Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
Piccadilly Circus & Panton House, London. 30 November 2011
The 'All Power to the 99%' banner is rushed
towards the Xstrata offices in Panton House
Around a hundred protesters from Occupy London rushed into the building
in which mining company Xstrata has its offices in a protest against
Mick Davies, its CEO, who they say "is a prime example of the greedy 1%
lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions."
The protesters from the OccupyLSX camp at St Pauls met up at Picadilly
Circus at 3pm, and we stood around for half an hour in the intermittent
rain waiting for something to happen, watched by a large group of police
who took over the raised area around Eros. The area was in any case
busier than usual with a large group of Greek football supporters.
At around half past three a message was passed around the crowd that
something would soon happen. The first action was simply a diversion, as
around 30 people rushed across the road to stand outside a branch of
Boots with a banner reading 'Precarious Workers Brigade', but made no
attempt to enter the store, which then quickly put down its metal
Meanwhile across the road by Eros, a long banner was being got ready
which read 'All Power to the 99%', and it was rushed along the street
and down Haymarket fast enough to leave the police standing behind - and
making taking pictures difficult, followed by the groups of protesters.
On the corner of Panton St, one of the protesters lit a bright orange
flare, and then everyone rushed to Panton House. The group with the
banner went in. I was a little behind and stood in the entrance to take
a few pictures before following them up the stairs. By the time I
reached the third or fourth landing I had decided I had gone far enough,
and called a lift to go down. At the moment the lift arrived a police
officer had run up the stairs and grabbed my shoulder, preventing me
from getting into the lift.
The police then told all of us to go downstairs, but perhaps 20 of the
protesters had gone up before them and reached the roof. It was slow
going downstairs as police rushing up kept pushing the people going down
out of the way, but eventually I made it back out on the street.
By now a group of police were surrounding the building, preventing
anyone from going back in. The protesters in the street started up a
group chant telling everyone around what the protest was about, the
phrase read out by one being repeated as a group shout. From this I
gathered that Panton House contains the London offices of the mining
Company Xstrata, whose CEO Mick Davies they say is the highest paid CEO
in the UK, but according to their statement, "is a prime example of the
greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions."
It looked as if the police were about to close off the area and start
making arrests and I quickly moved through the cordon that was forming,
as shouts of "kettle" started to be held. From the road outside I could
see figures on the roof of the building, and I thought the banner was
about to be let down from the roof, but then people seemed to be dragged
away from the edge. It had actually been let down above Haymarket
earlier but I had missed it. Since it was now impossible to see anything
happening I left the area, watching and hearing more police vans
arriving as I did so.
TUC Nov 30 March
Lincolns Inn Fields to Westminster, London. 30 November 2011
An 'anonymous' masked protester on the SERTUC march
An estimated 20,000 people taking part in the November 30 strike
against government plans to cut public service pensions marched
peacefully through London today to a rally close to the Houses of
When I arrived an hour before the march was due to start the whole of
the road along the south of Lincoln's Inn Fields was already packed with
people and banners, and people were pouring in at every entrance to the
square. There was not enough room for them all, and Kingsway outside was
pretty crowded as the march left. UK Uncut had come to support the march
and were handing out cups of tea from a yard in front of some offices on
the square in what they called a 'solidaritea!!' action to support the
At the head of the march was TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances
O'Grady, along with leaders of several of the other unions and
professional associations taking part in today's strike by public sector
A small group of around 50 students began the march walking ahead of
the official TUC march, and police put a line across the road and
stopped them just after they turned in to Aldwych. Everything came to a
halt and the police seemed to have no idea what to do next. Also ahead
of the march, and of the line of police was Lee Jasper on a bicycle,
accompanying an elderly main walking stooped with the aid of a stick,
carrying a 'Right to Work' 'Strike Back' placard, who Lee informed us
with the aid of a megaphone was 91 years old.
Eventually the march continued, and so far as I am aware made its way
peacefull to the rally, although around an hour after I had arrived at
the rally, which started shortly afterwards, marchers were still coming
down the Strand with half a mile or so still to go.
The Government's failure to enter proper negotiations with the unions
has led to a great deal of anger, and many of those on the march were
from associations which have no record of previous strike action. For
many it was the first time they had ever taken strike action or gone on
a demonstration. Marching along with them were activist groups such as
the Education Activist Network and other student groups, and a number of
people wearing 'Anonymous' Guy Fawkes 'V for Vendetta' masks.
The march route did not include Whitehall, but the police had blocked
the way to it off completely at Trafalgar Square and had closed the
whole street to traffic. When I walked back up it, the street was
largely empty except for police in small groups outside buildings along
its length. There were also large numbers of police lining the front of
the Houses of Parliament, although nothing at all was happening there
when I was around.
Wandsworth Nov 30 Rally
Wandsworth Town Hall, London. 30 November 2011
Placards include 'Eton Boys, Do you feel our pain? As you order more
Strikers held a short strike rally outside Wandsworth Town Hall after
picketing major workplaces in the borough and before joining the TUC
London march and other London strike rallies.
Although the rally at Wandsworth Town Hall was my first event of the
day at 11pm, some of the couple of hundred people taking part had
started on picket lines 5 hours earlier at 6pm. As I walked to the event
I passed a number of sites which still had the notices from the picket
lines and a number of those at the rally had armbands designating them
as official pickets.
There are many myths about the public sector pensions, and indeed many
lies put out by government sources. Some public sector pensions such as
the teachers are said to be unfunded, which actually means that over the
years the governments have simply regarded the pension contributions as
a useful source of income, and pensions have actually been less than
would have resulted from payment into a ring-fenced scheme. The majority
of public sector workers are women, most are poorly paid for the work
that they do, and their pensions are relatively small.
Pensions in the private sector for many workers used to actually be
better than for public sector workers, and when I first began working
after having got my degree, not only did the private sector offer higher
pay it also offered considerably better perks including a better pension
deal. This remains true for the minority of private sector workers still
included in or being paid a pension in final salary scehmes. The scandal
that so many workers in the private sector are now not in schemes to
which employers contribute should be a reason for campaigning for a
better deal for them rather than trying to worsen the lot of the public
sector, where substantial changes in pension schemes have already been
Feelings are certainly running very high over pension injustice, as
well as over the government cuts in jobs and services. The widespread
feeling across the country - not just trade unionists - that our
government is made of of the wealthy and privileged who just do not
understand the problems of ordinary people was reflected in the two
hand-written placards I photographed, both with photographs of Cameron
and Osborne alongside the texts 'Eton Boys, Do you Feel Our Pain, As
You Order Your Champagne' and 'No Cuts For You, Eton Boys!!'
March For Justice in Bahrain
Mayfair, London. Sat 26 Nov 2011
The marchers called for justice for the three men under sentence of
Bahraini protesters with placards and Bahraini flags gathered
outside the US Embassy in London before marching to the Saudi Embassy
to call for justice for 3 pro-democracy protesters sentenced to death
in April by a military court.
The three men, Ali Al-Singees (19), Abdulaziz Husain (24) and Ali
Al-Taweel (22) were alleged to have killed police officers in the
violence that occurred during demonstrations last March; a fourth man,
Ali Sagaer (31) was killed while being tortured after his arrest. Three
other men were sentenced to life imprisonment. The fairness of these
trials has been questioned by Human Rights Watch and the sentencing also
condemned by the European Parliament, Amnesty International and other
human rights organisations.
After protesting at the US Embassy, the group of around 70 protesters
marched down towards the Saudi Embassy carrying placards and Bahraini
flags. As they passed the end of South St they briefly diverted to stand
outside the Egyptian embassy in solidarity with the Egyptian protesters
who were demonstrating there, before continuing to the Saudi Embassy.
They continued their protest on the pavement opposite the front of the
embassy, watched by one man standing in the embassy garden and two armed
police outside, and a handful of police standing in front of the
protesters. One of the protesters was carrying a large wooden gallows
from which a bunch of flowers was hanging, perhaps rather oddly since in
Bahrain executions are carried out by firing squad.
They ask the international community who are opposed to the death
penalty to intervene immediately with the Bahraini authorities and stop
the executions. They also condemned the use of military courts to try
civilians and the use of the death penalty and demanded the Bahraini
authorities rescind the sentences and unconditionally release all
political prisoners. They also want them to put an end to all forms of
torture and to bring those who have been involved in torture to justice,
and to adhere to the Convention against Torture which Bahrain ratified
In Solidarity with Tahrir Square
Edgware Rd to Egyptian Embassy, London. Sat 26 Nov 2011
The march was organised by United Egyptians
More than 200 protesters, many of them Egyptians, marched from the
Marylebone flyover through London to protest outside the Egyptian
embassy in solidarity with the heroes in Tahrir Square and elsewhere
The march had been called by groups of Egyptians under the banner of
'United Egyptians', and was also supported by various left groups in the
UK including the Socialist Workers Party and Stop the War. The
organisers were at pains to ensure that this would be a peaceful
protest, and they cooperated with the police who kept the march safe
from the heavy traffic on the Edgware Road, Marble Arch and Park Lane.
The protest was largely directed against the Supreme Council of the
Armed Forces (SCAF), which took the reins of power from Mubarak on
February 11th. Since then they have reneged on their promises to uphold
and protect the ideals of the Egyptian Revolution and have repeatedly
used force against peaceful protesters. SCAF has used military trials,
conducted at great haste and without proper evidence or representation
to imprison civilians who expressed opposition.
Mubarak's regime relied on the brutal oppression of the Egyptian people
by police and army and the manipulation of state media. It is perhaps
not particularly surprising that given power as the SCAF these same
forces have continued to oppress Egypt, but the attacks following the
Maspero protest of October 9th have appalled everyone by their savagery,
with over 30 people killed and more than 1,500 seriously injured.
The marchers demanded "a prompt transition of power to civilian rule,
free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections, an end to all
military trials of civilians and independent and impartial
investigations into all incidents of violence against protesters by the
police or military since January 25."
The march went to a pen opposite the Egyptian Embassy where the protest
was due to continue for two hours, and it was still continuing noisily
when I left.
Hampton Hill Christmas Lights
Hampton Hill, Middx. Friday 25 Nov 2011
Hampton Hill is pony country, despite being urban.
Crowds filled the High St in Hampton Hill for the 43rd annual Christmas
parade last night, along with music, Morris Dancing and many stalls on
the street and in the URC church hall making this a real community event
Although Christmas is still a month away, the people of Hampton Hill,
just to the west of Bushey Park in the London Borough of Richmond, were
out on the streets celebrating last night. Many of the shops along the
street were open late, with some holding special events and handing out
balloons and sweets.
Santa was kept busy in his grotto seeing groups of children, and quite
a few other Santas were out on the street, with a group in the parade
accompanying the mayor. Morris Dancers performed in the middle of the
road, closed to traffic, and tried to teach some brave young ladies one
of their dances. The several pubs along the street were all kept busy,
and it was also crowded at times inside the church hall, with several
rooms full of stalls, as well as a continuing series of events inside
the church itself.
The highlight of the evening was of course the parade, which included
some children on ponies and people leading Christmas-decorated dogs
behind Santa in a large sled, and a large engine. But it was the
energetic kids from local schools and youth groups that really brought
the event to life.
Unlike some other Christmas 'lighting up' events, Hampton's seems very
much to be one that involves large sections of the local community,
which is perhaps why it is still very much alive after 43 years.
Littlewick Green, Maidenhead Thicket, Berkshire. Fri 25 Nov 2011
Private track, Littlewick Green
We walked a few miles in a circle to get back to the pub for a nice
lunch. It was around the A4 a few miles past Maidenhead.
City of London Anti-Apartheid Group At Occupy
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Saturday 19 November 2011
City of London AA group shared lessons they had
learnt from their 4 year non-stop picket in Trafalgar Square
On the other side of the Queen Anne statue in the churchyard, a group
most of whom had taken part in the Non-Stop Picket of South Africa House
started by the City of London Anti-Apartheid Group on 19 April 1986
shared some of their songs and their experience. They defied the
attempts of British police, the British government and the South African
embassy to remove them - almost a thousand arrests were made and but 96%
were dismissed in court - and the coldest winter in 40 years - for
almost four years until Mandela was released in 1990. Previously the
group had held several shorter successful non-stop protests outside the
embassy in Trafalgar Square; the first in August 1981 lasted 86 days and
resulted in South African political prisoners including David Kitson
being moved to better conditions.
These non-stop pickets, organised by the small City group, had at its
base members of the Revolutionary Communist Group, but attracted support
from a wide range of people including the unemployed and homeless as
well as "members of the WRP and the Humanist Party, Quakers, musicians
and even a few principled Labour councillors" but were opposed by the
official leadership of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, partly because the
AAM wanted only to support the African National Congress and not other
African liberation movements, but also because the AAM wished to avoid
any confrontation with the British Government. The AAM expelled the City
group in February 1985, warned trade union and local anti-apartheid
groups not to have anything to do with them and asked Westminster
Council to remove them.
Despite this opposition from inside the movement, the City group
continued to make links with many and diverse groups both here in the UK
and worldwide, gaining support and praise for its efforts. Those
involved are keen that the lessons of their campaign are not lost. They
suggest that an effective campaign must be non-sectarian and democratic,
based on the working class and to be ready to fight to defend the right
to protest, both by its actions on the streets and in the courts. The
article that they wrote concluded by stating that it must also most
importantly "make common cause with all those fighting to brink down
The City AA group were unfortunately joined by 'Sister Ruth' Augustus,
a well-known self-appointed 'nun' who has travelled the world carrying
a statue of the Virgin Mary, with the Catholic Church issuing
warnings against her to the faithful. I first talked to Sister Ruth at
any length at an anti-abortion rally I photographed
in 2003 (I had earlier photographed her in religious processions in
Westminster were she was often at the cathedral.) At that event she only
seemed slightly more confused that some of the others taking part,
fitting in rather well.
At 71, she now carries a rather smaller and presumably lighter
crucifix, and is carrying on a campaign against the police and royal
family for the various ways she feels they have persecuted her,
including sending her to mental hospitals. In 2006 she was fined £200
for religious harassment after shouting at two Muslim women on Oxford
Street that they were probably terrorists and in 2002 was arrested and
held briefly in Croatia for hurling homophobic insults at the first Gay
Pride parade in Zagreb.
OccupyLSX has attracted a few eccentrics from the streets of London,
and is perhaps operating as a useful therapeutic community for some of
them. But it can be rather disorientating for visitors who don't know
them. Among them are some with alcohol problems (including Sister Ruth)
and others with drug problems, as well as those who are more simply
Speakers At Occupy London
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Saturday 19 Nov 2011
Vivienne Westwood, here with Queen Anne behind
her, gave strong support to OccupyLSX
Outside St Paul's Cathedral there was a session with various speakers
talking about other campaigns both in London and around the world,
including news of the Occupy movement from the USA and Bristol, where
the occupation seems not to have attracted the opposition shown by the
City authorities and sections of the church in London.
Some of those present were leaving to continue by presenting sessions
in the Bank of ideas, while others stayed to listen to more speakers at
St Pauls. While I was there these included Jeremy Corbyn, Vivienne
Westwood and the now retired Methodist minister David Haslam who has
been involved with many campaigns over the years.
Bank of Ideas & Finsbury Square
Sun Street & Finsbury Square, London. Saturday 19 Nov 2011
Reception at the Bank of Ideas, where I signed in as a visitor
I made a short visit to the former UBS offices in Sun Street, left
empty for some years and now renamed 'The Bank of ideas', where
a whole series of talks was taking place in a large ground floor room;
while I was there I heard part of an interesting and detailed
presentation and question and answer session on the surveillance
The Finsbury Square a couple of hundred yards down the road camp was
fairly quiet, with many people from it at the sessions down the road.
There was a short diversion while I was there when a police helicopter
hovered directly above us for a few minutes, and many came out to look
up and wave or make rude gestures.
Don't Turn The Clock Back
Embankment to Westminster, London. Saturday 19 Nov 2011
There were some very 'fifties' dressed women in
the Fawcett organised march
Around a thousand people, mainly women, marched from Temple past
Downing St to a rally next to the Treasury in King Charles St, calling
to the government not to turn back time on women's equality though the
The event was organised by the Fawcett Society in response to
the government's cuts which will put the clock back on the advances
which women have made towards equality since the 1950s. To make their
point, some of the women had come dressed in 1950s styles, ranging from
the most elegant of Paris fashion of the day to aprons, hairnets and
curlers. Others carried brushes or brooms, wooden spoons or other
kitchen implements as symbols of what they felt was the only role our
government can envisage for women, the "good little wife."
As the march came towards Downing St, the chant changed to 'Calm
Down Dear!' with the deafening response 'No We Won't',
repeating Cameron's sexist and patronising putdown directed at Labour MP
Angela Eagle in the House of Commons, a gaffe that will surely and
deservedly haunt his career. As well as politicians - both of this and
the previous government - the press also came in for some caustic
comment (though the protesters could not have been nicer to those
journalists present) for their belittlling labelling of some groups of
women in public life - such as 'Blair's Babes' - as well as the
general predominance of semi-pornographic imagery and demeaning
attitudes to women.
But it was the government's cuts that came in for the most trenchant
criticism, both in chants such as
'Hey, Hey, Mister, Mister, Get your cuts off my sister'
and in the various speeches. Women are in triple jeopardy from the cuts
in jobs in the public services. The majority of those who will actually
lose their jobs will be women, as there are more of them employed in the
NHS and other areas that will suffer cuts. But women are also more
dependent on the various services that will be cut, and it will also be
predominantly women who will have to pick up the pieces and take over to
provide the unpaid support to replace the services that will be cut.
Cuts in pensions too will have a larger effect on women, who are in any
case seeing a raise in pension age as we move towards a common
The speakers at the rally reflected the wide range of women on the
march. As well as Anna Bird from the Fawcett Society (founded in 1866 to
campaign peacefully for votes for women and still a powerful campaigning
organisation for equal rights), speakers included journalist Tanya
Gold, Estelle Hart, NUS Women’s Officer, comedians Kate
Smurthwaite and Josie Lond, Heather Wakefield of
Unison, Vivienne Hayes from the Women's Resource Centre, Chitra
Nagarajan of Southall Black sisters. Aisha Mirza from UK
Uncut and a spokesperson for the Turkish and Kurdish Refugee Women's
group who took part in the event.
Saturday Morning Occupy London
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Saturday 19 November 2011
The camp was looking good in the low winter sun
I'd gone to Occupy London on my way to take part in another event, and
there wasn't anything special taking place there as I wandered around
and talked to a few people I knew while taking some pictures. It was one
of the few times I've been there when the sun was out.
The camp was also attracting many tourists who were also photographing
it. But there was a full programme of activities listed on the
blackboard taking place through the day, and I decided to return later.
London Xmas Decorations
South Bank to St John's Wood. 17 November 2011
Christmas Lights - One Billion Horsepower Sleigh and London skyline
from a rather lower powered bus
Just a few pictures I took going from the South Bank on foot over
Waterloo Bridge and then from the bus that took me to St John's Wood and
the opening of a show of paintings and drawings in the Queen's
Terrace Café there by Joy Fleischmann who I had met in
June when I photographed her garden.
Anti-Abortion Prayer Protest
Westminster, London. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
The afternoon of protest ended with a rally in the
yard of Westminster Abbey.
Several hundred people carrying white crosses took part in an
anti-abortion '500 crosses for Life' prayer procession which started at
Westminster Cathedral and ended outside Westminster Abbey.
I hadn't intended to photograph the '500 Crosses for Life' prayer
procession, organised by EuroProLife UK, a "European ecumenical
initiative" based in Germany with the full title "European Voice of the
Unborn Children: Protect Our Life", and came across the group of several
hundred carrying white crosses when I went to look for another protest
which I had been told earlier would still have been taking place in
The procession was just preparing to leave Old Palace Yard as I arrived
around 4.30pm when it was already getting dark, and I went with it along
the side of Westminster Abbey. The group then went into the courtyard
outside the west end of the Abbey for a rally, where the speaker gave
some details of their activities in Germany. I was on the outside of the
rally and it was difficult to hear every word, but he appeared to be
describing and applauding protests outside clinics where abortions take
I don't share the views of the Catholic Church on abortion and find the
use of the term 'pro-life' by those opposed to abortion to describe
themselves offensive. It's an area where we need clear and unpredjudiced
thinking and where all - whatever their view on abortion - are concerned
with life and the quality of life. People have a right to their views on
abortion, and to hold peaceful protests such as this and of course to
pray about the matter. But isn't harassing women who go to clinics at
what is almost certainly for them a very stressful time morally
offensive, a demonstration of an un-Christian lack of love as well as a
statement of lack of faith in the power of prayer?
International Day to Defend the Egyptian
London. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
Some Egyptians in the 'Walk of shame' with their flag
A small group of protesters set off from the OccupyLSX camp at St
Paul's Cathedral for a 'tour of shame', visiting the offices of 3 arms
dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to
Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army.
The protest left just as the OccupyLSX 'NOT the Lord Mayor's Show'
festival was starting which perhaps accounted for only around thirty
coming to join it. Among them were a number of Egyptians and Sam
Weinstein of the US Utility Workers Union who has been in London sharing
his experience of the Occupy movement in the US and was holding one end
of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network banner.
Although the Egyptian Revolution toppled the Mubarek regime, the
Egyptian people are not yet free, with the army in charge and using its
influence to gain control under the new constituion. Since they took
power there have been more than 12,000 trials in military courts,
without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a
programme of repression against the opposition.
Many have been sentenced to death, and torture remains widespread. Many
of those imprisoned are underage and women have been subjected to rapes
and sexual assault. On the 31 October, blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was
imprisoned on false charges for an indefinite period.
The UK government supports the Egyptian military and helps UK arms
manufacturers to sell them the army and police the weapons needed for
repression. The protesters called on the UK government to withhold
support to Egypt and stop arms sales until a civilian government
dedicated to freedom and civil rights is in power in Egypt. They
condemned police and military violence against peaceful protesters and
in particular the Maspero massacre on 10 October 2011 where the military
opened fire and 27 Coptic Christians were killed and 329 injured. They
want an immediate end to the state of emergency which has been in place
in Egypt for the past 30 years and for all political prisoners and
detainees to be released or given a fair trial in civilian courts.
I walked a short distance with the protesters who were going to the
offices of the three companies in Westminster, but had to leave them at
Ludgate Circus to return to OccupyLSX.
Somalis Protest Obama's War
Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
These protesters expected more to join them
Only 3 Somali men and a small boy were present at the protest opposite
parliament in Old Palace Yard when I arrived at the advertised time for
the protest, although they had brought a large number of placards with
them and told me that they expected more to come later.
They told me the protest would go on for five or six hours but when I
returned two hours later they were nowhere to be seen. Either the
expected protest did not materialise or they had gone on to protest
London From St Paul's
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
Looking down on the OccupyLSX camp and the Stock Exchange in
It normally costs £14.50 to go into St Paul's Cathedral as a visitor,
but on the day of the Lord Mayor's show entry is free. Because of the
crowds that take advantage of this, the uppermost 'Golden Gallery' is
closed, but the 'Stone Gallery' around the bottom of the dome was open,
and photography is allowed there, unlike in the 'Whispering Gallery'
underneath the dome.
I took pictures all around, both as single images and also a number of
panoramas, although I've only put a few of the more interesting examples
Lord Mayor's Show
City of London. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
A huge mix of commercial and military organisations have floats in the
parade for the Lord Mayor
Crowds lined the streets of the city as usual today for the vast
procession that precedes the Lord Mayor's coach, with floats and
marching bands. Together with many of those at OccupyLSX, I found the
marching servicemen, military vehicles and weapons and military bands
that are a major element of it disturbing. Of course the event as a
whole reflects earlier times, with the city aldermen and liverymen in
quaint costumes, but it would be appropriate for it to present a rather
more civilised face to the world.
Lord Mayor's Show - Occupy London
St Paul's Cathedral. Saturday 12 Nov 2011
The occupiers at St Pauls were blessed after the Lord Mayor by the the
Canon in Residence.
After blessing the Lord Mayor, the Canon in Residence Rt Revd
Michael Colclough came and blessed Occupy LSX in front of St Paul's
Cathedral. Later the camp hosted a 'Not the Lord Mayors Show' festival
OccupyLSX have also drawn attention to the uniquely undemocratic nature
of the City of London, and some of the occupiers had made a large
polling booth which was sited close to the route, pointing out that the
votes of ordinary voters are outnumbered 4 to 1 by the votes of
corporations which results in it promoting "a radical bankers'
agenda at odds with the interests and democratic desire of the British
Apart from this booth, OccupySLX welcomed the many extra visitors the
show had brought and many came to talk to the occupiers and find out
more about why they were there. Because of the presence of the camp, the
Lord Mayor's coach stopped outside the south door of the cathedral
rather than at the west where the camp is for the traditional blessing
which was given by the Rt Revd Michael Colclough, Canon in Residence
from St Paul’s Cathedral.
In a move that will have surprised many (and would have seemed unlikely
only a couple of weeks ago), the Canon then made his way to the
OccupyLSX camp to hold a short service and bless the camp and those
attending it. Rather than speak from the steps of the cathedral as had
been expected, he decided to speak from the same low platform that is
used for the normal meetings of the camp.
After the official Lord Mayor's Show procession had finally ended,
OccupyLSX held their own 'NOT The Lord Mayor’s Show' which they
described as "a festival for the people, which aims to place the
celebratory atmosphere of the traditional event in a non-hierarchical
and community-focused environment." On their web site Jenny Harding, a
supporter of OccupyLSX, is quoted as saying: “We will not have
golden carriages, we will not have military costumes, we will not have
a marching band, but we are going to enjoy ourselves. This is about
valuing people and community, rather than privileging the
undemocratically elected Lord Mayor of the City of London.”
Before I left there were comedians, spoken word artists and singers in
a show compered by stand-up comedian Andy Zaltzman. Later there was to
be a special general meeting with speakers including John McDonnell MP.
Later in the evening, to mark Remembrance weekend, the camp was to host
the UK première of 'The Welcome', an award-winning US documentary film
about a project for dealing with post-traumatic stress involving
ex-soldiers and their family members.
Students March Against Cuts & Fees
Bloomsbury to Moorgate,London, Wednesday 9 Nov 2011
Love Not Cuts. Students were angry about the cuts and fees but had
come for a peaceful protest
Despite police attempts to provoke them, more than 5000 student
protesters against fees increases and cuts in services marched largely
peacefully keeping to the agreed route, which was lined by thousands of
There was a huge police presence in London, with most routes in the
centre of the city being closed several hours before the protest was due
to take place, making it hard for some protesters to get to the march.
There were no buses and I had to walk two miles and arrived after the
There were perhaps 5000 students, but as the march approached me coming
down Sfhafestbury Avenue they were largely hidden by the police, with a
row of mounted officers leading, followed by several further rows of
police in front of the marchers. More police walked along each side of
the march, and others stood on the pavement, with lines blocking side
roads and others in the doorways of offices, banks and some shops.
Behind the several lines of police were a line of march stewards
waliking with arms linked, and behind them the front of the march,
stretched across the main banner, with a vast crowd of students and
supporters carrying placards.
The students are angry about the high fees and the cuts in education -
particularly the loss of the Educational Maintenace Allowances and
various cuts in services - and there was some fairly caustic chanting,
but overall the protesters were in a relaxed and positive mood, many
talking to and joking with the police who were accompanying them.
The march moved down Charing Cross Road and then through into the
Strand without incident, although the police were slowing its progress,
occasionally bringing it to a halt for no apparent reason. It was a
different approach to most marches, where the police often harass
marchers to get them to go faster. This time, perhaps because they had
taken the decision to close London for the day they were in no hurry.
The first real incident I saw was just before the march reached
Aldwych, when suddenly a group of police ran into the centre of the
march and grabbed several of the many black-clad protesters, dragging
them across to the side of the road. Many of us were roughly pushed out
of the way by this snatch squad, and I was kicked by one of them. The
marchers protested loudly and other police rushed in to surround the
officers and the people they had snatched. It seemed to have been a
totally unprovoked event and to have targeted a random group of
Perhaps surprisingly, the marchers continued on, determined not to rise
to this provocation. Many halted at the turning into Fetter Lane, having
heard that the police had stopped a group of 600 electricians who had
been coming to join them after their own protest south of the river.
Police had apparently blocked some at Blackfriars Bridge, and others at
Most of the marchers stopped, though some made their way down Fetter
Lane. Word about the electricians was passed through the crowd who took
up the chant "Free the sparks!" But after a while I joined the
others who had been continuing on the agreed route up Fetter Lane.
In what seemed like an act of complete folly, police had decided to
halt the march near the top of Fetter Lane, and people were beginning to
get a bit worked up. Several empty cans, small stones and other objects
were thrown at someone phtoographing the march from an office window,
and one small window appeared to have been broken. Slowly the police
moved or were pushed to Holborn Circus, where proceedings reached a
state of comic chaos, with senior officers shouting orders to small
strings of police to stop the protesters; while they were grappling with
the few within reach the rest of us simply walked through the huge gaps
between these lines. The mounted police, some of whom a few moments
earlier had seem to lose control of their horses, sensibly moved a few
yards along the agreed route along Holborn Viaduct and sat quietly
I then ran with several hundred students past the horses and along on
the route past the Old Bailey and the Stock Exchange to King Edward St
where they decided to stop and wait, as the rest of the protest had now
been held on Holborn Viaduct. After ten minutes or so they gave up
waiting and continued the march to its destination outside the Moorgate
building of London Metropolitan University.
Again after a short wait there, they moved a short distance up the road
to a junction, where I left them dancing on the street to a
bicycle-hauled sound system while I walked a little further to visit the
Finsbury Square occupation.
There I found a few of the residents very worried about all the police
that were gathering in their area, with half a dozen vans parked a
little further up the road. They were convinced that the police would
take advantage of the 4000 officers in the capital to evict their camp.
I thought it unlikely, as to do so with perhaps 5000 students a short
distance down the road would be likely to cause considerable disorder.
As I left the area police vans with lights flashing were still piling
in, so anything might happen. I felt that some of least of the police
had felt a need to try and get something to happen that might justify
the huge expense and day of chaos they had imposed across London. After
the criticism of them at Millbank and Tottenham they were taking no
chances. Much of the City was still closed and traffic outside that area
was moving at less than walking pace as I made my way along Old Street.
Later video reports showed the students being kettled at Moorgate and
individuals being attacked by snatch squads of plain clothes police who
had posed as protesters.
Sparks At The Shard
London Bridge. Wednesday 9 Nov 2011
The electricians march away to Blackfriars Led by
Len McCluskey behind the Unite banner
Around a thousand 'sparks' (electricians) protested in London today
over plans by 7 major employers to tear up national agreements and
impose worse conditions and pay cuts of at least 26 %.
The seven companies - Bailey Building Services, Balfour Beatty, Tommy
Clarke, Crown House Technologies, Gratte Brothers, SES and SPIE Matthew
Hall - announce in May that they were withdrawing from the long-standing
Joint Industry Board (JIB) pay and conditions deal in the construction
industry. In its place they intend to impose 'BESNA', the Building and
Engineering Services National Agreement, which will result in the
replacement of skilled workers by lower grade workers.
Unite has targeted Balfour Beatty as the ringleader of the companies,
and at today's protest rally outside The Shard site next to London
Bridge station, General Secretary Len McCluskey announced that the union
has given notice today of a strike ballot for its members employed by
Several hundred electricians had arrived in London earlier in the day
and had held a protest in Bishopsgate and visited the OccupyLSX site at
St Paul's before marching to the protest meeting in the street leading
to The Shard site, one of Balfour Beatty's many projects, which also
include Crossrail and some power stations. Police had attempted to stop
them at several points, and a large group of officers arrived with them.
As they waited for the official Unite rally to start, there were a
number of speeches by rank and file trade unionists including Rob
Williams of the National Shop Stewards Network. These were followed by
several Unite union speakers, including Assistant General Secretary Gail
Cartmell, construction workers' rep Kevin Williamson, regional officer
Bernard McAuley and London regional officer Harry Cowap, before a final
address by McCluskey.
BESNA would see fully qualified craftsmen largely replaced by a new
grade of 'Installer' on £10.62 per hour, with a ratio of one craftsmen
to eight installers in restructured 'gangs'. For most workers it would
mean a basic cut of 26% in pay, but they would also lose out on overtime
pay, with an end to the seven and a half hour day allowing employers to
arrange shifts to cover unsocial working hours. Workers would also lose
out on allowances for travel of over 25 miles and for accommodation
Balfour Beatty is an extremely profitable company and the union says
"It has no need whatsoever to rob its employees in order to satisfy its
shareholders. Perhaps the threat of strike action will bring Balfour
Beatty to its senses and back to the negotiating table." Despite the
recession it is doing well and "orders are up six per cent with £15.5
billion worth of projects on its books since last year and the latest
interim shareholder dividend is up five per cent.
I left the electricians as they marched through Southwark to a further
rally outside another Balfour Beatty site at Blackfriars.
OccupyLSX March to Parliament
St Paul's to Parliament Square, London. Saturday 5 Nov 2011
Anonymous v. Cameron, He's Got To Go
OccupyLSX held a large rally on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral
before many of them marched to Westminster; despite police blocking
Whitehall they eventually reached Parliament and held a general meeting
on the road outside.
The meeting on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral had over a thousand
people listing to speakers from a wide range of organisations who
support the Occupy movement and the wide public debate it has sparked
off. I arrived after it had started and among those I heard speaking
were Sam Weinstein of the Utility Workers of America, involved in the
protests in many cities there and across the world, Kate Hudson of CND,
students fighting against cuts and fees increases, a UK trade unionist
and a health worker involved in the protests against privatisation and
cuts, speakers from the London occupation and more.
Among those I saw listening was the only MP I've seen so far on my
visits to the occupation outside St Paul's Cathedral, Caroline Lucas,
our only Green Party MP. Considering it is only around 15 minutes by
public transport from the Houses of Parliament it is surprising that
more MPs have not been noticeable.
As the march starting, police made a very loud but completely inaudible
announcement from loudspeakers on one of the several police vans parked
close by. I asked a nearby officer what it was about, but she just
laughed. When the march started, police formed a line in front and led
it off down the street at a very fast walking pace in the direction of
On the march there was a small group of protesters who did not
cooperate with the OccupyLSX marchers, insisting on walking in front of
the main banner; dressed largely in black, like many of the others in
the protest they were wearing the 'Anonymous' Guy Fawkes masks. At one
point there was a small scuffle between them and some of the other
marchers, but apart from this the progress to Trafalgar Square was
uneventful. The march was moving fast and causing only a relatively
short disruption to traffic.
At the top of Whitehall the situation changed dramatically, as the
police had decided to completly block the street, closing it to traffic
and using vans and a large number of police to bring the march to a
halt. A few of the marchers tried to push through, but the great
majority stood back and began to chant that this was a peaceful march.
After a few minutes they instead walked up Pall Mall and down the Duke
of York steps and across St James's Park.
Police again blocked the marchers from going down Great George St, and
they turned around, making a long detour almost to Buckingham Palace
before returning along Victoria St and again being blocked as came to
Parliament Square. I'd taken a short cut and rejoined them as they made
their way down Great Smith St and around into Millbank and then again
towards Parliament. Police again blocked the way to Parliament Square.
Some of the protesters went into Victoria Tower Gardens, next to
Parliament, but others felt they would be kettled inside there, and
after a quick show of hands they decided to hold a General Meeting on
the road in front of the Houses of Parliament in Old Palace Yard.
The police then apparently sent a message to the protesters that they
would be free to leave going south along the road towards Millbank.
However when I did so some time later I was stopped by police and only
allowed through their line after showing my press card.
As so often it was hard to understand police thinking. The march,
almost entirely consisting of peaceful protesters, would have gone down
Whitehall and made its way through Parliament Square to Old Palace Yard
in a few minutes. The police actions led to several unnecesary hours of
traffic disruption across Westminster and involved a much greater number
of police (and higher expenditure) than was necessary. Perhaps behind it
was some political paranoia thinking that Occupy LSX would come with
tents and settle instead in Parliament Square, still closed off to the
public many months after the grass has recovered from its previous
Syrians Protest At Downing St
Whitehall, London. Saturday 5 Nov 2011
men, women and children were at the protest, calling for freedom for
Once again there were reports of the army shooting peaceful protesters
in Syria, and Syrians from the UK, British Solidarity for Syria or BSS,
were at Downing St calling on the British Government to galvanise the
international community into action. The mood was one of defiance to the
Syrian government, with posters reading 'Freedom lies in being bold -
Our Syria will forever stay free.'
Jarrow March Ends in London
Temple, London. Saturday 5 Nov 2011
Gifted & On Benefits
75 years after the Jarrow Hunger march stirred the nation's
conscience, 50 jobless young people from across Britain have repeated
their journey in a Youth March For Jobs, which today marched
to take a letter to Downing St and a rally in Trafalgar Square.
The group of young people set off on their 330 mile journey five weeks
ago, and have attended rallies at many of the towns on their journey,
campaigning against youth unemployment.
They called on the government to:
* Create jobs
* Bring back EMA & scrap university fees
* Save youth services
* Scrap workfare
* Build affordable housing.
The re-creation of the Jarrow march enjoyed wide support and was backed
by six national trade unions, Unite, PCS, RMT, Bectu, TSSA, FBU and UCU,
various union branches, students and anti-cuts groups across the
A little under a thousand supporters of all ages turned up to welcome
them to London and to walk behind them on the last leg of their march in
support of their fight for jobs. The oldest person on the march was
certainly 106 year-old Hetty Bower, who had met the 1936 Jarrow
marchers when they arrived in London 75 years ago, and in the small
group walking with her was a boy of seven - an age difference of 99
years, though there were certainly younger people taking part. Among
those I talked to were a number of students, worried at the prospect of
not being able to find a job when they graduate.
The Jarrow marchers and their supporters gathered at Temple at noon,
and before they set off listened to a number of speeches, which included
some from young people on the march, from students, from the organiser
of the London Slutwalk and from trade unionists including Billy
Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union.
The march then set off, walking along the Embankment to the Houses of
Parliament, then up Whitehall and past Downing St, where some of the
Jarrow marchers had earlier delivered their letter, and on to a rally in
Occupy London Respond to Preacher
St Paul's Cathedral Steps, London. Saturday 5 November 2011
What would Jesus Do? Jesus Would Feed the Poor.
Jesus Would Wash Our Feet
As I arrived at St Pauls on Saturday morning, an evangelical preacher
was on the steps with a head set including a radio mike and preaching to
the camp, calling on them (if I understood him correctly) to repent
their sins, turn to Jesus and rely on his grace to acheive salvation
rather than taking any political action.
The response to him was for a number of people from the camp to stand
below him on the steps holding up cards on which were written 'What
Would Jesus Do?' and some of the answers, 'Jesus Would Feed
the Poor', 'Jesus Would Wash Our Feet'.
Quite arrogantly and inexplicably the preacher's response was to charge
them with being ignorant of theology. Personally I would be willing to
bet that OccupyLSX has more than its share of theology graduates, and it
would not surprise me to find the occasional theology lecturer or
professor hanging around. Certainly I've seen a few well qualified in
the field at times, though almost certainly the guy on the steps was not
Photomonth Photoparty and Photo Open
Rich Mix, London. Thursday 3 November 2011
The area of Shoreditch just north of Bethnal Green
Rd is now very trendy and there were half a dozen openings
I only stayed for the first half of the East London Photomonth event at
Rich Mix, which included a looped projection of every image sent in for
the Photo Open, which included a great deal of interesting work, as well
as some rather less so.
There was a selection of work from this on the wall, very nicely
printed by the Printspace, although the few black and white images had
perhaps suffered a little and looked as if they too had been printed as
colour, which seldom quite works. There were a few great images among
them, but I couldn't help feeling that the selection for printing had
been made on the grounds of variety rather than quality, and much of
what looked best in the projection hadn't made it to the wall.
Although the Fuji X100 was a great camera to use in the low light, and
pretty discreet, I found the 35mm lens rather limiting, and had to get
out my Nikon with a wider lens for some of the pictures. I'm waiting for
a small camera with a large sensor and a really wide-angle zoom, but
unfortunately Nikon haven't been listening.
Later in the evening the images were to be projected on the large
screen downstairs, where work from this site was shown at 'Six
Billion Ways' earlier this year. Along with the pictures people
would be partying to some live music, but decided I needed to go and
It was the first Thursday of the month, and there were openings taking
place at half a dozen galleries along Redchurch St, with groups spilling
out on to the road. I took a brief look at several (mainly through the
windows) as I passed. The only one I saw of any photographic interest
was at the LondonNewcastle Project Space, with photographs by Lawrence
Watson of Noel Gallagher. It wasn't a subject that interested me at all,
but there were a few interesting pictures. But one or two friends aside,
Jim Marshall (no
relative) who died last year still remains perhaps the only rock
photographer whose work really seems worth looking at.
OccupyLSX at St Pauls
St Paul's Cathedral, London. Thursday 3 November 2011
Getting ready for a film show and presentation on Syria at St Pauls
I made another brief visit to the OccupyLSX camp in front of St Paul's
Cathedral, in the early evening, taking a few pictures using available
light with the Fuji X100. Small parts of the area were lit by the
cathedral's strong floodlighting as you can see in the image above, but
most was fairly dark.
There wasn't a great deal going on, other than preparations for a
presentation about Syria directly in front of the building, one of the
few dry areas protected from the light rain falling while I was there.
top of page
All pictures on this section of the site are
Copyright © Peter Marshall 2011; to buy prints or for permission to
reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other