Housing and Planning Bill March

Imperial War Museum to Downing St. Sat 30 Jan 2016

Class War pose on Westminster Bridge - and Lisa McKenzie waves her trident
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Lambeth and Southwark councillors were among around two thousand who took part in a rally and march from the Imperial War Museum to Downing St in a protest organised by Lambeth Housing Activists against the Housing and Planning Bill. The protesters say it will have a particularly large impact in London and greatly worsen the already acute housing crisis here.

Among the speakers at the initial rally were Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and an number of housing activists including Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing, and there speeches were warmly applauded. But when Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Housing Richard Livingstone the atmosphere changed, with boos and loud heckling from several people in the crowd including Elmer.

One man in particular continued to shout and point at Livingstone, reminding him of the social cleansing by Southwark Council, and in particular the scandalous demolition of the Heygate Estate where a huge area of social housing has been lost, and the continuing demolition of the Aylesbury estate. While Southwark claim to be building more social housing than any other borough, they have allowed developers to renege on the committment to providing any social housing in schemes such as neo-Bankside.

The argument between the two men continued after Livingstone had left the platform. Many who lost their homes on Heygate and Aylesbury have had to move far away from the area, and few if any of the promises made by the council have been kept. Financially and morally Heygate was a scandal, and one the council seem determined to repeat, and it is not surprising that feelings run high.

The march started off in the opposite direction to Downing St, and wandered to Lambeth North through the back streets, much to the surprise and consternation of many taking part. Class War decided to liven things up a little, first by dancing along the street singing the 'Lambeth Walk' and then by rushing across the pavement towards a large estate agency. Police formed a line to stop them entering and they stood outside for some minutes with their banners - the field of crosses with the message 'We have found new homes of for the rich' and the Lucy Parsons banner with its quotation "We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live" before rejoining the march.

In front of the banners, Lisa Mckenzie stood waving a plastic trident with a small banner 'This Bill is the end of Council Housing' with its second message an image of David Cameron and the alternative text 'Bell End'. From time to time she also wore a mask of Iain Duncan Smith, who she stood as Class War candidate against in Chingford in last year's general election.

As the march approached Downing St, police lined up across the road to direct the marchers across to the opposite side of Whitehall. They walked past the line then recrossed to mass in front of the gates of Downing St, where the protest continued for some time on the pavement and road, with several groups listening to speakers and the samba band playing. I left as police were finally persuading most of those present to leave the road.
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IWGB protest victimisation by CCM/CBRE

Finsbury Circus, London. Wed 27 Jan 2016

The IWGB protesters march up and down the pavement outside 1 Finsbury Circus
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Grass-roots union IWGB (Independent Workers Union) held a noisy protest outside the CBRE-managed offices at 1 Finsbury Circus in the City of London. They were protesting against the victimisation of two cleaners who had complained and campaigned against overwork and intimidation by cleaning contractor CCM.

CCM is a privately owned contract cleaning and maintenance company based in London and the cleaners say they managers are running a campaign of intimidation and provocation against long-term employees, trying to deny them their employment rights and force them out of their jobs so they can be replaced by new workers with reduced working conditions.

They say that CBRE, a huge commercial property firm who manage these (and many other) offices and who contracts CCM has been leaning heavily on CCM to cut costs by reducing the conditions of their cleaners.

The protesters had brought with them banners and posters, and set up in front of the door to the offices, watched by a small contingent of City of London Police. They handed out leaflets explaining why they were protesting and drew attention to their presence by making a great deal of noise, with loud speeches over a portable sound system by union president Alberto Durango, chanting of slogans, 'Shame on You' and 'What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!', banging drums and blowing whistles and plastic horns.

During the protest, which lasted around 50 minutes as workers from the building were entering and leaving for their lunch breaks, Durango announced that the union were also beginning a campaign to get the London Living Wage for the workers in the offices, all of whom are currently only paid the statutory minimum of £6.70 per hour, hugely less than is needed to live in London, where the London Living Wage, calculated by the Greater London Authority is £9.40 per hour.
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NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Blocks Bridge

Westminster Bridge.Tue 19 Jan 2016
A police officer tries to talk to NUS Vice President Shelly Asquith as she and others shout 'Grants Not Debt!'
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NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Rally

Parliament Square.Tue 19 Jan 2016

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South and Shadow Minister in Department of Energy arrives to speak
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Following the scrapping maintenance grants last Thursday by a parliamentary committee, a protest in Parliament Square by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts supported today's Labour party debate against the action and the government's flagrant denial of democratic process. The scrapping of the grants was approved by the votes of just 10 MPs in an obscure committee.

After the rally which included speeches by Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South and Shadow Minister in Department of Energy and Climate Change and Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President (Welfare) the protesters moved on to Westminster Bridge, unrolling a new banner 'No Grants = No Bridge' and stopping traffic there. I left after around an hour, by which time the police had persuaded them to move to block only the southbound carriageway and the protest appeared to be dying down.
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International Times new 'Issue Zero'

Fleet St, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Hot from the Press - Nick Victor holds up a copy from the box he has just opened at the launch party
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Notorious London underground paper International Times, first published in 1966 and closed down in 1973 (with several re-incarnations and a web site since 2009) started again for its 50th anniversary with a launch party for the 36 page 'Issue Zero'.

Among those writing for the new issue were stalwarts from its early days, including Heathcote Williams, and the issue was edited by Heathcote Ruthven with subediting by Emily McCarthy, Heather Williams, David Graeber and Heathcote Williams, design by Darren Cullen and art by Nick Victor and Claire Palmer.

The magazine is available online where it is described thus:

Released at the beginning of the 50th year of IT, issue zero contains searing polemics, investigative journalism, satiric comics, a poem, and much more.

There are pieces on topics as diverse as the (lack of a) housing crisis, Stop The War Coalition, self-serving refugee charity, first-hand accounts on gunfighting between the PKK and Turkish state, and reflections on feminist revolutions in Iceland.

Designed and printed on Risograph at gallery, studio, and comic book shop WAR in Lewisham by Darren Cullen.

The issue is dedicated to Mike Lesser, who along with Robert Tascher edited a special edition of IT from the Paris barricades in 1968.
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Drop Food Not Bombs on Syria

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015

A man shouts at the protest, behind him a placard with a bloody hand on the face of Putin
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Syrians in Trafalgar Square called for an end of spending billions on bombs and weapons an the the UK insted to allocate the money to humanitarian aid for those under siege across Syria, including those in Madaya and the Yarmouk refugee camp.

Many wore or held the Free Syria flag with its green, black and white strips and three red stars, and various posters which made clear they condemnation of ISS, the Russian bombings and the Assad regime. One poster read 'Syrians started the Revolution - Assad started the war' while others made clear what they were calling for; 'Drop the Food, Not Bombs' and 'Medaya is Crying While the World is Denying'.
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Vegans 'Awakening Compassion'

Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Vegans call for an end to farming animals
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Vegans from 'Awakening Compassion' held posters round the statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus. They want an end to all animal farming and urge a plant-based diet which avoids cruelty, is more healthy and far less polluting for the environment.

They stood holding posters around the base of Eros at Piccadilly Circus with large pictures of animals we farm for food - chickens, cows, sheep, goats, pigs- with meassages such as 'I am an animal - Someone not something - I want to stay alive'
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March against Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

Regent St, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015

Many marchers had red hands for the blood of the dolphins which turns the sea red
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Campaigners against the annual inhumane slaughter of dolphins and small whales at Taiji marched from Cavendish Square to the Japanese Embassy calling for the end of this barbaric practice.

I met the marchers as they were halfway down Regent St and photographed them until the end of the march had gone down Piccadilly. Although they march on the pavement rather than on the road they still attracted the attention of the many shoppers on the street.

Video and photographs, some of which were on banners and placards, show the repeated stabbing of small whales and dolphins after they have been herded into the shallow water of Taiji Cove by the fishermen in their boats. They thresh around and die painfully, their blood and that of the others of their family also being killed staining the water red, while the fishermen laugh and joke as they attack them again and again in a scene of horrendous cruelty against these highly intelligent animals.

Among the groups supporting the march were Sea Shepherd, Born Free, Earthrace and the Dolphin Project.
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St Pancras Die-In for Calais refugees

Kings Cross & St Pancras, London. Sat 16 Jan 2015
Protesters stage a die-in outside the entrance from the Underground to St Pancras
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An emergency protest against clearing the Calais refugee 'Jungle' urged the UK government to give refugees at Calais safe passage into the UK to claim asylum. They say many have family and friends here and the UK must take a fair share of migrants. Today was an International Day of Action in solidarity with refugees and there were also protests in Calais and Dunkirk.

The protesters, including people from the London2Calais convoy as well as a Christian contingent with some bible-based placards, met in the square in front of Kings Cross and after a brief speech by one of the organisers walked the short distance to the main entrance of St Pancras International. Checking earlier they had found a large number of police were stationed at all entrances to St Pancras and inside, particularly around the Eurostar ticket gates. A line of police across the entrance prevented them going inside and the protest continued in front of them, with speeches from Kent anti-fascist Bridget Chapman and Adam from NUS Black Students.

The protesters, followed by police who continued to film them, then walked down outside the station to the Euston Road, before stopping briefly to decide which way to go. Some then went out into the road briefly stopping traffic, probably to mislead the police before running into the underground entrance and rushing towards the passage leading to the long shopping concourse of St Pancras.

There they were stopped by police, and held a further protest with a number of speeches before staging a 'die-in'. Speakers called for the refugees at Calais and Dunkerque, who include many unaccompanied minors and others with relatives living in the UK, to be allowed to enter the UK and make asylum claims. They state:

As activists in Britain, we believe that while the "Jungle" is a symptom of the crisis in Calais and Dunkerque, the root cause is British migration and foreign policy.

During the last months alone, at least 25 migrants have died trying to cross the border through the Eurotunnel, the youngest victims include an unborn baby, which died when his mother tried to cross in July 2015. David Cameron and Theresa May have blood on their hands.

The reason why refugees from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq and Sudan have chosen to live right next to the British border, risking their lives atttempting to cross it, is the fact that Britain refused to take its fair share of migrants.

Faced with the biggest worldwide displacement of people since the Second World War, the Tory governments refusal to take in more refugees is unacceptable.

We refuse to accept that there is money to bail out banks and bombing Syria but that there is no money left to help refugees.

After around ten minutes there was a final speech and the protesters got up and left. We were told that some protesters had managed to get inside and protest with fake 'body-bags' at the Eurostar entrance. Throughout the protest the protesters had left a gangway so that people going to catch trains could enter the station, although a few had been held up briefly by police who mistook them for protesters.
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Guantanamo 14 Years on

US Embassy, London. Mon 11 Jan 2016

Former 'hostage' Shaker Aamer lights a candle at the vigil in front of the US embassy
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Shaker Aamer and six other former detainees attended a vigil at the London US Embassy on the 14th anniversary of the setting up of Guantanamo, demanding Obama make good his promise to close the prison camp and release the remaining 103 'hostages' held there.

People, many of whom have taken part in the protests over the years by the London Guatanamo and Save Shaker Aamer campaigns came to the US Embassy to mark 14 years of the illegal concentration camp, and demand that President Obama keeps his promise to close down the camp and send all 103 of those still detained there - who Shaker Aamer has called 'hostages' be sent to countries where they can live without fear of further imprisonment and torture.

They brought banners and posters and lit candles with the message 'GITMO14' in front of the embassy, while speeches continued, reminding us that while all British detainees had now been released - and seven were said to be at the event - there were still over a hundred men left in the US concentration camp on Cuba. The London Guantanamo Campaign will be keeping up its monthly embassy protests until all are free.

Among those who spoke at the open mike were Aisha Maniar of the London Guantanamo Campaign, Imam Suliman Ghani from Tooting Islamic Centre, Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, Green Party, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Hamja Ahsan, Peter Tatchell, and former detainees Moazzam Begg and Shaker Aamer.

Shaker Aamer seemed in excellent health and was in very good spirits, talking, hagging and shaking hands with those who had campaigned for his release. He told them that the news he had heard through visiting lawyers had kept his spirits up and made him determined to keep on while in the prison - much of the almost 14 years in solitary.

At the same time as this London vigil, the large inflatable 'Shaker Aamer' was outside the White House, where another rally was taking place. Towards the end of the vigil, as he was about to read the names of the over a hundred still detained in the prison camp he was called away to appear over a live TV link to the Washington event, and Suliman Ghani took his place in reading out their names.

One of those who spoke was the daughter of Munir Farooqi, a man who ran Muslim information stalls on the streets of Manchester, despite attempts by police and local authorities to close them down. Six years ago he was given four life sentences after two undercover police officers faked conversion to Islam and spent a year spying on him, pretending they were desperate to go to train abroad to fight and questioning him in a classic case of entrapment to frame him as a terrorist recruiter.

Munir's family and supporters continue to fight to prove his innocence and have him released, and the authorities have attempted to confiscate the family home. Since there was no hard evidence of his guilt, proving his innocence is difficult; an appeal in 2013 was rejected.
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Class War Footy at White Cube

White Cube, Bermondsey, London. Sat 9 Jan 2016

Fire breathing and the Class War Womens Death Squad banner on the White Cube yard
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Class War protested against gentrification outside the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey where Gilbert & George are showing slogans from protests, playing football, breathing fire, singing protest songs and declaiming verse on the extensive yard.

Class War have waged a long campaign against gentrification in London and elsewhere, not least in their lengthy 'Poor Doors' campaign in 2014-5 at 'One Commercial St' in Aldgate. The Gilbert & George show 'Banners' at White Cube's Bermondsey St gallery, which appropriates slogans from various protests - including a number made popular by Class War - rewriting them in their handwriting and prominent signature and claims this as high-priced art (for rich suckers - for this work won't stand the test of time) pointed out the changes that have happened to this area over the past 20 or 30 years, with a rash of food shops, designer clothes, a fashion museum and galleries including the extremely pretentious White Cube moving in to what had been a solidly working class area on the edge of docklands.

The yards which had housed innumerable workshops and small businesses, as well as larger firms in the printing trade are now full of new and expensive flats, with a few design studios and architects offices - and of course no shortage of estate agents. Just beyond them are the old council estates with their blocks of flats, now all designated as 'brownfield sites' and ripe for demolition and exploitation as homes for the rich under the latest Tory government plans.

It's an area that I knew well and photographed in the 1980s, writing an small leaflet for a walk looking at its industrial history, West Bermondsey - the leather area - as an exercise in desk-top publishing. It sold hundreds of copies at a few pence each, partly for charity, and is still available for free download on the web, though much of what it mentions is now rather different.

In front of the White Cube gallery is a large open yard belonging to the gallery, and after Class War paid a visit to the gallery in December, they decided this would be a good place for a game of football, particularly as many of the council estates close by have signs saying 'No Ball Games Allowed' and they felt the space would make a good place for kids to play.

Although there had been no advance publicity of the protest on Facbook, rumours had got out and the police were there in 4 vans and waiting, along with several men in plain clothes standing outside the gallery who were probably private security. They made no attempt to stop the protest but stood watching, preventing protesters from entering the gallery and standing guard around a tall sculpture in one corner of the yard which had been bubble-wrapped in advance of the protest - which seemed to me a considerable artistic improvement.

The protesters deliberately kicked the football at police and security, encouraging them to join in the game. Some of them did kick the ball back, while others simply stood and let a protester come to collect it, sometimes holding it but returning it when requested.

But the protest outside the 'protest' show (entitled 'Banners') was not just football, but there was some spectacular fire breathing along with a premiere performance of Ray Jones's latest song, 'any chance of a sub?' dedicated to Damien Hirst and accompanied by the dancing Lucy Parsons banner 'We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live'. (Jones, together with Ian Bone were formerly part of the Welsh punk band "Page 3".) 'Sid Skill' had brought along a fairly lifelike black model bird (a fiver on eBay) which inspired a histronic performance from Ian Bone, about how the security men guarding the White Cube had murdered the last raven from the Tower of London, and that London was now doomed. Doomed I say, doomed.

Later, there were two spoken word performances, one by Jane Nicholls of a traditional verse, 'The Finest f***ing Family in the Land', performed with great gusto and with the small crowd joining in, and the second of a rather odd poem about a raven, sent in response to a tweet about Ian's performance at the protest by Ray Jones, which he read to us all. And the Womens Death Squad led a rousing performance of their anthem, ' Bunch of C***s'

Altogether it was a 'happening' with arguably rather more artistic credibility than the rather sterile work on display inside the gallery, and one that was appreciated by some members of the public even though it lacked the Art World's financial imprimatur.

Eventually it was time to leave - and for Class War to continue their celebrations in a local pub (while I left for Croydon.) On the way a number of Class War Womens Death Squad stickers somehow found their way onto street furniture, walls and estate agents windows, to remind the gentrifiers that Class War will be back.
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NHS Bursaries March

London. Sat 9 Jan 2016

Short Sighted Tories says a poster behind a man carrying Unite flags on the march
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Nurses, doctors and supporters of the NHS marched through London against axing of bursaries for NHS nurses and midwives who perform essential work for the NHS in hospitals caring for patients as an integral part of their courses.

After a brief initial rally the march formed up behind the main banners in Forum Magna Square before the several thousand set off down York Rd towards Waterloo Bridge.

Police stopped traffic and paused the front of the march briefly in the centre of Waterloo Bridge for those at the back to catch up. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was among those holding the banner at the front of the march, and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey marched with others holding a Unite flag in the middle of the march. On Waterloo Bridge he came up for a few moments to talk and have his picture take with Sam Fairbairn, the National Secretary of the People's Assembly against Austerity, who was leading the march.

I stood on the corner of the Strand taking pictures as the march turned to go to Trafalgar Square for the main rally, watching as the whole march went past before taking a bus back to Waterloo to travel to another event.
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NHS Bursaries rally before march

St Thomas's, London. Sat 9 Jan 2016

Nurses wait for the start of the march. Some have I (heart) NHS on their faces
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Nurses, doctors and supporters of the NHS gathered in Belvedere St opposite St Thomas Hospital for a brief rally before the march against axing of bursaries for NHS nurses and midwives who perform valuable work in hospitals during training, caring for patients.

Before the march started there was a brief rally, with speeches from a member of the public and NHS patient Mike Dee, final year junior doctor Lauren Gavaghan, a special registrar in psychiatry at Kings and one of the founders of Support Junior Doctors, President of the National Union of Students (NUS) Megan Dunn and Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett.

Many of the junior doctors at the protest were wearing the t-shirt which Vivienne Westwood designed in support of their campaign following a request from Gavaghan, which features a heart because as the designer said " you doctors are dealing with matters of life and death."

There was strong trade union support, with flags, banners and a balloon from Unison and Unite general secretary Len McCluskey was standing the crowd listening to the speeches -and spoke at the rally at the end of the march which I didn't attend.
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Don't extradite Omar Zayed to Israel

Bulgarian Embassy, Kensington. Fri 8 Jan 2016

Justice Omar Zayed - don't extradite Palestinian to Israel where he may face torture
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The Palestinian Prisoners Campaign protested outside the Bulgarian Embassy urging Bulgaria to refuse an Israeli extradition demand for former Palestinian political prisoner Omar Zayed, currently hiding in the Palestine embassy in Sofia. He has lived in Bulgaria for 22 years where he married and has 3 children.

Zayed, 52, was born the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. He was arrested by occupation forces in May 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment for killing an Israeli yeshiva student in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians call him a political fighter who was defending the Palestinian causer and say that he was beaten and tortured in prison. When he was in danger of death after a 40 day hunger strike in 1990, he was transferred from prison to a hospital in Bethlehem. He managed to escape from there and left Israel, settling in Bulgaria four years later, where he married a Bulgarian citizen and has three Bulgarian children. He became a part of the the Palestinian community of Sofia running a Palestinian grocery.

His home was raided by police and his son arrested, and Zayed took refuge in the Palestinian Authority embassy in Sofia to evade extradition. But the embassy have told him that he has to leave. If he is extradited to Israel he will again face imprisonment and torture; had he remained in jail there he would probably have been released with other Palestinians following the 1994 Oslo accords. Israel has an extradtiion treaty with the council of Europe, but that excludes political offences, and given Israel's record of torture - and that they previously tortured Zayed, the extradition request should be turned down on human rights grounds.

After an hour of protest they delivered a letter to the Bulgarian ambassador, which was taken in by Embassy staff. I left them as they were preparing to travel to the Palestinian Authority mission in Hammersmith to remind the PA of its responsibilities to protect Zayed and other former political prisoners.
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Kill the Housing Bill protest

Westminster, London. Tue 5 Jan 2016

The march against the Housing Bill led by Class War stops in front of Parliament
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Protesters urged MPs to oppose the Housing and Planning Bill being debated in Parliament which would effectively end low cost social housing in the UK, forcing councils to sell council housing, bringing in means testing and ending secure tenancies.

The Conservative government are rushing though the Housing and Planning Bill, described as "one of the most dangerous and far-reaching pieces of legislation passed in this country in a long time" and so far it has been almost unnoticed in the main stream media, although more then 150 housing sector organisations have made known their concernts in written submissions to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee. These appear to have been completely ignored and the government is hoping to fast-track it into law.

According to Architects for Social Housing, if passed it will:

  1. Replace the obligation to build homes for social rent with a duty to build starter homes capped at £450,000 in London and £250,000 in England;
  2. Extend the Right to Buy to housing associations without the obligation to replace them, further depleting the number of hoems for social rent;
  3. Compel local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either transfering public housing into private hands or freeing up the land it sits on for property developers;
  4. Force so-called ‘high income’ tenants with a total household income over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) to pay market rents;
  5. Grant planning permission in principle for housing estates designated as such to be redeveloped as 'brownfield land';
  6. Phase out secure tenancies and their succession to children and replace them with 2-5 year tenancies - with such tenancies also being applicable to tenants who have been 'decanted' for the purposes of redevelopment.

The bill also attacks the rights of Gypsies and Travellers through a discriminatory reduction of available housing sites, and will also hit barge dwellers.

Protests today were called for by several groups in the 'Kill the Housing Bill' alliance - Defend Council Housing, Camden Assembly of Tenants, Tower Hamlets Tenants Federation, GMB Union, NUT - London Teachers Housing Campaign, Camden LG, Cambridge City and other Unison branches, Unite Housing Workers, the Green Party, John McDonnell MP, London Gypsy Traveller Unit, Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Private Tenants, Kirklees Federation of Tenants & Residents Association - along with other groups, particularly ASH and Class War with other housing activists from the Aylesbury estate and elsewhere across London. There was support from other groups including SERTUC and squatters.

The protest had brought together a wide range of groups, and there were clearly differences in the way some thought the protest should be conducted. While Class War and others protested loudly at the front of the crowd facing Parliament, with some powerful speeches from Lisa McKenzie and Martin Smith among others and some housing songs led by John Hamilton of Lewisham People Before Profit and the Strawberry Thieves Choir, a smaller group at the back in front of George V seemed determined to hold a separate and more organised event. And when someone set off a green smoke flare, a SWP newspaper seller came and picked it up to carry away from the protest.

Among the speakers at the back of the event were Andrea Carey Fuller from the Green Party London List, Kevin Price, Cambridge City councillor and Marcus who spoke about the impact of the Housing Bill on Gypsies, Travellers and Bargees.

After an hour and a quarter of static protest, Class War decided to lead a march around past the Houses of Parliament and further. Most of the couple of hundred present decided to join them, with a small group staying behind to continue the protest in Old Palace Yard.

As the march moved off, police tried to persuade the marchers to keep to the pavement and avoid endangering themselves in the traffic, but they took no notice, keeping to the road. After a short while the police gave up and instead facilitated the march on the road by stopping traffic for it. Class War considered blocking Westminster Bridge, but instead turned down the Victoria Embankment to march up it and along Horseguards Avenue onto Whitehall. Opposite 10 Downing St they turned across towards the gates, igoring police requests, but coming to a halt when a small group of police stood in front of their leading 'New Homes for the Rich' banner.

The marchers stood on the roadway in front of Downing St for around 5 minutes, letting their views be known to anyone who might be inside before continuing on their way down Whitehall and on to Parliament Square. The march halted again in front of Big Ben for some more slogans and a change of music from the bike-hauled sound system before continuing to rejoin the protest that was continuing in Old Palace Yard.

It was time for me to leave, though there was time for a short rest in the pub with some of the protesters before catching my train. The protest was continuing and later there was a meeting in Parliament with the protesters and MPs including both Jeremy Corbyn and John Macdonald - one unreported reason why the Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle dragged on late into the night.
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Kurds protest Turkish army killings

Parliament Square, London. Tue 5 Jan 2016

A woman shouts against the Turkish attacks on Kurdish towns in front of flags showing Kurdish leader Ocalan
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British Kurds came to Parliament Square to protest against Turkish support for ISIS to attack Kurds in Syria and Turkish army attacks against Kurds. They accuse Turkey of carrying out genocide against the Kurdish people.

The UK continues to support Turkey despite these attacks on the Kurds and the evidence that Turkey is collaborating with Da'esh (ISIS/ISIL/IS) in the export of oil from the captured oilfields in Syria. President Erdogan's own family members are known to be involved in the smuggling operation, with pipelines and long lines of lorries taking ISIS oil over the Turkish border. Some ISIS oil is also refined in a Turkish refinery. Among the customers for the smuggled oil is Israel.

Until Russia started their bombing campaign the allied airstrikes had avoided taking effective action against ISIS's oil industry, which until recently is estimated to have brought in £1.5 to £2m a day to fund ISIS.

Kurds have long been a persecuted minority in Turkey, wiith the state trying to destroy their culture. The Turks with CIA help in 1999 captured and imprisoned the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, a founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and he is still held on the prison island of Imrali.

The peace process between Turkey and the PKK had broken down in June, and after the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lost 20 of the 81 seats it had won in June 2015 in the November snap election called by President Erdogan there have been increased armed struggles in Turkey between the Turkish Army and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in which several hundred armed fighters on each side have been killed but there have been more civilian deaths and injuries.

The PKK calls for an independent Kurdistan, including parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and there are considerable differences between them and those in control in Iraqi Kurdistan, who, as in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), favour autonomy inside the existing state.

Shortly after I left, the protesters went from Parliament Square to the nearby Conservative Party headquarters to deliver a letter. Some moved into the foyer and occupied the buildling and steps outside for several hours. This made the newspapers while the peaceful protest in the square did not.
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London Images

London, January 2016

Jan 5 - Westminster
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Pictures from my journeys around London in January 2016.


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my london diary

Jan 2016

Housing and Planning Bill March
IWGB protest victimisation by CCM/CBRE
NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Blocks Bridge
NCAFC 'Grants Not Debt' Rally
International Times new 'Issue Zero'
Drop Food Not Bombs on Syria
Vegans 'Awakening Compassion'
March against Taiji Dolphin Slaughter
St Pancras Die-In for Calais refugees
Guantanamo 14 Years on
Class War Footy at White Cube
NHS Bursaries March
NHS Bursaries rally before march
Don't extradite Omar Zayed to Israel
Kill the Housing Bill protest
Kurds protest Turkish army killings
London Images

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