Reinstate the Sotheby's 2
New Bond St, London. Fri 31 Jul 2015
Protest is a right - but Sotheby's have sacked Percy
and Barbara for protesting
Members and supporters of the grass roots trade union United Voices of the
World marched noisily several times around the block at Sotheby's demanding
reinstatement of two cleaners sacked for protesting for proper sick pay, paid
holidays and pensions. Short rallies at the front and rear entrances were
watched by police.
Originally Sotheby's barred four cleaners for taking part in the protest,
but after pressure two were allowed to work there again. But Percy and Barbara
who were more active in organising the people who worked there remain sacked,
victimised because of their trade union activities.
BBC protest over Palestinian Hunger Strikes
Broadcasting House, London. Fri 31 Jul 2015
Protesters outside the BBC which has failed to report
the hunger strikes against administrative detention
Protesters at Broadcasting House demanded the BBC end its anti-Palestine
bias and report the hunger strike by Muhammad Allan and Uday Isteiti in Israeli
jails, now in its 6th week, against indefinite illegal administrative detention.
The protest, organised by Innovative Minds in co-operation with The Prisoner's
Centre for Studies in Jerusalem, drew attention to the continuing pro-Israel
bias among management and some reporters at the BBC. There have been many
complaints, and at least two have been upheld by the BBC’s Editorial
Complaints Unit. Last year BBC News Online presented a highly contentious
report from someone working in an 'explicitly pro-Israeli' organisation as
being from an independent defence analyst, and earlier this year Sarah Montague
on the R4 Today programme allowed Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
to make highly controversial claims without questioning them.
There has been controversy too over many other distortions or failures to
report events such as these hunger strikes, and about the undue pressure on
some correspondents who have reported from Gaza and elsewhere. Many who used
to regard the BBC as a great institution and praised its high standards are
now disillusioned and feel that they need to listen and watch other broadcasters
to get an impartial and more complete view of both overseas and UK news.
National Gallery Leaving Party
Trafalgar Square, London. Thu 30 Jul 2015
Striking National Gallery staff poster for their alternative leaving party
for Nicholas Penny
Workers taking action against privatisation of the gallery picketed the
leaving party for Director Sir Nicholas Penny calling for the reinstatement
of victimised PCS rep Candy Udwin and talks over the alternative plans put
forward by the PCS.
They feel let down by the gallery director who they say has seldom been seen
in the gallery in the last year and has not had any meaningful discussions
with the union over the alternative plans they have put forward. And despite
saying that he does not feel it is the way the gallery should be going, has
signed contracts for privatisation.
After a rally and party with party snacks and fizzy wine in front of the gallery
in Trafalgar Square, the staff who had not received invitations to the official
leaving party formed a picket line at the sides of the entrance and handed
out leaflets about their dispute to those going in.
Loddon & Thames
Winnersh Triangle to Reading. Mon 27 Jul 2015
Cows next to a footpath by the River Thames
Winnersh Triangle sounds like a dangerous place to go, a new halt (hardly
a station with a platform only a foot or two wide) on the Waterloo to Reading
line that opened in 1986. It's lightweight wood structure was designed not
to put too great a load on the Loddon Viaduct on which it hangs, though there
is a ticket office at ground level, closed when we arrived.
Mostly Winnersh Triangle is home to company men and the companies they work
for in what the web site describes as "an 85-acre, mature business environment"
between the A329M motorway, the rail line and the River Loddon. The web site
says it's a place where "everyday things become exceptional and exceptional
things happen every day", but very little seemed to be happening on the
day we went there. It didn't look like a place where anything of interest
ever happened, and its big selling point is that you can be at Heathrow in
We took a quick look, didn't like it and headed south under the railway to
walk along the Reading Road to Loddon Bridge, joining a footpath that led
north beside the River Loddon under the railway and motorway. You've probably
never heard of the Loddon, but its a sizeable tributary of the Thames, that
often gets too sizeable for its banks, flooding nastily. A man in council
hi-viz who was checking the river gave us a 20 minute dissertation on this
and related matters before we all escaped, though I'd wandered away taking
pictures after the first five.
Fortunately the river was fairly low or we might have been paddling or swimming
for the next mile or so, before the path veered away and climbed to a road
and we found ourselves briefly in suburbia. Then we came across a large BEA
twin prop plane, its presence soon explained by a sign 'The Museum of Berkshire
Aviation'. It was closed which saved us from having to decide if we wanted
to be enthralled by "Berkshire's dynamic contribution to aviation history."
You can find out more on the museum web site, which includes a picture of
a rather dinky little 'Miles Pusher', which was "built by F. G. Miles
under protest and therefore never flew." Miles went bust in 1947, and
Handley Page took over the designs, accounting for the Handley Page Herald
turboprop standing outside. Miles from 1942 had been designing an experimental
supersonic jet aircraft to fly at 1000mph, but the Air Ministry in 1946 cancelled
this, deciding only to build it as an unmanned rocket-powered scale model
which achieved controlled flight at Mach 1.34 - 1020mph. The design of the
Miles M52 informed the later English Electric Lightning which I saw at the
Farnborough Air Show in the early 1950s and could out-perform anything from
We didn't hang around, though Sam looked up a few things on his mobile and
we photographed the Fairey Gannet out the back before going along the footpath
and down to the river to continue our path through rural Berkshire alongside
the river to Whistley Mill Lane.
This leads to a ford over the Old River, still a stream of the River Loddon,
and unless you are driving a LandRover or something larger, its probably best
to turn around and go back. The level markers were at 2 feet, but fortunately
there is a footpath to a footbridge around 60 yards to the south which we
crossed, taking us to the Lands End pub, which might have been a good place
to lunch, but we had brought sandwiches.
The next mile or so took us through the Charvil, a suburban fringe of Twyford,
and with some difficulty across the A4 to Milestone Ave, a narrow lane with
some 1930s development on the east side for the first half mile or so. Just
before a bridge over one of the minor arms of the Loddon, a footpath leads
off to the River Thames. We've previously walked along the Thames path on
the opposite bank, which we came on to a mile or two later as it crosses the
bridge at Sonning.
We took a look inside St Andrew's Church there (and were given a copy of what
must be one of the most lavishly produced church magazines in the country)
and briefly explored the grounds before taking the path from the churchyard
to rejoin the Thames path, walking along this into Reading for the train home.
Kurds blame Turks for Suruc massacre
Downing St, London. Sat 25 Jul 2015
the rally at Downing St the Kurds marched off towards the BBC
Kurds and supporters protested at Downing St over the massacre of 32
young activists massacred by ISIS on their way with toys, books and other
materials to build a playground, library and other projects in Kobane. They
accuse Turkey of aiding ISIS.
The AKP government in Turkey has been fighting for years against Kurds in
Turkey who want to free themselves from Turkish domination that has treated
them as inferior citizens, outlawing their language and culture, and imprisoning
the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan.
The Turkish government appear to have been allowing ISIS to operate on their
border and to allow ISIS to smuggle oil and other goods through Turkey, as
well as letting supplies and recruits reach them. They appear to hope that
ISIS will solve their Kurdish problem for them by defeating them in Iraq and
The London Kurds organising this protest say that many Kurds and Turkish
socialists here "have seen friends and family murdered in recent days
and increasingly over the last few years by the Turkish state as it's nationalist,
imperialist and Islamist project has been damaged by the progressive politics
of the Kurdish movement."
After a rally with numerous speeches, including one by Kate Osamor, MP for
Edmonton whose constituency includes many Kurds, the protesters set off to
march to the BBC. I left the after around a quarter of a mile to go home.
Make seats match votes
Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Sat 25 Jul 2015
The balloons made up a map of the UK, coloured to show
the parties holding the parliamentary seats
After the most disproportionate UK election ever in May, grass roots opinion
for a fairer voting system has grown rapidly, with over half a million signing
petitions. Around a thousand came to a rally outside Parliament to demand
Before the General Election, Owen Winter, the independent member of the youth
parliament for Cornwall, created a petition on the website change.org calling
for electoral reform; within a week or two it had been signed by over 200,000
people. Together with other similar petitions by other groups on other sites
there were over half a million signatures calling for voting reform and a
system of proportional representation that would result in a government that
reflected how people voted.
The Tory Party were voted for by just under 24% of the electorate, gaining
36.1% of the votes. The 330 seats they won mean that they got one seat for
every 34,347 votes. On the same basis, UKIP who got 3,881,129 votes would
have got around 113 seats, but they actually got just one. The Green Party
were another loser, also with only one seat, despite 1,157,613 votes.
The election has made the unfairness of our 'First Past the Post' system
more evident. In a democracy it is clearly untenable, but it suits the interests
of our two major parties, as well as the SNP, whose 1,454,436 votes gained
them 56 seats. The Liberal Democrats got 1.66 times as many votes as the SNP
but these only gave them 8 seats.
The balloon map using different colours for the parties holding seats would
have looked quite impressive from a helicopter, but seen at ground level was
rather disappointing. Even holding my camera well above my head it was still
hard to make much sense of it.
After a short introduction, people went through the 'map' with pins popping
balloons for the constituencies where no candidate got over 50% of the votes,
though it wasn't too clear why. Possibly it made better videos than it did
still pictures, though I doubt it. It was difficult too to make much visually
of the 'Twitterstorm' on #MakeSeatsMatchVotes and given the disappointingly
low turnout for what had been billed as a 'Great Gathering for Voting Reform'
it was probably more of a very light Twittershower.
What was lacking was any clear idea of how fairer voting might be obtained,
either in terms of how the voting system could work and how reform might be
accomplished in a way that would retain some of the advantages of the present
One proposal would be to pair up all of the current constituencies into two-member
seats, with one seat going to any candidate with more than 50% of the votes.
The remaining one or two seats in all constituencies could then be allocated
to represent (together with the seats already allocated by majority) the popular
vote, with seats to parties, starting from those with the lowest eligible
number of votes who would get one seat in those constituencies in which they
had most support until their quota was reached. Candidates would still stand
for constituencies and parties could nominate one or two candidates for each
constituency, one being listed on the ballot and a second for the 'list' seat
only so that they did not split the vote.
There could of course be quite different constituencies, but a reduction from
the current 650 to 325 would keep most of them to a reasonable size. A scheme
like this would enable us to keep the idea that members represent constituencies
and they would end up representing those in which they had considerable support.
Many constituencies would have two MPs from different parties, which might
be an advantage to constituents - and a little competition between the two
might be good. It also avoids the idea of a 'party list' which many would
find unacceptable or undesirable.
Free Steve Kaczynski from Turkish Jail
Turkish Cultural Office, Kingsway, London.Sat 25 Jul 2015
A woman from the Turkish Popular Front hands out leaflets
at the protest
A protest outside Craven House on Kingsway which houses the Counsellor’s
Office for Culture & Information of the Turkish Embassy called for the
immediate release of Steve Kaczynski, a left-wing activist arrested in a raid
in April on a left-wing Turkish cultural centre on suspicion of being a British
spy and still in jail without charge, now on hunger strike.
Kaczynski, born in Scotland and at one time employed by the BBC World Service
on Turkish affairs has for years supported the Turkish community in the UK
with translations and advice over employment and immigration. He was at a
Cultural Centre in Turkey to show international solidarity against fascism
when it was raided by Turkish police following a hostage incident in a courthouse
where a state prosecutor and the two gunmen holding him captive were killed.
There is no suggestion that he was involved in this incident.
Turkish media repeated government rumours about his being a British or German
spy but there is no evidence of this, and those who know him find it impossible
to believe. He has not been charged and his arrest is seen as a part of a
systematic programme by the AKP Turkish government to intimidate any political
He is known to people on the left in the UK, despite the kind of political
differences that often separate people, as a kind and gentle man who abhors
violence and has long campaigned for human rights and political freedom. Those
at the protest included some from the British left as well as the Turkish
Popular Front in the UK. The protesters sang and chanted and made a lot of
noise as well as handing out leaflets explaining the case and calling for
his immediate release.
Festival of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
St Peter's Italian Church, Clerkenwell, London. Sun 19 Jul 2015
The procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which was the first Roman Catholic
event on English streets for 349 years when first allowed by Queen Victoria
in 1883, took place in Clerkenwell from St Peter's Italian church founded over
150 years ago.
Catholic women with the banner they are to carry in
the procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
10 years since Iran hanged gay teenagers
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. Sun 19 Jul 2015
Outrage's pink triangle edged with funereal black and
the message 'Never Forget'
Peter Tatchell Foundation and African LGBTI group Out and Proud held
a memorial vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields for teenagers Mahmoud
Asgari and Ayaz Marhon publicly hanged by agonising slow strangulation because
they were gay in the city of Mashhad, Iran on 19 July 2005.
Ecuadorians support 'Citizen Revolution'
Trafalgar Square, London. Sun 19 Jul 2015
The Ecuadorians get themselves organised for a group
photo in front of the National Gallery
Ecuadorians brought flags, posters and t-shirts to Trafalgar Square to
support President Rafael Correa, threatened by right-wing protests as his
'citizen's revolution' which has reduced poverty and the influence of the
US, IMF and multinationals.
Eritreans Vigil for Peace?
Downing St, London. Sat 18 Jul 2015
A woman at the vigil with Eritrean flags and poster
'We Support our Government and Respect Our President'
Since 26th June, a few Eritreans have conducted a non-stop vigil opposite
Downing St, started by patriotic Eritrean Yacob Ghebremedhin. There are also
larger protests on the first Friday of each month "under the banner of
Their main demands are for the full and unconditional Implementation of the
Algiers Agreement, including the ruling of Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission,
which followed the ending of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, for the
lifting of the UN sanctions imposed on Eritrea in 2009 and 2001 which they
blame on US pressure, and for "the total rejection of the so called
Commission Of Inquiry on Eritrea’s report based on fabrications and
lies, and aimed at tarnishing the good image of Eritrea, its peoples’
cherished cultural values, government and the Eritrean Defence Forces."
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Eritrea was released in
June this year. In an op-ed, Rachel Nicholson of Amnesty
"Its findings are damning: systematic, widespread and gross human
rights violations have been and continue to be committed under the authority
of the government."
"In 484 pages of detailed findings, based on interviews with 550 witnesses
and 160 written submissions, the Commission describes the rule by fear through
which Eritrean citizens are systematically stripped of their fundamental
freedoms: in the report’s own words, ‘controlled, silenced and
isolated… abused, exploited and enslaved.’"
"The Commission’s findings tally with the violations reported
consistently by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations
over many years, including extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and
incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances, torture, forced labour
in indefinite national service and severe restrictions on freedom of expression
and religion. In the 22 years since independence, the government has systematically
crushed any opposition, silenced all forms of dissent and punished anyone
who refuses to comply."
She goes on to say that the Eritrean government closely controls access to
the country and refuses entry to those who try to investigate human rights.
Eritreans abroad "feared reprisals by the authorities, either against
themselves or family members still living in Eritrea, and believed that the
authorities were able to monitor their activities through a network of spies
and informants in the diaspora."
This isn't the whole story, but an important and undeniable part of it. Other
posters talked of Eritrea as a "self reliance nation free from any external
pressure", meaning that it isolates itself so as to resist the huge external
pressures on its socialist regime from neo-colonial powers, particularly the
I'd photographed the vigil on the day it began and had talked to two of the
men present, but had not written about it, being unhappy with some of the
answers they gave and with my pictures, as several protesters seemed unwilling
to be photographed. Both then and today there were half a dozen Eritreans
at the vigil.
Falun Dafa vigil against Chinese Atrocities
Downing St, London. Sat 18 Jul 2015
Falun Dafa protesters hold Chinese banners at the protest
A silent vigil at Downing St bore witness to the tens of millions who
practice Falun Dafa who are facing imprisonment, torture or even death at
the hands of the Chinese regime. They say more than 60,000 have been killed
for their vital organs to be sold.
Women in white held pictures surrounded by flowers of Falun Dafa supporters
killed by the Chinese Regime who see its core teachings of truthfulness, compassion
and tolerance as a threat. They say many are killed to use their organs for
Whitecross Street Festival
Whitecross St, London. Sat 18 Jul 2015
Whitecross St still has traces of its past despite gentrification
Whitecross St, just to the north of the Barbican Centre, was lined with
stalls and a couple of stages for the festival. The street still retains a
little of its old character despite considerable gentrification, with most
of the old businesses being replaced by galleries, offices, clothes shops,
estate agents, bars etc.
A few of the old shop fronts are now fronts for rather different establishments.
The people enjoying the festival included some of the older residents still
in the area as well as newcomers, but it still made me sad, and I didn't stay
Justice for Tyree
US Embassy, London. Sat 18 Jul 2015
Protests call for justice over the death of Sandra Bland
and beating up of Tyree Carroll
People at the US Embassy in London supported protesters in Philadelphia
against the brutal beating by up to 26 officers of Tyree Carroll, a young
black man caught cycling the wrong way on a one way street, recorded on video.
He remains under arrest.
The protest, described as a 'flash protest' and had only been called fairly
late the previous afternoon, and was not surprisingly poorly attended. As
several of those who spoke pointed out, the beating and arrest of Carroll
was only one of many cases of violence against black people by police in the
US, and posters also called for Justice for Sandra Bland, found hanged
in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, five days ago, three days after she
had been arrested following a routine traffic stop.
Speakers also mentioned other black people killed by police in the US, as
well as those killed by police and security guards here in the UK, including
Jimmy Mubenga, killed during a forcible deportation attempt and Mark
Duggan, targeted and shot by police in Tottenham. Two armed police officers
watched from a distance inside the embassy fence, and two other officers strolled
over briefly to listen but took no action.
Reinstate the Sotheby's 4
New Bond St, London. Thu 16 Jul 2015
Police almost rip a shirt from a protesters back as
they try to stop them from marching
Aggressive policing led to some angry scuffles at what would have been
an entirely peaceful third protest by United Voices of the World at Sotheby's
calling for the four workers sacked for protesting to be reinstated. The protest
had been held to demand proper sick pay, pensions and holiday pay for cleaners
and other outsourced workers there.
The protesters met at Oxford Circus before marching the short distance to
Sotheby's in Old Bond St. As the arrived on the road in front of the auction
house they were stopped by a line of police who told them they most go to
the pavement on the opposite side of the road where barriers had been set
up to form a pen. There were more barriers on the pavement in front of Sotheby's
and around the entrance.
The protesters told police that they intended to protest on the pavement
outside Sotheby's, and it was hard to see any reason at all for not allowing
them to do so, as the door was locked and not in use. The protesters stood
in the street and argued with police. After around 5 minutes, the line of
police linked arms and moved forward, pushing most of the protesters onto
the pavement opposite. A few managed to evade them but were also forced across
The protesters then held a rally for around 15 minutes, with various people
including UVW General Secretary Petross Elia and victimised PCS rep Candy
Udwin, sacked by the National Gallery for her union activities, leading the
The protesters then decided to march around the block, and set off down New
Bond St, with police attempting with little success to stop them, but pushing
many of them around. But others simply walked through, with someone igniting
a red smoke flare to add a little to the confusion. Another flare was set
off as they walked around past Sotheby's rear entrance. This was guarded by
a small line of police, and others walked along on the other side of the protest.
The march returned to the front entrance of Sotheby's and was again stopped
by police who pushed them, at times rather roughly, on to the pavement and
behind the barriers. The protest continued noisily there for another 20 minutes
before the protesters again tried to march. This time police were more forceful
in stopping them and there were a few minutes of angry confrontation at the
southern end of the pen.
It looked for some moments as if the protesters were about to push past the
police line, and more police came round to help, moving away from the barriers.
The protesters who had been standing back then unhooked some of these and
walked out onto the street and there were then more angry scuffles and a certain
amount of chaos. Several protesters were thrown bodily by police back on the
pavement but surprisingly none were seriously injured. Another police car
and a police van arrived with yet more police and the protesters were nearly
all pushed back behind the barriers which had been restored.
The protest continued with a line of police facing the protesters over the
barriers, and it looked for some minutes as if police were preparing to arrest
the UVW General Secretary Petross Elia who was arguing vociferously with them.
But there were a few more speeches and things settled a little before Petross
spoke to one of the officers indicating that the protesters were ready to
leave the area. He went to speak to the senior officer and came back with
the the message that they could leave.
The protesters then marched away from Sotheby's going up to protest briefly
outside the BBC before dispersing, but I was already late and went in the
opposite direction to catch a bus to Waterloo.
Runnymede, Surrey. Mon 13 Jul 2015
The chairs on the grass at Runnymede - the closest shows a display of the
The Jurors is an artwork by
Hew Locke for Runnymede, Surrey, UK to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing
of Magna Carta. Commissioned by Surrey County Council and National Trust.
It consists of 12 bronze chairs incorporating symbols and imagery representing
concepts of law and key moments in the struggle for freedom, rule of law and
The chairs are set in the meadow at Runnymede, below the hill where Surrey
County Council and the police celebrated the Magna Carta anniversary by surrounding
Eco Village and denying them their civil rights and obstructing their
planned celebration of 800 years of freedom.
If you visit The Jurors, it's worth taking the short walk up the hill to visit
the Eco Village, currently still occupying the woodland after various attempts
to evict them after a judge decided that there case, involving the assertion
of rights granted by Magna Carta and its 1217 companion Charter of the Forest
as well as the rather more recent European Convention on Human Rights deserved
a proper hearing.
It was raining slightly as we walked along by the Thames towards Runnymede,
and the rain came on rather heavier as we reached the group of 12 chairs ,
set out as if around an invisible table, with five on each side and one at
either end. We had stopped on our way at the nearby public toilet behind the
tea-room, where there were leaflets
explaining the depictions on the chairs - online the large
print version is clearer. You can also download an audio
guide, though the site warns it is best to do so before going to the site.
Surround Harmondsworth - end immigration detention
Harmondsworth Immigration Detention Centre. Sat 11 Jul 2015
After protesting outside the Harmondsworth prison,
the MfJ moved on to the footpath by Colnbrook
Movement for Justice protested at Europe's largest detention centre
complex which holds many on Fast-Track, now found unlawful by the High Court.
It called for all such centres to be shut, and Fast-Track and scapegoating
of immigrants to end.
The complex containing both Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration detention
centres is now know as the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre, a title which
clearly indicates the government's intention not to properly investigate asylum
claims but to simply deport those making them as fast as they can. Although
the 'fast track' system, designed to make it impossible for people to properly
fight their case to stay has now been declared illegal, those held in the
centre are still under threat of being bundled onto a plane without a proper
chance to present their case.
After meeting at the entrance to the site on the Bath Road, protesters marched
to the pen outside the Harmondsworth administration block for a noisy protest.
Phone calls to residents inside told the protesters that they could be heard
in the prison and that the detainees were uplifted by knowing that people
outside knew they were being held and cared about them.
Several of those inside spoke about their ill-treatment, with their phone
calls being relayed to the protesters by holding the phone speaker to the
megaphone. There were also speeches by a number of people who had been held
inside this and other immigration prisons, encouraging those inside to keep
fighting for justice.
After a lengthy protest outside the Harmondsworth prison, the protesters
marched off along the Bath Road to the public footpath that runs alongside
the high security Colnbrook immigration prison. They stopped in a cornfield
adjoining the prison where they could hear the shouts from those inside for
"Freedom Now" and "End Detention". Again contact was established
over mobile phones and those inside and protesting outside where able to share
their thoughts and to take part in chanting together.
Al Quds Day march
Portland Place to US Embassy, London. Fri 10 Jul 2015
Protesters line up behind the BBC ready for the march
The annual Al Quds Day march on the last Friday of Ramadan, organised
by the Islamic Human Rights Commission gathered close to BBC Broadcasting
House, marching from there to a rally at the US Embassy, calling for justice
and freedom for Palestine.
Several thousand came to the back of Broadcasting House for the start of
the march, mainly Muslim, but with a few mainly Jewish supporters from the
British left and a group of ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta anti-zionist Jews.
The IHRC receives support from the Iranian regime, and the celebration of
Al Quds Day on the last Friday of Ramadan was introduced by Ayatollah Khomeini
in Iran 1979 and spread from there to other countries. The roots of the event
are quite clear with a large banner carrying a quotation from Khomeini, although
support for Iran was less marked than in previous years, and I only saw one
protester carrying a photograph of Khomeini.
Most of the banners and placards and the chanting on the march were calling
for freedom for Palestine, and there were many placards against Israeli violence
in Gaza and the West Bank, and calling for a boycott of Israel, a movement
which seems to be growing in strength.
There were too a few - very few - Hezbollah flags and people wearing badges
showing their support. The Neturei Karta had their anti-Zionist placards,
with their message that 'Authentic Jewry Always Opposed Zionism And the State
of "Israel"', but I found no evidence for anti-semitism, which opponents
of the march always charge it with.
Among the groups supporting the march are many organisations involved with
Palestine, including the Ahlulbayt Islamic Mission, Friends of Al Aqsa, Friends
of Lebanon, Innovative Minds, Islamic Centre of England, Islamic Students
Association, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Lebanese Community UK, Muslim
Association of Britain, Muslim Council of Britain, Muslim Directory, Neturei
Karta International, Scottish PSC, Sons of Malcolm, Passion Islam, Stop the
War Coalition and UK Islamic Mission.
I left the march as it turned off Regent St to make its way through Mayfair
to a rally at the US Embassy.
IWGB protest at Royal College of Music
Kensington, London. Fri 10 Jul 2015
Jason Moyer-Lee and Alberto Durango of the IWGB blow horns outside the Royal
College of Music
The IWGB union protested noisily at the Royal College of Music after
it failed to respond to their offer of negotiations to achieve sick pay, holidays
and pension for outsourced workers similar to workers directly employed by
Security staff at the RCM tried to get the protesters to move away from the
area in front of the entrance, but they refused, and their presence there
did not greatly impede people entering or leaving. There were more people
around than usual as there was a graduation ceremony taking place. The union
had offered to call off the protest if the management would talk about their
claim for for proper sick pay, holidays and pensions for the outsourced workers.
Quite a few of those going in and out took the flyer about the dispute and
some expressed their support. The noisy protest will have been evident to
all those inside the building, which would perhaps not have been the case
if the protesters had moved away as requested.
There was a minor incident when one woman came out of the building and remonstrated
with the protesters, telling them to go away. When they refused to do as she
asked she assaulted on of them, and the RCM security quickly led her away.
Sotheby's 4 sacked for protesting
Old Bond St, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
An officer refuses to make eye contact as he pushes
UVW general secretary Petross Elia away from Sotheby's
United Voices of the World and their supporters protested at Sotheby's
after they sacked four workers who took part in last week's protest for proper
sick pay for the cleaners and porters there.
As the week before, the protesters, now calling for the reinstatement of
the 'Sotheby's 4' as well as for the original demands for proper
sick pay, holidays and pensions met at Oxford Circus. The UVW were supported
by other groups and individuals including Class War, SOAS Unison and the PCS
workers from the National Gallery.
They marched to Sotheby's, where they made clear to police that they wanted
to protest outside the auction house, while police tried to force them across
to the pavement opposite. After five minutes police began pushing the protesters,
but were only successful after two more police vans brought reinforcements
a few minutes later. The protest then continued facing Sotheby's from across
the road and was continuing when I had to leave around an hour later.
Save Shaker Aamer weekly vigil
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
A line of police watch the regular Shaker Aamer weekly
Budget Day was just another Wednesday for the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign,
and they were there to remind MPs that Shaker Aamer, long cleared for release,
is still held, abused and tortured in Guantanamo and urging his immediate
release to the UK.
Joint Strikers Budget Day Rally
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Candy Udwin, victimised PCS rep at the National Gallery
speaks in Parliament Square
Public sector workers on strike against the privatisation of the council
services in Barnet and Bromley and of workers at the National Gallery marched
to a rally in Parliament Square while the Budget speech was being made called
by Bromley Unite.
DPAC Parliament Square Budget Day protest
Parliament Square, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Police secure Andy Greene in his wheelchair inside a
specially adapted van hired for the occasion
The DPAC 'Balls to the Budget' protest ended in Parliament Square. After
a short rally police moved in to remove the giant banner and protesters from
the road. Several protesters, including Andy Greene of DPAC in his wheelchair,
When the protesters came off Waterloo Bridge they stopped on the junction
at the corner of Parliament Square blocking all traffic there, and held a
short rally, joined by trade unionists who had come for a rally there. Traffic
standing still on Whitehall had meant that those marching from the National
Gallery, led by Candy Udwin who spoke briefly here, had needed to get off
the road and march on the pavement.
After a short while, large numbers of police came onto the road to persuade
the DPAC protesters to move away, although the police who included a small
group on horses, effectively blocked Parliament Square for rather longer.
The police arrested at least two of the protesters, and there was a long wait
while they brought in specially adapted hired van to take away Andy Greene
of DPAC in his wheelchair, along with pensioner Terry Hutt.
DPAC blocks Westminster Bridge
Westminster Bridge. Wed 8 Jul 2015
A cyclist pulls up his front wheel as he jumps off,
his way blocked ny the DPAC banner
Disabled People Against the Cuts block traffic on Westminster Bridge
on Budget Day with a 23 metre long banner in protest against cuts hitting
the disabled, after displaying it opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The protesters walked on to the roadway on the bridge with their banners,
while a small group on the embankment unrolled the long banner and held it
on the embankment wall facing the Houses of Parliament.
They then brought it up onto the bridge, where it stretched the whole width
of the bridge, again blocking traffic for a few minutes before marching with
it towards Parliament Square.
DPAC 'Balls to the Budget'
Downing St, London. Wed 8 Jul 2015
Paula Peters tries to throw a football into Downing
Disabled People Against Cuts supporters, some in wheelchairs and mobility
scooters, protested against the changes to benefits which will hit the disabled
hardest, writing messages on balls and throwing them over the gates of Downing
Among other groups supporting the protest were Global Women's Strike, Winvisible,
Women Against Rape, Unite Community and Class War. Also at Downing St was
political artist Kaya Mar with a Budget Day painting.
After some speeches on the opposite site of Whitehall, Paula Peters of DPAC
lead protesters across the road, including a number on mobility scooters and
in wheelchairs as well as walking. There they stopped in front of the two
rows of police and tried to throw balls of various sizes over the gates. Some
of the larger balls had messages such as 'If the Tories had a soul they'd
sell it', 'Cuts Kill' and 'Blood on your hands' and a woman carried a large
poster, 'Balls to this Bullshit Budget'. A few did go over the gate, but most
The protesters then made their way along the road down Whitehall towards Parliament
Darent Valley Path & Thames
Gravesend, Kent. Sat 4 Jul 2015
Riverside path at Littlebrook power station
Our walk started at Dartford Station, rejoining the Darenth Way. For some
reason this does a short and pointless deviation to emerge and cross the river
again as it flows into the large ponds which used to be in front of a large
pharmaceutical works. Much of this has now gone, with production ceasing a
few years ago. Today the pond had some large areas of water lilies.
We made our way up Hythe St past the Hufflers' Arms, a reminder of when the
Darent was navigable, and men were needed to pull the barges upstream to the
Dartford wharf. A little past there a path took us across the Darent again
and on to a riverside path, a route I first walked thirty years ago. Since
then The Wellcome Foundation changed to Glaxo Wellcome, expanded, became Glaxo
Smith Kline, shortened to GSK and closed down. Some industry still remains
on the site, which has been sold to be developed for housing.
The riverside path took us to the lock, now rather derelict with a permanent
half-tide barrier to retain water upstream at low tide. Boats can still go
over this at or near high tide, and one narrow boat was moored just upstream,
and a man from the Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek, aka Steam Crane
Wharf who are trying to restore navigation was working by the lock. We stopped
and talked with him for some time, and he told us that a yacht was going to
try and come up from the Thames in an hour or two.
Getting under the flood barrier isn't a problem, as it is only lowered very
occasionally at exceptionally high tides, though the river is very shallow
at low tide, but the Dartford bypass (Bob Dunn Way) has a low fixed span across
the river, boats need to come up and under it as the tide is rising and then
wait to travel further up towards Dartford.
The whole creek is now very silted up, with large mud banks in places, and
the permanent half-tide barrier has greatly increased the problem above it,
holding the water so it deposits its load of silt.
The paper works on the west side of the river are also now closed, and much
of the site is now being developed as housing. Downstream of the bypass the
Cray, also navigable for a short length, joins the Darent. The riverside path
is on a tall bank and winds considerably with distant views over the marshes.
It goes past some lakes, past a motocross circuit, a clay shooting range some
distance away, fields and cows, some derelict square roofless military structures,
and the scattered buildings of a former fireworks factory to the Darent Flood
We stopped here to eat our sandwiches in the shade of a hedge, about the only
shade between Dartford and Greenhithe where our walk ended. As we finished
we saw a yacht making for the Darent and I ran to photograph it going under
the flood barrier and upriver.
The path alongside the Thames was hot and dusty, taking us past the sewage
farm and Littlebrook Power station which finally ceased operation this year,
to the QEII bridge. As we got to the bridge the Cobelfret ferry eased out
of its berth at Purfleet, turned in the river, and made its way out towards
By this time I was getting a little hot and tired and took few pictures as
we walked past Crossways and on to Greenhithe where we took the train home.
We had meant to take a slightly early path away from the riverside to go up
to Stone Church and then on to Stone Crossing, but failed to see it if it
is still there.
Ahwazi crash secret UK-Iran business meeting
Westminster, London. Fri 3 Jul 2015
People try to stop the protesters in the corridor at
the British Iranian Chambers of Commerce
A small group of Ahwazi Arabs with the support of Peter Tatchell rushed
into the secret UK-Iran business talks to protest peacefully against violent
persecution of their people in Iran. Several protesters and a press photographer
were assaulted by a young Iranian man, thought to be an Iranian agent.
Around fifteen protesters, mainly from the Hashem Shabani Action Group,
named after Arab-Iranian poet and human rights activists Hashem Shabani, executed
for peaceful opposition to the Iranian regime in January 2014, met outside
Westminster Abbey, where they attracted the attention of a security man who
was relieved when they assured him they were shortly going to move elsewhere
after they had finished making their plans. Some of the protesters would protest
outside the building, but a group who were prepared to take direct action
would follow Peter Tatchell into the building and rush up the stairs
to try and crash the meeting.
Together with two cameramen and several photographers they then made their
way to the Tothill St entrance of NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) House,
a building containing the offices of the British Iranian Chambers of Commerce
(BICC), which promotes UK-Iran trade and investment and where the secret meeting
was taking place on its sixth floor.
The protesters rushed into the foyer and most managed to evade the two or
three security staff and make for the stairs, where I and the two other photographers
followed them, running up the six stories. After running up six floors I wasn't
at my best, feeling rather too old for this sort of thing! It took a little
while to find the corridor to the room where the meeting was taking place,
with people standing around and taking light refreshments, and there were
some arguments in the corridor outside.
After a little pushing the protesters managed to enter the room and carry
out their protest against the exploitation of their homeland and anti-Arab
oppression by the Tehran regime. Various people were trying to throw us out
and I wasn't able to get a picture of Lord Lamont as he was confronted
by some of the protesters in the corridor outside, although the other photographers
did. He has been one of those pressing for the banning of the peaceful and
non-violent (their slogan is 'Our weapons are pens. Our bullets are words')
Hashem Shabani Action Group along with Tory MP Richard Bacon, leader
of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Iran, who I think is visible in the
background of some of my images.
Iran's campaign of violent persecution, forced displacement and the suppression
of Ahwazi Arabs began around 1925, largely driven by the discovery of huge
oil reserves on the Arab lands. Continued after the Iranian revolution, it
has resulted in their homeland, thought to have been the inspiration of the
Biblical 'Garden of Eden' becoming a desolate wasteland, the poorest area
of the Middle East.
Oil was first discovered there in 1908, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company
formed to exploit it (in was renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935)
was directly controlled by the British government from 1914 to 1951 when it
was nationalised under the the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC.) The UK
and USA led the 1953 coup which brought a new agreement which favoured the
multinationals and was only ended by the Islamic Revolution in 1978-9, which
brought Iranian oil back under the control on NIOC. Iran is the second largest
oil exporter in OPEC and still has huge reserves of oil and gas, mostly in
the Ahwazi regions.
After around ten minutes of protest at the BICC offices, the protesters and
photographers went back down the stairs and attempted to leave the offices.
They were held there by police, who made some enquiries about the assault
on one of the photographers, who eventually decided not to press charges against
the man who police had easily identified. It was thought that his assailant
was probably an Iranian secret agent who would be able to claim diplomatic
After sitting around on the comfortable seating in the foyer for around 45
minutes drinking the fruit juice hospitably brought by the building manager,
police allowed protesters and press to leave and the group, including those
who had stayed outside the building posed for photographs on the steps outside.
Sotheby's 'Dignity under the Hammer' protest
Old Bond St, London. Wed 1 Jul 2015
Protesters on the road outside Sotheby's making a
lot of noise
A noisy protest at Sotheby's as an auction of art works expected to fetch
over £350m was beginning, called for the cleaners and porters who work
there to get contractual sick pay and for an end to harassment of workers
for union activities.
The protesters met at Oxford Circus and marched down to Sotheby's in Old
Bond St with banners, drums, United Voices of the World flags and whistles,
stopping on the road outside the auction house. Sotheby's had a black carpet
and covered entranceway going across the pavement almost to the curb with
a number of security men and a flunkey waiting to greet their customers.
Other protesters, including a group from Class War with their Lucy Parsons
banner were waiting for them at Sotheby's. The protesters crowded around the
entrance way which was kept clear by police and security and kept up a continuous
protest with chants, drumming and other noise, along with some speeches from
Petross Elia of the UVW and two of the cleaners, Percy and Barbara.
Some of those going into the auction took the leaflets they were offered,
while others tried to ignore the protest; a few stopped briefly to talk. Although
noisy and making its demands loudly and angrily, the protest was peaceful
and had moments of humour, particularly from Class War, with a dance on the
black carpet by Adam Clifford, and some antics from Ian Bone, who rather upset
some of the police. The Class War women had brought large water pistols, which
mainly they used on other supporters of Class War, with Adam being shot and
dying spectacularly in front of the Sotheby's entrance.
Earlier UVW protests at Sotheby's had led to the cleaners and porters working
there winning the London Living Wage, contractual sick pay, the reinstatement
of our trade union members that had been suspended and dismissed and many
other things. But Sotheby's then fired CCML, the company that had been employing
the cleaners, and brought in new contractors, Servest, who refused to implement
the contractual sick pay that had previously been agreed. They also refused
to backdate the payment of the London Living Wage as had also been agreed
and were doubtful whether they would increase the rate to the new level when
it comes in on Nov 1st.
A letter was sent to all the employees, threatening with sacking if they
took part in any protests over the backing down by the company from the agreement
that had earlier been reached with CCML, and begin unfair disciplinary action
against one of the union reps, while refusing to investigate his report of
threats of violence made by managers.
Sotheby's has been making record profits in the past year and paying the
cleaners as previously agreed would have only an infinitesimal impact on this.
On the date chosen for the protest a Contemporary Art Evening Auction was
taking place at which works by artists including Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol
were being offered for sale, with the auction house later announcing that
the evening "realised £130.4m ($204.7m / €183.9m), Sotheby’s
highest-ever total for a sale of Contemporary Art in Europe. Warhol’s
only hand-painted one-dollar bill painting sold for £20.9 million, the
highest price for any work sold in London this week."
The day after the protest and sale when the cleaners reported for work, four
who took part in the protest were stopped as they came to work and told they
were not allowed to enter. The UVW has pledged to continue protests like this
until Sotheby's take back the workers and meet the previously agreed demands.
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