Posts Tagged ‘Trafalgar Square’

Strangers Into Citizens – 2009

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Strangers Into Citizens – Strangers into Citizens held a march and rally on Monday 4th May 2009 calling for long term irregular migrants living in the UK to be provided with a way to earn indefinite leave to remain here.

Strangers Into Citizens

There are thought now around 800,000 people living in the UK without a legal permit to do so. Accurate figures are impossible to find as these people obviously do not want to be recorded by the authorities.

Strangers Into Citizens

Many are working and carrying out work that others do not want to so but are essential to keep our economy running. One of the reasons why the UK is attractive to migrants is the size of our hidden economy, economic activities entirely hidden from HMRC.

Strangers Into Citizens

Almost one in ten UK citizens takes some part in this hidden economy, though for many their activities are on a small scale and often transitory. But almost half of those gain an income that if declared would put the above the current tax threshold. Some of these are people without legal residence, while there are others who have permission to be here but not to work. And of course others are just tax evaders.

Strangers Into Citizens

It would benefit the economy and those concerned to regularise their position so they could both work here legally and pay tax. There are also a significant number with qualifications which could take them out of the largely unskilled manual work that makes up much of the hidden economy and put their skills to work, profiting both themselves and the country. Having people with Maths or Engineering degrees making a poor living as cleaners (and I’ve met them) makes no sense when they could make a much greater contribution.

The UK has an ageing population and increasingly fewer of us are likely to be economically active – the ONS model suggests there will be an additional 317,000 people economically inactive in the UK by 2026 compared to 2023, and this trend seems likely to continue. We need migration to make up the gap and regularising the position for those already here would certainly help.

There are no legal routes to enter the UK to claim asylum and those who want to do so must either enter irregularly or come on tourist or other visas. The majority of migrants enter the country legally but overstay the terms of their visas, some claiming asylum, others just melting into the community. Another large group of migrants are the children born here to irregular migrants – until 1st January 1983 this automatically made you a British citizen but now this is only the case if one of your parents is British.

Over many years now we have seen an increasing ratcheting up of racist rhetoric and policies by the two major parties, each determined to outflank the other in appeasing the extreme right and playing on fear. The Tory government has increasingly introduced criminal sanctions against those who enter the country in ways it calls illegal, with all those arriving by them now being threatened with deportation to Rwanda, whether or not that country is actually a safe destination.

But the number Rwanda expects to take over a five years is only 1000, just 200 per year. In the year ending June 2023, official statistics show 52,530 irregular migrants were detected on, or shortly after, arrival to the UK on various routes, 85% of them on small boats. There are of course no figures for how many came and were not detected.

The UK currently does have a very limited partial amnesty scheme. Those who have managed to stay – legally or illegally – continuously for 20 years can apply for a visa which grants another 30 months of residence, while those with 10 continuous years of legal residence can also apply for an extension.

Many of those who I marched with on Monday 4th May 2009 from Lambeth were from London’s large Latin American community. Some were probably irregular but most will have entered the country legally as EU citizens and some have been given asylum here or be waiting for the Home Office to process their claim. The Home Office states the average time is six months, but the actual average is estimated to be somewhere between one and three years.

Others had marched from other areas of London, many starting from seven religious services in various parts of the city. The marches joined in Parliament Square to march together to Trafalgar Square where there were a large number of speeches in support of an amnesty from religious, political and trade union groups as well as representatives of various ethnic groups and migrants from a number of countries, followed by music and dancing.

More on My London Diary at Strangers Into Citizens.


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May Day 2004

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

May Day 2004 – One of the many advantages of giving up full-time teaching around 2000 was that I was able to go to various events that previously took place when I was at work. And one of these was the London May Day celebrations taking place on May 1st – previously I could only take part in these when May Day fell on day I was not at work. I hope to be taking pictures of today’s march and rally as usual from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square gathering at noon.

May Day 2004

Back in 1978, Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan introduced an early May bank holiday, but rather than making May Day – International Workers Day – a bank holiday we got instead the first Monday in May. So only one year in seven do we get a Bank Holiday on May Day.

May Day 2004

Even then, Tories have made several attempts to get the Bank Holiday moved to another time of year – the first attempts came with a bill in 1982 and ten years later John Major suggested Trafalgar Day. The coalition government made another attempt in 2011, but so far strong opposition has kept the early May holiday, though I suspect it may be under threat again in the next Labour government.

May Day 2004

In 2004, twenty years ago, May Day was a Saturday, so many who would otherwise have been working were able to attend the annual May Day march and rally in London. I’ve written on some previous May Days about the origin of May Day and how it became International Workers’ Day and rather than repeat myself you can read an article by People’s History Museum researcher Dr Shirin Hirsch, May Day: A People’s Holiday which has the advantage of some fine illustrations.

Here, suitably corrected, is what I wrote about my May Day twenty years ago. All the photographs in this post are from May 1st 2004. There are many more pictures on My London Diary.

May Day!

London’s TUC sponsored May Day March and Rally is a peaceful celebration of International Workers’ Day. This was apparently first celebrated in 1886 in Chicago by striking textile workers.

May Day 2004

In London, the celebrations are dominated by several Turkish and Kurd groups, with the MLKP and their youth wing being some of the most vocal.

I was pleased to meet up again with members of Bristol Radical Cheerleaders, adding their enthusiasm and a little spectacle to the event. Fortunately they were not responsible for the route, as ‘To the left, to the left, not to the right, to the left’ might never have got us to Trafalgar Square.

Maybe that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. The rally at the end was something of an anti-climax. Not that London Mayor Ken didn’t project his usual charm – and Frances O’Grady and the others spoke well, it was just, well, a bit dull. It needs something that is rather more of a celebration and a party.

I wandered off, jumping on a bus down the Strand to Fleet Street and St Brides where there was a wedding going on. Perhaps I should have taken more than the couple of pictures here, but I didn’t have an invite.

Back in St James Park there was supposed to be a party, and a game of ‘Anarchist Mayday Cricket’. It wasn’t quite the weather for either, and I took a few snaps and came home.

My London Diary – May 2004

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Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party – 2010

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

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


Canadian Tar Sands Oily-Olympics – Trafalgar Square

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

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

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

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

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

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

Tar Sands, Iran & Valentine Party

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

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

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

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


Iran Opposition Rally in London – Parliament Square

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reclaim Love Valentine Party – Piccadilly Circus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many more pictures at Reclaim Love Valentine Party.


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London Gaza Marches & End Guantanamo – 20 Jan 2024

Thursday, January 25th, 2024

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

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


Gaza Ceasefire March, Camden, London, UK

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

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

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo

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

More pictures: Gaza Ceasefire March, Camden


Close Guantanamo – 22 Years of Injustice Must End

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

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

London Gaza Marches and End Guantanamo

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

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

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


Gaza Ceasefire March, Tower Hamlets, London, UK

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

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

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

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

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

More pictures: Gaza Ceasefire March & Rally


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Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide – 13 Jan 2023

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

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

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide

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

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

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

Massive London Protest Over Gaza Genocide
Doctors Against Genocide.

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

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

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

A man holds a bloodstained bundle representing a dead child

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

Free Palestine Hands Off Yemen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims – 2005

Monday, January 15th, 2024

Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims – 2005: Events in London on 15th January 2005 connected with China and Russia.


Falun Gong Demonstrate – Chinese Torturers. Westminster – Portland Place

Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims

Back in 2005 I wrote “to me, Falun Gong seems a harmless form of meditation exercises, available to anyone without charge and following the admirable principles of truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, but the Chinese government seem to regard it as the most dangerous form of terrorism.”

Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims

Now I’m less positive although still shocked by the accounts of “physical tortures, including beatings, electric shocks, immersion, chaining for hours and days and the infamous ‘tiger bench’ are used together with psychological attacks including humiliation and sleep deprivation by the Chinese government to suppress the practice.”

Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims

According to Wikipedia, while Falun Gong is a new religion based on Buddhism, its founder in the early 1990s Li Hongzhi gave it some highly reactionary characteristics, such as the rejection of modern scientific ideas including evolution and medicines, racism, and opposition to homosexuality and feminism. More recently it has promoted conspiracy theories including QAnon and anti-vaccination misinformation and supported Trump and extreme-right movements in Europe.

Red Army & Chinese Torture Victims

The Wikipedia article also carries an account of a 2018 report that “highlights Falun Gong’s extensive internet presence, and how editors who have to date contributed to English Wikipedia entries associated with Falun Gong to the point where ‘Falun Gong followers and/or sympathizers de facto control the relevant pages on Wikipedia‘”. Perhaps Wikipedia has now managed at least to some extent to prevent this, but although a number of academics have criticised Falun Gong as a cult, this word and the criticisms appear nowhere in the article.

Li Hongzhi now lives with hundreds of supporters close to a 427 acre compound in New York State, Dragon Springs which is the training ground for its Shen Yen performers. The organisation describes itself as “the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company” and whose performances around the world provides significant funding for Falun Gong including a press group The Epoch Times and a PR firm.

Falun Gong has also received considerable funding from the US government particular for the development of free software intended to circumvent Chinese government internet censorship. Their activities have certainly been incorporated in the US’s fight to retain dominance over China.

More pictures


Red Square, SW1- Russian Winter Festival – Trafalgar Square

Red square, SW1 was a Russian winter festival celebrating the Russian Old New Year, January 1st according to the Julian Calendar used in Russia until the Revolution and still by the Russian Orthodox Church – which falls on 14th January for the rest of us.

This was a spectacular event, run in cooperation with Moscow city government and many Russian businesses trading in the UK, and I only photographed it for the first few hours, missing the big celebrations, the rock concert, the ice skating at Somerset House and more. As well as the audience at the event it was also going out to 20 million listeners on Russian radio, as well as to anyone who could put up with an inane presenter from some UK radio station.

Both London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Moscow’s Mayor opened the show, though I decided to take a rest at that point from taking pictures and instead try “a fine but overpriced Baltika beer, imported from St Petersburg – at a sensible price i could develop a taste for it.” But I could still hear the speeches and learn that Ken’s father had taken part in the Baltic convoys in WW2.

But for me the cultural highpoint was the performance of the Alexandrov Red Army Choir, founded in 1928 to glorify the revolution by the composer of the Soviet national anthem. Though I found little to photograph during the performance I was able to take quite a few pictures of the men later and of a Irish woman who had attended a red army choir performance in Dublin in the 1950s as a schoolgirl,and had brought a record of them from 1956 for them to sign.

The record cover had a picture of the choir and some of those who had sung on it were still with the choir 49 years later. A younger member of the choir brought some of them across, including the fantastic bass soloist who treated us to a little of his voice and signed the cover – using the Stabilo ‘Write-4-all’ pen I carried to do so on the glossy cover when an ordinary pen failed.

And in 2005 I concluded:

Oh yes, there was fake snow on the lions, some very weird folk dancing involving things that looked rather like dustbin lids wielded by fur-coated women with a lot of heavy breathing rather than singing, Russian dolls, food and more.

My London Diary

What I failed to record was that in the crush to see the Red Army Choir I had forgotten to zip up my camera bag and later found that the cheap telephoto zoom was missing from it. I wasn’t too bothered, as I had already realised it had been a mistake to buy it as it was rather a poor performer and I rather welcomed the need to replace it with something better.

I wrote rather more and there are more pictures, particularly of the choir on My London Diary


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Protest Under Threat – 2008 and 2024

Friday, January 12th, 2024

Protest Under Threat – On Saturday 12th January 2008 I photographed six protests in London, and two of them were against the increased restrictions on public protest introduced by SOCPA, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which considerably increased the powers of arrest of police, criminalised trespass at designated ‘Protected Sites’ which included nuclear sites and a long list of royal, parliamentary, and government sites.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

But most controversially it seriously restricted our right to demonstrate within a “designated area” of up to one kilometre from any point in Parliament Square. Although Trafalgar Square was excluded from this, it was a wide area which included areas on the south bank of the river including County Hall, the Jubilee Gardens, St Thomas’ Hospital and the London Eye and extended west on the north bank as far as Tate Britain.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

These sections of the act were repealed or rather replaced in 2011 by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which narrowed its scope to prohibiting some activities in Parliament Square, more specifically aimed at protests such as that by Brian Haw.


Hizb ut-Tahrir protest Bush’s Middle East tour – Marble Arch – Saudi Embassy

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

Other protests on the day included a march by supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain from Marble Arch to the Saudi Embassy in Mayfair to show their opposition to George Bush’s Middle East tour and American policies in the region as well as against the current corrupt ruling elites in the area.

Protest Under Threat - 2008 and 2024

Although I don’t support the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir and was certainly worried by their global intentions which we later saw put into practice by Islamic extremists in ISIS in Syria and others elsewhere as well as uneasy about their treatment of the women who were at their protests clearly as second-class citizens (and who I was often requested by stewards not to photograph), this like their other protests was extremely tightly managed by the organisation.

Clearly the protest presented no real threat to public order and it was hard to see why there was such a large police presence, when all that was needed was some traffic control and perhaps a few officers to monitor the speeches for any illegal content – though I don’t think there were any present who could understand those not in English.
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Young Rich Protest Siena Airport Expansion

There were two protests taking place around Trafalgar Square, and one of them I found it a little hard to take seriously. This was what I described as a “small but very select” protest against the expansion of Sienna airport “led by the young grandson of a Lord” by “models and young people from some of the richest families around (the kind of people who own Guinness rather than drink it)” who enjoy their times at nice big villas there and don’t “want all sorts of riff-raff coming in on cheap flights“. Of course we should all be against airport expansion.
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 CSG Freedom to Protest Border Post – Trafalgar Square/Whitehall

On the traffic island at the south of Trafalgar Square and the top of Whitehall a group calling themselves the CSG (Citizens Supporting Government – rather than the Met’s TSG, sometimes said to stand for Thugs Supporting Government rather than its official Territorial Support Group) set up a ‘Freedom to Protest Border Point’ again on Saturday on the edge of the SOCPA zone to advise the public about the danger of passing into the an area where freedom is severely restricted.
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Freedom to Protest – outside Downing Street

But the main Freedom To Protest demonstration was taking place at the gates of Downing Street with a couple of hundred protesters. Although police usually try to move protesters away from the gates, things as I arrived seemed fairly relaxed.

But when a number of protesters decided to sit or lie down in the middle of the road this prompted the police to take action. “They grabbed the first couple of guys who went down on the tarmac and handcuffed them as well as seeming to try out a few strange holds.”

And when a dozen or so laid down in a neat line along the carriageway a squad of around 20 officers who had been waiting 50 yards down the road rushed in and began by clearing photographers and others standing on the road back onto the pavement. “Any who showed a reluctance to move were given a hand, sometimes with what seemed like unnecessary force. I was almost knocked flying when they threw one man bodily backwards – and I was in his way, probably rather luckily for him, as otherwise he could well have cracked his head open on the pavement.”

They then carried those sitting or laid on the ground back to the pavement, warning them they would be arrested if they returned to the road. Some who had linked arms were separated with some of the police clearly seeming to be enjoying themselves using pain compliance holds and inflicting unnecessary pain as they twisted arms behind backs and generally pushed the guys around.

Brian Haw – whose continuing peace protest in Parliament Square had been one of the main targets of SOCPA – was there using a small video camera to record the police violence and I photographed him with a nasty trickle of blood running down his left cheek after an officer had forcefully pushed the camera into his face. When he tried to complain to the officers in charge he was ignored and finally told to go to a police station if he wished to complain. Some of the police were rather obviously amused at both his injury and his complaints.
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Kenyans Demand Justice after Election Fraud

Across Whitehall in the designated protest area there were two protests taking place. Kenyans were protesting against election fraud in their country, where the man who had almost certainly lost the vote set up an electoral commission that was certain to declare him as the winner, and he remains President. SOCPA was having an effect on their protest as my picture shows, with a man using a megaphone hidden under brown paper!
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End the Siege on Gaza

Also across Whitehall from Downing Street were a group of protesters calling for an end to the Israeli siege of Gaza which severely limits the supply of essential goods including medicines and for an end to the military occupation of Palestine.

Among the protesters still present when I arrived rather late to photograph it were Jewish activists supporting Palestine and a boycott of Israeli goods, part of the growing campaign for BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. In 2024 the UK government is putting through a Bill to stop “businesses and organisations–including those affiliated with Israel-being targeted through ongoing boycotts by public bodies” because of the increasing success of this campaign. If passed it will stop public bodies, “including universities, local authorities, and government departments, from making investment decisions that align with their human rights responsibilities and obligation.” They will be unable “to avoid causing or contributing to human rights abuses and international crimes” such as “the Chinese government’s systematic repression of Uyghurs, Israel’s crimes of apartheid or war crimes in Israeli settlements, Saudi Arabia and UAE’s war crimes in Yemen, or the Myanmar junta’s crimes against humanity.
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Goodbye & Good Riddance – September 2003

Friday, January 5th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance – September 2003: Of course there were times in 2023 that I remember warmly, and the first week of September when I was with a group of friends in a holiday let in Barmouth was full of them, though getting there and back was harder going with a rail strike and several long rail replacement bus journeys. But even those long bus journeys had their compensations, with some splendid views and clean windows through which I photographed some of them.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - September 2003
Barmouth September 2023
The rail and footbridge across the estuary at Barmouth closed for major engineering work the day before we arrived so we came and left on a rail replacement buses. The footpath across was also closed, which was a dissapointment as it would have allowed more great walks.

The holiday had been a very welcome break, and we were very fortunate with the weather, but too soon we had to return home – starting with two bus journeys to Machynlleth and then on to Shrewsbury and I returned to photographing protests the following day.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - September 2003
Justice For Chris Kaba – One Year On. London, 9 Sept 2023.
Chris Kaba, a 24-year-old unarmed black man, was driving a friend’s car in Camberwell when police stopped the car and fired a single shot through the windscreen killing him. The CPS received a report on the case in March but have yet to decide if the officer should be charged. Hundreds came a year after his killing to support the family and demand justice at a march from New Scotland Yard and rally in Parliament Square.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - September 2003
March to End Fossil Fuels, London. 16 Sept 2023.
People march in London as a part of actions by millions around the world to demand the world leaders gathering in New York for the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit take the urgent action needed for a rapid, just and equitable end to the use of all fossil fuels.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - September 2003
Mahsa Amini Day – Woman Life Freedom, Iranian Embassy, Kensington. 16 Sept 2023.
Protests took place in London and around the world in support of the Woman Life Freedom revolution in Iran on the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini by the IGRC. People in Iran are suffering immense oppression and injustice. There were protests at the Iranian Embassy and a march to Trafalgar Square where a rally and other protests were taking place.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - September 2003
Mahsa Amini Day – Woman Life Freedom, Trafalgar Square. 16 Sept 2023.
Protests took place in London and around the world in support of the Woman Life Freedom revolution in Iran on the first anniversary of the killing of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini by the IGRC. People in Iran are suffering immense oppression and injustice. There were protests at the Iranian Embassy and a march to Trafalgar Square where a rally and other protests were taking place. Pictures are in the same album as those from the Iranian Embassy above.
Peter Marshall
March To Rejoin The EU, London. 23 Sep 2023.
Thousands march in National Rejoin March from Hyde Park calling for an end to Brexit and to restore freedom of movement and reverse the attacks on living standards, public services and workers rights Brexit has caused. The march was followed by a rally in Parliament Square.
Peter Marshall
World Wide Rally for Freedom. London, 23 Sept 2023.
More than a thousand people marched from Hyde Park in the World Wide Rally For Freedom of speech, movement, assembly, health and choice.The march included many anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers and others but was dominated by those condemning London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion to include all of London. They called for mass non-compliance with this and other tyrannical government control.
Peter Marshall

The Rally For Freedom was in opposition to the various government bills and acts which have seriously restricted our freedom – such as those aimed at preventing protests and severely restricting the right to strike. But we urgently need to take action against climate change “FOR THE SAKE OF ALL OUR CHILDREN” and the vaccinations have certainly saved many, many more lives than few deaths they have caused. Any responsible mayor of London would be taking similar action to improve London’s air quality, and while there may be details in Khan’s approach which could have been better, he has proved a considerably better mayor for London than his predecessor, and deserves to beat the Tory candidate in the 2024 election.

More on the 2023 protests I photographed in later posts.


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Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – 2016

Sunday, December 17th, 2023

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria – Three protests in London on Saturday 17th December 2016.


Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday – Trafalgar Square

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

A silent vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square marked the 29th birthday of trans-gender whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, jailed for 35 years in 2013, whose courageous leaks revealed war crimes by US, UK and other governments.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria
A Queer Strike protester and veteran peace activist Bruce Kent

Working for the US Army as a specialist intelligence analyst as Bradley Manning she released almost 750,000 documents to Wikileaks in 2010 showing the US, UK and other governments’ war crimes and corruption in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Israel & the Palestinian Authority, Peru, Venezuela and elsewhere. Some were classified and many others were highly sensitive and incriminating. In 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years and held in the maximum security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

The London vigil was a part of an international day of action for her release. Since she came out as a trans woman in 2013 she had been repeatedly harassed by the military in prison and twice in 2016 had attempted suicide. Protesters around the world called on President Obama to release her on the basis of the prison time she had already served before he left office. The following month he commuted her sentence to around seven years and she was released from jail. She spent a further year in 2019-2020 after she refused to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Vigil on Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday


Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan – Downing St

Chelsea Manning, Kurdistan & Syria

Kurds, many wearing or waving the flag of Free Kurdistan called on the civilised world to recognise the sacrifices made by the Peshmerga in fighting for freedom and against Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria.

The Peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, first formed in the18th century as border guards but more recently fighting for Kurdish autonomy, although it also includes Assyrian and Yazidi units. Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region of Iraq, and under the Iraqi constitution the Pershmerga is responsible for the security of the region.

They played a key role in US missions against al-Qaeda after 9/11and were with other Kurdish forces now fighting against ISIS with some support from the USA. But the USA was refusing to directly supply any weapons except through the Iraqi government who were failing to pass any on the the Pershmerga as they feared they would be used to promote an independent Kurdistan. And in London people seemd to be clearly calling for a free Kurdistan.

The result of this failure to pass on weapons is that the force is poorly armed, mainly using Soviet-era weapons they captured in earlier Iraq uprisings and now weapons captured from ISIS in 2014. This protest called for greater support to provide them with modern weapons and other support they lack including ammunition, ambulances and military communications equipment.

Kurds protest for a Free Kurdistan


Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

A short walk away in front of the Houses of Parliament Healthcare workers held a die-in at Parliament in solidarity with the Syrian people.

They called for an end to the bombing of civilians, hospitals and schools by the Assad regime and for the UK government to put pressure on the Syrian government to allow the delivery of aid. They urged the UK to make airdrops of aid, provide safe passage to all those trapped and grant asylum to refugees.

The protest was organised by Medact’s Arms and Militarisation (MAM) group along with Syria solidarity activist groups and individuals including the Syrian British Medical Society.

Peter Tatchell holds a poster

Between 2014 and 2021 when the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme closed, the UK accepted around 20,000 Syrian refugees. When adjusted to reflect the population size of European countries this puts the UK well down among European countries. For the total number of resettled refugees from 2008-20021 the UK comes fifth behind Germany, Sweden, Norway and France but adjusted for population size we are in 10th position.

But along with the USA, Britain failed to take any effective action in support of the Syrian revolution and the crimes against the people committed by the Assad regime, and were severely outplayed by Russia who backed Assad.

Doctors & Nurses Die-in for Syria


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Armistice Day Protests 2006

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

Armistice Day Protests – Today I hope to be photographing a huge protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and peace in the Middle East as it makes its way from Hyde Park to the US Embassy. It’s an event some Tory politicians have tried to arouse controversy around, aided by some of the media in their lies. Armistice Day has always been an occasion for protests for peace and making it out as some huge national celebration we all share in is untrue as this post shows.

Armistice Day Protests

Both the BBC and the Tories seized on the fact that some people at a protest in London shouted ‘Jihad!’ but lie in saying it was an offshoot from the huge march taking place in London calling for peace and justice for Palestine.

It’s a lie that the BBC continues to let them promulgate without question, although their journalists must surely know that this was at an entirely separate protest organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamic fundamentalist political organisation dedicated to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, whose lead banner at their protest read “Muslim Armies! Rescue the People of Palestine!”.

Armistice Day Protests

I’ve photographed many protests by Hizb ut-Tahrir in London since I first came across them in 2004 and they are very different and entirley separate from those organised by mainstream Muslim organisations, Stop The War, CND and the others now leading the protests by hundreds of thousands across the country calling for an end to the killing of civilians – whether Palestinian or Israelis – in Palestine and Israel. Most are particularly enraged by the killing of so many children in Gaza by air strikes which Israel claims are targeted, but are targeted on places where many people live and so die in them.

I think most of us who march – and the many more who support the marches but are unable to attend – want peace and the justice that can only come if there is a thriving country where Palestinians can live normal lives in peace and not under military rule and an apartheid regime.

Armistice Day Protests

Probably that can only come about with a two-state solution and a massive world aid programme to restore the incredible damage in Gaza as well as establishing rational borders for Palestine with the removal of many of the illegal settlements.

I grew up in a largely working class area on the outskirts of London in the 1950s, and then I think it was true that virtually the whole of the country paused to celebrate and commemorate the armistice, joining in with the minute’s silence in schools, shops, works and offices and traffic on the roads coming to a halt.

Armistice Day Protests

But even then relatively few joined in the military style parades on Remembrance Sunday, with most of my friend’s parents who had fought in WW2 having had more than enough of that kind of thing. My attendance was compulsory as a Wolf Cub and Boy Scout but I resented it and my freezing legs as cold November winds blew up my shorts – and the derision from friends who weren’t members. And by the time I was a Senior Scout we collectively refused to take part.

The idea that Armistice Day is not a suitable day for a peaceful protest calling for an end to the fighting and peace in the Middle East seems to me to be beyond absurd – yet again is taken seriously and promoted by the BBC. Armistice Day has I think always seen protests for peace – and November 11th 2006 was no exception.

On that day I began on Park Lane, where there was a brief ceremony in front of the sculpture commemorating animals who died in war in the central area there at 11 am. There were only a small group there, wearing poppies they described as purple, though to me they seemed more lilac or mauve. In 2018, the Peace Pledge Union sold 122,385 white poppies: more than any year since white poppies were first worn in 1933, and many keep their white poppies to wear in following years, as unlike the red poppies their sale is not intended to raise funds but they are simply worn as a symbol of remembrance and peace.

I moved on to Grosvenor Square and the US Embassy where School Students Against The War had scheduled a ‘die-in’. Unfortunately only around 20 had turned up for it – probably now many work on Saturdays or prefer to enjoy a lie-in at home.

Another short walk took me to Marks & Spencer on Oxford Street, where a protest was taking place as a part of the fourth International Week of Action against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine.

Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism who had organised this event also hold regular vigils outside M&S every Thursday evening, calling for a boycott of the company as part of a wider Boycott Israel campaign. M&S sell goods including those coming illegally from the occupied territories of Palestine and give financial and moral support to Israel.

School Students Against The War came from the US Embassy to join them and staged their die-in on the wide pavement in front of M&S. This certainly generated a great deal of attention and they made some short speeches to the the crowds milling past M&S before marching off down Oxford Street with their megaphones and banner. They staged a second ‘die-in’ further down the street, again attracting the attention of shoppers, although perhaps surprisingly, not the police none of whom seemed to be around.

I went on to Trafalgar Square where I hoped to photograph the fountains filled with red poppies, but I arrived a little late to find a man in waders fishing them out with a shrimp net. It was bizarre if not surreal, although not quite what I’d been hoping for.

My main event of the day was taking place on Whitehall, at the Cenotaph. Not the military parade ‘at the eleventh hour‘ which I had refused to cover, but a commemoration by some of the families of servicemen killed in Iraq.

Led by a piper they marched solemnly to stand in front of it, while they came up to read out the names of the 121 dead British servicemen killed in the Iraq war. A small selection of names of Iraqi civilians killed was also read out. It’s difficult to estimate the exact number who have died, and more deaths have occured since 2006. The US Brown University Watson Institute now states “we know that between 280,771-315,190 have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through March 2023.”

A deputation then took a letter in to Downing Street for Prime Minister Tony Blair who had misled parliament and ignored the largest protest ever seen in the UK to take the country into a misguided invasion together with the USA.

Among those taking part in what was an extremely moving ceremony were Rose Gentle of Military Families Against The War, and others who have lost sons or partners in Iraq, including Ann Lawrence, Roger Bacon, Natasha Mclellan, Maureen Bacon as well as Lance Corporal George Solomou, from the London Regiment of the Territorial Army who refused to go to fight in Iraq. Families of some serving soldiers also took part.

Also there and supporting the event among others were Kate Hudson of CND, Yvonne Ridley and Lindsey German of Respect and Stop The War, fashion designer Katherine Hamnett, and Jeremy Corbyn MP.

This was an event that attracted considerable media attention; there is a delicate balance between intruding on private grief, but those there had chosen to make their grief public, and we had to record it for them.

More Pictures on My London Dairy – Scroll down the page there for links.