Gurkhas demand fair pensions on
Westminster, London. Thu 30 Apr 2015
Gurkhas march across Bridge St on their way to
Downing St calling for fair pensions for older ex-soldiers
As Gurkhas were parading marking 200 years of service to Britain,
many retired Gurkha soliders and their dependents came to London to
demand proper UK military pensions for those who retired before 1997.
Earlier protests by Gurkhas gained national publicity, thanks partly to
support from Joanna Lumley, and those who retired after the Gurkha HQ
moved out of Hong Kong to England in 1997 were awarded decent pensions.
Gurkha ex-soldiers also have the right to come and live in the UK and to
bring their families here.
Many older ex-Gurkhas who taken up their right to live here, and have
settled mainly around the Aldershot area are however living in extreme
poverty, often existing on small payments from a Nepalese charity. They
get no pension for less than 15 years service, and otherwise are paid at
only one third of UK rates.
Several hundred Gurkhas and their dependents attended a protest rally
in Old Palace Yard, after which they marched to deliver a letter to
Peace Picket in Parliament Square
Parliament Square, London. Thu 30 Apr 2015
Maria Gallastegui and a fellow protester
at the back of one of the displays in Parliament Square
Careful observance of the law has enabled the Peace Picket under
Maria Gallastegui to erect two small structures on the pavement and
remain in Parliament Square since April 19th (except for ANZAC and
Marathon days) promoting "Human Rights by uniting ordinary people, and
empowering them to stand together for peace".
For the ANZAC commemoration, Gallastegui reached an agreement with the
police and Westminster Council that the two structures, deliberately
made very thin so they cannot be used for sleeping or cause an
obstruction, would be removed by the council and brought back on the day
following the two weekend events, and they were returned as promised.
The Peace Picket began with a protest by the Syria Peace and Justice
Campaign highlighting the Syrian refugee crisis and human rights related
concerns. People from the Peace Picket and other campaigns, including
the London Guantanamo campaign and protesters in solidarity with
migrants migrants fleeing war and conflict across the Mediterranean and
facing drowning have also joined in the protest here.
'7 Days to Save our NHS' on Westminster
Westminster Bridge, London. Thu 30 Apr 2015
Posing with the banner on Westminster Bridge in
front of the Houses of Parliament
Protesters from the '7 Days to Save our NHS' campaign took a banner
onto Westminster Bridge for photographs with the Houses of Parliament
as a backdrop. They urge people to vote on May 7 to rescue the NHS
from privatisation and cuts.
A further NHS protest including staff from St Thomas's Hospital at the
south end of the bridge was due to take place later in the day, and some
of those at this event were staying on to take part, but I had to leave
before it began.
'7 Days to Save our NHS' Campaign launch
Ministry of Health, London. Thu 30 Apr 2015
Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for the NHS and
co-founder of 999 Call for the NHS speaking
NHS campaigners, including People's Vote for the NHS, launched a
campaign at the Ministry of Health urging everyone who has a vote to
use it to save the NHS on May 7.
A number of protesters were bandaged and their faces daubed with fake
blood for the protest, and some came with genuine visible injuries, and
there were also several disabled protesters. There was a die-in on the
pavement in front of the ministry and afterwards campaigners handed in a
petition against closure of maternity and A&E at Ealing.
Buckingham Palace Class War Manifesto Launch
Buckingham Palace London. Wed 29 Apr 2015
Class War candidate for Westminster Adam Clifford
in front of Buckingham palace, watched by armed police
Class War went to Buckingham Palace with Westminster candidate Adam
Clifford to try to canvas the 31 voters registered there. Their
manifesto launch in front of the locked gates, including the promise
to abolish the monarchy, was filmed by BBC News.
The manifesto was a simple one, with only five points:
Double Other Benefits,
50% Mansion Tax,
Abolish the Monarchy,
Abolish all Public Schools.
Class War became a registered political party and invited friends to
stand for seats, ending up with seven actual candidates in the general
election, three in the Greater London area, Adam Clifford in
John Bigger in South Croydon, and Lisa
McKenzie in standing against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford. None
expected to get many votes, but it was an opportunity to generate some
interest in working class attitudes and issues. And Class War and its
candidates and policies certainly attracted far more media attention
than the various small left wing groups who stood candidates.
There were 31 voters registered at the address eligible to vote in the
Westminster seat, but despite his democratic right as a candidate to
canvass their votes, local candidate Adam was kept firmly outside those
tall locked gates.
Hotel Workers Rise Up on Workers Memorial Day
Hilton London Metropole, London. Tue 28 Apr 2015
A modern luxury hotel with a world-wide
reputation, but outsourced workers are shabbily treated by agencies
Unite Hotel Workers branch protested at Hilton London Metropole
against the exploitation of workers, mainly migrants, in portering and
household services. Workers at luxury hotels are employed by agencies
on minimum wage, zero hours contracts and denied basic rights.
Several workers spoke at the protest, complaining of heavy workloads
and abusive treatment by management, who fail to treat them as human
beings, saying "We Are Not Machines".
Among the speakers was former room attendant Barbara Pokryszka who
explained the exploitation of workers in luxury hotels, outsourced to
contractors who pay minimum wage and impose abysmal conditions.
Holloway protest for Yarl's Wood protester Anna
Holloway Prison, London. Tue 28 Apr 2015
Protesters call for the release of Anna, sent to
Holloway after protesting against brutality in Yarl's Wood
Anna and Lillija were held in solitary after brutal repression of a
protest against the deportation of a torture victim from Yarl's Wood.
Neither has been charged; Lillija was freed but Anna sent to Holloway
and a protest called for her to be freed.
The two women were both involved in the exposure of of the Guards at
Yarl's Wood by Channel 4 News, which led to his suspension. Anna was one
of a group of women who were defending the torture victim when 30 guards
rushed into the room and assaulted them. The women were all put into the
'Kingfisher' isolation unit at Yarl's Wood, and both Anna and Lillija
were threatened with prison. Lillija was later released, and although
Anna was not charged with anything, she was taken to Holloway prison.
The Movement for Justice called an emergency protest outside the prison
to demand Anna's release, and around 30 people, including a number who
have themselves previously been held in Yarl's Wood or other immigration
prisons came for a lively and noisy protest.
At one point a group of three prison employees came out to argue with
the protesters, saying that the protest simply upset women being held
inside. Some of the protesters were able to tell them from first hand
experience how greatly they had welcomed knowing that there were people
outside the prison who were aware of them and wanting to help, and the
Qatar Slave Labour deaths - World Cup 2022
Qatari Embassy, London. Tue 28 Apr 2015
A man from the Qatari Embassy refuses to take the
letter from Gail Cartmail
Trade unionists took a letter to the Qatari embassy on
International Workers Memorial Day protesting the slaughter of migrant
slave labour workers on World Cup building sites. At current death
rates, over 4,000 migrant workers will die by 2022.
A Guardian report revealed that on average a Nepalese worker dies every
two days, and including the deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi
workers the death rate is most likely more than one every day. At least
964 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh died working in Qatar in
2012 and 2013.
So far work has only taken place on one of the 12 stadiums needed and 12
are to be constructed by 2022. Unless the Qatar government acts urgently
the number of workers killed is likely to be much higher.
The huge death rate is due to appalling exploitation and abuse of the
migrant workers. Amnesty International says many have their passports
confiscated as soon as they enter the country and are made to work long
hours with little pay and no days off, and they are often subjected to
physical and sexual abuse. The ILO has urged Qatar to "ensure without
delay, access to justice for migrant workers, so that they can
effectively assert their rights [...] strengthening the complaints
system and the labour inspection system".
The protesters began their protest on both sides of the doorway to the
Qatar embassy, but were soon moved by police to the opposite side of the
road. Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union,
attempted to deliver a letter to the embassy, and a police officer went
inside to ask if someone would come and accept it. After a lengthy wait,
a man came to the door and refused, and the protesters then left it on
London Black Revs 'Reclaim Brixton' march
Brixton, London Sat 25 Apr 2015
The march stopped for a short while outside
After an hour at the gathering in Wind rush Square for Reclaim
Brixton, activists again took to the streets for a march up the main
street and then back past the railway arches threatened with eviction.
It was a lively march but rather to my surprise simply returned to Wind
rush Square, and nothing much appeared to be happening. I hung around
Wind rush Square for a bit but everything seemed very peaceful and I
mistakenly thought that perhaps nothing more would happen and decided to
Shortly after I left some people stormed and briefly occupied Lambeth
Town Hall and a large window at Foxton's estate agents was broken, and a
few activists went into Brixton Village with banners.
Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton
Brixton, London Sat 25 Apr 2015
People enjoying some music in a corner of Wind
rush Square at Reclaim Brixton
Wind rush Square at the centre of Brixton was filled with a crowded
festival to reclaim its social & cultural diversity, threatened by
increasing rents and property development that are forcing out local
businesses and residents.
There was a Unite Community microphone at one side and some speeches,
but most of the groups present there seemed to be doing their own thing
in various parts of the square. When I walked around later there was a
group playing classical music, another of African drummers, and the
Revolutionary Communist Group had its own megaphone and speakers, while
people were having a light-hearted limbo competition to a musical
accompaniment from the Unite 'stage'.
But most were simply standing around and talking or sitting in groups,
having picnics and enjoying a little afternoon sun in what Lambeth
council a few years ago deliberately turned into a bleak and unwelcoming
windswept area to discourage the informal gatherings that took place
Take Back Brixton against gentrification
Brixton, London Sat 25 Apr 2015
B.A.G.A.G.E (Brixton Action Group Against
Gentrification and Evictions) banner
London Black Revs were prevented by police and security from a
peaceful 'civil rights' style march through the gentrified 'Brixton
Village', but instead led housing and other activists directly on a
march from there to the Reclaim Brixton gathering in Wind rush Square.
There were extra security guards at all the entrances to the Brixton
Village as I walked past, and behind them a number of police. A few
protesters including people from a samba band had gathered by one of the
gates, but there were not many present, so I walked back to Brixton
Underground to see if there were any there,and found Class War were
meeting there, and I talked with some of them for a few minutes before
walking back to Brixton Village with them.
More protesters had now arrived and soon a march was forming up on
Coldharbour Lane outside Brixton Village, including people from the
Aylesbury Estate campaign, Southwark and Lambeth Housing Action and
other local groups.
Others joined in as the march slowly moved off. Rather to my surprise it
turned out to be a very short one, simply going down Coldharbour Lane
and turning down Rushcroft St to go directly to Wind rush Square where
the Reclaim Brixton rally was beginning. On the way, people accompanying
the long black banner of B.A.G.A.G.E (Brixton Action Group Against
Gentrification and Evictions) with its message 'Refuse to Move - Resist
the Evictions - Support your Neighbours' let off several red flares.
Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction
Brixton, London Sat 25 Apr 2015
Cherry Groce and Sean Rigg on the mural which was
expected to take several days to complete
Businesses in central Brixton's many railway arches, threatened
with tripled rents and evictions by Network Rail, closed for 2 hours
across lunchtime in protest, and graffiti artists were invited to work
on some of the arch shutters.
On Stella's Exclusive Hair & Beauty Salon an artist was working on a
mural for the United Families and Friends campaign, celebrating Cherry
Groce, Sean Rigg and
Ricky Bishop,all killed by Brixton police. All the shops on both sides
of the arches were closed, and most had white sheets with the name of
the business and a punning message about the evictions. Some of them
have traded here for many years - Denmay Fabrics since 1948, and L S
Mash and Sons have been fishmongers here since 1932. Their message to
Network Rail - 'Don't rip the soul outta my place'.
As I photographed the shops, a small procession of exotically costumed
figures carrying cardboard homes came past supporting their campaign, on
its way to reclaim Brixton with the message 'Save the Community'.
Aylesbury Estate Open Day
Aylesbury Estate, Southwark, London . Fri 24 Apr 2015
Aysen Dennis and Piers Corbyn at the street corner
meeting on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark
Residents of the Aylesbury Estate in South London invited visitors
to the estate and into their homes in their fight against eviction and
demolition. 73% voted to keep it a council estate and against
'regeneration' and social cleansing of the area.
A police van arrived on the street corner a few minutes before the open
day meeting was due to start, and remained there for some time, before
deciding that a couple of officers on the street and three 'community
wardens' were sufficient for this entirely peaceful event. Two security
guards watched from a balcony above, and I went to talk to them. They
told me that they had been informed by the SIA that they did not have to
have their SIA licences visible, though clearly the Private
Security Industry Act 2001 requires that they do so when in
public. They showed me their licences when I asked them to do so, and I
informed them they were committing a criminal offence that could lead to
six months in prison they shrugged their shoulders.
This is a law that the police are obviously choosing not to enforce at
the moment, and reflects the increasing political nature of policing at
least in the Metropolitan Police area. I was considering making a
complaint to the two officers who were watching the protesters, but was
diverted as a group at the open day were leaving to visit one of the
flats in the block - and a cup of tea was on offer.
The flats in these blocks were built to standards that are considerably
higher than those in current buildings in terms of space, and with a
care to design seldom found even in the most expensive of modern blocks.
The blocks are structurally sound and could be brought up to date in
these respects at relatively low cost. Given the quality of the
accommodation and its location it is hardly surprising that a majority
of residents wanted to remain living here when a poll was taken, and
those here now still do. But there are large profits to be made from
demolition and rebuilding for sale at London's current ridiculous
Ten Days of Rage for Ahwazi Intifada
British Iranian Chambers of Commerce, London. Fri 24 Apr 2015
Protesters enter NIOC House where the British Iranian Chambers of
Commerce meeting was taking place
A protest against Ajay Sharma, UK Chargé d' Affairs to Iran was one
of a series marking the 10th anniversary of the bloody suppression of
the peaceful uprising against forced displacement, discrimination and
persecution of Ahwazi Arabs in Iran.
April 15 was the 10th anniversary of the peaceful Ahwazi intifada
against forced displacement, discrimination and persecution of the
indigenous Arabs of southwest Iran in 2005. It was met by the Iranian
regime with extreme brutality and at least 130 unarmed Arab civilians
were shot and killed in cold blood in the first few days of the civil
unrest, and more than 2,000 put in prison. Judicial and extra-judicial
killings continued in the following months and years.
The Al-Ahwazi region in the southwest of Iran was autonomous until 1925
when it was brought under central control under Shah Reza Khan, a
colonel whose 1921 coup had been supported by Britain to protest the
interests of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company formed after the discovery of
oil in the region in 1908 and to oppose Soviet Russian attempts to take
over Iran, most of which was essentially controlled by British or Soviet
Peaceful protests continue in Al-Ahwaz and are met by continued
repression, particularly around the annual anniversary of the 2005
Intifada. This year the10th anniversary was marked in the UK by a series
of events, including this one at NIOC House at its entrance in Tothill
St, where people including leading government officials and possibly the
minister concerned were to be addressed by Ajay Sharma, the UK's
non-resident Chargé d' Affairs to Iran, on establishing permanent
relations with the Iranian regime.
After protesting outside as a number of people entered, including some
going to attend the meeting, the protesters decided to protest inside
the foyer, leaving after around ten minutes to finish the protest
outside. They then decided to go on to protest at the Iranian consulate
in Kensington but I had to go elsewhere.
Checkpoint Care at UCH
University College Hospital, London. Wed 22 Apr 2015
Border Control banner in front to the steps to UCH
Docs Not Cops set up a mock border checkpoint at the entrance to
University College Hospital protesting against plans to charge migrants
for NHS treatment which will force doctors to check on the immigration
status of those needing treatment. Many doctors object to being told
they must become immigration police.
Royal College of Art living wage protest
Royal College of Art, London. Wed 22 Apr 2015
A senior member of RCA staff pushes IWGB President
Alberto Durango away from the door
Cleaners protested noisily at the Royal College of Art over low pay
of outsourced workers, demanding the London Living Wage now, not from
September as the college has offered.
After protesting for around half an hour outside the main entrance, the
IWGB cleaners marched around for a short protest at the back of the
college, then moved around to the east side close to the Albert Hall,
after which they left and moved across into Hyde Park, pretending the
protest was over.
After a few minutes they then set off for a park gate to the west of
the college, and approached it again keeping quiet. As they turned down
into the mews leading to the main entrance, the IWGB president, Alberto
Durango waved to the rest indicating they should run towards the
entrance, around a corner a short distance ahead. But he arrived at the
door too far ahead of the others and was easily stopped by the security
guards. I arrived as the a senior member of staff was stopping another
IWGB leader and ordering him not to trespass on the college, and then
photographed him pushing Alberto away from the door where he was being
blocked by three other men. He then slipped inside, but Alberto was
prevented from following.
The IWGB members regrouped and walked away to join those still waiting
for them in the park and everyone left.
Earth Day protest at Drax AGM
Grocers' Hall, London. Wed 22 Apr 2015
police officer talks to an Axe Drax protester dressed as a Green Man
outside Grocers' Hall
London Biomassive held an 'Axe Drax not forests' protest outside
the Drax AGM on UN Earth Day, calling for the UK's largest coal fired
power station to be closed. It is also the world's biggest biomass
power station, getting subsidies for trashing forests and digging up
The group were on the pavement outside the entrance to the Grocers'
Hall opposite the Bank of England where the AGM was being held, handing
out leaflets and lobbying the shareholders going in to the meeting.
Although there were no road works actually taking place, half of the
street had been coned out of use in anticipation of them, making it hard
for the protest to take place without impeding passage along the
Some of the protesters suggested that police might temporarily move the
cones to create a larger space, but the police felt unable to do so, and
simply kept coming back and asking people to keep a route clear. They
suggested people protest around the corner or anywhere else out of the
way. After the meeting inside had started, the protesters agreed to move
into the coned off area on the other side of the street to continue
their protest with a rally.
Property Awards at Mayfair Hotel
Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. Tue 21 Apr 2015
told developers to build social housing, not investment properties as
the entered the hotel
Housing activists jeered those attending the 2015 Property Awards,
holding their own awards ceremony outside in protest at the record
level of evictions, doubling of rough sleeping in London and the worst
shortage of affordable housing in history.
Property developers are cashing in on the incredible rise in London
housing prices by building luxury flats for investors, many of which are
left unoccupied as they increase in value while London suffers from its
worst housing crisis, as councils sell off social housing to developers.
Over 50,000 families have had to move out of London while many more
properties in the capital remain empty.
Housing in London has ceased to be something to meet human need, and
instead is servicing greed and selfishness. Among those at the protest
were residents from the Aylesbury estate and Sweets Way who are facing
eviction because of the policy of social cleansing.
The protesters stood in front of the normal red-carpet entrance to the
Grosvenor House Hotel, making those attending the conference walk around
them as they shouted for a fair housing policy. Other attendees were
directed by the hotel management to other doors, and protesters also
gathered at these. Protesters also briefly occupied a neighbouring
branch of estate agents Foxton, who have played a leading role in the
gentrification of London.
Towards the end of the protest, most of those present moved to the rear
entrance to the hotel, where those attending were by then being
directed. There was a large crowd around the narrow entrance gate, and
some of the property developers going in for the awards had to push
their way through an increasingly angry crowd which was arguing with
police. Shortly after I left one or two of the protesters were arrested
and taken away.
Piers Corbyn from the Aylesbury Estate campaign made a speech
where he stressed the importance of fighting for council housing rather
than simply social housing. Increasingly the housing associations which
normally provide social housing are behaving just like other private
landlords and increasing rents close to the so-called market value which
is unaffordable, as well as using the kind of short-term tenancies which
give private sector tenants little or no security.
Cyclists Die-in for Moira Gemmill
Lambeth Bridge, London. Mon 20 Apr 2015
Cyclists and their bicycles covered the roadway
all around the roundabout where Moira Gemmill was killed
Cyclists held a vigil and die-in for Moira Gemmill where she was
the 5th London cyclist killed this year. Four were women and all were
killed in the rush hour by trucks. Westminster rejected plans to make
the Lambeth Bridge roundabout safer in 2012.
As well as the hundreds of cyclists who included many from bodies such
as the event organisers, Stop Killing Cyclists as well as London Cycling
Campaign, there were also many who had worked with Moira when she was
head of design at the V&A and other friends and relatives. Also
present were people from Right to Ride who represent motorcyclists and
the pedestrian lobby group Living Streets.
The event both commemorated the life of the highly successful and
inspirational designer and called for a change in the management of our
highways. As Mustafa Arif of the London Cycling Campaign put it.
currently "roads are prioritised for efficient movement of motor
vehicles rather than the safety of cyclists and pedestrians."
At the start of the event, Stop Killing Cyclists organiser Donnachadh
McCarthy arrived with a long banner covered with red crosses
representing cyclists killed by traffic, and it was laid on the
pavement, with a small white 'ghost bicycle', flowers and candles and a
small poster stating that Moira Gemmill was the 5th cyclist to be killed
on London roads this year, four of them women, and all killed in the
rush hour by trucks.
The speakers were introduced by Nicola Branch, another of the
organisers Stop Killing Cyclists, who also spoke briefly about Moira
Gemmill. Every death is a a great loss, but this one was gaining more
publicity than most because of the high profile of its victim, riding to
work at St James's Palace to work at the post she had been recently
appointed to at the Royal Collection Trust.
Ted Brown, also from Stop Killing Cyclists, told us that this
roundabout had been the site of a number of previous accidents which had
led Transport for London to propose changes to the road layout, but that
in 2012, Westminster Council had rejected the TfL proposals. Moira
Gemmill had been a designer, and one of the things she had said to her
former boss, Martin Roth, the director of the V&A, was that "Good
design can change society."
Mustafa Arif said that efforts to get the roundabout redesigned had
continued, with the London Cycling Campaign and others, including Dutch
experts putting forward new proposals in 2013, but that no action had
been taken. There was also a need to improve the design of lorries and
to restrict the movement of lorries at busy periods.
Peter Hartley of Westminster Living Streets made a powerful
condemnation of Westminster Council, stating that three people there in
particular were responsible for Moira's death. He characterized them as
the 'three wise monkeys, see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'.
Sitting with his hands over his eyes was Martin Lowe, Westminster
Council's Director of Transport, in charge of a department not fit for
purpose and only concerned with getting traffic moving faster, while
Councillor Heather Acton, the chair of the committee concerned with
pedestrians and cyclists had been totally ineffectual in improving
safety. The third monkey, keeping silent about the issues was Council
Leader Philippa Roe.
Beth McKillop, the deputy director of the V&A talked movingly of
her friend and former colleague who she said "loved cycling as she loved
life" and had been an inspiration to all, making "a wonderful museum
even more wonderful." She had "mad the V&A the most stylish and
talked about museum in London."
The speeches ended with Tom Carney reading his poem about the tragedy,
after which there was a short pause as police stopped all traffic on to
the roundabout, and then the banner with its red crosses and the
commemerative display with white bike, flowers and candles was moved
onto the roadway. Soon the whole area around the roundabout was full of
cyclists and bikes lying on the road observing some minutes of silence
in memory of Moira Gemmill.
Westfield 'Save our NHS' protest
Westfield, Shepherds Bush, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
The play outside Virgin in Westfield Shepherds Bush comes to an end
Street theatre by protesters at Virgin inside London's Westfield
centre illustrated the danger that TTIP poses to our NHS, allowing
corporations to force the privatisation of all public services. Police
and security stood back and watched.
Virgin Media uses the Virgin brand, but is not actually owned by
Virgin, following various mergers and sales. In 2013 the company was
bought by Liberty Media, making Richard Branson more the £200m, of which
£135m was in shares in Liberty. The company pays Branson around £10m a
year to use the Virgin name.
Virgin Care, according to The
Observer, runs over 230 NHS and social care services and "recently
won contracts worth £500m to provide 30 primary care services across
England, including GP practices, GP out-of-hours services, walk-in
centres, urgent care centres and minor injury units". By use of a
complex structure of holding companies with links to other parts of the
Virgin empire with its roots in the British Virgin Islands, the company
is "unlikely to pay any tax in the UK in the foreseeable future."
Certainly not with our current government.
BP die-in against Climate Change
Shepherds Bush Green, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
Protesters calling for a fossil fuel free future begin the die-in at
BP Shepherds Bush
Protesters staged a 'die-in' at the BP garage at Shepherds bush
over TTIP, which would force countries to use dirty fuels including
coal, tar oil and arctic oil and seriously delay cutting carbon
emissions and the move to renewable energy.
KFC protest over TTIP
Shepherds Bush, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
Chicken dipping bucket line outside KFC warns TTIP
would force UK to accept unsafe food practices
Protesters in white coats formed a line outside KFC at Shepherds
Bush dipping rubber chickens in buckets of chlorine and acid,
illustrating that TTIP would force the UK to accept unsafe food
practices (including GMO crops) allowed in the USA.
Stop TTIP rally
Shepherds Bush Green, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
Dame Vivienne Westwood makes a second point
Dame Vivienne Westwood and John Hilary of War on Want and other
powerful speakers at a London rally warned against the threat that the
TTIP treaty secretly negotiated by governments and corporations poses
to democracy and all public services.
Tweed Cycle Ride
Westminster, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
Cyclists ride into Parliament Square on assorted bicycles
While I was with the football fans calling for government legislation
to protect their game, the Tweed Cycle Ride stopped on the road
opposite, and I went across to photograph it, running alongside as it
made its way into Parliament Square.
The Tweed Run raises money for the London Cycling Campaign and is "a
jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best". The
vintage-themed ride stops for tea and a picnic and ends with "a bit of a
jolly knees-up." Um...
Football Action Network Manifesto
Westminster, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
Football fan with soccer ball and football manifesto
The Football Action Network took copies of its manifesto to the
Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem offices in Westminster. Its demands include a
Football Reform Bill, a living wage for all staff, fair ticket prices,
safe standing, and reforms to clubs & FA.
I caught up with them at the Lib-Dem offices in Great George St and
talked with them and took some pictures and a copy of the manifesto.
Centenary of Armenian Genocide
Piccadilly, London. Sat 18 Apr 2015
A woman paints an Armenian flag on a man's cheek
Armenians marched through London on the 100th anniversary of start
of the killing of 1.5m Armenians by Turkey between 1915 and 1923.
Turkey still refuse to accept the mass killings as genocide and the UK
has not recognised the Armenian genocide.
Hundreds of Armenians met for a procession through London, led by
Armenian scouts - male and female - carrying flags and 3 wreaths. Many
had large placards about the Armenian genocide. Armenians demand that
Turkey and the UK government should recognise the mass killing as
genocide and it should be included in the national curriculum.
Some carried a placard with a picture of Hrant Dink (1954-2007),
described as 'The 1,500,001st Victim of The Armenian Genocide'. The
former editor of the Istanbul Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, he was
prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which makes it a
crime to publicly denigrate the Turkish government, republic or nation.
After having received many death threats he was assassinated by a 17
year old Turkish Nationalist in January 2007.
Because of other events I had to leave the meeting point shortly before
the procession began, on its way to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph and a
rally close to Downing St before marching on to the steps of St Paul's
Cathedral where Canon Pastor Tricia Hillas was to address the marchers.
Class War Poor Doors 28
One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 16 Apr 2015
Passers by stop to look at the protest and
wonder what it is all about
Class War's 28th weekly protest at One Commercial St over separate
entrances for rich and poor residents was marked by a number of
speeches against the increasing social apartheid in the UK. Two
protesters were still blocking the door when I left.
No More Deaths on our Streets
Westminster, London. Wed 15 Apr 2015
march pauses briefly in front of the Houses of Parliament
People worried by the growing number of homeless people living on
the streets of the UK, the removal of welfare support and increasing
official persecution marched around central London to show solidarity
and raise the problem as an election issue.
Protesters from various groups, including those involved in day to day
practical support of the homeless on the streets with food and shelter
as well as charities, political groups and housing and homeless
activists, squatter and more met at 6pm opposite Downing St.
After protesting on the pavement they moved on to the roadway for the
march, taking over both carriageways and stopping all traffic on
Whitehall for some minutes before marching off towards Parliament.
From Parliament Square they marched down toward the Justice ministry in
Petty France, turning there towards St James' Park, but then turning
again and going through the back streets to Storey's Gate. There they
turned and went up Horse Guards Road having walked nearly in a circle
for around half a mile extra to get there.
It wasn't clear if anyone at the front of the march knew where they
were going or how to get there, but by this time I was tired of walking
and left to go home. After I had left the march made its way to
Buckingham Palace to protest outside.
Fast Food Rights at McDonald's
Whitehall, London. Wed 15 Apr 2015
Baker's Union leader Ian Hodson at McDonalds
demands union rights and an end to zero hours contracts
Fast Food Rights protest at McDonald's in Whitehall in global
solidarity with US fast food workers striking for higher pay, justice,
dignity and respect. UK workers demand union rights, a £10 minimum
wage and an end to zero hours contracts.
Among those taking part and speaking at the protest were Ian Hodson,
National President of the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union
(BFAWU) who is one of the leaders of the Fast Food Rights campaign, and
victimised National Gallery PCS rep Candy Udwin, one of the leaders of
the strikes there against privatisation.
Bring Back Our Girls
Nigerian Embassy, London. Wed 15 Apr 2015
Nigerians protest opposite the Nigeria High
Men and women from the Nigerian Women In Diaspora Leadership Forum
protested at the Nigerian embassy calling for the return of the over 200
Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram. They hope the new Nigerian
government will take a firmer line. They have held monthly protests
there since the abduction a year ago.
Checkpoint Care - Docs Not Cops
Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. Wed 15 Apr 2015
Docs Not Cops border post outside the Royal London
Docs Not Cops set up a mock border checkpoint at the entrance to
the Royal London Hospital in a protest against plans to charge
migrants for NHS treatment which will force doctors to check on the
immigration status of those needing treatment.
Security at the hospital came and made them move off the hospital owned
area and they continued the protest on the border, marked by shiny
stainless steel posts. Those taking part were mainly medical students or
health service employees who object to being used to police immigration,
and they were joined by local GP Dr Anna Livingstone.
The hospital serves an area with a very large population of migrants and
UK born members of ethnic communities. It is hard to see how doctors
could carry out checks unless all UK residents were forced to have and
use ID cards - questioning people about their immigration status would
offend many and most of us carry no documents which would prove our
right to free treatment.
Some of the protesters wore grey reflective jerkins with a symbol
representing an ID card, while others wore surgical scrubs and stickers
with a logo showing a stethoscope and handcuffs. A number of people
going in and out of the hospital, including a number of staff members
stopped to talk and express support for the protest, though one person
stopped to argue that migrants should have to pay.
Vote Out Trident
Ministry of Defence, London. Mon 13 Apr 2015
Listening to speeches at the CND rally
CND partied with live music, rap and speeches at the MoD in solidarity
with the successful blockade of the Faslane Trident base today.
They ask everyone to query election candidates over Trident and not to
vote for anyone opposed to its scrapping.
As well as speeches from Bruce Kent, Victoria Brittain, Lindsey German
of Stop the War, CND's Kate Hudson, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Sam Fairbairn from
Peoples Assembly, Heather Wakefield of Unison and John Hilary of War on
Want, there were performances by Potent Whisper, Beans on Toast, Drew
McConnell and Zefur Wolves.
Heathrow Villages fight for survival
Harmondsworth, Middx. Sun 12 Apr 2015
A Plane Stupid polar bear with protesters on what
would be the new Heathrow boundary in the village centre
[Images taken in the remarkable Great Barn, an English Heritage
property, are taken solely for personal use and not available for
A open day around Harmondsworth village green launched a renewed
fight against the expansion of Heathrow which threatens to swallow up
much of the area, showing again the local determination to protect its
historic community against a third runway.
The pearl of the area is certainly the magnificent Grade 1 listed Great
Barn, built in 1426 and described by Sir John Betjeman as 'the Cathedral
of Middlesex' and is the largest surviving example all-timber barn. In
agricultural use until the 1980s, in 2006 it was bought by a
Gibralter-based company who let it deteriorate. It was said to have been
offered to the local authority (LB Hillingdon) for a pound, but they
turned it down. Local pressure, led by local MP John McDonnell
after the owners failed to carry out necessary emergency repairs
persuaded English Heritage to take it over (at a cost of £20,000) in
2012, since when they have done an excellent job in restoration.
I last went inside the barn in 2003, when it was open for the end of a march to
Harmondsworth from Sipson against a third runway at Heathrow, one
of the early events in a successful campaign that ended the plans for a
third runway, convincing all political parties that expansion at
Heathrow was politically impossible.
It now seems likely that the Davis Commission, charged with finding a
solution to expanding airport provision in the South-East may again come
up with the suggestion of a third runway at Heathrow. Some consider the
commission was set up with this outcome in mind, and Heathrow has
certainly spent a considerably amount lobbying for it, including setting
up a heavily funded PR organisation called 'Back Heathrow' to
come up with spurious survey results suggesting local backing for
Of course Heathrow is a major local employer, but it will remain so
without any expansion. Although the estimates of air traffic growth
which form the basis of the case for new runways are almost certainly
well overstated, Heathrow will remain a major airport and source of
employment without any expansion.
Heathrow should have been replaced by a more suitably sited London
Airport at least 40 years ago. Various opportunities have been missed to
do so, and instead the airport has been allowed to grow, with a fourth
terminal and then T5, each expansion being promised in turn as the final
growth. It now covers a huge area, and were it to be redeveloped,
whatever replaced it might well generate more employment, as well as
The launch event with placards and a huge mural was attended by all of
the general election candidates for the area except Lib-Dem candidate
Satnam Kaur Khalsa, who like the others is against Heathrow
expansion, but was not present after an e-mail mix-up by the organisers.
Clifford Dixon (UKIP), Pearl Lewis (Conservative), John
McDonnell (Labour) and Alick Munro (Green) all came,
spoke briefly and signed the mural. Also present with local residents
were campaigner John Stewart of HACAN, and five 'Plane
Stupid' polar bears, who a few weeks ago held a protest against a
new runway in one of the Heathrow terminals with their banner 'Any
New Runway Is Plane Stupid'.
I'd started the day in the Great Barn, where the Datchet Border Morris
were dancing, Apart from this and the church, there are perhaps around
20 historic buildings of local interest around the village, and many
more in the wider area of Harmondsworth which used to include Sipson,
Longford and Heathrow.
I had time for a quick lunch in the garden of the Five Bells, looking
out on the small village green, hurrying to finish as the Morris Men
were performing outside the other village pub, the Crown. I took some
more pictures of them and the paid a brief visit to the Parish Church, a
distinctive building part dating from the 12th century, with the first
church on the site being built in 1067.
End Immigration Detention
Harmondsworth, London. Sat 11 Apr 2015
protesters get ready to march the short distance from the Bath Road to
the front of the prison block
A large and noisy protest at Harmondsworth by Movement for Justice
let detainees there and by phone across the UK immigration system hear
the call for an end to unjust, racist and abusive detention system,
illegal fast tracking, and the scapegoating of immigrants.
The protesters met at the entrance to the site on the A4 Bath
Rd/Colnbrook bypass immediately to the north of Heathrow. Since Mitie's
'care+custody' took over the running of both Harmondsworth and
the neighbouring Colnbrook detention centres as Heathrow
Immigration Removal Centre at the start of the year they have
only been allowed access to a small area in front of the Harmondsworth
administration block for the protests, and a team of security guards has
been brought in on each occasion to assist police at the protests.
The new name makes clear the government's intention - to remove
immigrants - rather than as previously to hold them where it was thought
necessary while their cases were being assessed. But these are prisons,
with those inside being unable to leave; they have a few privileges
denied those in normal jails, including the use of mobile phones, but
some disadvantages, including that they are all on indefinite sentences
at the whim of government and subject to a constant threat they will be
forcibly bundled onto a plane and taken back to the country from which
they have fled, often at fear of their lives. These prisons are also run
by staff who often lack the basic training, supervision and
accountability of normal jails.
Although the protest was kept to a small area at the front of one of
the two groups of buildings, it could be heard throughout both sites, as
phone calls from those inside confirmed. Their calls welcomed the
protests, as often those inside feel they have been forgotten by
Many of those who attend the protests have themselves suffered from
imprisonment in this or other detention centres, often for long periods,
after escaping from beatings, rape and torture in their home countries,
and several spoke about their experiences in the system here. Some made
clear that they had been seen as troublemakers because they stood up for
their rights, and they stressed that those who failed to do so, whatever
the strength of their cases, were likely to face deportation.
Just as those inside could hear us, both directly and over their
phones, those of us outside also heard from some of those inside, with
some mobile phones being held to the microphone and their messages being
relayed to the whole group.
After a couple of hours of lively protest, with dancing, shouting,
drumming, whistles and a number of speeches I was tired although the
protesters still had plenty of life in them. I walked to the bus stop
and waited, hearing the noise of the protest from several hundred yards
away. As I got on the bus 10 minutes later, the group emerged from the
site onto the Bath Rd, heading for the public footpath that leads beside
the Colnbrook site to take their protest closer to those held in that
Illegal Security blocks St James occupation
St James's Square, London. Thu 9 Apr 2015
Occupiers complain to a police officer about the
illegal blocking of the door by LAPA security employees
Men wearing black 'Security' jackets but with no visible ID
prevented people entering or leaving the occupied political space in
St James's Sq until around 8pm when apparently police confirmed that
as the occupiers had told them they were acting illegally and they
The space was occupied by Squatters and Homeless Autonomy and
Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians on 6th April. The
security personnel arrived early in the morning of 9th April and entered
the building illegally. The occupiers persuaded them to leave but they
remained blocking both Pall Mall at St James's Square entrances to the
occupied political space and stopping people from entering.
The support from Class War, some of whom I traveled with from their
weekly, proved its worth in eventually bringing the blockade to an end,
and by the time the security firm bosses pulled their men away and
admitted defeat, some of the security guards, who seemed mainly Central
European migrants, were clearly worried by what they had been told about
their legal position.
At least some of the men standing and forcefully pushing back anyone
who tried to enter the property and clearly committing assault had
licences issued by the SIA (Security Industry Authority) but were
keeping these hidden in contravention of the licence conditions which
state that 'front line staff' (those working with the public)
must "Wear the licence where it can be seen at all times when
engaging in designated licensable activity unless you have reported it
lost or stolen". Several did briefly show their licence to a
police officer when asked (as also required by the Act of Parliament),
and one man who was wearing his hidden on his sleeve showed his
inadvertently when threatening a protester.
As Class War protesters were telling them, "contravening licence
conditions is a criminal offence under Section 9 of the Private
Security Industry Act 2001, the maximum penalty for which is six
months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000."
Preventing entry of persons to their abode is also a criminal act -
even when that abode is a squat, as too is not allowing them to leave.
On Pall Mall the security personnel were on the public highway, and also
committing an offence by blocking the doorway there.
Although there were legal observers already in St James's Square and
inside the occupied space, it seemed to be the intervention of Class War
that prompted the police into action and finally led to the ending of
the illegal action by security.
The officer who arrived failed to persuade the security to display
their licences, and went away to consult his sergeant over the legality
of stopping people enter their temporary home, taking the phone number
of the security company. Shortly afterwards they got a call from the
police and decided to call off their employees.
Class War keeps up Poor Door protests
One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 9 Apr 2015
Proud to be Working Class
Class War's 27th weekly protest outside One Commercial St against
separate entrances to the block for rich and poor residents was
uneventful, and Class War supporters left early to support the
occupied political space in Pall Mall.
The event seemed seriously over manned by the police, with eight
officers standing in a line in front of the 'rich door' when the
protesters arrived and there were several more in the vicinity. As in
several previous weeks, the door appeared not to be in use, either
because of the extensive building works being carried out at the front
of the building or for the protest.
Despite the protestations of the building's owner, Taylor MacWilliams,
there is no physical barrier that would prevent the social housing
residents and their visitors entering by the front entrance - as I found
when I made the journey myself when given a tour of parts of the
building by one of the owners of a flat on the 'rich' side. It would
seem that there are also internal links to at least one of the
businesses that operate at street level and that these are now being
used by the wealthy residents.
Class War had received a request for assistance from the occupiers of
offices taken over as a political space in Pall Mall, with a more
prominent entrance in St James's Square, and cut short the One
Commercial St protest in order to travel there, inviting me to go along
Walking the Darent Way
Eynsford to Dartford, Kent. Mon 5 April 2015
Graffiti and River Darent, near Dartford
On Bank Holiday Monday I walked with Linda and our elder son from
Eynsford to Dartford, mainly along the Darent Valley Path. They had
previously walked the southern end of the path to Eynsford which has a
station on the line to Sevenoaks. It took us four trains to get there,
but was a reasonably smooth and fast journey - we had chosen the walk in
part to avoid the many line closures around London and the South-east
The walk is fairly well documented on various web sites, and I don't
need to add to them. It's also fairly well waymarked, although the route
appears to have changed over the years and both the OS map we were using
and one on the route were misleading. Fortunately I'd been to Dartford
before as it isn't too easy to find a pedestrian route to the station
from where we entered Dartford town centre. The southern part of the
walk which I didn't do is probably more picturesque, going through
Lulling ton and Shore ham, but the northern section does have some
industrial archaeology and a few oddities to recommend it. I'll put a
few comments with the pictures.
It was a pleasant day, and the walk was only just a little too far for
my ancient and suffering legs, which took a few days to recover after
Good Friday in Staines
Staines, Middx. Fri 3 Apr 2015
The Romans were back in Staines, keeping an eye
on the Nazarenes
Last year for the first time, a Staines
Passion play was performed on the Saturday between Good Friday and
Easter Day - Holy Saturday- and this year there was to be another
performance. I photographed the performance last year, but this year was
not going to be able to. But as in previous years, there was going to be
a Good Friday march through the centre of the town to a service in the
Two Rivers Shopping center, as a part of which there was going to be a
short performance by some of the main actors.
The marchers gathered at the Methodist Church next to the area of grass
by the river where the Staines Passion was to be performed, and led by
the Salvation Army band and a volunteer pressed into carrying a large
Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors
One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
The police take away Lisa McKenzie who is standing
against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford
Lisa McKenzie, standing for Class War against Iain Duncan Smith in
Chingford was arrested at tonight's Poor Doors protest. Police allege
she fixed a poster on a wall at the protest two weeks ago, but photos
only show her holding it against the glass.
The space outside the rich door was very restricted due to building
work on One Commercial St and the renewal of paving outside, as well as
a number of police officers standing outside the rich door. Class War
began their protest across the road before moving across and then
protesting on the corner of Commercial St a few yards from the rich
Before they moved across, a yellow smoke flare had been thrown onto
Whitechapel High St, and there was some hilarity as a police officer
came and strutted around it before finally picking it up and walking
back and along the front of One Commercial St holding it. I followed him
and watched as he took it down the side alley, finally depositing it
close to the poor door as it was more or less burnt out.
The protest continued on the corner outside the betting shop, and the
protesters recognised one of the women officers standing behind the
women holding the Lucy Parsons banner (police are still hanging on to
the 'Political leaders' one) as one of those present in plain clothes at
the protest two weeks earlier. Lisa McKenzie, Class War's candidate for
Chingford, pointed her out, and Ian Bone offered the officer the
megaphone to speak about but she refused.
A minute or so later, a woman officer came up to Lisa and told her she
was being arrested, accused of criminal damage. The officer said she had
stuck a Class War sticker on the glass next to the rich door two weeks
earlier on March 19th. A snatch squad surrounded her, and despite
opposition from the protesters she was led away and put in a waiting
police van to be taken to Bethnal Green police station.
My pictures from March 19 show
that Lisa was using both hands to hold posters and did not have a free
hand to apply a sticker - others were coming up behind her and putting
up the stickers which held the posters. Had she put a sticker up I would
have seen and photographed it. But even had the police arrested the
right person, it is hard to see that an easily removed sticker
represents criminal damage.
After she was driven away there were some angry arguments with police
but the protest continued with several powerful speeches before
finishing at the normal time.
Shame on Sheraton - Hotel Workers
Mayfair, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
The Hotel Workers protested outside Le Meridien before going on to the
Park Lane Hotel
Members of the fast-growing Unite Hotel Workers Branch protested in
solidarity with fellow workers for Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and the
Maldives who have been sacked for union organising protested outside two
Sheraton hotels in Mayfair.
Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage
Westminster, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
The procession on Buckingham Gate
Catholic Workers came together for a walk and prayers around the
"geography of suffering" in London halting outside the offices of
companies in the arms trade for prayers against the arms trade, war,
torture, nuclear weapons, international debt, homelessness, immigration
policy and climate change.
Free the Palestinian Children
G4S, Victoria St, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
A woman talks about G4S running Israeli security
and her own demeaning treatment on visiting Palestine
Protesters called for the 300 Palestinian children held in G4S
secured Israeli jails to be released. Last year Israel held 1266
Palestinian children for interrogation; 75% of them are physically
tortured and many sexually abused.
Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L.
The Mall, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
One of the protesters came out and put up notices
around the building
Activists from the Autonymous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians
entered Admiralty Arch through the roof at night and were occupying
the building. We were offered entry if we brought tobacco or alcohol
but felt it wise to refuse and left.
Sweets Way at Annington Homes
James St, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
Protesters with a banner outside the offices in
Residents protested across lunchtime at the offices of Annington
Homes, the tax-dodging equity investor owned company which owns the
Sweets Way estate in north London, calling for an end to evictions and
the right to return for all decanted residents.
A police officer came to visit the security inside the building, and
moved the protesters away from the door to the offices. Annington Homes
is one of a number of tenants, with offices on the fifth floor.
Many of those passing by on the busy side street opposite St
Christopher's Place and those entering and leaving the building took
leaflets and some stopped to talk to the protesters, expressing support
and often bringing up their own problems with housing in London. Towards
the end of the protest a group of around a dozen people left together by
a side entrance and were thought to be staff from Annington Homes.
You can read more about Annington Homes and their evictions at Sweets
Way in north London in my post on last
US Embassy, London. Thu 2 Apr 2015
Protesters outside the US Embassy, one wearing an
Obama mask and carrying a quotation by him
The London Guantánamo Campaign continued the monthly protests which
it started over 8 years ago, handing out leaflets and talking with
passers by calling for justice and freedom for the remaining 122
prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
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