Posts Tagged ‘rally’

Afrikans demand reparations

Monday, January 6th, 2020

Time for a little more colour on >Re:PHOTO, and looking back to warmer and sunnier weather at the start of August last year.

The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March has been an annual event in London http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2014/08/aug.htm#rastafari since 2014, which was the centenary of the foundation by Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica. Garvey had spent the previous two years working as a journalist and studying in London and founded the UNIA as as a means of uniting all of Africa and its diaspora into “one grand racial hierarchy.” The organisers of that first march intended it as a one-off event, but others took over insisting it should be annual. This was the first time I’d managed to cover it since 2014.

Garvey chose the date as 1 August 1834 was Emancipation day, following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, when slavery was ended in the British Empire. Claims for reparations for descendants of those enslaved by the Atlantic Slave Trade came to the fore in 1999 when the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called for a payment of $777 trillion to Africa within 5 years, and in 2004 a case was brought and lost against Lloyds of London and Jamaican Rastafarians made a claim for £72,5bn for Europe to resettle of 500,000 Jamaicans back in Africa which was rejected. Other claims have been lodged on behalf of Guyana, Antigua, Barbuda and Barbados.

I felt a little apprehensive at photographing this event, and just a few people have shown a little hostility towards me, though many more have been welcoming. Anyone who has grown up white in the UK has obviously benefited from the historic proceeds of slavery (as so do those of any other origin living here) but I’m fairly sure that my ancestors were not among those carrying out and profiting from the trade. They will have been being exploited by that same class that was enslaving Africans; some thrown off their lands by the Highland Clearances to make way for sheep. Others will I think have been at the heart of the emancipation movement. They will have received nothing of the huge financial compensation that was paid to the enslaving class, which created a debt which members of the British public were paying off through taxation until 2015.

This year the march was divided into 9 blocs, although in practice there was a great deal of overlap. One of these was the Ubuntu – Non-Afrikan Allies Bloc which included Extinction Rebellion XR Connecting Communities.

While I think there is a firm moral case for reparations, I think the demands are unlikely to impress European or American governments, certainly not on the scale being claimed. And I wonder if the demand actually deflects from a more important need for decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean as well as other areas of the majority world, reclaiming national assets from the various multi-nationals that are now continuing the exploitation of the continent.

I left the march as it made its way through Brixton towards Parliament where there was to be another protest rally in Parliament Square.

Afrikans demand reparations


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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Not My Prime Minister

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

I’ve long believed it was time to reform our voting system, and recent events have reinforced that conviction.

The total UK population is thought to be around 67.7 million, of which around 53 million are old enough to vote, but only around 47.6 million are registered to vote. The other 5.4 million either are not eligible for some reason or can’t or haven’t bothered to register. Only 32million actually voted – 67.3% or roughly 2/3 of those registered. The number who voted in what the media calls a landslide for the Conservatives was just under 14million. Just over a quarter of the adult population.

It was of course more votes than the Labour party, though the actual number of MPs hugely overestimates the difference because of the way in which voters are distributed around the seats. Labour’s seats roughly represent their 32% share of the votes, while the Tories got around 28% more seats than their vote would suggest.

While the Conservatives benefit hugely from our voting system, and Labour don’t fare to badly, the smaller parties in England lose out hugely. The Lib Dems got 11.5% of the votes and only 1.7% of the seats and the Green Party with a 2.7% vote share only have 1 MP rather than the 17 or 18 that a fair share would give. Added to this is the fact that many people who might well vote for the Greens or Lib-Dems in a fair system know that a vote for them is wasted and instead vote for one of the major parties.

On 24th July the protest was not about the results of a general election, but of a Prime Minister who had been selected as the result of votes by Conservative MPs and then members of the Conservative Party alone, less than a hundred thousand people in all. It was difficult to argue against the conviction of the protesters that he had no mandate from the people.

Among those who spoke was the then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and while I agreed with most of what he said, it was hard not to think that the reason we have such an unfair electoral system is that both major parties rather like its unfairness. It is rather harder for Labour to get MPs because of it, but it does mean that they have a better chance of an overall majority in those elections where they do well.

Of course the electoral system is only one factor that makes politics in this country unfair. We also have a system that allows the wealthy still to make huge political donations (and Labour benefits from the support of some trade unions, though on a smaller scale.) More important still is the way that we have a so-called ‘free press’ which is largely owned by a small group of billionaires who are allowed to get away with lies and misinformation about political parties, their policies and personalities.

It was Neil Kinnock, the Labour Party leader in 1992 who blamed The Sun as a major factor in his losing the 1992 election – it ended a long and relentless campaign of what he named as “misinformation and disinformation” with the famous election day headline, “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.” And at the following election when The Sun had changed sides to back Tony Blair, the paper again made its claim “It’s The Sun Wot Won It“.

And while it isn’t hard to think of fairer alternatives to the current electoral system – including some that retain a constituency connection for most MPs with a list approach to redresses most of the electoral imbalances, it is rather harder to think of some way to redress the irresponsibly used power of the press. It would be nice perhaps to have some kind of publicly funded media organisation (perhaps through a licence fee) which devoted itself to fair and unbiased editing and reporting! Unfortunately Lord Reith is long dead.

The rally in Russell Square was extremely crowded and I got very tired, and went home rather than face the march to Downing St, where the protest got rather more interesting (and certainly even more photogenic.)

I’d been to Downing St earlier and things had been very quiet, and protesters I’d expected to see there had already left. If I’d been thinking clearly I would have realised that they would return later and taken the tube back to Whitehall rather than missing out on the action there.

More at Boris J is not our Prime Minister

Trump protest – Whitehall rally

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

People had gathered in Trafalgar Square for the short march to a rally opposite Downing St where President Trump was meeting Prime Minister Theresa May.

There were many speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Frances O’Grady, Diane Abbott and other leading politicians and activists sending a clear message that President Trump is not welcome here. Corbyn is often said to be a weak speaker, but his speech here was cogent and delivered powerfully to a huge reception.

After the speeches the march continued, going around past the Ministry of Defence to the Embankment and then on to Parliament Square. By the time it reached there I’d had enough. Standing in one place as I was listening to speeches is bad for my legs now, inflaming my varicose eczema and I needed to sit down and rest. I left to sit on a train on my way home after a few minutes.

There were a handful of pro-Trump protesters who came and stood on the sidelines and shouted at the people marching past, some making the OK or Ring gesture adopted by white supremacists. Shortly after I left a woman – one of the Brexiteers who regularly make a nuisance of themselves outside Parliament – attacked the large baby Trump dirigible with a knife, puncturing it.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Red Brigade’ in blood-red robes also put in an appearance at Whitehall and in Parliament Square. Trump has taken the USA out of U.S. the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and is a leading climate change denier and promoter of fossil fuels.

Many more pictures, including most of the speakers at Thousands protest against Trump.


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, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Global Women’s Strike

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

International Women’s Day began as a socialist festival in New York in 1909 and was adopted more widely by the socialist movement in the following years. In 1914 it moved from the last day of February to May 8th and has since been celebrated on that date.

Largely observed by communists in the early years, it was taken up more generally by feminists in the 1960s and 70s but remained a day of radical protests, calling for equal rights, equal pay and for women’s control of their own bodies in areas such as abortion, sexual preferences and consent.

In 1975 the UN celebrated the day as part of a year dedicated to women’s rights and two years later declared it as  UN Day for women’s rights and world peace. Although this gave it a much wider audience, it also extended the celebrations to include many less radical events and organisations, including some that seem to be more media beanfeasts than any real part of the fight for women. As Wikipedia comments:

In the twenty–first century, in the West, the day was increasingly sponsored by major corporations and used to promote feel–good messages, rather than radical social reforms.[30] In 2009, the British marketing firm, Aurora Ventures, set up a “International Women’s Day” website with corporate sponsorship.[31][32] The website began to promote hashtags as themes for the day, which became used internationally.[33] The day was commemorated by business breakfasts and social media communications that were reminiscent of Mother’s Day greetings.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women%27s_Day

One organisation that has certainly kept its radical edge is Global Women’s Strike, who I first met on a protest march on International Women’s Day  back in 2002, protesting at the offices of the World Bank, the Defence Ministry and elsewhere.

This year they were at Royal Courts of Justice, outside the High Court to protest against destitution, detention, deportation, benefit cuts, sexism, racism and other discrimination, criminalisation, pollution and in particular the state use of Family Courts to take children from their mothers. And alongside them were others, including anti-fracking Nana from Nanshire Tina Louise Rothery, DPAC’s Paula Peters, a speaker from the English Collective of Prostitutes and two speakers from Extinction Rebellion.

It was a lively protest, and ended with a short road block on the pedestrian crossing in front of the courts. Many of those present were going on to meetings in the afternoon and another women’s protest in the evening which I was also intending to photograph.

More pictures at Global Women’s Strike.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – 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