Posts Tagged ‘stand up to racism’

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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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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