Posts Tagged ‘UK’

More from Belper – 2015

Saturday, December 30th, 2023

More from Belper – In 2015 we stayed with my younger son and family in Belper for a few days after Christmas, and on 30th and 31th December I took some time going around the town and taking pictures.

More from Belper

Belper was important as a bridging point on the River Derwent and it was the power from this river that led the Jedediah Strutt, a partner of the better-known Richard Arkwright to build the world’s second water-powered cotton mill here around 1781. He build another mill, the North Mill three years later. When this burnt down in 1803, his son William Strutt replaced it by the current ‘fireproof’ North Mill. Its iron frame and brick arches with brick and tile floors made it one of the most technically advanced buildings of its age.

More from Belper
East Mill and lower North Mill

The Strutt’s built up Belper tremendously, providing housing for their workers, including the listed terraces of Long Row where I was staying as well as three churches of different denominations as the climbed the social ladder.

More from Belper

The mills and other buildings here are a part of the World Heritage Site, and the North Mill houses the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre, and adjoining this is a soft play centre and a restaurant, but at least in 2015 part of the mill complex were still in use by Courtaulds making stockings.

More from Belper

Belper played an important part in the industrial revolution in the UK, but also kick-started large-scale manufacturing in the USA. Samuel Slater who had worked in the mill here from a young age and was apprenticed to Strutt in 1782 learnt all the secrets of the trade and in 1789, when he was 21, crossed the Atlantic to Pawtucket in Rhode Island and began the US textile industry, becoming known as “The Father of the American Industrial Revolution” – or in Belper as “Slater the Traitor”.

Belper’s most famous landmark is the Accrington red-brick East Mill with its distinctive tower, built by the English Sewing Company in 1912. The buildings across the Ashbourne Road from this are all more modern.

Strutt put weirs across the river to hold back the water and provide a supply for the mills, also producing a lake beside which are the Riverside Gardens. Water from close to this first weir was still in use to power turbines for the electrical supply to the mill. The larger Horseshoe Weir was built in 1797 and raised in height in the 1840s but is apparently unchanged since then.

Jedediah had built a Unitarian Chapel when he first came to Belper in 1778 still in use today, but later the family built a Congregational Church with a spire and finally the Anglican St Peters, with a tall slender tower to make them stand out. The Congregational church became unsafe and was closed around 1981, but was later converted into housing.

Other industries came to Belper too, but most or all have now moved away, including a chocolate factory and another making Swafega.

Our final morning before catching the train from home – at Strutt’s insistence the line through the town was in a cutting with every street having its bridge over it so as to disturn the town as little as possible – began with a visit to Belper to buy food for our journey at Fresh Basil before going to another of the town’s many tea rooms, worth a visit both for the cakes and the impressive loo.

Although Belper’s Christmas lights were not impressive, its guerilla knitters had been hard at work decorating the town centre, and I still had time to photograph some of their impressive works before going to the station.

Many more pictures from our 2015 visit on My London Diary at Belper – World Heritage Site.

FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis
London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

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

Wedding ‘Die-In’ Against Afghanistan Massacres

Saturday, May 27th, 2023

Wedding ‘Die-In’ Against Afghanistan Massacres: It was a cool and damp morning when I got on my bike to cycle the 19 or so miles to Northwood station on Wednesday 27th May 2009, my route though the outer western suburbs of London. I locked my bike at the Metropolitan line station and joined around 30 protesters, including two couples dressed as bride and groom waiting for the start of the march, watched by rather more police.

Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan Massacres

Two years earlier, on 27th May 2009, US forces had bombed a wedding party at Haji Nabu in Afghanistan killing 47 civilians; this was just one of a number of wedding parties massacred by NATO or US forces who killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan – and three weeks before the protest another attack in Farah province had killed around 120 people, mainly women and children. Gatherings of civilians for any reason were too often misinterpreted as a threat to the occupying forces.

Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan Massacres

‘HMS Warrior’, the land-based Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood in London is the command centre for British and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Voices in the Wilderness UK, Justice Not Vengeance and London and Oxford Catholic Workers had planned a ‘die-in’ as an act of non-violent civil disobedience at its main entrance.

Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan Massacres
John McDonnell MP speaks before the start of the march

Negotiations with police took place and eventually the police allowed the marchers to proceed along the roads towards the military base. The marchers were stopped several times on the way and had to threaten to block the road with a die-in if they were not allowed to proceed.

Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan Massacres

Around 200 metres from the main gate the road was firmly blocked by a line of police and the organisers decided to hold the die-in on the road there. Around half the protesters lay down on the road. Fortunately the organisers had come with a supply of black bin bags to put on the wet surface, but it was still cold and uncomfortable, and the rain, although light, was steady.

The rest of the protesters stayed on the wide verge and began reading out the names of civilians killed in Afghanistan. Among those taking part in the protest were Maya Evans and Milan Rai who were arrested in 2005 for reading out the names of Iraqis and British soldiers killed in the Iraq War, opposite the Cenotaph in Whitehall. For this Rai became the first person to be convicted under SOCPA for organising an unauthorised demonstration in the vicinity of Parliament. Also at the protest was Hillingdon MP John McDonnell.

Hertfordshire police had previously given the protesters a warning under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. They gave a further warning once people had ‘died’ on the roadway, but stood watching. After around 15 minutes, a second officer gave a warning that unless people cleared the road they would be moved, and said that they had 5 minutes to decide.

Twenty minutes later a final warning was issued, and then groups of police moved to each protester on the road in turn. Each was told they were committing an offence and that unless they moved they would be carried to the side of the road, and that if they attempted to move back on to the road they would be arrested.

At this point some protesters got up an moved, but most waited for the police to remove them. Most went limp and were fairly carefully lifted and deposited on the verge with a warning they would be arrested should they return to the road. I saw one man being arrested and taken away when he did so and was later told that there were five other arrests.

When the road was clear the press was also threatened with arrest and could only cover the event from the side of the road. Previously we had been allowed to cover the event without much interference, as I commented “For once I was only told to get out of the way when I was really in the way. There were some FIT officers from the Met present – let’s hope they take some intelligence back to their force about how to police protest.”

The protesters had only intended for the die-in to last an hour, and it was three-quarters of an hour before the road was finally cleared. After a short delay the police allowed the remaining protesters to march back down the road to the station. It was still raining as I unlocked my bike and rode home.

Renationalise UK Railways

Sunday, January 1st, 2023

Anniversaries are strange things, and some get celebrated while others are ignored. I don’t think there was a great deal of mention that a couple of days ago was the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the USSR, whose existence dominated much of world history for the following sixty-eight years – and without which, for all its faults, Hitler would have won the Second World War and I would have grown up in a fascist state. Thought at the moment the UK seems well on the way to becoming one under the whole raft of bills our government is in process of enacting.

Renationalise UK Railways

But today, in the middle of strikes by various unions against the government refusal to allow employers to engage meaningfully in negotiation with workers in the public sector and heavily tax-payer supported sectors, particularly the privatised railways, its perhaps appropriate to recall that this is the 100th anniversary of a truly significant date for our railway system, the 1923 regrouping of our railways into the ‘Big Four’ of the LNER, GWR, SR, and LMSR.

Renationalise UK Railways

The Railways Act 1921 which led to the regrouping was enacted to stem the losses that the railways – around 120 separate companies – were suffering from and to provide the kind of integrated service that had benefited the country when the railways had been run by government during and after the 1914-8 war until 1921.

Renationalise UK Railways
Dartford Bridge and Channel Tunnel Rail link, West Thurrock, Essex

The government then resisted calls for full nationalisation but integrated the rail services on a regional basis. They had also wanted to bring in more worker participation in the running of the railways, but this was opposed by the rail companies and was dropped.


Not all the railways in the UK were included but it did lead to integrated services on the great majority of lines, with the advantages in running the system that this provided. A significant omission were some of the commuter lines around London which were in 1933 amalgamated together with buses and trams into the London Passenger Transport Board.

The rail system was further integrated by the 1947 act which nationalised the ‘Big Four’. Depression in the 1930s had essentially bankrupted them, but the extra traffic in the war and shortly after had just kept them alive. British Railways essentially retained the regional territories of the four companies though setting up a separate Scottish region and dividing the old LNER territory into two for some years.

British Railways (it became British Rail in 1965) had ambitious plans for modernisation in 1955, which included electrification of some major lines and the replacement of steam by diesel locomotives. The plan was severely cut by government and parts were rushed and poorly implemented, with the forecast cuts in costs being largely a pipe-dream.

The railways were stopped by government from making much of the investment needed, and instead reports in 1963 and 1965 led to a severe pruning of the network. Dr Beeching is widely seen as having been influenced by the car industry who wanted to promote the use of their vehicles rather than rail travel. In recent years some of those closed lines have been reopened but unfortunately many key locations have been allowed to be built over.

A 1968 act created a number of passenger transport executives in large urban areas, which took over the management of local lines and prevented some even more extreme closures. And in 1982 British Rail was re-organised into sectors – ‘Inter-City’, and what later became called Network South-East and Regional Railways and several freight groups. In the main sectors there were separate sub-sectors and it isn’t clear to me whether there was any real advance in services from this splitting of responsibilities, though it did mean a rash of different coloured trains.

But sectorisation was perhaps just a preparation for privatisation, which took place in 1994-7. Although the number of passengers using the railways has increased since then, so too have the subsidies, largely being passed on as dividends to the foreign state-owned companies who are now paid to run our rail services. As British taxpayers we are now subsidising French, Italian, German and Dutch railways.

Now there is increasing public demand for our rail services to be re-nationalised – with opinion polls showing a a huge majority of the public backing public ownership, even in the ‘red-wall’ parliamentary seats the Tories won in the last General Election. According to fact checkers Full Fact, “64% of the 1,500 adults polled in June 2018 said they would support renationalising the railways. 19% said they would oppose it, and 17% said they didn’t know.” The latest YouGov poll in November 2022 showed slightly greater support with now only 11% opposed and 23% of ‘Don’t Knows’.

I’ve never been a railway photographer and had to search hard to find any pictures to go with this post. The lower two are from the West Drayton to Staines line closed in the 1960s.

Human Chain Around Parliament – Free Assange!

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Last Saturday, 8th October 2022, I photographed a protest in London against the imprisonment and possible extradition of Julian Assange, currrently held in the UK’s maximum security jail at Belmarsh.

Human Chain Around Parliament - Free Assange!

Assange’s “crime” was to publish documents about US war crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and elswhere, making documents downloaded by Chelsea Manning, making them available after suitable redaction to protect the individuals concerned to the world’s press and to the public on WikiLeaks. Wikipedia has a good and fairly detailed entry on him which most of the details here come from.

Human Chain Around Parliament - Free Assange!

If extradited to the US he would be put on trial in a area where the jury would be composed of people from an area with strong connections to the US security services who will already have pre-judged him as guilty. His sentence is likely to amount to 175 years in a US maximum security jail, probably in isolation and never to be freed.

Human Chain Around Parliament - Free Assange!

In 2010 Sweden issued an extradition warrant for him on allegations of sexual misconduct, which were widely seen as a pretext to enable him to be extradited from Sweden to face criminal charges in the USA. When in 2012 he lost his fight against extradition to Sweden he jumped bail to take refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he lived in highly restricted accomodation until 2019.

A new government in Ecuador decided to end his asylum in the embassy and invited police in to arrest him in April 2019; he was then sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail. The Swedish sexual charges against him were dropped later in the year, but the USA immediately began proceedings to extradite him to face trial under the US 1917 Espionage Act.

The decision to use this Act has been widely criticised in the press and elsewhere as being an attack on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees press freedom. And if Assange is guilty then it seems clear that the editors of the newspapers that published the revelations he made in publising the Baghdad airstrike Collateral Murder video, the Afghanistan war logs, the Iraq war logs and other material could also be prosecuted. Even my publishing the link to the video could be a crime.

Assange’s sentence was completed in September 2019, but he was kept in jail because of the US extradition claim. He had been visited earlier by Nils Melzer, the United Nations special rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, who, as quoted on Wikipedia found “in addition to physical ailments, Mr Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

After a protracted hearing including much medical evidence, a judge on 4 January 2021 ruled that Assange could not be extradited to the USA on grounds of mental health and the suicide risk in a US prison cell. The USA appealed the decision, and Assange remained in jail. The High Court rejected much of the medical evidence, believed the US lies of fair treatment made and found in favour of the USA on 10 December 2021.

In April his extradition was formally approved in court and referred to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who approved it in June. But the legal battle continues with a new appeal. Essentially Assange has now been locked up for 10 years. Wikileaks has continued his work in releasing information in his absence. The continuing persecution by both the UK and USA for revealing their war crimes seems spiteful and malicious.

On Saturday 8th October I photographed a protest in London by around 10,000 people who formed a human chain calling for Assange to be freed and not to be extradited around the Houses of Parliament, crossing the river on Westminster Bridge and returning across Lambeth Bridge, a distance of a little over two kilometres.

It’s difficult to know how many took part, but there seemed to be enough people to join hands, with quite a few to spare in some parts where people were shoulder to shoulder and some to spare. The organisers had thought they would need around 5,000 so I think it was probably rather more than that; estimates I’ve seen range from 3,000 to 12,000. But as well as those present in person, many unable to get to Londonwere represented by yellow sashes with their names on them.

When I arrived people were tying these to the railings around the Houses of Parliament, but police came to remove them, handing them back to the protesters. They said nothing was allowed to be fixed to the railings. Many of the protesters held or wore the sashes for the protest, and although I don’t often take part in the protests I’m photographing, most of these pictures were taken by me with a sash reading ‘#Free Assange Monique Dits Belgium‘ around my neck.

At around 1.30, rather later than planned people were told to link hands and they chanted ‘Free Assange’ and other slogans for a few minutes. I’d chosen to be on Lambeth Bridge for this as I could then take photographs with the Houses of Parliament seen across the Thames in the backgound.

After taking some there I made my way along the rest of the chain back to Parliament, on my way passing John McDonnell being interviewed by a videographer. Normally I would have stopped to talk to him, but by now I was rather tired, still suffering a little from my booster jab the previous day and I carried on, past a small crowd of people with video and still cameras three or four deep around Jeremy Corbyn. But I’d decided he wasn’t really the story and carried on. I’ve photographed him enough times over the many years I’ve known him.

You can see more of the pictures I made in the album Human Chain Around Parliament Says Free Assange.

Turkey and Voting Systems

Monday, July 25th, 2022

Turkey and Voting Systems – Saturday 25th July 2015, seven years ago today,wasn’t a particularly busy day for me in London, and I covered only three protests. What caught my attention, because of our current political situation was a protest following the May 2015 election over the unfairness of our current voting system. The other two were about repression in another country which has featured greatly in the news recently particularly over the export of grain from the Ukraine, our NATO ally Turkey.

Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail – Kingsway

Turkey and Voting Systems

Steve Kaczynski, born in Scotland was at one time employed by the BBC World Service as an expert on Turkey. He was arrested in April 2015 during a raid on a left-wing Turkish cultural centre on suspicion of being a British spy and was still in jail without charge, now on hunger strike.

Turkey and Voting Systems

Kaczynski was at the centre to show international solidarity against fascism when it was raided by Turkish police following a hostage incident in a courthouse where a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed, but there is no evidence that he was in any way involved with the incident.

Turkey and Voting Systems

The Turkish media has made much of rumours leaked by the government that he was a British or German spy, but those who know him find this impossible to believe. His arrest appears to be part of a systematic programme by the AKP Turkish government to intimidate any political opposition.

The protest outside the building housing the Counsellor’s Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy on Kingsway, close to Holborn Station, included some from the British left as well as the Turkish Popular Front in the UK. Those who knew him described him as a kind and gentle man who abhors violence and has long campaigned for human rights and political freedom. The protesters handed out leaflets to people passing by and made a lot of noise singing and chanting, but the office was closed on a Saturday morning and it was unlikely that there was anyone in there to hear them.

Steve Kaczynski was finally released three months later, after surviving a 61 day hunger strike.

Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail

Make seats match votes – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Great Britain in balloons, viewed from the north-west tip of the Scottish mainland

The May 2015 General Election resulted in the Conservative Party who got only 36.8% of the votes, just a little over a third, being returned with an overall majority, though only a small one.

A lone Green balloon on the south coast – and not enough room to put in the London area

Our first past the post constituency-based electoral system brings in huge differences based on both which party you vote for and the area in which you live. There was a Tory MP elected for every 34, 241 Tory voters, a Labour MP for every 40,290 Labour voters, but a Lib-Dem for every 301,990 Lib-Demo Voters and only 1 UKIP and one Green MP despite their parties getting 3,881,099 and 1,157,630 votes respectively. Two small parties with significant votes got no MPs at all.

A petition had been started before the election by Owen Winter, the independent member of the youth parliament for Cornwall, got over 200,000 signatures in a week or two and their were other similar well-supported petitions on other sites calling for voting reform and a system of proportional representation that would result in a government that reflected how people voted – signed in total by more than half a million people.

The protest included a map of the UK made by balloons of different colours for the various parties holding seats in the UK, which doubtless made sense for anyone sitting in a helicopter above the event but was pretty well impossible to see and photograph clearly at ground level.

After a short introduction, people went through the ‘map’ with pins popping balloons for the constituencies where no candidate got over 50% of the votes. Again this was hard to make visual sense out of at ground level.

What seemed to me lacking – apart from the other 499,000 or so who had signed the petitions – was any clear suggest of how a fairer voting system might work, though on My London Diary I put forward one suggestion which might work as well as retaining some of the advantages of the present system. But almost any system of PR would give us a fairer result than the current one, popular with the Conservatives and Labour as it entrenches their unfair advantage. Although the SNP also benefit from the current system they support electoral reform.

Make seats match votes

Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre – Downing St

32 Young activists were massacred by ISIS at Suruc on their way with toys, books and other materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobani (or Kobane). Kurds and supporters protested at Downing St, blaming our NATO ally Turkey for supporting ISIS.

People hold pictures of some of those killed by ISIS

Kobani is a Kurdish-majority city in northern Syria, close to the Syria–Turkey border, which became a part of Rojava, the autonomous area in the north of Syria under Kurdish control as a consequence of the Syrian Civil War. It was beseiged by ISIS from September 2014 to January 2015, and the defeat of ISIS in the area by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, backed by US air support was a key turning point in the war against Islamic State.

Turkey has carried out a campaign of repression against the Kurds in Turkey who in return have been trying, sometimes by military means, to free themselves from Turkish domination which treats them as inferior citizens, outlawing their language and culture, and kidnapped and still holds their leader, Abdullah Ocalan. More recently Turkey has invaded parts of Rojava, and the Kobani area accepted the Syrian Army and their Russian support into the area in an attempt to protect it from Turkish invasion.

Turkey allows ISIS to operate on and across their border, as well as assisting them in the smuggling out of oil and other goods through Turkey vital in their economic support. They have also allowed recruits and supplies to reach them through Turkey. They appear to hope that ISIS will solve the Kurdish problem for them by defeating the Kurds in Iraq ad Syria.

After many speeches, including one by Edmonton MP Kate Osamor who has many Kurds in her constituency, they marched off towards the BBC which they say ignores attacks on Kurds and routinely sides, like the British Government with the Turkish government against them.

Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre

Bill Jay and Album

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Although I’d had a strong interest in photography since my early years, probably first inspired by magazines such as Picture Post in my childhood, followed by the gift from a middle-class relative of a large stack of pre-war National Geographic magazines. In my early teens I saved for well over a year from my minimal pocket money and Christmas and birthday gifts to buy a Halina 35mm camera – and then spent more years becoming familiar with it before I could afford to buy a film and pay for it to be processed; it was only a dozen or so years later that I had both cash and the opportunity to seriously take up photography.

That was around 1970, and it was at an interesting period in the history of photography in the UK. One of the key things for me at the time was coming across a magazine on the top shelf at a newsagents called ‘Creative Camera‘ which changed my ideas about our medium.

I can’t now remember which was the first issue I bought, and though I’ve kept my copies from back then I also in the following years bought some of the earlier issues to add to my collection, along with some early issues of another and far more short-lived publication, Album. This lasted only for a dozen monthly issues, and I think I came across it at its end and was one of those who responded to a plea to subscribe at the time of what turned out to be its final issue. This was a great disappointment, and it didn’t help not to get my money back despite the promises. You can now read all 12 issues online.

Much later I heard stories from some of the many photographers who had sent in portfolios to Album and had not had them returned (I never heard anyone tell me their work was returned) about their photographs having been sold without their knowledge or consent. At the time I didn’t myself have any work worth sending.

I didn’t at the time know personally any of the people who were behind these two publications and I’ve found it interesting to watch recently the film ‘Do Not Bend‘ about Bill Jay and more recently to listen to the series of podcasts by Grant Scott ‘In Search of Bill Jay‘, still being added to.

During the years concerned I lived in Manchester, Leicester and Bracknell, all well away from where things were happening in London, though I did briefly become a member and go to some photographic events at the ICA, possibly still when Jay was around. But I never go to know any of the small clique at the centre of things then, though I came across some of them later through Creative Camera, the Photographers Gallery, which I belonged to for well over 30 years before giving up my membership in disgust, and elsewhere.

Grant Scott has certainly been thorough with his research and has pointed out in the podcasts a number of errors particularly in the accounts of the early years of both magazines by Gerry Badger. But there is a problem common to all such research in that it largely relies on recordings and publications along with some very fallible memories of those key players still living. There is a very large body of writing and recording of Bill Jay himself, and though Scott has already pointed out some of its inconsistencies, I think he has perhaps not taken full account of a deal of self-aggrandisement within Jay’s talks and writing.

And although London with Album and Creative Camera was certainly the epi-centre of a new life for photography in the UK, things were happening around the country in many ways in the 1970s and though Jay certainly was at its centre at the start he left the country having helped light the fuse.

I came to spend quite a lot of time (and money) at the Creative Camera bookroom in London and did later send my work to that magazine, with several rejections before a small group of pictures appeared in the last of their albums.

Jim Hughes wrote about Bill Jay in a post on ‘The Online Photographer’, Bill Jay’s Vision, in 2012, and he quotes from two speeches by Jay that make interesting reading. I’ll end with two short excerpts from these quotes – but do click and read the rest, including Hughes own comments and those by others at the end of the article:

“I have no desire to be considered a photographer. I got into photography because I loved the medium and I admired the people who became photographers.”

“And my big fear is that the histories of photography in the future will be based on the photographers who were saleable through galleries, not through the best photographers in the medium.

“We need people who understand the history of the medium and have standards, who are saying ‘photography has something extraordinarily important to say about our culture, our society, our political system’—these are the things we should be looking at and caring about.”

Bill Jay – ICP Infinity Award acceptance speech, 2008

Cost of Living Protest – 2022

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Cost of Living Protest – 2022
Last Saturday, 2nd April 2022, I photographed a protest opposite Downing Street organised by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Stop the War Coalition. The People’s Assembly said on their web page:

Public outrage over the Cost of Living Crisis is growing fast and our response is gaining momentum. Right now is the time for us all to come together in unity and build our collective resistance.
Now is the time to get out onto the streets to send a clear message to the government that we refuse to pay for their crisis.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

The protest in London was one of 25 in cities around the country against the price increases and National Insurance contribution raise which will mean the largest fall in living standards since records began 80 years ago and a fall in real wages greater than ever in the past 200 years.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

The Spring Statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak made clear that it is the lower paid workers (and students), pensioners, those on benefits and the public sector workers in particular who will pay the price, while putting in place measures to protect big business and high earners.

Pay inequality in the UK – the ratio between what the average worker earns and the pay (including bonuses) of the bosses of leading companies – has risen spectacularly in recent years. Had the minimum wage kept up the the rise in what they are paid it would now be over £25 an hour – but went up on April 1st to £9.50 an hour for those aged 23 and over – with lower rates for younger workers.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022

Food banks are now struggling to keep up with demand, and report that some people coming to them are turning down anything which requires heating up as they cannot afford gas or electricity. Advice workers say more and more people are coming to them who have to chose between heating and eating – and many can only eat basics on alternate days and are depriving themselves of food to feed their children.

Cost of Living Protest - 2022
London, UK. 2 Apr 2022

I listened to the UK’s leading money-saving expert saying he had run out of tips to help people cope – and most of the advice he and others have given on energy saving are things we have always done in our household.

My wife and I have relatively low outgoings, living in a house we own and choosing not to own a car. Over the years we’ve been able to invest large amounts in double-glazing and insulation – and a few solar panels to supply a little of our electricity needs. When we moved in 48 years ago to a small Victorian semi built for agricultural workers we replaced the draughty rattling windows and draught-proofed doors. We decided central heating would be wasteful, so our energy bills are relatively low. Even so, they have now roughly doubled from what they were a year ago, with more increases coming later in the year. But we will be able to get by even though our income is low. Others are much less fortunate.

Jeremy Corbyn - Cost of Living Protest - 2022
London, UK. 2 Apr 2022. Jeremy Corbyn.

And in particular the effects on disabled people are savage and shameful. Research shows they are five times as likely to be at risk of food insecurity and twice as likely to be living in cold homes as the non-disabled. And in a particularly targeted cruel and inhuman decision around 210,000 people on disability benefits have now been barred from claiming the Warm Home Discount payment despite the fact that they often have greater than normal needs for heating, hot water and energy to run specialist equipment.

More pictures from the event online at Downing Street Cost of Living Protest, London, 2 Apr 2022

Organised Crime – Public & Private Sector

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

I don’t know who drew the often published cartoon which shows a young boy talking with his father and saying “Dad, I’m considering a career in organised crime” to which his father replies ‘Government or Private Sector”, but it comes to mind when thinking about the secret UK-Iran business meeting which I photographed Ahwazi activists and Peter Tatchell gate-crashing on July 3rd 2015. Though the UK-Iran crimes involve both sectors.

To take pictures I had to rush in with the group of protesters to the National Iranian Oil Company offices in Westminster, which are clearly private property and I Would probably be committing an offence, but I felt there was a clear public interest in covering the protest by the Hashem Shabani Action Group against the exploitation and environmental destruction of their homeland by Iran and the UK and the long history of anti-Arab oppression by the Tehran regime.

Fortunately I was able to enter the building without being personally confronted by the security staff who were busy trying to grab some of the protesters, and along with two other photographers and a couple of videographers was able to run up the six flights of stairs to the floor where the secret meeting was taking place, though I was in a pretty poor state by the time I reached the top landing, worried I might collapse. I was after all probably around 20 years older than most of the others, though only seven older than Peter Tatchell.

I did manage to photograph the peaceful protest inside the meeting, where most of those present were enjoying a buffet lunch, and to take some pictures of the confrontation in the corridor outside, where one youngish man in a blue suit, thought by the protesters to be an Iranian military officer, became rather violent and assaulted another of the photographers. But the corridor was dimly lit and some of my pictures were less than sharp, mainly blurred by moving subjects with the slowish shutter speed I needed.

I may have mentioned in other posts that I very seldom watch TV. I last lived with a TV back in 1968, when I got married and moved into a flat without one, and since then it’s been something I just don’t have time for in my life. Of course I’ve watched TV elsewhere – and can do so now by computer, but its never become a regular habit. One of the consequences of this is that there are many celebrities and public figures that I don’t easily recognise, only hearing them on radio or seeing the occasional picture in the press. So although Lord Lamont or Tory MP Richard Bacon, leader of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, both leading the call for the peaceful and non-violent Hashem Shabani Action Group, (motto ‘Our weapons are pens. Our bullets are words‘), to be banned as a terrorist group were present, I failed to get newsworthy pictures of them.

Having made their point, the protesters decided to leave and I went with them, only to be stopped by police in the foyer of the building. We were prevented from leaving despite showing our press cards, but told we were not under arrest. The photographer who had been assaulted complained to the police, who went upstairs to ask questions, returning after a few minutes to say that the perpetrator probably had diplomatic immunity, and the photographer decided not to press charges.

Eventually after around 45 minutes – during which the building manager brought us fruit juice – press and protesters were allowed to leave and join those outside who had been unable to get past security for more photographs.

More on My London Diary about the dubious history of Britain and Iranian oil and the protest at Ahwazi crash secret UK-Iran business meeting.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.