Great March of Return - Stop the Killing
Downing St, London. Sat 7 Apr 2018
2000 protesters packed the area opposite Downing St
A protest at Downing St condemned the shooting by Israeli snipers of
peaceful unarmed Palestinian protesters on the first day of a peaceful protest,
the Great March of Return, at the separation wall in Gaza on Land Day, 30th
Live fire by the Israeli army on Land Day killed 17 and wounded over 750
unarmed protesters. A further nine Palestinians including one journalist
were killed yesterday and 1,350 injured, around 400 by live fire, with around
25 in a critical condition. The protests continue every Friday until Nakba
Day on May 15th.
There were many speeches condemning the Israeli killings, calling for an
end to the siege of Gaza and for peace and a just settlement implementing
the UN resolution allowing refugees to return to their homes and for the
UK government to condemn the Israeli actions.
The only MP to speak was from Sinn Fein, and Baroness Jenny Tonge the only
representative of the Lords (in her speech she asked any MPs or Lords to
raise their hands - and none were raised) but messages of support were read
from Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas. With parliament in recess for Easter
many MPs will have been on holiday, but it seems more likely that it was
the threat of being accused of anti-semitism that kept more away as we are
now living in a situation where any criticism of Israel or support for Palestine
gets pounced on by a small but vocal group and magnified by the media.
There was a small group of right-wing extremists just a few yards along
Whitehall - I counted six when I visited them briefly - waving Israeli flags
and shouting slogans in support of the shootings and against Hamas, but
they were simply ignored - probably few in the large crowd at the protest
heard or saw them.
There were many Jews at the protest, some wearing the badge of Jewish Voice
for Labour, others supporters of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other
groups, some just individuals wanting to show their shame at the actions
of the Israeli government. A speaker from Jewdas recited a prayer for peace
in Hebrew and then in English translation, and Glen Secker of JVL spoke.
At the end of the protest the names of those murdered last week were read
out and there was a two minute silence honouring them. The London protest
was organised by the Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
Palestinian Forum in Britain and Stop the War, and supported by EuroPal,
Olive and Muslim Association of Britain.
Lea Valley Walk
Harpenden to Hatfield, Herts. Wed 4 Apr 2018
Stone bridge across The Broadwater (the River Lea)
at Brocket Park - James Paine 1772-4 Grade II* listed
With some of my family I walked from Harpenden to Hatfield, more or
less following the published Lea Valley Walk, with some minor diversions.
We had planned to do this walk a couple of weeks ago, but cancelled it
twice because of bad weather. Wednesday the forecast wasn't hopeful, but
it turned out to be rather better, with only one short period of heavy rain,
though much of the time it was overcast with the occasional spit of rain.
It's around a mile from Harpenden station to the path which starts beside
the River Lea and then goes a little up a hillside and for a kilometer or
so along a former railway bed, before diverting up a hillside and through
fields to Wheathampstead. The path was waymarked in places and mainly follows
We spent some time in Wheathampsted Church, and I sat on a seat and ate
my sandwiches in the churchyard, finishing them just as it started to rain
more seriously. I took a little walk around the centre of the town (or village)
in the only heavy rain we saw while the others stayed in the church. The
footpath goes on close to the river, but most of the bank is private, owned
by angling clubs, and the river meanders sometimes a couple of hundred metres
distant. At Waterend a Roman Road crosses the Lea, with a shallow ford,
which we walked through, though there is a footbridge, but the path stays
on the north bank, so we walked back. It starts on the river bank but soon
departs from it and is at times out of sight.
Another short diversion took us back to the river to admire the Flint Bridge,
and unusual structure, inside which we sheltered for a few minutes from
another shower before returning to to path which climbs steeply up a hill
and on to a golf course. There appeared to be only one solitary golfer on
the course, just walking back to his car as we made our way across, so there
were no balls to avoid.
The path here goes past Brocket Hall, a Grade I-listed classical country
house built around 1760, notable mainly for its size. But the estate was
laid out to provide a suitable location for a grand house, with a dam making
the the river here into a wide lake 'The Broadwater', and across this a
Grade II* listed Palladian bridge from 1772-4. The grounds are now two golf
courses, the second added by the current lessees.
Brocket Hall gained some notoriety when owned by the Lamb family, with Lady
Caroline Lamb, the wife of Lord Melbourne but better known for her affair
with Lord Byron, organised a state banquet for her husband's birthday in
which she was served naked in a large silver tureen. In 1923 the estate
was bought brewery owner Sir Charles Nall-Cain who was made Baron Brocket
ten years later. His son, the second Baron was a Nazi sympathiser and was
interned in the Second World War and the house was taken over as a maternity
hospital. The third Baron Brocket leased the estate to the Club Corporation
of Asia on a long lease until at least 2050while he was serving a prison
sentence for insurance fraud. They converted the house into a conference
centre and laid out the second golf course.
There is a good view from the footpath of the bridge across the lake, but
we decided to make a detour to get a closer view, taking another footpath
to rejoin the Lea Walk just before reaching Lemsford Mill. It's hard to
see why this is not the official route. There appears to be no truth behind
the story that this is the old mill often sung about by cliched drunks,
and Nellie Dean, if she existed, was almost certainly American rather than
The route goes across fields to the Great North Road, meeting it close to
the bridge over the Lea. Our guides (one a first edition and the other recently
bought) both then show the route going straight across this and then under
the A1(M) to Stanborough Park, but the approved route apparently now diverts
down the Great North Road. There is still a sign (rather hidden) on the
opposite side where the path meets the road for the old route, and we followed
this. There are some short steep muddy slopes, with the remains of some
steps to get to the bottom of the bridge under the motorway, and the path
leading under this is in places covered by water. It wasn't very deep, but
enough to just go over the edges of the low boots I was wearing.
But if you can, it's better to go this way and walk through the north end
of Stanborough Park than along the road, and you can walk close to the river
for much of the way, following it under the main road to get to the southern
part of the park before turning off at the end of the lake to go to a bridge
under the railway line. The walk down past Woodhall farm is rather boring,
and leads to the A1000, where we walked to a bus stop for a bus to St Albans.
Altogether, with a little wandering in places, we'd covered around ten miles
which was enough for me.
CND At 60 at Aldermaston
Aldermaston, Berkshire. Sun 1 Apr 2018
Rebecca Johnson holds up a copy of the UN treaty banning
CND celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first Aldermaston march
which mobilised thousands against the Bomb and shaped radical protest for
generations with a rally at the main gate of the now privatised Atomic Weapons
Their protest outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment included a giant
version of their name and iconic peace symbol, speeches, including by some
of those on the original march, singing and drumming and it celebrated the
UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, finalised last year and signed by 122
nations, for which ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,
of which CND is a part was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Among the speakers was Rebecca Johnson of CND and ICAN who held up a copy
of the treaty and the replica of the Nobel award and urged everyone to keep
up the pressure on the UK government to sign the treaty, pointing out that
past governments had professed support for multilateral nuclear disarmament
such as this treaty, and that Britain's nuclear expertise would give opportunities
for greater earnings from disarmament than from bomb-making. Walter Wolfgang,
now in his 90s, and one of the organisers of the first Aldermaston march,
spoke as did a woman who had been taken on it by her parents, while veteran
peace campaigner Bruce Kent recalled how he had cursed it as a young cleric
in Kensington as it blocked the road for several hours and disrupted the
schedule of four weddings he was conducting, going on to tell us of his
conversion to nuclear disarmament not long afterwards. Antony Owen told
us of his experiences speaking with those who survived the Nagasaki bomb
and read two poems from his book 'The Nagasaki Elder' which had many of
us listening in tears. Music came from the samba band Tribo and the Welsh
socialist choir Côr Cochion.
At the end of the event faith groups held a vigil and people pinned doves
with peace messages to the AWE security fence. The campaign continues to
get the UK and other nuclear nations to ratify the UN treaty and reap the
benefits of peace and employment from getting rid of its nuclear weapons.
Fortunately despite some days of bad weather leading up to the event and
terrible forecasts for the following week, it was a fine day, mild for the
time of year and with no wind, but some reasonable periods of sun, considerably
better than had been predicted, and my bike ride from Reading station and
back (12 miles each way) was a pleasant one.
top of page
All pictures on this site are Copyright
© 1999-2018 Peter Marshall ; all rights reserved.
for licences to reproduce pictures or to buy prints or comment on the work,
Payment may be waived for acceptable non-profit
use by unfunded bodies.
But organisations that pay any staff should also pay photographers.