Posts Tagged ‘police’

My London Diary – 25th January 2008

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

My London Diary – 25th January 2008

Here is my diary entry for the day, now 14 years ago, reproduced from the My London Diary web page. I’ve included the headings for the four events which in the original are separated from the text in a different column, and a few more of the pictures, but there are many more on the linked pages. The original format makes it more difficult to associate pictures with text, particularly on mobile phones.


Stop Kingsnorth – No New Coal

E.ON Office, Pall Mall, London.

Police kept demonstrators back against the wall and refused me permissio to work sensibly

Friday was a busy afternoon for demonstrations in London. I started in Pall Mall, outside the E.ON offices. This power company is a massive producer of pollutants, and its latest plans, recently approved by Medway Council, are for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.

Currently this is awaiting government approval, but since it entirely contradicts their stated environmental policies it seems almost inevitable it will be given the go-ahead. When I left soon after the start of the demo there were perhaps 50 people present, but more may have come later.

Police were being rather officious in keeping the pavement clear, impeding myself and another photographer trying to cover the event. My reminder that police were supposed to allow the press to do their job was disregarded and I was told I was not allowed to stand on the edge of the pavement in the gaps between the police, although I would clearly not have been obstructing the pavement or getting in the way of the police carrying out their duty. So much for cooperation.
more pictures

Kenyans protest against Ugandan President

Ugandan High Commission, Trafalgar Sq, London.

The demonstration was just starting as I ran by

From there I headed up to Whitehall, on my way passing the start of a demonstration by Kenyans against the Ugandan President Museveni, who has lent support to the fixing of the elections in Kenya.
more pictures

Pakistanis protest at Musharraf London Visit

Whitehall, London.

Waiting for Musharraf to arrive

In Whitehall, a number of Pakistani protesters were waiting the arrival of President Musharraf who was expected to arrive by car at the Banqueting House. I took a few pictures and then left, deciding that I was unlikely to be able to get a decent picture when he arrived given the level of security.

One of the other photographers present mentioned that he had no difficulty in photographing Musharraf in Leicester, where he was allowed to be close enough to be able to reach out and touch him. It wasn’t clear to us why photographers are thought to be so much more of a risk in London
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Feminist Fightback protest CMF Abortion lies

Christian Medical Fellowship, Southwark, London

Hanging washing on Marshalsea Street outside the CMF office

Finally I headed for the Borough, where Feminist Fightback were demonstrating outside the offices of the Christian Medical Foundation. The CMF gave misleading evidence to the Parliamentary Committee which was considering possible reforms of the abortion act last year, and a number of its members with little direct scientific knowledge also gave evidence as if they were expert witnesses. They also support (and host) the minority report, which is in part based on their unreliable evidence.

In particular the CMF is still pressing the government to reduce the current 24 week time limit on abortions. FF fixed up a washing line outside the CMF offices on which to hang cloth pieces with a number of their slogans and demands.

The CMF issued a press release stating that they welcomed the demonstrators and supported their right to protest – and also offered soft drinks and biscuits, as well as coming out to talk to the demonstrators (and film and photograph them.)

I think most of us would welcome a lowering in the number of abortions, but the way to do this is not by stricter laws on abortion. Similarly, the best approach to reducing the already small number of late abortions is to reduce some of the procedural bottlenecks that lead to delay in the system.

The practical arguments seem almost entirely on the side of the measures proposed by the feminists in simply being more effective and less hypocritical. But I also felt very much more at ease talking to the feminists than the christians, who somehow seemed to exude a self-righteousness that rather made my flesh creep. I’m with Charlotte Bronte when she wrote “self-righteousness is not religion.”

more pictures


There are more pictures on My London Diary, including a few hidden away and not covered by the text taken as I walked from Westminster to Southwark.


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Margareta D’Arcy, Education and Africans in Israel

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Margareta D’Arcy, Education and Africans in Israel
Three protests on Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Release Margaretta D’Arcy Now! Irish Embassy

Selma James calls for the release of Margaretta D’Arcy

I don’t think my path has ever crossed, at least not knowingly, with that of ‘Guantanamo Granny’ Margaretta D’Arcy, though Facebook tells me we have 163 mutual friends. My eldest brother, around her age but long since dead, may well have sat down with her on Whitehall with Bertrand Russell’s Committee of 100 back in 1961. Her life has been “decades of playwriting, acting, pageantry, pirate radio, books, peace activism, protest and imprisonment whilst bringing up her family of boys. She addresses Irish nationalism, civil liberties and women’s rights.”

Her political activities led to imprisonment in Northern India, in Armagh, in Holloway (for protests at Greenham Common against Cruise missiles.) This protest came after she was due in court after being jailed for lying down on the runway at Shannon in a peaceful direct action by members of Galway Alliance Against War against the use since 2001 of Shannon by US war planes in violation of Irish neutrality – and she served three months for refusing to sign a bond against further trespass on the airport.

The protest at the Irish Embassy called for her immediate release and was supported by organisations including the Global Women’s Strike, Troops out of Ireland, Winvisible, Women of Colour, Kilburn Stop the War, Labour Caribbean Solidarity, Payday Men’s Network, Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group.

Students march to protect Education

London University Students held a peaceful protest to show they intend to keep up their protests for democratic, public education free from exploitation and police violence and to support university cleaners on a 3-day strike for ‘3 Cosas’ – sick pay, holidays and pensions – and for recognition of their trade union, the IWGB.

After a rally outside the University of London Union in Malet St they marched on a tour of key sites including Senate House, the University & Colleges Employers Association in Woburn House in Tavistock Square, Holborn Police station, where they protested loudly against police violence and in particular at the execution by police of Mark Duggan and ending with another short rally outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

At the Tavistock Square offices, a few of those in a black block at the front of the march made a brief token entry into the lobby, accompanied by rather more photographers and videographers, and some paint was thrown at the outside of the building, hitting several protesters and photographers.

Solidarity with African Refugees in Israel

People protested close to the Israeli Embassy in response to a call by African asylum seekers for international action to support their protests against the arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and inhumane treatment of refugees inside Israel.

Tens of thousands of African asylum seekers have been protesting on the streets of Israel since the beginning of the month, holding mass rallies against their treatment by the Israeli authorities. New laws mean anyone entering the country without proper papers to be held for up to a year without trial, and for those who are already in the country to be held in infinite detention, at a detention facility in the Negev desert which like many other Israeli prisons is run by the private security company G4S.

Although there are around 50,000 African refugees in Israel, only a few hundred have had their applications processed. Most live illegally on the streets, taking whatever work is available in the ‘black economy’, with constant exploitation and threat of arrest. A recent strike by those working as cleaners, cooks, dishwashers and other low paid workers had brought many restaurants, hotels and businesses to a standstill.

Police tried to move the protesters to the opposite side of the busy main road, still further from the embassy which is in a private street, but they refused to move. Eventually police gave up and brought some cones from across the road to allow others to pass the growing protest in safety.

More on all these on My London Diary:

Solidarity with African Refugees in Israel
Students march to protect Education
Release Margaretta D’Arcy Now!


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Gaza, Syria, Anons & Israeli Pinkwashing

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Gaza, Syria, Anons & Israeli Pinkwashing: 18/01/2014
Another busy day for protests in London seven years ago.

Gaza Massacre 5th Anniversary
A large crowd protested on Kensington High Street opposite the private gated and guarded road containing the Israeli embassy five years marked 5 years after the end of the 2008/9 massacre in Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, in which around 1,400 Palestinians were killed, many of them unarmed civilians.

Among those taking part were a number of Palestinians and Jews, who have been prominent in calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

The protest was supported by many groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Palestinian Forum in Britain, British Muslim Initiative, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,
Stop the War Coalition, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Friends of Al-Aqsa UK, Liberal Democrats Friends of Palestine, War on Want, Unite the Union, Public and Commercial Services Union, Amos Trust and ICAHD UK.

Anonymous March For Freedom UK

Following their large protest on November 5th, Anonymous supporters arranged a another wide-ranging protest against privatisation, cuts, environmental and other issues, calling for the people to claim the country back from those who are destroying it.

This was rather smaller with perhaps a little over a hundred people, some wearing Anonymous masks meeting in Trafalgar Square and then marching down to Parliament, although as it was a Saturday there would be no politicians there.

Standing around the square were quite a number of police, including Police Liaison Officers in their blue bibs as well as a FIT team with a police photographer. But the police seemed much less confrontational than in November and actually helped them to march down Whitehall to Parliament – and when no one seemed then to have any idea what to do next actually made some sensible suggestions.

Eventually the police persuaded the protesters to move off the road and on to the pavement outside Parliament where they held a rally. There were a number of speeches than the protest rather ground to a halt, with some suggesting that they party in Parliament Square. I left at this point, walking past enough police vans to hold several times as many officers as protesters as I did so.

Peace vigil for Syria

In Trafalgar Square Syria Peace & Justice were holding a peace vigil ahead of the Geneva 2 peace talks. They called for immediate humanitarian ceasefires and the release of all political prisoners and an inclusive Syrian-led peace process.

Unfortunately although the USA and western countries who had encouraged the Syrian rebels made supportive noises, they failed to come up with any real support. It was left to Russia who came to Assad’s aid and ensured the continuation of his regime, with some help from Turkey, who despite their membership of NATO colluded with both Assad and ISIS as well as Russia.

Israeli Gay Tourism Pinkwashing

Nearby in Villiers St, there were protesters outside the Gay Star Beach Party LGBT tourism promotion, which received money from the Israeli Tourism Board to encourage gay tourists to holiday in Tel Aviv.

The picket outside the event asked people to boycott Israel until ends human rights abuses and recognises the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and complies with international law, and handed out ‘No Pinkwash’ cards which they say persuaded a number of people not to attend the event. Very few appeared to actually attend the beach party.

They also highlighted Israel’s racist treatment of African people following the protests in Tel Aviv last week by 30,000 African asylum seekers and refugees. These demanded that all African refugees imprisoned in Israeli prisons and detention centres be freed and that their rights as asylum seekers and refugees be recognised.

More on all four protests on My London Diary:

Israeli Gay Tourism Pinkwashing
Peace vigil for Syria
Anonymous March For Freedom UK
Gaza Massacre 5th Anniversary


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Freedom To Protest Under Threat

Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

Back in 2008, people were protesting against the severe restrictions against our freedom to protest, that had been brought in by the Labour government under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. As well as greatly widening the powers to arrest people and widening the scope of harassment, the act had criminalised trespass at certain protected sites and severely limited the holding of protests in a wide designated area of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square.

CSG border post “To the left you have lost your freedom to protest

This latter provision was particularly aimed at Brian Haw and his Parliament Square Peace Campaign, but also prevented many other protests, and led to a number of arrests of campaigners. Parliament Square in particular had become the main focus of protests against the government and may government ministries were also inside the prohibited area.

There was wide disquiet about the effect of SOCPA on protest, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown had begun a public consultation with the Home Office on October 2007 issuing a document ‘Managing Protest’ which many felt threatened further threats to freedom of assembly throughout the UK.

The provisions regarding protests in the area around Parliament were replaced in 2011 by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which gave police more draconian powers to restrict certain prohibited activities in and around Parliament Square – and have been used to seize tents, umbrellas, tarpaulins, sleeping bags and other equipment in the area.

Brian Haw complains that a police officer pushed his camera into his face and caused this injury

The Freedom to Protest is under even greater threat now, with the current passage through Parliament of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – which a select committee has said “would curb non-violent protest in a way that is inconsistent with our human rights” and has led to many ‘Kill the Bill’ protests. Also disturbing is the reaction of many Tory politicians to the jury verdict in the Colston statue trial, which apears to be threatening state control of our legal system.

On Saturday 12th January 2008, I covered protests in Trafalgar Square and in front of Downing St upholding the freedom to protest. Earlier I had covered Hizb ut Tahrir marching to the Saudi Embassy against Bush’s Middle East tour and a small group of rich young people outside the National Gallery on the last day of the Siena exhibition protesting against the expansion of Siena airport which would bring more less well-heeled tourists into the area.

Although I’m very much against any expansion of air travel – the planet simply can’t afford it, I found it hard to take this particular protest too seriously – it seemed to be rather more about protecting privilege than opposing environmental crime.

And while I had gone to Downing St mainly for the Freedom to Protest demonstration, while there I photographed another protest calling on an end to the Israeli government’s siege of Gaza. This included a number of British Jews, including those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Also present opposite Downing St were another large group of Kenyans, protesting against the re-election of the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. A US commissioned exit poll suggested opposition leader Raila Odinga had won by a 6% margin and there was widespread international agreement that the election was rigged.

More on My London Diary:
Hizb ut Tahrir against Bush tour
Siena Airport Protest
CSG Border Post
Freedom to Protest – Downing St
End Gaza Seige
Kenyans Protest Election Fraud


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Protest tells Harrods ‘Stop Stealing Tips’

Friday, January 7th, 2022

Protest tells Harrods ‘Stop Stealing Tips’
On Saturday 7th December 2017, the United Voices of the World trade union held a protest outside Harrods in Kensington demanding that the restauarant workers there receive the service changes that customers pay on meals.

The UVW is a grass roots union that represents workers in low paid sectors, and their members include chefs and waiters at Harrods. As well as demanding that the workers get the tips they are also demanding that conditions and wages to be improved for waiters who are currently paid at or a few pence per hour above the legal minimum, overworked and poorly managed.

A few people seemed not to support the protest

Harrods, the richest and most prestigious department store in the world, is owned by the immensely wealthy Qatari royal family – and they were then adding to that wealth by taking up to 75% of the tips that customers believed and intended to be going to the staff who served them.

THe UVW succeeded in getting a great deal of public support and even some from our right-wing mass media (it almost certainly helped there that Harrods is owned by foreigners) and several hundred people came to protest outside the store, notably including supporters of Class War.

Harrods was supported by a large contingent of police, who at times went beyond there duty to keep the peace and seemed to be taking the side of the Qatari royal family who of course have many friends in high places including the Foreign Office who will have put pressure on the Met to take effective action against the protesters.

Police film the protest from inside Harrods – but Class War held a banner in front of the doors

I described the protest as “robust but peaceful” and although at times the protesters blocked the entrances and crowded around the doors, at times holding them open they made no real attempt to enter the store, as police warned that they would immediately be arrested for aggravated trespass. A couple were arrested for trivial matters on the street during the protest, but generally the protest went well and people were in a good mood as it ended and I caught the tube to go home.

Later I heard that as UVW members were packing away their flags, banners, drums and vuvuzelas, police had come and made 4 more arrests, including that of UVW General Secretary Petros Elia. It also appeared that some had been dragged inside the store and locked up by Harrods security staff before being handed over to police.

All were later released without charge, but on police bail – with the condition that they were not to go within 50m of Harrods. It appears to have been a deliberate abuse of the law to try to stop further protests at Harrods – however legitimate these may be. One man who had been grabbed after letting off a smoke flare on the street during the protest – now a rather common occurrence at protests – had apparently accepted a police caution.

Following the protest, and with threats of more protests to come, Harrods finally gave in and agreed to give 100% of the service charge to staff, with an independent tronc master to administer the distribution with staff on the committee.

The UVW continues to fight for its workers at Harrods, and in December 2021 planned a further protest in advance of a strike in the Christmas shopping period. The strike and protest were both called off after Harrods agreed to large pay rises, taking all the waiters and chefs above the London Living Wage – for some it meant a pay rise of almost £5,000 a year, and Harrods has also guaranteed annual increases of 3% from 2023.

Small but active trade unions such as the UVW, along with a few of the major unions are showing that collective action works, while some larger unions seem more rather less interested in their lower paid members. In March 2021, Labour’s North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll published an article in the Journal and Evening Chronicle and on his blog with the title ‘What Have Trade Unions Ever Done For Us?’ which included the following two paragraphs

For a start, unions stopped child labour. Unionised workplaces are safer, with 50% fewer accidents. Every year unions train 10,000 safety reps. Union members earn, on average, 12.5 per cent more than non-members. They have better job security, and stay in their jobs for an average of five years longer than non-members. Unionised workplaces have higher productivity and fewer industrial tribunals.

Apart from that, though, trade unions have only gained us paid holidays, maternity and paternity leave, paid sick leave, equal pay legislation, pensions, and workplace anti-discrimination laws. Oh, and the weekend. It was unions that fought for a five day working week.

Jamie Driscoll’s blog

If you work, join a union. “You have a legal right to join a union. It’s illegal for an employer to disadvantage you because you are a union member.”

Happy New YEAR? We Can Hope

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

London, UK. 1st May 2021. Several thousands held a rally in Trafalgar Square before marching past the Ministries of Justice, DWP and Education to the Home Office against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will ban effective protests, criminalising many and create new offences with heavy sentences, discriminating against Gypsy, Roma and Travellers and expanding racist stop and search powers. Peter Marshall

Happy New YEAR? We Can Hope. We can only hope 2022 will be a better year than 2021, though despite everything I found plenty to enjoy in the last year. But I’m not making any resolutions, other than to try and keep going as best I can.

Some Thoughts on 2021

The first few months, still under lockdown and largely isolating at home were dull. When a trip to the dentists is the highlight of your week you know there is something seriously wrong.

London, UK. 1st May 2021

But the vaccinations – my first at the end of January and the second in mid-April – were very welcome. I’ve no sympathy for those who refused them, their arguments are entirely specious – like those for not wearing masks – apart from a very small group with genuine medical reasons.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I was fortunate not to have more than a little soreness from the needle for the day or two after the injection. Though I was rather disappointed when a few weeks later a lateral flow blood test for antibodies gave a negative result, though these tests are apparently even less reliable than those for Covid – where I’ve been pleased so far to always get a negative.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

But a couple of weeks after the second dose I felt confident enough – despite my advanced years and diabetes – to go up to London rather than miss another May Day. Although the official May Day March was cancelled there was a large protest taking place. The pictures here are all from that day.

London, UK. 1st May 2021

Of course I wore a mask – as did many of those in the protest against the Tory bill attempting to seriously limit our rights to protest also did, even though we were out of doors. It did after all get quite crowded on the streets. Even some of the police wore masks.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

It was good then and on later days when I went up to London to meet many I’d not seen for over a year, though sad to remember there are some I won’t see again, largely victims of the Boris Johnson’s failures to bring in effective measures in time.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

As the year went on I continued making occasional visits to London to photograph events, though many were still cancelled. I decided also to cut down on the number of events I attended, concentrating on those I felt more strongly about that were taking place on Saturdays, seldom covering things during the week. And although I’ve not posted these on my own web site, pictures are available on Alamy. You can go to my Alamy portfolio page to see them all.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I also began occasionally meeting socially with family and a few friends – though still rather cautiously and keeping in mind the need to avoid too much risk. We kept mainly outdoors and mainly ate in near-empty pubs.

But then came Omicron, since when things for me have rather closed down again, even though I got my booster early. We had Christmas and Boxing Day meals with only two of our immediate family and I’ve again stopped going to London.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

On the plus side, the hiatus since early March 2019 has given me the time to get to grips with digitising and posting online many photographs from my early years – now almost to the end of 1992 with the black and white work. Now I have over 18,000 images on-line in albums on Flickr, mainly black and white images of London – but also Hull and Paris and a few other places, and some in colour.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

So far those images have generated over 4.5 million views and a considerable amount of feedback, though rather to my surprise much of this has been about the cars on the streets in some pictures rather than the buildings or people I was photographing.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I think though I’ve not checked that I’ve also managed to put a post here on >Re:PHOTO for every day in 2021, something I can’t promise to do for 2022. It takes up quite bit of my time, though it helps that I can write the posts a day or two in advance and schedule them to be posted.


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.

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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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Xmas Protests – Low Wages, Evictions, John Lewis – 2014

Monday, December 13th, 2021

Three Xmas Protests – Low wages, Evictions, John Lewis – in Brixton, Mayfair and Oxford St on December 14th 2014.

‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage

Lambeth Living Wage campaigners, led by an impressive Santa, protested in and outside shops in the centre of Brixton, handing out flyers calling for all workers to be paid a living wage. They urged shop workers to join a union and gave out forms.

While I was with them they visited department store Morleys, Subway and Poundland and they were going on to other stores in Brixton paying poverty wages. The protest was supported by Unite the Resistance, the Socialist Party, Unison (who provided the Santa costume), the Fast Food Rights Hungry for Justice campaign supported by the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union, BFWAWU, the National Shop Stewards Network and other groups.

‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage


Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’

Scrooge at Christmas 2014 was US property developers Westbrook Partners who were intending to evict the tenants of the Hackney New Era Estate by Christmas so they can refurbish these low rent social properties and re-let them at market rents at roughly four times the current rents. Class War and friends protested at their Mayfair offices of in solidarity with the tenants.

Class War came with banners and posters and a Christmas Card which they presented to Westbrook with the message ‘Christmas Greetings! – but not for Rich Bastards’ and a pictures of wrapped gifts and the cover image from Ian Bone’s autobiography ‘BASH THE RICH’. It’s an interesting read and might make a friend a good Christmas Present, available from Freedom Press at a special discount.

This was one of a number of protests by the residents, Class War and other housing activists, with a video by Russell Brand going viral and a petition with 350,000 signatures that led to Hackney Council entering into talks with Westbrook and resulted in the estate being sold to the affordable housing group Dolphin Living.

Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’


Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis

Many shoppers who can afford it go to John Lewis to buy Christmas presents, but members of te IWGB trade union and supporters including some John Lewis customers were there not to buy gifts but calling for the London Living Wage for cleaners there and an end to their treatment as second-class citizens. Many of the Christmas shoppers applauded their noisy protest.

I met the cleaners on the top floor of the store where they had gathered in the restaurant before getting out banners and flags and a megaphone, with IWGB organiser Alberto Durango used to inform customers why they were holding the protest.

The together with a group of John Lewis customers they slowly and loudly made their way around the top floor to the escalator, moving carefully through the gangways to avoid any damage.

They made their way down floor by floor, pausing on the balconies to display their banners.

John Lewis security staff and managers met the protesters and asked them to stop protesting and leave the store. They continued their way protesting until they reached the ground floor, where police stopped them from leaving. Here the situation became confused, with a great deal of unnecessary pushing by the police which blurred many of the pictures I made. The protesters were trying to get out, store security was pushing them out and the police were pushing them back. Eventually most of the protesters managed to get past the police and the protest continued on the pavement outside. The protest inside the store had been totally non-violent for a little over a quarter of an hour and had the police not decided to push the protesters back they would simply have walked out.

A police officer made an attempt to seize the amplifier the protesters were using, but they held onto it and eventually he gave up. At least one person was arrested and carried out of the store by police, though I think charges were later dropped.

Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis


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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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Visiting Starbucks

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

I’ve been a coffee drinker most of my life, and there was a time long ago in my late teens when breakfast meant a large mug of black coffee, a cigarette and Miles Davis. And though I gave up smoking when I reached majority (which was 21 back then) I still have the black coffee though now with rather more carbohydrate in muesli and a slice of homemade brown bread. And since my wife and I have rather different musical tastes we listen to the news.

The coffee I drink now is a Fair Trade blend from Traidcraft – they have a range of ground coffees and most are good, though your taste may vary. With a small metal filter that sits on top of a mug its almost as quick as using instant coffee, though I usually have a cup of that (also fairly traded) when I finish writing these posts in the morning.

Journalist Polly Toynbee (right) was among the protesters

Back in the last century when I was making long walks around London, often in the suburbs, on the winter days I preferred I always took with me a Thermos of strong black coffee. Back then coffee shops were rare, and if you could find it, coffee bought on the streets unreliable. My top priority back then in choosing a camera bag was whether I could fit the flask in.

But since then I have occasionally bought a coffee (though it pains me to pay £3 for something I could make better at home for 30p), but have avoided Starbucks – because they don’t pay their taxes. Of course the are not unique in this, but they are one of the best known of tax avoiders, and had then paid no tax in the UK since 2009. So when I joined the longish queue inside the Conduit Street Starbucks on Saturday 8th December it was I think my first time, and I was rather hoping that the protest would begin before I reached the counter.

“As noon approached, there were more protesters and photographers standing around inside the store, as well as some seated drinking coffee. Around a minute after noon, one of the protesters got up and started the protest, reading out a lengthy document about Starbucks’ failure to pay tax, and how the amounts that companies including them were avoiding paying were around five times the total of the cuts in services so far made by the coalition government. She announced that they were setting up a crèche inside this branch to compensate for all those and other family services that the government had closed.”

“The protest continued with more speeches and some chanting of slogans calling on Starbucks to pay up. After around 10 minutes a police officer came into the branch and wrongly accused the protesters of behaving in an intimidatory manner towards the staff and customers, which they clearly had not. Nor had they been asked to leave by the store manager. But they were told this was a disorderly protest despite this, and threatened with arrest if they stayed, although at no point did he make clear under what law they might be arrested.”

“The protesters allege that Starbucks uses a whole number of tricks to avoid paying tax. One is to use a Starbucks company in a tax haven to lend them the money to fund their UK operations at a rate 4% above the LIBOR rate – the excessive interest costs the UK business but makes fat profits for them in the tax haven. Another is to buy their coffee beans at high prices from a subsidiary in Switzerland, which pays only 5% tax on them rather than the 24% they would pay in corporation tax in the UK. They also pay 6% of their total sales as a ‘royalty’ to their Dutch company – and they have a secret low rate tax deal with the government in the Netherlands.”

“Several of the speakers talked about the real hardships being faced particularly by women and the disabled in the UK because of the cuts in services. The losses in tax through tricks like those they say are used by Starbucks – Corporate Tax Avoidance – costs the UK £70 billion, which they compare to the benefit cuts of £15 billion.”

I left with the protesters after the police threats, when they continued to protest with a large and noisy crowd who had been unable to get inside, and walked the short distance to Vigo Street, where another protest was taking place inside and outside the Starbucks branch there, and I took more pictures through the large windows and on the street outside.

Later I went to another Starbucks protest at the Euston Road branch, a part of the UK Uncut Day of Action against Starbucks arranged by the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). I found a small group of UK Uncut supporters at the meeting point but there was no sign of the LRC, and after 15 minutes the action began without them as a dozen or so people walked into the branch, took out a poster and began the action. By the time the LRC arrived the doors were locked and they protested outside. A couple of police officers then got out of their van on the opposite side of the road and walked across and were admitted into the coffee shop. There were a few minutes of polite and friendly conversation and the protesters then walked out to join those protesting outside.

The protesters point out that Costa Coffee who have a lower annual turnover than Starbucks in the UK were paying each year “several times per year what Starbucks are offering to cover several years of dubiously legal tax avoidance. Starbucks have avoided paying perhaps ten times what they are now offering.”

Now its time for a coffee.

More on My London Diary:

Starbucks Euston Road – LRC
UK Uncut Visits Starbucks


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.