Posts Tagged ‘Trident replacement’

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners – 2016

Saturday, July 13th, 2024

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners: Wednesday 13th July 2016 was a busy day for me, covering two protests in the ‘#PIPFightback’ National Day of Action against the Personal Independence Payments, a rally in favour of a parliamentary bill to stop the ongoing privatisation of the NHS, a party against plans to spend huge amounts on new nuclear weapons and ending with a rally supporting cleaners in the longest running industrial dispute in the history of the City of London.

PIP Fightback – Vauxhall & Westminster

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners

On this day there were around 20 actions by disabled protesters and their supporters as a ‘#PIPFightback’ National Day of Action against PIP, the Personal Independence Payments which have been a totally inadequate replacement for the Disabled Living Allowance which had previously provided support to enable disabled people to work and live on more even terms with the rest of the community.

I began at the Vauxhall PIP Consultation Centre in Vauxhall where ATOS carry out sham Personal Independence Payments ‘assessments’ on behalf of the DWP. These are carried out without without proper consideration of medical evidence and with ATOS haing a financial incentive to fail claimants.

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners

Many genuine claimants have lost essential benefits for months before these are restored by tribunals on appeal. The temporary loss of finance has resulted in some being taken into hospitals and some commiting suicide.

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners

Other claimants lose benefits as job centres ‘sanction’ them, often for trivial or unfair reasons such as arriving late for interviews due to bus or train delays – or because they have not received a letter about the appointment.

PIP, NHS, Trident & Cleaners

Among those taking part in this protest was Gill Thompson, whose brother David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier died in July 2013 after his benefits were ‘sanctioned’. He was left starving without money for food or electricity to keep the fridge containing his insulin running. She carried a banner with the names and a few pictures of around 100 claimants known to have died because of sanctions. This appears to be a relatively small fraction of the total which runs into thousands.

Later I joined a larger protest with members of the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN), Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Winvisible (Women with Invisible and Visible Disabilities) and others in Westminster outside the Victoria Street offices of Capita who also carry out these shoddy assessments.

There were speeches on the pavement there before the protesters moved onto the busy road blocking traffic in both directions, though they quickly moved aside to let a ambulance through.

After a few minutes Paula Peters of DPAC announced it was time to move on and the protesters marched along the road past the Met Police HQ at New Scotland Yard and on the the DWP offices at Caxton House.

Here they blocked the road for some more speeches before moving on to Parliament where there was another short rally on the road before they moved on to the media village on College Green where politicians were being interviewed on TV over the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Police blocked them from going onto the Green, but soon some went past them and refused police requests to move; eventually they were allowed to stand on a path in the middle of the area. Although all the TV crews present could see and hear the protest, only one or two bothered to come across and find out what was happening – and I think these were from foreign news agencies.

Disabled PIP Fightback blocks Westminster
PIP Fightback at Vauxhall

NHS Bill protest at Parliament

Protesters from various campaigns to save the NHS held a protest in support as Labour MP for Wirral West Margaret Greenwood presented a ‘Ten Minute Rule Bill’ with cross-party support to stop the privatisation of the NHS and return it to its founding principles. Labour Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott came out to speak in support at the protest.

More pictures: NHS Bill protest at Parliament

Trident Mad Hatters Tea Party – Parliament Sq

CND members were lobbying MPs at Parliament against plans to replace Trident at a cost of at least £205 billion.

And on the square facing the Houses of Parliament was a ‘Mad Hatters Tea Party’, as well as Christians with placards stating the opposition by churches of the different denominations to the replacement.

Trident Mad Hatters Tea Party

Solidarity for Wood St cleaners – City of London

The strike by cleaners at the 100 Wood St offices managed by CBRE was now the longest running industrial dispute in the history of the City of London.

The cleaners belong to the United Voices of the World union and are employed by anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning.

Unite the Resistance, the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, Class War and others had come to support the United Voices of the World. After a rally opposite the Wood Street offices, then marched around the block and then went on hold a rally blocking the street outside the CBRE offices at St Martin’s Court.

Solidarity for Wood St cleaners

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Wool Against Weapons

Monday, August 9th, 2021

The seven-mile long scarf was joined up at 1pm

On Saturday 9th August 2014 I took a bike ride outside London, putting my bike on the train to Reading, from where I cycled west to Burghfield and on to Aldermaston. It was Nagasaki Day, remembering August 9th 1945, when the US exploded an atomic bomb at the city of Nagasaki, killing around 80,000 people, and CND were holding an unusual protest, stretching out a seven mile long knitted scarf between the two factories where Britain’s atomic war heads are made. 69 years after the bomb was dropped, the UK government was about to vote on huge spending on a new nuclear weapons system, and CND were calling for Trident and its replacement to be scrapped.

‘Drop Stitches Not Bombs’ at the Burghfield end of the 7-mile scarf

I’d taken my bike, both to get to Burghfield from Reading but also so that I could cycle along the whole seven mile length of the protest and photograph the scarf along the way. A bike was ideal for this, as I could easily cover the whole distance and unlike a car you can jump off anywhere and take pictures. But for the moment when all the lengths of wool were joined up, I jumped off my bike and ran along the first section of the scarf, taking picture after picture.

Joining up the lengths of scarf

Here’s some of what I wrote in my 2014 post Wool Against Weapons along with a few of the pictures I took along the road.

”Groups from all over the country and some from France brought long rolled up lengths of knitted and crocheted scarves, made in individual sections and joined together. A lot of planning was needed to make sure that there were enough rolls and they were taken to the right places to be unrolled and joined together, but it all worked on the day.”

One of many banners on the fence around AWE Aldermaston

“The project involved a very large number of people, many of whom had taken no active part in protests against nuclear weapons before, but who are convinced that we should not waste public money on the Trident replacement – money that could be put to something useful like keeping our NHS running.”

‘NHS Not Trident’

“I cycled to Burghfield from Reading, and arrived just over two and a half hours before the whole scarf was scheduled to be joined up at 1pm. After taking some pictures around the end of the scarf there, I got back on my bike and cycled slowly along the route of the scarf to Aldermaston, stopping at all of the ‘mile points’ which were the bases for the various regional groups (and a ‘faith’ group) and also where people were busy laying out the rolls of scarf and joining them up and taking photographs. It took me around an hour and a quarter to get to the Aldermaston end of the scarf at the fence around the AWE there.”

Protesters at Burghfield

“I made it back to Burghfield – with just a few stops for more pictures – in half an hour. It helped that there is quite a long downhill section and the wind was behind me, but I wanted to be sure to be back well before the planned ‘linking time’ of 1pm.”

At side roads the scarf could be lifted to allow cars through.

“I took pictures at Burghfield of the linking when people rang bells at 1pm, then started running along the scarf, stopping to photograph the people holding it up. After almost a mile I gave up and returned back to Burghfield where a rally was to start at 1.30pm.”


More pictures on My London Diary at Wool Against Weapons.

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