my london diary index


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End Gross Inequality at the LSE

LSE, London. Tue 30 May 2017

A cleaner who has had his shirt ripped off his back by the greedy director (right) lies on the ground

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Life Not Money at the LSE staged street theatre in support of the London School of Economics cleaners who are continuing their indefinite series of weekly strikes for equality.

The LSE and Noonan who manage the cleaners treat them as second-class citizens, refusing to recognise their trade union and employing them on low pay and grossly inferior conditions to directly employed staff.

The group sprayed chalk slogans on the road chanting 'London School of Exploitation' in a wide range of silly voices and then performed a short play in which a character playing the LSE director tore the shirts off the backs of several cleaners and boasted about his huge and rapidly rising salary.

Security staff at the LSE watched the protest, along with students and staff making their way between buildings on the campus. The police who had earlier come and talked to the the protesters kept a low profile and have apparently decided that chalk spray on the road causes no damage and that the relatively short obstruction of a minor highway is not a great problem. There is little traffic on the street except that for building work at the LSE, and the protesters stood back and let building lorries pass.

Protests like this obviously embarrass the LSE management as they are intended to do, and arrests and the bad publicity this brings is even more of a problem for them. Although some people have criticised the activities of Life Not Money there seems little doubt that their actions played a part in persuading the LSE to eventually hold serious talks with the cleaners' union (the UVW) and reach an agreement.
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Keep the Fox Hunting Ban

London. Mon 29 May 2017

A well dressed hunter and fox with a message for Theresa May - For FOX sake keep the ban
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Several thousand people marched through London from a rally in Cavendish Square to another at Downing St to tell Theresa May that the public are against having a vote in Parliament on the fox hunting bill.

Polls show that over 80% of the public in city and rural areas are against lifting the ban and many would support stronger measures and proper enforcement of the 2004 ban. Among those who spoke and marched was Prof Andrew King of the Animal Welfare Party who is standing against Theresa May in Maidenhead and Bill Oddy.

The march went to Downing St where there was another rally, with some rather boring speakers, one of whom got loudly booed by many in the crowd. The march organisers had apparently banned any of the more radical groups who were taking part, including the hunt sabs who have led the fight against hunting, from taking part and invited establishment figures. Before the march started there had been a lot of urging people to act responsibly and not cause any problems for the police, which led to the event being a little dull and grossly under-reported.

Like many of the others, I left before the end of the rally. Even the one smoke flare let off as I was leaving was a rather dull white smoke. I took a few pictures and then hurried to the pub. Although this protest was ineffectual, the failure of Theresa May's campaign resulting in her failing to get a majority and the DUP 'bung' Parliament means a fox-hunting bill is extremely unlikely to emerge until after the next election.
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Picturehouse Strike for Living Wage

East Dulwich Picturehouse, London. Sat 27 May 2017

BECTU official picket outside East Dulwich Picturehouse - and a n empty-headed pirate
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Supporters and cinema workers gathered outside East Dulwich Picturehouse to greet workers walking out on strike in their dispute for trade union recognition, adequate sick pay, maternity and paternity pay and a living wage.

Management at owners Cineworld that made £93.8 million post-tax profit last year is refusing to talk with the workers or to recognise their union BECTU. The dispute, which began at the Ritzy in Brixton, now involves six cinemas, though only East Dulwich was striking today as the others are renewing their strike ballots.

Lordship Lane where the cinema is has narrow pavements, quite a lot of traffic and cars parked on both sides, making it a difficult place to hold a rally. A small picket stood on the pavement outside the cinema, while the supporters were on the opposite side of the road, taking up some space on the road after cars parked there moved away.

Among the supporters were a small group from the Workers Revolutionary Party including Aminata Sellu, their General Election candidate for Camberwell & Peckham, the constituency which includes East Dulwich who was keen to be photographed at the event.

There were loud cheers when a small group of BECTU members who had been working that afternoon came out of the cinema to begin their strike at 2.45pm. As well as a living wage, the strikers are also demanding that Picturehouse recognise BECTU rather than telling workers they are represented by an ineffective staff forum.
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Sisters Uncut General Election Rally

Camden Rd Station, London. Sat 27 May 2017

Posters like this were a clue to where the march was heading!
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North London Sisters Uncut met at Camden Rd station for their 'general election rally' in a protest against Tory budgets that have cut support for refuges for victims of domestic violence.

I arrived at the time given to find they were not intending to start until half and hour later, so I came back then and still nothing was happening. I asked and found that they were intending to start in perhaps another half hour with a rally, after which they would march to another location.

After another fifteen minutes someone arrived with posters and started handing them out, and it became clear where they would march to. But I had intended also to go to another event in South London that started at 2.45pm and had to leave before they began their march to Holloway Prison.

Had I known they had already obtained access to the visitor centre there and intended to occupy it for a week of women's workshops, I might have stayed with them, but although this had been advertised as an event at which all genders were welcome, I didn't feel particularly at ease. On arrival I and other photographers had been told there were some women who should not be photographed and who were wearing white crosses. I wasn't happy with this attempted restriction on freedom of the press; if people take part in public events they should be prepared to be photographed - and if for any reason there is a problem they can wear masks.

After I left they did as expected march to the now disused Holloway Prison, occupying the former visitors centre. They say the former women's prison is public land and should be used for public good and not sold for building yet more luxury flats. They intended to hold a week of workshops on women’s well being, self-defence and legal rights there before leaving, and managed to defeat an early attempt to evict them without a court order.
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Cyclists Tory HQ die-in against traffic pollution

Westminster, London. Fri 26 May 2017

The die in outside the Tory HQ in Matthew Parker St. A similar protest took place at Labour HQ last week
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Stop Killing Cyclists protest vigil and die in outside the Tory Party HQ marked the deaths of an estimated 280,000 people from air pollution, largely transport related and a further estimated 168,000 people from inactivity diseases due to lack of protected cycle lanes, since the Tories were elected in 2010.

They demand that 10% of the transport budget be spent on clean-air protected cycling infrastructure by 2020. A similar protest took place outside the Labour HQ a week previously. They also call for a ban on diesel vehicles in city centres within 5 years, and on all fossil-fuel powered vehicles within 10 years, for all non-zero emission private cars to be banned from cities on days where pollution levels are predicted to rise above EU safety levels, and for regular car-free days in major cities following the example of Paris.

They call for a national programme to convert residential areas across the country into living-street Home Zones without polluting through routes and to promote schemes to ban powered vehicles from city centre shopping streets like Oxford St.

Stop Killing Cyclists co-organiser Alex Raha stated:

Air pollution is poisoning millions of people in the UK, whilst traffic carbon emissions are contributing to the climate emergency. Road danger means most people do not feel safe cycling on UK roads, which means they lack life-saving physical exercise”.

There is now an urgent health crisis which is costing the NHS billions. It is now crucial that our national cycling infrastructure gets its fair share of national infrastructure investment.”

Co-organiser and cycling mother Dr Ruth-anna McQueen added:

It is unacceptable in a supposedly free society that parents are afraid to allow their kids to cycle to school. It is even more unfair that our children’s lungs are being stunted from being in polluted schools. All political parties must now commit to invest the money needed to protect the public when cycling.”

Cycling and walking are crucial to creating a healthy and sustainable UK, urgently addressing the obesity, inactivity, transport pollution, health and climate emergencies.

Currently the UK spends less than £2 per head on cycling - compared to £24 in Holland. The UN calls for an increase to 20% of the transport budget by 2025, which would be roughly £3 billion per year - less than a tenth of the cost of Crossrail2.

Spending on cycling infrastructure benefits everyone across the country whether or not they cycle by reducing pollution and diseases which are caused by lack of activity which are an increasing pressure on the NHS. They say the 2016 Royal College of Physicians report estimates that currently treatment for transport pollution related conditions costs the NHS £20 billion a year, around a sixth of the total budget.
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E17 Protest Against School Cuts

Walthamstow Town Square, London. Fri 26 May 2017

The square soon filled up as marchers came in from schools around the area
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Students, parents and teachers marched from 17 schools and a nursery to a rally in Walthamstow Town Square in protest against the cuts in school funding on Fair Funding for All Schools' 'School Assembly Day'.

Education analysts say all schools will suffer from the cuts, but those in city areas like Walthamstow will be disproportionately affected. Waltham Forest schools will lose over £25m from their annual budgets, £672 per pupil and will also lose 672 teachers. Some local schools can expect budget cuts of over £1000 per pupil under the plans.

I left as a crowded square was listening to a number of speeches from teachers, parents, educationalists, local politicians and education experts.
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Red Cross act for Palestinian Hunger Strikers

ICRC, Moorgate, London. Fri 26 May 2017

Inminds get some live music as the prepare for the protest calling on the International Red Cross to act
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Human rights group Inminds held a vigil at UK Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) in Moorgate, London, demanding it end complicity with Israel's violation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners.

They want the ICRC to restore the twice-monthly family visits and uphold the Geneva Conventions in this and other respects as the hunger strike reaches its 40th day and Israel is making preparations to force-feed the prisoners.
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Golden Boat Award for Serota

Tate Britain, London. Thu 25 May 2017

Grim Chip of Poetry on the Picket Line (Chip Hamer) poses in front of the banners
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Low paid staff who were asked to contribute to Tate director Nicolas Serota's leaving present of a sailing boat launched their annual Golden Boat Awards with a protest outside his leaving celebration at Tate Britain.

The PCS Culture Group named him as the first recipient of the award for his services to the cause of privatisation, canalization and low pay at the Tate. They demand complete parity of pay and conditions between Tate staff and outsourced zero hours Securitas staff, with trade union recognition and rights, job contracts and security for those who want it, protection and support for EU staff after Brexit and the reinstatement of staff discount in the canteen.

The protesters met outside Chelsea College and after a performance by Grim Chip of Poetry on the Picket Line (Chip Hamer) marched the couple of hundred yards with their sound system to the staff entrance of Tate Britain, where guests were entering for Serota's leaving party. Most took the fliers offered as they walked through the protesters but a few looked rather annoyed and tried to ignore the protesters and loud music they were playing as they began to party on the street outside. I left them to it and went home.
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Vote for decent, secure homes

Parliament Square, London. Thu 25 May 2017

Piers Corbyn signs the statement they are about to take to Downing St
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The protest called by Axe the Housing Act protest was intended to make housing an election issue.

They called on whoever forms the new government to provide decent, secure homes and rent control for all. They brought an election statement for people to sign at a rally in Parliament Square which they then took to Downing St, where they intended to continue the protest, but I left them to go elsewhere.
London. Thu 25 May 2017

Lift the Siege of Buenaventura

Colombian Embassy, London. Thu 25 May 2017
One of the protesters is wrapped in a Union Flag for the protest
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The Colombian Solidarity Campaign protested opposite the Colombian Embassy, delivering an open letter urging the Colombian Government to end the use of ESMAD riot police against the people of the Pacific port of Buenaventura who have been on indefinite general strike since 16th May.

They want the Colombian Government to declare a state of social, economic and ecological emergency and tackle the problems which have led the 150,000 people of the town to protest and call the civic stoppage. Around 95% of the city's population are of African descent and have suffered 450 years of exploitation by slave masters, colonial companies and the Colombian elite.
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Grant Assange Safe Passage

Ecuadorian Embassy, London. Thu 25 May 2017
Protesters opposite the embassy with posters and a Free Assange banner
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Supporters of Julian Assange who had been evading the UK Police in the Ecuadorian embassy for almost five years protest on the street facing the embassy. They call for the UK to end the witch hunt and grant Assange safe passage to leave the UK without arrest.
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LSE Cleaners strike for equality

LSE, London. Wed 24 May 2017

The cleaners make a lot of noise at the LSE
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LSE cleaners picket and protest on the 5th day of their weekly indefinite strike calling for the same terms and conditions - annual leave, sick pay and other benefits - as directly employed workers and to be treated with dignity and respect.

The LSE cleaners are employed by cleaning contractor Noonan. They demand that the LSE and Noonan recognise the United Voices of the World union and hold sensible talks with them. They today unanimously rejected an offer which went halfway to meeting some of their demands and voted to continue the strike.

At the end of a long day of picketing they held a rally where cleaners and supporters spoke and then marched around the block and to the offices on Kingsway before returning to the LSE to continue the rally, which ended with a speech of support from Owen Jones, backing their claim and stating that their fight was significant for all other low paid workers suffering similar minimal conditions and with poor job security.
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March Against Monsanto

US Embassy, London. Sat 20 May 2017

A woman holds up a poster against Monsanto
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The March Against Monsanto protest outside the US Embassy was a part of the international grassroots movement and protest supported by Bee Against Monsanto.

Speakers addressed various issues around the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Roundup, a glyphs herbicide, dangerous bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, and the need for improved protection victims of multinational corporations.

Linda Kaucher spoke about the danger of trade deals such as TTIP which override national laws to protect our health and safety and endanger the integrity of our food supplies as well as banning or greatly restricting the traditional practice of farmers saving their own sees, and Jim McNulty spoke on the dangers of pesticides and the corruption related to them. Lawrence Woodward told the history of Agent Orange, developed for military use by the UK and of how the alliance between governments, corporations, academic institutions and "a supine press" enables dangerous products by Monsanto and other corporations to be widely sold.

One woman came to hold up a number of pro-GMO posters with messages calling for people 'Not to be Myth-informed - support GMO' and stating that 'RoundUp is less toxic than baking soda'. It's hard to be sure about the science, and there are more recent studies that throw doubt on much of the earlier work - as well as allegations that Monsanto covered up parts of its own early studies in order to bring RoundUp to market. The evidence has been strong enough to persuade a number of countries to impose restrictions and bans on its use.

While blanket opposition to GMOs may not be based on science, neither is unqualified support. And on balance we would almost certainly be better off without some of the constraints and problems of the domination of agriculture by companies such as Monsanto.

Numbers at this protest were well down on previous years - and have been decreasing year by year. As I left those present were discussing how new ways could be used to increase public awareness of the issues.
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Focus E15 launch The Newham Nag

Stratford London. Sat 20 May 2017

Newham's Mayor got a 4% rise in2010 despite the public sector pay freeze
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Housing campaigners Focus E15 launched their latest handout, 'The Newham Nag', based on Newham Council's information sheet, handing it out outside Newham Station.

Police came and harassed them and Newham Council staff handed out a fixed penalty notice of £100 for alleged obstruction of the highway in the wide public open space in front of the station.

The handout and speeches condemned Newham for being the country's second biggest borrower of LOBOs, risky and expensive long-term loans which have resulted in 80% of the income from Newham's council taxpayers going directly to the banks as interest payments.

They also point out that Newham has 12,246 homeless - one in 27 of the residents - and the most of any authority in England. It has more evictions from rented accommodation than any other London Borough, and the council, led by Mayor Robin Wales has failed in its duty to provide housing for residents, attempting to send Londoners to towns and cities hundreds of miles away while keeping hundreds of council properties on the Carpenters estate empty for over ten years.
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End media lies against Venezuela

The Guardian, London. Sat 20 May 2017

Protesters were joined by the Irish anti-internment group

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People protested outside The Guardian in London calling for an end to the lies and censorship of the UK press about the events in Venezuela.

They say that the current unrest is a right-wing coup attempt to overthrow President Maduro and the working class Bolivarian revolution, backed by the US, which the privately-owned Venezuelan press misrepresents as 'pro-democracy' protests and fails to report their attacks on hospitals, schools and socialist cities which have led to many deaths.

The protest was at The Guardian as that paper recently called for democratically-elected socialist president Nicolas Maduro to be given ‘pariah status’, constantly backed attempts to undermine former President Chavez and has failed to report the mass mobilisations by working-class supporters to protect the government and its reforms which have decreased poverty, provided free health care and education, devolved power into the hands of local collectives and built homes for the working class.

Also at the protest were a small group of Venezuelans who called Maduro a murderer, and there were some heated arguments.
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Teen Voice says votes at 16

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 20 May 2017

Few had arrived for the protest by the time I had to leave

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Teen Voice, who last year protested over 16-18 year olds having no say in the Brexit vote, came to Trafalgar Square to call for votes in all UK elections at 16.

They say it is unfair that while they can work, pay taxes and even join the armed forces they have no say in votes which effect their future to an arguably greater extent than anyone who is allowed to vote in elections at the moment.

As well as lowering the voting age, they also want youth to have a say in educational policy and to improve mental health education in schools and mental health care for young people.

Among the speakers as NUT London Regional Secretary Martin Powell-Davies, and Hugo Sugg, homeless campaigner and Independent 'Communities Together' Parliamentary Candidate for South Hackney and Shoreditch.

They were hoping for more teenagers to arrive for the march as I had to leave shortly after they began to gather and speak.
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End dog and cat meat trade

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 20 May 2017
Some dogs had brought their owners to the protest
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Protesters stand in Trafalgar square alongside others across the world on the Fight Dog Meat Kindness and Compassion Day calling for laws across the world to protect animals, especially dogs and cats, who are cruelly killed for their fur and to be eaten.

Some held placards with horrific pictures of live dogs being deliberately tortured in markets in China and Korea. China is the world's largest exporter of fur garments, sourcing the fur from dog and cat slaughterhouses, and dog skin rugs with the head still attached are popular in China, and handbags including a dogs head are expensive fashion items in Japan and South Korea.

As well as countries in the Far East, Switzerland also had a dog and cat fur and meat industry, and other countries including Canada have no restrictions on fur imports.
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Stop Deportation Of LGBTI Asylum Seekers

Nigerian High Commission, London. Tue 17 May 2017
Protesters hold posters against the mass deportation flights organised by the UK Borders Agency
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London, UK. 17th May 2017. A protest at the Nigerian High Commission called for the Nigerian Government to stop colluding with Home Office Immigration Enforcement by allowing mass deportation charter flights of LGBTI asylum seekers back to Nigeria, where those suspected of being gay face mob attacks, public whippings, evictions from homes, harassment and discrimination.

These flights have also included people who are in the middle of asylum claims and apart from putting them at danger, their removal makes it impossible for them to pursue their claims.

The protest on the International Day Against Homophobia was organised by Aderonke Apata from the AfricanRainbowFamily and Noorulann Donald Shahid from NUS LGBT+ Campaign and supported by other organisations including the Bangladeshi LGBT Family. I left soon after the start when others were still expected to arrive.
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Cleaners protest at HSBC

Canary Wharf, London. Tue 17 May 2017
IWGB protesters hold placards and a banner and blow whistles loudly
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Cleaners in the CAIWU, the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers’ Union who are balloting to strike protest outside the HSBC bank building at Canary Wharf.

The cleaners are employed by ISS who refuse to recognise the CAIWU despite most of the cleaners belonging to it and they are threatening to make almost half of them redundant in June. The union say they are picking on those who have been working there longer as they were employed under better terms and conditions than new staff.

The cleaners attracted a great deal of attention as people left and came back to work at lunchtime, handing out a large number of leaflets. Quite a few people stopped to talk about their case, and most expressed support. A reporter from the local 'The Wharf' newspaper who was passing by stopped and interviewed the protest organiser and took a photograph for the paper.

The protest and strike threat were successful in getting ISS and the HSBC to talk with the union and a protest set for a few weeks later was called off as a satisfactory agreement was reached.
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Shut down Yarl's Wood Immigration Prison

Yarl's Wood, Bedford. Sat 13 May 2017

A woman runs with a smoke flare in front of the fence
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This was the 11th protest outside Yarl's Wood in the Movement for Justice campaign to shut down this and other immigration detention centres.

I'd caught the train from St Pancras to Bedford as usual, but instead of waiting for the MfJ bus had brought my Brompton, so could just jump on it and cycle towards Yarlswood. It was a ride of around 6 miles, mainly along side roads or on cycle paths beside busier roads, and it was a pleasant enough ride, though Yarl's Wood is on a former airfield on a plateau rather higher than the city, and so it was uphill quite a lot of the way. And the climb up from the nearest village, Milton Ernest, was rather long and steep, though at least I didn't have to bother about traffic, as the police had closed the road. But I was a little out of breath and tired as I arrived.

But Yarl's Wood really is in the middle of nowhere, making those inside feel very isolated, and visits to them by anyone without a car are tedious and expensive for those on low income. So events like this are important in reminding those inside that they have not been forgotten.

There were several hundreds of people already at the roadside - and a long row of coaches that had brought them there, and there were speeches and chanting while they waited for others to arrive.

From the road there is still a long walk along field edges following a public footpath, around three-quarters of a mile. Parts of this were heavy going on the Brompton, not designed for off-road use, and I did have to walk part of the way, as well as occasionally stopping to photograph the marchers, now around a thousand strong.

When the protesters arrived at the field in front of the tall fence around the centre, they were welcomed by shouts and waving from those imprisoned inside who held up messages calling for justice in the narrow slits the windows open. Only those who could get to the upper windows on the block facing the fence could see the protest, but others inside could certainly hear it.

There were speeches from former detainees, including several women who had been held at Yarl's Wood, including Mabel Gawanas who was recently released a few days short of 3 years inside, and other former immigration detainees. People kicked on the fence to make a terrific racket and held up banners, posters and placards to show the detainees in what the protesters describe as as 'racist, sexist hell-hole' they have not been forgotten. Some inside spoke to the protest by mobile phone.

Some of the protesters climbed ladders to hold banners and placards above the first solid 10 feet of the 20 foot fence, while others had long poles or lit flares to make the protest more visible. A few yards back from the fence where the ground slopes up we could see those at the windows and photograph them through the mesh fence, though it wasn't easy.

I left as the protest began to draw to a close, cycling back along the footpath to the road and then enjoying the long downhill stretch to the village and the main road. But I had to pay for this, as a short uphill modern stretch of road off stretched me almost to exhaustion. 40 metres doesn't sound a lot, but feels in on a bike. And while the road up from Milton Ernest does the climb at a fairly sensible rate, Oakley Hill up from the A6 is at least twice as steep. I should have got off and walked, but pride doesn't allow it unless it becomes really impossible. For some reason my three-speed gear had decided to be a two speed gear, but probably it wouldn't have helped here as I think it was only the top gear I was missing - and I needed something considerably lower. But after than it was downhill most of the way to Bedford and a train probably an hour earlier than had I been on the bus.
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LSE cleaners strike for equality and dignity

LSE, London. Thu 11 May 2017

'Life NOT Money at the LSE' protesters chalked on the roadway and lay down, blocking the street
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LSE cleaners in the United Voices of the World union held another of their weekly one-day strikes demanding parity of terms and conditions with staff employed by the LSE.

Although they clean the LSE, they are employed by cleaning contractor Noonan under greatly inferior terms to other service staff working in the LSE buildings. After a noisy picket since 8am outside the library they marched at lunchtime to other buildings on campus; some supporters were harassed by police.

Meanwhile 3 protesters from the 'Life Not Money' campaign urging the LSE to end its hypocrisy and put the principles of equality it teaches into practice in the institution chalked their message on Portugal St and staged a sit in, stopping lorries entering or leaving the LSE building site.
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Rochdale, Lancs. Sat 6 May 2017
The Rochdale Pioneers began the Cooperative Movement in Toad Lane
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After the 50th anniversary morning of the Ashram Community which ended with a lunch we were told their would be a guided tour of the town for those who wanted it.

Apparently they hadn't told the person who would be leading it but she told us about the town as she took us through the town centre, into its splendid town hall foyer and on to a local museum where I picked up a leaflet on a town trail set up last year, and then on to Toad Lane, where a small museum commemorates the Rochdale Pioneers, the start of the Co-Operative movement.

I took a few photographs along the way, but later in the day went out armed with the leaflet to make my own tour of the parts of the town we hadn't visited. Although I lived only a little over ten miles away for seven years, and worked for a short while rather closer at Chadderton, I'd never visited the town before.
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Manchester. Fri 5 May & Sun 7 May 2017

Two canals (Bridgewater and Rochdale) and four railways make this site exemplify Manchester's contribution to the industrial revolution
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We were on our way to the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Ashram Community, a small Christian community with members around the country and overseas with branches around the UK but centred in Sheffield, where it has several community houses, a community building and a shop, including several worship communities. But it was founded in Rochdale and I was going there to join in the celebrations and photography them. The pictures are probably only of interest to members but they can be seen online here.

But we decided to travel up to Manchester early to give ourselves a few hours to walk around the city. I spent around 7 years in Manchester in the 1960s, living in Whalley Range, Alexandra Park, Victoria Park, Longsight, Withington and Fallowfield, and, for the first 3 years of our married life we lived on the upper floor of a house in Rusholme, just off Platt Lane. We moved from there in 1970, and since then have only made the occasional short visit.

We didn't have time to visit all our former homes or haunts (though many are doubtless gone) but decided to take a walk along the Rochdale Canal which passes close to Piccadilly station where we arrived from London. When we left Manchester, although there was little commercial traffic on the canals, many of the waterside wharves and factories were still in use, and much of the area wasn't welcoming to visitors. Now it is one of the city's tourist attractions.

By the time we reached the Bridgewater canal we were quite hot, and stopped at the Wharf pub for refreshment before continuing along the Bridgewater towpath to Hulme Hall Rd, crossing the canal and then the River Irwell. We'd hoped to walk back beside the Irwell into central Manchester, but the path was blocked and we had to leave the river and walk along Trinity Way to New Quay St, crossing the Irwell there back into Manchester to continue our way beside the river. We only got as far as Bridge St before we had to leave the river again, as the riverside path - here on the Salford side - was again closed, and we walked instead up St Mary's Parsonage and Deansgate to the Cathedral and then east to Shudehill for the Rochdale bus.

We had a shorter time in Manchester on Sunday afternoon - and decided to visit the People's History Museum, though the hour we had there was nothing like long enough. I took a few more pictures as we walked across town to Manchester Piccadilly.
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LSE Equality Life Not Money protest

LSE, London, UK. Wed 3 May 2017 A security guard tackles a protester before he gets much of 'END INEQUALITY AT THE LSE' on the wall
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Protesters from Life Not Money at the LSE call on the LSE to put the equality which is at the root of its teaching into practice for the low paid workers at the LSE in a continuing campaign using 'peaceful civil disobedience combining art, humour and ridicule' to get the LSE management to end its hypocrisy.

Students were stopped from protesting outside the library and forced to move onto the road outside, where they displayed flowers, posters and banners and handed out several hundreds of fliers.

At the end of the protest a man was arrested for so-called 'criminal damage', writing on a wall with wipe-clean chalk spray. He was tackled bodily by a LSE security guard when only writing the third letter of his intended slogan 'END INEQUALITY AT THE LSE'.

Today's protest follows last week when the LSE demanded police arrest four people who had decorated a building with slogans and coloured spots in the wipe-clean chalk spray despite their offer to clean it at the end of the protest. The slogans demanded the director of the LSE take a £100,000 pay cut to give the lowest paid workers a living wage. A further protest is planned for next week.
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DPAC against Tory Hate

Westminster, London. Tue 2 May 2017

DPAC go along the pavement in Parliament Square
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Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) protest outside Parliament on the last sitting day before the General Election and then in front of the gates of Tory HQ, finally blocking nearby Victoria St for 45 minutes.

The disabled were singled out by the Tories who thought slashing their benefits an easy target for cuts, paying ruthless companies to administer flawed tests of disability and axing funds which enabled them to live independent and productive lives, ignoring court decisions and a UN report condemning their abuse of disability rights. Official statistics show many thousands of early deaths of disabled people affected by these Tory cuts, and many of those at the protest had lost friends or relatives in this way.
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May Day F**k Parade

London. Mon 1 May 2017
The parade goes across Waterloo Bridge
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There was a brief announcement and the parade slowly moved off, walking towards the London Eye and then turning right along the embankment.

Everyone was in a good mood, some dancing along to the sound systems, and a few smoke flares added to the atmosphere. There was still a heavy police presence, although there was no sign that the event was going to be anything but a peaceful parade.

After going along to the South Bank, the parade was led between buildings and up a side street onto Waterloo Bridge. On the bridge a black-clad protester set off another flare, and I heard a police officer shout 'Let's go and get him' or something similar. I was pushed to one side as police rushed past me and a crowd of them surrounded a protester and grabbed him, throwing him to the ground.

The mood of the crowd changed instantly and some tried to grab their friend back, but police piled into them, some clearly enjoying the opportunity of a little rough handling of the public. Fortunately no one seemed badly injured.

As usual police tried to hide what they were doing to the man on the floor, standing around him to try to stop people seeing and photographing. There did seem to be some excessive use of force and the usual unnecessary painful forcing of his arms up behind his back as he was led away.

I was surprised by this sudden use of force against people who had really been causing no harm. There seemed to be no good reason for it, and it rather seemed as if the police simply wanted a bit of action and perhaps to intimidate the protesters who included a number of young children. And perhaps the fact that there were few if any other people on the bridge meant they felt they could get tough with the parade.

Once the arrested man had been taken to a police van the parade moved off. There was another flare set off at Covent Garden, but with large numbers of tourists and others around the police seemed to simply ignore it - as they had the earlier flares.

By the time the parade reached Leicester Square I'd had enough. It had been a long day and I was tired and little seemed to be happening, and I decided to go home.
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May Day F**k Parade Meets

Leake St tunnel, London. Mon 1 May 2017
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Leake Street is London's graffiti central and there were some people busy repainting the walls as people began to gather for the parade. Among them were many that I knew from previous Class War events, including those who were organising the event.

The street is a long tunnel underneath Waterloo Station and its 23 platforms and the lighting is fairly low. So long as people stood still I could just about work without flash.

There were quite a few police vans outside the tunnel, and officers walked through from time to time to keep an eye on the crowd, with some in blue bibs trying to talk with people and gather intelligence, but most people refused to talk with them.
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May Day Rally

Trafalgar Square, London. Mon 1 May 2017

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka talks about his heart transplant and the vital need to save the NHS
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Once in the pub there were quite a few people to talk to, including those from Class War who told me they were intending like me to get the Underground to the Trafalgar Square rally and to sell more of their newspaper there.

But time went on, and none of us moved. Eventually a small group decided to leave and make their way to the rally. Farringdon is a strange station, somehow isolated from the rest of the system, and I think there were engineering works which also forced us on a longer route than usual, via Baker St.

We reached Trafalgar Square just in time to hear the final words of the main speaker, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, but had obviously missed quite a lot of the rally. I was pleased to hear Mark Serwotka speak, but there were a few others who I had little interest in, and after taking a few pictures I made my way across Westminster Bridge and to Leake St.
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May Day March

Clerkenwell, London. Mon 1 May 2017
The banner at the front of the march as it leaves Clerkenwell Green
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At the front of the march was the main banner for the London May Day Organising Committee calling for trade union rights, human rights and International Solidarity, followed by a Musicians Union marching band and many banners and marchers, perhaps around 5-10,000 people. As well as banners there were many with placards and flags.

I decided to try to photograph all of the banners, and stood by the roadside a couple of hundred yards from the start of the march photographing them as they marched past. I had to move around a little to catch as many as I could, and I'm sure there were a few I missed, but the roughly a hundred pictures here give a pretty good impression of the march as a whole. Some pictures show several banners and where they were close together it often wasn't possible to show every one in full.

As the end of the march went past me, I turned and walked back to Clerkenwell Green, intending to have a quick drink in the pub and then catch the Underground to Charing Cross for the rally.
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May Day March Gathers

Clerkenwell Green, London. Mon 1 May 2017

Class War came with a new banner in memory of Simon Chapman and their new newspaper
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The London May Day March took place as usual on May 1st, gathering at Clerkenwell Green and setting off at 1pm to march to a rally in Trafalgar Square.

As usual there were a number of trade union branches with their banners, and a large contingent from London's Turkish, Kurdish and other ethnic minority communities, though perhaps their numbers were a little down on previous years.

Also there were a large number of communist parties, both from the UK and from other countries in Europe, Iran, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, as well as anarchists, various left-wing campaigns and other groups.

Class War are no fans of 'A to B marches' but came to Clerkenwell Green with a new banner in memory of Simon Chapman who died earlier this year. He was arrested and imprisoned in Greece where he took part in a lengthy hunger strike which had a permanent affect on his health, though he continued to campaign and protest after his return to the UK. They had also brought copies of their new 'Class War' tabloid newspaper and sold quite a few copies at the event. But as I expected, when the march set off for Trafalgar Square they marched only the few yards back to the pub, where I joined them later.
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London Images

May 2017

Along with some familiar images, particularly of the Nine Elms development as more block rise up, there are also some rather different views, including a set taken on a bus journey from the Oval to West Dulwich and back.

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