. But it would mean a great opportunity for private healthcare companies, particularly some of those US companies, to make huge profits at our expense.

A surprising number of our MPs have had some financial interest in healthcare either through shareholdings or by sponsorships. The Daily Mirror in 2014 published a list of 70 MPs with links to private healthcare firms which included almost every leading Tory and some from other parties. As well as then Prime Minister David Cameron, they included Former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, responsible for the disastrous Health and Social Care Act 2012, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former Health Minister Simon Burns, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith, William Hague, Philip Hammond, Sajid Javid, Oliver Letwin, Chancellor George Osborne, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and many other leading Tories, along with Lib-Dems then in the coalition government Vince Cable, Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes.

It’s these people who have introduced policies which have led to large areas of NHS services being provided by private companies, though still retaining the NHS logo and still providing services free to the public. But generally these are the kind of simple, straightforward services and the more complex areas are still left to the NHS.

There is still huge public support for the NHS, despite its problems some of which have been created possibly deliberately by government reforms to erode that support, though more clearly in a drive to make more of its services available to be taken over by private companies.

On Saturday March 4th 2017, thousands came to Tavistock Square, outside the BMA headquarters to march to Parliament Square in protest against the cuts and privatisation of the NHS which they said was at breaking point.

In particular they were protesting the Sustainability and Transformation Plans for hospital closures and cuts in services which had already caused many premature deaths. Doctors and other healthcare workers clearly saw these as a part of a rapid stealthy privatisation with medical services increasingly being run for private profit rather than public benefit.

In 2017 the STPs mutated into Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and in 2018 these were told to transform themselves into Integrated Care Systems which have now replaced Clinical Commisioning Groups. These plan, buy, and provide health and care services in there areas and are subject to inspection under 70 performance metrics and can be put into ‘special measures’.

According to the Wikipedia article “A report from the Nuffield Trust in December 2021 found that there was very little evidence that integration policies across the UK – including pooling budgets and creating new integrated boards and committees – had dramatically improved patient experience, quality of services or supported the delivery of more care outside of hospitals.” But clearly they had diverted a considerable amount of expertise, time, energy and money away from the real business of the health service – and funding towards private companies.

Estimates for the number on the march varied even more wildly than usual, but it was clearly a large march. My guess was perhaps 30,000 but it could well have been twice that if not the 250,000 the organisers claimed. All the pictures in this post come from the march and the rally before the start, and I was too tired by the time it reached Westminster to photography the rally in Parliament Square.


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Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023

Monday, January 1st, 2024

Goodbye and Good Riddance – March 2023: Continuing from yesterday’s post some more pictures from 2013, from my albums on Facebook from March 2003.

Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Croydon Residents Protest 15% Council Tax Hike. London, UK. 1 Mar 2023. People from the London Borough of Croydon protest outside the Council offices against the council raising Council Tax by 15%. The huge rise is needed because of of swingeing cuts in support from central government and years of mismanagement by both Labour and Tories, particularly in the council’s housing company. The proposed rise comes on top of years of cuts to essential services in the borough. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
A Tree Is Planted In Memory of Bruce Kent. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. Jeremy Corbyn and Valerie, Bruce Kent’s widow, come to plant the tree. Several hundred came to the planting of a tree in Finsbury Park in memory of Bruce Kent who died last June. A prominent Catholic priest he became a political activist and one of the great peace campaigners of our times. Speakers included Jeremy Corbyn and Kent’s wife Valerie who together planted the tree. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Million Women Rise 2023. London, UK. 3 Mar 2023. Women, including many from migrant groups, met just off Oxford Street for a march organised by Million Women Rise, a collective led by Black women, which welcomes all women to attend. They called for an end to male violence against women and girls in all its forms. They want an end to everyday and structural racism at the heart of policing and our immigration system and society generally. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance - March 2023
Bank of England – Hand Back Venezuela’s Gold. London, UK. 4 Mar 2023. A protest at the Bank of England on the 10th anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s death demanded they return the 31 tonnes of Venezuela’s gold in their vaults. The UK government has refused to recognise the elected government of Venezuela and insists the gold belongs to the opposition led by Juan Guaido whose interim presidency has been dissolved by the democratically elected National Assembly. Peter Marshall
Save The NHS, Support Strikers and Welcome Migrants. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023.Thousands marched in London from a short rally at Warren Street calling for decent pay for all NHS workers. They demand an end to NHS privatisation and a return to a publicly funded public service. Migrants Are Welcome with and have played a vital role in the NHS, with large numbers of nurses, doctors and other staff from abroad, and they supported Gary Lineker in his description of the substance and tone of Government policies. Peter Marshall
Iranians Continue Protests For Regime Change. London, UK. 11 Mar 2023. Iranians continue their protests in London in solidarity with protesters in Iran calling for the end of rule by Mullahs. In Parliament Square a group held placards against the gassing of schoolgirl protesters and Iran and calling for Twitter to ban the Taliban, as well as pictures of those killed and held Iranian flags and banners supporting the mourning mothers and fathers of Iran. Peter Marshall
Save Our Schools Carnival, London, UK. 15 Mar 2023. Striking teachers, parents and supporters march to a carnival event in Trafalgar Square organised by the National Education Union as a huge Budget Day show of strength to demand the Chancellor and ministers deliver a fully-funded above inflation pay rise to #SaveOurSchools. They demand action to end poor pay, low funding, the SEND crisis and excessive workload, to support pupils in poverty and end inappropriate inspection and tests. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. London, UK. 18 Mar 2023. Women Life Freedom, Iran. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government. Peter Marshall
UN Anti-Racism Day March. 18 Mar 2023. Thousands march through London to make clear that refugees are welcome and oppose the government’s racist policies against immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. They demand safe routes for migrants and an end to institutional racism in policing and an end to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, and prejudice against Black, Chinese, Asians, gypsies, Roma, travellers and other communities in the media and government.
Peter Marshall

More pictures from these and other protests in March 2023 in my Facebook Albums.


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Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell – 2017

Thursday, December 14th, 2023

Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell – Thursday 14th December 2017 was six months on from the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, and as on every 14th of the month since there was a silent walk to remember the victims and call for justice. But earlier in the evening I photographed two groups of workers striking for a living wage.


Star Wars Strike Picket Picturehouse – Hackney

Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell - 2017

On the day that the ‘Star Wars’ film, ‘Last of the Jedi’ opened at Picturehouse Hackney, workers at the chain held a strike calling for them to be paid the London Living Wage. Workers and supporters demonstrated in solidarity on the pavement outside the cinema as it opened.

Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell - 2017

Picturehouse is a part of the multinational company Cineworld and has refused to recognise the trade union which the workers belong to, BECTU, instead claiming they are represented by a company run staff forum. As well as a fight for pay this is also for union recognition.

Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell - 2017

Members voted to dissolve the staff forum in 2019 and is no longer a recognised trade union. Although there have been some pay increases some workers around the start of this year were still only paid £9.80 an hour, over £2 short of the London Living Wage.

Star Wars Strike Picket Picturehouse


City cleaners strike at LHH for Living Wage – Gracechurch St, City

Strikes for a Living Wage & Grenfell - 2017

United Voices of the World union and supporters protested noisily outside the offices of Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH), a large company in the heart of London’s financial district with a £2 million profit and a 32% increase in revenue this year.

The cleaners of their offices are not employed by LHH and the cleaning was outsourced to City Central Cleaning & Support Services Limited who had rejected their demand for a living wage and unlawfully threatened them with dismissal if they strike.

The cleaners were being paid the national minimum wage of £7.50 an hour, far less than the London Living wage of £10.20 per hour independently assessed as the minimum needed to live on in London.

After an hour of noisy protest by supporters outside the offices the cleaners were cheered as they went in to start their cleaning shift.

Following this protest, in late January 2018 LHH announced they would be re-tendering their cleaning contract to guarantee that within the month the cleaning staff are paid the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour. It was the first victory of the year for the UVW.

City cleaners strike at LHH for Living Wage


Grenfell Silent Walk – North Kensington

I was late arriving at Notting Hill Methodist and the silent march was starting early, with people already in line behind the banner on the road at the side of the church. It marked 6 months since the terrible fire, and six months in which nothing had been done to prosecute those who were clearly responsible for the conditions that led to the 72 deaths. Six years on nothing has changed.

At the front were grieving relatives, some who had escaped from the flames and local clergy, and police and march stewards were ensuring that photographers and others kept a respectful distance.

When the march moved off it was led by a line of stewards. Many of the relatives held white roses and photographs of some of those who died and behind them were others carrying large green heart-shapes for Grenfell with single word messages such as ‘JUST US’ , ‘GRENFELL’ and ‘JUSTICE’.

Many taking part walked with green battery-powered candles and further back in the march there were many placards demanding the truth about Grenfell. One banner read ‘Fight For Justice’ and the community will not get it unless they keep on fighting. They have kept on fighting, but it seems less and less likely that the long-running inquiry will deliver any real justice.

Further back on the march were some more angry posters, including one which read ‘You can run BUT you can’t hide – Kensington & Chelsea Council ARE COMPLICIT IN MURDER’.

By Ladbroke Grove station firefighters were lined up as a guard of honour for the marchers, many of whom stopped to thank them for their bravery and persistence which saved many lives, some embracing them. I stayed on Ladbroke Grove to photograph as the rest of the march went past.

The march seemed much more moving than the service I’d watched on livestream earlier in the day. I was actually here with the several thousand on the march, and close to where the totally avoidable tragedy took place. There are many more pictures from the march on My London Diary at Grenfell Silent Walk – 6 months on.


Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours – 2013

Sunday, November 26th, 2023

Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours – Three protests in London on Tuesday 26th November 2013 about issues that are still very much with us – and which have got worse since ten years ago today.


Justice Not Jumpers at NPower HQ – City

Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours

Ten years ago fuel poverty activists were protesting that profiteering by the major energy providers was leading to many people having to chose between eating and keeping warm, causing many unnecessary deaths. They protested to draw attention to the scandal of energy companies making huge profits and avoiding taxes while many died because of their greed.

Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours

The protest came on the day that figures were announced for ‘excess winter deaths’, of which at least 30% are due to cold homes. The previous year the figure had been around 24,000 but that announced on the day of the protest came as a shock, having increased by around a third to 31,000.

Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours

The protest in London was one of several around the country including at British Gas’s new Oxford HQ, as well as in Lewes and Bristol. NPower had been chosen for the London protest for its poor record of customer complaints and for having made larger price rises in that year than the other Big Six companies – 9.3% electricity and 11.1% gas.

Fuel Poverty, NHS Staffing, Zero Hours

The companies defend the price rises, spreading the lie that ‘green taxes’ were to blame, though these are a relatively minor factor in costs. The real problem is that privatisation means that large amounts are taken from our bills to pay to shareholders on top of the increasing costs of dirty fossil fuels.

NPower takes 5p in every pound we pay as profit and welcomes increasing costs as this adds to their profits which rose by over a third to £413 million in the previous winter when its price hikes pushed an estimate 300,000 more people into fuel poverty. Despite its huge profits the company had managed to avoid paying any corporation tax for the past three years.

Protesters met at Bank for a funeral procession around the City streets to the NPower offices in Throgmorton St with a coffin being carried by pallbears with masks including those of Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborn and wearing jumpers with the logos of the major energy companies.

At the NPower offices they lowered the coffin in front of the row of police protecting the building and a rally took place on the street. One of the first speakers was Andy Greene of Disabled People Against Cuts, who spoke of the effects the energy price rises were having, causing great hardship to many disabled people. Testimonies were then read from many individuals how they had to choose between heating and eating; many were already cold and dreading the coming winter.

More pictures at Justice Not Jumpers at NPower HQ.


4:1 legal minimum NHS staffing – Dept of Health, Whitehall

Nurses began the 4:1 campaign to draw attention to the crisis of staffing in the NHS where there were then over 20,000 nursing vacancies and to the Department of Health’s decision to downgrade 100 A&E departments, effectively closing them. They called for a mandatory staffing level of one nurse for every 4 patients in the NHS.

The campaign stated “The public have had enough of overworked staff, unprecedented avoidable death rates and negative press about the NHS. The public and nurses alike know the value of the NHS, and want to see it perform to its best, providing the dignified care patients deserve.

They were joined in the protest outside the Ministry of Health, then in Richmond House in Whitehall, by other groups concerned about the future of the NHS, including those pointing out the threat to the NHS of the EU-US Trade Treaty, which would open up the whole of the NHS to privatisation.

They were joined by campaigners against the planned closure of many A&E units across the country and by those fighting to save hospitals including at Lewisham and King George V in Redbridge, as well as those with more general concerns about the future of the NHS.

4:1 legal minimum NHS staffing


Cultural Workers against Zero Hours – Millennium Bridge

PCS members from national cultural institutions in London staged a protest at Tate Modern and on the Millennium Bridge against zero hour contracts which gave them no guaranteed weekly hours or income, while stopping them taking on other work.

The number of workers on zero hours contracts more than doubled from around 250,000 in 2012 to around 600,000 in 2013, and since then has continued to increase to around 1.18 million in 2023, over 3% of the total workforce. Although legal in the UK, zero hours contracts are inherently unfair on workers and an exploitation of labour. Labour had pledged to outlaw them, but if they get into government with Starmer as leader we are unlikely to get fairer labour laws.

Employers use zero-hour contracts to cut wages, avoid holiday pay, pensions, and ensure the maximum flexibility and profit for themselves. Many on zero hours contracts in 2013 were also prevented from taking on other part-time work, as they were often obliged to be available for work at the whim of the employer.

The law was changed in 2015 to make contracts which stopped workers from having other part-time jobs. But although in theory workers are not obliged to accept any work offered, in practice should they refuse hours offered for any reason they know that they will be treated less favourably by the employer in the future, often severely discriminated against.

Zero hours contracts were initially designed for use in very limited and specific circumstances where there use might be justified but are now a widespread form of exploitation. The PCS (and other trade unions) “believe that guaranteed hours, a living wage, holiday and sick pay, respect for employment rights, and dignity and respect at work should be fundamental entitlements for all workers.”

Cultural Workers against Zero Hours


Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – 2012

Friday, November 24th, 2023

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital – On Saturday morning, 24th November 2012 I joined marchers against the then recent Israeli attacks on Gaza and the continuing blockade which makes normal life there impossible. Although still a clearly disproportionate response, the death toll in 2012 was minuscule compared to the current ongoing destruction. In the afternoon I went to Lewisham for a march against proposals to close A&E and maternity services, and possibly also the the children’s wards, critical care unit and emergency surgery by the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw.


Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now – Downing St

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

Despite persistent rain, several thousands turned up to protest at Downing Street before marching towards the Israeli Embassy following the start ten days earlier of ‘Operation Pillar of Defense‘ by the the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

In the eight days before a ceasefire, Wikipedia statesthe IDF claimed to have struck more than 1,500 sites in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launchpads, weapon depots, government facilities, and apartment blocks” with the UNHCR reporting “174 were killed and hundreds were wounded. Many families were displaced.”

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

There were also deaths and casualties among Israelis, but on a much smaller scale, with 6 Israelis being killed and 240 injured by rockets fired from Gaza.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in this year, “Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western countries expressed support for what they considered Israel’s right to defend itself” , or condemned the Hamas attacks, while some other countries condemned the Israel attacks. Human Rights Watch said both sites committed war crimes.

Solidarity With Gaza, Save Lewisham Hospital

As in 2023, many of hose killed in Gaza in 2012 where children, and at the front of the march, ahead of the main banner were a group of children, each carrying a placard hanging around their neck with the names and ages of some of the dead children.

And as in the recent marches I’ve photographed, both the National Marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and those in Camden and Lewisham, among those taking part there were many individual Jews and Jewish groups including Jews Against the Siege of Gaza, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a group of Jewish Socialists.

Before the march began 163 while balloons printed with the Palestinian flag – one for each of the Palestinians then known to have been killed – were released. The march then moved up Whitehall and I went with it as far as Trafalgar Square where I took pictures for the next 15 minutes or so as the crowd moved past before catching a train from Charing Cross to Lewisham.

More at Solidarity With Gaza, End the Seige Now


Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital – Lewisham

Thousands of protesters – perhaps as many as 15,000 – formed a human chain to hold hands around Lewisham hospital after a march from the centre of Lewisham to oppose plans to close its A&E department to pay debts from mismanagement at other hospitals in south London, which have huge PFI debts.

The march had seemed rather smaller than expected when I arrived at the start close to Lewisham station, but the numbers grew greatly as we got closer to the hospital and Ladywell Fields, with the road still packed with people coming to join this as the human chain began to form.

At Ladywell Fields the march divided into two, with hospital workers making their way to the front of the hospital in an anti-clockwise direction and the others going clockwise to meet them. Soon people were filling the whole thre-quarters of a mile ring around the hospital and holding hands in a human chain. The organisers had asked people to go in single file, but there were far too many in most places for this and in some areas the pavements were filled ten deep.

Traffic around the hospital was brought to a stop with people still flooding in on the High Street and Ladywell Road and nothing was moving on the roads by the time I left and caught a train home, except for ambulances which police and stewards were ensuring could still reach the hospital, clearing a route through the crowds.

Lewisham Hospital is well run and well used by people in the area around, and has played no part in the financial problems faced by the South London Hospitals Trust, which were largely caused by disastrous private finance schemes entered into to build the trust’s hospitals in Orpington and Woolwich. The planned closures would drastically cut health services in the area and almost certainly lead to many deaths as well as huge inconvenience for millions and are driven entirely by the financial gain in selling off 60% of the site.

But even this makes little sense as the expected £17 million this would raise would be only a minor one-off contribution towards the over £60 million the Trust has to find each year for its PFI debts which were then expected to total around £1,200 million before they were paid off.

The problem of PFI debt is not of course limited to this trust. Government figures in 2018 were that the total value of PFI investments in the NHS was then £12.8 billion – and that by the time these were paid off the NHS will have paid over £80 billion for them – more than six times as much. The figures have worsened since then as many contracts include inflation-based cost increases – leading to an extra £264 million in payments in the past 2 years. Some trusts now have to spend 10-13% of their total income on their PFI debts, and these payments cannot be cut and are prioritised. over other expenditure such as than on staff costs and drugs.

Lewisham Hospital’s campaign against the cuts was successful. They were ruled unlawful by the High Court and eventually dropped by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt after he lost an appeal.

More at Save A&E at Lewisham Hospital.


End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest – 2015

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest: Eight years aso on Saturday 17th October 2015 protesters came to the street close to the Israeli Embassy to call for peace in Palestine and an end to Israeli repression. Later I photographed Junior Doctors protesting against changes to their contracts being imposed by the government.


End the killing in Palestine – Israeli Embassy

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

A large crowd were squashed into a protest pen set up by police on the far side of High Street Kensington opposite the private road where Israel has its embassy. Many had Palestinian flags and wore the Palestinian keffiyeh headscarf, and they included many Palestinians.

End killing in Palestine & Doctors Protest

There had been a number of events over the previous month, in particular over what appeared to be a change to the de facto arrangements since 1967 for access by Palestinians to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and an apparent end to the ban on Jewish religious ceremonies there, as well as growing frustration over the continuing suppression of human rights and the failure of any peace talks.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

Tension was increased by a number of uncoordinated stabbings in what has been called the ‘Jerusalem intifada’, carried out by lone Palestinians against Israeli police, military personnel and civilians. This unrest lasted well into 2016.

End Killing In Palestine & Doctors Protest - 2015

In response Israeli forces killed over 200 Palestinians, many of whom were allegedly carrying out attacks on Israelis. But human rights organisations and Palestinian leaders say that many of these were unlawful ‘extrajudicial’ killings, with some of these being killed posing no threat.

Many of those who spoke at the protest – and many are listed and shown on My London Diary – complained about the one-sided coverage of the events in the UK media, particularly the BBC, saying that while the killing of Israelis makes the BBC news headlines, the deaths of Palestinians at the hand of Israeli security forces, illegal settlers and other Jewish extremists is seldom mentioned, although some BBC correspondents make a point of doing so despite the corporate pressure to downplay them.

More at End the killing in Palestine.


Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS – Waterloo Place & Whitehall

Junior Doctors and their supporters including many consultants and other medical staff gathered for a rally in Waterloo Place before marching down Whitehall to a rally in Parliament Square.

They were protesting against new contracts which Health Minister Jeremy Hunt was imposing on them. These will mean more working unsocial hours at standard rates and remove the safeguards that prevent hospitals from more serious overwork. They also penalised those who volunteer for charities, have families or carry out research.

Many doctors see the new contracts as a part of the increasing attempts to privatise the NHS for the profits of private medical firms, which many Tory MPs have interests in. Overwhelmingly doctors who work in the NHS want to see it kept as a service dedicated to the public good rather than working for private profit.

Hunt says the changes are essential to make the NHS a 24 hour 7 day service, but it is already that, and there were many placards naming doctors who would have come to the protest but could not do so as they were at work.

Some of the placards against NHS privatisation for the march were designed by Street graffiti artist Stik who is standing under two of them in this picture. The marchers crowded into Parliament Square but there was not enough room for them all at the rally.

More at Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS


Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane: On Saturday October 11th 2014 I photographed a protest against HSBC supporting fracking in the UK, against the secret TTIP US/EU trade deal and finally a rally in support of the Kurdish fight against ISIS in Kobane and against Turkish support for the ISIS militants.


Global Frackdown at HSBC

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

As a part of a ‘Global Frackdown’ by communities around the world against this environmentally destructive industry which leaves a legacy of water contamination, air pollution and health problems, activists took a mock ‘fracking rig’ to two branches of HSBC in central London. UK anti-fracking campaigners were joined by some from Algeria and Romania.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

The HSBC bank provides banking services for Cuadrilla the oil and gas exploration and production company developing fracking in the UK and also funds fracking around the world. In Algeria, they are helping to bring this water intensive process to the Sahara and in the US, they underwrite the BG Group responsible for fracking in large parts of the country.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

As well as the particular problems caused by fracking produces a dirty fossil fuel whose use deepens the climate crisis. But it was largely the earthquakes caused by Cuadrilla’s exploratory drilling that led to a moratorium on it in 2019 in England & Wales. The ban was briefly lifted by Liz Truss in her short but disastrous time as prime minister, but reinstated by Rishi Sunak.

Global Frackdown TTIP & Kobane

I met with the campaigners in Golden Square in Soho, where they were being closely watched and probably outnumbered by obviously nervous police who tried with no success to find out what they planned to do. After a while a group dressed in orange ‘Frack Off London’ hi-viz suits picked up some long black poles they had brought with them and marched towards Regent Street, with others carrying a banner and joining the procession.

They marched along Regent Street forming a quite impressive small crowd and stepped to erect the poles into their mock fracking rig in front of the HSBC branch, where they held a rally. Supporting the protest were Climate Revolution and Romanian anti-fracking activists who had brought their own drilling rig for some street theatre.

After some speeches the campaigners set off marching again, down Regent Street and past Piccadilly Circus on their way to the Strand branch of HSBC where they erected their rig again.

Here there were more speeches and some from the Romanian group put on a short piece of street theatre, fortunately in English, involving a greedy banker, corrupt politicians and people protesting.

The the protest marched off and down Whitehall to Parliament Square for a final short rally and some photographs.

More at Global Frackdown at HSBC.


No TTIP Rally & Banner Drop – Westminster

Protesters against the TTIP, a EU-US Trade Deal being negotiated at highly secretive talks would let corporations sue governments, lock in privatisation of our schools and NHS, undermine protection for privacy, workers and the environment and allow fracking and other harmful activities.

Although the talks were secret, some details had emerged and they were extremely worrying. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would get the EU to remove the barriers which stopped US agricultural products produced under less hygienic conditions with lower animal welfare standards such as chlorine-washed chickens and beef pumped with high levels of growth hormones as well as GM crops being imported.

EU governments which took actions on environmental grounds could find themselves in industrial kangaroo courts which could impose huge fines if their laws caused US and other companies to lose potential profits from exporting their polluting goods.

The protesters had brought with them a very long two part banner reading ‘HANDS OFF DEMOCRACY’ which was really too long for Parliament Square – and certainly too long for most photographers. A third part of it read ‘#no TTIP’, and I could only just fit thatin as well using a fisheye lens.

After the rally in the square, the protesters marched on to Westminster Bridge and carried out a ‘Banner Drop’ holding all three parts of the message. I’d run down the busy embankment to where it was possible to get a decent picture of the whole thing, but just as I began taking pictures it was moved, probably at the phoned request of the rather lazier official photographer for the group who was much closer to the bridge. And shortly after I’d started taking pictures at the second position it was on the move again.

More pictures at:
#NoTTIP – Hands off our democracy
#NoTTIP – Banner Drop


Support the Defenders of Kobane – Parliament Square

In Parliament Square I also photographed a rally with thousands, mainly of Kurdish or Turkish origin who had stopped for a rally on a march around London supporting the Kurdish fight against ISIS in Kobane, calling for support for the Kurdish fighters and condemning Turkish support for ISIS.

Kobane is a city in Syria and was surrounded by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in September 2014, forcing most of its inhabitants to flee to Turkey. Bloody battles by Kurdish forces with some help from US air strikes recaptured the city and the surrounding area, and they quickly drove back a later attack by ISIL in June 2015.

Kobane was at the time part of the de facto autonomous region of Syria, Rojava, a remarkable Kurdish democracy with a constitution giving equality to men, women and all ethnic and religious groups. But in October 2019 the city was threatened by an invasion by Turkey and accepted the entry of the Syrian government forces and Russian Military Police into the city, although it still then apparently remained under the de facto control of Rojava.

Turkey has supported the Islamic state militants, hoping that they will defeat the Kurds, many of whom live in Turkey and have been struggling for many years for greater autonomy. Turkey have provided routes for smuggling oil to provide finance for ISIS, and have for some years been fighting with Islamic militants against Kurdish forces in Syria.

Many speakers at the rally in Parliament Square called for the lifting by the UK of the ban on the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party, whose leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in jail in Turkey since 1999. In recent years Öcalan has been attempting to negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict, declaring a ceasefire at the Kurdish New Year in March 2013. There were many speakers from the mainstream UK community, including a number of trade unionists, London Green MEP Jean Lambert, and human rights lawyer Margaret Owen.

As the protesters marched away from Parliament Square there was a confrontation with police after they had tried to search some of the protesters and make an arrest. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and the marchers who had already left the square sat down on the street in Whitehall. They were still sitting there half an hour later, with negotiations between the police and protesters apparently continuing. Later one of the three men arrested was released and the protest came to and end.

Support the Defenders of Kobane


DPAC take Pants to IDS – 2013

Monday, September 4th, 2023

DPAC take Pants to IDS: Wednesday 4th September 2013 was the last day of a week of action by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) against the attacks by the coalition Tory government on the poor and disabled. I photographed protests outside the Dept of Health, Dept of Energy and Climate Change and the Dept of Education in the morning, and then a combined ‘Pants to IDS’ demonstration at the Dept for Work & Pensions in the afternoon. Between the these I also covered a rally in Parliament Square by UK Dalits protesting the failure of the government to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK; government policies on this issue seem to be dictated by their high-caste Hindu donors.


DPAC Picket Ministries

DPAC take Pants to IDS

DPAC was formed by disabled to give a voice to disabled people who are so often patronised and marginalised, despite many being highly intelligent and articulate and obviously being able to speak from experience. As users of services they know better than the highly paid consultants and cronies that governments seem to prefer to rely on to give the answers they want.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

At the Ministry of Health in Whitehall around 50 disablement activists held a protest “to defend our NHS and demand our right to levels of social care support enabling choice, control, dignity and independence.” There were banners, posters, placards, speeches and songs, including ‘Citizen Smart’ (Alan Smart) and Adeola Johnson, who sang her ‘General Strike’

DPAC take Pants to IDS

The protest there was continuing when I went on to the Department of Energy and Climate Change and joined those “angry about the numbers of disabled people living in fuel poverty while the energy companies rake in ever growing profits” to hear more speeches and songs.

DPAC take Pants to IDS

There were people holding a banner across the door which appeared to be blocked. Again I left before the end, catching a bus to the next of the four initial venues.

The mood at the Dept of Education was angrier, with a group crowding around the single doorway shouting and arguing with a man refusing them entry. They kept asking for either someone from the department to come out and discuss their protest against government attacks on inclusive education and a return to segregation or for a delegation to be allowed in to deliver their manifesto.

After I left three people were allowed to take the manifesto in, and were told that they might be allowed back to discuss it later in the week. There was so a protest at the Dept of Transport but I was too late by the time I arrived there.

More at DPAC Picket Ministries.


DPAC take Pants to IDS – Dept for Work & Pensions

The pavement outside the Dept of Work and Pensions was rather crowded with roughly a hundred protesters along with reporters and around 35 assorted wheelchairs and mobility vehicles.

They listened intently to speeches by Sean McGovern, co-chair of the TUC’s disabled workers’ committee, John McArdle of the Black Triangle Campaign (named after the symbol the Nazi’s forced those they considered “asocial” or “workshy” to wear) and Richard Reiser, co ordinator for UK Disability History Month, along with several from DPAC members.

There were performances by Heydon Prowse as a man in a white suit and with a three piece gospel choir performing a piece about Atos miracles which certify the dead and dying as ‘fit for work’.

A deputation let to deliver a copy of the UK Disabled People’s Manifesto: Reclaiming Our Futures which was to be launched at a meeting in the House of Commons later in the day to Downing St. Research shows that “disabled people are being disproportionately impacted by the cuts with those with the most complex levels of support need being hit by austerity nineteen times harder than the average person.”

The manifesto was produced by disabled people and their organisations and sets out the key principles, demands and commitments that are important to deaf and disabled people. MPs were reminded that “With around 1 in 5 of the population being disabled and many more affected by disability as family, friends and carers or simply as citizens who care about social justice, policy and pledges on disability will be a key concern of many voters as we approach the next election.”

As the deputation left, Andy Greene of DPAC opened the large bag he had been carrying around all day. He reminded us that Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) had his problems too (earlier McArdle had described him less sympathetically as “the psychopath that is the minister in this office“.)

One of IDS’s problems had been over housing, but had been solved when his daddy-in-law had given him the mansion where DPAC activists had visited him for a protest on his very nice lawn, and another was apparently with some very personal items.

Back in 2003, one of his senior aides gave evidence to a House of Commons Committee that he had claimed expenses from the taxpayer for – among other items – his underwear. So here in the bag were lots of pants for IDS, and we were invited to personalise them with a message saying what we thought of his policies, after which they could be pegged up on a washing line between the lamp posts outside the ministry. None of the comments were positive but there were just a few that were fit to photograph and print.

More pictures DPAC take Pants to IDS


End UK Caste Discrimination Now – Parliament Square

Between the DPAC protests I also photographed a protest by some of the estimated 200-400,000 lower caste Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) living in the UK. Although the House of Lords had twice voted for caste discrimination to be included in equalities law, and section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 requires the Government to introduce secondary legislation to include it under race, the government continues to cave in to high-cast Hindu objections to doing so. Although illegal in India, it is still widespread there, and many in the UK have also suffer abuse because of their caste. But wealthy Hindus are large donors to the Conservative Party (and probably now to Starmer’s Labour.)

I wrote more about this on My London Diary and there are a few more pictures at End UK Caste Discrimination Now.