Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens. On Tuesday 30th June 2015 I joined disabled people at Downing St marking the ending of the Independent Living Fund before going to Robin Hood Gardens, a brutalist estate in Poplar doomed for demolition.


DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony – Downing St to Old Palace Yard

Disabled people and supporters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, met outside Downing St to bring a petition with over 25,000 signatures calling for a continuation of this essential support for the disabled.

Sophie Partridge, disabled Actor, Writer & Workshop artist

The Independent Living Fund which was coming to an end on that day had given them to money to employ support to enable them to live with dignity and for many to continue in work and make a contribution to society. Without it they fear they will simply be shut away and left to rot, many fearing they will now be left for many hours at a time in incontinence pads.

Paula Peters

Outside the gates of Downing Street they wrote slogans on incontinence pads; Paula Peters of DPAC had a message for Iain Duncan Smith, then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions responsible for the ending of support, ‘I want dignity – I want to be treated as a human – You wear one of these I. D. S. They are awful’.

A campaigner dressed as Brittania was among those who had come to hand in the petition which had gained support from a video by the stars of Coronation Street and the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. One of those stars spoke in front of the gates of Downing Street.

John Kelly as Schimmel leads the march

From Downing Street the campaigners marched the quarter mile or so to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament, led by John Kelly as Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera.

Here they were joined by others including Labour MP John McDonnell who spoke at the rally marking the end of the Independent Living Fund, at the end of which a wreath with the message’s ‘RIP ILF’ was laid.

DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony


Robin Hood Gardens – Poplar

Two walls of flats protect an inner garden area

The ILF protest had ended a little before 1pm and it was a fine day and I decided to take another visit to Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, where demolition had begun after the refusal to list the site. Listing had been recommended for listing by the advisory committee of English Heritage in 2009, but the then Minister of Culture Andy Burnham had issued a certificate of immunity against listing which expired in 2014.

These are large and desirable properties, but often have been used to house difficult residents

A further attempt was then made to have the site listed, supported by almost every well-known British architect, but Historic England, now responsible for listing buildings rejected this.

A wall at left screens the estate and there is a lower service and parking area

An open letter signed by many leading architects including Richard Rogers made clear the value of the site, and I quoted from this in My London Diary.

The buildings, which offer generously sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of Modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever.”

The end of the ‘street in the sky’

The refusal to list on both occasions was clearly a political one, almost certainly driven by the huge profits demolition and rebuilding on the site would make for the developers.

As with the award-winning Heygate Estate in Southwark, and the fine Central Hill Estate at Gypsy Hill, Lambeth, the local council, Tower Hamlets, was keen to get rid of the estate and had carried out what I described as “a well funded campaign of vilification“, seeing it “only as a large area with potential for redevelopment at a higher density“, working with “developers who see any area of social housing in London as rich pickings for redevelopment and sale to the rich.”

A large enclosed playground at the south end of the site

By the end of June 2015 most of the west block seemed empty and boarded up and I was unable to gain entry. But I could roam the large garden in the centre of the estate, now let to grow wild, and went inside the still occupied east block, going up to the highest public level, a ‘street in the sky’ built rather less wide than the architects had originally intended, overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel approach. From there I took a number of pictures of the views from the block looking towards the east.

The south end of Robin Hood Gardens was on Poplar High St

As on a couple of previous visits I talked briefly with some of the residents who all told me they were pleased to be living in the block and sad they would have to leave – though some did complain about the lifts (I think only one of the two at the entrance I went in was working.)

Knocking down buildings like these which are structurally in good condition is inexcusable in terms of the huge carbon footprint involved in their construction, demolition and rebuilding. The estate could and should have been refurbished at relatively low cost and would have continued to provide good quality homes for many years. Its replacements – the west section already built – are of lower quality and will almost certainly not last as long as this could have done. The advantage of their roughly three times higher density is at the expense of possible amenity.

As well as walking in and around the estate I also took some pictures of it from the surrounding area, and some other pictures you can see on My London Diary, including a few when I stopped at Canning Town station and took a few pictures of people on the new footbridge across Bow Creek.

Robin Hood Gardens


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MP Threatened Over Brexit

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists

On December 19th 2018, tempers were still running high over Brexit, and I had been photographing extreme Brexiteers shouting at and threatening Steven Bray and other pro-Europeans as they continued their daily vigil outside parliament.

The protests across lunchtime seemed to be drawing to a close when I noticed the small group of extremists interviewing a bizarrely-dressed blogger outside the public entrance to the Houses of Parliament and went across to take some pictures.

Then they saw Anna Soubry, then the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, on the west edge of Nottingham and a vocal pro-European walking past and confronted her. She stopped to talk and argue with them, and they angrily shouted at her. She called to a police officer nearby for support, but he simply told the protesters to stop and ignored them when they failed to do so. Eventually after a minute or so she managed to turn away and walk past more police into Parliament, and officers then prevented the Brexiteers from following her.

I filed the pictures rather more rapidly than usual to meet deadlines as I realised that I was the only photographer present (though at least one of the extremists was filming the confrontation) and was pleased to see a few of them in the papers later. Though had I been with a more active agency I would have made much more from the set.

Extremist Brexiteers at parliament

Here are a couple of the pictures from a few minutes earlier outside the gates of Parliament.

Police were holding them back as they tried to stop cars leaving through the gates.

Extreme Brexiteers clash with SODEM

Earlier the group of extremist Brexiteers had been harassing Steven Bray and the supporters of SODEM, (Stand of Defiance European Movement) the group he founded in 2017 and which was holding daily vigils whenever Parliament was in session.

They accused Bray of being a drunk and asked “Who funds Drunk Steve”, a question that was rather redundant as two large banners were covered with logos of a wide range of organisations supporting SODEM’s daily pickets. There was a lot of shouting, threats and aggressive gestures, but no actual violence with police trying with little success to separate the two groups.

I’d photographed both groups on previous occasions, and had given up on going specially to photograph them, but was still taking pictures when I had gone up to cover other events – as on this Wednesday. SODEM were always pleased to be photographed, but their opposition at times objected to my presence.

MP welcomes Delhi to London driver

Another event that happened while I was there was the arrival of The Turban Traveller, a Sikh with a film crew from Creative Concept Films in Delhi who arrived in London today after driving overland from Delhi and was greeted by Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall.

Cuts kill disabled people say protesters

But I had come to Parliament to photograph disability groups DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network) who together with WOW campaign were protesting against the cumulative impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people.

The War on Welfare campaign attracted over 200,000 signatures to its petitions against welfare cuts, and the protest was in support of a debate due later in the day on the cumulative impact of the cuts on the lives of disabled people.

Among those who came to speak with the protesters was Virendra Sharma MP, who had come out to meet the Sikh overland traveller and although showing an interest seemed to be unaware of the problems the cuts had caused the disabled, Laura Pidcock (then MP for North West Durham) and Lib-Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno. Both the latter seemed very concerned about the terrible effect the various cuts falling particularly on the disabled.


Anna Soubry MP harassed by extremists
Extremist Brexiteers at parliament
Extremist Brexiteers clash with SODEM
MP welcomes Delhi to London driver
Cuts kill disabled people say protesters


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Students March Against Huge Fee Rise

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

Thursday 9th December 2010 was the day of a third student protest against the three-fold increase in university tuition fees which was being debated in Parliament that day, and the scenes in the area around were probably the most confusing of any I’ve seen in London.

My account of my day on My London Diary runs to around 1,700 words, and I’ll attempt not to repeat myself here, while giving a rather shorter account. The march started outside the University of London Union in Malet St, with a crowd of perhaps 10-20,000 including many sixth-formers who would be hit by the £9,000 a year fees when they went to university as well as current students and supporters.

There was a good atmosphere as the crowd listened to speeches there from trade unionists, John McDonnell MP and two sixthformers from schools that were being occupied in protest who got the largest cheers. As usual with student protests there was plenty to photograph.

The march began well though progress was rather slow, and several hundred students decided to walk in front of the main banner and for some reason police tried to stop them. They thought they were about to be kettled and rushed off towards Covent Garden. The official march continued without obstruction along the agreed route along the Strand. It wasn’t at all clear what the police had intended, and this was something that set the scene for the day.

Many more protesters joined the march at Trafalgar Square, and rather than proceed down Whitehall, police and march organisers had agreed on a route though Admiralty Arch and down Horseguards Road, and then left into Parliament Square. The march was then meant to continue down Bridge Street to an official rally on the Embankment, but most marchers had a different idea and wanted to stay in Parliament Square, the obvious place for the protest to continue.

It’s hard to understand why either police or march organisers had thought people would march on rather than stay outside Parliament – and probably many on the march had simply assumed it would end there. And soon police were actually preventing any who wanted to go on by blocking all the exits from Parliament Square except that into Whitehall (which they later decided to block.)

I managed to move around thanks to my press card, but even with this I was often refused access through police lines even in calm areas, and had to move along and find other officers in the line who would let me through, or take a longer walk around to get to where I wanted. The police didn’t appear to know what they were supposed to be doing and at one point I was being crushed by the crowd against the barriers in front of the riot police who were threatening us with batons unless we moved back – which was impossible because of the crush. Several press colleagues did get injured.

Late in the day students who wanted to leave were told by officers they could do so by going up Whitehall – only to be stopped by other police who were closing the street off. We were pushed back into Parliament Square by riot police and police horses. Police told protesters they were not being detained although they were not being allowed to leave, a kind of police logic most of us find infuriating.

Kettling like this is used by police as a kind of minor but arbitrary punishment, and as in this case it often leads to violent incidents and arrests which are then used to retrospectively justify police actions. After I had managed to get through one of the police lines and catch a bus away from the area I heard that Police had pushed a large group into a very confined space on Westminster Bridge with a total disregard for their safety, with some needing medical treatment for crushing. As I pointed out “there could easily have been more serious or fatal injuries and people pushed into the freezing river below.”

Of course protests like this need to be policed to avoid serious disorder. But the confused and sometimes unnecessarily violent way it was done on this occasion seemed to create most of the problems of the day.

As well as a long account of my day there are many more pictures on My London Diary in Students Against Cuts – Day 3.


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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.

Freedom and the Law

Saturday, August 7th, 2021

Freedom is something we almost universally value, but which is often hijacked by various groups, particularly on the extreme right to support particular causes which have little real connection with our undamental rights. Freedom is certainly not the freedom to do what we like regardless of the effect it has on others.

Freedom is not the right to own and carry guns or other weapons. It isn’t the right to spread disease we may have by not taking sensible precautions such as wearing a face mask in crowded places. It isn’t the right to increase the risk of others getting lung cancer or to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs.

Arguably the most important of our freedoms is the right to hold and express political and religious ideas and to express these. But that is not absolute, and rightly there are laws against hate speech and incitement to others to commit criminal actions or threaten the lives of others.

Back in 2005, the Labour government brought in a law to criminalise protest in Parliament Square. It was clearly a law which imposed unnecessary restrictions on our freedom and one which was brought in for a trivial reason, to end the embarrassment to the Labour ministers of one man, Brian Haw, continuing to protest, particularly over Iraq war and its disastrous consequences. That Tony Blair was annoyed by a regular reminder of his lies was not a suitable basis for legislation.

A regular series of harassment by police and others – almost certainly at the urging of the Home Secretary – had failed to shift this persistent protester, and civil servants were ordered to add a section to the bill which became the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 to make his protest illegal. In the event the act failed to apply to his protest and I wondered if this was a little deliberate subversion by at least one of those responsible for its drafting rather than simple incompetence. Because his protest had begun well before the SOCA law came in on 7th April 2005, it was apparently not covered by it. As I commented, “rather a lot of egg on government faces there.” This initial ruling by the High Court of Justice was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal and these sections of the law were replace by other restictive laws in 2011.

On Sunday 7th August 2005, protesters came to Parliament Square to deliberately disobey the law, and the police came, some rather reluctantly, under orders to arrest them. The protestors argued that protest is a human right and cannot be restricted by law in a free society.

Brian Haw was there, but protesting legally as it appeared that the act didn’t include him. He held up a placard with the words from a speech in Boston by US Scretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a ‘fear society’ has finally won their freedom.”
interleaved with his own comments on Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Belmarsh and the Iraq war and more.

The police swooped on a few of those with posters or placards and arrested them, leading them away but their heart was clearly not in it and the great majority of the protesters were untouched, though
they were warned that their protest was illegal. As I commented: ” I saw five people arrested for simply peacefully holding banners supporting the right to protest. It happened on the square opposite our Houses of Parliament, and it made me feel ashamed to be British.”

When the protest in Parliament Square ended, protesters were invited to take part in another illegal protest inside the one km restricted zone around Parliament, but on Westminster Bridge. Again taking their lead from Boston, though this time from 1773, and tipping tea into the water, campaigners calling for a low-level tax on foreign currency exchange transactions, as proposed by Nobel prize-winning economist James Tobin in 1978. This would deter speculation on currency movements, giving governments greater control over their fiscal and monetary policies, and reducing the power of speculators to affect the markets.

The connection between the tea bags torn to tip tea into the Thames, produced by large multi-national companies who are among the currency speculators, and the Tobin Tax, seemed a little weak – as doubtless was the brew in the river – though it did all alliterate nicely for the Westminster Tea Party – Time for Tobin Tax.

We are now seeing a law going through Parliament which will even further restrict our right to protest, increasing discriminatory policing, criminalising some traditional ways of life and seriously restricting and controlling protests in a huge shift further towards a police state. Unfortunately a large Conservative majority makes it seem inevitable that our freedoms will be significantly reduced.

More on My London Diary for August 2005.


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.


State Opening, Class War and Student Protests

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

I usually make a point of keeping away from the big occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, but made an exception on Wednesday May 27th 2015, partly because I had been told that Class War were planning to come and protest, but mainly as there were other events I was intending to photograph later in the day.

Class War arrived too late to reach the centre of Parliament Square where they had hoped to display their banner and the area was already tightly sealed off by police. Police security for royal events is always very tight and as on this occasion often goes well beyond what is legal. So although they managed to briefly display their banner well before the Queen’s coach arrived they were quickly forced to take it down and pushed away. Around 50 police then followed the dozen or so as they made their way to a nearby pub and a few more supporters, and stood around for an hour or so looking as if arrests were imminent before most of them moved off, but police continued to follow the group until they left Westminster. Two other people who had been showing posters against austerity in Parliament Square were arrested despite their actions being perfectly within the law; they were released without charge a couple of hours late.

I walked from the pub up to Downing St, where a line of people from Compassion in Care where holding up posters and calling for ‘Edna’s Law’ which would make it a criminal offence to fail to act on the genuine concerns of a whistle-blower, and would make the state protect whistleblowers rather than them having to spend thousands of pounds on taking their cases for unfair dismissals to industrial tribunals. They say current law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which has failed to protect the public, the victims or the whistle-blowers. So far nothing has changed.

As I arrived in Trafalgar Square where people were gathering for a protest against education fees and cuts there was an angry scene when a squad of police surrounded and arrested a man, refusing to talk with any of those in the crowd around about their actions. Had they explained at the time that the man being arrested had been identified as someone who was wanted for an earlier unspecified offence and was being taken in for questioning, it would have defused the incident, but this was only revealed after the man – and one of the protesters who had questioned the police about their action – had been put into a police van a short distance away and driven off.

Back in Trafalgar Square there was music as we were waiting for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts protest to begin, provided by ‘Disco Boy’ Lee Marshall from Kent who had brought a mobile rig to Trafalgar Square. Apparently as well as running local discos he has a huge social media following.

Finally the NCAFC protest got under way, with a good crowd of mainly students in Trafalgar Square and speakers on the plinth of Nelson’s Column.

Class War came along (still followed by police) and there were cheers as they displayed their several banners; also taking the stage and marching with the students were the Hashem Shabani group of Ahwazi Arabs, who later held their own protest.

After the speeches in Trafalgar Square the NCAFC protesters set off to march to Parliament. Police tried to stop them with a line of officers and barriers at Downing St, but there were too few officers and many of the protesters walked around them and the barriers. Police apparently randomly picked on a few of the demonstrators and tackled them with unnecessary force making several arrests. The protesters continued marching around Westminster for some hours, but I left them at Parliament Square.

I finished my day’s work in Parliament Square with the Ahwazi Arabs who protested there against the continuing Iranian attacks on their heritage and identity since their homeland, which includes most of Iran’s oil was occupied by Iran in 1925. The occupation was important in protecting the interests of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, effectively nationalised by the UK government in 1914 (later it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and then in 1954, BP) and even after the nationalisation of Iran’s oil, BP remained a leading player in the consortium marketing Iranian oil.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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