Posts Tagged ‘protest’

Whales, Lions (and Wales)

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

I remember whale meat. Back in the days of rationing after the war several ‘delicacies’ were introduced to the British diet, available ‘off-ration’. These included snoek, spam and whale meat, and women’s magazines carried government propaganda in the form of recipes intended to make them edible.

We got spam fritters in schol dinners well into my youth and they were more than averagely disgusting; many of us carefully removed the pink stuff and ate the batter, hoping to scrape our plates into the pig swill bucket while the dinner lady (school kids back then always said they were trained by the Gestapo) wasn’t looking. We hoped the pigs didn’t object to a little cannibalism.

But whale meat only happened once. My mother cooked it for dinner (what you now probably call lunch) and it was a black day around the table. I don’t think even she took a second mouthful, certainly the rest of us tried this promised delicacy and downed forks – or at least pushed the offending substance to one side of our plates while finishing off the potato and veg. Back then you weren’t allowed to leave anything on your plate, but that day was an exception. Even the cat wouldn’t eat it.

But apparently it is considered a delicacy in Japan, and they have continued fishing for whales under the pretence of ‘research’ but that hasn’t produced enough to meet demand, so they are now proposing to go back to sea, harpoons at the ready to hunt more seriously.

One poster said ‘Eat Kale Not Whale’ and I have some reservations about that. Kale isn’t too bad, but this year it has grown and grown in our garden, doubtless because of our unusual weather (another negative consequence of climate change.) You can have, as I’m finding, too much kale.

The Global March For Whales at least in its London manifestation appeared to be a rather conservative event, with none of the more radical groups who protest against whaling attending, almost as if they had not been informed it was happening. Numbers were low and perhaps it had been deliberately kept quiet to avoid the rowdier elements.

I left before the march – or rather walk along the pavement – to the Japanese Embassy began to photograph another animal event which was supposed to be taking place in Trafalgar Square, and walked around the square without finding it. Then another photographer shouted from across the road and I found a small group in the shade outside a pub.

It was a really sweltering day in the sun, and the organisers had decided it was just too hot to go ahead as planned with a lengthy vigil 4 years after the shooting in Zimbabwe of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter using a crossbow.

The man who was wearing a lion costume would have been seriously in danger of heat stroke had they held a long protest in the sun, and was finding it hot even in the shade, so I think their decision was wise.

Instead they were intending to have a much shorter photocall. I took a few pictures as they were getting ready but had to leave before this took place.

More pictures and more about both events:
Global March For Whales
Remember Cecil the magnificent lion


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.

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.


Don’t attack Iran!

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

For a few days it really looked as if Trump was about to launch an attack on Iran and he was really being urged to do so by some of his hard-line advisers.

Trump had called off a planned air strike at the last minute which was planned in retaliation for the shooting down of an unmanned US reconaissance drone by Iranian forces. Iran had said it had strayed into Iranian air space while the US claimed it was in international air space.

Despite the US official claim it seems almost certain that the drone was attacked in Iranian air space, when it and an armed Boeing P-8 Poseidon US navy surveillance aircraft with a crew of 35 flying close to the drone had strayed into it over the Gulf or Hormuz.

Iran issued a statement that both aircraft were in their airspace and that they had twice warned the US before deciding to attack the drone, but had decided not to attack the manned aircraft, stating “we could have shot it down, but we did not .”

It was perhaps this statement that caused Trump to call off the US attacks at the last minute, saying he had been told 150 Iranians would be killed, and that this would be disproportionate.

Trump also stated; ” There was a plane with 38 people yesterday, did you see that? I think that’s a big story. They had it in their sights and they didn’t shoot it down. I think they were very wise not to do that. And we appreciate that they didn’t do that. I think that was a very wise decision.

But the US threat remains, with Trump in a later tweet promising “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.

Because of the high and continuing threat level of war against Iran, Stop The War had called an emergency protest to demand our government to make it clear to Trump that it did not want and would not support a war against Iran. They protested opposite Downing St and tried to deliver an urgent letter to the Prime Minister, but were refused admission to Downing St by an apologetic police office on the gate as they had not arranged permission some days beforehand.

I had thought that MPs were allowed entry without prior arrangement, but Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, was refused entry. The protesters were told to put the letter in the post.

More pictures: Don’t Attack Iran


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.

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.


Dairy Scary?

Sunday, November 10th, 2019

I don’t know how much of our milk and cheese actually comes from industrial dairy farms like that shown in the picture above.

According to the RSPCA only around 8% of UK milk comes from cows “housed all year round regardless of milk yield, time of calving and so on”. The RSPCA has a lengthy document for farmers setting the RSPCA Welfare Standards for Dairy Cattle, and a shorter and less technical  The welfare of dairy cows information sheet – February 2017 (PDF 654KB) which very much reflects their concern for animal welfare.

Of course these documents are only advisory and again I’m not sure what proportion of our milk and diary products come from farms which follow them, though I suspect it is fairly high. It is very much in farmer’s interests to look after thier animals, and those farmers that I have know personally are very much concerned and involved with them.

I’d like to see welfare standards such as this being legally enforced rather than simply advisory. But to label the whole dairy industry as ‘Scary Dairy’ seems to me misleading. Some of the claims that Viva! and other vegans make simply make no sense; no cow produces enough calves to need the 14,000 pints of milk the average dairy cow provides each year, and there are certainly no calves starving from lack of milk.

Of course farm animals are slaughtered at some point. It is the nature of the beast; farmers breed them only for economic reasons, not to gratify animal lovers (except for those very few kept as pets. They only exist because they produce food and other animal products that farmers can sell. Of course we should have strict laws that eliminate unnecessary suffering governing how animals are killed and ensure that they are enforced.

I remain irredeemably ‘speciesist’. We are in so many respects different from all other species although of course we have much in common, including a high proportion of our DNA, having evolved over thousands and millions of years from other species (which have also evolved, but differently.)

I did my best to photograph the Viva! protest and to caption the images that I filed to represent their views, reporting as objectively as I could. Mostly I chose to photograph things that I view positively, but while I support better animal welfare I think that the approach taken in this campaign is highly emotional and both dishonest and disingenuous.

  There are a few more pictures at Viva! protest Coca-Cola Dairy Farm.


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.

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.


Dinner of HOPE

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

One of Extinction Rebellion’s slightly odder events was a picnic billed as the ‘Extinction Rebellion Dinner of HOPE‘ outside the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, which preceded a protest as guests arrived for the annual dinner of the Petroleum Group of the Geological Society.

As XR pointed out, there was a “grotesque irony of this cosy industry dinner taking place surrounded by extinct species” under the blue whale skeleton in the main hall, celebrating an industry that more than any other is contributing to the continuing extinction of species, possibly including our own.

I’d met Elsie Luna back in October 2018, at a #Fridays For the Future protest in Parliament Square, the first in London as a part of #FridaysForFuture taking place in many cities and towns across the world, inspired by the action of the then 15-year old Greta Thunberg, who instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break in August protested outside the Swedish Parliament, breaking the law to start the School Strike For Climate.

Elsie Luna stood out at that small protest, not just as one of two or three school age children taking part, but also because of the card hanging in a plastic holder around her neck with a picture of the Houses of Parliament and the message “Elsie Luna – Journalist – Hear! Hear! – The political podcast for young people in the UK”. The 8 podcasts are still on line.

Elsie Luna, now 10, opened the party. She had tried to get the museum to cancel the event, calling on the museum to take positive action over the climate and ecological emergency rather than hosting those who are most responsible for creating global extinction. But the Museum failed to listen and the event was taking place.

Extinction Rebellion were not the only group to have issues with the dinner and the oil companies who are the main groups taking part and sponsoring the event. They were joined by protesters against BP’s exploitation of Senegal who came with banners and drums, and whose drummers joined together with XR’s.

More pictures at Extinction Rebellion Dinner of HOPE.

Close all Slaughterhouses?

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

I have nothing against anyone who wishes to be vegan. Although I’m not myself vegan, I think it laudable that some people have chosen to live in this way. For all of us, cutting down the amount of meat we eat is a good thing, probably for ourselves and certainly for the planet. The same is true for diary products, though I think to a lesser extent.

But I can’t agree that we should stop all animal farming and would hate to see the end this would mean to seeing animals grazing in fields, many of which would be unsuitable for growing crops. Grazing animals have an important role in keeping soil healthy, cutting down the need for chemical fertilisers and contributing to biodiversity.

Back in the day successful farmers cared for the animals they farmed and it was in everyone’s interest to treat them well. I’d certainly call for the end to highly intensive farming that now produces meat more cheaply but with great cruelty, and we try to avoid buying meat produced through animal cruelty. But I think it wrong to suggest that all farming of animals is cruel.

Much of the campaigning in the posters and speeches at events such as this is I think misleading, playing on emotional responses to pictures of cute animals. Much also seems to me to fail to understand the basics of the natural world, where many species do prey on other species; what we do in farming animals is a more organised and arguably less cruel extension of this. Foxes may look cuddly in photographs and videos of them playing, but put them among the chickens and you get a bloodbath, nature indeed red in tooth and claw (but of course we shouldn’t make a sport out of hunting foxes.)

The premise of many protesters is that there is no such thing as humane slaughter, and this protest calls for the closure of all slaughterhouses. It unfortunately isn’t had to find examples of cruel practices and to make horrific videos showing them. It’s certainly good that such cruelty is exposed and that the laws that exist against such practices are used with full force to outlaw them – and where necessary that such laws are strengthened. We certainly should try to develop more humane ways to kill animals for food, which I think has been the aim of our previous legislation in the area, but I’d sure this could be improved.

I think all species are inherently “speciesist” and we should not feel any guilt about thinking there is something special about humanity. To suggest that cows or pigs or sheep are “just like us” is simply wrong; in many important ways they are simply not, though of course there is much we share.

Of course some of the claims made are simply wrong. Dairy cows have been extensively bred to produce many times the amount of milk their calves require. We can drink it or use it to make butter and cheese without “stealing it from the calves.” We take honey from the bees (something I’ve certainly done myself) but have to give them sugar to keep the colonies healthy so they will produce more honey for us in following years and so on. As I wrote back in June, “keeping animals and killing them for food or milking them can be done in a decent and humane way and one that has an important contribution to our environment.” Like everything in nature it needs balance.

More pictures at Close all Slaughterhouses.


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.

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.


Zionists protest Al Quds March

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

In yesterday’s post I ended by saying that I ended up feeling more welcome – and perhaps more comfortable – photographing the Zionists who had come to oppose the Al Quds Day march than the march itself.

This definitely was not because I agreed with their views, and it was extremely unusual. At other events I’ve been shouted at, sworn at, threatened, subjected to rude gestures and have been condemned on-line as an “anti-semitic photographer”. Something completely untrue – as are most of the accusations made against Labour Party members – including many Jews – of anti-semitism.

There are a small number – sometimes two and seldom in double figures – of people who occasionally turn up to try and disrupt protests calling for freedom and justice for Palestinians. Some were present on this occasion, but with a rather larger number of others, perhaps around 50 at a more official rally at Downing St and a few fewer who came to the meeting point of the Al Quds Day march outside the Home Office, and halted the march for a few minutes shortly after its start before police kept them moving slowly some distance in front of it.

Among this more militant group were several well-known members of extreme right organisations including Tommy Robinson’s personal bodyguard Danny Thomas, while the official rally, as well as being organised by the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation was supported by the far-Right Sussex Friends of Israel and the Israel Advocacy Movement, both organisations with members who have demonstrated to the EDL.

But they were in a good mood after what had been for them something of a success, managing to briefly halt the march, and bringing out larger numbers than before. There were quite a few photographers taking pictures and they were keen to have their protest recorded. I wondered whether I should give them any publicity, but in the end filed a few pictures and published some on My London Diary.


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

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.

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.


UVW Hotel Visit

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Hotels are big business particularly in London, and its a highly profitable business particularly because it relies on exploiting low paid workers. The United Voices of the World is not the only union that takes up their cause, but it does so more directly than the larger unions, who have not had great success in either organising among the low paid often migrant workers the sector relies on, or at representing them.

Part of the reason for the greater militancy shown by the UVW is the reluctance of managements to engage with the union. Many hotels are run by organisations that are essentially anti-union and often prepared to flout even the weak laws on unions which we have, and to employ contractors who fail to implement even the minimum legal standards for wages, terms and conditions to provide their services.

I can’t comment with any certainty on the details of the individual case that led UVW members and supporters (including some IWGB members) to protest in the foyer of the Hilton Doubletrees Hotel close to Marble Arch. The union claimed that one of their members who had worked there for six months had been paid illegally at less than the minimum wage and was owed a large amount by the cleaning contractor.

Having got no satisfaction by contacting the hotel management and the cleaning contractor, the UVW had decided that some more direct action was called for, and around twenty of them walked into the hotel foyer and began to make their demands along with a great deal of shouting as well as loud music and dancing, demanding to talk to the hotel manager and the manager of the contract cleaning firm. 

Police eventually arrived and I was impressed that the officers tried to get the two sides to talk about the dispute. Unlike on many other occasions they actually listened to what the union had to say rather than simply try to clear them out with threats of arrest. By the time I left the protesters were still in the foyer and waiting for a representative from the contracting firm on her way to meet with them.

I don’t know how the dispute was finally settled – or even if it has yet been or whether the union is now pursuing legal action – but this was a good example of how the UVW is prepared to support its members. There are employers who rely on exploiting individuals, particularly migrant workers who are often ignorant of their rights and sometimes have a limited command of English to argue for themselves. The UVW educates them and speaks for them in meetings with employers, at employment tribunals and, if necessary, on the street at workplaces and has a remarkable record of successes through solidarity.

More pictures at Cleaners at Hilton Doubletree Hotel .


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.

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.


Youth Strike for Climate

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

Youth Strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s protests, has injected a remarkable energy into the campaigning against what seems the inevitable climate disaster we are heading towards.

Most of those taking part in the protests on Fridays in London are taking time off from school to do so, sometimes with approval and even encouragement from teachers, but often despite threats and sanctions. Along with them are some students from FE and HE, but it does seem to be school students who are leading these protests.

And while schools may not approve, I think that many of the posters and placards show that the campaign is stimulating a great deal of activity in art departments across the area.

Of course as they say, it is their future which is at stake, their future lives that are at risk, while most politicians and those in charge of financial institutions and businesses in the rich world are likely to die before the worst effects of climate change begin to bite. Schoolkids don’t have a vote and feel that those who do are not thinking about the future of the young, and generally I think they are right.

Of course we are a part of the rich on this planet (despite homelessness and the other avoidable aspects of our increasing inequality); people in parts of the majority world are already in some places dying because of the effects of global heating, while here in the richer countries we are still ruled by smug wealth keeping getting richer with business as usual, and climate deniers who reject the science.

Theirs is a generation already feeling cheated by Brexit (whether we get either the current bad deal or a no deal) and by government cuts and longer term policies that have removed funding from education.

Protests like this one, and those by Extinction Rebellion, do have some effect in raising awareness and combating the lies still too frequent in the media. More people are beginning to think about how their own personal choices – over food, holiday travel and more – effect the environment but there still needs to be far more, not just at the personal level but also a giant cultural shift as well as political actions both here and across the world. We need as some of the posters and placards state, ‘System Change not Climate Change.’

More about the actual protest at Youth Strike for Climate.


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.

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.


Mothers’ Day March

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Apparently according to Mothers Rise Up, 95 countries celebrate Mothers’ Day on 12 May, (although in the UK we traditionally celebrate our mothers on Mothering Sunday in March, on the 4th Sunday in Lent, a rather more low key event.)

Or rather people celebrate Mother’s Day, as Anna Jarvis trademarked the event in 1912 saying it should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Jarvis had begun campaigning for a day to honour mothers after the death of her own mother in 1905. Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis (1832 1905) had been a community activist and had established Mother’s Day Work Clubs in several West Virginia towns to assist and educate people to improve sanitation and reduce infant mortality and disease. During the US Civil War she had controversially insisted these clubs provide food, clothing and nursing to soldiers in need on both sides.

Mother’s Day in the USA rapidly developed, much against Anna Jarvis’s wishes into a commercial jamboree; she organised boycotts against sending mass-produced cards and gifts, urging people instead to mark the day and honour their mothers by writing them letters expressing their love and gratitude.

According to Wikipedia, Jarvis protested against the commercialisation of the event at a “candy makers’ convention” in Philadelphia in 1923, and at a meeting of the American War Mothers in 1925. The War Mothers were selling white carnations for Mother’s Day to raise funds, and this so enraged Jarvis that she protested and “was pulled away screaming and arrested for disturbing the peace.”

So it was very appropriate that Mothers Rise Up had chosen Mother’s Day to protest and “stand in solidarity with the #youthclimatestrikes” emphasising the urgent action needed to avoid disastrous climate breakdown, with scientists telling us we have only a few years to act. Perhaps as long as 11 years to take really decisive measures, although it may already be to late to prevent global human extinction. Already as they pointed out, people in parts of the Global South “are already suffering and dying as a result of climate chaos.”

Their call out for the protest began:

We will come together and rise as a maternal force to be reckoned with. With pushchairs and song, we will march from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square and demand that our government take immediate, drastic action for a just transition to a sustainable way of life.

I hope my pictures capture something of this “maternal force”, though the giant pushchairs did present something of a problem photographically. For once I walked with the protest the whole distance to Parliament Square (stopping off briefly to photograph another protest at Downing St) and stayed for a part of the rally.

One of the speakers there was the leading international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin; I had arrived too late a few weeks earlier to photograph her arrest when protesting with Extinction Rebellion at Shell’s London HQ in April.

More pictures from the march: XR International Mothers’ Day March

Guardian Lies on Venezuela

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Back to looking back at my own work from a few months ago, and a protest outside the offices of The Guardian, a canal-side block on York Way to the north of Kings Cross, part of King’s Place. It’s a place I’ve visited a few time as in the ground floor entrance they have regular exhibitions of photographs, but on this occasion they were not letting people in to see them, with security staff at the door.

The protest was organised by the Revolutionary Communist Group, a name that might put some people off, but who I think are one of the friendliest and most sensible groups in left politics, and while I may not always agree with their views, they have been very active in campaigning on some of the our pressing social issues – including housing, universal credit and other benefits and disability, working together with other groups without trying to take things over. Often they are the people who bring a PA system to protests and make it available as an ‘open mike’ for others as well as them to speak.

They have a newspaper too, ‘Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism’ and it runs readable and well-researched articles on many subjects, and it includes much coverage of events in South America, informed by people who have lived and worked and have good contacts there.

Of course they view the situation from a particular political perspective, supporting the left-wing popular movements in the continent, and in the case of Venezuela, the government under President Nicolas Maduro. Of course not everything is rosy in the country which has suffered greatly from US sanctions, low oil prices and other economic pressures, but they are very aware of these pressures and the problems they have led to.

The stringences in Venezuela have particularly affected the middle-classes, while the Bolivarian revolution begun under Hugo Chavez meant great gains for the peasants and indigenous peoples, even though there has been deterioration in recent years.

The Guardians coverage of events in Venezuela have been almost entirely from the point of view of the middle classes who their correspendent clearly is at home with, and have largely ignored the popular support still enjoyed by Maduro. While the support of most of our press owned by billionaires as well as the establishment BBC for the US-backed efforts to mount a coup in the country against the democratically elected leadership is hardly surprising, many on the left are surprise that The Guardian should so one-sidedly support it.

The protesters held up posters listing some of the successes of the Venezuelan government under Chavez and Maduro with the Bolivarian revolution building socialism and transforming the lives of the poor which have led to the crippling US sanctions and the US-backed coup and called on The Guardian to stop publising lies and to report the facts and both sides of the argument in Venezuela rather than simply parrot the views of the US-backed opposition.

Towards the end of the protest a small deputation attempted to deliver a letter to The Guardian but were not allowed to enter the building. Instead the security man at the door accepted their letter and promised that it would be delivered.

More pictures at Guardian lies about Venezuela.


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.

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.