Posts Tagged ‘People's Assembly’

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis – 2016

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis – Saturday 16th April 2016 was a busy day for me in London with a large march and rally by the Peoples Assembly Against Austerity demanding an end to privatisation of the NHS, secure homes for all, rent control and an end to attacks on social housing, an end to insecure jobs and the scrapping of the Trade Union Bill, tuition fees and the marketisation of education and smaller protests against repression in Iran and Palestine, all of which you can read about on My London Diary.

March for Homes, Health, Jobs, Education
Homes, Health, Jobs, Education Rally
Dancing for Homes, Health, Jobs, Education
Ahwazi protest against Iranian repression
Palestine Prisoners Parade

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis

After all that I went with the grass roots trade union United Voices of the World on their protest against Topshop, demanding the reinstatement of 2 workers there suspended by cleaning contractor Britannia for calling for the London Living Wage of £9.40 for Topshop cleaners. All of the pictures in this post come from the UVW protests at first outside Topshop on the Strand, and then at the Topshop at Oxford Circus.

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis

On Strand the shop was protected by security but soon a large group of police arrived and tried to move the protesters away from the store. The protesters refused to move and police began pushing them around roughly, but soon stopped, perhaps because they were being photographed and filmed by a large group of press who like me had been at the Peoples Assembly rally.

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis

Police pulled one protester to the side and started to ask questions and a large crowd formed around him; the man refused to answer police questions and eventually the officer concerned gave up.

UVW Protest Topshop & John Lewis

There was a short rally on the pavement outside and Susanna, one of the two cleaners victimised by Britannia and Topshop spoke briefly but soon broke down in tears. After a couple of minutes she started again and was loudly applauded.

The protesters then marched off and I met them again on Oxford Street outside the flagship Topshop store close to Oxford Circus.

A squad of police rushed to stand in line to guard the main door on Oxford Street and pushed the protesters away. After a short while the UVW protesters marched around the block to other entrances, where police moved inside the store to meet them.

The UVW moved back to Oxford Street to continue the protest outside the main entrance, again blocked by police. Class War who were supporting the UVW moved their banner up to the police line and there was a standoff as the two groups eyed each other from a couple of feet away.

Class War then produced some yellow ‘Crime Scene’ tape and stretched it across in front of the police line, which left some officers looking rather perplexed.

The protesters then marched off towards John Lewis, where the UVW has long been The protesters then marched off towards John Lewis, where the UVW has long been holding protests calling for the cleaners to be treated equally with other workers in the store.

They walked towards the doors, but police pushed them back forcefully knocking one woman flying. Others rushed to help her, and UVW General Secretary Petros Elia protested angrily at the officer who had pushed her.

Eventually a senior officer came to see what had happened and listened to the complaint. To my surprise he then asked the officer to apologise for using excessive force – something I’ve never known to happen at a protest before.

There were a few speeches to explain to the shoppers walking by why the protest was taking place. Clearly many who listened felt that the cleaners were being shabbily treated by companies like Topshop and John Lewis who use outsourcing to get work done on the cheap with conditions that are greatly inferior to their directly employed workers.

The UVW left to return to continue their protest at Topshop, but I left them at Oxford Circus to take the tube – I was already late for dinner.

More on My London Diary:
UVW Topshop & John Lewis Protest
UVW Topshop 2 protest – Strand


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People’s Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

Thursday, June 22nd, 2023

People’s Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes: Saturday 22nd Jone 2013, ten years ago today, was a rather odd day for me. It began with an event I didn’t go to and instead photographed groups outside, was followed by an meeting to which I had been invited by the extreme right English National Alliance who needed a police escort to lay flowers at the Cenotaph and ended with a Dyke March.


People’s Assembly – Methodist Central Hall, Westminster

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

I had decided not to attend the People’s Assembly being held in Methodist Central Hall. It was a large event but was being managed so that any criticisms of the Labour Party and trade unions were banned from the main event, with people including Ken Loach being relegated to a hall down the road.

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

Others had expressed the opinion that this event was intended to “disperse some of the head of steam that had built up among the rank and file” for more direct action against the government. It reminded me of events following the huge ‘Stop the War’ protest in Feb 2003, at which Tony Benn and others had called for decisive action, but Stop the War had failed to do more than call instead for just another protest a while after Blair had declared war. It was hardly surprising that this was much smaller than the previous event and had absolutely no effect.

People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

I commented in 2013:

It was a feeling reinforced by the statement ‘We will work together with leading experts and campaigners both here and abroad, and friendly think tanks, to develop rapidly key policies and an alternative programme for a new anti-austerity government‘, which seemed to make it clear that after the assembly it was the long grass for any ideas, and an end to any action.

My London Diary
People's Assembly, Class War, Anonymous, ENA & Dykes

And there seems to have been nothing that has happened as a result of this event; for a few years Corbyn gave the Labour Party some hope, but he was stopped from winning a general election by the right in the party. Nothing in Labour policies now suggests they would offer any real alternative should the Tories lose the next election. Or that they can win if the Conservatives don’t defeat themselves.

More at People’s Assembly.


Outside The People’s Assembly – Class War

One of several groups protesting outside was Class War. Ian Bone had called for “a f**king big mob outside” (my asterisks) the People’s Assembly, but as I wrote, only around enough for a football team turned up for their alternative event, though there were several other groups around also opposed to the “pointless jamboree” taking place inside the hall.

So although there were a series of speeches by Bone and others, all amusing and in parts thought-provoking and certainly more interesting than most inside the hall, these were largely made to a mainly empty street.

Action Not Talk?


Outside The People’s Assembly – Anonymous Occupy the Grass

A small group of ‘Anonymous’ and Occupy London supporters handed out leaflets, offered free hugs, and had a picnic outside the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Police kept a close eye on them but didn’t interfere with them.

Anonymous Occupy the Grass


ENA Meet Left Opposition – Westminster

The English National Alliance is one of a number of small ‘patriotic’ groups on the extreme right who I’ve photographed over the years, with some members who have also been involved in other similar groups. Their leader is a former BNP member who was expelled from the EDL in 2011 apparently for extremist statements.

Although I’ve made no secret of my disagreements with their views, I’ve always tried to present them clearly and accurately as a journalist, as with other groups I’ve photographed. I’ve felt it was my job, and one that informs the wider public who I think can be trusted to see them for what they are.

Many in these groups complain about the unfair press they receive, and they had a particular gripe that some pictures of people at protests who were just waving being captioned as making Nazi salutes. It certainly has happened, but as they agreed there are also some people at protests by extreme-right groups who will make Nazi salutes.

The ENA had decided to march to the Cenotaph to lay flowers on the way to taking a statement of their views in to Downing Street and I had been invited to join them at the pub where they were meeting for the march. I was surprised how few of them had come, as was the event organiser, and there were a number of phone calls made to try to get more to turn up, but eventually they decided to march.

I was surprised when the small march and its police escort turned down in front of the hall where the People’s Assembly was taking place and small groups of left-wingers were still protesting outside. I’m not sure whether the marchers or police had decided to take this route, but the response was entirely predictable.

Some of the marchers shouted “No Surrender” and they were almost immediately surrounded by people shouting back at them “Fascist scum!”, “Racists!” and there were some minor scuffles. Police managed to push a way through for them and made one arrest before the ENA march, now accompanied by a few counter-protesters was able to continue towards the Cenotaph and Downing St.

By now it was time for me to be at another event, and said goodbye to the ENA and left, with a copy of the long statement they were about to take in addressed to David Cameron from the “Patriots of England who are supporters of every street activist and political party in the United Kingdom.”

Well, no. The last half mile had been clear about that. But you can read my précis of their statement with a number of quotes along with more about the march on My London Diary at ENA Meet Left Opposition.


Dykes March – Berkeley Square to Soho

The Dyke March the previous year in London had been the first such event for many years, and this year’s event was on a rather smaller scale, but there were still around 300 who turned out to march.

The event began with a rally with speakers who included Roz Kaveney, (above), writer, critic, poet and deputy editor of the trans digital magazine META who read one of her poems and long-standing LGBT activist and historian Sue Sanders who tested the crowd on their knowledge of lesbian icons including suffragette composer Dame Ethyl Smyth. I think I recognised more of them than most of the crowd.

The route the march took was based in part on that taken – though in the opposite direction and ending in Hyde park by the 1908 Votes For Women March.

The march was to end with a rally in Soho Square, but I left it to go home from Piccadilly Circus.

Many more pictures at Dykes March.


Cost of Living Protest – 2022

Monday, April 4th, 2022

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

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

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

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

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

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

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

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Demand a New Normal

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

This Saturday, 26 June 2021 at noon people will assemble on Portland Place, London, outside the BBC for The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national demonstration, marching from there to a rally in Parliament Square.

I hope to be there and taking photographs, though I’ve been a little unwell for the last few weeks and may still have to take things easy – which isn’t how I take pictures.

The pictures with this post are from The People’s Assembly national march 7 years ago on Saturday 21 June 2014, when tens of thousands marched from a rally at the BBC to another in Parliament Square. Speakers then included John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Dianne Abbot, Carolyn Lucas, Len McCluskey, Matt Wrack and other leading figures – and you can find pictures of almost all of them on My London Diary – though I couldn’t be bothered to wait for Russell Brand who came an hour late.

The event was planned to take place after the lifting of Covid restrictions which has has now been postponed. But protests are still legal, protected by Human Rights legislation which overrules Covid restrictions, though they must observe social distancing. So put on a mask and come and make your views clear.

This is what the People’s Assembly says about what is happening now:

This government has made it clear it wants working people to pay for the coronavirus crisis. Its pitiful offer to the nurses, the public sector pay freeze, lack of sick pay, while contracts are granted to their friends and cronies tells you that. Meanwhile there are further subsidies to companies while we are facing mass unemployment levels when furlough ends. Employers are going on the offensive, especially with notorious fire and rehire policies -but there has been widespread opposition to this including strike action.

There is visceral anger over the multitude of government failures during the pandemic, with one of the highest Covid death rates in the world. This government has failed us and this will be our first opportunity to take to the streets in opposition.

The Tories are also attempting to use the cover of the pandemic to sneak through the draconian ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. Due to reach its final reading in June this bill is an affront to democracy, an assault on our rights to protest and an attempt to silence dissent & opposition to the government. The Tories want to take away our rights to demonstrate for our rights! We cannot let that happen.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1014040739128410/

The march invitation lists a dozen key demands of the protest:

  • Renationalise Key Services
  • Decent Housing For All
  • Sack The Corrupt Politicians
  • Properly Funded, Fully Publicly Owned NHS
  • End The Marketisation Of Education
  • Act Now! Tackle The Climate Emergency
  • Support International Justice
  • Safe Workplaces, Save Jobs
  • End Fire And Rehire
  • Fully Funded Social Care
  • End Institutional Racism
  • Kill The Police, Crime, Sentencing And Courts Bill

More from 2014:
People’s Assembly Rally
No more Austerity – demand the alternative


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.


What Future for Protest?

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Wednesday 19th March was a busy day in London as it was Budget Day and also the day of the Fracked Future Carnival which had been planned to take place outside a meeting of the Shale Gas Forum in Kensington, and later at the Territorial Army base on Old St where that meeting had moved to in order to avoid the protest. And there was also a a protest calling from the repeal of Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws.

What all these protests had in common was that they would all have been illegal for various reasons had the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill been law. It will seriously restrict the right to hold protests, restrict their length and set noise limits and allow police to enforce restrictions even if protesters have not been told about them.

Public outcry followed the attack by police last Saturday on a peaceful vigil on Clapham Common – where the police had been ordered by the Home Secretary to take action (and she later expressed her concern when she saw the outrage it had caused.) Thousands went to protest the police actions the following day at New Scotland Yard, the Met Police HQ, and later in Parliament Square. And thousands turned up again to Parliament Square on Monday when the PCSC bill was being debated in Parliament.

Protests such as these – even in the absence of Covid – would be clearly illegal under PCSC – and police could shut down even a single person coming to protest. Only protests that are well-behaved, entirely ineffectual and preferably out of sight are likely to be legal.

On March 19th 2014 I began my day at Battersea Bridge, marching across it with designer Vivienne Westwood and around a hundred supporters, mainly her students to the protest against fracking.

Although the Shale Gas Forum had made a last minute change of plans, moving their meeting to a secret location, the rally outside the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Cadogan Place went ahead as planned -as agreed with the police. There would have been much tighter restrictions under PCSC, and the police could have limited numbers and prevented the use of the public address system.

After several speeches the organises cut the rally short and told those at the protest to take the tube to Old Street station from where they would march to the ‘secret location’, which turned out to be the Territorial Army Centre in the Honourable Artillery Company’s grounds between Bunhill Row and Old St.

We arrived there and the protesters made a great deal of noise outside the gates in Bunhill Row, and then walked through Bunhill Fields to protest outside the Old St Gates.

From Old St I took the tube to Charing Cross and walked the short distance to Trafalgar Square, where the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and Peter Tatchell Foundation were filling the relatively narrow pavement outside Uganda House with a great deal of loud chanting, drumming and dancing calling for an end to anti-gay laws in Uganda.

Later I joined Budget Day protesters around Parliament, and later at a rally called by the People’s Assembly opposite Downing St

Many more pictures on My London Diary:
People’s Assembly Budget Day Protest
Protest over Uganda Gay Hate Laws
Fracked Future Carnival at Shale Gas Forum
Fracked Future Carnival in Knightsbridge
Climate Revolution March to Fracked Future Carnival


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.