Posts Tagged ‘Police Victory Party’

May Day – International Workers Day

Sunday, May 1st, 2022

May Day – International Workers Day – May 1st was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day in 1889 by the Second International socialists and communists, and adopted by anarchists, labor activists, and leftists in general around the world, to commemorate the 1886 Chicago Haymarket affair and the struggle for an eight-hour working day. It continues to be celebrated in many countries around the world.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Anarchist Cricket, Parliament Square, London, May 1, 2005

Although I tested negative for Covid on Wednesday I’m still short of breath and short of energy, with still a little of a cough and have been strongly advised to take things easy for the next week or two. So I’m not sure if I’ll be out celebrating May Day today, much as I yearn to be.

May Day - International Workers Day
Justice for Cleaners, Westminster Cathedral, London, May 1, 2006

Before 2000 I was usually unable to celebrate May Day properly as May 1st was usually a normal working day and I went out around 8am and arrived home from work around 5.30pm, usually with more to do at home after an evening meal. Not much time to celebrate International Workers Day!

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Police Victory Party – Bank, May 1, 2006

Of course, May Day sometimes fell at the weekend, so I would have been free to take part in events that were taking place, but even in 1999 when it was a Saturday I think I had other things on.

May Day - International Workers Day
Space Hijackers Mayfair Mayfayre – May 1st 2008

There were of course May Day related events that I went to most years, but usually these were on the Saturday or Sunday before the early May bank holiday Monday which was introduced by a Labour government in 1978, when they lacked the nerve to make May Day itself a public holiday. We still have that bank holiday despite plans made by Conservative governments under both John Major and David Cameron to replace it by a Trafalgar Day holiday in late October.

May Day - International Workers Day
Rave Against The Machine – Leake St, Waterloo, London. Saturday 1 May 2010

By 2003 I was getting rather blas√© about the London May Day march, writing “May Day Has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. The socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from Clerkenwell to Trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protesters do not a lot around town“, but that didn’t stop me going again to photograph it that year or in 2004, 2005, 2006, and every year until 2019. Covid put an end to the sequence in 2020, but I came out of seclusion for May Day 2021, though perhaps I’ll miss it again today.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge – Tower Bridge, London. Fri 1 May 2015

And I will miss it. Miss the sense of solidarity on the streets. And most of my life I’ve been feeling a loss of what might have been had we ever had a socialist government since my first few years growing up in a welfare state. Tory governments largely did what was expected of them but the various Labour administrations largely failed the people. Perhaps the final straw came in 2017, when people inside Labour actively worked against a Labour election victory.

May Day - International Workers Day
Anti-Capitalist May Day Street Party Starts – One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Sun 1 May 2016

The pictures here come from some of the other May Day events I’ve photographed in the last 20 years or so. You can find other May Day pictures on My London Diary simply by choosing a year at the top of the page and then the month of May at the left of the year page.

May Day - International Workers Day
May Day F**k Parade – London. Mon 1 May 2017

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May Day

Friday, May 1st, 2020

Today’s May Day will be very different, with no march in London, no meeting in Trafalgar Square and none of the other activities we have seen in recent years. There will be online events, but it really isn’t the same. And I think I will take few if any pictures.

Until 2000, I was working on May Day most years and missed the May Day celebrations, except, when as in 1999 they fell on a weekend. In 2000 things were a little different, and while doubtless the usual trade union celebrations went on, rather more of us gathered in Parliament Square on May Day, a Monday, for an anti-capitalist protest, indulging in a little guerilla gardening. It wasn’t as the BBC and newspapers recorded a riot, but a good-natured protest with people having fun and a little minor law-breaking and only became nasty when the police charged in after windows were broken at a McDonald’s. I went home as I didn’t want to be kettled.

It was 2003 before I returned to photograph May Day events, and I wrote:

may day has perhaps settled into a rather predictable event now. the socialist left – and what is left seems to be a few unions and a number of ethnic communist party groups – march from clerkenwell to trafalgar square, while anti-capitalist protestors do not a lot around town.

My London Diary

and the few images I put on line reflect this. My coverage the following year, 2004, was a little more upbeat, perhaps because I met up again with the Bristol Radical Cheerleaders who certainly livened things up, but also because I was getting better at using a digital camera. But most of my coverage then was still in black and white and I still haven’t added the pictures I said would follow.

I photographed May Day and the march again in 2005, but the highlight of the day was provided by the Space Hijackers who had challenged our 600 odd MPs to an Anarchist Cricket match to be held in Parliament Square.

I wasn’t surprised when no members of the opposing team actually turned up, but their absence didn’t detract from the event.

2006 was perhaps my busiest May Day ever, beginning with the launch of the London Citizens Workers’ Association at Westminster Cathedral, then photographing the London May Day March, which included a strong autonomous anti-capitalist bloc.

Among the speakers at Trafalgar Square, though not on the main platform was Ian Bone of Class War, once labelled the most dangerous man in England, and even at this event attracting considerable police attention.

I went on from Trafalgar Square to the Bank of England where the Space Hijackers were holding their Police Victory Party. Unlike at their cricket match there was a large attendance by the opposition, though they didn’t really join in the party organised for them.

Long Live May Day!


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.