Posts Tagged ‘Westminster Abbey’

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Broad Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey. 28th June 2014

The Independent Living Fund, ILF, was introduced in 1988 to provide financial support to disabled people with high support needs, including those with severe learning difficulties, cerebral palsy, and a variety of other conditions.

Around 18,000 people relied on the ILF, mainly using the average of £300 a week it provided to employ personal assistants or carers to enable them to live independently, enabling some to work and pursue careers. It was administered independently from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who provided the funding.

The ILF scheme was closed to new applicants in 2010 and the responsibility for providing support in England was passed to local authorities with the ILF ending on 30th June 2015.

There were various problems with the ILF, with regional variations, but the primary reason behind the changes was probably to cut costs. Although the government promised to provide funding to the local authorities for a transitional period, this was around 13% less than under the ILF, and the money, given to cash-strapped authorities already subject to swingeing cuts was not ring-fenced, and so likely to be appropriated for other purposes.

Local authorities were also not given any clear instructions or advice on how to proceed and there were great variations between local authorities in the support that was provided. A survey a year after the end of the scheme showed extreme differences, with some authorities providing similar levels of support to the ILF, but others operating at much reduced levels, creating the real hardship that protests such as this on Saturday 28th June 2014 campaigned against. The loss of ILF was indeed a disaster for many disabled people.

DPAC and others involved in the protest had managed to keep the details hidden from the police, perhaps because it is more difficult for able-bodied police working as undercover officers to infiltrate disabled groups. UK Uncut has provided a diversion with a protest outside Boots on Victoria St when DPAC and Occupy London supporters moved on to the green area in front of Westminster Abbey.

The protesters had hoped for some support from Westminster Abbey authorities as many Christians had called the government’s actions immoral. But they had picked the wrong place, and the Dean of Westminster refused even to talk to the protesters, calling on the police to get rid of them. Labour MP John McDonnell tried without success to phone the Dean who refused to take his call or to phone back.

The weather too was against the protesters, with rain falling steadily, and for once a police officer showed some quick thinking, moving to stand in the middle of the main tent the protesters were attempting to erect, without which there was simply not enough shelter for a lengthy occupation.

I was unsure whether I wanted to go inside the area or not when I arrived, and soon police were surrounding the fairly low wall stopping people from climbing over. But I was able to take pictures from outside and move around freely – and to go home when I decided there seemed to be little point in staying.

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF
UK Uncut ‘Boot Out Boots’

Anti-Christ at the Abbey

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

I can’t understand how anyone Christian could condone the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 50 years of continuous nuclear threat by British submarines armed with nuclear missiles.  It seemed obscene and blasphemous, a total negation of the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

I’ve never really been a pacifist, believing that sometimes in extreme circumstances it can be the lesser of evils to pick up weapons and fight. I think I would have been prepared to fight the Nazis in World War II, though the question didn’t arise, as Hitler gave up the struggle a week before I was born. And had I been in South Africa under apartheid I would have found it hard not to support the armed struggle, and if I could have been of any use to have taken a part in it. There are times when its vital to fight for justice.

But fortunately I’ve never been faced with difficult decisions like that, though I did turn down the offer of interesting research on explosives when I graduated. Our country has not been under existential threat since the defeat of Germany in 1945, and the wars in which we have engaged have seldom been just or even in any way sensible, fighting to hang on to our colonies or enlarge our commercial sphere of influence. Chasing weapons of mass destruction we knew did not exist.

Nuclear weapons in particular are pointless – and extremely dangerous. Weapons that would only be used when we were about to be anihilated whether or not we used them, unless they were used by accident – and we now know that such an accident was only averted when one Russian officer had the good sense to disobey his orders.

Nuclear weapons are also very expensive – and the vast sums to be spent on replacing Trident could be spent so much more usefully on so many other things – and end the cuts to vital services.

Rather confusingly there were two protest vigils taking place opposite Westminster Abbey while the service was taking place there, one by CND and the other by Christian CND. Both were on the opposite side of the road to the church, but separated by a few yards. Christian CND I think held a short service and vigil, while the main CND protest culminated in a die-in on the wide pavement – and I think some came from the Christian CND vigil to join them.

Police made it a little difficult to photograph this event, with photographers being moved from the road in front of the protest at various times, and both photographers and protesters were made to come down from a wall at the back of the pavement which gave a better view of the people entering the Abbey for the service. There was higher than usual security as a couple of royas were attending the service, though one CND protester did manage to walk inside the Abbey, though was fairly soon removed and brought back across the road.

More pictures: Die-In against Nuclear Weapons celebration.