Posts Tagged ‘rally’

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth – On Wednesday 25th February I photographed a number of protests in London, starting in Westminster with the Free Shaker Aamer campaign, striking firefighters and welfare rights activists, then with tube workers at Edgware Road and finally outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton.


Free Shaker Aamer – Parliament Square

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

A protest opposite Parliament called for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The Free Shaker Aamer Campaign had been holding weekly protests opposite Parliament whenever it was in session to remind government of the need for act over his release. He had long been cleared for release but was still held in the illegal prison camp with both US and UK governments dragging their feet as his testimony would be embarrassing to their security agencies, making clear their involvement in torture.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The protest was longer than usual as an international event was taking place at the nearby QEII centre and they wanted to remind delegates there of Shaker’s torture and imprisonment. Eventually the long campaign of protests by this and other groups led the UK government they needed to back his release in practice and he was finally released on 30th October 2015.

More pictures: Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament


Striking Firefighters block traffic – Westminster

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Firefighters in England held a 24 hour strike on 25th Feb 2015 against the unworkable pension scheme the government intended to implement. They say that the devolved governments had recognised the problems in the scheme and made improvements but in England government ministers were refusing to talk with the union, simply ignoring requests for meetings. They accused the government of lies about the union, saying they were being labelled as militants despite them being ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.

After a rally in Westminster Central Hall, several thousand striking firefighters protested on the street outside Parliament before marching to Downing St. Their protest brought all traffic in the area to a standstill until they marched away.

They stopped outside Downing Street and refused to move, saying they would wait there until someone came out to talk to them. A senior police officer come to talk with Matt Wrack and the other FBU leaders there and was extrememly politie, taking Wrack’s mobile number before going away to see if anyone could be persuaded to come out from Downing St to meet the protesters.

I left them leaning on the barriers and looking into Downing Street waiting for someone to come and see them, though I doubted if anyone would ever emerge.

The Fire Service has also suffered like other public services from government cuts; in London these led to Mayor Boris Johnson making dangerous reductions, closing some fire stations and reducing equipment and staffing, which left the London Fire Brigade ill-equipped to deal with major disasters such as the Grenfell fire.

The FBU union later won a number of legal cases against the government over the changes that were made to the pensions scheme, leading to significant compensation for some members.

More at Striking Firefighters block traffic.


Welfare Advocacy not a Crime – DWP, Westminster

Welfare activists protested outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in Caxton Street as a part of the national day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox. He had been arrested when he tried to accompany a vulnerable claimant to her job centre interview to argue for a fairer claimant agreement.

As well as several banners, one man was gagged in protest. By law claimants are allowed to have and adviser present with them at the interview, but when a claimant turned up with Cox, his interview was cancelled.

Cox and the claimant then left the job centre, but later in the day police arrived at his him and arrested him, charging him with threatening behaviour.

Welfare Advocacy not a Crime.


RMT protest Underground Job Cuts – Edgware Road Station (Bakerloo)

Around 20 RMT members handed out fliers at the busy Edgware Road Bakerloo Line station against the proposed 50% cut in station staffing and the closure of the ticket offices which they say will endanger the safety of both passengers and staff.

They got a very positive reception from many of the public going in and out of the station or walking past, although a PCSO came to harass and try to stop their picketing. Most of the public seemed to realise that staff do far more than sell tickets and offer service and protection to the travelling public.

Many promises were made to Underground staff and the public about how they would be protected when cuts were made, but most were later broken.

RMT protest Underground Job Cuts


Lambeth against £90m cuts – Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

After taking some photographs of the protesting RMT staff I got on the Underground there, changing at Oxford Circus to take me to the end of the Victoria Line at Brixton.

There I walked down to Lambeth Town Hall on the corner of Acre Land to join around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents who were gathering for a lively rally outside Lambeth Town Hall.

A lively rally took place urging councillors who were arriving for the council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts which were being passed there by the large Labour majority on the council. Labour then held 59 of the 63 council seats. Among the speakers at the rally was the only Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie, who was to vote against the cuts. The Green Party gained four more seats in the 2018 council elections but lost three of these in 2022. Right-wing Labour councillors still have an overwheming majority and the council continues its policies which fail the community.

Lambeth’s finances were stretched by the development of a new Town Hall or Civic Centre the cost of which roughly doubled from the original contract of £55 million ot £104 million. Policies such as the closure of libraries and the demolition and sale of popular and well-built council estates like Cressingham Gardens had already produced a great deal of protest in the borough.

The £90 million cuts passed at the council meeting later that evening have had a disproportionate impact on children, old people and the disabled who always rely on local services more than the average person. Council employees at the rally opposed the cuts not only because they feared for their own jobs, but because they knew those that remain in post will not be able to offer the public the same quality of service that they do at present.

Lambeth against £90m cuts


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Saturday 10th February 2024 – Gaza & Iran

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Saturday 10th February 2024 – Gaza & Iran – Saturday 10th February was another day of local actions around the country calling for and end to the horrific genocide now taking place in Gaza. I went to two of the local events in London as well as photographing an annual event on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran, calling for democracy there.


Ceasefire Now – Stop The Genocide In Gaza, Southwark

Saturday 10th February 2024 - Gaza & Iran
London, UK. 10 Feb 2024. Camberwell Green

Southwark and Lambeth 4 Palestine had organised another march from Camberwell Green to BAE Systems offices on Southwark Street against the terrible genocide now being carried out by Israeli forces in Gaza. It turned out to be rather smaller than previous local marches, perhaps because many people in the area had demonstrated in workplace-based protests earlier in the week.

Saturday 10th February 2024 - Gaza & Iran
London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

The event started with a few short speeches on Camberwell Green, including one from a student activist from the UAL at the Elephant where they had had a large protest. She talked about how she had been inspired by the example of Brian Haw’s protest over many years in Parliament Square who had carried on calling for peace and an ending to the killing of children until shortly before his death in June 2011, almost ten years after his protest there had begun.

Saturday 10th February 2024 - Gaza & Iran
Brian Haw: Find Your Courage; Share Your Vision; Change Your World.
(T-shirt from Dan Wilkins, The Nth Degree.)March 2007, Peter Marsh
all

I got to know Brian well, going to speak with him every time I went to photograph in Westminster and often photographing him, as you can see on-line at My London Diary. He suffered regular harassment from police, council officials and thugs encouraged by the authorities, some of whom were I think plain clothes officers or military. An Act of Parliament was passed largely to try to end his peace camp there, though it also severely restricted other protests within a kilometre of Parliament.

Saturday 10th February 2024 - Gaza & Iran
London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

Later, after his ill-health took him to hospital, his protest there was continued by Barbara Tucker who had joined his campaign there in 2005. She was subjected to even more severe police harassment, was arrested at least 47 times and served two periods in prison, of two weeks and nine weeks. In January 2012 police removed her protection against the elements – tent, blankets and sleeping bag and later they came back for her chair. She continued to protest there despite needing hospital treatment for exposure until May 2013.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

The march set off with around a hundred people marching behind the banner though more joined the later at the end. There was considerable support from people on the roadside, particularly when it went past the busy section of Walworth Road close to East Street Market, and many drivers going in the opposite direction beeped their horns in support. Although the UK government continues its support of the Israeli genocide clearly the majority of the British people do not.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

I found it a rather long march – well over two and a half miles – and was wishing I’ve brought my bicycle by the time we got to the Bluefin Building on Southwark Street. The march stopped for a few minutes in front of the building where BAE Systems have offices on an upper floor.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

BAE Systems is the world’s seventh-largest military contractor, and the largest in Europe and supplies Israel with a wide range of weapons which for years have been used against Palestinian citizens and civilian infrastructure “including hospitals, schools, and water and electric systems.” There is much more about their activities in arming Israel on the American Friends Service Committee web site.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

When we arrived at Bluefin, we saw that others had been there before us, and a large area of the frontage had been sprayed with red paint. A team of contractors were busy cleaning it off. I took a few pictures of them as the marchers moved off down the side of the building for another rally, but I walked back to Southwark Station to catch the Elizabeth line to Westminster.

More pictures online and available for use on Alamy.


Iranians Call For Freedom and Democracy in Iran

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

45 years after the Shah of Iran was forced into exile by a popular revolution following repression under the Pahvlavi regime, the Anglo-Iranian community and the National Council of Resistance of Iran call for a new revolution to end the oppressive theocratic regime with democracy and for the UK to declare the Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group.

They say Khomeini who had been invited back by the acting government after the revolution stole the leadership of the country revolution in a rigged vote, imposing the current oppressive theocratic regime.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has put forward a ten point plan for a future democratic republic in Iran, with secular government, democratic elections, freedom of expression, equal rights for women and human rights and an independent judiciary and legal system.

The NCRI is a coalition with representation from five bodies, the major of which is the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which currently has its headquarters in Albania. It was largely disarmed after the US/UK invasion of Iraq and its camp in Iraq was attacked after US forces withdrew.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

On Feb 1st this year, the House of Commons agreed to a motion in support of freedom and democracy in Iran. The motion condemns the violent state crackdown on the protests and urgest the government to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

As I left the protest, two men came to try and disrupt the protest and there were brief scuffles as security and others tried to move them away. After a few minutes police came and held one of them, talking to him and suggesting he leave – the other was already a few yard down the road.

More pictures online and available from Alamy.


Ceasefire Now – Stop The Genocide In Gaza, Ealing, London, UK

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

I was on my way to Ealing, fortunately a much faster journey now the Elizabeth Line goes to Ealing Broadway, although I still arrived well after the rally outside the town hall there had started. There was a large crowd around the steps on the main road in front of Ealing Town Hall, another of the many local protests around the country calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the genocide in Gaza which has now killed 28,000 mainly women and children and severely injured around 68,000.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024

The entire population of Gaza is now living in desperate conditions with constant threat of bombing, shelling, famine and disease. Speakers condemned the failure to respond to the ICJ ruling to prevent acts of genocide and for the continued killing taking place there with precision targeted attacks on ambulances, aid workers, schools, hospitals, refugee camps, medical staff, journalists and others.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024. Grenfell campaigner Moyra Samuels.

I think most of the speakers were from Ealing and Southall, but Grenfell campaigner Moyra Samuels had also come to speak both about the shameful attack on Gaza and also share some experiences of campaigning over the Grenfell fire, where continued protests had helped to keep the fight for justice alive – though there is little sign of justice so far.

London, UK. 10 Feb 2024.

I left as the rally was coming to a close, taking my final pictures of it from the top deck of the bus which was taking me to Brentford and a train home from there.

More pictures online and available from Alamy.


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Gaza March in London 3rd Feb 2024

Friday, February 9th, 2024

Gaza March in London – Another huge march through central London called for an immediate ceasefire and for an end to the Israeli genocide against Palestinians.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024

I didn’t hear any news reports of the march, and over the past few days other events have largely pushed reporting over the continuing genocide to the edges of coverage.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

If anything the deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza appears to have increased since the ICJ ruling calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent genocide in the area.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Israel is still keeping international journalists out of Gaza and feeding the world’s press with misleading information. The BBC have some good reporters but they cannot work in Gaza. They have had interviews with some families and doctors in Gaza – some now killed. Papers such as The Guardian also carry reports from people in Gaza – such as Mondays Gaza diary part 44: ‘The angel of death is roaming the skies, nonstop’. But to get real information about what is actually happening on the ground you need to also go to alternative news sources.

Gaza March in London
London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of those is Double Down News, who say “Far too many Journalists sit comfortably trapped in their own bubble of privilege and power, talking to each other and the so-called political class, rather than serving the people they’re meant to inform.” They aim to “prioritise people, ideas, evidence and community above all.” DDN carries no advertising but is supported by over fourteen thousand of subscribers who give what they can afford rather than being owned by governments or billionaires. And you can be one and become a part of the community equally with the others.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

One of their latest videos is ‘Israel’s AI Killing Machine‘ by Palestinian-American lawyer and activist Lara Elborno which exposes by how Israel is using modern technology to target civilians across Gaza. Like other videos on the platform it provides a chilling insight missing in the mass media.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

Before writing this a few days ago I read Al Jazeera’s Israel War on Gaza coverage, with its list of key events on day 123 published on Tuesday 6th February. Under the Humanitarian crisis in Gaza it begins its report with “At least 27,478 people have been killed and 66,835 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

It goes on to give other significant news on the humanitarian crisis, before news on Regional tensions and diplomacy and on what is happening in the Occupied West Bank. Al Jazeera was the first independent news channel in the Arab world and is funded by the Qatari state.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024.

All pictures here are from the march in London on Saturday 3rd February 2024 which was I think uneventful. It was certainly large and several streets around the BBC were densely crowded before the start. I photographed the start and then slowly went down Regent Street with the marchers, stopping a number of times to photograph them as they walked past me.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. ‘Sunak’ and dead babies.

At Piccadilly Circus I decide to wait until the end of the march arrived there, and it was a long wait. It was almost two hours after the start of the march before the end arrived, and most of that time the streets were crowded across both carriageways with slowly moving people.

London, UK. 3 Feb 2024. London Mothers and Children Say Stop Killing Babies.

It was too late to be worth trying to get to the rally on Whitehall and so I began my journey home. I uploaded 35 images to Alamy but later put these and around 35 more into an online album Ceasefire Now – Stop The Genocide In Gaza.


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More Support to Gaza – 27th January 2024

Saturday, February 3rd, 2024

More Support to Gaza: Local actions took place across the country last weekend calling for an end to the genocide in Gaza and for an immediate ceasefire and freedom and a just peace in Palestine.

More Support to Gaza - 27th January 2024
Barclay’s Peckham branch

Most of the protests last Saturday were directed against local branches of Barclays Bank, demanding they stop bankrolling Israel’s attacks on Palestinians and calling customers to boycott the bank. Barclays has investments in weapons companies BAE Systems, Boeing, Elbit Systems, Raytheon all producing weapons and systems used in Gaza and Caterpiller whose bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes, schools and civilian infrastructure.

More Support to Gaza - 27th January 2024
Barclay’s Peckham branch

The protests came the day after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, the UN’s top court, had ruled that there was a plausible case against Israel under the 1948 Genocide Convention, and that the Palestinian population in Gaza was at real risk of irreparable damage.

More Support to Gaza - 27th January 2024
Barclay’s Peckham branch

The ICJ stopped short of ordering an Israeli ceasefire and instead directed Israel to take every measure possible to avoid genocide while also ensuring humanitarian aid. The six provisional measures the court voted on to protect Palestinians from “irreparable” damage were all passed by overwhelming votes by the 17 judges, with even an Israeli judge supporting two of them, while a Ugandan judge voted against them all (although the Ugandan government issued a statement backing the ICJ).

More Support to Gaza - 27th January 2024
Barclay’s Whitechapel branch

Media reports here in the UK have generally been rather lacking in detail and have underplayed the ICJ judgement. You can read it on the ICJ web site in full or as their lengthy unofficial summary. The court demanded that Israel must:

  • take all measures in its power to prevent all acts against Palestinians in Gaza violating the Genocide Convention;
  • ensure its military does not commit any acts of genocide;
  • punish all incitements to commit genocide;
  • take immediate and effective steps to provide basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza;
  • take effective measures to preserve evidence related to allegations of genocide;
  • report to the ICJ within one month on actions it has taken over these orders.

The ICJ has no powers to enforce its decisions and statements from Israeli government and military have been defiant, while the UK and USA governments seem determined to continue their support for genocide and to continue giving support to Israel, including supplying weapons

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

The ICJ decision came after South Africa brought the case, but protesters around the world have been clear that this is genocide. And in December the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, continuing the work of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer of Jewish descent who coined the term genocide and campaigned to establish the Genocide Convention, issued a statement explaining “the reasons why we believe the Israel-Palestine situation constitutes an instance of genocide.”

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

The killing in Gaza continues, with over 26,000 Palestinians now known to be killed including over 10,000 children. More than 8,000 are missing, probably most of them buried under the rubble, and over 65,000 are severely injured.

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

A BBC report states that more than half of all buildings in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged by the Israeli assault. There are also said to be almost 20,000 children in Gaza who have been orphaned or separated from their families. Other reports suggest that around three-quarters of Hamas fighters are men who became orphans, and so the current attacks are likely to be a powerful recruiting ground for future militants against Israel.

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

The whole Israeli policy over the years has been counter-productive. Peace in the region requires a thriving Palestine, not an area subjected to military occupation, under an apartheid system and subjected to destructive attacks – and certainly will not be achieved by genocide.

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

It’s very hard to see how any positive outcome can emerge now for Israel and Palestine, but perhaps the ICJ ruling is a small glimmer of hope – as years ago was Oslo. But hope then was soon defeated by Israel’s determination not to accept peace.

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

Last Saturday made my way around London on National Rail, Overground, Underground and Elizabeth Line to visit several pickets outside Barclays branches and then to Edmonton Green.

Edmonton Green march to a rally at Silver St

I arrived at Edmonton Green just in time for the march organised by the Enfield branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to a rally at Silver Street. They demanded Israel ends its genocidal attack on Gaza, calling for an immediate ceasefire and an urgent programme of humanitarian aid to end famine and provide shelter, medicine and water. They praised South Africa for taking Israel to court for genocide and called for a just peace with freedom for Palestine.

At the start of the rally at Silver St

The pictures here come from protests outside Barclays branches on Rye Lane, Peckham and Whitechapel High Street and from the Edmonton march. You can see more pictures online at Barclays Told Stop Banking On Genocide and Enfield for Gaza Ceasefire, End to Occupation.


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EDL Saved by Police in Slough – 2014

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

EDL Saved by Police in Slough: Ten years ago today around two hundred EDL supporters had come from around the country to march to a rally in the centre of Slough on Saturday 1st February 2014, sparked by plans to convert a failed social club on the outskirts of Slough to be used as a mosque and Islamic centre.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Their protest was opposed by a much larger counter-protests by black clad anti-fascist groups, the UAF and trade unionists, a large group of local mainly Asian youths and other local residents. Police had to clear a route for the EDL march with charges by police horses and with riot police with raised batons, and also protect them from having to run for their lives from angry counter-protesters to allow their rally to proceed. A large police presence seperated them from a rally by the UAF and trade unionists a short distance away.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley Village Club on Cheviot Road, Langley ceased trading in 2013 and was bought by Dawat-e-Islami who gained planning permission to convert it into an Islamic community and teaching centre and place of worship, Faizon-E-Madina.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley is on the eastern outskirts of Slough just north of the M4 and A4 and the small medieval village became a major manufacturing ventre, at first for building the Hawker Hurricane and other fighters during and after the war including the Hawker Hunter. When Hawker Siddeley left in 1959 the entire site was taken over by the Ford Motor Company who had been making parts for commercial vehicles there since 1949. The club was a part of the large estates that grew up here in the 1960s and 70s to house the workers in these and other factories around Slough and at Heathrow.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Some local residents had objected to the change of use, in particular fearing it might generate large volumes of traffic, although it is a relatively small building and the planning permission imposed a limit of 300 people at events there. The area now has a fairly high number of Muslims living within walking distance of the centre and the charity argued that the 35 parking places on site were sufficient, though the planning committee was not convinced.

The opposition to the plans by the EDL were not largely about parking but Islamophobia. EDL leaflets talked about “the disturbing proliferation of poorly regulated mosques” and linked the protest with its actions to highlight the activities of “vile grooming gangs“; they alleged that residents living around other mosques have been “driven to anger, tears and despair” because of the mosques, and suggested that the centre will “antagonise, perhaps even terrorise, local residents.”

They also claimed that Dawat-e-Islami “overtly supported the assassination of Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the organisation who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.”

They raised other local issues too, including the setting up of a Muslim faith-based school under the Free Schools programme which opened in September 2015 as Eden Girl’s School. Many others -including probably most of those who came to protest against the EDl would agree with there opposition to this, some opposed to all faith-based schools and those who oppose the whole divisive approach of ‘Free Schools’, agreeing as I do with the teacher’s union NUT (now NEU) that “We believe it is wrong that state funding should be given to small groups of individuals to run schools that are unaccountable to their local communities.”

I don’t visit Slough often, although I live only a few miles away – though it takes a while on the bus. I arrived a couple of hours before the EDL rally was due to start and was able to photograph and talk with the EDL about their protest for some time before a few of them objected to my presence.

The pictures on My London Dairy at EDL Saved by Police in Slough and my account there give a very full account of what happened and I won’t repeat it here. Slough is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse towns and its industries have brought people to it from across the country and around the world since the 1920s. The population of the borough is now over 150,000 and the various communities seem largely to live together with few problems.

According to Wikipedia, “the 2011 census showed that 41.2% of Slough’s population identified as Christian, 23.3% as Muslim, 10.6% as Sikh, 6.2% as Hindu, 0.5% as Buddhist, 0.1% as Jewish, 0.3% as having other religions” and Slough has the highest proportion of Sikh residents of any town in the country and “the highest percentage of Muslim and Hindu residents in the South East region.”

Much more about what happened along with many more pictures at EDL Saved by Police in Slough.


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March For Homes – 2015

Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

March For Homes: St Leonard’s Church to City Hall

Defend Council Housing, South London People’s Assembly and Unite Housing Workers Branch had called for a march to draw attention to the crisis in housing, particularly in London where council housing lists are huge and many councils are failing to meet their legal requirements to rehouse homeless families.

March For Homes

These requirements generally do not extend to single homeless people and in London alone over 6,500 people had slept rough at some time in the previous year with around one in twelve of 16-24 year-olds having been homeless at some point. Government figures comprehensively and deliberately underestimate the numbers.

March For Homes

It isn’t really a housing crisis, but a crisis of affordable housing. There are more than enough empty properties to house the homeless, but those who need housing are unable to afford the high rents or house prices being asked.

March For Homes

There has been a huge surge in building high-rise properties in London, with whole areas like Battersea and Nine Elms as well as elsewhere across inner and outer London being increasingly filled with them, but almost all are high-price properties, many sold overseas before the buildings are completed not as homes but as investments. Others are low specification student housing and also do nothing for the housing crisis.

March For Homes

What is needed is a crash programme of housing at social rents for family units of all sizes. Developers have become adept at evading what laws there are about providing social housing in new developments, fiddling the books to claim they cannot make sufficient profits which ridiculously lets them off the hook.

Much of the UK problems over housing go back to the Thatcher administration which both sold off council housing piecemeal under ‘right to buy’ but also stopped councils replacing what they had lost.

In earlier years both Tory and Labour councils had built generally high quality low cost housing though of course there were some examples of poor planning (often when councils were forced to cut costs) and shoddy work as well as unfortunate government encouragement of high-rise system building, which many of us were campaigning against in the 60’s and 70s.

But perhaps even more importantly under Tory administrations council housing became something just for what they regarded as ‘feckless’ and the ‘dregs of society’, those unable to fend for themselves. We got this ridiculous concept of the ‘housing ladder’ and very much it is a ladder that expresses “pull up the ladder, Jack. We’re alright“.

Municipal housing can provide housing for all at low cost and provided a rational approaching to providing decent housing for all, getting away from the poor conditions and high cost of private rented housing at much lower cost than owner occupation.

The March for Homes on Saturday 31st January was actually two marches, one from the Elephant in South London and the other from East London which I photographed at Shoreditch, calling for more social housing and an end to estate demolition and evictions. On My London Diary at March for Homes: Shoreditch Rally I published a very long list of some of the various groups which supported the march, as well as some of the speakers at the rally there. Eventually the march set off on its way towards City Hall, making its way towards Tower Bridge.

Class War left the march briefly to protest as it went past One Commercial St, where they had been holding a long series of weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against the separate door down a side alley for the social housing tenants in the block. They had briefly suspended the protests a few weeks early when new owner for the building had offered talks about the situation, but these had broken down.

Approaching the Tower of London the protest was joined by Russell Brand riding a bicycle. He had earlier lent support to a number of housing campaigns by residents in estates threatened by evictions.

By the time the march was going across Tower Bridge Class War had rejoined it, and their banners were in the lead.

The march was met on the other side of Tower Bridge by the South London March for Homes, a similar sized protest called by Defend Council Housing and South London People’s Assembly which had started at the Elephant, marching past the former Heygate Estate. The two marches merged to walk on to Potters Fields for the rally outside City Hall.

We had been marching most of the day in light rain, and this got rather heavier for the rally outside City Hall. Together with a large crowd being jammed into a fairly small space it made photography of the rally difficult.

While the rally was still continuing some of the protesters began to leave Potters Fields to protest more actively, led by Class War and other anarchit groups and accompanied by the samba band Rhythms of Revolution.

They moved onto Tooley Street and blocked it for a few minutes, then decided to move off, with police reinforcements who had arrived than taking over their role of blocking the road as the protesters moved off eastwards.

I watched them go, and later heard that after a brief protest at One Tower Bridge, a new development mainly for the over-rich next to Tower Bridge they had taken a long walk to join occupiers on Southwark’s Aylesbury Estate.

But I was cold, wet and tired, and my cameras too, having been exposed to the weather for several hours were becoming temperamental and I waited for a bus to start my journey home.

Much more on My London Diary:
March for Homes: After the Rally
March for Homes: City Hall Rally
March for Homes: Poor Doors
March for Homes: Shoreditch to City Hall
March for Homes: Shoreditch Rally


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London Gaza Marches & End Guantanamo – 20 Jan 2024

Thursday, January 25th, 2024

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo: Last Saturday, 20th January 2024 the main protest against the ongoing genocide by Israel against Gaza was taking place in Birmingham, but there were half a dozen local events around London, and I decided to photographed some of these, as well as a protest calling for the closure of Guantanamo, 22 years after the first prisoners were taken there to be tortured.

Rail engineering works made it much slower than normal for me to get up to London and back and I abandoned plans to go to some of the events and I was only able to pay a fleeting visit to the Camden march because this was meeting at Kentish Town tube station which has been closed since last Summer for extensive refurbishment.


Gaza Ceasefire March, Camden, London, UK

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo
London, UK. 20 Dec 2024. A woman holds a blood-stained bundle representing a dead child. Protesters met at Kentish Town to march to a rally outside Camden Council offices on a day of local actions for Palestine as rage grows over the ever-increasing death toll. Genocidal Israeli attacks have killed over 22,000, mainly women and children, with many bodies still hidden over the rubble. Almost the entire medical capacity has been destroyed with many medical staff killed or arrested and hospitals bombed and almost the entire population of Gaza displaced and in danger of famine and disease. Peter Marshall

I took the tube to Camden Town and just missed a bus going up to Kentish Town. The stop had an electronic display that told me I would have to wait 6 minutes for the next and I decided to walk. It turned out to be a little further than I had remembered – almost a mile and the bus would have been rather quicker. People at Kentish Town were waiting for others to arrive before they started and also expected some to join them on the over two mile route to the rally.

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo

I had expected the march to have left, and to meet it coming down the road, but it had not yet moved off. After a few minutes of taking pictures I realised I would be too late back in central London unless I left, and caught a bus to Mornington Crescent and the tube to Charing Cross. Camden Town tube is always crowded with tourists and it takes a long time to get down to the platforms.

More pictures: Gaza Ceasefire March, Camden


Close Guantanamo – 22 Years of Injustice Must End

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo
London, UK. 20 Jan 2024. Members of the UK Guantanamo Network walked from Parlament past Downing Street in single file wearing orange jumpsuits 22 years after the arrival of the first prisoners at the illegal US camp to a rally in Trafalgar Square. They highlight the abuse, torture, lack of human rights, force-feeding and indefinite detention there and call for its closure. 30 Prisoners are still held there. Peter Marshall

I came out of Charing Cross Station and met the group of marchers wearing orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits just coming up to the traffic crossing at the top of Whitehall. The protest was organised by the UK Guantanamo Network which includes Amnesty International, Freedom From Torture, Guantanamo Justice Campaign, Close Guantanamo and the London Guantanamo Campaign. They had met in Old Palace Yard opposite the House of Lords and changed into the jump suits there before proceeding in single file around Parliament Square and up Parliament Street and Whitehall to Downing Street and were now coming up Whitehall for a long rally in Trafalgar Square.

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo

They demand US President Biden should act rapidly to close Guantanamo, where a total of over 800 prisoners were illegally tortured over they years, the great majority of them having no connection at all with terrorism. Most have since been allowed to return home or to safe countries, but 30 remain held there, although half of them have been cleared for release. “The Guantanamo network calls for Guantanamo to be closed and for an end to depriving people of their legal and human rights, and an end to indefinite detention and torture.”

I left after taking pictures before the rally began as I was already late for the start of the final event I wanted to photograph in Tower Hamlets.

More pictures at Close Guantanamo – 22 Years of Injustice Must End


Gaza Ceasefire March, Tower Hamlets, London, UK

London, UK. 20 Dec 2024. Front of the march. Over a thousand marched from Whitechapel to a rally at Mile End on a day of local actions for Palestine as rage grows over the ever-increasing death toll. Genocidal Israeli attacks have killed over 22,000, mainly women and children, with many bodies still hidden over the rubble. Almost the entire medical capacity has been destroyed with many medical staff killed or arrested and hospitals bombed and almost the entire population of Gaza displaced and in danger of famine and disease. Peter Marshall

I sat on the District Line going east trying to guess where the Tower Hamlets march might have got to as I was too late for the start. Marchers had met in Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, close to Aldgate East Station but was marching through Whitehchapel and Stepney to Mile End. I looked at the time and took a guess about when they would have started to march and how far they would have got, and decided to leave the train at Stepney Green station.

Fortunately my guess had proved correct and as I looked down the Mile End Road towards Whitechapel I could see the front of the march in the distance and walked down to meet and photograph it. I walked with the marchers going back and forth and taking pictures over the last mile or so. When we got close to the Green Bridge which takes Mile End Park across the busy road. I left it a little late and had to run up the steps to be able to photograph the front of the march and its long tail behind as it came up to the bridge.

Then I came down and walked with them the final short stretch to the large area of Mile End Park where the rally was being held. I’d photographed the ultra-Orthodox, Neturei Karta anti-Zionist Jews earlier as they were taking part in the march and took some more pictures when a group of them stood on the wall at the entrance to the park.

I took some photographs as the rally started and heard the first of the speakers. The rally was interrupted by a speaker from Movement for Justice using their own megaphones. He complained that they had been refused permission to speak at the event. Stewards argued that he was disrupting the meeting. As I left there were some discussions taking place over whether he might be allowed to make an announcement to the rally. But I was tired and had a long journey home, so I left.

More pictures: Gaza Ceasefire March & Rally


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Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail – 2011

Monday, January 22nd, 2024

Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail: 2011 is a year Liberal Leader Ed Davey would like to forget, particularly now that the scandal around the persecution of postmasters wrongly convicted because the Post Office and Fujitsu refused to admit the Horizon software had serious faults, long exposed by Private Eye and Computer Weekly, has now emerged into public view.

Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail

In 2011 Lib-Dem MP Edward Davey, MP for Kingston & Surbiton as was heading the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition’s plans to sell off our postal services as Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs. Before becoming an MP he had worked as a management consultant in Sweden, Taiwan, Belgium, South Africa and elsewhere, who specialising in postal services.

Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail

His then boss, Business Secretary Vince Cable, was the Lib-Dem MP for the neighbouring constituency of Richmond & Twickenham, so the plans to sell off the publicly owned Royal Mail came from Lib-Dems in this small area of West London.

Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail

So Kingston was the obvious place for the national ‘Keep the Post Public’ protest on Saturday 22nd January 2011 and over a thousand came from across the nation for a rally and march there.

Ed Davey Privatises the Royal Mail

Kingston-on-Thames was also relevant for the royal connections incorporate in its name. Kingston is a Royal Borough and the town where many of the earliest Kings of England were crowned, and the march passed within a few yards of the Coronation stone in front of Kingston Guildhall before ending by the River Thames.

And although the Queen herself was unable to come and defend her Royal Mail, a fairly convincing royal look-alike came suitably dressed to give a royal address against selling off her Royal Mail.

Also there to speak were a number of trade union leaders including CWU general secretary Billy Hayes, Dave Ward of the CWU Postal department, Jim Kirwan, CWU London regional secretary, Christine Quigley of London Labour Youth and Christine Blower, the NUT General Secretary. Others speaking included the local Labour candidate and a school student who got huge applause for telling the rally how they had organised and occupied their local school against government cuts and fees increases.

Speakers pointed out that privatisation would result in price rises and the abandonment of the universal service which requires the Royal Mail to deliver and collect to all of the 28 million UK addresses six days a week at the same cost. And we have since seen this happen although not officially; we now get deliveries of mail on perhaps four or five days in a typical week and the collections have become far more erratic.

The cost of a First Class Stamp was then 41p. Presumably as a sweetener for buyers of the privatised company there was already to be a 5p rise in a few months time. If prices had risen simply according to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the stamp should now cost 58p but the actual cost now is over double that at £1.25 – a huge increase. And although using a First Class stamp was supposed to mean next-day delivery, First Class letters now regularly take 2 or 3 days or more to arrive.

There were fears that the privatisation would have negative effects on Post Offices, which had been separated from the Royal Mail delivery service since the 1969 Post Office Act, but there were still strong business connections. So far this has not led to many post office branch closures, although many branches are now part of larger stores such as W H Smith. It remains to be seen what effect the closure of many of this company’s high street outlets as it moves towards a focus on travel will have.

In 2011 I wrote “An ICM poll in 2009 found that 78% of us believed selling Royal Mail would be a bad deal for the taxpayer and 82% thought prices would go up.” And it’s clear that we were right. I (and the coalition government) also thought that “the Royal Mail represents rich pickings for the rich supporters of the government“. Its operating profits since 2013 have been over £400 million in every year except 2020 and in 2022 were £758 million. We are paying through the nose for a reduced service. That’s privatisation for you.

More about the march and pictures of the speakers and marchers on My London Diary at Keep Royal Mail Public.


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Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide – 13 Jan 2023

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide: Last Saturday I photographed the march in London when over 200,000 marched from Bank calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Among those on the march, Little Amal, a 12ft giant puppet of a Syrian child refugee stood out. As usual there was a strong Jewish representation both on the main march and on a separate feeder march for families and children I photographed as they set off from outside Kings College on Strand.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide

This was the seventh large protest in London and reflects the feelings of a large majority of the British public but unfortunately this and other huge protests around the world, including in the USA, seem unlikely to have any effect on our or the US governments polices. They will continue to give support to Israel while making weak statements about the need to reduce the killing which Israel will continue to ignore while denying the effects of its actions and blaming Hamas for the death and destruction they are causing.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
The front of the march waiting to start.

The march took place on the 99th day of the Israeli attack on Gaza which has so far killed over 23,000 people, mainly civilians including more than 10,000 children, with many bodies still under the rubble. The bombing and shelling has made humanitarian aid and medical treatment impossible and widespread deaths from disease and starvation now seem inevitable.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
Doctors Against Genocide.

Israeli forces have attacked hospitals, schools, refugee camps and have killed many doctors and arrested others. Only one hospital remains operating in the whole of Gaza and there are desperate shortages of medicines with many amputations having to be carried out without anaesthetics. Few of the 60,000 severely injured so far by the Israeli attacks have been able to get proper treatment.

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
A few of the Palestinian press who have been killed by Israel

Gaza’s journalists appear to have been especially targeted and more have now been killed by the IDF than journalists were killed in the whole six years of the Second World War.

A man holds a bloodstained bundle representing a dead child

As well as calling for a ceasefire, protesters also demand a just solution with freedom for Palestine, an end to the military occupation of the country and an end to Israeli apartheid.

Free Palestine Hands Off Yemen

Two events in the previous week added to the demands of protesters. Some had placards praising the Houthi forces in Yemen for their attacks on ships in the Red Sea and their were chants such as “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, turn another ship around” following the US and UK air attacks. The Houthi are now in control of much of Yemen following the October 2022 ceasefire and peace talks led by the UN began it December 2023, but they continue to be referred to in UK media as rebels or terrorists.

Last week South Africa stated the case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide. It got rather less attention in the UK media than the response the following day by Israel, which appeared largely a continued recital of the widely condemned attacks of October 7th and the long-discredited assertion that their actions in Gaza are self-defence. Israel also denied having bombed any hospitals and claimed they were facilitating humanitarian aid, lying in the face of mountains of evidence the world has read.

A woman holds a placard ‘Well Done South Africa’.

Many on the protest praised South Africa for taking Israel to court. The moral case seems clearly proven, but I suspect the case may be lost on some legal technicality. ICJ verdicts are in any case not binding and I think the majority of the world has already reached their conclusion.

People hold up posters showing Nazi Germany and Palestine with a poster saying ‘Signs Like These Have Been Criinalised by the Met Police

There were apparently 1,700 police on duty for the protests and a handful of people were arrested for carrying placards or handing out leaflets which the police decided were possibly “showing support for a proscribed organisation which is an offence under the Terrorism Act.” The flyer, published by the Met, stated their “unconditional and wholehearted support and solidarity for the Palestinian struggle, which is once more breaking out into armed resistance” but made no explicit mention of Hamas. Other groups in the Palestinian struggle are not proscribed in the UK.

With so many taking part, the march ended with rallies in both of London’s major central squares, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, though I only got to the first of these. I was quite tired having walked from London Bridge station to Bank and then along with the march going back and forth taking pictures and decided to get a train from Charing Cross rather than go on to Parliament Square.

There are around 50 more of my pictures from the march at Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide.


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Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now: Last Saturday, 6th January 2024, like many others I was watching on Twitter/X for the announcement by the Free Palestine Coalition of the starting point for their Gaza protest at 10am.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

It was with some surprise that I read it was to be at the drinking fountain in St James’ Park, one of London’s Royal Parks, a feudal remnant with bylaws against almost everything, but at least it was easy to get to, and I had plenty of time to make it by the starting time of noon, and arrived around a quarter of an hour early.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

The protest was organised and backed by Black Lives Matter UK, NMEE, Sisters Uncut, East and South East Asian Sisters, Copwatch Network, Health Workers For a Free Palestine, Queers For Palestine, London Campaign Against Police & State Violence, Palestinian Youth Movement and London Palestine Action.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

It made three clear demands; a full unconditional ceasefire NOW, the UK to stop arming Israel and an end to the Israeli Occupation of Gaza and Palestine. It had clearly been planned as a peaceful protest, although one that would cause some disruption to traffic in central London as many other events including other protests do.

Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now

There was only a small group there when I arrived, but numbers grew rapidly by the time the rally began and continued to grow for some time, perhaps increasing to a couple of thousand by the end of the event. Shortly after the rally began police approached the speaker and told her that she could not use a megaphone as it was against the Park bylaws. After a short delay she continued without it, though now the crowd was so large many could not hear. A few minutes later a public address system arrived and the speakers began to use this. After another warning by police they wheeled this out onto the pavement of Birdcage Walk.

A doctor speaks about the terrible conditions in Gaza’s hospitals, most bombed out of existence.

Here the speakers continued, with a particularly moving account by a doctor from Health Workers For a Free Palestine about the horrific conditions faced by her colleagues working in Gaza, where almost all hospitals have been bombed by Israeli forces and only three remain able to continue, facing terrible shortages which have meant amputations with no anaesthetics available and a total lack of medicines, clean dressings and antiseptics taking medical conditions back into the dark ages.

Officers come to seize the PA system

After the rally had continued for some minutes, a squad of police rushed in and seized the PA system from the pavement, forcefully pushing all those close out of their way. I was thrown aside and kicked in the shin hard enough to cause some bleeding and although not seriously injured certainly suffering from shock. I’m unsure about what happened for the next few minutes and it was almost ten minutes before I’d recovered enough to photograph seriously again.

The police appeared to have been deliberately trying to provoke the protesters and had a very large presence for what was expected to be a relatively small protest. Eventually the organisers called on the protesters who had been shouting angrily at the police for some minutes to move off and the march slowly made its way towards Westminster Bridge.

As the front of the march came to Bridge Street at the side of the Houses of Parliament there was a halt for photographs and when the march moved off a line of police across the road tried to stop them. But there were far too few officers to form a proper cordon, and I and around a couple of hundred protesters moved past and onto the start of Westminster Bridge before reinforcements arrived.

There were more police on the bridge and a line of police vans behind them, as well as more on the Embankment. Had the protesters been allowed to march onto the bridge and protest there the bridge would have been closed until the protest ended, but traffic could have continued to flow on both the Embankment and Bridge Street, which were still blocked when I left later. Protests continued on Westminster Bridge, though most of the protesters were still held on Bridge Street behind a police line. Around half an hour later police did decide to allow them to join the others, probably to make it easier for them to kettle the protest in one block rather than two.

On the bridge there were some noisy protests which forced police liaison officers to withdraw from the crowd. Some of them complained to the event stewards about the leaflets which were being distributed to the many tourist also being blocked by the police from leaving towards Parliament Square, suggesting that those distributing them might be committing an offence. I read one carefully and could find nothing anti-Semitic, nothing which I had not heard or read in the mainstream press despite their failures in reporting.

At one point people let off smoke flares in the red, green and white of the Palestinian flag. Later there was a period of silence for the victims in Palestine and those in Israel, and many sat or lay down on the roadway. A group in front of the police cordon wore masks showing Rishi Sunak, wearing tops with the messages ‘STOP ARMING ISRAEL’ ‘CEASEFIRE NOW!’holding up their hands red with fake blood which dripped down their arms.

I left as the police allowed the protesters to all join together, kettling both groups. I was tired and still a little shaken from the earlier assault by police and needed to sit down and rest on a seat on the Embankment. Eating my sandwiches for a late lunch and drinking some water helped too.

As I walked back to Waterloo the blue lights were still flashing on Westminster Bridge, and an hour later at 3.32 the Met posted “All protesters have now left the area around Westminster Bridge. Officers remain on-duty in central London and are ready to respond to any further demonstrations.” I felt their response to this one had been negative in the extreme and had made the situation worse than if they had stayed away completely. Their presence was a huge waste of public money and London really does not need police who behave as they did at this event.

The police had arrested a number of people on Westminster Bridge but later Black Lives Matter UK, one of the organisers, made the following post: “All arrestees have been released with no further action. Thanks to all who have supported the protests and taken time out to care for all those made vulnerable by the police.

More pictures in my Facebook album Free Palestine Coalition Demand A Ceasefire Now!


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