Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead 2017

Monday, June 3rd, 2024

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead: In June 2017 we were also in a General Election campaign after Theresa May called a snap election. Labour would have won back then, but for the deliberate interference by the party right who sabotaged their efforts in some key seats to stop a Corbyn victory. Instead we got another 7 years of Tory blunders and incompetence. May, Johnson, Truss, Sunak…

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

Even now I wonder when Labour seems to be in a commanding position in the opinion polls whether Labour will somehow manage to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. They are certainly doing their best at the moment to alienate party workers in many constituencies by barring their choice of candidates and imposing often quite unsuitable (and sometimes unspeakable) people in their place.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

Theresa May was standing in the safe Tory seat of Maidenhead and was re-elected with a majority of over 26,000 over Labour and in 2019 again with almost 19,000 more votes than the then second place Lib-Dem. This time May has retired but it may well be a close run thing with both Reform UK and the Lib-Dems taking votes from the Tories.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

DPAC were not fielding a candidate or supporting one of the other twelve in the 2017 race but were there to protest against the Tory government, the first in the world to be found guilty of the grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s human rights by the UN.

DPAC v Theresa May in Maidenhead

They stated that Tory cuts since 2010 had 9 times the impact on disabled people as on any other group, 19 times more for those with the highest support needs. Tory polices are heartless, starving, isolating and finally killing the disabled who they view as unproductive members of society – and by ending the Independent Living Fund they have has actually stopped many from making a positive contribution.

The Tory Government rejected the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities findings in 2016, which had found failures in the right to live independently and be included in the community, to work and employment, and to an adequate standard of living and social protection across all parts of the UK. A further report by the committee in 2024 found that there had been “no significant progress” since 2016 in improving disabled people’s rights and that there were signs that things were getting worse in some areas.

The 2024 report concluded that the UK has “failed to take all appropriate measures to address grave and systematic violations of the human rights of persons with disabilities and has failed to eliminate the root causes of inequality and discrimination.” Labour has yet to announce anything likely to improve the situation.

A couple of buses took me slowly to Maidenhead where I met the group from DPAC who had come from Paddington in a quarter of the time. They marched to the High Street with a straw effigy of ‘Theresa May – Weak and Wobbly’ and the message ‘Cuts Kill’. After a hour of protest with speeches, chanting and handing out fliers calling on Maidenhead voters to vote for anyone but Theresa May they returned to the station.

Although it looked to the police who had followed them closely as well as to some of the photographers who had travelled down from London that the protest had come to an end I knew that DPAC would not leave without some further action.

They waited on the pavement close to the station until most of the police had left – and most photographers had caught a train – and then moved to occupy one of the busiest roads into the town. The police came running back and began to argue with the protesters to get them to return to the pavement.

Police find it hard to deal with disabled protesters, especially those in wheelchairs and mobility scooters, and they were rather confused (as I was) by the arguments of ‘General William Taggart of the NCA‘ who claimed a military right to block roads. DPAC told the police that they would leave the road after having made their point for a few more minutes, but the police wanted them to move at once.

Eventually having blocked the road for around 15 minutes the protesters were told they would be arrested unless they moved and slowly began to do so. I left rather more quickly as my bus to Windsor was coming and if I missed it I would have to wait two hours for the next one. I arrived at the stop as it was coming in.

My journey home was not an entirely happy one. There was the usual walk between stops and wait for another bus to take me close to home. I got off, walked a short distance down the road, felt in my pocket for my phone and found nothing – I had left it on the bus, which was by then disappearing around the corner. Fortunately the bus driver later found it and handed it in at the depot and two days later I was able to cycle to Slough and retrieve it.

More on My London Diary at DPAC Trash The Tories in Maidenhead.

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Croydon, Abortion & Windrush – 2018

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

Croydon, Abortion & Windrush – I began work on Saturday 5th of May with a late May Day march in Croydon, then came to Westminster where abortion rights protesters were meeting to oppose a ‘March for Life’ anti-abortion march and rally. At Downing Street there was a rally against the racist attacks by Theresa May against the Windrush generation, which later marched to continue at the Home Office, where I ended the day after photographing the anti-abortion march.

Croydon march for May Day – Saturday 5th May 2018

Although International Workers Day is celebrated internationally on May 1st, in Croydon there was a march and rally on the following Saturday.

Croydon is just 15 minutes by public transport from the centre of London, and those who were able to do so had probably joined the main London march on May Day, while others will have had to wait for the weekend to celebrate, so the march and rally on Saturday made sense.

It wasn’t a huge march, though doubtless more made their way to the rally later at Rusking House, where the speakers were to include Ted Knight, once the leader of Lambeth council and then one of the best-known Labour politicians, derided in the press of the day as ‘Red Ted’. One of the largest groups on the march was the supporters of the local Keep Our St Helier Hospital campaign fighting against proposed cuts there.

More pictures at Croydon march for May Day.

Women protest anti-abortion march – Parliament Square

Feminists in the abortion rights campaign held a rally in Parliament Square before the annual March for Life UK by pro-life anti-abortion campaigners was to arrive for their rally.

They opposed any increase of restrictions on abortion and called for an end to the harassment of women going into clinics and called for women in Northern Ireland to be given the same rights as those in the rest of the UK, as well as supporting the Irish referendum to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution dating from 1983 which effectively banned abortion in Ireland.

More pictures at Women protest anti-abortion march.

Anti-Abortion March for Life – Whitehall

I walked up Whitehall to meet the several thousand anti-abortion campaigners, mainly Catholics, marching to their rally in Parliament Square.

They argue that even at conception the fertilised egg should be awarded an equal right to life as the woman whose body it is in, and call legalised abortion the greatest violation to human rights in history.

This was the first London march by ‘March for Life UK’ who had previously held marches in Birmingham and came a few weeks an Irish vote was expected to repeal the 8th amendment and allow abortion in Ireland, and some posters and placards called for a ‘No’ vote in this.

More pictures at Anti-Abortion March for Life.

Windrush rally against Theresa May – Downing St

I remained on Whitehall to join a rally at Downing St organised by Stand Up to Racism calling for Theresa May’s racist 2014 Immigration Act to be repealed and an immediate end to the deportation and detention of Commonwealth citizens, with those already deported to be bought back to the UK.

It demanded guaranteed protection or all Commonwealth citizens and for those affected to be compensated for deportation, threats of deportation, detention, loss of housing, jobs, benefits and denial of NHS treatment and an end to the ‘hostile environment’ introduced by Theresa May.

Speakers also condemned the unusual moves by the Tories in ways that threaten the normal working of Parliament to try and keep information about the Windrush scandal secret. Aong those speaking were Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, trade unionists, and people from organisations standing up for immigrants and opposing immigration detention including Movement for Justice who brought two women who had been held in Yarl’s Wood to speak.

After the rally at Downing Street protesters marched to the Home Office for a further rally there.

More pictures on My London Diary:
Home Office: Windrush Immigration Act protest
Downing Street: Windrush rally against Theresa May

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14: This protest on Saturday 21st July 2018 was the 14th organised by Movement for Justice outside the immigration prison at Yarl’s Wood and I think their last there. I missed the first so this was my 13th visit to this remote location, cyling uphill the five or six miles north from Bedford station. I had previously photographed a number of protests organised by MfJ outside the two immigration prisons (officially called detention centres to make it sound nicer) on the north of Heathrow airport, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook, a rather easier journey.

Unlike these two prisons which housed men, Yarl’s Wood was mainly used to hold women, though there were also a few families there. The protests there had attracted more campaigners because of this, with women being seen more widely as victims than male asylum seekers. And many of those who were locked up inside were women who had been raped as well as beaten and otherwise subjected to traumatic events before fleeing their countries.

Many of the women – as too the men elsewhere – were kept locked up for many months and some for years in indefinite detention while the Home Office refused to believe their stories or to properly investigate their cases, often demanding paperwork it would be impossible for them to provide. The remoteness of the centre and only limited access to internet and telephones makes it difficult for the women to progress their cases.

Many of these are people with desperate needs for counselling and help, but instead as various investigations, official as well as undercover journalism – had shown are held under appalling conditions in this and other centres run by private companies such as SERCO, with detainees refused their human and civil rights, assaulted, sexually harassed and assaulted, denied proper medical treatment, poorly fed and forced to work for £1 an hour on menial tasks.

The protests here are greeted by the women, giving them the assurance that they have not been forgotten and that there are those outside who support them. Those able to get to the windows facing the hill on which the protesters stood so they could be seen over the tall prison fence – the lower 10ft solid steel and above that another ten foot of dense metal mesh – shouted greetings, waved and held up messages.

A powerful public address system meant those inside could hear the speeches, some by former inmates of Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres, and some by those inside, relayed by mobile phone to the amplifier, as well as by some leading MfJ members.

Most of those inside will eventually be released, the majority getting leave to stay in this country. Some are taken to be deported with the MfJ and other organisations then working desperately and often successfully to stop their deportation flights back to terror and violence in their home countries.

This was by far the smallest of all the protests at Yarl’s Wood organised by the MfJ, following complaints made against the organisation by a former member who appears to have been treated badly by them. But however justified her personal complaint, her comments revealed little or nothing about the nature of the group which was not already on Wikipedia or otherwise common knowledge. But the dispute led to many other groups ending their support for protests organised by the MfJ, some organising their own protests but with very limited success.

Mabel had been held in Yarl’s Wood for a day or two less than 3 years

Other groups were and are working – as MfJ still is – to support detainees. The MfJ has played a major role in protests against our racist immigration detention system and in actions to prevent deportations. It still seems to be supported by many former detainees who have always played a leading role in the protests both at Yarl’s Wood and at Harmondsworth.

The Home Office finally decided it was too easy for protests to be organised outside Yarl’s Wood and moved the women – many of whom were released at the start of the Covid epidemic – up to an even more remote location in the north-east, with Yarl’s Wood being used to house those who had crossed the Channel in small boats.

The Illegal Immigration Act finally passed a few days ago intends to deport almost all migrants and asylum seekers (other than those coming under special schemes for Ukraine, Hong Kong etc) to Rwanda without any consideration of their asylum claims. Efforts to persuade the government to set up safe routes for those claiming asylum were rejected by the government in the latest ratcheting up of its racist policies, justified by them through the doublespeak of “compassion” while showing not the faintest scintilla of any real compassion.

More on My London Diary at Shut Down Yarl’s Wood 14.

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus

Sunday, July 9th, 2023

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus; Ten years ago today, on Tuesday 9th July 2013 I photographed a protest against the lack of humanity at the Home Office, another at New Scotland Yard against police use of undercover agents against legal protest groups and finally Cypriots still demanding to know the fate of their relatives who disappeared 39 years earlier during the Turkish invasion of their country.

Divided Families Day – Home Office

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus

In 2012 the UK brought in new family immigration rules to prevent British Citizens and refugees earning less than £18,6000 (more if they have children) from bringing non-EU spouses to live here.

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus

A High Court judgement had concluded that these restriction were legal but that the earnings threshold and the other requirements were “so onerous in effect as to be an unjustified and disproportionate interference with a genuine spousal relationship”. The judge suggested that the minimum income requirement should be reduced to around £13,000, around 2/3 of the current figure.

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus

Home Secretary Theresa May responded to the court judgement by considering an appeal. The income threshold was not lowered and it remains at the same figure today. The rules still apply, but have been made more wide-ranging by Brexit.

Divided Families, Undercover Police & Cyprus

Low paid workers are as entitled to family life as billionaires, and any income threshold seems totally unfair and inhumane. It discriminates against women, many of whom are in part-time work due to child-care responsibilities and are generally on lower pay than men. In 2013 over 60% of British women in employment were earning less than the amount needed to bring a partner to the UK.

The rules were then thought to be preventing around 18,000 families a year from living together in the UK. The protest took place on the first anniversary of them coming into force.

As I commented, “It seems a clear case of a measure that has been introduced merely to make the current government look ‘tough’ on immigration, while making no real contribution to reducing the reliance of any migrants on support from the taxpayer.”

More on My London Diary at Divided Families Day

Against Undercover Police in Protest Movement – Scotland Yard

Police watch as Zita Holbourne speaks outside Scotland Yard

Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) was a legal and democratic protest movement which organised mass protests against the BNP in the 1990s, succeeding in getting their south London HQ closed down after four racist murders within two miles of it – including that of Stephen Lawrence.

Undercover police officer Peter Francis joined the movement and acted as an ‘agent provocateur’. This was one of a number of similar abuses of other legal protest organisations and political groups carried out by the police, some of which are only now being brought to light by the Undercover Policing Inquiry which recently published its first report.

Police investigation of the Stephen Lawrence case has long known to have been sadly lacking, with some officers acting to protect his killers. Other undercover police actions included attempts to discredit the main witness of that murder, Duwayne Brooks, and the secret recording of meetings between the police and Brooks and his lawyers.

Francis was a member of the covert Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), founded in 1968 to infiltrate mainly left-wing groups which the police defined as ‘extremist’.

Mostly the information the squad gained went no further than could have been found by reading the groups leaflets and attending meetings, but Francis tried to push members of the YRE into vigilante actions against individual BNP members. But his efforts were unsuccessful as it was an open and democratic movement dedicated to mass campaigns and other legal actions.

Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon claims he was not aware of the activities of the SDS, but Francis has claimed he gave him a bottle of whisky in appreciation of his work infiltrating the YRE.

Among the speakers at the event ,were several who had worked with Francis in the YRE and claim his information led to some of the illegal assaults made on members by police. You can read more about the protest and its demands on My London Diary.

Against Undercover Police in Protests

Cypriots Demand details of 1974 Killings – Houses of Parliament

After Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, bitter political differences between Greeks and Turks remained, with many Turks and Greeks being killed or missing. Events came to a head in 1974 when the Greek junta backed a Greek military coup in Cyprus and in response Turkey invaded Cyprus, taking over the north of the island.

A third of the Greek population were forced from their homes and fled to the south, with a slightly higher proportion of Turks moved to the north. The island remains divided, with the north of Cyprus under Turkish military occupation and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognised as a state by Turkey.

Many Cypriots from both populations went missing in 1974 and are presumed dead, but little is known about what happened to some 1,500 Greek and 500 Turkish Cypriots.

The protesters from the Organisation of Relatives of Missing Cypriots (UK) held photographs of their missing relatives and urged the UK government to put pressure on Turkey to release information and allow investigation of their fate.

After the protest outside parliament they were going to attend a meeting organised by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK in the House of Commons on ‘Cyprus: prospects for a reunited island‘ with a number of MPs and Lord Harris of Harringey. There seems to be little or no possibility of this until there is a very different regime in power in Turkey.

Cypriots Demand details of 1974 Killings

Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance

Saturday, June 17th, 2023

Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance. Two things at the top of the news on Saturday 17th June 2017, the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower three days earlier and the agreement still being negotiated for the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party to go into coalition with the Conservative Party after the 2017 General Election had resulted in a hung Parliament.


Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance

I’d woken on the 14th June 2017 to the terrible news of the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, hearing with shock, anger and grief the terrible stories of those trapped and burnt to death in the upper floors of the building. Anger because from the outset it was clear that cuts in the London Fire Brigade made under Boris Johnson and the decisions made by governments , Greater London and the local council had made this and other buildings a fire trap.

Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance

I live a little over an hour’s journey from Grenfell, and knew that the area would already be swamped by the media so made the decision to keep away in the days that followed, though I spent some time in research on the web into the causes, particularly reading earlier blogs from some local residents which confirmed my immediate anger.

Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance

On 17th September I visited the area which I knew slightly before, waling with many others, some carrying flowers on our way to pay respect to the dead, to say a few prayers and to cry a few tears. I wasn’t going as a photographer but as a fellow human being, but I was carrying my camera bag as I was on my way to photograph other events, and I did take just a few pictures.

Grenfell and the Tory/DUP Alliance

And I wrote that evening (I’ve corrected a couple of typos):

We don’t need an inquiry to tell us what happened – the various defects that came together are only too obvious, as a number of fire safety experts are concerned. Someone authorised the use of cheap cladding that contained flammable foam, someone let that cladding be applied without fire breaks to save money, Someone approved those unsafe gas lines, someone employed a consultant so the building didn’t get proper fire inspections and so on. Over the years people at Kensington & Chelsea Council (and the TMO they set up) turned an inherently safe building into a firetrap waiting to happen, because to them it was a place where people they didn’t see as people, just numbers who were a burden on the housing department.

Of course it wasn’t just the RBK&C. There were the various government ministers and others responsible for setting standards that let inherently unsafe materials pass – which when tested after Grenfell have given a 100% failure rate. The ministers who dismantled and privatised safety inspections, relaxed and got rid of safety regulations, failed to implement the lessons learnt from earlier fires and so on, most but not all of them under the previous Tory government. And all those pressure groups and ‘think tanks’ pushing the ideas of deregulation, of removing what they called ‘red tape’, the protections that would have saved the lives of those who died.

The victims of Grenfell – certainly a case of mass corporate manslaughter if not murder – deserve justice. They died because they were poor and in council housing and those in authority and the greedy super-rich didn’t think they deserved proper care and decent standards. They deserve justice – and that means fines and imprisonment for those responsible as well as changes in the way that we run things.

Grenfell – My London Diary

Six years on, with a huge and ponderous inquiry having made a fortune for the many lawyers, we have still to see justice. Just another example of our legal and judicial systems swinging into action to push Grenfell into the long grass and to protect the rich and guilty.

Class War protest Grenfell Murders – Downing St

Later that day I was with Class War at Downing Street where they had come to call for revenge over the Grenfell fire and action by the people rather than waiting for a whitewashing public inquiry to report.

Class War say Grenfell is an open declaration of class war by the wealthy elite against the working class, and they have a personal interest in the matter. Grenfell was where Ian Bone first lived when he moved to London and it was there that the first issues of the Class War magazine were written. He and others in the group still knew people who lived there.

This was only a small protest, with people taking it in turns to stand in front of the gates to Downing St holding their banner with a quotation from the US activist, labour organiser, radical socialist and anarchist Lucy Parsons (ca 1853-1942), who fought against racism and for the rights of workers and for freedom of speech from her early years until her death, “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live.

The poster held up by Ian Bone stated “GRENFELL – WE AIN’T GONNA WAIT TWO YEARS FOR A PUBLIC INQUIRY TO COME UP WITH ANSWERS – WE’RE GONNA GET SOME NOW”. Most of the answers were published a month later in a lengthy report by Architects for Social Housing, but Class War seriously under-estimated the obfuscating power of the establishment. Its now SIX years with no justice.

We need fast-track inquiries with minimal legal involvement, perhaps only allowing those who are a part of the inquiry team rather than any representing parties under investigation.

No Tory DUP Coalition of Chaos – Downing St

The 2017 General election had been a close-run thing, and only a concerted effort by Labour officials and right wing MPs had prevented a Labour victory, though the huge extent of their machinations against Corbyn only emerged much later in an unpublished but widely available internal report. But as the results came in you could hear the relief of some leading Labour MPs when their candidates lost in some clearly winnable marginal constituencies.

The result was a hung Parliament with no party having an overall majority. Over the previous parliaments the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party had generally operated an informal agreement to vote with the Tories, but now they were able to demand concessions to enter into a formal coalition. Negotiations had begun which were finally agreed on 26 June 2017.

Protesters pointed out the DUP was a party intrinsically linked with Protestant terrorist groups and dominated by a homophobic church which represents a tiny minority of the Northern Irish population.

Speakers included Northern Irish women campaigning for abortion and other women’s rights enjoyed by women in the UK. DPAC spoke about the Tory assault on the disabled, and there were various others.

Among those who spoke were three Labour MPs, Marsha De Cordova who gained Battersea from the Conservatives, Rupa Huq who greatly increased her tiny majority and Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

There were also those present who had come to protest about the complicity of Theresa May and unseated Tory MP Gavin Barwell in the Grenfell outrage; Barwell had ignored a fire report made in 2013. Political artist Kaya Mar came with a painting of Theresa May playing the violin with one red-heeled shoe on a coffin labelled Grenfell.

The Tory-DUP agreement has had serious long-term consequences, in particular over Brexit, where it prevented a sensible agreement being reached. Johnson went ahead ignoring the problems and we are still suffering from this. Neither his or May’s agreement were supported by the DUP, but the coalition agreement had greatly increased the importance of their party’s views.

More at No Tory DUP Coalition of Chaos.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Saturday, March 18th, 2023

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today, 18th march is the UN Anti-Racism Day, and in 2017 it was also a Saturday, and tens of thousands marched through London, starting as they will today outside the BBC and ending with a large rally in Westminster.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

Today’s march, as in 2017, is organised by Stand Up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music, Hate Racism and the TUC and supported by many other groups, including football fans from around the country who will be wearing team colours.

UN Anti-Racism Day 2017 & 2023

This years march is perhaps even more important, with the UK Government pursuing clearly racist policies against immigrants in last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, its attempt to deport refugees to Rwanda and Suella Braverman’s recently announced Illegal Migration Bill.

Phyll Opoku of PCS ‘Stand Up to Racism’

Football fans have been energised by the BBC’s reaction to Gary Lineker’s tweet. He was clearly correct in observing the hostile anti-refugees language used by the government to language used in Germany in the 1930s. They say the government are trying to stir up division and racism to deflect attention from their multiple crises and turn refugees into scapegoats.

Unfortunately it isn’t just the government, but also the official opposition who continue to up the ante over immigration, refusing to stand up to the government with any real attempt to improve our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Real opposition to racism has been left to a few increasingly isolated figures on the left of the party – including many of those who have been ejected for supposed anti-semitism, increasingly being used to expel Jewish members who support the Palestinian people. And of course left to footballers or former footballers.

Even Theresa May, who the 2017 march was strongly opposed to for promoting racist measures against immigrants and in particular Muslims in concert with Donald Trump has found Braverman’s latest proposals which will break international law on the human rights of migrants a step too far.

The 2023 march organisers say:

In Britain we face a crisis-ridden government attempting to use racism to make ordinary people pay for the cost of living crisis. The ‘Rwanda plan’, the Nationality and Borders Act, racist deportations and the hostile environment for refugees and migrants are all about divide and rule.

The government deny the reality of institutional racism – despite massively disproportionate deaths in black communities during the pandemic – and the reality of deaths in police custody, racist stop and search and discrimination across society.

Internationally we are seeing the growth of the racist and fascist right and an alarming rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism, Sinophobia, anti East/South East Asian racism and attacks on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

Despite a rail strike this Saturday I hope to be there later today, again taking photographs and marching with many thousands of others.

Much more from the 2017 march and rally on My London Diary: Thousands March Against Racism.

Venezuelan Gold, Democracy for Sudan and more

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

Saturday 23rd February 2019 seems now a long time ago. Although it’s only four years ago it was in the pre-Covid era. It was a busy day for me.

Stop Trump’s Venezuela gold & oil grab – Bank of England.

Venezuelan Gold, Democracy for Sudan
Ken Livingstone

A protest outside the Bank of England calls for the bank to return the $1.3 billion of Venezuelan gold (31 tonnes) to the Venezuelan government and for an end to the US-backed attempted coup.

Venezuelan Gold, Democracy for Sudan
Trump and May hold up gold bars

Right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaido, illegitimately recognised by our government as President, has written to Theresa May calling for the funds to be sent to him. Among the speakers were former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Kate Hudson of CND.

Venezuelan Gold, Democracy for Sudan

Venezuela’s 32 tons of gold are still held in the Bank of England, with the High Court’s latest decision in July 2022 based on the UK foreign secretary’s ambiguous statement about Maduro’s legitimacy as president refused to hand the gold back to its owners.

Venezualan Gold, Democracy for Sudan

More pictures at Stop Trump’s Venezuela gold & oil grab.

Sudanese support non-violent uprising – Trafalgar Square

Sudanese in Trafalgar Square support the peaceful protests in Sudan which began in December calling for democracy and for President Omar Al-Bashir to step down.

Eventually in April 2019 Al-Bashir was forced out of office, and later many of his supporters were sacked. But protests continued in Sudan against the military regime and following another coup in Octorber 2021 the country remains in conflict.

More pictures Sudanese support non-violent uprising.

Yellow Jackets continue protests – Westminster

Every weekend around this time a small group of Right-wing pro-Brexit extremists wearing yellow jackets were out protesting in Westminster for several hours, walking along the street and disrupting traffic, accompanied by a number of police.

They were angry at the slow pace at which Brexit was taking place and the failure of the EU to accede to every UK demand and play dead with its legs in the air. The Leave campaign had made great promises, none of which were achievable but which had conned the public into voting for it, and had stirred up a wave of xenophobia and racism – and this was one of its results.

Another was of course the election victory at the end of the year which led to Boris Johnson becoming Prime Minister – thanks to the help of Keir Starmer who effectively sabotaged the Labour Party’s vote. Johnson pushed through an agreement which apparently he hadn’t even read and which we are still seeing the problems from in Northern Ireland.

Although I voted to remain in Europe, I can see there were some valid complaints about our membership – but these were not what the Leave campaign was fought on. Instead they pursued a course based on lies and self-interest..

Yellow Jackets continue protests

Bolivians protests against President Morales – Parliament Square

Bolivians were in Parliament Square to protest against President Evo Morales, saying he is a dictator and accuse him of corruption and interfering with the court system to remain in power.

Morales was a labour leader and activist who became the first from the indigenous population to become president in 2006. Under his leadership there were huge gains in legal rights and social and economic position for the indigenous poor in the country.

Some of those gains were at the expense of the middle classes who had been used to ruling the country, and much of the opposition to him came from them and from their international friends, particularly in the US his opposition to neoliberalism as a dangerous example to other south American countries. Almost all press reports on Bolivia (and other countries) reflect the views of the urban middle classes rather than the people as a whole.

The constitutional question to some extent cut across communities in the country and although his standing for a fourth term as approved by the Electoral Tribunal it went against a 2016 referendum which had narrowly rejected by 51.3 to 48.7% of the votes. Like Brexit a slim majority.

Violent protests continued after Morales was forced into resigning in what his supporters called a coup d’état in November 2019, though others describe it as an uprising against his unconstitutional attempt to be president for a fourth term. Protests continued to get him reinstated and were met by violence from the security forces who were exempted from any criminal responsibility by interim president Jeanine Áñez.

A new election took place after two delays in October 2020, and resulted in a landslide victory for Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) party now led by Luis Arce who was sworn in as President of Bolivia the following month. One of the new government’s first actions was to return a huge loan to the IMF taken out by Áñez in order to protect Bolivia’s economy from its unacceptable conditions.

In 2021 Áñez was arrested and in 2021 she and others were sentenced to 10 years for making “decisions contrary to the constitution”” and “dereliction of duty” for her role in the coup. Other cases are still being brought against some of those involved and protests against this continue.

Bolivians protests against President Morales

Leake Street graffiti

As I was approaching Waterloo Station I realised I had just missed a train home and would have to wait over 20 minutes for the next one so I decided to take a longer route through the tunnel under t he tracks coming out of the station to take another look at the graffiti there.

This is one of the few places in London where graffiti is allowed and encouraged, with space for some large and sometimes very intricate designs. Few last for long before they get painted over with new work, though those on the ceiling usually last a little longer.

More at Leake Street graffiti.

Racist UKBA & 3 Cosas

Monday, October 24th, 2022

Southall Black Sisters Protest Racist UKBA – Eaton House, Hounslow – Thu 24th Oct 2013

Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters speaking in front of the Hounslow Reporting Centre

Although I grew up in Hounslow, ten miles west of the centre of London, I’ve not often returned there in recent years, and the protest organised by Southall Black Sisters outside the Hounslow Reporting Centre on Thursday 24th October 2013 was the only one I’ve so far photographed in the town.

The UK Borders Agency reporting centre is at the western edge of the town, opposite Hounslow Heath where highwaymen once roamed and was the aerodrome from where the British Empire’s first scheduled daily international commercial flights took off in 1919. The large brick block once housed the UK laboratory and factory of US chemical manufacture Parke-Davis, once the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, now a subsidiary of Pfizer, who had set up a dyestuffs factory here before the first world war, though the Research and Administration building in front of which the protest was held only dates from 1954.

Southall Black Sisters (SBS) say that after the Refugee & Migrant Forum East London (RAMFEL) succeeded in its legal challenge over Theresa May’s Home Office advertising vans (which were also criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority) “the UKBA has shifted the ’Go Home’ message to reporting centres in Glasgow, Croydon and Hounslow.”

Their protest against the Government’s anti-immigration campaigns outside the Hounslow reporting centre stated “We will not tolerate underhand tactics used to instil fear and divide us. Let us return to the streets and make our voices heard. We need to fight for our rights.”

I joined the group of around 30 people, mainly SBS members, most wearing t-shirts with the message ‘Do I look illegal?’, but they were joined by others from Sol-Fed and other groups who had brought a large banner with the message ‘F**K ALL RACISM – NO ONE IS ILLEGAL’.

And no person is illegal, but those called it lack permission to be here, though many will in time be granted it. In France, such people are said to be ‘without papers’, but none of us in the UK needs papers to live here, so an appropriate but less biased term might be ‘without status’. The term ‘illegal immigrants’, a deliberately biased description of people who do not currently have a legal right to live in this country.

The protesters blew plastic horns and whistles and generally made a lot of noise, as well as shouting a number of chants including ‘Theresa May, drop the pretence, Go home vans cause offence’, ‘We are humans not illegal, We want justice for our people’ and ‘Money for jobs and education, Not for racist deportation.’

The protest was still continuing when I had to leave. You can see more about it on My London Diary at Southall Black Sisters Protest Racist UKBA.

3 Cosas Defy London University Protest Ban – Senate House, Thu 24th Oct 2013

The ‘3 Cosas’ campaign is for sickpay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University of London, where many low paid workers are outsourced to companies who employ them often in the legal minimum wage and conditions of service, and also often employ bullying managers to overwork staff. They often fail to provide proper safety equipment to do the job.

The workers, many of whom are Spanish speaking, have for some years been demanding they should be directly employed by the university where they work rather than these contracting companies, and there have by now been many long and successful campaigns to achieve this.

The University management in 2013 had responded to their campaign with a ban of protests in and around Senate House, and threatened to bring police onto campus to prevent further protests and to bring charges of trespass against any protesters. This was seen by workers and staff and students as an attempt to prevent free speech and freedom of assembly at the university similar to that of of authoritarian regimes overseas, rightly condemned across academia and the rest of society.

On Thursday 24th October, staff students, the IWGB (Independent Workers of Great Britain) trade union which represents many cleaners and other trade unionists defied University management ban of protests by holding a noisy protest in and around Senate House.

After protesting on the streets around the Senate House, some of the protesters walked in around another building while others scaled the gates to protest at the bottom of Senate House. Eventually police came and tried to stop them walking out. But there were too few of them to be effective. The protesters walked out and ended their protest in front of SOAS.

More on My London Diary at 3 Cosas Defy London Uni Protest Ban.

Xenophobia, UKBA Raids & City Climate Criminals

Saturday, October 22nd, 2022

Movement Against Xenophobia – Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Tue 22 Oct 2013

Lee Jasper speaks

The Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) was a new campaign aimed at countering the vicious anti-immigrant discourse of mainstream politics in the UK. The rally outside parliament was in protest against the Immigration Bill 2013 which was debated later in the day.

Speakers attacked the Bill, which removed the great majority of the grounds on which foreign nationals can lodge appeals against deportation, puts a requirement on banks and landlords to check immigration status of those setting up accounts or becoming tenants, increases the fines for employers who hire anyone without the right to work here, and includes new powers to check driving licence applicants are in the country legally. The bill also imposes a levy on temporary migrants to allow them access to free NHS care.

They also opposed the existing draconian restrictions on bringing spouses to this country that are splitting many families, with a minimum income level required that half the population cannot meet, causing real hardship and heartache for many.

Governments have competed with oppositions over the years to convince the right wing press that their party has a tougher line against immigrants, with the racist vans and e-mails sent by the then Home Secretary Theresa May being an clear example of how low our politicians will sink.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP

Report after report has shown that migrants make a substantial positive contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services. MAX demanded that politicians and the media end the use of language that incites racism and xenophobia and for the political parties to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration and replace it with a fair system built on human rights and the needs of the UK.

MAX was a coalition of existing groups who have come together to challenge anti-immigrant discourse, such as the continual use of the term ‘illegal immigrant’. As they point out, no one is illegal, and these are more correctly people who do not have the legal right to live here – they are undocumented migrants. MAX and its supporters want to live in a civilised society where people, irrespective of background, are valued and treated with respect.

Movement Against Xenophobia

Chinatown Says ‘No Entry UKBA’ – Gerrard St, Soho, Tue 22 Oct 2013

In London’s Chinatown, virtually all restaurants and shops closed for two hours for a rally and march against frequent raids being carried out there by the UK Borders Agency who have entered premises and interrogated people inside demanding to see evidence that they have permission to live in the UK.

Many of those questioned are British citizens or have leave to stay, while others are here visiting relatives on valid tourist visas. A small number have been found to be without proper documentation but the raids appear to be carried out in a random fashion on the off-chance that there might be so-called ‘illegal immigrants’ working in the premises – ‘fishing raids’.

These raids had no proper legal status in the UK as we are not required to carry ID and can simply refuse to answer questions and walk away. There was no requirement to give our name or address as a flier that was being handed out advised.

As the start of the two hour protest approached, more and more shops and restaurants turned customers away and put up signs in windows and doorways stating ”No Entry to UKBA fishing raids’ and there was much furious blowing of whistles. A small group protested noisily for a few minutes outside the only business still open on Gerrard Street, but soon moved away to the rally by the Two Lions statue.

Leading members of London’s Chinese community spoke at the rally against the UKBA raids. Some also made clear that there need to be easier ways to bring workers skilled in Chinese cooking to this country if they were to maintain their traditional practices which are vital to keep Chinatown truly Chinese.

After a number of speeches there was then a march around Chinatown before returning to continue the rally, though some workers were leaving to prepare for the reopening of businesses at the end of the two hour closure.

Chinatown Says ‘No Entry UKBA’

Fossil-Free London Lobby Tour – Bank & Stock Exchange, Tue 22 Oct 2013

Climate campaigners from People & Planet and toured some City sites which lock us into a fossil fuel dependent economy, stopping to make brief speeches and perform poems and songs. They carried balloons to represent carbon dioxide, which had all been intended to be black, but they couldn’t find enough black balloons so had to use some purple ones as well.

Police talked to them at the start of tour, and seemed happy with the tour, though they continued to follow them on the tour, which began in front of the Bank of England (and the Royal Exchange, now just expensive shops.)

From there they walked to the Stock Exchange, stopping first at the entrance on Newgate Street for a short rally before walking around to the main entrance in Paternoster Square.

Here there were more speeches and another song – ‘Buddy Can You Spare a Dime’ – and the balloons were popped as a small group of police and a security officer from the Stock Exchange looked on from a few yards away.

The tour then moved off to visit other ‘carbon criminals’ in the City, but I left them on the corner of Gresham St to go home.

Fossil-Free London Lobby Tour

Don’t Deport London Met Students – 2012

Monday, September 5th, 2022

A protest at the Home Office on Wednesday 5th September 2012 called for international students at London Met University to be allowed to complete their studies and not face deportation after having invested heavily in getting a degree in the UK. Some then marched to Downing St.

The decision to revoke London Met University’s licence to sponsor non-EU students taken on 29 August 2012 taken by the UK Border Agency was an example of petty-minded racism by the Home Office at its worst. It was made after a limited investigation had found that some students studying there had no leave to remain in the UK.

It was a totally disproportionate reaction to the findings, which should have been dealt with on an individual basis and with discussions over the procedures in place at the university tightening them where necessary. But Home Secretary Theresa May had declared a ‘hostile environment’ three months earlier and this was something to show the public that she meant business.

It was a decision which caused unnecessary disruption and costs to the majority of international students who were legitimately pursuing their studies at the university and which seriously damaged the UK’s reputation as a country for students to come from abroad to study.

The licence was reinstated the following April, following further discussions and inspections at London Met, though they were only allowed to admit new students from abroad on a limited scale for the next 12 months. The actions taken by the Home Office could clearly have been taken without penalising students who were studying on courses at the university, and served to emphasise the callous disregard of the revocation.

Universities Minister David Willis had clearly also been embarrassed by the Home Office decision, setting up a task force to provide a clearing house for the displaced London Met students, and two weeks after the revocation the government launched a £2 million fund to “help legitimate students to meet additional costs they may incur by moving to another institution to finish their studies. These include: covering the cost of any fee for a repeat visa application and discretionary payments to cover, for example, lost deposits on accommodation due to having to move somewhere else to study.”

I’m not sure how adequately this fund recompensed students for their extra costs, but clearly they were subjected to considerable disruption in their studies and also in their personal lives, breaking the many relationships they will have had with fellow students and tutors, and being transferred onto courses with different approaches and areas of study. Even courses with the same titles will have significant differences and students may well find they were repeating some studies already made while missing out on others.

Students march to Downing St

The UK Border Agency had long been criticised for its actions and poor service, with an increasing number of complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman over asylum, residence status and immigration issue – and in 2009-10 all but 3% were decided in favour of the complainants. In 2013 a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee was so damning about its incompetence that Home Secretary Theresa May was forced to abolish it, replacing the agency by three new organisations, UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force.

You can read more about the protest and see more pictures on My London Diary:
Don’t Deport London Met Students