Posts Tagged ‘repression’

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa – 2016

Tuesday, July 16th, 2024

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa: The main event on Saturday 16th July 2016 was a well-attended march and rally against austerity and racism following the Brexit referendum, but on the way there I came across a Falun Dafa march, and while people were marching manged to cover a ‘Flash Mob’ by cleaners and a small protest by the far-right EDL.


End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa

The People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racism had organised an emergency demonstration following the Brexit referendum against austerity and racism and calling for the Tories to be defeated at a General Election.

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa

The protest assembled outside the BBC in the hope that they might for once notice and report on a large protest in London, but as usual they ignored it. It also showed huge popular support for then Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn – who only failed to defeat Theresa May the following year because of sabotage by Labour party officials and the right wing of the party.

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa

Immigration had been a major issue in the Brexit referendum, exploited by the Leave campaign and this had resulted in an upsurge in racism and hate attacks. Brexit did result in lowering migration from the EU and since 2017 the number of those born in the EU living in Britain has slowly but slightly declined. But this has been more than matched by an increase of around a million in those born in non-EU countries.

Against Austerity, Cleaners Flash Mob, EDL & Falun Dafa

Of course we need these people who fill many useful jobs here and pay taxes. We also need those who work in the shadow economy, estimated in total to be around 10% of the total economy. Although this is often said to be important in attracting undocumented migrants to the UK, our shadow economy is significantly smaller than the average for developed nations, and at a level around half that of Italy, Greece and Spain and a little below Germany and France according to free-market ‘think tank’ the Institute for Economic Affairs.

The UK had been one of the leaders in the establishment of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948, and in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) adopted by the Council of Europe, signed in 1950 which came into force in 1953, with a court to enforce it. Many felt that the Tory government’s proposal in 2022 to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and replace it by a Bill of Rights was reprehensible. Liz Truss’s one good thing was to stop its progress and in June 2023 Rishi Sunak’s Justice Secretary Alex Chalk confirmed it had been dropped.

As the end of the march left down Regent Street I rushed off to photograph a breakaway group from the march who had left to take part in a flash mob. Following that I trotted along Oxford Street to Park Lane where I photographed a short march by a few EDL supporters before rushing to the tube to make my way to the People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racist rally in Parliament Square.

The Fire Brigades Union had brought their fire engine to the square to provide a platform for the speakers at the rally chaired by rally chaired by Romayne Phoenix of the People’s Assembly and Sabby Dhalu from Stand Up to Racism.

Islington councillor Michelline Safi Ngongo brought a message of support from Jeremy Corbyn. Other speakers included Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell, Weyman Bennett from Stand Up to Racism, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Sam Fairbairn the National Secretary of the People’s Assembly, Zita Holbourne of BARAC and PCS, Rob Williams of the NSSN, NUS Vice President (Further Education) Shakira Martin and Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice who brought an asylum seeker with her to speak.

More on My London Diary:
Peoples Assembly/Stand Up to Racism rally
End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out


Falun Dafa march against Chinese repression – Regent St

Practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong), an advanced Buddhist practice of moral rectitude, meditation and exercise founded by Mr Li Hongzhi in 1992, marched through London to protest the continuing torture and repression they have experience in China since 1999.

More at Falun Dafa march against Chinese repression


Cleaners Flash Mob at CBRE London HQ – Marylebone

When the People’s Assembly / Stand Up To Racism march set off, a small group of striking cleaners from 100 Wood St and supporters left to stage a flash mob protest at the nearby HQ Offices of CBRE in Henrietta Place. The United Voices of the World strike at Wood St for the living wage and reinstatement of sacked workers was then in its 38th day.

More at Cleaners Flash Mob at CBRE London HQ


EDL march and rally – Hyde Park

Less than a hundred EDL supporters had turned up at Marble Arch to march a few yards down Park Lane and then into Hyde Park for a rally. A few anti-fascists who had turned up to oppose them had mainly left to join the People’s Assembly-Stand Up to Racism march by the time I arrived.

More at EDL march and rally


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Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party – 2010

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party – Three very different events on Saturday February 13th 2013 on the streets of London. First an Olympic-themed protest against one of the dirtiest fossil fuel projects, then a protest by Iranians 31 years after the revolution that brought the Islamic regime to power and finally a Valentine’s Day street party against the commercialisation of the annual event and celebrating the power of love.


Canadian Tar Sands Oily-Olympics – Trafalgar Square

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

February 13th 2010 was the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Canada, and protesters took advantage of this to stage their own ‘Oily Olympics’, with teams representing BP, Shell and RBS, competing in a ‘Race For the Tar Sands’, complete with a medal ceremony next to Canada House in Trafalgar Square.

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

The square was in use for an event celebrating the official Olympics complete with giant screens showing ski jumping and an ice sculpture of the Olympic rings. But the protesters set up on the side closest to Canada House for their tug-of-war, a curling event and a relay race for oil.

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

Getting oil from the tar sands in what is oddly called ‘The Sunrise Project’ uses a process called Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage which produces from 3-5 times the carbon dioxide of traditional oil extraction. Until recently BP considered it to be too economically and environmentally unpleasant, but high oil prices and new management had changed their mind.

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

As well as their huge carbon impact the UK Tar Sands Network say that extracting oil from the tar sands involves “mass deforestation, water pollution, risks to human health, a major threat to wildlife and the trampling of indigenous rights.”

The heritage wardens who patrol the square for the Mayor of London told the protesters they were not allowed to protest in the square, and called the police when they continued. Police came and talked to them but did not stop the event as it was obviously not causing any obstruction or public order problem. Some of the officers were clearly amused.

It was a fun event with a serious purpose, and most of those taking part were surprisingly competitive. I wrote: “It wasn’t at all clear on what basis the medals were awarded. For those that care about such things, BP got bronze, RBS the silver and Shell struck gold. And none of us were quite sure why there were two penguins present.”

More pictures on My London Diary: Canadian Tar Sands Oily-Olympics.


Iran Opposition Rally in London – Parliament Square

The previous Thursday had been the 31st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and had been marked there by both a large pro-government rally and also a ferocious clampdown on opposition groups by riot police, undercover security agents and hard-line militiamen.

The protest in London was by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). The NCRI is a coalition of Iranian dissident groups but is dominated by the PMOI, which was proscribed in the UK at the request of the Iranian Mullahs in 2001; the ban was lifted against the UK government’s wishes after they lost an EU court appeal in 2009.

The PMOI were shabbily treated by the US after they signed a ceasefire agreement with them in 2003 for which they gave up most of their weapons and were confined to their camp in Iraq, leaving them at the doubtful mercy of the Iraq government when the US troops left.

In 1995 the NCRI announced their Charter of Fundamental Freedoms for Iran, which would uphold all international agreements on human rights such as “freedom of association, freedom of thought and expression, media, political parties, trade unions, councils, religions and denominations, freedom of profession, and prevention of any violation of individual and social rights and freedoms.”

They call for a republic based on popular vote, the abolition of the death penalty, gender equality, a modern legal system without cruel and degrading punishments, the recognition of private property, private investment and the market economy and a foreign policy of peaceful coexistence without nuclear weapons.

As well as many speeches the rally had a display of photograph of some of the 120,000 Iranians killed by the Iranian regime and pictures of people being attacked at demonstrations in Iraq, with a street theatre piece in which protesters were attacked by a bearded cleric and a militia man and dragged to a waiting hangman’s nooses.

More on My London Dairy at Iran Opposition Rally in London.


Reclaim Love Valentine Party – Piccadilly Circus

Reclaim Love’s free Valentine Party around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus was started by Irish poet and love activist Venus CuMara to reclaim St Valentine’s day from commercialism and to try to harness the power of love to save the world.

The event in 2010 was one of the largest, with people coming together not just around Eros where the event had begun six years earlier but there were events on this day at a total of 40 locations around the world – elsewhere in England, in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Pakistan, India, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Iceland, France, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Australia – including surfers who were celebrating in the ocean off Perth, Australia.

The party began with the powerful drumming of Rhythms of Resistance which attracted a great deal of attention, including many tourists in the area who stopped to watch and some danced and took part.

A large supply of free ‘Reclaim Love’ t-shirts were handed out by Venus as an expression of the “more fearless-generous-sharing-Love-centred way of thinking” behind the event and others handed out free cakes and sweets and offered free hugs.

The climax of the event, celebrated around the world at 15.30 GMT was when people joined hands in a large circle around the area in an ‘Earth Healing Circle‘ and together repeated an ancient Indian prayer for peace in their own language. The English version “MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE” people repeated here was also on the free t-shirts.

This year there were so many people at the event that in places around Piccadilly Circus the circle was two or three deep.

Venus hoped to keep building the ‘Reclaim Love’ movement and felt it would really have a tangible effect if there were 1.5 million or more people taking part, a number she hoped it would reach worldwide by 2015. Unfortunately for various reasons it never managed to reach that critical mass. The 16th ‘Reclaim Love’ free Valentine’s Day street party which took place in 2019 was I think the last, though I could be wrong. There is still a Facebook group, but this year there is only a single post on it, “Hi lovers are we doing anything this year on the 17th is it?” which has got no reply so far.

Many more pictures at Reclaim Love Valentine Party.


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Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament – 2013

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament: On Thursday 12th September 2013 Campaign Against Arms Trade brought their protests against the DSEi arms fair then taking place in East London to Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament

Their protest and die-in opposite Parliament was much more visible than those out in the fairly deserted streets of East London where the arms fair takes place at the ExCel Centre on the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock.

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament

There the protest is directed against those taking part in the arms fair, both the exhibitors who are coming to sell their deadly weapons and those arriving to view and buy them.

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament

They came to Westminster as MPs were arriving to take part in a debate on the role of United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI), including its controversial Defence & Security Organisation (DSO), the government’s arms sales promotion unit.

Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament

The DSO sends out official invitations to the arms fair to 67 countries including many of the worlds most repressive regimes. Those on the invitation list included Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Libya, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Arms sold at the arms fair in East London would inevitably fuel the civil war taking place in Syria and other armed conflicts around the world. The was in Yemen began the year following this arms fair, and Saudi Arabia has used weapons bought in East London in its fight against the Houthis there.

Also taking part in the protest were a number of campaigners from Bahrain where weapons sold at DSEi in Newham have been used to repress internal dissent.

Among the MPs who visited the highly visual protest was Jeremy Corbyn who stopped to speak briefly on his way to take part in the Parliamentary debate. He praised the protesters for their protests today and for their continuing events to stop the DSEi arms fair.

More pictures at Arms Trade Die-In at Parliament.


Stop The Arms Fair – 2017

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

The world’s largest arms fair currently takes place in London every two years, at the Excel Centre, a large exhibition centre in Custom House, East Ham in the London Borough of Newham. Organised by Clarion Events, the Defence and Security Equipment International show is “fully endorsed” by the UK Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Trade, but condemned by London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and most Londoners and opposed by a week of protests organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and supported by many other groups.

Sadiq Khan has failed to stop the arms fair taking place, lacking the powers to do so despite his repugnance. Amnesty International criticise it for selling weapons of torture and those that have been shown to have been used against civilians, and CAAT point out that it is attended by official military and security delegations from countries which are noted abusers of human rights, including those on the UK’s official list of countries subject to arms embargo.

Of course with the UK the high profits to be made on arms sales often trumps such listings; Action on Armed Violence points out that “five of the UK’s human rights priority countries feature on the DIT’s ‘key markets’ directory for potential arms sales (Bahrain, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia)” and that “UK export licences for small arms and ammunition have been approved to 31 destinations on the embargoed and restricted list” betwwen 2015 and 2020.

In September 2017 I photographed protests outside the DSEI arms fair on four days in the week before the fair as well as a related event elsewhere and a wreath-laying ceremony on the opening day. There are fuller accounts on My London Dairy – links at the end of this post.

No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest – ExCeL Centre, London. Tue 5 Sept 2017

The second day of protests against the world’s largest arms fair held in London’s docklands was ‘No Faith In War’, a series of events organised by various faith groups.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Quakers held a meeting by the side of the approach road to the East Gate of Excel, and some sat on the road to block it. Eventually police lifted this woman carefully and carried herto the side of the road. Some who persisted in blocking the road were arrested and taken to police vans.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

Four people abseiled from a roadway bridge to block the road. It took police a long time to find a safe way to remove them.

Stop The Arms Fair - 2017

People held a mass on the roadway – police waited until they finished then made them leave.

At the west gate people walked very slowly in front of the lorries. Eventually police pushed them off the road. Some were arrested. Others had come to support them and sing hymns and religious songs. There were various other activities at both gates.

Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances – Wed 6 Sep 2017

Stop the Arms fair protesters carried out a series of lengthy lock-ons on the roads at both East and West gates blocking access to London’s ExCeL centre where preparations are being made for the worlds’s largest arms fair.

Police teams took quite a long time to carefully separate the people who were locked together to block the roads. There was also some street theatre from various groups. One pair of protesters managed to lock themselves on the roadway inside the centre gates – but police would not let journalists get closer to photograph them.

I went back to the East gate to find another pair locked on there. The protesters managed to block both entrances for several hours – and there were quite a few arrests.

Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI, London. Thu 7 Sep 2017

Veterans for Peace came to set up a banned weapons checkpoint. Police waved lorries on past their checkpoint, encouraging one lorry to drive through the protest at a highly dangerous speed, and removed protesters from the road with threats of arrest.

At lunchtime North London Food Not Bombs moved onto the road and blocked it to serve protesters with an excellent road-block picnic. After 15 minutes police moved in to clear the road, threatening the diners with arrest.

DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Several hundred people listened to a programme of speakers, workshops, spoken word, choirs and groups and stopped lorries bringing arms by walking in front of them until pushed aside by police.

Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate – Sat 9 Sep 2017

Things were a little livlier at the West gate, where cyclists in a ‘Critical Mass’ were arriving and Charlie X, a Chaplin clone who protests in mime had just been freed from the lorry he had locked on to but had been arrested and was being led away by a dozen police. They also arrested one of the cyclists for having a bike lock around his neck. He had it to lock the wheels to his bike if he had to leave it anywhere. If carrying a lock or chain for your bike was an offence, every cyclist in London would face arrest.

DSEI East Gate blocked – Sat 9 Sep 2017

I took the DLR back to the East gate, arriving to find the road blocked by a lock-on, with two people joined through a pipe which the police were struggling to remove. Finally they did and arrested to two involved. People were blocking the road and holding a religious service, but police forced them off the road – with at least one more arrest of a woman who refused to move.

While the police were removing the two locked on, a man had locked himself to the lorry – and he too was removed and arrested. Other people came onto the road to block lorries and there were poetry and musical performances. Then a group of seven people joined arms in a circle on the road and refused to move. They were still there when I had to leave, stopping off briefly at the DLR entrance to the Excel Centre to photograph a musical protest there.

#Arming The World -Woolwich Arsenal, London. Tue 12 Sep 2017

Ice & Fire theatre and Teatro Vivo with designer Takis, gave their first performance of #Arming The World, a satircial weapons catwalk show spreading information about Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) at Woolwich Arsenal with actors dressed as arms dealers, a Paveway IV Missile, a Eurofighter Typhoon and CS Gas.

Wreath for victims of the arms trade – Royal Victoria Dock, Tue 12 Sep 2017

East London Against Arms Fairs (ELAAF) held a procession carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ around the Royal Victoria Dock on the day the DSEI Arms Fair opened, launching the wreath onto the water opposite the ExCeL centre.


More on all these events on My London Diary:
Wreath for victims of the arms trade
#Arming The World
DSEI East Gate blocked
Festival of Resistance – DSEI West Gate
DSEI Festival Morning at the East Gate
Protest picnic & checkpoint at DSEI
Protesters block DSEI arms fair entrances
No Faith in War DSEI Arms Fair protest


Magna Carta Under Threat

Sunday, June 12th, 2022

Magna Carta Under Threat – Runnymede Eco Village 12 June 2015

Police question people and refuse to allow them to enter the site

On 15th June 1215, rebel barons forced King John to sign a royal charter of rights at a meeting at Runnymede, just a short bike ride from where I live. According to Wikipedia, “it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown.” While good news for the church and the barons, it had little to offer the common men, and neither side took much notice of it and was in any case rapidly annulled by the Pope.

Tea and cakes inside the Long House at Runnymede Eco-Village

Two years later after the death of John and a war by the Barons a revised version was part of the peace treaty, and this was then given the name Magna Carta, as there was another smaller Charter of the Forest also agreed between the parties in 2017. This re-established the rights of free men in royal forests which the Normans had largely removed, at the same time making about a third of the land in the south of England into royal forests, giving rights to collect firewood, burn charcoal, graze pigs and other animals and cut turf – all vital activities for keeping alive.

Getting the festival stage ready

Although the legal significance of Magna Carta soon faded away, it re-emerged from the 16th century on as it became seen as the basis for the English constitution, restoring the freedoms that the conquering Normans had removed, and it became widely seen as the basis for “the contemporary powers of Parliament and legal principles such as habeas corpus.” Various British monarchs tried to supress even its discussion but it remained “a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries.” And these discussions had a powerful effect on those writing the US Constitution.

Vinny wears a badge “Who Protects Us Form the Police?”

The only clauses of Magna Catra that remain in force are those protecting the Church and the City of London and Clause 29 which stated “The body of a free man is not to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any way ruined, nor is the king to go against him or send forcibly against him, except by judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” But when Occupy London tried to make use of this to resist eviction their argument was unsuccesful.

The Eco-Village was a friendly, peaceful and welcoming place

More recently Magna Carta “truthers” have unsuccfully tried to use it against various legislation, including the Covid laws, particularly over wearing masks. But without any chance of success. Freedom to flout the law seems mainly to be granted to those in government. And much of the legislation being pushed through the UK parliament now by a large Tory majority does go against our principles of freedom, such as severely restricting our rights to protest and deporting asylum seekers.

The Magna Carta celebration is proposed 3 years earlier – Runnymede, Surrey, Sat 16 Jun 2012

Back in June 2012 I had sat on the grass with ‘Diggers’ camped on Cooper’s Hill close to the US Bar Association Magna Carta memorial (and possibly close to where King John and the Barons met, though that may have been rather closer to Staines.) The original Diggers or ‘True Levellers’ were founded in 1649 after the first English Civil War by Gerard Winstanley who stated “England is not a free people, till the poor that have no land have a free allowance to dig and labour the commons.” His ideas of the sharing of property came from the New Testament.

Luke, trained as a forester, says the woodland had been sadly neglected

This year it is particularly appropriate to recall the Biblical idea of ‘Jubilee’, where after 49 years there would be a ‘Year of Release’ when slaves and prisoners would be freed, and debts would be forgiven. The land would be allowed to lie fallow and all land and other properties (except houses in walled cities) would be returned to the original owners or their heirs.

One home was built around a fallen tree running across the floor

Land ownership in the UK has changed relatively little since the Normans took it away from the inhabitants after 1066, with the same families still owning the great majority of English land. A minute fraction of the UK population – 0.65% – currently own more than two thirds of the UK land area. Land ownership is the foundation of our class system and while a revolution seems unlikely in the near future, any reforming government should be putting a land tax at the centre of its programme.

The Diggers at Runnymede in 2012 had heard a discourse on Magna Carta and the Diggers from a historian at the nearby college of London University, and talked about more recent occupations of disused Land by ‘The Land Is Ours’ at the Wandsworth/Battersea Guinness site in 1996, at the Kew EcoVillage in 2009 and at Grow Heathrow.

A TV Crew set up a picture of one of the residents playing guitar

My post Diggers at Runnymede Call For Freedom gives some detail on the 2012 event as well as the setting up of the Runnymede Eco Village. At the meeting people agreed to hold a celebration of the 2015 anniversary of Magna Carta at the village site.

Police watched me closely as I came out of the gate to take this picture. They were stopping people entering.

Many in the local community welcomed the presence of the Eco-village, and the community work they had done over the three years. What little trouble there had been had been caused by outsiders, thought by some to have been encouraged by landowner and police. And although the celebrations were planned to be entirely peaceful, police, urged on by Surrey County Council and almost certainly some government ministers, laid on a huge and almost certainly illegal exercise to prevent the event taking place.

The festival began – but police stopping people coming & threatening them with arrest

I wrote: “Police surrounded the Runnymede Eco Village as the Magna Carta weekend Festival For Democracy was to start and prevented some people entering, issuing some with exclusion notices covering a wide area.

The police action appeared to be an entirely politically motivated action against the community and its many friends to prevent their long-planned celebrations of Magna Carta, a charter supposed to represent freedom under the law but here at its very source 800 years ago it was being suppressed in an unfair and arbitrary manner by the forces of the Law.”

As well as my account of what I saw on Friday 12th June at Runnymede on My London Diary, Police threaten Runnymede Magna Carta festival, you can also read the post I wrote the following day here on >Re:PHOTO, Celebrating Magna Carta.


Brexit and More: 20th Oct 2018

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Brexit isn’t the end of the world, but it is beginning to become very clear what a huge mistake it was, driven by a relatively few people who not only stood to make large profits but also were scared of losing the huge advantages they get from currently legal tax avoidance schemes which the EU were promising to clamp down.

The vote – a close one – shows how the handful of billionaires who control most of our media and set the agenda for the rest use their power to influence many voters in this country, making a mockery of the ideals behind our ideas of democracy. It also showed the stupidity of the then Conservative leader who was so sure of winning that he set up the vote on an important constitutional change in a way that would not have been allowed by the average tennis club, where important issues would need rather more than a simple majority.

Those behind the People’s Vote argued that so much evidence had come out since the referendum that it was necessary to get a new mandate from the people to leave the EU. It was an argument that although well-founded was not going to get any support from the then PM Theresa May who was by then running scared of the right-wing hard Brexiteers who eventually took over the party. And it was also to prove toxic to the Labour Party who were pushed into supporting it by Keir Starmer – when there was already no shortage of poison and dirty tricks – as a leaked report made clear – though we still await the report of the Forde Inquiry on this.

The current dispute over the agreement signed with the EU to resolve the problems of the Irish border shows how eager the Johnson government was to get a hard Brexit done, apparently signing up without reading the small print (or rather ignoring the advice of civil servants who had read it.) Although the EU seem to be making things as easy as possible for exports to flow freely it currently seems likely that the UK will continue to demand the impossible and trigger a complete breakdown and a massive and highly damaging trade war, probably not confined to Europe.

I photographed at the start of the huge People’s March, when people filled much of Park Lane and a large corner of Hyde Park, and watched as they streamed past me.

Movement for Justice came to the march and tried to join it near the front, and when they were refused went and stood on the road in front of the official banner – along with quite a few other protesters. They were calling for an end to the hostile environment and the scapegoating of immigrants and demanding an amnesty for all people already present in the country and the extension of freedom of movement to include the Commonwealth. They marched down Piccadilly ahead of the main march whose start was held up.

Later I rejoined the main march as it came down Whitehall for the rally in Parliament Square. There were so many people that they could not all get into the square and many came to a halt along Whitehall, while others were reported still to be at Green Park, just a short distance from the start of the march. People were dancing and partying on the route having given up the attempt to complete the march.

A couple of other protests were taking place around Whitehall. Opposite Downing St the
People’s Mujahedin of Iran were protesting against the repressive regime in Iran,. there and calling for an end to executions there Posters reminded us that the Iranian regime is the world record holder for executions and gibbets and three women held in a prison cell illustrated the reign of terror there.

At the Ministry of Defence Veterans United Against Suicide were calling for more to be done to help service men and veterans in the fight against their developing PTSD and eventually committing suicide. They appeared to be a small extreme right group exploiting the issue, with a large banner supporting the soldier discharged for standing with Tommy Robinson in a photo used to publicise his extreme right-wing views. While I took a few pictures a speaker was condemning one of the major forces charities, accusing it of fraud and failure to act over the mental health issues. Some of those present made clear that I was not welcome at the event and I decided not to stay.

More at:

People’s Vote March – End
Veterans United Against Suicide
People’s Mujahedin of Iran
MfJ at People’s Vote March
People’s Vote March – Start


State Opening, Class War and Student Protests

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

I usually make a point of keeping away from the big occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, but made an exception on Wednesday May 27th 2015, partly because I had been told that Class War were planning to come and protest, but mainly as there were other events I was intending to photograph later in the day.

Class War arrived too late to reach the centre of Parliament Square where they had hoped to display their banner and the area was already tightly sealed off by police. Police security for royal events is always very tight and as on this occasion often goes well beyond what is legal. So although they managed to briefly display their banner well before the Queen’s coach arrived they were quickly forced to take it down and pushed away. Around 50 police then followed the dozen or so as they made their way to a nearby pub and a few more supporters, and stood around for an hour or so looking as if arrests were imminent before most of them moved off, but police continued to follow the group until they left Westminster. Two other people who had been showing posters against austerity in Parliament Square were arrested despite their actions being perfectly within the law; they were released without charge a couple of hours late.

I walked from the pub up to Downing St, where a line of people from Compassion in Care where holding up posters and calling for ‘Edna’s Law’ which would make it a criminal offence to fail to act on the genuine concerns of a whistle-blower, and would make the state protect whistleblowers rather than them having to spend thousands of pounds on taking their cases for unfair dismissals to industrial tribunals. They say current law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which has failed to protect the public, the victims or the whistle-blowers. So far nothing has changed.

As I arrived in Trafalgar Square where people were gathering for a protest against education fees and cuts there was an angry scene when a squad of police surrounded and arrested a man, refusing to talk with any of those in the crowd around about their actions. Had they explained at the time that the man being arrested had been identified as someone who was wanted for an earlier unspecified offence and was being taken in for questioning, it would have defused the incident, but this was only revealed after the man – and one of the protesters who had questioned the police about their action – had been put into a police van a short distance away and driven off.

Back in Trafalgar Square there was music as we were waiting for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts protest to begin, provided by ‘Disco Boy’ Lee Marshall from Kent who had brought a mobile rig to Trafalgar Square. Apparently as well as running local discos he has a huge social media following.

Finally the NCAFC protest got under way, with a good crowd of mainly students in Trafalgar Square and speakers on the plinth of Nelson’s Column.

Class War came along (still followed by police) and there were cheers as they displayed their several banners; also taking the stage and marching with the students were the Hashem Shabani group of Ahwazi Arabs, who later held their own protest.

After the speeches in Trafalgar Square the NCAFC protesters set off to march to Parliament. Police tried to stop them with a line of officers and barriers at Downing St, but there were too few officers and many of the protesters walked around them and the barriers. Police apparently randomly picked on a few of the demonstrators and tackled them with unnecessary force making several arrests. The protesters continued marching around Westminster for some hours, but I left them at Parliament Square.

I finished my day’s work in Parliament Square with the Ahwazi Arabs who protested there against the continuing Iranian attacks on their heritage and identity since their homeland, which includes most of Iran’s oil was occupied by Iran in 1925. The occupation was important in protecting the interests of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, effectively nationalised by the UK government in 1914 (later it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and then in 1954, BP) and even after the nationalisation of Iran’s oil, BP remained a leading player in the consortium marketing Iranian oil.

Strangers Into Citizens 2007

Friday, May 7th, 2021

One of the great failures of British politicians in my lifetime has been over immigration. Since Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in Birmingham in April 1968, both major parties have engaged in a desperate contest to show they are tougher on immigration than the other.

Immigration as we moved from Empire to Commonwealth wasn’t just a moral issue of living up to the promises the country had long made to its overseas subjects – but had failed to live up to. It was also a matter of economic and social need, for workers, nurses, bus conductors, doctors and more to keep the United Kingdom running. By the 1960s, a third of junior doctors were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and in 1963 Enoch Powell, then minister of health launched a campaign which recruited a further 18,000 doctors from India and Pakistan.

Immigration controls had of course begun earlier, but the 1962 Conservative Commonwealth Immigrants Act began a new series of anti-immigration measures. Labour followed this with their 1968 Act, a panic measure to restrict the arrival here of Kenyan Asians. The 1971 Immigration Act and further legislation restricted even restricted the numbers of foreign nurses – who the NHS was and is still very reliant on.

On and on the politicians have gone, increasing the restrictions and playing the numbers game promoted by racists rather than adopting a positive approach and stressing the great advantages that immigrants have brought to this country. While in the Tory party attitudes have largely been driven by straight-forward racism and the residues of imperialism, Labour’s policies seem more cynical and solely based on middle-class electoral assumptions about working-class racism.

Of course there are working-class racists. But there is also working class solidarity that crosses any lines of race, and which could have been fostered by the Labour Party and the trade unions. Instead they have left the field largely open to the likes of the EDL and the lies of the right-wing press. In this and other ways Labour has not lost the working class, but abandoned it.

The vicious and racist policies imposed in recent years by Theresa May against migrants, particularly those here without official permission but also those with every right to be here but without a huge archive of paperwork by which to prove this – the Windrush generation have met with opposition from some mainly on the left in Labour, but they built on the policies of the New Labour government before here.

Labour have abstained rather than voted against so much discriminatory legislation, and their opposition to Priti Patel’s draconian bill which aims to criminalise Roma, Gypsy and Traveller lifestyles and increase the surveillance powers of immigration officers as well as introducing new ‘diversionary cautions’ against migrants to allow police to force them to leave the country has at best been half-hearted.

Of course there are exceptions. Honourable men and women in both parties who have argued against racist policies, and MPs who have voted with their consciences rather than follow the party line – and sometimes lost the party whip. And of course those in some of the smaller parties and outside parliament, particularly various religious leaders, some of whom took a leading role in the Strangers into Citizens March and Rally on May 7th 2007 which called for all those who have worked (and paid their taxes) here for more than four years to be given a two year work permit, after which if they get suitable work and character references they would be given indefinite leave to remain.

Although this still would not change our terrible mistreatment of those who arrive seeking asylum, it did seem a pragmatic solution to a major problem which governments have found intractable. But as the organisers of the event and many of the speakers insisted, it needed to be part of a wider package of fair treatment for those applying for asylum or immigration. But the political parties were not listening and seem only able to think of more and more restrictive, racist and authoritarian policies which drive us further into becoming a police state.

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm


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.