Posts Tagged ‘Occupy’

Police & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

PPolice & Public Sector March, 4,000 Days of the Parliament Square Peace Campaign approaches – some of my pictures from Thursday 10th May 2012.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor – Westminster

Occupy supporters in plastic helmets joined the police march

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Occupy, Right To Protest and others joined in to protest for justice in policing.

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union, but the Police Federation can organise demonstrations like this when thousands of off-duty police, some with family members made a impressively large if rather dull protest past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St. Most wore one of the 16,000 black caps produced for the protest, the number of officers expected to be lost over the next four years as the police budget is cut by 20-30%.

Police officers attempt to intimidate the Space Hijackers

Like other public sector workers, police had suffered a two year wage freeze, as well as increases in pension contributions and many have also had large cuts in overtime. As well as those protesting, police were also on duty controlling the protest, though it was unlikely to get out of hand. But there were others as well as police, including the Space Hijackers who had a stall giving advice on how to protest, and also Occupy protesters who were calling for “a fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!

Others were there to protest against various aspects of police corruption and faced some aggravation from the officers on duty as well as some protesters. The Defend The Right To Protest group reminded police marchers of Alfie Meadows, Sean Rigg, Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles de Menezes and many others killed or seriously injured by police officers. Officers on duty made some attempts to intimidate some of the non-police protesters – and also photographers covering the event.

More at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March – St Thomas’ Hospital to Westminster

Public sector workers in Unite, PCS and UCU were on a one-day strike against cuts in pensions, jobs and services, and picketed workplaces and marched from a rally at St Thomas’ Hospital across Westminster Bridge to Methodist Central Hall for a further rally.

PCS picket at Tate Britain

Some of the pickets had begun at 5am, and a few were still in place as I walked past workplaces in Westminster – including the Houses of Parliament to meet the marchers coming over Westminster Bridge.

As they marched, many chanted “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late”, as retirement age is set to increase to 68 and beyond, while retirement contributions are increasing. They are also losing out because the government has decided to index pensions to the lower CPI inflation figures which mans they get around 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

More on My London Diary at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square – Parliament Square Peace Campaign

Brian Haw came to Parliament Square to begin his protest there on the 2nd June 2001, and the Parliament Square Peace Campaign he started had been there for almost 4,000 days, with a presence night and day, 24 hours a day since then.

Barbara Tucker

After Brian’s death from cancer the protest was continued by Barbara Tucker and other supporters who have maintained the protest on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight. Over the years the campaign has been subjected to frequent illegal harassment by police officers, Westminster Council officials and thinly disguised members of the security service, and laws have been enacted intended to bring the protest to an end.

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. Clearly a blanket is not a structure, and police and council have also removed other items of property. Later her umbrella was also taken away. Barbara’s health deteriorated and she eventually had to leave the square, and the protest finally ended early in May 2013.

4000 Days in Parliament Square


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Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy Gandhi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals – on Monday 4th May 2015 Occupy Democracy were on the fourth day of their ‘Festival of Democracy’ in Parliament Square “building a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!”

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

Occupy had come to Parliament Square in defiance of the law criminalising the use of tarpaulins, tents and other protection in the square, and were making six key demands:

• reform of party funding so that members of parliament act in the interests of those who elect them rather than the 1% who bankroll them
• major democratic reform of the media to break the stranglehold of vested interests
• a fundamental overhaul of lobbying and the way powerful economic interests inhabit the corridors of power within government
• the introduction of proportional representation so that everyone’s vote counts
• that MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid employment or corporate shareholdings
• a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy.

Occupy Festival of Democracy
Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

On Monday 4th they began a rally and meditation at the foot of the statue of Gandhi, noted for his direct action civil disobedience, calling for fossil fuel exploration and investment to be made a crime. Donnachadh McCarthy laid out a large blue banner with the message ‘Criminalise Fossil Fuel Exploration‘ and a mock tombstone with the inscription ‘RIP – 300,000 Dying from Climate Crisis Every Year Said Kofi Annan UN Gen Soc‘.

Occupy Ghandi - Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals

People then brought tarpaulins to sit on around these on the paved area in front of Ghandi’s statue and began a series of short speeches, meditation and songs about climate change and fossil fuel use.

They took a small blue tarp to the statue of Gandhi and wrapped it carefully around him. After a short pause two of the GLC’s private security heritage wardens who had been watching the event with a few police officers came up and removed the blue tarpaulin. A replacement was brought up and carefully held by two of the protesters without touching the statue (much) and the meditation continued.

There was another minor intervention by the heritage wardens who objected to burning incense sticks being placed in the flower beds. The protesters removed them and instead held them.

Donnachadh McCarthy then produced a blue folding tent and erected it, announcing that he was going to defy the ban on tents and inviting others who wished to join him.

People climbed in and after posing for a photograph with the tent the protest continues, with Donnachadh joining them inside as police approached. The police warned those inside the tent they were committing an offence and warned them they could be arrested – and then walked away.

Some minutes later, at exactly 2pm a larger group of police returned and surrounded the tent.

They gave those inside a final chance to leave without being arrested. Three people remained inside the tent, holding each other tight.

Finally they were arrested, handcuffed and taken away to waiting police vans. The whole police operation seemed a massive waste of public money enforcing a ridiculous law. The real criminals are not a few protesters with tents and tarpaulins in public squares, but those who sit in boardrooms and continue promote and produce fossil fuels which are driving us towards extinction, plotting actions to derail attempts to make the changes the planet needs in order to increase their profits.

More pictures at Occupy Gandhi – stop fossil fuel criminals.


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Cost of Living Protest – 2022

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Cost of Living Protest – 2022
Last Saturday, 2nd April 2022, I photographed a protest opposite Downing Street organised by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Stop the War Coalition. The People’s Assembly said on their web page:

Public outrage over the Cost of Living Crisis is growing fast and our response is gaining momentum. Right now is the time for us all to come together in unity and build our collective resistance.
Now is the time to get out onto the streets to send a clear message to the government that we refuse to pay for their crisis.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

The protest in London was one of 25 in cities around the country against the price increases and National Insurance contribution raise which will mean the largest fall in living standards since records began 80 years ago and a fall in real wages greater than ever in the past 200 years.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

The Spring Statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak made clear that it is the lower paid workers (and students), pensioners, those on benefits and the public sector workers in particular who will pay the price, while putting in place measures to protect big business and high earners.

Pay inequality in the UK – the ratio between what the average worker earns and the pay (including bonuses) of the bosses of leading companies – has risen spectacularly in recent years. Had the minimum wage kept up the the rise in what they are paid it would now be over £25 an hour – but went up on April 1st to £9.50 an hour for those aged 23 and over – with lower rates for younger workers.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

Food banks are now struggling to keep up with demand, and report that some people coming to them are turning down anything which requires heating up as they cannot afford gas or electricity. Advice workers say more and more people are coming to them who have to chose between heating and eating – and many can only eat basics on alternate days and are depriving themselves of food to feed their children.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022
London, UK. 2 Apr 2022

I listened to the UK’s leading money-saving expert saying he had run out of tips to help people cope – and most of the advice he and others have given on energy saving are things we have always done in our household.

My wife and I have relatively low outgoings, living in a house we own and choosing not to own a car. Over the years we’ve been able to invest large amounts in double-glazing and insulation – and a few solar panels to supply a little of our electricity needs. When we moved in 48 years ago to a small Victorian semi built for agricultural workers we replaced the draughty rattling windows and draught-proofed doors. We decided central heating would be wasteful, so our energy bills are relatively low. Even so, they have now roughly doubled from what they were a year ago, with more increases coming later in the year. But we will be able to get by even though our income is low. Others are much less fortunate.

Jeremy Corbyn - Cost of Living Protest - 2022
London, UK. 2 Apr 2022. Jeremy Corbyn.

And in particular the effects on disabled people are savage and shameful. Research shows they are five times as likely to be at risk of food insecurity and twice as likely to be living in cold homes as the non-disabled. And in a particularly targeted cruel and inhuman decision around 210,000 people on disability benefits have now been barred from claiming the Warm Home Discount payment despite the fact that they often have greater than normal needs for heating, hot water and energy to run specialist equipment.

More pictures from the event online at Downing Street Cost of Living Protest, London, 2 Apr 2022


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Occupy London, The Lord Mayor’s Show & More

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Ten years ago was a very busy day for me in London. Saturday 12th November was the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, which I’d photographed occasionally in previous years, but probably would not have bothered with, but it was made far more interesting this year by the presence of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

I went up quite early to photograph the camp where later in the day Occupy LSX were to hold there own alternative ‘Not the Lord Mayors Show’ festival of entertainment, and wandered around talking to people and taking a few pictures.

I also went to take photographs of some of those preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and then took pictures as the parade began. As I commented, “I found the marching servicemen, military vehicles and weapons and military bands that are a major element of it disturbing. Of course the event as a whole reflects earlier times, with the city aldermen and liverymen in quaint costumes, but it would be appropriate for it to present a rather more civilised face to the world.

As in other years, the Lord Mayor’s coach stopped at St Pauls for him to be blessed by the Canon in Residence Rt Revd Michael Colclough. Occupy LSX asked the cathedral staff if the Canon would bless them too, and though the staff were very doubtful, the Canon came to talk with the people from Occupy and then blessed them too.

Entry to St Pauls, other than to take part in services usually involved paying a fee – back in 2011 it was £14.50 – but is free on the day of the Lord Mayor’s Show, and I took the opportunity to go in and up to the ‘Stone Gallery’ around the base of the dome (the higher ‘Golden Gallery’ was closed because of the crowds) and take some pictures there.

I took the District Line to Westminster for an advertised protest against Ethiopia’s war against Somalia, only to find there were only three men and a small boy at the advertised starting time, though they had a number of placards against what they describe as genocide and ‘Obama’s Proxy War’. They assured me more people would arrive and that the protest would continue for five or six hours, but when I came back again two house later there was no sign of it.

I returned to the City, where some protesters were setting off from the OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral for a ‘tour of shame’, visiting the offices of 3 arms dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army. This was a part of the International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution which had toppled the Mubarek regime, but the army had taken charge and there had been more than 12,000 trials in military courts, without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a programme of repression against the people. They called on the UK government to end support for the Egyptian military and stop selling them arms which might be used in further massacres such as that in Maspero a month earlier when soldiers opened fire killing 27 Coptic Christians and injuring over 300.

I left the marchers at Ludgate Circus and walked back to see what was happening with Occupy SLX at St Paul’s, then took the District Line again to Westminster to see if the Somali protest had grown. There was no sign of it, but I found another protest just leaving Old Palace Yard for a rally outside Westminster Abbey. This was the ‘500 Crosses for Life’ prayer procession, organised by EuroProLife UK, a “European ecumenical initiative” based in Germany with the full title “European Voice of the Unborn Children: Protect Our Life”, and there were several hundred people carrying white crosses.

They had walked from Westminster Cathedral to a rally here and a speaker at the rally was describing and applauding protests outside clinics in Germany where abortions take place. I found this disturbing – and commented on My London Diary “People have a right to their views on abortion, and to hold peaceful protests such as this and of course to pray about the matter. But isn’t harassing women who go to clinics at what is almost certainly for them a very stressful time morally offensive, a demonstration of an un-Christian lack of love as well as a statement of lack of faith in the power of prayer?”

More on all these at:
Anti-Abortion Prayer Protest
Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Somalis Protest Obama’s War
London From St Paul’s
Lord Mayor’s Show
Lord Mayor’s Show – Occupy London


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Pay Rise, Occupy, Blessed Sacrament & Poor Doors

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Saturday 18th October 2014 was another long and busy day for me. After briefly looking in at Parliament Square, where a few from Occupy Democracy had defied police to spend the night on the pavement I went to the Embankment where thousands were massing for the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise‘ march which was due to begin in a couple of hours time.

I returned to the TUC march a little later for the Press Call, seldom very interesting events to photograph, and then the start of the march where Frances O’Grady was doing her best for the camera.

Things got a little more interesting as the march filed part me, and towards the end of the 80,000 or so I met rather more people I knew, including those with CND, Focus E15, Occupy London, Class War and other radical groups.

An hour and a quarter after the start the people at the back were getting close to the start of the march, and I went back for another look at things in Parliament Square. Not a lot was happening, apart from some illicit sleeping (its a crime there.)

I went on to Westminster Cathedral, arriving in time to meet the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament leaving to walk to St Georges Cathedral in Southwark, and walking with them across Lambeth Bridge, from where I walked back towards Parliament Square.

I arrived back as more people who had been on the TUC march were arriving, including a group from UK Uncut dancing to a music centre on a shopping trolley. Police and a warden from Westminster Council – who are responsible for the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament came and tried to seize the music centre, but after much argument allowed the to keep it so long as they left the square.

Shortly afterwards others arrived, with a group of anarchists running across the grass with black flags, chased by ‘heritage wardens’, then others poured onto the grass with the two towers with the messages ‘Power’ and ‘Democracy’ they had carried on the TUC march. A rally then took place, gathered around these to protect them, with John McDonnell MP as the first speaker, while police lined the edge of the square watching. Then small groups of police began to gather, ready to charge, and police reinforcements arrived; it seemed only a matter of minutes before they tried to clear the area.

But after Russell Brand arrived to speak, the police rapidly melted away and the many vans drove off. I suspect they knew that had they attacked when he was present there would have been massive media coverage and decided it was better to come back at dead of night after most of the press and TV have left – as they did.

I left to go to Aldgate, where Class War were holding a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, with a larger than usual group who had come from the nearby Anarchist Book Fair. It was a livelier protest than usual with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo up from Wales for the event, as well as a rather larger than usual police presence.

Inevitably at the end of the protest the group decided to move onto the busy Whitechapel High Street and block it, ignoring orders by the police to leave the highway. It’s a fairly dark area of street and my flash unit was having problems, but I managed to make a few pictures, some by the headlights of the blocked cars. After around ten minutes the protesters decided it was time to leave the road and end the protest, and I went home.

More at:

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Democracy Camp takes the Square


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October 13th 2001-2015

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Thinking about events I had photographed on October 13th I found rather a lot over the years – so here are links to some of them from 2001-2015.

There are just a few black and white pictures from the October 2001 Stop The War March in London. Back in 2001 I was still working on film, and although I had taken pictures in both black and white and colour I only had a black and white scanner.


By 2003 I was working with a digital camera, a Nikon D100, and on the 13th October I joined another thousand or so people from around the country to say ‘No to GMO’. Most of the work being done on genetic modification was aimed at increasing the profits of companies and at locking farmers into using patented seeds which had to be purchased from them and which required expensive chemical inputs and would penalise or even lead to prosecutions of those who continued with traditional methods, particularly organic farmers, and severely reduce bio-diversity. The protesters were largely concerned about the possible risks of genetic modifications that were not being subjected to thorough long-term testing. The government seemed simply to be preparing to give way to commercial pressures.

The protesters went first to the National Farmers Union, then to Downing Street (or rather outside the gates to Downing Street) then on past the Houses of Parliament to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in Smith Square. The digital pictures I was making then seem rather dark and muted and processing software then was still rather poor.


It was 2007 before I photographed anything at all relevant on 13 October again, and this time I was on a walk about The Romance of Bethnal Green, a book by Cathy Ross, which had included a number of my pictures from the 1980s.

In 2008 came ‘Climate Rush – Deeds Not Words’:


Exactly 100 years ago, more than 40 women were arrested in the ‘Suffragete Rush’ as they attempted to enter The Houses of Parliament. To mark this centenary, women concerned with the lack of political action to tackle climate change organised and led a rally in Parliament Square, calling for “men and women alike” to stand together and support three key demands:

  No airport expansion.
  No new coal-fired power stations.
  The creation of policy in line with the most recent climate science and research.

Those attending were asked to wear white, and many dressed in ways that reflected the styles of a century ago, and wore red sashes with the words ‘Reform Climate Policy’, ‘No New Coal’ ‘Climate Code Red’ and ‘No Airport Expansion’, with campaigners against a second runway at Stansted having their own ‘Suffrajets’ design. We were also offered fairy buns with ‘Deeds Not Words’ and ‘Climate Bill Now’

It was a protest that brought together some fairly diverse groups, including the Women’s Institute and the Green Party as well as Climate Rush, who, led by Tamsin Omond tried to storm their way in to the Houses of Parliament like their Suffragette predecessors, but were stopped by police. She was later arrested, not for this action but for breach of her bail conditions from the ‘Plane Stupid’ roof-top protest at the Houses of Parliament 8 months earlier.


On 13th October 2012, Zombies invaded London in a charity event, to “raise the dead and some dough in aid of St. Mungo’s“, a charity which reaches out to rough sleepers and helps them off the streets.

I went on from there to the steps of St Pauls, where on the first anniversary of their attempt to occupy the Stock Exchange, Occupy London joined a worldwide day of protest, #GlobalNoise, by the Occupy movement, to target the “political and financial elites who are held responsible for destroying our communities and the planet, resonating the ongoing wave of anti-austerity protests in Europe and around the world. At the same time #GlobalNoise is a symbol of hope and unity, building on a wide variety of struggles for global justice and solidarity, assuring that together we will create another world.

From a rally at St Paul’s they went on to sit down at a few places around the City, before crossing London Bridge heading for an undisclosed location to occupy for the weekend. Some wanted to occupy the ‘Scoop’ next to City Hall, but others felt it wasn’t suitable. A group went on to block Tower Bridge, but then returned to join others at Scoop.

In 2015 the Zionist Federation organised a protest outside the Palestinian Authority UK Mission against the stabbings of Jews in Israel. Jewish and other groups supporting Palestinian resistance to occupation and Israeli terror came along to protest against all violence against both Jews and Palestinians in Israel and for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


I left while the two protests were continuing to shout at each other to join the candlelit vigil at Parliament by Citizens UK calling for 1000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the UK before Christmas and 10,000 a year for the next 5 years. Six children froze to death in the camps last year and many in the UK have offered homes and support.

Class War, Murdoch & Cross Bones

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

I began my work on Saturday 28th March 2015 meeting with a small group from Class War in Purley, a Surrey suburb south of Croydon, who had gone there to launch the general election campaign of Class War’s candidate Jon Bigger.

Jon is now Dr Jon Bigger, and his PhD thesis at Loughborough University was on “British anarchist group Class War with a specific focus on their approach to the general election of 2015. As anarchists tend to shun concepts like representation, even within their own ranks, as well as working towards the ending of the state, the groups’ electoral behaviour is worthy of close investigation. The study is ethnographic in nature providing a detailed account of how the group operates, its norms, values, structure and methods of organising.”

His work was very much as an insider, one of seven candidates the group backed at the 2015 election, all of whom lost their £500 deposits. The election campaigns were a form of direct action rather than an attempt to actually be elected, “one that ruptures the norms of electoral campaigning, providing the group with new avenues for activity.”

You can read more of Bigger’s views on his web site Jon Bigger: A Journal of Anarchy and in regular features elsewhere. South Croydon was always going to be a tough constituency for anarchist views and the 65 votes he got were probably more than expected – and recorded on the parliament web site as a 0.1% increase which perhaps compares well with the -16.9% of the Lib Dem candidate.

Jon Bigger makes his election address outside the Tory Pary HQ

My main surprise about the event was the almost complete emptiness of central Purley on a Saturday morning – avery windy desert where Class War found it difficult to find anyone to talk to other than the group of police – roughly the same number as them – who doggedly followed them around happily earning their overtime. Purley man (and woman) appears to have lost the use of their legs, only managing the short distance from supermarket car park to supermarket.

I was sorry not to be able to relax with Class War in the pub after their strenuous campaigning, but had to get back to London Bridge where Occupy Rupert Murdoch week was continuing outside the News International building at London Bridge with the People’s Trial of Rupert Murdoch.

Inevitably he was found guilty, but the sentence seemed extremely mild. My account continues:

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system. London is the the world’s largest tax haven, and the whole basis of the City is corrupt, allowing people to borrow money on the basis of their earlier borrowing in a system that seems rather too much like the Emperor’s new clothes which began to crash in 2008. He ended by handing out StartCOIN scratch cards with free money on them (“The currency of the revolution”) but I think I lost mine. Always been hopeless with money.

Occupy Rupert Murdoch

I decided not to stay on for the attempt to occupy the News International building at 7pm, but was tired and decided to leave it to my colleagues to cover. Rather to my surprise it was successful, with protesters managing to stay in the building for around 20 hours, but it got little or no media coverage. Even Murdoch’s competitors didn’t want to get on his wrong side by covering the event – as I commented “Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.

I’d earlier seen two men in what looked like Victorian dress on the pavement outside a pub close to News International and had gone over to talk with them. The told me that they were attending an Open Day at the nearby Cross Bones Graveyard. It’s a place I’d visited before, where outcasts who were refused burial in churchyards had been buried until it was closed as overcrowded in 1853. Among them were many ‘Winchester Geese’ prostitutes licenced by the Lord Bishop of Winchester from 1142 on, whose taxes and fines provided a considerable income for the clergy, and their young children. Museum of London excavations of part of the site carried out for the Jubilee Line extension suggest that half of the around 15,000 burials there were of children.

Local writer John Constable (right, above) revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, and regular ceremonies and vigils now take place there. In 2020 Southwark Council granted a 20 year lease to Bankside Open Spaces to protect and maintain the graveyard as a public garden of remembrance.

More at:
Cross Bones Open Day
Murdoch on Trial – Guilty as charged
Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon


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.


November 30th 2011

Monday, November 30th, 2020

November 30th fell on a Wednesday in 2011, and it was the day of a strike by public sector workers against government plans to cut their pensions as part of the austerity programme following the banking crisis. As I wrote back then:

Feelings are certainly running very high over pension injustice, as well as over the government cuts in jobs and services. The widespread feeling across the country – not just trade unionists – that our government is made of of the wealthy and privileged who just do not understand the problems of ordinary people was reflected in the two hand-written placards I photographed, both with photographs of Cameron and Osborne alongside the texts ‘Eton Boys, Do you Feel Our Pain, As You Order Your Champagne‘ and ‘No Cuts For You, Eton Boys!!’

The day had begun early for strikers at Wandsworth Town Hall who had been on the picket line since 6am at the Town Hall and other council sites across the borough, though I only joined them around 4 hours later, when many were about to leave to join the TUC march in central London, and I also made my way to a packed Lincoln’s Inn Fields where around 20,000 were assembling.

As well as public sector workers – including many from associations which have no record of previous strike action or taking part in protests – there were activists from groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks and other supporters, including political artist Kaya Mar with his painting of coalition leader David Cameron and his Lib-Dem sidekick Nick Clegg carrying blood-stained axes.

There were also a group of French trade unionists from the CGT, come to support their English colleagues – here in a picture beside Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and John Rimmer, president of the NASUWT.

More joined the march along the route to Westminster. It was a peaceful march which hardly merited the huge police presence, and I think the French trade unionists will have thought it very restrained, although some groups, particularly some of the students, did liven it up a little with loud chanting and the occasional surge. The rally had already begun when I arrived, although the end of the march was still almost a mile back.

I didn’t wait to hear the speeches, but went to Piccadilly Circus, where Occupy London protesters from the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral were gathering for a protest against corporate greed. I stood with them for around half an hour while we all waited for something to happen, watched by a large crowd of police. It began with a diversion as around 30 people with the ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’ banner that I’d photographed earlier on the TUC march rushed across the road to protest outside Boots, drawing much of the police attention.

Others by Eros were getting ready the main banner ‘All Power to the 99%’ which they then rushed along the street with the rest of the protesters following, going down Haymarket, and I rushed along with them taking pictures. At Panton St, one of them lit a bright orange flare and they all turned down the street to Panton House, where some rushed into the foyer.

I stopped there to take a few pictures rather than rushing to follow them up the stairs. By the time I turned to follow them the stairs were rather crowded but I made my way up to the third or fourth landing before deciding I was out of breath and probably not going to get to the top as the stairs were too crowded. By then the police had begun to catch up, and stopped me going down. And although police were shouting and me and the others on the stairs to go down, other police were pushing us out of the way when we tried to do so as they rushed up to the roof.

Eventually I managed to make my way out and try to take a few pictures as protesters on the roof lowered banners over the edge while others outside formed a ‘human microphone’ to let everone know what the protest was about.

Occupy London had chosen Panton House as it contains the London offices of the mining Company Xstrata, whose CEO Mick Davies they say is the highest paid CEO in the UK, but according to their statement, “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

I was sorry not to have made it to the roof as several other photographers had done, but at least I was able to slip through the police kettle and go home early after a rather tiring day.

More pictures at:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March
Wandsworth Nov 30 Rally

More from May Days: 2012

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

The 2012 march lived up to its billing in bringing together “trade unionists, workers from the many international communities in London, pensioners, anti-globalisation organisations, students, political bodies and many others ” to march through London, and was perhaps even more varied than in previous years.

There were the usual large groups of Turkish and Kurdish socialists and others from around the world, and on My London Diary I wrote:

Among the various key issues for workers raised by this year’s march were the attacks on pensions and other cuts, the closure of one third of Remploy factories with the loss of jobs by more than 1500 disabled people, and the workfare scheme which is being used to compel the unemployed to give free labour to companies or lose their job-seekers allowance, leading to less paid jobs being available.

London May Day March

At the back of the march were several hundred autonomous bloc protesters who stopped to protest on the Strand outside some of the shops using free labour or avoiding paying taxes, including branches of McDonalds, Greggs, Topshop and Pizza Hut. They had been accompanies and harassed on the march by a large group of police, and when they stopped to protest there were minor scuffles and several arrests. Occupy protesters put up several tents when the marchers reached Trafalgar Square, and were forced by police to remove them.

Samantha Rigg speaks about the killing by police of her brother Sean

Outside the IPCC offices on the Strand, Campaign 4 Justice and Merlin Emmanuel, Smiley Culture’s nephew had organised a rally against the corruption of the IPCC which was set up to replace the previous corrupt Police Complaints Authority. The IPCC is dominated by former police officers and they called for a citizen-led body that has proper powers and true independence from the police.

After the rally in Trafalgar Square, London Solidarity Federations and Occupy London led a crowd of several hundred to protest outside various branches of shops which were taking part in Workfare schemes. I joined them on Oxford St, where there were a series of minor skirmishes with police who tried to prevent them entering the shops. The protesters finally returned to Charing Cross police station and the Strand, and suddenly the police went off shift and disappeared.

The protesters held a discussion, undecided about how to proceed without their opposition, and some, led by Occupy London, decided to head for the City with the ‘Reclaim May Day‘ maypole, stopping on the way for a very short protest at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A van of City of London Police came to take a brief look at them before driving away, and they made their way to the Stock Exchange unescorted. After posing for pictures they then occupied the entrance to the closed Stock Exchange and were soon joined by a handful of police officers.

People were beginning to party in the square and it looked as if little was likely to happen, so I left for home. Eventually the protest here ended around 11pm.

Stock Exchange Occupied
May Day Workfare Protest
Abolish The Corrupt IPCC
London May Day March


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.