Posts Tagged ‘protest’

UPHD protest discrimination

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

I’m not a fan of Uber and very seldom a user of taxis or private car hire services, regarding them as a necessary evil for those rare occasions when public transport is not practicable. And taxis in particular are evil, causing large amounts of unnecessary pollution – both oxides of nitrogen and particulates – on the city streets both directly and also indirectly from other vehicles caught up in the congestion they cause by ‘plying for hire’ – an archaic system now made redundant by the smartphone.

Also rendered archaic by modern technology is the ‘knowledge’, made unnecessary at least in principle by sat-navs and sat-nav apps, though there is still room for further development on these. But at least in theory they can determine best routes making use of real-time traffic information. An car magazine recently conducted a very unscientific test of black cab, Uber and the writer’s car with an up to the minute sat-nav on a London journey, and the journalist’s satnav – evidently a better one than that in the Uber – won. And despite the ‘knowledge’ many taxi drivers seem to have and use a sat-nav, or at least the “Cabbies Mate” App .

Learning the ‘knowledge’ is certainly a good way to learn your way around London, but largely retained as a method of entry control to the trade. It’s part of the reason why London’s cabs are still largely driven by white British drivers while most private hire drivers come from various BAME communities. The United Private Hire Drivers union (UPHD) would appear to have a good case in claiming that TfL’s decision to apply the congestion charge to minicabs but not to taxis is discriminatory, though it remains to be seen what the court will make of it.

The UPHD also claim that private hire drivers are four times as likely to be stopped by TfL’s enforcement officers “than taxi drivers despite consistently better compliance performance on a licensed driver & vehicle basis. ”

THe UPHD is a part of the IWGB (Independent Workers Great Britain) one of several grass roots unions which are leading the fight for precarious workers in various sectors , including cleaners, cycle couriers and foster carers. As well as this campaign against TfL and the congestion charge, they are also fighting Uber for proper employment rights for the drivers, who are clearly workers for the company rather than self-employed.

Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK’s Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. 

(IWGB web sute)

The union says drivers currently only earn around £5 per hour and are demanding an increase in fares to £2 per mile, a reduction in Uber’s commission from 25% to 15% and an end to unfair dismissals.

We need to reduce traffic and congestion in London, though the congestion charge is a blunt instrument and unfairly discriminates against less wealthy car drivers. For all private hire vehicles – taxis and minicabs – a per fare surchage paid by the customer would be a better solution. We need to give far more encouragement to cycling and walking, by providing safe routes and also by changes to some traffic laws and road design to give cyclists and pedestrians priority; more bus-only routes (or rather bus and cycle routes), and greater subsidies for buses, trams and local underground and overground trains; to set dates before very long when non-electirc powered vehicles are banned for our cities .

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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Kashmiris call for freedom

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

A YouGov survey back in 2016 found that 43% of UK respondents still felt that the British Empire was a good thing, over twice as many as those who felt it was bad, with a similar figures for those who think we should be proud of colonialism as part of our history or regret it.

I wasn’t one of those asked for my opinion (the chances of that were small, as the sample was only 1733 out of the UK population of around 65.65 million) and would probably have refused to give an answer as there wasn’t a category that expressed my feelings. Clearly the British Empire was a good thing for Britain, as the opulent architecture of our major cities from the 19th and early 20th centuries demonstrates. And while the disastrous effects on other civilisations and many brutal and immoral acts in the building and maintenance of our Empire are clear, there are also more positive instances. And in some countries we took over from earlier invaders or rulers who were even less principled and more harsh and brutal, though for Kashmir this was less clear.

The history of Kashmir is complex but certainly at the start of the ‘Common Era’ (still AD to most of us) it was a considerably more developed and ancient civilisation than anything in Britain. Originally an important centre of Hinduism and Buddhism it largely converted to Islam in the 13th and 14th centuries and around 1580 was conquered and became part of the Mughal empire. Around 1820, it was conquered again by Sikhs, who imposed harsh anti-Muslim laws and exorbitant taxes. The First Anglo-Sikh war waged by the East India Company between 1845 and 1846 resulted in Jammu and Kashmir becoming a princely state under British suzerainty. The persecution of Muslims, now by Hindus, continued under what was a tyrannical feudal system.

Logically, Kashmir, over three-quarters Muslim should have become a part of Pakistan, but after popular protests and a guerrilla campaign supporting this, the country’s ruler appealed to Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, for help – and Mountbatten only granted this on condition that Kashmir became a part of India. Pakistan disputed this and the countries went to war over Kashmir, ending with a truce and a UN resolution that the people of the country should have a referendum. This never happened and there were further wars in 1965, 1971 and 1999. Pakistan now controls around a third of the country, India about half and a smaller area is held by China.

The country is still a ‘disputed territory’ and the is a huge presence of Indian military and para-military forces in the area under their control, estimated at around 1 for every 17 Kashmiris. At the 1948 ceasefire Kashmir was promised special status with a substantial autonomy by India, but increasingly this has been abandoned. Recent years have seen greater activity by movements calling for the restoration of autonomy and for freedom and independence.

Maqbool Bhat Shaheed was the pioneer of the Kashmiri Freedom Struggle and in 1968 was captured in Kashmir and sentenced to death following the murder of an Indian CID officer. With others also sentenced he escaped from prison through a tunnel and made his way to the Pakistan administered area – were he was arrested and tortured for several months. In 1971 masterminded the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane which was forced to land in Lahore, Pakistan. The hijackers demanded the release of over 20 members of the Jammu Kashmir Nationalist Liberation Front (JKNLF) in Indian prisons, asked for political asylum in Pakistan and wanted a guarantee from the Indian government that their relatives in Kashmir would not be persecuted.

Although the hijackers were first welcomed in Pakistan, when it was realised that the JKNLF wanted the Pakistan occupied area of Kashmir also to be liberated they were tried in a special court charged with collaboration with the Indian intelligence services. Released after 2 years he returned to Indian administered Kashmir where he was captured in 1976. Bhat appealed for clemency stating that the original trial had been unfair, but after the murder of an Indian diplomat kidnapped in Birmingham demanding his release, his appeal was dismissed and he was executed on 11th February 1984.

Kashmiris call for freedom

Kashmir Awami Party call for Freedom


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Right to Return

Friday, May 10th, 2019

This Saturday I’ll be attending the National Demonstration for Palestine taking place in London, one of many demonstrations over Palestine I’ve attended over the years.

Unlike protesters in Palestine, those of us taking part in the London protest will not face live fire by Israeli Defence Force snipers, who as well as protesters, incluidng women and children, have also killed clearly identified journalists and medical staff, though there will probably be the usual small group of Zionists coming to shout messages of hate.

The pictures here come from the first year that I worked at a protest about Palestine using only digital cameras rather than film, in 2004. That year the protest highlighted the wall being built along the border.

Back in Palestine, the situation has got much worse since 2004, with much of Gaza having been destroyed, and a seige in place which prevents vital supplies coming in. Only last weekend hostilities erupted again, with rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli air raids resulting in the deaths of at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis. Among those killed in Gaza were a four-month old baby girl, two pregnant women and a 12 year-old boy.

Taking photographs of protests in London is of course a fairly safe occupation, but many photographers risk their lives to cover events such as the protests in Gaza.

Mustafa Hassona is a freelance photographer from the Gaza Strip, working with Anadolu Agency has been covering the weekly ‘Right to Return’ protests which have been taking place since May 30th 2018. You can see his remarkable work on Lensculture.


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Cold spell – no heating

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Southwark are perhaps the worst of London’s councils so far as their housing policies are concerned, though they face stiff opposition from others. But their demolition of the Heygate estate next to the Elephant & Castle is hard to beat for its combination of lies, total disregard for residents, loss of social housing, veniality and sheer incompetence and has been well-recorded on local blogs. It is a truly sad story for any local council, and particularly for a council dominated – as most of London’s councils are – by the Labour party, which currently holds 49 or the 63 seats with the only opposition being the 14 Lib Dems.

The Aylesbury estate is more or less immediately south of the former Heygate in Walworth, and is said to be the largest public housing estate in Europe, with 2700 homes built between 1963 and 1977. It contains a mixture of huge blocks like those in the picture below and much smaller and lower ones. Residents turned down a plan to pass the estate over to a housing association in 1999 and in a later ballot turned down Southwark’s plans for demolition, calling instead for the much cheaper minor works needed to refurbish each property up to modern standards.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Southwark Council had failed to carry out much necessary maintenance, and although the varied properties were generally well designed and built, the estate was allowed to deteriorate. Like the Heygate it was also used to house people with various problems including mental health and drug use and gained a notorious reputation, very much exaggerated by its use for filming a number of TV crime series.

The lack of proper maintenance has continued into this century, and residents feel it has worsened since the council made the decision to demolish the estate, parts of which have already been emptied and destroyed, to be replaced by properties at expensive market rents or the unaffordable ‘affordable’ rents at around 80% of market rates. Few of the Aylesbury residents can afford to take up any of the new properties, and are forced to move to the outer areas of London.

The Aylesbury was built with a central boiler house to run an energy-efficient district heating scheme. Because of the council’s failure to properly maintain this, there are repeated breakdowns in cold periods of winter such as that we had just been suffering. Residents either freeze or rely on expensive electric heating. One of those who spoke told how she had put £20 into her prepayment meter only for it to run out a day later; another told of having reported the heaters in her flat for six months without the council coming to maintain them.

Residents are convinced that Southwark council have been purposefully neglecting their well built homes to justify the demolition of the estate and bully the residents out against a ballot result which called for refurbishment rather than demolition. They protested outside the local housing office for over an hour, calling for someone from the council to come out and speak to them. No one came out and security men prevented the protesters from going inside.

Southwark Council claimed in a statement to a regional TV programme which covered the protest that they were doing their best to keep the heating going, but no-one on the Aylesbury believes them.

More at Aylesbury residents protest lack of heating


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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Black Day

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Tamils have little to celebrate on Sri Lankan Independence Day following their catastrophic defeat in the civil war, brought to an end after 26 years of fighting with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

As a placard states, this is a ‘Black Day for Tamils’. Sri Lanka got its independence from British rule as Ceylon on 4th February 1948, with a government including prominent Tamil leaders. But in 1956 S W R D Bandaranaike became prime minister declaring himself “defender of the besieged Sinhalese culture” and made Sinhalese the only official language of the government greatly heightening the tension between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities, whose language and culture was under threat. When Bandaranaike tried to soften his approach to avoid the conflict, he was assassinated by an extremist Buddhist monk in 1959.

Increasing conflict between the two ethnic groups led to the formation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1976, calling for an independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Intermittent clashes developed into a full-scale civil war in 1983. The LTTE as well as conventional fighting also carried out suicide bombings and assassinations and was designated as a terrorist group by many countries, including the UK, where it remains a proscribed organisation.

Since the end of the war efforts at peace and reconciliation appear to have been rather half-hearted, and attempts to bring war criminals to justice have been prevented by the Sri-Lankan government.

The LTTE adopted a flag showing a tiger jumping through a circle of bullets, with crossed black bayonets on a red background, with their name on it, and in 1990 a version of this without the English and Tamil text was adopted as the national flag of Tamil Eelam. Though banned in Sri Lanka it is widely used by Tamils at protests abroad, and though some feel its association with the LTTE makes it illegal in the UK, the police seem to be decided against attempting to take action which would probably fail in the courts.

It was a dull and damp morning in London, and I only stayed around an hour at the protest outside the Embassy in a Bayswater backstreet before leaving for another event in South London.



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, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.

To order prints or reproduce images