my london diary index


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Solidarity with Yarl's Wood hunger strikers

Home Office, London. Wed 28 Feb 2018

The crowd outside the Home Office included many who had themselves been in detention
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Protesters at the home office supported the hunger strike and refusal to work by the 120 women and men in immigration detention at Yarl's Wood.

The protest came at the end of the first week of the action which began on 21st February and which is demanding the Home Office respect the European Convention of Human Rights, end the separation of families, end indefinite detention, with a 28 day maximum detention period, end charter flights which deport people without notice, and end to re-detention of those released from detention.

The hunger strikers also want an amnesty for those who have been in the country for over 10 years, a stop to deportations before cases are decided and any appeals heard, the proper disclosure of all evidence to the immigration tribunals, adequate health care, an end to detaining of highly vulnerable people, an end to employment at £1 per hour and to be treated with the dignity and respect due to all human beings.

The protest was organised by a number of groups including Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Detained Voices, Black Women's Rape Action Project, All African Women's Group, The London Latinxs, Right to Remain, Docs Not Cops and End Deportations. Movement for Justice who have organised a dozen major protests outside Yarl's Wood, as well as those at other detention centres and led the campaigns to close detention centres and support detainees came with some colourful posters.
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HE & FE rally for pensions and jobs

Methodist Central Hall, London. Wed 28 Feb 2018

Sally Hunt of UCU speaks and Kevin Courtney NEU listens at right
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It was a great relief after a freezing march through London to be able to sit down in the warm inside Methodist Central Hall.

Attendance at the march, despite the weather had been much greater than anticipated, and only around half the marchers were able to fit into the hall, and the speakers went out to address the others after speaking inside.

I'd hoped to be able to leave the hall after photographing the main speakers and attend another protest, but because of the larger numbers the event ran late, and by the time John McDonnell and Frances O'Grady had spoken it was too late to bother leaving. I was very pleased to keep sitting in the warm, and there were some other interesting speakers before I left.

John McDonnell amused us all by walking to the microphone and beginning to address us all in Russian, a reference to the pathetic attempts by the right-wing media to smear him and Jeremy Corbyn as spies, but the largest applause was for a fiercely rousing speech by NUS President Shakira Martin, with many in the hall rising to their feet to applaud.

The strike by university staff has attracted widespread public sympathy and support and perhaps the terrible weather has helped get their message across, and it seems virtually certain that it will be successful, though stopping its underlying cause which is the increasing marketisation of our higher education system will be more difficult. It was heartening to hear several Labour MPs speaking against a policy which had been very much a New Labour project - and perhaps when we get the next Labour government more sensible education policies will prevail.

Further Education - where I worked for some time - has long been the Cinderella of education, and in recent years, along with adult education, has suffered terrible cuts in staff, courses and funding. Successive governments have occasionally said sensible things about it, while at the same time taking actions which screwed the system and I'm still not sure that Labour will really tackle the wide-ranging reforms that have obviously been necessary for at least the last 40 years.
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HE and FE march for pensions and jobs

London. Wed 28 Feb 2018

There were short periods of heavy snow, but most of the time it eased off, even stopping occasionally
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On the fifth day of their strike to get the universities to talk with them about pensions and pay, UCU members marched through heavy snow showers to a rally close to parliament. They were joined by staff from London FE colleges on the first day of a two-day strike over pay and conditions, and both groups were supported by large numbers of students.

Although we were still having very little snow in Staines, my arrival in London coincided with a blizzard, with driving snow and a biting wind as I made my way to Malet St for the start of the march. I slipped and almost fell on my way, catching myself and my camera bag before either hit the couple of inches of snow on the ground in Byng Place.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes it was hard to take pictures, with snow getting on my lens as soon as I took away the cloth I had stuffed into the front of the lens and raised a camera to my eye. Few of the pictures survived entirely unharmed, most with various areas of soft and diffuse because of snow on the lens filter.

Eventually the snow eased off, though there were some more heavy flurries as the marchers made their way through London to Parliament Square and a rally at Methodist Central Hall.

Tuition fees have increased dramatically, but university teachers pay has stagnated, with an increasing amount of the teaching being done by those on part-time or zero hours contracts. The employers now intend to end the long-established pension scheme, replacing it with one that would greatly reduce pensions and have refused to take part in talks with the UCU.

The 5 day strike is the first block of 14 days for which members voted overwhelmingly and which have closed 61 universities in the UK, with considerable support from students, and the marchers also demanded an end to student fees.

Although management at some universities - such as Royal Holloway (RHUL) have made draconian threats - the strike has held, with pickets standing in the freezing cold and few crossing the picket lines. A number of college principals have given their support to the strikers, and the move away from the current pension scheme has been driven by a relatively small number of universities, particularly the Oxbridge colleges, almost all of which are extremely wealthy, with some owning large areas of London.

UCU members in 16 London FE colleges on the first day of their two day strike over pay also took part; FE has lost 15,000 jobs, a million adult education places and lecturers wages have been cut 21% since 2009.
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London Snow

London. Wed 28 Feb

The Embankment from Waterloo Bridge
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It was snowing hard when I arrived in central London and I took a few pictures from the top deck of my bust as it make its way to Russell Square. There were a few small specks of snow on the outside of the windows, but most just bounced off and blew away in a strong wind.

By the time I got off the bus and was walking to Malet St, the snow was pretty dense, with around an inch of fresh snow on top of the earlier trodden down covering making the pavements very slippery. I took a few more pictures but it was really just too much to work. The snow was in very small flakes which didn't show up on the pictures well but there were so many of them that the lens was impossible to keep clear.
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A little snow in Staines

Staines, Middx. Tue 27 Feb 2018

Just a little snow on the Swan upper statue by the Thames
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While weather news swamps out various emerging scandals on the national news, Staines seems so far to have escaped relatively lightly.

We did get a few sharp heavy showers on Tuesday, and in late afternoon I took a brief walk and made a few pictures. Since then, although it had been cold there really hasn't been a great deal more, though perhaps it is still to come two days later. But it is certainly cold - and I'm sitting here writing this with my hat on at the computer as our heating isn't quite keeping up with it.
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Class War's Lambeth Walk for housing

Southwark, London.Sat 24 Feb 2018
Class War end their protest with a tongue in cheek rush at the Murdoch press News UK

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Class War celebrated their victory over the Qatari Royal family who had taken them to Royal Courts of Justice to attempt to stop protests at the Shard which is owned by the Qataris.

They had intended to dance the Lambeth Walk from one rally at City Hall to another outside The Shard, accompanied by ukuleles, but perhaps because of the cold weather, only one ukelele turned up and instead they simply marched behind their banner, supported by members of the Revolutionary Communist Group.

The protest called for the thousands of empty buildings in London and elsewhere - including those ten empty £50 million flats in the Shard - to be taken over and used to house the homeless.

Martin Wright pointed out that the coming cold snap next week will probably be "another Grenfell", likely to kill at least 80 people of the thousands who are sleeping on the streets. At the end of the rally opposite the Shard, Class War amused themselves by mounting a mock charge on the offices of Murdoch's News UK, publishers of The Times and The Sun.
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More London

Southwark, London. Sat 24 Feb 2018

One of two standing figures at one of the entrances to More London

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'More London' the name given by property developers to the area on the south bank to the west of London Bridge is one of those deceptive titles much loved by corporates.

More London actually means 13 acres less London that is truly public, and less that is owned in this country. St Martins Property Group sounds English - and it was founded in 1924 as the St Martins-Le-Grand Property Company Limited, but it is now the property development, investment and asset management company that represents the real estate interests of the State of Kuwait, wholly owned by the Kuwait sovereign wealth fund, Future Generations Fund.

Theoretically photography is banned, as too are demonstrations in More London, though with thousands of tourists passing through the open walkways every day - including the riverside path - the ban on photography is seldom enforced, though should you look too commercial you are likely to be approached by security personnel who will tell you to stop. And they have certainly tried to prevent some protests taking place, though often failing.

One of the major buildings in More London is City Hall, leased from the Kuwaitis. It seems to me shameful that London had its seat of government, COunty Hall at Westminster stolen from it by the Thatcher government back in the '80s and does own the home for the Mayor and assembly. Also shameful that many if not most of the government buildings in Whitehall now have overseas owners, some of them by UK tax dodgers in overseas tax havens. 'Taking our country back' from the EU will certainly have little effect at restoring Britain to British ownership.

At least Tower Bridge, which opened and closed twice while I was at Potters Fields is still one of five London bridges now owned and maintained by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust overseen by the City of London Corporation, our very own tax haven. The bridge was raised for Noah, a small sailing ship flying the Austrian flag and I think part of a youth training project.
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15th Reclaim Love Valentine Party

Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 17 Feb 2018
Drumming and dancing at Eros in Piccadilly Circus

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People came to Piccadilly Circus for the 15th Reclaim Love Pavement Party, an event which was founded and for 14 years organised by Venus CuMara.

They came with drums and other instruments to form a band to listen and dance to, and at around 3pm began a meditation sending blessings to the World and in particular to Venus who is suffering from cancer and in Indonesia, repeating her mantra "May All The Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy And At Peace". People were invited to make a contribution to enable her to prolong her treatment there.

Then people joined hands in what Venus called a "Massive Healing Reclaim Love Meditation Circle beaming Love and Happiness and our Vision for world peace out into the cosmos" around Eros, after which everyone was invited to hug strangers and the music and dancing then continued, though I had to leave shortly after.

The event is an attempt to reclaim love as a manifestation of the human spirit from the sleazy commercialisation which has taken over Valentine's Day as a festival of profit.
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Against US war plans for Ukraine

Downing St, London. Sat 17 Feb 2018

Campaigners pose opposite Downing St
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Campaigners from the New Communist Party, Socialist Fight, Posadists in Britain,
and members of Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine protested at Downing St against the delivery of $350 million of US weapons to Kiev in preparation for a war against the self-declared Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk which Ukraine says are "occupation administrations" of the Russian Federation.

The Ukrainian government in Kiev has refused to implement the 2015 Minsk II agreement negotiated by Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France with the Donbass republics recognised as participants. They say that the 2014 Maidan coup came one week after a visit to Kiev by CIA boss John Brennan and was US-backed and opposed by anti-fascists in Donbass, and call on the UK government to end its support, including sending military trainers, to the illegal fascist-backed Poroshenko regime in Kiev and back a peaceful conclusion to the war in Ukraine.
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'Stay Put' monthly Sewol silent protest

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 17 Feb 2018

304 Killed, 250 children who were told to 'Stay Put' below deck
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A row of people stand in silence in Trafalgar Square holding posters in the 45th monthly vigil to remember the Sewol victims, mainly school children who obeyed the order to 'Stay Put' on the lower decks as the ship went down.

They continue to demand the Korean government conduct a thorough inquiry into the disaster, recover all missing victims, punish those responsible and enact special anti-disaster regulations.
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Protect Venezuelan democracy

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 17 Feb 2018

A Venezuelan tells a woman disrupting their protest she is wrong about what is happening in his country
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An emergency rally in Trafalgar Square calls of an end to EU and US economic and diplomatic sanctions against Venezuela in support of the interests of international corporations which make it difficult for the country to recover after the collapse of oil prices in 2015.

The latest attack on the country is the US rejection of the 22nd April 2018 election, an attack on Venezuelan sovereignty and the country's right to determine its own destiny. Venezuelans fear that the US is preparing to support a coup or invasion of their country under the pretext of restoring democracy.

Two women carrying upside-down Venezuelan flags came to interrupt the protest and shout at the protesters, calling the Maduro regime a communist regime which was ruining the nation, and there were some heated exchanges of views.

The two had previously been protesting on the other side of the square with the Bolivians against Evo Morales, where I had noted they were using the flag introduced by Hugo Chavez rather than the older 7-star version preferred by the Venezuelan opposition.
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Bolivians protest against President Morales

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 17 Feb 2018

Bolivians, some wearing national costumes say 'Democracy Yes, Dictatorship NO'
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Bolivians protest in Trafalgar Square against President Evo Morales who won a Supreme Court appeal which will allow him to run for a fourth term in 2019 after a referendum on 21st February 2016 had voted down the constitutional change.

The government argued it had lost because of an illegal defamatory campaign against Morales who is the country's first indigenous leader, in office since 2006, and says he needs more time in power in order to consolidate his party's programme of of social reforms.

The protesters accuse him of wanting to be a dictator and abandoning democracy by using the court to overturn the referendum vote. The called on Morales to respect the popular vote and said 'Bolivia Said No', and accused him of violating human rights by going to the courts to overturn the people's decision.

The protesters were joined by two woman protesting against the 'Socialist Revolution' in Venezuela with a banner showing Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro as 'Castro Communists' and saying they were responsible for all the problems of Latin America including drug trafficking, while a second small banner accused Maduro of being responsible for death, hunger, poverty and corruption.

It seemed unlikely they were Venezuelan as one was flying the Venezuelan flag upside down and both the flag and the hat one was wearing were used the design introduced by Hugo Chavez in 2006, incorporating an eighth star and a horse galloping to the left, which the Venezuelan opposition stated they would not use, normally sticking to the older 7-star version.
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Lambeth Council opens fake Carnegie library

Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, London. Thu 15 Feb 2018
Library campaigners listen as they are told the Carnegie Library is an unsafe building and advised to leave
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Library campaigners protest outside the Grade II listed Carnegie Library as Lambeth Council re-opened the building as a temporary measure in advance of local elections.

In the longer term the library facilities will be moved into two smaller rooms, only open when library staff are on site for around two hours per day. The current main library area will be run as a hall that can be hired, but will have no kitchen facilities.

Work is still continuing on the building where millions have been spent excavating a pay-to-use basement gym no one wants with limited facilities and ceiling so low that will make it impossible for people to jump - exercising will be on machines.

The gym facility will almost certainly will require continued subsidies to Greenwich Leisure Limited in addition to the money spent on the building works, which campaigners expect to rise to around £7m.

The campaigners who went into the library when it opened to the public at 1pm included Unison safety inspectors, and after we had been inside for 15 minutes e were ad leave when they declared the premises unsafe. Unison members are being advised not to work there.

The only fire exit is through the building works and along a corridor lined with Calor gas cylinders. The former toilet facilities in the basement are no longer available and temporary toilet facilities have been provided in a room overlooked by the windows of neighbouring houses and the toilet was found to be discharging into the waste outlet of a kitchen sink. The public entrance is up a flight of external steps and there is no disabled access to the library, making it unsuitable for public use. There is also no proper heating system, with dangerous electric fires in use.

There seemed to be no other members of the public interested in the re-opening of the library, which was being staffed by managers from the council, who tried to prevent the safety inspection. After we left there were speeches on the library steps, where the council was condemned for its destruction of a much used library and wasting council money on a gym which few will want and which duplicates local private provision. They see the re-opening of the building a few months before May's council elections as a cynical ploy by Lambeth Labour to keep councillors in seat, and it was hard to argue with that assessment.
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Grenfell Remembered - 8 Months On

Kensington, London. Wed 14 Nov 2018

The march passes a car with posters on it on Kensington High St
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The monthly silent walk marks 8 months since the Grenfell Tower Fire and 8 months over which the voices of the community continue to be ignored.

Seven months ago Theresa May promised all Grenfell residents would be rehoused within three weeks. Four-fifths of those made homeless have yet to be found a permanent home. The inquiry, taking place in the City of London far from Grenfell has refused the community request to have a greater involvement, and the next session has been put off for a further month.

While previous monthly marches have been around the area of Grenfell, the organisers decided to make the event more visible by marching from Kensington Town Hall along Kensington High Street before turning north to go towards Grenfell.

The march took place in steady rain. After I had marched with them along Kensington High St I was cold and wet and one of my cameras was going haywire, and I left for home. I missed two trains as my ticket was wet and stuck in the barrier and it took around ten minutes for the member of staff on duty to find a working key and retrieve it.
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Russia Stop the Killing, Leave Syria

Russian Embassy, London. Sat 10 Feb 2018

Protesters with the Free Syrian flag and placards opposite the Russian Embassy
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Protesters opposite the Russian Embassy accuse Russia and the Assad regime of war crimes in Syria and tell the Russians to leave the country.

The protest organised by Syria Solidarity Campaign came after some of the largest massacres since the chemical attack last April, killing women and children in Idlib where there have been continued widely reported chemical attacks and bombing targeted at hospitals and medical teams.

The recent surge of attacks follows the shooting down of a Russian jet over Idlib by Syrian freedom fighters using a Russian-made man-portable missile system.
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Ladbroke Grove Pret-a-Manger land theft

Notting Hill, London. Fri 9 Feb 2018
Drummers join in the protest outside Pret-a-Manger, opened on land in trust to the community
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Community groups in North Kensington protest against the newly-opened Pret-a-Manger which has opened under Westway on Ladbroke Grove. The space above it is being fitted out for an expensive private prep school.

The say the land which was formerly the Westway Information Centre was part of that left in trust for community use and accuse the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, then under the leadership of the now disgraced Nick Paget-Brown and Rock Feilding Mellen, of pursuing an asset-sweating strategy which prioritised the commercial value of public land, casting such issues as residents’ consent, public access, and public amenities.

They say this is theft of community land with the site being developed on the ground floor as the Pret-a-Manger chain outlet, and above it a private £6,000 per term prep school.

After the fire disaster in nearby Grenfell Tower the council has claimed that there will be ‘change’ and there will be ‘listening’ under the new leadership of Elizabeth Campbell and Kim Taylor-Smith and the protesters call on them to urgently rethink the development plans and return the site to serve the needs of the community.
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Class War protest at Shard

London Bridge, London. Thu 8 Feb 2018

A police officer tells Jane Nicholl she has to move across the road
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Class War protest outside The Shard this evening after defeating the attempt by lawyers representing the Qatari Royal Family who own the building to take out an injunction to prevent their protest.

The protesters at the Shard point out that it contains ten £50 million pound apartments there which have remained empty since the building was completed, and that there are plans to build a further 26,000 flats costing more than a million pounds each, many replacing current social housing a time when London has a huge housing crisis with thousands sleeping on the street, and over 100 families from Grenfell are still in temporary accommodation.

Class War say there are already a huge number of empty properties in London, many in large development of high priced flats which either remain unsold or are bought as investments and largely unoccupied.

The High Court had received an undertaking from Ian Bone that he would not personally enter the building, but his health problems meant he was in any case unable to attend this protest. There were large numbers of police and security men, including a number in plain clothes in the area and two with search dogs, but the protest was peaceful as had been planned.

The protesters were careful to remain outside the boundary of The Shard, marked with a metal line in the pavement, but police still tried to move them away to the other side of the road, making the patently spurious claim that they were causing an obstruction to commuters attempting to enter London Bridge station. The police were obviously causing a rather larger obstruction than Class War.
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Class War victory against Qatari Royals

High Court, The Strand, London. Thu 8 Feb 2018
Ian Bone raises a fist as he comes out of the Royal Courts of Justice

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Ian Bone emerged triumphant from the High Court after stopping an attempt by lawyers acting for the Qatari royal family to prevent a Class War protest against the ten empty £50million pound apartments in The Shard.

The Qataris' lawyers had tried to get an injunction against protests by Bone and "persons unknown" and to claim over £500 in legal costs from the 70 year-old south London pensioner, but once the had been contacted by barrister Ian Brownhill who had offered to conduct Bone's defence pro bono they immediately offered to drop the case if Class War 'would stop attacking the Shard'.

Their attempt to stifle protest was covered in national and international media including an article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian and another in Le Monde and many more. In the High Court the Qataris' lawyers were forced to drop the attempt to ban protests and the demand for fees but Bone accepted a legal restriction on him going inside the Shard and its immediate vicinity. The planned protest went ahead as planned later in the day.

Outside the court Bone addressed a small crowd of supporters who had come to welcome him, giving them the news of Class War's court victory, and reading out one of the documents presented by the court about Class War which made it sound a rather more impressive and powerful organisation than the small but influential irritant to the rich and unscrupulous it is. The police seem to share the lawyers delusions of grandeur, an unusually strong police presence outside the court and around a corner clearly outnumbering the Class War supporters.

Among other documents presented by the Qataris' lawyers was one with some clearly defamatory false statements about another person associated with Class War who was not named in the injunction and which appeared, along with some of the photographs in their submission to have been obtained from police sources rather than publicly available information. Perhaps this was not surprising, as the Head of Security at The Shard went to the job after retiring as a police commander. Police have previously carried out a number of clearly malicious arrests of people from Class War during protests, where their cases have either been dropped before coming to court or thrown out by the courts.
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Plasticus the Whale at Parliament

Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Tue 6th Feb 2018
One second of plastic dumped in the ocean make up Plasticus the whale
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Plasticus the Whale from Sky Ocean Rescue, made of a quarter of a ton of plastic waste, the amount dumped in the ocean every second - a total of 8 million tons a year, was outside Parliament today in its campaign to stop the damage to the world's oceans caused by single use plastic.

Last August it toured a dozen locations in England, Wales and Scotland to highlight the problem. Sky Ocean Rescue is an initiative of Sky UK, part-owned by Rupert Murdoch. Many feel this surprising as his companies seldom seem to have very positive record in promoting environmental matters and opposing man-made climate change.
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Sling the Mesh say campaigners

Parliament Square, London. Tue 6th Feb 2018

A campaigner holds a poster showing a surgeon labelling a patient as hysterical for reporting her pain
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Campaigners protest in Parliament Square on the 100th anniversary of the first votes for women in the UK calling for a suspension on the use of mesh implants to treat incontinence and prolapse often caused by childbirth.

Many of those in the mesh campaign are suffering from the effects of these implants which can cause severe pain, disability and loss of sex life, and their use was suspended in Scotland in 2014.

Women say surgeons ignore women and claim their symptoms are not caused by the mesh and many women are made to feel they are making up their symptoms. The NHS say the risk is 1 to 3% but campaigners say that at least one in seven women suffer and that the mesh has only been clinically tested on animals and no long-term trial has taken place on women.
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Fair Votes Hunger Strike for Democracy

Parliament Square, London. Tue 6 Feb 2018
Campaigners pose for a group photograph in Parliament Square
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Campaigners pose in Parliament Square as four hundred fair vote campaigners take part in a 24 hour hunger strike, #Hungry4Democracy, organised by Make Votes Matter (MVM) in protest against our dysfunctional electoral system and to urge Proportional Representation.

The event took place on the centenary of the 1918 the Representation of the People Act when for the first time some women and all men over 21 in the UK gained the right to vote. MVM point out that although now everyone can vote, for over two thirds of us our vote has no effect on the result, "either going to losing candidates or piling up in safe seats without influencing the makeup of Parliament."

They call for a proportional representation system where the proportion of seats won by a party matches the proportion of votes, as is already the case in elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.

The campaign has wide support from both the Green Party and the Lib-Dems who would gain greatly from it and a number of MPs and Peers have given their support. Among those who came were Peter Tatchell from the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Vince Cable, Green Party co-Chair Jon Bartley and President of the UK Liberal Democrats Baroness Sal Brinton.
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Save Brixton Arches: 3rd Anniversary Action

Brixton, London. Sun 4 Feb 2018

Green Party candidate Rashid Nix was one of the speakers

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Campaigners marked the third anniversary of the announcement by Network Rail of their plans to redevelop the Brixton Arches with a rally and a three minute silence.

Railway arches such as these have traditionally been home to small, local businesses, and some of those at Brixton had been there for many years, becoming well-known and respected in the area. The area and its small traders who have been displaced (a few are still fighting to remain) has been described as the 'heart of Brixton'. Network Rail want to get a greater financial return from these and other rail arches and the refurbishment will enable them to "triple the rents, insert shiny new businesses and provide Brixton with even more over-priced bars and restaurants than the town’s citizens can shake a stick at."

Network Rail have colluded with Lambeth Council to get rid of something that gave Brixton its unique character and replace it by trendier shops catering for the new wealthy young population - part of Lambeth Labour's programme of social cleansing which includes demolishing council estates and replacing them with high cost private accommodation (with a token amount of so-called affordable properties.) The Council ignored the public outcry and large demonstrations to keep the arches.

The plans were accompanied by a great deal of lies and mismanagement by Network Rail and work was supposed to be completed by 2016 but is only scheduled to start tomorrow, and the Save Brixton Arches campaign are calling for it to be abandoned as the plans for the work fail to include proper fire safety precautions and will severely restrict access by emergency services to local businesses and the railway and station.

They also call on Lambeth Council to insist that the conditions of the planning permission that included no adverse effect on the market traders in Brixton Station Road be applied, as the work as planned will produce dust and pollution which will almost certainly force those who prepare food in the area out of business. They point out that there are no safety measures to protect local businesses, young children in the nearby crèche or the general public from potentially dangerous airborne particles during the removal of asbestos.

There was also a call for an investigation into local Labour MP Helen Hayes, elected in 2015, who until she resigned shortly before the election was a senior partner in the firm Allies & Morrison which made the recommendation for the 'improvement' of the arches in 2013, though she has denied any personal involvement. A&M have been involved in many contentious 'regeneration' schemes with developers and councils across London which opponents describe as social cleansing.
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Fix the NHS Crisis Now

Gower St to Downing St, London. Sat 3 Feb 2018

'I'm a bleating activist' was the message on the sheep
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Tens of thousands marched in support of the NHS through London to a rally at Downing St calling on the Government to stop blaming patients, nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for the crisis in the health service and to fund it properly and bring it back into public hands from the waste and demands of private profit.

Outsourcing of services has damaged the efficiency of the NHS and created dangerously low standards of hygiene, while expensive PFI building contracts have left many hospital trusts with impossible long-term debt repayments.

Many in the Conservative Party have financial interests in healthcare companies and their policies are clearly designed to carry out a creeping privatisation of the NHS, setting up various devices including STPs and ACSs (Sustainability and transformation partnerships and accountable care systems) which obligate the tendering of NHS services to private healthcare providers, and large areas of NHS services now provided by companies such as Virgin Healthcare.

The march gathered along Gower St, filling it from the Euston Road down to Chenies St by the start, with more people still arriving. I never managed to see the rear of the march, but it was estimated to be over 50,000 people. I walked down with it taking pictures until I was on Shaftesbury Ave, and stood there as the march went past, but there was no sign of the end when I had to leave to rush down to Downing St for the rally.

The event was organised by Health Campaigns Together & The People's Assembly and speakers at the rally included Royal College of Nursing President Cecilia Anim, activist David M Bailey and others from the medical profession, Shadow Health minister John Ashworth, Gail Cartmell of Unite and the TUC, actor Ralf Little, and Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts. But the speaker who moved us all to tears as she spoke through hers was Nicky Romero, whose daughter Becky died because of lack of NHS resources.
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TINAG Living Archive & Sylvia McAdam

Bishopsgate Institute, London. Thu 1 Feb 2018

Canadian Cree Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum), advocate for First Nation and Environmental rights
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TINAG, This Is Not A Gateway, organised by Trenton Oldfield and Deepa Naik, is a not-for-profit organisation that since 2007 has created platforms for critical investigations into cities through work with their Myrdle Court Press, urban studies, salons and a number of festivals.

Back in 2009, I took part in the festival with Paul Baldesare, where we did short presentations based on the group show 'Taken in London' which was then showing a mile or so away, and I've also been to some other TINAG events.

TINAG now has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council to produce a Living Archive of their decade of work in partnership with the Bishopsgate Institute. The aim of the archive is to continue to platform the important contributions made to This Is Not A Gateway since 2007. It will be available online and physically at the Bishopsgate Institute.

The launch event for this Living Archive included a short presentations by Steff Dickers from the Bishopsgate Institute and Trenton about the Living Archive project and then a presentation by special guest Sylvia McAdam (Cree name Saysewahum) a Canadian Cree, a a citizen of the nêhiyaw Nation and a lawyer and advocate for First Nation and Environmental rights in Canada who co-founded the 'Idle No More' movement of indigenous people.

She described the thoughts and world view of nêhiyawak, Cree laws which are shared and passed down through oral tradition and land­based use, utilizing stories, songs, ceremonies, and other sacred rites, and how these operate, as well as how they have been sidelined through the process of colonisation, and the apparatus of systematic repression and genocide, with various treaties which failed to respect the traditional world view, as well as Acts of Parliament which listed over 200 crimes which could only be committed by an "Indian" including holding a potlatch, hiring a lawyer to pursue land rights, keeping a child home from Indian Residential School and travelling without permission given by an Indian Agent.

There has been a huge programme of resistance across Canada led in recent years by the Idle No More movement particularly against threats to the environment, such as the Alberta Tar Sands.

McAdam came to London in 2013 and recorded an interview in the same library, though there are many other videos by her available on YouTube and Video, including a talk she gave in Toronto in 2014.
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London Images

February 2018

Ladbroke Crescent at sunset
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Pictures from my train journey into London, from Notting Hill, Denmark Hill and a walk around Westminster.


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