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 shutters.
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 Parliament.
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 strike.
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 workers.
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 Champagne?
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
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 negotiated.
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 death
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
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
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 1998.
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 in Egypt.
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
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
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 London
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 British imperialism."
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 homeless.
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 society.
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
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 cuts.
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
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 retirement age.
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
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 Westminster.
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 place.
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 Revolution
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
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 elsewhere.
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 Paternoster Square
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 on line.
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
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 of entertainment.
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 people."
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
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
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 police.
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 march started.
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 marchers.
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 London Bridge.
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 waiting.
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
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 them.
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 where required.
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 Westminster.
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
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 occupation.
Syrians Protest At Downing St
Whitehall, London. Saturday 5 Nov 2011
men, women and children were at the protest, calling for freedom for Syria
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
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 country.
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 Trafalgar Square.
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
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 among them.
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
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 eat.
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 questions, contact