Posts Tagged ‘protest’

XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

Carmen leads the XR Carbon Procession at Hyde Park Corner

Extinction Rebellion had obviously put in a lot of thought and effort into their Carmen’s Carbon Procession on July 2nd, 2019, and there were quite a few photographers and videographers who came to photograph it. Doubtless all of us filed our pictures with the agencies or publications, but I don’t know how many got published. Probably the only pictures used came from later in the day when they ended the event with a protest in Trafalgar Square close to where a large audience had gathered to watch the opera.

Protests in the UK seldom get reported, unless they result in considerable disruption, violence or involve celebrities behaving badly. So far as most editors are concerned they are not ‘news’. Of course much of the press and media is owned by a small group of billionaires whose interests those editors have to bear in mind even where there is not explicit direction. But more generally they operate under a general restraint of upholding the status quo and from their personal position as part of the well paid middle class – something which has been very apparent in the coverage of the recent RMT strikes.

But overall Extinction Rebellion have done much to bring the climate crisis into a wider public consciousness, and I applaude them for this even if I agree with some of their left and anarchist critics. And perhaps an opera-based protest exemplifies the middle-class nature of the organisation. But mobilising such a large middle-class movement is certainly an acheivement, and many of their harshest critics are those who have failed to mobilise more than a tiny fraction of the working class. Though nothing at the moment suggests that XR’s efforts will result in any of the decisive action needed to be anything but too little too late.

Relatively few people actually see protests on the streets, and most who do are too intent on getting on with their life, shopping or hurrying to meetings or to catch trains to take much notice. Much of XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession in any case took part on fairly empty back streets and it was more an event staged for the media than a protest.

The protest took place on the day that BP, a company which began life in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Ltd, a part of our imperial exploitation of Iran’s vast oil reserves was greenwashing its polluting and climate-damaging activities through sponsorship of a Royal Opera House performance of Carmen to be relayed to 13 BP giant screens in major cities across the UK.

An opera singer performs a little from Carmen

It toured the offices of oil companies belonging to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) urging them to abandon the pretence they can combat global warming without a huge cut in oil production and delivering copies of the Extinction Rebellion Handbook ‘This is Not A Drill’.

As well as Carmen in costume, there was a fine opera singer and a group of musicians, XR drummers to draw attention to the event and a team who marked out the company offices as crime scenes.

The procession found a floral arch in Grosvenor Square

The event met on Ebury Bridge before marking to perform in front of the nearby offices of Italian petroleum company ENI, on an otherwise rather empty street in Pimlico. They then moved on for another performance on a busy lunchtime street corner in Eccleston Square and then the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) close to Victoria Station. By then they needed a rest in Hyde Park before going through Mayfair to the offices of Saudi Aramco at 10 Portman Square.

And an illegally parked symbol of the kind of extreme wasteful consumption that has got the planet in such a mess

It had taken them around three and a half hours to get there, and I decided I’d taken enough pictures and was getting tired. But probably the parts of the event more likely to be featured as news in the UK were to come. Their next planned performance was outside BP in St James’s Square, from where they were going on to protest close to the giant screen in Trafalgar Square, hoping to make clear to the audience there that the Royal Opera House should end their greenwashing sponsorship by BP.

Security at Saudi Aramco take a copy of the XR Handbook ‘This is not a Drill’

More at XR Carmen’s Carbon Procession


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Tories Out March – 1st July 2017

Friday, July 1st, 2022

Class War wrap a march steward in their banner at the start of the march

Tories Out March – 1st July 2017: Five years ago, shortly after the Labour right working inside the party had managed to prevent a Corbyn victory by sabotaging the campaign for the 2017 General Election, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity organised a march through London calling for Theresa May and the Conservatives to go.

Of course they didn’t go, and later when Boris Johnson called an election over Brexit, he gained a landslide victory, rather than the close call in 2017 which left Theresa May having to bribe the Northern Irish DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists to support her.

This reliance on the DUP has eventually led to the current problem over the Irish Sea border arrangements which Boris Johnson persuaded the EU to adopt as a vital part of his Brexit deal, and which the government is now pushing through a bill to enable us to renege on.

And the Johnson administration has continued and worsened the Tory policies which in 2017 should have resulted in a Labour victory. In my account of the protest march 5 years ago today I wrote

“The election showed a rejection of … austerity policies and the Grenfell Tower disaster underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people. The protesters, many of whom chanted their support of Jeremy Corbyn, say the Tories have proved themselves unfit to govern. They demand a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.”

Rev Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty rings his bell

The full facts of the sabotage of the Labour election campaign from inside the party had not then come to light – and we are still waiting for the Forde inquiry into the leaked report which exposed the racism, hyper-factionalism and electoral sabotage by party officials as well as the misguided attempts of the Corbyn leadership such as the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the resignations of Chris Williamson and Ken Livingstone.

But although this was largely a march of Labour supporters there were still a number of groups on the march who were critical of Labour’s policies and the practices of London Labour councils, particularly on housing, where councils are “demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing. It is a massive land grab, giving away public land often at far below market value and pricing the former residents out of London in what they call ‘regeneration’ but is quite clearly a process of social and ethnic cleansing.”

It is also a process that has resulted in considerable personal financial advantage for some of those who have led it, with councillors and officers either leaving to work for the developers or in organisations set up by councils to manage their estates. Setting up organisations such as the TMO responsible for the unsafe condition of Grenfell Tower has enabled these bodies to hide information about such activites as using consultants to advise them on circumventing adequate fire inspections outside of the purview of Freedom of Information requests.

Most obvious among these groups was Class War, alway ready to make their views known and to challenge authority. At the start of the march close to the BBC they had a little run-in with the march stewards, which resulted in them briefly wrapping their banner around one of him – though of course they soon released him. Later at the rally in Parliament Square I unfortunately missed a confrontation in which Lisa McKenzie stood in front of both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and loudly asked them the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away.

Much more about the event and many more pictures at Tories Out March.

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

Independent Living Ends, Robin Hood Gardens. On Tuesday 30th June 2015 I joined disabled people at Downing St marking the ending of the Independent Living Fund before going to Robin Hood Gardens, a brutalist estate in Poplar doomed for demolition.


DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony – Downing St to Old Palace Yard

Disabled people and supporters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, met outside Downing St to bring a petition with over 25,000 signatures calling for a continuation of this essential support for the disabled.

Sophie Partridge, disabled Actor, Writer & Workshop artist

The Independent Living Fund which was coming to an end on that day had given them to money to employ support to enable them to live with dignity and for many to continue in work and make a contribution to society. Without it they fear they will simply be shut away and left to rot, many fearing they will now be left for many hours at a time in incontinence pads.

Paula Peters

Outside the gates of Downing Street they wrote slogans on incontinence pads; Paula Peters of DPAC had a message for Iain Duncan Smith, then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions responsible for the ending of support, ‘I want dignity – I want to be treated as a human – You wear one of these I. D. S. They are awful’.

A campaigner dressed as Brittania was among those who had come to hand in the petition which had gained support from a video by the stars of Coronation Street and the Graeae Theatre Company’s 2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera. One of those stars spoke in front of the gates of Downing Street.

John Kelly as Schimmel leads the march

From Downing Street the campaigners marched the quarter mile or so to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament, led by John Kelly as Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny Opera.

Here they were joined by others including Labour MP John McDonnell who spoke at the rally marking the end of the Independent Living Fund, at the end of which a wreath with the message’s ‘RIP ILF’ was laid.

DPAC’s ILF Closing Ceremony


Robin Hood Gardens – Poplar

Two walls of flats protect an inner garden area

The ILF protest had ended a little before 1pm and it was a fine day and I decided to take another visit to Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, where demolition had begun after the refusal to list the site. Listing had been recommended for listing by the advisory committee of English Heritage in 2009, but the then Minister of Culture Andy Burnham had issued a certificate of immunity against listing which expired in 2014.

These are large and desirable properties, but often have been used to house difficult residents

A further attempt was then made to have the site listed, supported by almost every well-known British architect, but Historic England, now responsible for listing buildings rejected this.

A wall at left screens the estate and there is a lower service and parking area

An open letter signed by many leading architects including Richard Rogers made clear the value of the site, and I quoted from this in My London Diary.

The buildings, which offer generously sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of Modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever.”

The end of the ‘street in the sky’

The refusal to list on both occasions was clearly a political one, almost certainly driven by the huge profits demolition and rebuilding on the site would make for the developers.

As with the award-winning Heygate Estate in Southwark, and the fine Central Hill Estate at Gypsy Hill, Lambeth, the local council, Tower Hamlets, was keen to get rid of the estate and had carried out what I described as “a well funded campaign of vilification“, seeing it “only as a large area with potential for redevelopment at a higher density“, working with “developers who see any area of social housing in London as rich pickings for redevelopment and sale to the rich.”

A large enclosed playground at the south end of the site

By the end of June 2015 most of the west block seemed empty and boarded up and I was unable to gain entry. But I could roam the large garden in the centre of the estate, now let to grow wild, and went inside the still occupied east block, going up to the highest public level, a ‘street in the sky’ built rather less wide than the architects had originally intended, overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel approach. From there I took a number of pictures of the views from the block looking towards the east.

The south end of Robin Hood Gardens was on Poplar High St

As on a couple of previous visits I talked briefly with some of the residents who all told me they were pleased to be living in the block and sad they would have to leave – though some did complain about the lifts (I think only one of the two at the entrance I went in was working.)

Knocking down buildings like these which are structurally in good condition is inexcusable in terms of the huge carbon footprint involved in their construction, demolition and rebuilding. The estate could and should have been refurbished at relatively low cost and would have continued to provide good quality homes for many years. Its replacements – the west section already built – are of lower quality and will almost certainly not last as long as this could have done. The advantage of their roughly three times higher density is at the expense of possible amenity.

As well as walking in and around the estate I also took some pictures of it from the surrounding area, and some other pictures you can see on My London Diary, including a few when I stopped at Canning Town station and took a few pictures of people on the new footbridge across Bow Creek.

Robin Hood Gardens


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Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

Sick Pay, Holidays And Pensions – End Outsourcing – Nine years ago on Friday 28th June 2013 I photographed a protest by low-paid workers at the University of London who with their supporters ran into the Senate House and protested noisily inside the building for sick pay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University.


I’ve spent some time over the past few days thinking about strikes and industrial actions, partly because of the rail strikes. My local station is one of the few that still has a train service, but out of solidarity with the workers I won’t be using it on strike days, and on the days in between it is still likely to be unreliable.

The campaigners met up at SOAS before the protest

Of course I support the strikers, many of them low paid workers and all of whom have seen the value of their wages cut over the last few years. And these have been years when for all the problems that politicians and media state many of the wealthy have got considerably wealthier – and some made huge fortunes over Brexit and profited greatly (and not always legally) over Covid. We are living in an increasingly unfair society, and with a government which despite claims about levelling up is doing its damnedest to make the rich richer while making the poor poorer.

After marching quietly past university buildings they dashed towards Senate House

The government and train operating companies make much of the need to modernise the railways and I can only agree with them. We desperately need to get back to a sensible structure for running railways, to reverse the breakup of the system into small pieces, each with its highly paid management, caused by the doctrinaire privatisation of the 1990s. And yes, there are other changes which could greatly improve the system, but what the companies mean by modernisation is largely slashing the additional rates for overtime, weekend and night work. It’s ‘we’ll give you more pay if we can cut your wages at the same time’.

and were all inside the building before security noticed

June 28th is said to be the date on which new restrictions on the right to protest pushed through parliament in the last session come into effect. I think the protest by the IWGB on behalf of low paid workers employed by contract companies at London University on Friday 28th January 2013 would clearly have been illegal in several ways had this law been in place then. And it would be precisely those aspects that made this and most other protests over low pay effective that could have resulted in arrests.

They swarmed up the stairs towards the Vice-Chancellor’s office

I don’t know how (or even if) the police will enforce the new laws. Although I think they will have little appetite to do so, there will be considerably political pressure on them. And while the large unions will worry about the huge impact legal measures would have on their funds and largely play safe, perhaps the small grass-roots unions who have been so much more effective for low paid workers will feel they have less to lose.

They held a noisy protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office

Back in 2013, the low paid workers who keep London University running were taking part in a ‘Summer of Action’, supported by the grass roots IWGB union (Independent Workers of Great Britain) and the students of the ULU (University of London Union.)

making sure he and his staff could hear why they were protesting


Many of the the cleaners, security guards and catering staff who work in the same buildings as other service staff employed by the university have brutally inferior conditions of service as they employed on behalf of the university by contracting companies who give them none of the kind or working conditions that any considerate employer would provide.

They then returned to the large lobby below to tell those attending conferences why workers were protesting.

Often they are not provided with proper safety equipment and expected to work in unsafe ways to get the job done, and may have to put up with harsh and unreasonable demands over workload, derogatory treatment and even racism from the managers employed by contract companies.

But this ‘3 Cosas’ protest was largely about three things, sick pay, holidays and pensions, on which these outsourced staff often have to fight even to get the rock-bottom statutory minimum provisions. Statutory sick pay is so low that few workers can afford to take time off when they are sick. Even at the height of Covid, many who were unwell had to drag themselves into work, putting their own health and that of others at risk to pay their rent and feed their families.

They continued a noisy protest in the lobby and its balconies for a few minutes

It took many protests such as this to persuade the University and other bodies to end the unfair outsourcing – even when studies showed there were considerable advantages in having a properly employed workforce and little if any financial loss. At SOAS, where the protesters met before the protest the Justice for Workers Campaign led by SOAS Unison branch began in 2006 and was only finally successful in 2018.

and then decided it was time to leave, pleased that the protest had gone so well.

The IWGB is still campaigning against outsourcing at University College London (UCL) and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) as well as other campaigns. A few days ago I photographed them outside the London offices of the world’s largest healthcare multinational Health Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare, who run the private London Bridge Hospital, and they also support other groups of low-paid workers, including foster carers, delivery drivers, minicab drivers and cycling instructors.

More about the 3 Cosas protest at Cleaners Surprise Senate House Invasion.


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Pride, Class War Protest and Paedophiles

Monday, June 27th, 2022

Pride, Class War Protest and Paedophiles – Saturday 27th June 2015 in London. And a rather fine stencilled grafitti which I’ve not seen elsewhere – and I suspect was very quickly removed. Banksy couldn’t have done a better job, though I could perhasp have got the bottom of the image in my picture. And I would have preferred a red bus, though at least the blue one means the bus stop stands out better.


Pride Parade – Baker St

Pride in 2015 had a little more political edge than in recent years as this was the 30th anniversary of the support it gave to the miners strike and there were rather more trade union and other groups trying to reclaim the event as the radical festival it was until around the late 1990s.

My photographs from 2015 reflect this, and as usual I paid little attention to the large corporate groups who now provide sponsorship which enables them to dominate the parade and advertise their services to the crowds who line the route.

Despite this, as I wrote in 2015, ” It seems a long way from the event when I first photographed it in the early 90s when Pride was a protest.”

Pride is also a considerably over-photographed event, with people with cameras and yet more with mobile phones swarming over the area before the parade starts. I don’t object to this as photography is very much a democratic medium, but it would be nice if rather more of them were polite enough not to walk in front of me when I’m taking pictures.

I note in one of the captions, “I got the queen to pose for me with a friend. And found I now had collected another ten photographers at my shoulders“. This is one of the few events where I do occasionally ask people to pose. This is something I think has little or no place in photographing protests and documenting events, but at Pride many pose as soon as they see the camera pointed at them, so I feel OK to sometimes ask them to perform a little differently, perhaps with a different background, as in the picture above.

I didn’t stay as long as usual photographing people before the parade began as I wanted to go and meet Class War who were planning a little diversion.

Pride Parade


Class War protest ‘corporate pinkwashing’ – Piccadilly Circus and Pall Mall

While many criticised the corporate takeover of Pride, and some had tried to oppose it by joining in the march as protesters, Class War had decided it was time for a more direct approach.

I met them outside a pub close to Piccadilly Circus and photographed them as they protested outside Barclay’s Bank at Piccadilly Circus against corporate sponsorship of Pride in London, briefly closing the branch as the parade approached. After this short protest which hardly attracted the attention of the police, they rolled up the banner and ran, following along the route and looking for opportunity to protest at the march itself.

On Pall Mall they found a place where the crowds were thinner and they could take over a section of the barriers along the road for the event. And as the flag bearers at the front of the parade came in sight they pushed those barriers aside and rushed out onto the street with their banner.

I rushed out with them and photographed them as for a minute or so they led the parade until Pride Marshals and police guided them back behind the barriers again.

They continued to protest with megaphone and banner for a few minutes as the parade arrived, but when they saw a squad of officers heading towards them they rolled up the banner and hastened away. I followed some down into the subway where they lost the police, coming out at another subway entrance. They began to discuss further interventions at the event, but I think probably went to a nearby pub after I said goodbye and left. Later I heard police had continued to follow some of the others for half an hour or so, but made no arrests.

Class War protest ‘corporate pinkwashing’


Victims & Survivors call for Justice – Downing St

It’s hard to assess some of the claims made by conspiracy theorists about paedophiles in high places and the activities of the family courts. Clearly the activities of people such as Jimmy Saville and Sir Cyril Richard Smith MBE MStJ DL have provided plenty of fire behind the clouds of smoke and many of those at this protest had very disturbing personal stories to tell.

So while many prominent claims have been found to be false, there also seem to be many cover-ups and failures to properly investigate; all too often the response by the authorities appears to be to close ranks, make false claims against the complainants and deny the realities.

Someone once said that around 30% of conspiracy theories turn out to be true. I’ve no idea whether this figure is accurate, but certainly it reflects the truth that some are. Its just very difficult to decide which.

While we can be confident that there are no chem trails (just atmospheric conditions that make normal combustion products visible), that Magna Carta doesn’t give us much in the way of freedoms now, that 9/11 actually happened and Trump lost the election some others are less certain. And while there are clearly not 76 paedophile MPs, there may well be a handful or so still lurking in the House of Commons, and certainly there have been some very questionable decisions made by family courts – or at least they would be very questionable if we were allowed to know about them.

Victims & Survivors call for Justice


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Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride 2016

Saturday, June 25th, 2022

Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride 2016: Movement for Justice organised a Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride march to the official Pride London procession and joined the main procession at the extreme end along with other protest groups who were relegated to the rear of the long parade.

Many feel the the official Pride event has been taken over by corporate sponsors such as Barclays and BAE systems and is a parade rather than a protest, no longer representing its roots and that the organisers deliberately marginalise any political groups.

At 12.15 they began their march on Oxford St, going along with others including London in Solidarity with Istanbul LGBTI Pride protesting the banning of Istanbul Pride, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.

They walked along to Regent Street, turning north and going up towards Portland Place were the main Pride march was gathering and I went with them, stopping to photograph others on the way.

As usual there were some rather strange costumes worn by some of those taking part, and I photographed some of these, but avoided the more corporate aspects of the event.

There were sections of the march that were still very recognisably protests, and some were marching with banners and placards which could have been on any protest against racism, homophobia and standing up for the rights of refugees.

Gay Muslims on the march with the messages ‘I exist for the expansion of your mind’ and’Halal Babe’.

Stonewall as ever where there to protest, with a range of red t-shirts, some with the message ‘Some People are BI’ or GAY or TRANS, but all ‘Get Over It!’

I took a lot of pictures as usual, and there are over a hundred on them on My London Diary, though the selection I made concentrates on those taking part in Pride as a protest, and perhaps misses some of the more outré images.

I didn’t bother to photograph the actual march but was still photographing the groups at the back who had not moved well over an hour before the parade began. By the time they got on the route many of the spectators will have given up watching and have left for drinks or food.

Pride London 2016
Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride


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Defend All Migrants

Friday, June 24th, 2022

Defend All Migrants. June 24th 2016 was the day after the Brexit referendum when by a narrow majority – 3.78% – the British population voted to leave the European Union. Although it was a non-binding referendum, the government had unwisely promised they would implement the result and eventually did so in the worst way possible, leading to many of our current problems.

Of course it’s done and although we were lied to and tricked in many ways it is a decision which cannot be reversed in the foreseeable future, though hopefully a new government will abandon the current excessively combative approach and try to negotiate some more sensible ways to live with our neighbours. On many levels we remain a part of Europe and need to find policies which recognise the facts of culture and geography.

One important aspect of the campaign to leave Europe was the encouragement of racism and xenophobia particularly by the UKIP-linked Leave.EU, but also by the official Vote Leave campaign. London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of few politicians at the time to accuse Vote Leave of promoting ‘Project Hate’ but academic research as well as Parliament’s own Digital, Culture, Media & Sport committee has shown clearly how they used TV adverts and social media to use racism to promote the Brexit vote. You can read more in Truly Project Hate: the third scandal of the official Vote Leave campaign headed by Boris Johnson.

So on the day following the referendum Socialists and anarchists held a rally in East London before marching to the offices of News International on a roundabout route for migrant rights and against racism and fascist violence. Migration and immigrants have been attacked and scapegoated not only by both Remain and Leave campaigns but by mainstream parties and media over more than 20 years, stoking up hatred by insisting immigrants are a “problem”.

As I stated on My London Diary, “The event was called by Movement for Justice, rs21, London Antifascists and Jewdas, and supported by other groups including Brick Lane Debates, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), Right to Remain, Radical Assembly, Clapton Ultras, the Antiuniversity, English collective of prostitutes, sex workers open university, lesbians and gays support the migrants, Razem Londyn, London Anarchist Federation, Kent anti-racist network, dywizjon 161, colectivo anticapitalista Londres and Plan C London as well as others who brought banners and many individuals.

Despite the large number of organisations, the actual number of people who turned up for the protest wasn’t huge, though there were probably well over a thousand in Altab Ali Park by the time the speeches began. As I wrote, ” People stood around in groups bemoaning the result of the referendum; most had either voted to remain or chosen not to vote – or had not been eligible as EU citizens or foreigners working here. They represented much of mainly young London, very few of whom voted to leave the EU, and most like me who were shocked and bitterly disappointed by the Brexit vote.

A group of three people interviewing people to camera for a right-wing US website had clearly come to provoke people, asking silly questions and appearing to gloat over the Brexit result. People told them to leave but they persisted and eventually the woman interviewer complained to police that her jokey Brexit hat had been stolen and her cameraman had been punched, though it seemed more a performance to camera than a genuine complaint. Although police talked to a few nearby protesters who failed to back up her complaints they also made sure the crew left the park rather than continue to stir up trouble.

After a number of speeches the march formed up and moved off, with the organisers apparently taking a tour of the East End and the City on the way to London Bridge. A number of smoke flares made its progress colourful and there was considerable noise from slogans and some loud music. When the march turned north rather than south on Houndsditch I decided I’d walked far enough and left it to go home and file my story.

Much more on My London Diary: Defend All Migrants.

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

Windrush, Missile Defence and Rathayatra – 2008 On Sunday 22 June 2008 I photographed two events celebrating anniversaries in London as well as a protest supporting Czech hunger strikers who – like 70% of the Czech people – were opposing the building of an American radar base near Prague – part of the US Missile Defence system.


Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary – Clapham Common

Sixty years previously, on June 22, 1948, the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 492 Caribbeans – many of who had served in the British armed forces during the war – from Jamaica to start a new life in England. They had paid £28 10s (£28.50) for the passage and were the first large group of settlers from the Empire to come to live in the ‘Mother Country’.

The events celebrating this in 2008 now seem very low key and that at the bandstand close to the Clapham South deep level shelter on the edge of Clapham Common where many of them were given temporary housing was one of several organised by Christian Aid, together with the Windrush Trust and Churches Together in South London.

Next year will be the 75th anniversary and it will be interesting to see how this is celebrated. The years since 2008 have been marked by revelations about the terrible treatment by our government of the Windrush generation and their families, suffering from the hostile environment, deportations and racism promoted by the Home Office. Whatever celebrations there are will I think be rather more political, and probably better attended.

In 2008 the event celebrated the great contribution made by the Caribbean community to life in this country, and were reminded of the contribution of Clapham to the fight against slavery, but began with relatively little about the racist treatment they had received here, and which was about to be ratcheted up officially when the Tories came to power.

This changed towards the end of the event when Mark Sturge, former director of African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance, talked about the contribution black majority churches had made in the UK. He reminded us that Black immigrants were faced with discrimination at almost every turn, with notices “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs” and other insults. Many came from religious backgrounds and turned to the largely white churches, and also found they were seldom welcome there. They became the pioneers of black-led churches, which provided an important support, not just religion, but also in education and other areas of life, helping them to face up to and fight against discrimination.

We had also got a taste of how it had been when Jacqueline Walker, who arrived in Britain as a young child a few years later in 1959, gave us an insight into what arriving in the country felt like, with readings from her book ‘Pilgrim State’.

Empire Windrush – 60th Anniversary


40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London – Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square

Two men carry Jagannatha from the car to the chariot.

The day was also the 40th annual Rathayatra Chariots Festival in London, which saw Krishna in the form of Jagannatha, his half-sister Subhadra, and Balarama her brother carried on huge chariots pulled through the streets of London by Hare Krishna devotees.

The effigy of the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is lifted onto one of the chariots.

You can see more pictures from another year in other posts on My London Diary and here in the recent post Ten Years Ago – Chariots & Custody Deaths.

40th Rathayatra Chariot Festival in London


No to US Missile Defence – Support Czech Hunger Strike – Downing St

Although I condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine both in 2014 when the war there began and its escalation since February, activities by the West including the setting up of an American radar base near Prague as a part of the US Missile Defence system do provide some explanation for the Russian fears that have led to the current terrible situation.

70% of the Czech people apparently were against the building of the radar base, and some had gone on a hunger strike against it. CND held a rally and all-day fast on Whitehall opposite Downing Street to show their support. They included well-known peace campaigners such as CND chair Kate Hudson and veteran protester Pat Arrowsmith.

No to US Missile Defence


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People’s Assembly & Class War Against Austerity

Monday, June 20th, 2022

People’s Assembly & Class War Against Austerity – Saturday 20th June 2015 saw a massive march through London from Bank to Parliament Square in the People’s Assembly End Austerity march against the savage and destructive cuts to the NHS, the welfare state, education and public services.

People's Assembly & Class War Against Austerity

The march was supported by groups from across the centre and left, and my pictures show Clapton Ultras, CND, the Green Party, Labour MP Dianne Abbott, Focus E15, Left Unity, FRFI, People’s March for the NHS, Netpol, Socialist Worker, Global Women’s Strike, Union branches, and others on the march.

People's Assembly & Class War Against Austerity

Class War was missing. They were calling for an end to A to B marches to rallies and called for direct action, diverting several hundred from the march to support a squatted pub at the Elephant & Castle which Foxtons want to open as an estate agent. Had I heard about it in time I might have followed, but instead I went to photograph a Class War group holding banners on a footway above the march.

People's Assembly & Class War Against Austerity

They showed several banners, including a new version of one that police had seized (and then lost) showing political leaders, as well as another that police were then charging Lisa McKenzie for displaying with rows of graveyard crosses extending to the far distance and the message ‘We have found new homes for the rich‘, along with the Lucy Parsons banner with her message ‘We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live.’

Two of Class War’s candidates from the previous month’s General Election were also there, Lisa and Adam Clifford, their Westminster candidate, today wearing a top with fake exposed breasts and holding a fairly lifelike looking baby.

Adam invites people to feel his breasts

The protest was massive, filling across the wide street and taking well over an hour to pass Class War, many raising fists and shouting in solidarity, clapping and otherwise showing approval, with just a few shaking their heads or trying hard to ignore it, though this was difficult, especially when they were letting off flares which sent blue smoke across the march. The organisers claimed 250,000 marched though my rough estimate was perhaps a little less than half this. The organisers claimed 250,000 marched though my rough estimate was perhaps a little less than half this.

Global women’s strike

I went down to street level and took many more pictures of the marchers going past, some with Class War visible in the background.

RMT banner with John Reid (left) and Steve Hedley (centre right)

I watched as around 30 police gathered behind Class War and thought they were about to take action. But charging the group on a wall ten foot above the street would have been highly dangerous for both officers and protesters, and after some lengthy discussions between several senior officers the police rapidly moved away.

Class War discuss how to continue their day in the Olde London

Class War joined in at the end of the march before leaving it to search for a pub, but few City pubs open at the weekends when the area is largely deserted. Eventually the found the Olde London on Ludgate Hill, and went inside, with a large group of police waiting for them outside as they relaxed and then planned further action.

Police followed Class War at a discreet distance as they made their way towards Westminster, rushing forward and forming a line to protect the Savoy Hotel as Class War stopped to protest, blocking the entrance road for a few minutes.

Eventually there were some rather heated arguments as police threatened them with arrest and slowly forced them away. They grabbed one man who had tried to stop a taxi entering, and when a taxi driver got out of his cab and threatened to assault the protesters they seemed far more interested in protecting him from the protesters than in taking any action over his illegal threats.

A woman argues with Adam Clifford at Downing St

Eventually the protesters moved away and on to Whitehall, followed by several police vans. Here they met a sound system and stopped to dance in the road for a while before going on to protest outside the gates to Downing St – and to throw a smoke flare over them. Here there was more dancing and a few short speeches and some of the marchers who had made it to the rally in Parliament Square came back to join them. Eventually Class War rolled up their banners and went off to another pub, telling me they would continue their protests later – but I’d had enough and went home.

Much more on the day on My London diary:
End Austerity Now at Bank
Class War and End Austerity Now
Class War at the Savoy
Class War in Whitehall


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Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

Rip Down the Ripper Facade! When Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, a former former head of diversity for Google got his architects to apply for planning permission to turn a building on Cable Street in East London into a ‘Museum of Women’s History’ the application stated it would “recognise and celebrate the women of the East End who have shaped history, telling the story of how they have been instrumental in changing society. It will analyse the social, political and domestic experience from the Victorian period to the present day.” The application his architects submitted was illustrated with pictures of suffragettes and other notable women from the past.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!

But when the boards around the site came down in 2015, everyone was shocked to see it was instead it had been turned into a ‘Jack the Ripper Museum’, exploiting the unfortunate women who had been the victims of a series of unsolved murders in the East End in 1888. The architect who made the application and others who had been consulted made clear they had been duped into supporting the project and there were protests outside by members of the local community including the Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, and Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Class War Womens Death Brigade arrive for the protest

But most of the protests outside the tacky tourist attraction have been by Class War and its supporters along with feminists including London Fourth Wave Feminists who, together with Class War’s Womens Death Brigade organised the protest I photographed on June 19th 2016. These groups continued to protest after others – including Tower Hamlets Council – appear to have given up.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
London Fourth Wave Feminists were there waiting

The council in 2016 refused retrospective planning permission for the shop front and ordered changes to the signage and the removal of a metal roller shutter, which the shop had installed after a window was broken by persons unknown in the middle of the night – not during one of the protests outside as Wikipedia (and possibly the shop owner) suggest. I think I was present at all of the various protests except for the first rather tame event which the local council had arranged to calm things down after Class War and others had widely advertised one for the following evening.

Class War women had brought inflatable plastic hammers

The planning decision was appealed by the shop, and even after their appeal failed the council failed to take enforcement action and it was not until 2018 that the shop front was redesigned. Bad publicity from the protests possibly contributed to the commercial failure of the shop, though there were also poor reviews from visitors who felt it not to be value for money.

Black-clad protesters arrived set off some red smoke

Class War did not of course ‘Rip Down the Ripper Facade’ but the action was typical of their street theatre with inflatable plastic hammers and a little coloured smoke, while the Fourth Wave Feminists came with cat masks and posters to make clear why they were opposed to the shop’s glorification and profiting from violence against women. Eggs were thrown at one of the signs the shop had been ordered to remove and the windows were liberally covered with stickers, but there was no permanent damage.

Rip Down the Ripper Facade!
Ian Bone reaches past police to post a sticker on the window

During the roughly hour long protest there were no customers who came to try and enter the shop, and none inside left. Although London was spilling over with tourists on a Sunday afternoon in June, apparently none wanted to visit this particular tourist attraction. It had been hoped it would close after it was put up for sale in April 2021, but appears still to be open.

More on My London Diary: Rip Down the Ripper Facade!


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