Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

Suicide Crisis

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

I hadn’t realised until I went to this event the terrible scale of the suicide crisis this country is now facing. It isn’t something that is entirely evenly distributed and I have to think for a long time to recall someone I know personally who has actually killed themselves. But while talking to a friend a few months ago she told me that over 20 people she had know had taken their own lives, all disabled people in desperate circumstances because of cuts in benefits, either because of unfair assessements or following benefit sanctions.

I had a shock a few weeks ago, waiting for a train at a busy London station, standing on the platform when something had clearly gone wrong, with railway staff running down the neighbouring platform to stop an incoming train. I glanced back down the track and quickly turned away as some distance away there was clearly a body and a great deal of blood on the line. My train was just coming in and I got on and left without knowing what had happened, but several times a year the trains on my own line are halted because someone has jumped in front of a train at another station.

The last person I knew who did so was a photographer, Bob Carlos Clarke, who in 2006 walked out of the Priory Hospital in Barnes and threw himself in front of a train at a nearby level crossing. A year or two earlier I’d had some long telephone conversations with him about his book ‘Shooting Sex: The Definitive Guide to Undressing Beautiful Strangers’ and he had sent me a CD-Rom with some of his pictures, though I don’t think I ever got round to writing more than a short note about it – it wasn’t my sort of photography.

I’d come across suicide – or rather attempted suicide – at a much closer distance in my teenage years when I’d actually interupted someone who was trying to electrocute themselves, pulling away one of the mains wires they had wrapped around a finger and had burnt into their flesh. It was an event that seared itself into my mind too.

What shocks me now are the statistics on teenage suicides, with UK official figures showing more than 200 school age children now kill themselves each year. The campaigners were laying out 200 pairs of shoes to represent these 200 fatalities, 200 lives ended. One of the main factors that lead to this is the failure of mental health services, which simply lack the resources to deal eefectively with the problem, particularly with the problems of young people. Speakers told some horrific stories of teenagers waiting for months to get the specialist care they desperately need or at being let down by what care is provided.

A number of MPs and others had pledged support and some were shown on posters with their promises in writing, GPs and psychatrists came to speak, along with both the Shadow Minister for Mental Health & Social Care Barbara Keeley and Shadow Secretary of State for Health Jon Ashworth came and pledged a Labour government to action. But unfortunately we haven’t got a Labour government.

More at: Stop the suicide crisis.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Students for democracy

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

After a lengthy rally in a packed Whitehall, so full that police asked the organisers to tell people at the end only to move out in the direction of Trafalgar Square to avoid the danger of people being crushed as the Parliament Street end was so packed, Youth Strike for Climate and other mainly young protesters decided it was time for some more direct action.

It had been a long rally, with speaker after speaker, and the crowd in front of the stage was so packed that I was unable to move through it as I usually do during the more tedious of the speeches. There were some good speeches, and some well-known speakers, but I now find standing in one place for a long time makes my legs start to itch and throb, inflaming my varicose eczema.

So when the Youth Strike moved off, I was more than happy to follow them, though I did hope they would not move too far. There were other groups that marched as well as those I was with, some going into the West End, but fortunately these marchers went to a rather more convenient place for my journey home.

As they marched up Whitehall, police appeared to be forming a cordon across the top of the street, and they turned right down Whitehall Place, then continuing up Craven Street to The Strand. Police made no further effort to stop them, with just a few officers marching with them as they made their way onto Waterloo Bridge and sat down, blocking the south-bound carriageway.

They began their own rally there, and there were several short speeches, but the lure of Waterloo Station just a short distance further on soon proved too great, and I left to go home. As I walked off the bridge, several vans full of police arrived and were doubtless about to attempt to re-open the bridge to traffic, but I’d had enough.

More pictures Students March to Defend Democracy.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Democracy under threat

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Democracy in this country is certainly not perfect, but what we have is the result of hundreds of years of history, of the fight for power between the monarchy and a parliament which has long represented the interests of the rich and powerful. An early victory along the road came with Magna Carta, when the barons who had spent the night just a few hundred yards from where I now live, forced King John to sign a document that outlined some basic freedoms and the principle that the monarch was subject to the laws of the land.

It wasn’t a document that did a great deal for the peasants or the serfs, though two years later another charter by Henry III did restore some of the rights of free men which had been appropriated following the Norman invasion.

Despite the rise in the twentieth century of the Labour movement, our democracy remains one that largely protects and serves the interests of the rich and powerful. And although theoretically we are all equal under the law, in practice this has never been the case. And although the constraints and enforcements are generally more subtle than in most countries we are still a feudal country in many ways, with power still residing in the ownership of land, including huge areas by the descendants of those Runnymede barons, as well as the ownership of media. And occasionally the monarchy and its agents still bites – as Dr David Kelly’s staged suicide shows.

Much of the more recent amelioration in areas such as worker’s rights has of course come from our membership of Europe, driven by countries which had the sense to behead their royalty or lost them in wars. There is a huge irony in the continual parroting by some working class Brexiteers that Brexit is “taking our country back“. It is – but giving it back to the rich.

Boris Johnson’s government is a part of this process of restoring control to wealthy elites, taking power away from Parliament. The government tried to close down debate on leaving Europe without a deal by simply shutting down Parliament. Eventually the Supreme Court decided that the move was illegal. Now that the Tories have a large majority it seems certain that the powers of the court will be limited to prevent such legal scrutiny occuring again. And already parliament is having its powers to debate any new trade agreements removed.

Although ‘Boris’ cultivates the image of a clown, it’s wrong to think he is one, or indeed that he is really in charge, rather than just a figure-head being allowed to perform by others with far more serous designs. And while some posters featuring the monarchy were amusing, the suggest that they carry that we would somehow be better off if the monarchy was more powerful is misguided. We may well be heading to become an unconstitutional ‘Banana State’ but we would be better fighting for a people’s republic.

More pictures: Defend democracy, Stop the Coup.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.