Posts Tagged ‘Paula Peters’

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – October began as just another month, but the world changed with the Hamas attack across the Gaza border with Israel on October 7th. I missed the first emergency protests against the Israeli response but the rest of my year was dominated by protests against the killing of civilians and children in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
‘Stop Starmer’ Meeting Warns Us All. Camden London, 7 Oct 2023.
A day before the Labour conference people meet in Keir Starmer’s constituency to warn everyone how dangerous a Starmer-led government would be. Those present included many former Labour Party members who say he has no principles and list almost 30 pledges he has so far reneged on, including green jobs, NHS outsourcing, Lords reform, free school meals, workers rights, oil contracts, PR, childcare. Paula Peters of DPAC speaking.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Cancel the Debt of the Global South. Bank, London, 12 Oct 2023.
65 bags for Climate Debt against 1 for debt repayments. While the World Bank/IMF meet in Marrakesh campaigners at the Bank of England from Debt for Climate, War on Want and others join in worldwide protests for the cancellation of debts of the Global South. They are owed Climate debt for damage caused by fossil fuels 65 times as much as their debt repayments.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Barclays Told Drop Polluter Drax. Canary Wharf, London. 19 Oct 2023.
Axe Drax. XR and other campaigners at Barclays Canary Wharf HQ demand they end support for Drax, the world’s biggest burner of trees which now gets around £2m a day of UK climate subsidies intended for renewable energy for its highly polluting power station, and is seeking extra subsidies for an unproven and unworkable carbon capture climate scam. Drax burns wood pellets mainly made by clear felling mature trees in the USA.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
Stand with the Palestinian Resistance! Oxford St, London. 21 Oct 2023.
Members of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and the Revolutionary Communist Group support Palestinians resisting the Zionist state of Israel which for many years has oppressed Palestinians. They protested on Oxford Street outside British businesses, banks and institutions including Marks & Spencer which have long supported the Israeli apartheid state.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023
National March for Palestine – Stop the War on Gaza. London. 21 Oct 2023.
Well over 100,000 march calling for a ceasefire and an end to the violence, for a lifting of Israel’s siege and for full humanitarian aid to be sent into Gaza immediately. They called for a just peace in the Middle East and freedom for Palestine. I was too tired after standing watching the march go past for around two and a half hours that I went home rather than photograph the rally.
Peter Marshall
UFFC Annual Rally & Procession 2023. London, 28th October 2023.
The annual remembrance procession by the United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) marching from Trafalgar Square to Downing St for a rally with speakers from the families whose relatives were killed by police and in penal, mental health and immigration detention. They call for justice and proper investigations of the officers involved suspected of crimes.
Peter Marshall
National March for Gaza – Ceasefire Now, London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Many thousands march through London called for an immediate ceasefire as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall
More Pictures – Gaza Ceasefire Now! London, UK. 28 Oct 2023.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire Now! Protest At Waterloo Station, London. 28 Oct 2023.
Several hundred protesters sat down in Waterloo Station concourse in a protest calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as Israeli forces bombarded the country and cut off all communications. Thousands of children and other civilians including 110 medical staff have already been killed and supplies of water, food, medicines and fuel are running out with a with Israel denying access to all but a tiny trickle of humanitarian aid and ignoring the UN General Assembly vote.
Peter Marshall

More from my Facebook albums for 2023 tomorrow.


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Roma, Olympic Park and Mind – 2016

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind: After a morning protest by Roma at the Czech Embassy in Kensington I took a walk around the Olympic Park in Stratford before joining the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) who were holding a Halloween Demo at the national office of Mind.


Roma protest Czech Murder – Czech embassy, Kensington

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Ladislav Balaz, Chair of the Roma Labour Group and Europe Roma Network and others had come to hand in a letter calling for the murder of a young Romani man by neo-Nazi skinheads in Žatec to be properly investigated.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

The man who had lived in the UK until a year ago was a second cousin of Balaz. He was set upon as he went to buy cigarettes at a pizzeria.

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

Most cases of murders of Roma in the Czech Republic are dismissed by police as accidents and they have already issued false stories about the victim, claiming he was mentally ill and attacked people. The Roma demand justice and equality for everyone in Czech Republic and the elimination of any double standards of justice. Several of the protesters made speeches in Czech as the letter was presented.

Roma protest Czech Murder


A Walk in the Olympic Park – Stratford

Roma, Olympic Park and Mind

I had several hours between the protest outside the Czech Embassy and a protest in Stratford High Street and decided it was a good occasion to take another walk in the park at Stratford which had been the site of the 2012 London olympic games and to make some more panoramic images.

It was a year since I had been there, and four years since the Olympics and I had hoped to see the park in much better condition than I found it. Considerable progress had been made in the buildings which are shooting up around it and many of the ways into the park are still closed.

I walked around much of the southern area of the park and found it still “largely an arid and alienating space composed mainly of wide empty walkways rather than a park.”

I took rather a lot of pictures, both panoramic and more normal views before it was time to make my way back through the Westfield shopping centre into the centre of Stratford.

Many more pictures at A Walk in the Olympic Park.


Against Mind’s collusion with the DWP – Stratford

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive came out and spoke to the protesters

The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) came for a Halloween Demo at the national office of mental health charity Mind in Stratford.

They complain that Mind failed to mention the effects of welfare reform, sanctions, or benefit-related deaths in its latest five-year strategy and has dropped its support for the long-running court case aimed at forcing the government to make WCA safer for people with mental health conditions.

Mind’s policy and campaigns manager Tom Pollard had been seconded to work as a senior policy adviser to the DWP and was to start the following day and they demanded the resignation of Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer.

Farmer came out to meet the protesters on the pavement and told them that Mind was still working for people with mental health problems and not for the DWP, and that Pollard’s decision had been entirely a personal one in order to gain more insight into the workings of government rather than to assist them in the any discrimination against the disabled.

The protesters were unconvinced and after he had finished speaking several spoke about how local Mind groups were working against the interests of those with mental health problems. They claimed the local managers were often more interested in empire building than in the welfare of benefit claimants.

More pictures at Mind’s collusion with the DWP.


Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby’s – 2015

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby’s: Wednesday 8th July 2015 was budget day, and campaigners were out in Whitehall to protest. For the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign it was just another Wednesday and they lined up to remind MPs of the need for action. Later United Voices of the World were back at Sotheby’s who had sacked four workers for taking part in the previous week’s protest.


DPAC Protests – Downing St, Westminster Bridge & Parliament Square

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

Disabled People Against Cuts supporters, some in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, were protesting against the changes to benefits which will hit the disabled hardest. Their supporters included Global Women’s Strike, Winvisible, Women Against Rape, Unite Community and Class War.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

They began at Downing St with a ‘Balls to the Budget’ protest, arriving with footballs and balloons and and after some speeches on the pavement opposite Paula Peters led protesters across the road towards the gates, which were protected by two lines of police.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

From there they tried to throw balls carrying messages such as ‘If the Tories had a soul they’d sell it’, ‘Cuts Kill‘ and ‘Blood on your hands‘ over the gates, but most fell short.

Budget Day, Shaker and Sotheby's - 2015

They then moved off down Whitehall and Parliament Street on their way to Westminster Bridge. Police who had largely stood back and watched earlier tried to persuade them to go on to the pavement but were ignored.

They moved to the middle of Westminster Bridge as a small group on the Embankment in front of St Thomas’s Hospital facing the Houses of Parliament displayed a huge banner with the message ‘#Balls2TheBudget #DPAC’ with ahand making an appropriate two-finger sign.

This was then brought up onto the bridge and stretched across its full width, and along with the protesters it completely blocked traffic in both directions.

After some minutes Paula Peters called for the protesters to move to Parliament, leading the protesters and the huge banner on her own chariot past Boadicea.

Here they made use of the banner to completely block all traffic moving through the busy road junction.

They held a short rally on the street and were joined by strikers marching down from the National Gallery led by the sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin, victimised for her trade union activities.

By now police patience had grown thin, and reinforcements arrived to try to clear the protesters from the streets. They tried to grab the large banner and began to push protesters and press onto the pavements.

The press as usual obeyed the police instructions more or less, though that didn’t stop some being pushed rather too violently. Most of the protesters let themselves be pushed to the pavement, but many of those in wheelchairs refused to move. Eventually police made some arrests, including Andy Greene of DPAC who was on his mobility scooter.

Eventually police brought a specially adapted van they had hired into which they could put Andy, still on his mobility scooter and the others arrested and take them safely to the police station. Unlike normal police vans it had large windows through which I was able to take pictures.

More on My London Diary
DPAC Parliament Square Budget Day protest
DPAC blocks Westminster Bridge
DPAC ‘Balls to the Budget’


Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally

Public sector workers striking against the privatisation of the council services in Barnet and Bromley came to join the PCS strikers and held a rally in Parliament Square, along with various trade union speakers, including one of the four cleaners sacked by Sotheby’s.

Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally


Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil

The Save Shaker Aamer Campaign was also in Parliament Square, holding its regular Wednesday weekly vigil calling for the immediate release and return to the UK of Londoner Shaker Aamer and for the closure of the illegal torture prison at Guantanamo.

Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil


Sotheby’s 4 sacked for protesting

Later I met the United Voices of the World and their supporters at Oxford Circus, marching with them to Sotheby’s.- in Old Bond Street. As well as their original demands for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions they were now demanding the reinstatement of the ‘Sotheby’s 4’, cleaners sacked for taking place in the protest a week earlier.

At Sotheby’s police tried to move them away to the other side of the road, but the protesters, including a group from Class War and supporters from Lewisham People Against Profit, SOAS Unison, the National Gallery strikers and others ignored their requests. They left the entrance clear but wanted to make their presence clearly felt, protesting on the road outside.

Eventually two vans of police reinforcements arrived and started to push the protesters away, leading to a number of arguments. Eventually protesters were pushed to the pavement opposite, making it easier for taxis to drop clients directly in front of the entrance to Sotheby’s rather than having to walk past the noisy protest.

The protest was continuing when I had to leave after around an hour later.

Much more on My London Diary at Sotheby’s 4 sacked for protesting.


No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries – 2016

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

On Friday 4th March 2016, campaigners from the Mental Health Resistance Network and DPAC protested outside City Road Surgery where Remploy/Maximus job coaches will “create jobs by prescription.” They say disabled people will be bullied into unsuitable work and lose benefits through sanctions if they refuse – and protest ‘No Job Coaches in GP Surgeries‘.

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

Particularly since the Tories came into power in 2010, disabled people have been systematically attacked with cuts in benefits and unfair tests of fitness for work which have led to many suicides.

No To Job Coaches in GP Surgeries

What should be a supportive system of Job Centres encouraging and helping people find work has increasingly become a vindictive system reducing the benefits to many for often ridiculous, trivial and arbitrary reasons and attempting to force people into unsuitable jobs. Benefit sanctions can leave people without the necessary means to stay alive for months or even years at a time.

In January 2022, people on Universal Credit, either unemployed or on low paid jobs were told they had only four weeks before they had to look for jobs outside the sectors they had previously worked in, and if job centre staff feel they had not tried hard enough or had turned down jobs, however unsuitable, they would have their benefits cut.

And a few days ago, the government announced an incentive scheme awarding £250 monthly prizes to the staff whose Job Centre forces the most claimants into work and forcing claimants who have been on the benefit for thirteen weeks a to attend a job centre every weekday for a fortnight for “intensive support”.

The government clearly believe that the only incentive is cash, while most of us want jobs that we feel are worth doing and have some interest as well as pay enough to live on. Even Job Centre staff are poorly paid and their union dismissed the prize scheme, calling instead for their poverty pay to be increased. But these staff are generally not evil people, and being made by the government to bully people rather than help them must be painful for many of them as well as their clients.

The protest was a creative and colourful piece of street theatre, if sometimes chaotic, with a man dressed as a doctor wearing an Iain Duncan Smith mask and a name label ‘Dr Iain Duncan Smith, Dept of Eugenics‘ handing out prescription forms for a ‘Mr A Scrounger, 17 Lazy House, Sink Estate, Tory Britain‘.

The forms prescribed ‘Endless Job Coaching in Surgery, Major benefits reduction and PRN (‘pro re nata’ – as needed) Regular Sanctions‘ on the basis ‘Continue until complete cure or death‘ from ‘Dr A Lackey, DWP Surgery, c/o Nudge Unit, Tory Headquarters‘.

Then Maximus ‘Job Coaches’ pounced on the patients to issue G4S or Ingeus Deloitte Ltd ‘work cures’ and red ‘Sanctioned’ notices. Perhaps appropriately one of those job coaches was in costume as a squirrel and had a placard reading ‘Nuts to IDS – Squirrels Fight Back’.

There were also some serious speeches, including from a local GP, Roy Bard of MHRN, Paula Peters of DPAC, and Petros Elia, General Secretary of the United Voices of the World trade union who had come with a banner, drummers and plastic horns to add some noise to the protest.

At the end of the protest DPAC led a march down City Road, with police vainly trying to move them onto the pavement.

The march stopped at the busy Old Street roundabout where they held a noisy protest letting all around know why they were protesting for around 20 minutes blocking all traffic while police tried to move them away. Eventually after police began seriously to threaten arrests they decided it was time to end the protest and slowly moved off the street.

Much more on My London Diary at No Job Coaches in GP Surgeries. You can also see some pictures I took later that day at the launch of the re-born International Times at London is on Fire – IT is back.


PIP, NHS, Trident & Wood St Cleaners

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022

PIP, NHS, Trident & Wood St Cleaners – On Wednesday 13th July 2016 I photographed two protests about the inadequate and badly run Personal Independence Payments for disabled people, a protest supporting a cross-party bill to save the NHS from privatisation, a party against replacing Trident and the longest running strike in the history of the City of London.


PIP Fightback at Vauxhall – Vauxhall

PIP, NHS, Trident & Wood St Cleaners

The hardest part of photographing the protest at the Vauxhall PIP Consultation Centre was actually finding the place, hidden away in a back street. This was one of around 20 protests around the country at the centres where ATOS carry out sham Personal Independence Payments ‘assessments’ on behalf of the DWP.

PIP, NHS, Trident & Wood St Cleaners

The assessments are almost solely designed to save money for the DWP, enabling them to ignore medical evidence of need and are carried out by people who are given a financial incentive to fail claimants. They often mean that genuine claimants lose essential benefits for months before they are restored on appeal. They have led to many becoming desperate, with some needing hospital treatment and a few have committed suicide after being failed.

PIP Fightback at Vauxhall


NHS Bill protest at Parliament – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Labour MP for Wirral West Margaret Greenwood was later in the day presenting a ‘Ten Minute Rule Bill’ with cross-party support to stop the privatisation of the NHS and return it to its founding principles.

People from various campaigns had come out to support the bill, which although it had no chance of progressing into law did lead to a greater awareness of the privatisation which is slowly but apparently inevitably putting our NHS into the hands of private, mainly American, health companies, and eroding its basic principles.

Among those who came out to speak was Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott.

NHS Bill protest at Parliament


Disabled PIP Fightback blocks Westminster

Campaigners from Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Winvisible (Women with Invisible and Visible Disabilities) and other supporters met outside the Victoria St offices of Capita PLC, one of the companies along with ATOS responsible for carrying out the shoddy cash-saving PIP assessments.

In particular these assessments are unfair on many claimants whose conditions vary day to day including many with mental health issues. The assessments make no allowances for this and fail to take any account of the medical evidence in coming to their conclusions.

After protesting for some time on the very busy pavement where there were a number of speakers, Paula Peters of DPAC led the group out into the the middle of Victoria Street where they stood with banners and in wheelchairs blocking traffic.

They then marched the short distance to the DWP headquarters in Caxton St, holding a further protest with speakers in the road outside.

Finally they marched past the Houses of Parliament to College Green where the media had set up their ‘Westminster village’ crowded with cameras for Theresa May becoming Prime Minister. Police stopped them as they tried to go onto the grass in front of the TV cameras, and for some time they stood along the side before finally ignoring the police and going on to the green. Where the TV crews ignored the protest.

Disabled PIP Fightback blocks Westminster


Trident Mad Hatters Tea Party – Parliament Square

CND members and supporters were today lobbying MPs against plans to replace Trident at a cost of at least £205 billion.

In Parliament Square they had organised a ‘Trident Mad Hatters Tea Party’ and there were various Christian groups with placards placards stating the opposition by churches of the different denominations to the replacement, with Buddhists from the Battersea Peace Pagoda adding their support.

Trident Mad Hatters Tea Party


Solidarity for Wood St Cleaners – City of London

Finally I went to the heart of the CIty of London where a rally was taking place in support of cleaners belonging to the United Voices of the World union employed by anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning at the 100 Wood St offices managed by CBRE.

By 13th July this had already become the longest-running strike ever in the City of London and it continued into August. The UVW say:

As days became weeks, the inconvenience for white-collar workers at 100 Wood Street rightly turned into a major embarrassment for their employers, and especially for CBRE, the managers of the building. City of London police were called many times, security staff were intimidating, and the tenants were barely coping with a trickle of the former cleaning operation. Eventually, after a surprise flashmob in the CBRE’s lobby, and then a big march to mark the 50th consecutive day, the decision was taken after 61 days to raise all their pay to the London Living Wage!

https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/en/campaigns/100-wood-street/

Many more pictures at Solidarity for Wood St cleaners.


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


Selling Off The NHS

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Two news items in recent days (neither given any great prominence in the media) show clearly how the Tories are selling off the NHS.

Though it was the Financial Times which reported why Rishi Sunak failed to attend a roundtable discussion with the UK hospitality sector. He was in California and the UK meeting was said by Treasury insiders to have clashed with his scheduled call with “US healthcare bosses.” Like me you probably don’t read the FT, but you are unlikely to have heard much about this from the BBC.

The second recent news is that Virgin Healthcare, a company that has been awarded contracts worth well over £2 billion for providing parts of our NHS services was this month sold to the private equity group Twenty20 Capital.

Virgin Care runs 400 NHS and local authority services including GP surgeries and Physiotherapy, generally concentrating on simple services which leaves more difficult and expensive work to be carried out by the NHS. It has a structure including Virgin Group Holdings based in the British Virgin Islands which sets up companies with large amounts of debt it uses to legally avoid paying UK tax – though the owners the Branson family have donated £70,000 to the Tory party.

You can watch a Labour Party video in which Jeremy Corbyn, then the Labour Leader, holds up a 451 page uncensored report and the considerably slimmer heavily redacted version released by Boris Johnson’s government. The unedited version confirms that the US demanded that the NHS is firmly on the table in the trade talks. “These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters… We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale.”

On Friday 23rd December 2016, I photographed ‘Howls of protest for death of the NHS‘, a protest at Downing St on the day that contracts were signed across the country to implement the government’s ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ which effectively means the NHS can be handed over to private companies without any public engagement or consultation, ending a public service whose vision which has long been the envy of the world, signing the NHS over for private profit.

Every 15 minutes the speeches were interrupted for a long and loud ‘howl of protest’ by those taking part. These were timed to coincide with three social media ‘Thunderclaps’ across Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr by several hundreds of people mainly unable to be at the rally.

Speakers at the rally included Paula Peters of DPAC, Ealing Councillor Aysha Raza, trainee nurse Anthony Johnson of the Bursary or Bust campaign, a trainee mental health nurse, a patient and campaigner Gina and retired paediatrician and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public Tony O’Sullivan.

At the end of the rally a small group of those present led by several DPAC campaigners, were harassed by police and threatened with arrest as they marched on the road to hold a final howl outside Parliament, with another short speech by Paula Peters.

Though the NHS has been deliberately weakened and made more available for private companies to run for profit by successive governments we still do have an NHS which is largely free at the point of need. But half of NHS beds have been lost since Thatcher began the cuts and privatisation and over 40% of services in UK healthcare are now provided by private companies and many of those who are now running the government have made clear in speeches, pamphlets and books that they favour an insurance backed scheme based on the US model.

The US model is expensive and flawed. Two thirds of personal bankruptcy in the USA is because people are unable to pay for the cost of healthcare either because they cannot afford the insurance or often because their insurance will not cover the treatment they require.

The Health and Care Bill 2021 continues the threats to the future of the NHS and gives much greater powers to the government to direct the NHS and will undoubtedly lead to greater penetration of the service by private providers, including the major US healthcare companies that Chancellor Sunak was making plans with in California while neglecting his duties in the UK.

More from 23rd December 2016: Howls of protest for death of the NHS


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


Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Broad Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey. 28th June 2014

The Independent Living Fund, ILF, was introduced in 1988 to provide financial support to disabled people with high support needs, including those with severe learning difficulties, cerebral palsy, and a variety of other conditions.

Around 18,000 people relied on the ILF, mainly using the average of £300 a week it provided to employ personal assistants or carers to enable them to live independently, enabling some to work and pursue careers. It was administered independently from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who provided the funding.

The ILF scheme was closed to new applicants in 2010 and the responsibility for providing support in England was passed to local authorities with the ILF ending on 30th June 2015.

There were various problems with the ILF, with regional variations, but the primary reason behind the changes was probably to cut costs. Although the government promised to provide funding to the local authorities for a transitional period, this was around 13% less than under the ILF, and the money, given to cash-strapped authorities already subject to swingeing cuts was not ring-fenced, and so likely to be appropriated for other purposes.

Local authorities were also not given any clear instructions or advice on how to proceed and there were great variations between local authorities in the support that was provided. A survey a year after the end of the scheme showed extreme differences, with some authorities providing similar levels of support to the ILF, but others operating at much reduced levels, creating the real hardship that protests such as this on Saturday 28th June 2014 campaigned against. The loss of ILF was indeed a disaster for many disabled people.

DPAC and others involved in the protest had managed to keep the details hidden from the police, perhaps because it is more difficult for able-bodied police working as undercover officers to infiltrate disabled groups. UK Uncut has provided a diversion with a protest outside Boots on Victoria St when DPAC and Occupy London supporters moved on to the green area in front of Westminster Abbey.

The protesters had hoped for some support from Westminster Abbey authorities as many Christians had called the government’s actions immoral. But they had picked the wrong place, and the Dean of Westminster refused even to talk to the protesters, calling on the police to get rid of them. Labour MP John McDonnell tried without success to phone the Dean who refused to take his call or to phone back.

The weather too was against the protesters, with rain falling steadily, and for once a police officer showed some quick thinking, moving to stand in the middle of the main tent the protesters were attempting to erect, without which there was simply not enough shelter for a lengthy occupation.

I was unsure whether I wanted to go inside the area or not when I arrived, and soon police were surrounding the fairly low wall stopping people from climbing over. But I was able to take pictures from outside and move around freely – and to go home when I decided there seemed to be little point in staying.

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF
UK Uncut ‘Boot Out Boots’

Fuel Poverty and Independent Living 2014

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Disabled activists were prominent, along with pensioners at the Fuel Poverty Action FPA) protest outside the British Gas AGM taking place at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster. And when that protest ended they made their way to the Dept of Work & Pensions protest against plans to end the Independent Living Fund.

There were over 10,000 excess deaths in Winter 2013-4 because people could not afford to heat their homes, the situation exacerbated after British Gas raised its prices in November, gas by 10.4 %, electricity by 8.4 %. Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, made £2.5 billion in 2013.

FPA call for an increased investment in renewable energy, which in the long term will result in cheaper energy and will help us tackle climate change. But this isn’t popular with the big six energy companies (and the government which is led by their lobbyists) as it enables greater local generation and control of energy, threatening their monopoly of energy production and profits.

They say “Our energy system & economy are run to make private profit at all costs – our rights to warm home and a safe climate are sidelined. We’re being ripped off and left to freeze. We say: things have to change. We need and affordable. sustainable energy system owned by us, not big business.”

At the protest they launched their ‘Energy Bill of Rights’ with the following statements:

  • We all have the right to affordable energy to meet our basic needs.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not harm us, the environment, or the climate.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not threaten health, safety, water, air, or the local environment of a community.
  • We all have the right to a fair energy pricing that does not penalise those who use less.
  • We all have the right not to be cut off from energy supply.
  • We all have the right not to be forced to have a prepayment meter.
  • We all have the right to energy that is owned by us and run in our interests.
  • We all have the right to properly insulated, well repaired housing that does not waste energy.

They were joined by an actor carrying a skull, one of a group which had entered the Centrica AGM and performed Hamlet’s iconic monologue ‘To Heat or Eat, that is the question’ and repeated this for the protesters.

For a final photo opportunity, the protesters planted 100 small windmills made of British Gas bills in the grass outside the centre.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) helps over 18,000 disabled people who have high support needs to live an independent life in the community rather than live in residential care. The funding is ring-fenced and is highly cost-effective compared with the costs of residential care, the care package costing on average £300 per person per week.

Despite this and a Court of Appeal ruling that the minister had not specifically considered the duties imposed by the Equality Act, and that the proposals were unlawful, the DWP announced in March 2014 that the scheme will end in June 2015. Responsibility for care will pass to the local authorities, and provision will be subject to the usual constraints and cuts of local authority expenditure.

At the centre of the protest was a small cage, with the message ‘NO ILF – NO LIFE’ across its top, and below the barred window ‘Without Support We Become Prisoners In Our Own Homes – Save the Independent Living Fund’. Squeezed into this was Paula Peters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, the group who had organised the protest.

Many at the protest were going on to lobby their MPs, and one who had travelled from Newcastle had phoned Mary Glindon, the Labour MP for North Tyneside, who came down the the protest. She tried to deliver a letter from the protesters to the DWP but was at first refused entry by the DWP security, though eventually they allowed her to do so through a side entrance away from the protest.


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.