Posts Tagged ‘Victory Day’

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – 2013

Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day – Saturday 14th September 2013 was a very mixed day for me, beginning with a victory celebration by hospital campaigners in Lewisham, then moving to Westminster for a protest celebrating secularism in Whitehall before finally photographing a highly religious Malta Day celebration at Westminster Cathedral.


Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

Lewisham Hospital is a highly successful and well run hospital serving a large area of South London, and when the government planned to close large areas of its services there was a huge public outcry, with large marches to keep it open, as closure would have severely damaged the health service in the area.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The planned closure was not in response to any failure by Lewisham; it’s sole purpose was to allow the NHS to continue to make massive PFI repayments due from the building of other London hospitals through contracts that were badly negotiated when interest rates were high and have already delivered huge profits to the lenders.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

As well as a hugely successful public campaign, both Lewisham Council and the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign went separately to the High Court for Judicial Review of the decision by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and both were successful.

Lewisham, Secular Europe & Malta Day

The immediate response of the Health Secretary was to announce he would appeal the two decisions, and the campaign had launched a petition calling on him to accept the defeat gracefully and not waste any further time or taxpayers money over the appeal. Given the clear judgement of the court any appeal seemed unlikely to succeed.

The government also intend to change the law to make it much more difficult for people to contest their decisions in the courts after being defeated on this and other cases where they have failed to give proper consideration to policies. But having a government which seems to think ‘sod the law, we’re going to do as we like‘ doesn’t seem at all healthy for democracy.

The Victory Parade was rather smaller than the earlier protests which had brought thousands out onto the streets of Lewisham, with perhaps a little fewer than five hundred people, though more turned up to take part in the celebration event at the end of the parade in Ladywell Fields. But perhaps marching now seemed less important, and the poor weather will have put some off.

At the front of the parade was a Lewisham Council dustcart with large posters on it and following it were marchers with a small street band. Among those marching were two nurses wearing their uniforms from the Olympic opening ceremony, some ‘Olympic’ drummers and others in medical uniforms.

More pictures on My London Diary at Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade.


Secular Europe Protest – Downing St

Around a hundred people had marched from Temple to a rally opposite Downing Street for the 6th annual Secular Europe Campaign protest celebrating secularism and demanding an end to religious discrimination and indoctrination.

As well as the protest in London there was also a similar protest taking place in Krakow, Poland, a country where politics are still very much dominated by the Catholic Church.

Things are rather different in the UK, but we still have the anomaly of 26 Church of England bishops sitting in the House of Lords, reflected in some of the campaigners wearing paper versions of a Bishop’s mitre with the number 26 on the front.

We obviously need reform of the House of Lords, but the bishops seem to me a minor issue and are among the more sensible and progressive members of the house. There are still 92 hereditary peers, as well as many more wholly undeserved political appointees, particularly those given a seat as thanks for their political and other services to retiring Prime Ministers. The recent list by Boris Johnson included some that clearly bring our politics into disrepute, and if the list by Liz Truss is approved following her disastrous fifty days in office, our politics will clearly have become a farce.

The campaigners also called for an end to religious indoctrination in schools, though I was pleased to hear one speaker make clear that not all church or religious schools were guilty of this, with many providing a good education that encouraged their pupils to think for themselves.

Others complained about the lack of secular speakers on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day’, and though I think the selection has widened a little in recent years there is certainly still room for a wider choice of viewpoints. And they still have some who make me cringe every time they appear.

Some of the other things that concern the secular movement are religious discrimination against women and gays, abuse of children by the clergy, the teaching of creationism in schools, the anti-abortion lobby and misinformation about contraception and AIDs, religious male circumcision and female genital mutilation, false accusations about witchcraft, Sharia law, forced marriages and the right to die with dignity. And of course many of these concerns are shared with many religious people.

More at Secular Europe Protest.


Malta Day Procession – Westminster Cathedral

Finally I walked to Westminster Cathedral where a Mass was taking place for Malta Day, attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Sarah Richardson, taking pictures as people came out from the church for the procession which was to follow.

Malta Day, actually 8th September, is a public holiday in Malta, the Feast of Our Lady Of Victories or Victory Day. Celebrations in villages there mark the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated in statues of ‘il-Bambina’, one of which was carried in the procession.

The day also celebrates the Victory of the Knights of St John of Malta against the Turks in 1565, a victory over the French in 1800 and the surrender of Italy, then occupying Malta, in 1943.

Fire-crackers were set off in the plaza and a band played before the procession finally set off down Victoria Street.

As well as the statue of ‘il-Bambina’, there were also seeral large and colourful banners, men in the robes of the Knights of Malta, and girls in huge black hooded cloaks (Faldetta or Ghonella), which seemed a little sinister to me. For various personal reasons although I’ve never been there I’ve long regarded Malta as an epitome of religious intolerance.

More pictures at Malta Day Procession.


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