Posts Tagged ‘stand up to racism’

Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis

Monday, March 21st, 2022

Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis. Saturday 21st March 2015 was another busy day for me in London, covering protests against the criminal activities of UK banks, a large march and rally against racism in the UK (and a few racists opposing this) and customers of John Lewis calling on the company to treat its cleaners fairly.


Great British Tax Robbery – HSBC, Regent St.

UK Uncut campaigners arrived at the HSBC Regent St branch dressed as detectives and robbers to highlight the bank’s crimes in causing the financial crash and tax dodging, which have led to drastic cuts in vital public services and welfare and attempt a ‘Citizen’s Arrest’.

UK Uncut had a clear message for both HSBC and the government, accusing them of being criminals:

The government told us they’d “protect the poorest and most vulnerable”. They said “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the brunt of the cuts”. And what have we seen? Dismantling the NHS and wrecking the welfare state. Cutting schools, youth clubs, sure start centres, domestic violence refuges and libraries. Slashing local council budgets. Attacking disabled people with inhumane ‘work capability assessments’ and cuts to vital benefits. Removing access to justice through legal aid cuts. Allowing the big six energy companies to push people into fuel poverty. Cutting jobs, wages and pensions. Selling off social housing and moving people away from their communities. Driving hundreds of thousands into food banks and making families choose between heating or eating

My London Diary, March 2015

The bank closed a few minutes before the protesters arrived and kept its doors shut as the protesters’ ‘forensic team’ chalked around ‘crime victims’ on the ground and put crime scene tape around the area, sealing off the door with a banner. There was a speech from a NHS campaigner from East London about the effects of the cuts on the NHS and ‘criminals’ with HSBC on their chests posed for pictures. After a few minutes the protest was ended as many of those taking part were, like me, joining the Anti-Racism protest.

Great British Tax Robbery


Stand Up to Racism March – BBC to Trafalgar Square

Thousands came to the Stand Up to Racism march from the BBC to Trafalgar Square to reject the scapegoating of immigrants, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and to celebrate the diversity of Britain, with the message ‘Migrants are Welcome Here!

The march began at the BBC, who campaigners accuse of having a policy of ignoring protests in the UK, especially those against government policies – such as the racist hounding of immigrants under their ‘hostile environment’.

Among those marching were DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts. Government policies have also targeted disabled people, cutting benefits and subjecting them to unfair ‘fitness to work’ tests which largely ignore medical evidence.

Stand Up to Racism March


Britain First Protests anti-Racist March – Piccadilly Circus

A small and rather sad extreme right-wing group stood on the steps around Eros waving flags and shouting insults at the anti-racist marchers as the thousands marched past. It was a reminder of the kind of bigotry the great majority were marching against.

Some of the marchers paused to shout back at them, while others followed the advice of the march stewards and ignored the small group. There were a few scuffles but generally police kept the two groups apart, though later I learnt that after I had gone past a group of anti-fascists had seized the Britain First banner.

Britain First Protests anti-Racist March


Stand Up to Racism Rally – Trafalgar Square

Lee Jasper holds up a large poster responding to Trevor Phillips saying he is not a criminal, murderer or thief

Several thousand who had marched to ‘Stand up to Racism’ through London stayed on to listen to speeches at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Speakers included Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Zita Holbourne, Omer El Hamdoon, Lee Jasper and many others, whose photographs you can see on My London Diary.

Stand Up to Racism Rally


John Lewis customers support Living Wage – Oxford St

John Lewis is a company proud of its history and its reputation as a company based on its constitution as the UK’s largest employee owned business with both John Lewis and Waitrose owned in Trust by its 80,000 ‘partners’. They say everyone who works in its stores are not just employees, but a partners in the company, and in almost every year they enjoy a share in its profits.

Everyone who works there, except the cleaners who play a vital role in the proper running of the stores. John Lewis gets out of making them partners by using other companies to employ them and provide the cleaning as a service, choosing its cleaning company through competitive tendering. Cleaning companies cut wages and conditions of service such as sick pay, maternity pay, pensions, holiday pay to the bone – usually the absolute legal minimum – so they can put in low tenders and still make good profits. They exploit the workers – a largely migrant workforce with limited job opportunities – while John Lewis can claim it isn’t them who are doing so and try to maintain their reputation as a good employer.

For some years the cleaners have been protesting to get a living wage and also for John Lewis to recognise their responsibility as the actual company the cleaners are providing a service to. They want to be treated equally with the others who work in the stores, rather than the second-class employees they are now. The least John Lewis could do would be to insist on contractors paying the living wage and giving employees decent conditions of service as a condition of tender, but they had refused to take any responsibility.

Many customers of John Lewis – a very middle-class group – back the cleaners’ case for fair and equal treatment, and a few had come to hand out flyers and talk to shoppers to back their case in a very restrained protest. One of them told me it was the first time she had ever taken part in any protest. They were supported by a few members of the cleaners union, the IWGB, who had brought some of their posters.

John Lewis customers support Living Wage


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UN Anti-Racism Day – London

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

March 21st was established by the United Nations as a World Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the sixth anniversary of police opening fire and killing 69 peaceful protesters at Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960. Protests in the UK for UN Anti Racism Day take place close to the date and there will be large national marches today, 19th March in London and Glasgow and tomorrow in Cardiff. Today’s post is about events in London on March 19th 2016.

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Thousands met at the BBC to march through London to a rally in Trafalgar Square in an event organised by Stand Up to Racism against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism and to make it clear that refugees are welcome here.

UN Anti Racism Day - London
Lee Jasper and Zita Holbourne at the front of the Black Lives Matter bloc on the march

Prominent on the march were Black Lives Matter protesters, wearing red in support of the ‘Justice for Sarah Reed’ campaign, chanting loudly “Say Her Name, Sarah Reed” and “Black Lives Matter”. She had died aged 31 in Holloway prison where she was held waiting for psychiatric reports following an attack on her, possibly an attempted rape, by fellow patient in a psychiatric hospital for which she was arrested and charged with grievious bodily harm with intent.

An inquest decided she had killed herself when her mind was unsound, and that unacceptable delays in medical care contributed to her death. Clearly too the prison staff had failed in their duty of care. Four years earlier she had been falsely arrested for shoplifting and seriously assaulted by the arresting officer who was later convicted and dismissed from the Metropolitan police for the offence.

There were also a number of groups on the march working with refugees trapped in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and some of those had lines drawn across their lips to remember some of the refugees on hunger strike there who have sewn up their lips.

Although the deaths of many refugees drowned in crossing the Mediterranean have led to widespread sympathy among the British people, there has been no compassion shown by our government, who have increasingly been driven by racists and bigots who oppose Britain taking in any refugees and want to abandon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the UK helped to draw up in 1947-8.

There were a small number of these bigots, members of the far-right group ‘Britain First’ in their para-military uniforms, who came to shout insults and make offensive gestures at the marchers as they went through Piccadilly Circus. A large ring of police kept them away from the marchers and protected them from any attack by anti-fascists.

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march


Refugees Welcome Rally

Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean was killed by police in Brixton in 2008

At the end of the march there was a rally in Trafalgar Square, with a long list of speakers. They included Vanessa Redgrave and Jeremy Hardy, MP Diane Abbott, MEPs Claude Moraes and Jean Lambert, journalist Journalist, writer Michael Rosen, leading trade unionists Dave Ward CWU, Christine Blower NUT, and Sally Hunt UCU, Marilyn Reed the mother of Sarah Reed, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett and Marcia Rigg, Maz Saleem daughter of the Mohammed Saleem who was killed in a racist attack, Talha Ahmad of the Muslim Council of Britain and a young refugee from Iraq.

Refugees Welcome Rally


Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day

Australian human rights protesters were holding protests at embassies around the world, including the Australian High Commission in London to condemn the Australian government’s racist immigration policy and treatment of refugees.

Refugees who try to claim asylum in Australia are locked up and detained indefinitely in contradiction to international law on remote Pacific Islands including Manus and Nauru in detention camps run by Serco and will never be allowed to resettle in Australia. The Australian protesters were joined by some of those from Movement for Justice which has led protests against the UK immigration detention centres, including that at Yarl’s Wood, run like the Australian camps by Serco, where detainees, also held indefinitely, have been sexually abused and denied proper health treatment. At least one prisoner in the Australian camps has been beaten to death by the prison guards.

Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day


DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’

Finally on 19th March I went to Parliament Square for another human rights related event, where Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were celebrating the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, one of the chief architects of the brutal Tory welfare policy that has caused them so much suffering, harm and deaths to disabled people.

Though they were pleased that IDS has gone, his policies remained, and his successor, Stephen Crabb, proved top be equally be bigoted and lacking compassion and any understanding of the needs of the poor and disabled.

DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’


More on all these events on My London Diary:
DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’
Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day
Refugees Welcome Rally
Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

October 7th 2017

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

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On 7th October 2017 I started the day at a silent vigil for Elephants and Rhinos in Parliament Square before going on the the main event, the Football Lads Alliance and Veterans Against Terrorism rally and march. They were protesting against the recent terror attacks in the UK and Europe, remembering the victims and calling on government to take decisive action against the extremist threat, including locking up all terrorist suspects and deporting those of foreign origin.

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I had some slight hopes that the FLA would turn out not just to be another extreme right organisation like the EDL and the organisers had emphasised that they were opposed to all extremism and racism, but the speeches at the rally in Park Lane and the response from the crowd soon made their position clear, with demands for many thousands of British Muslims to be locked up as extremists. And as I wrote “there was a huge outcry when the name of Diane Abbott was mentioned, with a loud shout from behind me that she should be raped. It was hard to avoid the impression that it was a meeting to stir up Islamophobia, and there seemed to be a total lack of sympathy with refugees fleeing their countries to seek asylum here.”

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Although most of the supporters were happy to be photographed with their wreaths there were a few times when I was greeted with abuse and threats and moved quickly away from some groups.

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More people joined the march as it moved up Picadilly and by the time it reached Trafalgar Square what had been billed as a silent march had become very noisy. There it was joined by a couple of hundred Gurkhas, many wearing medals, who marched at the front for a short distance before being overtaken by some of the organisers and fans.

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On Whitehall a group from Stand Up to Racism had gathered to stand as the march went past, handing out a flier ‘Some questions for the leaders of the FLA‘, which asked them to take steps to ensure their movement was not taken over by racists. The called on the marchers to stand together with the slogan ‘No to racism & Islamophobia, Football for All’.

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Many of the marchers took exception to this, shouting insults and threats, with some taking the leaflets and tearing them up, though there were some who seemed to take an interest and read it. Police formed a line to protect those handing out leaflets – making both handing the leaflets and taking photographs difficult, but preventing us being assaulted – and eventually forced the marchers who had stopped in a block against Stand Up to Racism to move away. Relatively few of the marchers seemed to make it to the final rally and wreath-laying on Westminster Bridge, with pubs in the area getting crowded and others hanging around in groups in Parliament Square.

Stand Up To Racism and the FLA
Football Lads Alliance March
Football Lads Alliance Rally
Silent Vigil for Elephants and Rhinos


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.



Refugees and Corbyn Welcome – 2015

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Saturday 12th September 2015 was both the day that the Labour Leadership election results were being announced and also of a large demonstration with over 50,000 people of all ages from across the UK marching through London to show their support for refugees facing death and hardship and their disgust at the lack of compassion and inadequate response of the British government.

People celebrate Corbyn’s landslide victory

It had been clear from the start of the leadership election that Labour MPs were completely out of touch with the mood of the party and of the country after five years of cuts made by the coalition government. A number of those who had given Corbyn the nomination needed for him to stand in the election had only done so with the expectation that it would lead to a humiliating defeat for him and the left, and even those who truly supported him had done so with no hope of victory. Corbyn himself had almost certainly not expected to do well, and had probably only allowed his arm to be twisted to stand after being told it was his turn to do so.

When opinion polls indicated Corbyn was the front runner, many Labour MPs panicked, with leading New Labour figures including Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Miliband all over the media saying his election would be a disaster, making the party unelectable. It was the beginning of a long campaign against him both in public and with many dirty tricks in private that resulted in Labour losing the 2017 and 2019 elections. The result of the leadership election, with a resounding 59.5% for Corbyn, three times that of his nearest rival seemed definitive proof they were wrong (and was confirmed by an increased vote of 61.8% in the 2016 leadership challenge) but the plots and back-stabbing continued to ensure defeat in the 2017 general election. But it was a close thing and Starmer and his Brexit policies were needed to make sure Labour lost dramatically in 2019 and could begin the process of purging the party of socialists.

People in Park Lane for the Refugees Are Welcome march

When Corbyn’s vote was announced I was with a crowd of a couple of hundred Corbyn supporters in Hyde Park, with around as many media people, including many TV crews. I’d taken a position before the announcement sitting on the grass with many of them behind me, but both the supporters and the media went wild, photographers and TV crews knocking me flying as I tried to get up and join the rush to get closer to where the champagne corks were popping. All the usual niceties of media scrums went tothe wind and my gear was scattered. I still managed to get a few pictures.

Maimuna Jawo a refugee from Gambia

Most of those celebrating Corbyn’s victory were like me also waiting for the start of the Refugees Welcome Here march protesting against the government’s failure to respond to the huge numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, risking their lives to travel across the Mediterreanean and other dangerous routes to reach safety from civil wars and persecution. Countries on the front lines of these escape routes are flooded with more refugees than they can cope with, and while some other European countries have taken large numbers of refugees the UK has resisted doing so. Many want to come here as they speak English or have relatives or friends already in this country.

Speaker after speaker on a stage in Park Lane gave damning condemnation of the UK government to act humanely and to meet its international obligations. On My London Diary I list most of those I heard: Jean Lambert, MEP; Claude Moraes; Sabby Dhalu; Zita Holborne of BARAC; Maurice Wren from the Refugee Council; Kevin Courtney, NUT; Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron MP; Antonia Bright of Movement for Justice, Maimuna Jawo, Women for Refugee Women; Zrinka Bralo, Citizens UK; and Sam Fairbairn of People’s Assembly Against Austerity.

Park Lane was packed with people along its length and I walked though to the head of the march at its southern end and went with it for the first couple of hundred yards into Piccadilly, where I stopped to photograph the rest of the march as it came past. Fairly densely packed and spreading across the whole of the roadway (and sometimes on to the pavement) it took exactly an hour to go past me.

I took the tube from Green Park to Westminster and arrived just in time to meet the head of the march as it got to Downing St, going with it from there the short distance to its end in Parliament Square, which soon filled up. I photographed more marchers arriving and coming down Whitehall and Parliament Street and then realised I was rather tired and hungry. I sat down on a wall and had a late sandwich lunch before deciding I’d heard enoough speeches and taking the train home.

More at:
Refugees Welcome march reaches Parliament
Refugees are welcome here march
Rally Says Refugees Welcome Here
Victory Party for Jeremy Corbyn


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.


London Protests: 17 November 2018

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Saturday November 17th 2018 saw the start of Extinction Rebellion’s beidge blocade in central London, bringing the city to a standstill by blocking Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark bridges. I joined them for the first couple of hours on Westminster Bridge.

From there I went to pay brief visits to three of the other four bridges that XR had blocked, choosing those downstream which were relatively easy to reach on foot.

I didn’t go to Lambeth Bridge, upstream from Westminster, as I ran out of time before another event I wanted to cover. It would have meant too long a walk as the nearest tube station is some distance away and there were no buses able to run. Later I found that it was at Lambeth that the police had been more active in making arrests and attempting to clear the bridge.

I arrived too late for the start of the march organised by Stand Up To Racism, co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, and supported by many other groups and individuals including Diane Abbott MP and John McDonnell MP against the against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK.

It was a large march and had gathered outside the BBC in Portland Place because the organisers wanted to point to the failure of the BBC to recognise the threat of these extremist groups with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s.

The BBC does appear to have a policy limiting reporting on issues such as this, and of ignoring or minimising protests in the UK against failures of government. When they have reported, they have often talked of ‘hundreds’ of protesters when a more objective view would have said ‘thousands’ or perhaps even ‘tens of thousands.’ They do a far better job in reporting protests in foreign cities than in London.

Half an hour after I began taking pictures the marchers were still walking past me, but I thought that it was nearing the end and I left, not to go to the rally in Whitehall but to return to Westminster Bridge for the Exctinction Rebellion protest where there were speakers from around the country and around the world, some of whom travelled to speak on several of the five blocked bridges. After the speeches there was a Citizen’s Assembly but by then I was tired and left to go home, edit and file my pictures – more hours of work.

Protests by XR have done a little to shake the complacency of our government and others around the world and move them to action to avoid the rapidly approaching climate disaster, but it remains a case of too little, too late. Certainly so for many countries in the global South already suffering dire consequences, but probably also for us in the wealthier countries. Covid-19 has shown that governments can take drastic actions, (if ours cost many thousands of lives by making decisions too late and avoiding basic precautions) but it will need a similar upending of priorities and changes in our way of life to avoid the worst effects of climate change – and there can be no vaccine to end climate change.

More about the events and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Unity Against Fascism and Racism
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly


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.


Stop the Fascists

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

London has a long tradition of standing up to attempts by fascists to march through the city, not least of Cable St in 1936 and the battle of Bermondsey a year later.

Of course it’s also true that many of the supporters of Mosley were Londoners – and Bethnal Green in particular was one of their stronger areas with Mosley claiming 4,000 members there. And many of those who came to Shoreditch in 1978 when the National Front moved its HQ there were also Londoners, as were the 2000 who packed the top of Brick Lane attempting to stop them.

More recently anti-fascists have come out on the streets to stop the marches of the EDL in Walthamstow and Whitechapel and against supporters of Tommy Robinson.

While the crowd were trying to defend Brick Lane in Shoreditch in 1978, the Anti-Nazi League, formed by the Socialist Workers party and others was holding their event in opposition to the NF, a much larger Carnival Against the Nazis miles away in Brockwell Park, Brixton, seen by many in East London as a diversion from the real fight against the fascists.

On this occasion there was a similar split of the opposition to the ‘Free Tommy’ protesters, but at least they were roughly in the same place, with London Anti-Fascist Alliance meeting around Eros in Piccadilly Circus and across the street on the wide pavement outside Boots and Barclays was a small rally by Stand Up to Racism.

And once the London Antifascists began the march up Regent St towards the Free Tommy protesters who were gathering outside the BBC, most or all of the Stand Up to Racism supporters joined in behind them. Police stopped the combined march at the junction with Hanover St. The anti-fascists made a tentative effort to turn into Great Marlborough St, but were blocked by a police line in front of a row of police vans. They then left as directed by the police who took them down Hanover St, and from Hanover Square turned up to cross Oxford St and go up to Cavendish Square.

Police again blocked an attempt to turn right and return to Regent St and the march came to a halt. I left at this point, first to go and briefly view the ‘Free Tommy’ protesters who were being held by police in front of the BBC, and then to photograph a small protest taking place at Downing St.

I returned to the BBC around an hour later, and the right wing protesters were still there, fed up with the police not allowing them to march. By that time the anti-fascists had apparently come close enough to make their presence felt and after some spending some time shouting appeared to have dispersed. I felt it was time for me to go home as well.

After I got home I heard that finally the police did allow the fascists to march, several hours later than intended. There were apparently a few incidents on their way, and some of them attacked pro-democracy protesters outside the Algerian embassy, presumably because they were foreign.

More at Anti-Racists march against the far right and ‘Free Tommy’ protest.


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