Against Mind's collusion with the DWP
Stratford, London. 31st October 2016
Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer, argues
with the protesters outside the offices
The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and Disabled People Against
Cuts (DPAC) held a Halloween Demo at the national office of mental health
charity Mind's office in Stratford against their collusion with the DWP
rather than standing up for the rights of the disabled.
Mind failed to mention the effects of welfare reform, sanctions, or benefit-related
deaths in its latest five-year strategy and has dropped its support for
the long-running court case aimed at forcing the government to make WCA
safer for people with mental health conditions.
The protesters condemned the secondment of Mind's policy and campaigns
manager Tom Pollard to work as a senior policy adviser to the DWP where
he was to start work the following day, and demanded the resignation of
Mind’s chief executive, Paul Farmer, who came out to speak and argue
with the protesters.
He insisted that Mind was still working for people with mental health problems
and not for the DWP, and that Pollard's decision had been entirely a personal
one in order to gain more insight into the workings of government rather
than to assist them in the any discrimination against the disabled.
The protesters were not at all convinced by Farmer, and several came forward
after he had finished speaking to tell how local Mind groups in Stratford,
Leicester, Birmingham and elsewhere were working against the interests of
those with mental health problems, often with managers who were more interested
in empire building than in the welfare of benefit claimants.
A Walk in the Olympic Park
Stratford, London. Mon 31 Oct 2016
The entrance to the Olympic Park from Westfield Stratford - one tree and
no grass in view
As I knew I had a several hours between a protest at he Czech embassy
and another in Stratford, I planned to take another walk in the park at
Stratford which had been the site of the 2012 London olympic games and to
make some more panoramic images.
It was over a year since my previous visit, and I was rather disappointed
that so little progress seems to have been made. On this visit I restricted
my walk to the sourthern area, which still seemed largely an arid and alienating
space composed mainly of wide empty walkways rather than a park. It has
become more surrounded by tall buildings and is still hard to find, with
several of the ways in still closed as building work continues.
Although it was a nice day, it wasn't ideal for photography, with far too
much empty blue sky, and a low bright afternoon sun. As well as creating
high contrast and cold shadow areas, when working with a 147 degree angle
of view it was difficult to avoid getting the sun in the picture, with flare
ruining some images.
Although I'd set out to take panoramic images, I also took some with a
more restricted angle of view and rectilinear perspective which I've also
put on line. The panoramic images are recorded at the same aspect ratio
of 1.5:1, though I usually crop these to 16:9 or 1.9:1, enabling me to place
the horizon away from the centre of the image if I want, but here I've left
them at full height. They have a horizontal field of view of around 145
degrees and a vertical field of a little over 90o degrees.
Roma protest Czech Murder
Czech embassy, London. Mon 31 Oct 2016
talk with an embassy representative who has come to take their letter
Roma living in the UK came with a Roma flag to protest at the Czech
embassy in London after a young Romani man was attacked and killed by neo-Nazi
skinheads as he went to buy cigarettes at a pizzeria in atec.
The murdered man until a year ago was living in the UK and was a second
cousin of Ladislav Balaz, Chair of the Roma Labour Group and Europe Roma
Network, who came to hand a letter calling for the murder to be properly
investigated to a representative from the Embassy.
Most cases of murders of Roma in the Czech Republic are dismissed by police
as accidents and they have already issued false stories about the victim,
claiming he was mentally ill and attacked people. The Roma demand justice
and equality for everyone in Czech Republic and the elimination of any double
standards of justice. Several of the protesters made speeches in Czech as
the letter was presented.
Families United against Custody Deaths
London. Sat 29 Oct 2016
Janet Alder whose son Christopher was killed by
police in Hull leads the procession from Trafalgar Square
The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of those
affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody held their
annual Remembrance Procession, marching from Trafalgar Square to a rally
opposite Downing St.
People gathered as usual from noon at Trafalgar Square. Among those present
were a group of relatives of Darren Neville, a 28-year old trainee plasterer
who died two months after suffering a cardiac arrest while being restrained
by police at his hostel in Highbury. An inquest concluded "Police did
not give sufficient consideration to the risks associated with prolonged
restraint to a person suffering from acute behavioural disturbance, more
specifically, the risk of death following prolonged restraint." His
death is typical of many unnecessary deaths in custody, except for the fact
that his inquest took place only a couple of years after his death - some
are still waiting much longer, and the clarity of the verdict. More typically,
in an earlier investigation the IPCC failed to find any blame attached to
The pressure from families does sometimes lead to action being taken against
the police. The IPCC recently asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider
charges over the actions of three officers who were called to investigate
a burglary in Newcastle-under-Lyme but tasered Adrian McDonald, a guest
at a birthday party, with fatal result. And three officers involved in the
killing of student Kingsley Burrel in Birmingham in 2011, where an inquest
found restraint had been a factor in his death have been charged with perjury
and perverting the course of justice. But probably, as in the case of the
killers of Sean Rigg and so many others some way will be found to officially
pervert the course of justice.
The event was held up by the police to allow the vegan march to go past
first, and began an hour later than intended at 2pm after a number of speeches
at Trafalgar Square.
Janet Alder led the procession from the square in front of the main banner
which was carried by members of various families in the UFFC, with its message
'No More Deaths In Custody' and Marcia Rigg carried the letter they were
going to deliver to Theresa May. Also at the front of the procession was
the closely spaced poster with the names of 3,180 people known to have died
in suspicious circumstances in custody since 1969. This year seems certain
to add more than its share, with a large increase in prison suicides largely
because of the cuts in prison staffing which makes carrying out their duty
of care properly impossible.
Behind the various family groups with banners and placards were supporters
from several Black and left groups. The march at funeral pace, with numerous
short stops and a rather longer one at the memorial to the women of the
Second World War, took around half an hour to cover the few hundred yards.
The march stopped at Downing St, where families and banners lined the side
of the road and speakers from the family spoke in the southbound lane. I
stayed for a while but had to leave before the speeches were finished shortly
after a small deputation went to take their letter to Downing St.
Vegans march for Animal Rights
London. Sat 29 Oct 2016
Many had posters or placards with messages like 'Meat
Hundreds of vegans marched through London to a rally in Parliament
Square calling for an end to killing animals for human benefit.
The march was organised by London Vegan Actions and Surge. They called
for an end to the system of exploitation and death of animals for food,
fur and leather animal testing and for everyone to change to a vegan diet
which would end horrific farming practices and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
As the march went past those waiting for the United Friends and Families
event there were some angry shouts from both sides. Some of those waiting
were clearly upset that the vegans had chosen to march at the same place
and time for their annual march, and some felt that the protesters should
be getting more worked up about what happens to humans than animals. There
were a few vegans who shouted 'White Lives Matter' at the UFFC (and many
lives that they were protesting about were white, if a majority of the protesters
were black.) A few arguments broke out, with some Black vegans protesting
that of course 'Black Lives Matter' but so to did the lives of animals.
Some of the UFFC protest organisers went to clam things down and the marchers
passed by, on their way to a rallly in Parliament Square.
Although I'd like to see all animals treated humanely, and a shift towards
eating considerably less meat would make a welcome contribution to reducing
global emissions, I think the world would be a much poorer place if we all
took up a vegan diet. Not only would many become less healthy, as a varied
diet is good for us, but animal farming is a vital part of our way of life
and has largely formed our landscape. An England without sheep, cows, chickens
and pigs would be a very different place, and these animals only exist because
we breed them for meat and diary products.
Bring Fracking Home to Barclays
Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 29 Oct 2016
The 'living room' with a mother and daughter from
Ryedal and the fracking rig in front of Barclays
Protesters met at Golden Square before walking to the Barclays branch
at Piccadilly Circus, wherre tjhey set up a living room outside to protest
against the bank's involvement in fracking in communities across the country.
Around 50 protesters gathered in Golden Square around a mock fracking
rig to practise some anti-fracking songs and chants for the protest before
walking together towards Piccadilly Circus. On their way they met other
protesters carrying a a sofa, table and other furnishing to the Barclays
A few protesters had gone ahead of the main group and entered the branch
with hidden banners, but security guards shut the door against the main
group who then proceeded to set up a 'living room' on the pavement outside
while those inside held their banners up against the windows.
A mother and daughter from Rydale where fracking has been approved around
their home made themselves at home on the sofa with a picture of their house
and a framed sampler embroidered with the Barclays eagle and the message
'Home Fracked Home'.
Tea was served from a table at the side of the room and on the table on
the carpet in front of the sofa was a vase of lilies and a teapot with a
plate of specially baked biscuits with the message 'Stop Barclays Fracking'
as well as leaflets explaining that this protest organised by Frack
Off London and Divest London in collaboration with Frack
Free Ryedale was part of a series of protests at branches of Barclays
across the country against the bank which is hoping to make large profits
from its investments in fracking.
A couple of police had wandered over shortly after from the other side
of Piccadilly Circus shortly after the protesters arrived and had called
for reinforcements. They told the protesters that they were obstructing
the pavement but only made half-hearted attempts to get them to move before
concentrating on ensuring that the protesters left room for shoppers to
walk past without going into the road.
The protest was still continuing when I left to go to my next event.
Cockroaches at Theori Housing Management
Walthamstow, London. Fri 28 Oct 2016
Focus E15 and their cockroaches try to enter the offices
of Theori Housing Management
Boundary House Residents and Focus E15 marched from Walthamstow Central
station with two giant 'cockroaches' to a Halloween-themed protest outside
the Walthamstow offices of Theori Housing Management, a company used by
many London councils including Waltham Forest and Newham to manage properties
which house vulnerable people.
The campaigners say rooms in Boundary House, a hostel in Welwyn Garden
City have leaking roofs and mould on the walls, are infested with cockroaches,
have upper floor windows that children could easily fall out of and dangerous
faulty appliances. Several residents and former residents of Boundary House
were at the protest, but others are scared or cannot afford to travel -
the return off-peak adult rail fare is almost £15. This and the time
it takes make it almost impossible for those with jobs in London to continue
Residents who make complaints are hung up on, placed on hold for hours
and called liars, ignored, insulted and patronised. The campaigners call
on boroughs to stop using companies like Theori who provide sub-standard
housing and fail to keep it in good order, and say councils should house
Londoners in London where they have schools, friends and jobs.
Haringey Housing Action Group were also at the protest ands say they "also
have experience of poor hostel accommodation, provided by Haringey Council,
and we know how hard it is try to go about your daily activities –
going to work, taking kids to school – when you are living in cramped
conditions, with little or no cooking facilities. But having a 30-mile journey
to make every day, on a low income, would make it almost impossible to do
anything but the most basic activities."
Waltham Forest Council adopt what can only be called the 'Nelson' approach,
refusing to see any of the problems at Boundary House and similar properties.
Housing departments are hard-pressed by anti-social government policies
and cuts in funding, but this is no excuse for their failure to provide
decent accomodation - and certainly not for using management companies that
fail to provide decent housing and proper customer service. It isn't about
money but about competence, and about a lack of care for those most in need
in the community, the people that councils and mayors like Newham's Robin
Wales are on record as saying should not be living in the borough, where
vast luxury housing developments are welcome, but social housing is hardly
on the agenda.
Focus E15 point to the Carpenters Estate in Newham, where hundreds of properties
in better condition than Boundary House have been empty and boarded up for
ten years or more as the council has explored various schemes to sell off
what was a popular estate. They say Newham has taken out ill-advised loans
which have resulted in incredible repayments of interest.
Masked protest against Soho raids
Home Office, London. Mon 24 Oct 2016
Raids and closing down flats are putting sex workers
lives at risk - to enable gentrification of Soho
Protesters at the Home Office after last Thursday's police raids in
Soho and Chinatown call for an end to these raids on premises which they
say endanger sex workers, forcing them to leave safe places of work and
go onto the streets.
Police arrested 18 people, removing 12 on immigration grounds and charging
four women and a man with controlling prostitution and took away £35,000.
The raids targeted flats opposite already gentrified areas, and closure
notices were issued allowing insufficient time for them to be challenged
Many Soho residents accuse the police of being in collusion with Westminster
Council and Soho Estates in land grabs to gentrify the area, removing one
of its oldest professions.
The protest was attended by sex workers and their supporters, with some of
them wearing maskseither to hide their identity or in solidarity with the
Give back Cooman's Shield
British Museum, London. Sat 22 Oct 2016
Kelly stands in front of the shield taken by Captain Cook from his warrior
Rodney Kelly, a sixth-generation descendant of the Gweagal warrior
Cooman shot in the leg by Captain Cook and his crew at their first landing
in Australia at Botany Bay in 1770 spoke in front of his ancestor's shield
in the British Museum.
He was accompanied by Vincent Forrester, Australian Aborigine
artist and activist and Australian Aborigine activist Roxley Foley
who are campaigning with him for the the return of the shield as well as
spears held in a Cambridge University museum to a new museum to be opened
in Sydney on the 250th anniversary of Cook's visit celebrating the history
of the country's original inhabitants, where it can be properly conserved,
displayed and contextualised.
The shield is currently kept in a glass case in the former King's Library
and was examined carefully through the glass. It has been lent in recent
years for an exhibition in Australia but the campaigners would like to to
be permanently returned, as it is a vital part of their heritage and history.
It would form the centrepiece of the new Sydney museum.
They are also worried that the shield is not being properly conserved,
and it appears to have deteriorated since it was photographed for the exhibition
in Australia; they fear some of the vital ochre colouring has been lost.
The shield has a hole at its centre which is speculated to have been made
by the musket ball which wounded Cooman in the leg. It isn't known whether
the wound proved fatal, but the chances of recovery from major wounds at
the time were poor.
After a lengthy session in front of the shield with his companions and
other Australian Aborigines visiting London to oppose oil exploration in
the Great Australian Bight, the group moved into the Great Hall, where they
looked at the catalogue of the Australian show in the bookshop before Bunna
Lawrie, one of the leading figures in the fight to halt offshore drilling
gave an impromptu performance, singing to his guitar and speaking briefly.
The two groups then went onto the Museum steps for photographs with their
A few days later the group went back to the Museum as arranged to speak
to the managers abour the return of the shield. Unfortunately they were
told that the British Museum would not consider returning the shield or
any other objects in their collection.
Great Australian Bight Alliance
British Museum, London. Sat 22 Oct 2016
Australian Aborigine musician and activist Bunny
Lawrie sings and plays in the British Museum
Bunna Lawrie, an indigenous Australian Mirning elder, musician and
a leading figure in the fight which led to BP recently halting plans for
offshore oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight came to the BP sponsored
British Museum to sing and tell the story of their victory over BP and the
continuing fight to stop drilling by BP's partner Statoil and others.
He played, sang and spoke briefly in an impromptu performance in the Great
Hall before posing on the museum steps with other campaigners outside, including
fellow Australian aborigines here to discuss the return of tribal artefacts
held by the museum.
Student Rent Strike protest
Holborn, London. Wed 19 Oct 2016
Students occupy the offices of FTSE 250 company Unite
Students in Holborn
Students met in Russell Square and discussed student housing, once
largely an at-cost service by universities, but increasingly big business
for private developers before marching behind the #RENTSTRIKE banner to
briefly occupy the nearby office of Unite Students, a FTSE 250 company housing
around 50,000 students in the UK.
The protest was part of a nationwide series as investors and developers
were discussing the rich profits to be made from students at the MIPIM conference.
Many of the large new blocks of student housing have flats with rents larger
than the entire student loan, higher than all but students from
very wealthy families can afford, and are largely for letting to
rich overseas students studying here.
AxeDrax protest against Biomass & Coal
Westminster, London. Wed 19 Oct 2016
of the campaigners was dressed as a cooling tower
On the International Day of Action on Biomass, protesters from the AxeDrax
campaign outside the new Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy
(BEIS) urge the government to acknowledge the scientific research that shows
that producing electricity from Biofuels is harmful to the climate, forests,
biodiversity and people and remove the subsidy which encourages its use.
The protest was hosted by Biofuel Watch and London Biomassiv,e an active
group organising locally on bioenergy issues in London. As well as the cooling
tower and a number of banners this was also another outing for the Draxosaurus
dinosaur. Drax gets around £600m a year which campaigners say should
be spent on demand reduction and on real low-carbon renewables.
A Colombian woman spoke about the calamitous effect of open-cast coal-mining
at the giant open-pit Cerrejón coal mine in La Guajira, northern
Colombia. jointly owned by Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata.
The mine is in Wayúu indigenous territory and the local people were
not consulted when mining began 30 years ago. Their land was simply seized
and communities forcibly displaced in violation of their constitutional
land rights and there was no proper compensation. Pollution and dust from
the coal mine continues to contaminate the air and water supplies badly
affecting traditional lifestyles; soil pollution leads to failed crops,
and fishing areas have been contaminated.
Bring Calais refugee children here now
Westminster, London. Sat 15 Oct 2016
The people welcome refugees, but our government has decided to let them
die rather than come here
Protesters opposite Parliament kept up the pressure on the government to
urgently bring the 1022 children in the Calais camp to the UK, enacting
the Dubs amendment, over which they say the government is deliberately dragging
When part of the camp was demolished in February many of the children there
went missing and the same thing was expected to happen - and did - when
the French government demolished the camp and dispersed those there to sites
As on other issues, the Tory government has shown it unwilling to act when
Parliament or the courts have said they should. Government actions are dominated
by the obsession of the right-wing press with immigrant numbers and they
are determined to take as few refugees as possible.
There seems to be very little chance that even the very low targets set
by David Cameron will be reached, with the government showing a cynical
disregard for the plight of Syrian and other refugees, here because of a
civil war for which the UK and the USA bear much of the responsibility.
CETA Street stall & Banner drop
Hampstead & Westminster, London. Sat 15 Oct 2016
A breeze made it hard to keep the banner hanging down and legible
London Action Network held a street stall in Hampstead and later dropped
a banner from Westminster Bridge warning against the Comprehensive Economic
and Trade Agreement (CETA) being negotiated in secret between the EU and
Canada which they claim poses a major threat to our democracy, public services
and the environment.
They say it would allow companies to sue governments who want to bring
in legislation that might damage company profits, and stop green policies
against climate change, affect workers rights, minimum wages, health and
safety legislation and any actions that might stop privatisation of the
NHS and other public services.
The deal was signed a few days later, but has still to be ratified, and
campaigners are hopeful that the popular opposition in Europe will prevent
Picturehouse strike for Living Wage
Hackney, London. Sat 15 Oct 2016
Ritzy workers give their solidarity with some strike
Striking staff at Hackney Picturehouse met with supporters at Hackney
Town Hall opposite the cinema before marching across the road to protest
in front of the cinema demanding management pay them a living wage, give
adequate sick pay, maternity and paternity pay and recognise their chosen
trade union BECTU.
Picturehouse is owned by Cineworld, whose 2015 profits were £81.3m
after tax, and the group insists that workers are represented by the Picturehouse
Staff Forum rather than a trade union. The protest was supported by workers
from Brixton Ritzy, also on strike, the NSSN and others.
Justice for LSE cleaners
LSE, London. Fri 14 Oct 2016
Alba who has been unfairly sacked spoke at the protest
Cleaners at the London School of Economics, backed by LSE students,
demanded the reinstatement of Alba, one of the longest serving members of
the cleaning team at the LSE, sacked by new cleaning contractors Noonan.
They say her sacking is unfair and breaks employment laws and that she
has been discriminated against for being Latin American. The cleaners who
have become members of the United Voices of the World and recently launched
a 'Justice for Cleaners' campaign say LSE management has failed in not requiring
Noonan act fairly towards staff.
The protest was the first in a series of protests which as well as demanding
that Alba get her job back are also demanding that the cleaners are treated
with dignity, respect and given the same terms and conditions of employment
as in-house staff.
The protesters met outside the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre on the LSE campus
and after a short meeting set off for Kingsway House on the corner of Kingsway
and Aldwych, an LSE building where the cleaning contractors have their office.
Security there prevented them entering and they held a long and very noisy
protest on the pavement outside.
Stop murders in the Philippines
London. Thu 13 Oct 2016
Protesters with flowers and the message 'Stop Killing'
outside the embassy
Protesters from Act Up London met in Trafalgar Square to march carrying
white flowers to the Philippine Embassy to deliver a letter to the Philippines
Ambassador calling for Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte to end his repeated
calls for police and public to kill those who use and deal drugs and withdraw
his promise there will be no prosecutions for these extra-judicial killings.
Since he came to power at the end of June there have been over 3800 such
unlawful killings on the streets by police and vigilantes. Some are thought
to have been denounced as drug users to settle other vendettas, others have
simply been caught in crossfire and there are fears that some users of legal
drugs for medical conditions may also have been targeted.
Previously when Duterte was Mayor of Davao City he was alleged to have
been involved in supporting the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group which
carried out extra-judicial killings of hundreds of street children, petty
criminals and drug users. In August the UN called for an end to the killings.
UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard stated that
Duterte had given the public a "license to kill" - and his response
was to threaten to leave the UN, though later this threat was retracted.
After protesting outside the embassy for around half an hour, two people
went inside with a letter for the ambassador, which was accepted by a member
of his staff. The protesters then laid their white flowers on the embassy
doorstep before leaving.
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural
Cable St, London. Sun 9 Oct 2016
Anarchists and anti-fascists, not been invited to
speak in the rally, held their own in front of the mural
Rather than go into St George's Gardens and join the packed crowd
that was listening to speeches, many of the anarchists stayed in front of
the mural at its entrance, where they held a separate rally. Many felt that
their should have been some anarchist speakers at the main rally, as the
battle of Cable St was essentially an anarchist event, opposed by the official
left who dominated the speakers at the rally.
I arrived at St George's Gardens, next to the Cable St mural a hundred
yards or so ahead of the march, and was able to take a picture of the mural
with no one in front of it before Class War arrived and took up position.
Martin Wright gave an excellent speech, and as the only speaker he was
not rushed for time and was able to go into the event in some detail. Towards
the end it did become difficult to concentrate as the Italian communists
and anti-fascist groups began a noisy rally with chants and flares.
At one point some of the organisers came to ask people to quieten down
as one of the few remaining people who had been at the 1936 battle, Communist
Party member Max Levitas, now 101, was about to speak. He spoke in rather
less organised fashion back in 1936 during the battle, and I've heard him
speak several times in more recent years - and congratulated him on his
100th last year when I met him at a protest in Whitechapel.
Although this year his age was certainly showing - he spoke sitting down
- but his voice and his determination were still strong and evident. The
crowd in front of the stage was too dense for me to get near, but by standing
on tiptoe and using a long telephoto between heads I managed to take a few
When he had finished speaking I made my way slowly back through the crowd
to the mural, where the separate celebrations were still proceeding. Later
there was music and people danced to it, but people were beginning to drift
away. As we left to make for the pub, Jane Nicholl of Class War went over
to a table where the SWP had set up and started a little argument, annoyed
that they had set up a stall at what had essentially been an anarchist and
They are group about which many on the left have deep suspicions, always
trying to take over movements and always having the money to produce large
numbers of placards for events, as well as a newspaper that surely nobody
ever buys except the members themselves. Many feel that it was their control
of 'Stop The War' that prevented the movement taking the decisive actions
that could have actually stopped Blair going to war after the demonstration
of February 2003 and others around the country had shown overwhelming support
and have not forgiven them, while for others their failure to deal properly
with complaints of sexual harassment was the final straw.
Battle of Cable Street 80 March
Cable St, London. Sun 9 Oct 2016
Children march in the Great Yiddish Parade near
the front of the march
The march from the rally at Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel to another
at Cable St in the park adjoining the memorial mural was rather more tame,
sticking to the pavement and cycle route rather than taking the street.
I went on with those at the front of the march, knowing that Class War
would be meeting in front of the mural, and missed seeing the main block
of anarchist groups at the rear of the march who took the view that it was
incomprehensible that a march celebrating a great resistance against the
police should follow police directions, and defied march stewards and police
by marching along the road and bringing traffic to a stop.
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally
Altab Ali Park, London. Sun 9 Oct 2016
dressed 1930s-style for the event
A march and rally in East London celebrated the 'Battle of Cable St'
in 1936, when the people of the area, mainly Jewish and Irish, ignored the
pleading of the Labour Party and others and came in their thousands united
as a community to fight the police who were trying to force a route for
Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.
The rally before the march as in Altab Ali Park wasn't that interesting,
although TUC General Secretary Forces O'Grady made a good speech, and there
were others too. But I think virtually everyone was standing around thinking
'let's get on with the march'. There were a few people there who had dressed
in 1930s style, and a large contingent of anarchist groups.
We also got told a little about the history, though perhaps not quite enough.
Probably many of those present already knew that the battle wasn't fought
by the political parties - Labour told people to stay away and urged them
to protest in Hyde Park, while the official communist party opposed any
opposition on the streets until almost the last minute, when it was pretty
clear it was going to happen anyway.
It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly
Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and
Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley,
people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And
of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.
Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out
on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially
a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without
political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place
and their people.
It wasn't a great defeat for Mosley and his National Socialists; they actually
became more active in the East End after it, and areas such as Bethnal Green
remained strongly supporting the Nazis. There was an even larger 'battle'
the following year in Bermondsey. But Cable Street was undoubtedly an important
event for the left, and one that has come to be associated with a much greater
battle of the era, the Spanish Civil War. Cable Street radicialised many
on the left.
Iranian vigil on Anniversary of 1988 Massacre
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 8 Oct 2016
vigil took place in front of a huge hoarding at the National Gallery
Activists of the Iranian People's Fadaee Guerrillas in London and the
Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisations of Iranians in Britain held a
vigil in Trafalgar Square on the 27th anniversary of the massacre of an
estimated 18,000 political prisoners held in Iranian jails by the Iranian
regime following its defeat in the Iraq/Iran war in the Summer of 1988.
The 3 months of killing by the Iranian regime of communists, progressives,
patriotic activists and intellectuals of all ages ended at the beginning
of October 1988 but details only began to emerge years later and the exact
numbers are still not known.
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 8 Oct 2016
The image facing Whitehall shows Nelson's death
and includes a black face at extreme left
While waiting for a protest that didn't happen - despite quite a few
people saying on Facebook they would attend - I wandered around Trafalgar
Square and took a few pictures.
I was interested in particular in the four 18 ft square bas-reliefs which
were added to the column around 1850, a few years after Nelson made it up
there 38 years after his 1805 death at Trafalgar in 1843. It took a while
as though the 5 panels were supposed to be cast in brass from captured French
cannon, one led to a court case with the makers being jailed for having
added some much cheaper iron and it had to be completed by others. The builders
of the column also got away with fraud, as when it was restored in 2006
it was found to be 16 ft shorter than it should have been.
The lions also caused some problems, with the sculptor who had originally
been chosen to carve them from granite turning down the job after a disagreement
with the architect. It took years for them to be re-commissioned in bronze
from Sir Edwin Landseer and Baron Marochetti and they were only added in
1867. And like most large projects while the costs were intended to be covered
by private finance (or rather public subscription) the government had to
step in and cover much of the cost.
The four giant reliefs each show one of Nelson's great victories, the Battle
of the Nile, the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the Battle of Copenhagen and
the Battle of Trafalgar. There are some clues as to which is which.
I also photographed a small group of Dutch bikers making their way around
the square, without bikes.
Brixton Arches & More
Brixton, London. Sat 8 Oct 2016
Closing Party this Saturday Night
Some images of Brixton Arches, where local businesses, some which have
operated there for longer than I can remember, are being forced out by Network
Rail with the cooperation of Lambeth Council. A few have found new premises
in the area, but others have simply closed down.
There has been great local support for the campaign to keep these businesses
going, and a few have decided to fight the council. Network Rail intend
to refurbish the arches and will then re-let them at three or more times
the current rents, which will mean the distinctive local businesses being
replaced by chains which can be found on every high street across the country.
I've previously photographed protests about the Arches, and also some of
the splendid artwork on the shutters and on the boarding of some of the
closed properties, some of which has apparently offended the council and
has been removed.
I also photographed some other properties in Brixton, including several
on Acre Lane as I walked past. There is also a picture of the mural Big
Splash, painted in 1985 by Christine Thomas and still looking well (details
site), though I doubt if anything like this ever existed on Brixton's
river, the Effra.
Stand Up to Lambeth March
Brixton, London. Sat 8 Oct 2016
Lambeth Labour on Acre Lane
Speeches at the rally in Windrush Square continued after the time when
the march had been intended to leave, and some were getting impatient, but
eventually most of those present lined up behind the main banner and the
march moved off.
It had only got across the road when it came to a partial halt at Lambeth
Town Hall, where some stopped, including the 4-headed monster depicting
Lambeth's villains, Lambeth Labour leader Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Housing
Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business and Culture
Jack Hopkins and Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth.
A lot of glitter, mainly purple, was thrown around before everyone left
to join the march which was slowly proceeding up Acre Lane towards Clapham.
I walked with the march roughly halfway to Clapham Common before turning
around and going back to Brixton. A Lambeth employee was cleaning up the
steps as I walked past.
Stand Up to Lambeth Council
Windrush Square, Brixton, London. Sat 8 Oct 2016
Potent Whisper with the Andrew Cooper's four Lambeth villains
Campaigners in Lambeth, the most unequal borough in the whole of England
and Wales, meet in Brixton to march to a picnic on Clapham Common launching
a series of events against the policies of the council, calling on it to
stop demolishing council estates, closing libraries and driving out local
businesses with the closure of the Brixton Arches.
They accuse the Labour council of financial waste and "destroying
our communities, racial and social inequality" and "stealing the
people of Lambeth's future." The borough's motto is Spectemur Agendo,
Let us be judged by our acts, and many in Lambeth have judged the council
and found it guilty of selling out its people.
The Labour party runs Lambeth, with around 60 councillors to three Conservatives
and a single Green Party councillor. The council is dominated by right-wing
Labour members and has many links with property developers, estate agents
and others, and seems determined to follow policies which are not in the
interests of the people of Southwark, closing libraries, ending many vital
services and getting rid of council estates and the people who live there.
The protest was planned to be 'family friendly', a 'big, pink, determined'
event to 'Stand Up To Lambeth Council' and oppose its "destruction
of services, homes, jobs and the rights of residents." It thus came
as rather a surprise to see a stall in the square for Lambeth Labour, and
some of the protesters expressed their feelings so clearly that police moved
in to protect it. The stall remained despite the event organisers asking
them to leave as their presence was entirely inappropriate as they supported
the local party and refused to have any of the event flyers criticising
it on the stall.
There was a group from Lambeth Momentum at the rally and on the march,
and although they said they supported the event, in later comments to the
press some of them seemed to deny this, perhaps worried about the witch
hunts that have been taking place in the Labour Party recently.
Also present were a small brass band, a large four-headed monster made
by Andrew Cooper with the faces of Lambeth Labour leader Lib Peck, Cabinet
Member for Housing Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration,
Business and Culture Jack Hopkins and Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods
and Growth, seen to be the four major villains by Lambeth residents.
There were a number of speeches at the rally and then people formed up to
march to Clapham Common for a picnic.
ASH protest Stirling Prize
RIBA, Portland Place, London. Thu 6 Oct 2016
Protesters wear masks of RIBA President Elect Ben
Derbyshire who was awarded the Foot In Mouth Award
Campaigners at RIBA as people arrived for the Stirling Prize award
pointed out that one of the short-listed projects, Trafalgar Place, was
built on the demolished Heygate Estate, which was 'stolen from the people'
with hundreds of social housing tenants and leaseholders being evicted and
the site sold at one tenth of its value to the developers.
They held their own ceremony outside, and after a number of speeches awarded
the Architects for Social Housing 'O J Simpson Award for getting away with
murder' to drMM Architects for this project, the first phase of Lend Lease’s
£1.5 billion Elephant & Castle redevelopment.
The only contestant for the Ben Derbyshire Foot In Mouth Award was RIBA
President Elect Ben Derbyshire, but there were five totally ridiculous statements
by him about social housing for those present to vote on before he was announced
winner. Neither he nor drMM architects came to collect their prizes, which
was perhaps just as well as ASH had only prepared a single prize.
Prominent among the protesters were those from the Aylesbury estate, next
door to Heygate, where Labour run Southwark Council are now attempting a
similar act of 'social cleansing', replacing social housing by properties
for the wealthy and overseas investors. Their treatment of leaseholders
has been so bad that the COnservative housing minister shortly before this
protest turned down a compulsory purchase order they had made against the
remaining leaseholders in one section of the estate as being grossly unfair
and a breach of their human rights.
Limehouse, Bow Creek & Silvertown
London. Thu 6 Oct 2016
new bridge over Bow Creek leads from Canning Town station to London City
It was a beautiful day and I took the DLR from Bank to West India Dock,
taking a few pictures though the window on my way.
From their I walked across the Lower Lea Crossing and then along Silvertown
Way to West Silvertown, where the DLR back to Canning Town again provided
At Canning Town, the exit to the riverside walk was at last open. I've
been waiting for this since the walk was first constructed, I think back
in the 1990s, but it has only opened recently. I didn't have enough time
to explore the area as fully as I would have liked, and will certainly return
when London City Island is properly open.
And perhaps one day when the 'Leaway' (yes, the finally saw sense and abandoned
the idea of calling it the Fatwalk) is open to walk all the way from Trinity
Buoy Wharf to Stratford (perhaps one daythe path by the river around Three
Mills Studio will reopen too?)
Cleaners demand 'End Nepotism'
155 Moorgate, London. Thu 6 Oct 2016
A police officer arrives and calls for assistance
The Independent Workers Union CAIWU occupied the lobby of Mace's headquarters
building in Moorgate at lunchtime protesting noisily against cleaning contractor
Dall Cleaning Services.
Inside they took care not to block people coming in and out of the offices,
while keeping up a high level of noise with plastic horns and chants, and
CAIWU General Secretary Alberto Durango let everyone know what was happening
through the megaphone. They made no attempt to go further into the building
but ignored the building security staff. After a little over 15 minutes,
a City of London police officer arrived, and talked to security and tried
to talk to Alberto, but it was too noisy for him to be heard.
He radioed for assistance and shortly after was joined by several colleagues,
and as they arrived the protesters walked out of the building and joined
others who had been standing outside with the new CAIWU banner and handing
out leaflets on the street. The cleaners continued to protest noisily on
the pavement in front of the offices for another 20 minutes, before ending
with a short speech by Alberto aimed at Mace and Dall Cleaning Services,
warning them to expect further protests without warning until they addressed
the cleaners' grievances, ending as usual "We'll be back! And that's
The CAIWI says that the building's cleaning supervisor roster is made up
of five members of the same family, claim that Dall recently promised cleaners
the London Living Wage and promptly reduced the working conditions and that
they also dismissed two cleaners without notice or proper procedures.
Heathrow flashmob against airport expansion
Heathrow, London. Sat 1 Oct 2016
Some travellers came to the die-in with the message
'Stop Airport Expansion' inside their suitcases
As part of a global wave of resistance to airport expansion on environmental
and social grounds, several hundred protesters stage a flash mob protest
inside Terminal 2 at Heathrow, beginning with a die in, with 'frequent fliers
stepping over their dead bodies and luggage to a champagne fast track check-in
desk, followed by songs and dances.
Airport security were obviously expecting the protest, although the actual
location was only shared with most of those taking part when they arrived
at Hatton Cross Station. They stood around the area where the protest was
taking place and watched, stopping some protesters from going further in from
the check in area towards the security zone but otherwise making no attempt
to interfere with the protest.
The #StayGrounded protest was organised by Reclaim The Power, who also staged
a 'red line' protest by cyclists at the airport at the same time. This appeared
to have met with more opposition by police, and there were wide diversions
in the area around the airport, with my bus home having to make a lengthy
journey via the M25 rather than the normal short trip along the A4 on its
way to Terminal 5.
London, October 2016
I don't seem to have taken many pictures while travelling around this month,
just a handful. One at Heathrow, a few of a rainbow in Staines, the image
above and a few more of the new US EMbassy at Nine Elms.
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