my london diary index


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Woolwich wander

Falconwood to North Woolwich, London. Mon 28 May 2018

You could see a fine view of central London if it wasn't for the pollution in-between
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A bank holiday stroll with Linda from Falconwood to North Woolwich, via Charlton House. Unfortunately because it was a bank holiday Charlton House was closed.

I sat down with a map and Google streetview and planned a walk which would take in some of the heights and sights of southeast London and end with a short and free river trip. Parts of the walk were on the rather multi-linear Green Chain Walk and the Thames Path.

Most of the walk was easy to follow, but we did get lost in Jack Wood, and missed Sevendroog Castle. If it hadn't been so hot and a Bank Holiday I would have gone back, but since it and the tea room would be closed it didn't seem worth the effort, and instead we wandered on to Eaglesfield Park and then Occupation Lane.

The view from here is one of the best of central London, but you really need to be around after a heavy thunderstorm has scrubbed the air or it is hardly visible through the haze. I cheated a little and made it rather clearer in the picture above - I don't think the Shard was actually visible. Occupation Lane and what was once surely its continuation Mayplace Lane (next the only remaining tumulus in the area) are surely ancient paths, once leading all the way down to a ferry at Woolwich, probably not far from the current one.

Herbert Road has its interests, and I couldn't resist Nightingale Place, though decided against a detour around Nightingale Vale. Ha Ha Road was less amusing than its name suggests, though it certainly has a ha-ha alongside, if no one told whoever planted a thick hedge alongside it what the point of a ha-ha was.

Charlton Park must be one of the most boring in the country, but at the end of it you reach the fine Charlton House, though being a bank holiday we could only enjoy its exterior, which we did while eating our sandwiches. Back in Charlton Park there were at least toilets, and near where we left to park to cross to Maryon Wilson Park, ice creams - at a kiosk open every day of the year except Christmas Day. On the walk I discovered that neither Linda nor a young Australian woman we met had heard of the film 'Blow Up', the key scenes of which were shot in Maryon Park, next on our route.

Antonioni's thriller about a young fashion photographer, loosely based on David Bailey and played by David Hemmings (the film also starred Vanessa Redgrave and
Sarah Miles and a large part of Jane Birkin), was a critical and box office success and broke the US film censorship system when it was widely shown to large audiences despite having been refused a MPAA licence and condemned by the National Legion of Decency. Some critics classed it as as seminal film along with classics such as Citizen Kane, and many feel it to be Antonioni's greatest film. Ironically part of its appeal may be because he ran out of money, leaving it considerably more enigmatic than it might otherwise have been.

From there, the Thames Path, now sprouting with expensive flats, took us to Woolwich, arriving just in time for a trip on the ferry. I'd wanted to make a last voyage on the current boats, which are to be replaced later this year after a two month closure to update the docking stations. We crossed on the Ernest Bevin, named for the wartime Minister of Labour, who was MP for Wandsworth Central and, in his last year, Woolwich East. At anchor a little downstream we passed the John Burns, named for the prominent socialist and Liberal MP and member of the LCC, famous for his retort to an American who belittled the river: "The St Lawrence is water, the Mississippi is muddy water, but the Thames is liquid history" and James Newman, named for a former mayor of Woolwich.

The three ferries were built in 1963 and since 1966 have operated from the current concrete terminals. They replaced paddle steamers from the 1920s which were also named after prominent local politicians, including John Benn, the grandfather of Tony Benn. The replacement vessels have been named after Ben Woollacott, a former deckhand who died when he fell off the ferry in 2011 and Dame Vera Lynn, who was born in East Ham, not far away.
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India complicit in Thoothukudi killings,

India House, Aldwych, London. Sat 26 May 2018

The protesters against Vedanta (Sterlite) included at least one woman from Thoothukudi
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Hundreds outside the Indian High Commission protest at the Indian government complicity in the brutal repression of protests against pollution from the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu.

On May 22nd Indian police fired into a crowd of civilians, killing 12 and wounding over 60 more and police aggression continued killing another person the following day. The killings came after 100 days of protest by citizens demanding the copper plant, owned by a subsidiary of British company Vedanta Resources be shut down. Vedanta, set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal with UK government help in 2003, is said to be the largest donor to the Indian BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is notorious for its polluting activities in India, Goa, Zambia and elsewhere.

Vedanta is currently expanding its activities with a second plant in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), despite a long record of dumping toxic waste in the town and operating without proper licenses. The protest at India House calling for an end to Vedanta's crimes and the support for them by the Indian government and for the Stock Exchange to de-list Vedanta.

The protest was organised by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK and PARAI - Voice of Freedom and supported by South Asia Solidarity Group and others including the Socialist Party.
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March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin

BBC, London. Sat 26 May 2018

Protesters hold placards showing Erdogan as a red-faced terrorist
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Kurds and supporters hold a short rally outside the BBC before marching to Downing St and Parliament Square to call for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin.

Speakers included the aunt of British volunteer Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin. The invasion of Afrin began in January, and was carried out by Turkish forces together with former ISIS fighters. The Kurdish forces withdrew in March when they were in danger of being encircled and have vowed to continue the fight to regain Afrin through a guerilla war.

Erdogan wants to attack other Kurdish areas of Syria, but his plans seem to be opposed by both Russia, who would like Afrin to be handed back to the Syrian regime, and the US.
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Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult

Langham Place, London. Sat 26 May 2018

The IYPG Peace walk sets off
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The Korean-based IYPG (International Peace Youth Group) have held annual peace walks in countries around the world on or around May 25th since 2013, commemorating the 'Declaration of World Peace'. This year the London walk included a poster about knife crime in London.

The IYPG began in South Korea, founded by Mr Man Hee Lee, a war veteran and peacemaker who founded a strange heretical Christian cult in Korea called ShinChonji and later a linked organisation Mannam. He claims to have had a personal revelation linked to the biblical Book of Revelations.

The IYPG is closely linked with these cults and hosts events about peace but critics say it does little or nothing to promote it and events such as this peace walk are essentially a recruiting drive for ShinConji and its strange religious views. with those who become followers being obliged to give large donations to the group.
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'Be the Change' Knife and Gun Crime

Windrush Square, Brixton, London. Sat 26 May 2018

People dance to gospel sounds in Windrush Square
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Brixton Seventh Day Adventist Church hold an event in Windrush Square, Brixton against gun and knife crime.

They had marched the short distance to the square from their church and were just beginning a programme of gospel singing, presentations and prayer for the community and for those affected by these crimes when I arrived.

London's murder rate has increased by over a third in the last three years, and last year saw a 22% increase in recorded knife crime and 11% in gun crime. Of the 39 children and teenagers killed in the UK by knives last year over half were in London. The victims of knife crime are disproportionately young black men. Many attribute the rise in these crimes to the cuts in youth clubs, community projects, counselling and other services for young people, cuts in police and PCSO numbers and changes in illegal drug dealing.
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Windlesham Walk

Windlesham, Surrey. Fri 25 May 2018

One of the several lakes in the Windlesham Arboretum
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Another family walk, in Windlesham on the edge of Surrey.

Windlesham isn't far from where I've lived for the past 44 years, but I don't remember having been there before. Its a rather spread out place to the east of the A30 just north of Bagshot and hasn't a great deal to attract visits, though there are several pubs, one of which we lunched at after the walk. It wasn't a bad pub lunch, though at Surrey prices, and a pleasant enough pub, though we did experience its notoriously slow service. Don't go there if you are in a hurry.

Windlesham is and has been the home of many very wealthy people, and is the site of the most expensive house in the world, Updown Court, valued at £75 million in 2007, though we didn't get to see that. Along its southern edge is the M3, and we could hear its traffic noise throughout our walk, which took us across it to the Windlesham Arboretum, owned now by a charity which allows the public to walk along its paths.

We had planned a slightly longer path than we ended up taking along these paths as we failed to see one of the way markers, and instead gave up and took a shorter route to catch up with the others who were making their way towards lunch.
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Universal Credit rally & march

Parliament Square & DWP, London. Thu 24 May 2018

A man beats a drum as campaigners pose in front of the DWP

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Campaigners from Unite Community and others met for a rally outside parliament on the Unite National Day of Action against Universal Credit. Again the posed in T-shirts to spell out the message '#StopUniversalCredit', and there were speeches by several including comedian Kate Smurthwaite and Claire Glasman of Winvisible.

They called for an immediate halt in the rollout of the programme, which has proved to be an economic and political disaster bringing distress and impoverishment to those forced to endure it. Its implementation has so far cost at least £15.8 billion, and resulted in a soaring use of food banks by those put onto it, and 60% of those put on to it have gone into rent arrears, with many evictions.

As well as lengthy waits of up to 3 months without receiving any benefits, the complexity of the system and the on-line application have led to many claimants being sanctioned, losing benefits completely for up to 3 years. Even while working, claimants are forced to show that they are making efforts to work longer hours or get better paid jobs under threat of sanctions.

A report by the Trussell Trust shows 92 per cent of people on UC say it doesn't’t cover their full cost of living, and 57 per cent have experienced mental or physical health problems.

After some speeches and chanting at parliament, they lined up to march to a further protest for an hour or so outside the DWP.
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Universal Credit protest at Tate Modern

Tate Modern, London. Thu 24 May 2018
Campaigners spell out 'stopuniversalcredit' in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall; the '#' was delaying security
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Campaigners from Camden Unite Community met on the Thames embankment in front of Tate Modern wearing t-shirts that spelt out '#stopuniversalcredit'.

The group posed beside the river then moved onto the Millennium Bridge before walking into the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern and posing there. Security at the gallery objected to their protest and they left to pose outside, where again they were moved on by security, ending with a final photograph on the street in front of the gallery.
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Stop Charter Flight to Pakistan

Home Office, London. Tue 22 May 2018

A banner calls for charges against those who stopped an immigration charter flight to be dropped
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Protesters outside the Home Office call for an end to all charter flights forcibly taking migrants back to Commonwealth countries, and in particular a secretive flight expected this week to Pakistan.

Many of those being deported fear torture, beatings and even death on their arrival back to their home country and need to be restrained for the deportation and accompanied by two or more security guards each; passengers and aircrew on normal services have often refused to take off with people who understandably object to being taken to countries where they may face persecution, harm, isolation or even death which has led to them being taken off the plane.

The Home Office has responded by using charter flights instead of normal airline services, and once a flight has been arranged have often put people on it regardless of the current state of their case to stay in the UK. Among those who have been deported in this way are some who have never lived in the country they are being taken to, or who were brought here as babies and many have no family or support back where they are being forcibly taken to. Others have been people with children and even grandchildren born in the UK but who the Home Office say have no right to be here - in some cases because the Home Office has lost their documentation that would prove otherwise.

People from End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid recently stopped a secretive night flight taking 34 people from Stansted to Nigeria and Ghana; those on board included many who have lived and worked in the UK for years and have families and who are entitled to stay here - just like the Windrush families.

Some are forcibly deported before their cases are still under legal examination, while others simply cannot afford the fees to challenge poor Home Office decisions or are unable to produce every piece of documentation the officials demand.

They also include a high proportion of gay people who have fled from persecution in countries where this is criminal and may result in beatings and death who the Home Office refuses to believe are gay. People at the protest tied pink bands around trees in front of the Home Office.

This protest was called at short notice to oppose a deportation charter flight to Pakistan timed for this week, and among the speakers were Deputy Green Party Leader Amelia Womack, Ben Smoke of LGSMigrants, Feisal Haq from NUS Black Students' Committee and Pakistan Press Club UK President Shaukat Dar.
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DPAC protest GTR rail discrimination

London Bridge Station, London. Mon 21 May 2018
Protesters from Disabled People Against Cuts at London Bridge station
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A 'People's Picket' by disabled rail passengers from Disabled People Against Cuts along with the Association of British Commuters and RMT members outside London Bridge station against Govia Thameslink Railway's policy which can leave wheelchair users on the platform even when they have pre-arranged a journey.

GTR uses a staff training guide in which they are dehumanised as 'PRM's (people with restricted mobility) and staff are instructed to leave wheelchair users on the platform, even when they have arranged and pre-booked a journey, if to allow them to board would hold up the train.

Today's nationwide timetable changes include a reduced stopping time at stations which will not allow time for wheelchair users to be assisted onto trains. Most of the wheelchair users present told stories of failures by the rail companies already where pre-booked travel arrangements had failed, and of being taken several stops beyond their intended destinations and then having long waits for taxis to complete their journey. The RMT says a private report to the rail companies has told them the current arrangements are in breach of the Equality Act, and the new advice makes this clear, institutionalising a blatant discrimination.

The policy is a part of the company's drive to remove guards from trains which disabled people and the RMT union are determined to resist as unsafe. They say that the current industrial disputes and disabled travel problems can be solved easily with the simple guarantee of a second member of staff on all services, saying 'Keep The Guard On The Train'.

All London buses now have an access ramp, and similar facilities should be available on trains - and not just in London. While it may take some time to design a suitable automatic system for trains, providing every train with a light portable ramp for the guard to use could be done within weeks.
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Solidarity with Gaza - end support for Israel

London. Sat 19 May 2018

The protesters met in front of the Barclays Bank in Tottenham Court Rd before moving to Oxford St
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Protesters from the Revolutionary Communist Group and Victory to the Intifada call for an end for all British support for Israel after the barbaric massacre by Israeli snipers of unarmed protesters taking part in the Great March of Return in Gaza, killing over 60 and seriously wounding thousands.

Many of the weapons used to kill the protesters are thought to have been supplied by UK arms companies, and companies selling Israeli goods or investing in Israel support the apartheid system there and the Israeli government which orders its snipers to fire on unarmed civilians including medics and press.

The protest began outside a branch of Barclays Bank who have major investments in Israel, and continued on down Oxford St, stopping briefly to speak and protest outside other companies which are major supporters of the Israeli state, including Carphone Warehouse, Boots, ZARA and H&M, calling for shoppers to boycott them and to take part in the global BDS campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Many took leaflets and stopped to sign their petition, though one or two people rushed past shouting an insult.
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Barclays Stop Funding Climate Chaos

Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 19 May 2018

The members of DANCE begin their meditation in Barclays Bank at Piccadilly Circus
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Members of the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE) marched in a silent procession from Golden Square to the Piccadilly Circus branch of Barclays Bank in a monthly vigil to call on them to Stop Funding Climate Chaos.

Three members of the group walked into the branch and sat down to meditate in the centre of the floor while another with them explained to bank staff why they were there and what they intended to do. Four of the others meditated on the pavement in front of the branch while another protester handed out leaflets to those passing by.

The group tell Barclays to 'Listen to the Earth!' and stop investing huge amounts - $12billion in the last 3 years - into coal, oil and gas exploration which will lead to global warming, melting ice caps, bleaching coral reefs, causing forest fires and more intense storms. Their investments cause human rights abuses in Columbian coal mining and elsewhere. They urge Barclays instead to invest in renewable energy.
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Zionists defend Israel shooting protesters

Downing St, London, UK. 15th May 2018

Six Zionists had come to defend Israel's cold-blooded shooting of unarmed protesters
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A few yards from a massive protest against the Israeli shooting of unarmed protesters which yesterday resulted in 58 deaths and over 2700 with serious injuries, a handful of Zionists waved Israeli flags and supported the illegal actions of the Israeli forces.

Rather incongruously the Zionists made their protest under a row of placards showing Turkish president Erdogan as a red-faced terrorist, left there by the Kurds who were protesting earlier.

One of them had a Star of David tattooed on his face and a t-shirt denying the existence of Palestine, and another waved an Israeli Defence Force flag. Police surrounded them with a double layer of barriers and stood along the outside of them as protection, but the other protesters almost entirely ignored them.

It wasn't clear how many of the six were Jewish, but there were certainly very many more Jews a few yards away protesting against the deliberate Israeli murder of Palestinian protesters.
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Israeli massacre of protesters

Downing St, London, UK. 15th May 2018
People in the crowd listen to speeches
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Over a thousand protesters came to the protest called late yesterday after news came though of yesterday's massacre in Gaza, shocked as the rest of the world was by the shooting of unarmed protesters by Israeli army snipers which killed 58 and seriously wounded over 2700.

Most of those shot were several hundred yards from the separation wall and many were shot in the back or legs as they ran away. Among those killed by live Israeli fire at these and other recent protests have been medics treating the wounded and clearly identified journalists wearing distinctive blue press vests.

The shootings have been widely condemned internationally and speakers called for the UK government to make a clear statement condemning the Israeli actions and to immediately end arms sales to Israel. Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon told us the minister had "run away" rather than answer his question about the rifles and special ammunition used which expands to cause greater damage inside the body, both thought to have been made in the UK.

Other speakers at the protest included Labour, SNP and Green Party MPs as well as Palestinians, representatives from trade unions and the organising groups, Tariq Ali and Owen Jones. Speakers condemned President Trump for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and called for international action, including boycotts, divestment and sanctions to condemn the cold-blooded killings and other illegal actions by Israel. Many condemned the media and particularly the BBC for its use of inaccurate language such as 'clashes' to describe the massacres, particularly in news headlines.
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Erdogan, Time To Go

Downing St, London, UK. 15th May 2018

Placards showed Erdogan in red with a label across his eyes stating TERRORIST
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Kurds at the end of a day of protest at Downing St against the visit of Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan who they say is a dictator and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Kurdish civilians.

They say Erdogan should be arrested and want to make clear that his visit to the UK is not welcome. Since he made a speech saying "When the Turkish people want me to, I will go" millions of Turks and Kurds have responded on Twitter with the hashtag #Tamam, meaning 'OK, go then!'

The protesters pointed out that Turkey was the major supporter of ISIS, and is using former ISIS fighters in its fight against the Kurds in Afrin, and call on the UK to stop all arms sales to TUrkey. Earlier in the day there had been a number of arrests and there was still a very strong police presence.
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Grenfell Parliamentary Debate Rally

Parliament Square, London. Mon 14 May 2018

A woman who worked in the Grenfell nursery and her mother with placards
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Grenfell United survivors, bereaved families and the Grenfell community rally outside the Houses of Parliament as MPs hold a debate over the petition with over 150,000 signatures calling for the Prime Minister to appoint a panel of decision making experts to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick in the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.

Last Friday Theresa May announced there would be two experts appointed for the second stage of the inquiry beginning in December, but the Grenfell community are still asking who those experts will be and how they will be chosen, as well as wanting experts to be included in the first part.

They also want an undertaking that the recommendations of the inquiry will be accepted and implemented in full, and call for those responsible for creating the terrible fire risk to be brought to justice.

As well as people from several Grenfell organisations, speakers included Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor Richard Burgon, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad.

A speaker from the Revolutionary Communist Group which has been active in organising protests over Grenfell as well as taking part in the silent walks was refused permission to speak by the event organisers, but spoke using the RCG public address system.
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BNP say release Khaleda Zia

Parliament Square, London. Mon 14 May 2018

Protesters shout for the release of the opposition leader in Bangladesh
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A protest outside the Houses of Parliament by the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party, UK called for the release of their party leader, Begum Khaleda Zia, jailed in February for five years for embezzlement of international funds donated to Zia Orphanage Trust.

The charge was first made around ten years ago, and the BNP claim is politically motivated. Her elder son Tarique Rahman was sentenced to 10 years in jail but is still in London.

Khaleda Zia was the First Lady of Bangladesh during the presidency of her husband Ziaur Rahman who founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the late 1970s. She was Bangladesh's first female head of government from 1991-6 after the BNP won the country's first democratic election in 20 years, and served as prime minister later in 2001-6.

Her election victory in 1996 was widely believed to have been rigged and in an election later in the year the BNP lost to Sheikh Hasina Wazed, leader of the Awami League. The two women rivals are the only non-interim prime ministers since 1991, and the BNP allege that the corruption charges were fabricated to prevent Zia from standing against Hasina in the elections later this year.
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Manchester walk

Manchester. Sun 13 May 2018

The Rochdale canal runs through the centre of Manchester
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We had time for a short walk around a little of Central Manchester, taking a rather roundabout walk to Piccadilly station, including a short walk by the canals.
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Manchester marks the 1948 Nabka

Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. Sun 13 May 2018

People join hands and dance for freedom for Palestine

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Manchester Palestine Action ended their two days of action in Piccadilly Gardens with some enthusiastic dabke dancing.

The event commemorated the 1948 Nakba or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, telling people about the history of Israel's devastation of the Palestinian people which began in 1948 and continues today as Israeli army snipers with live ammunition have killed over 40 protesters and severely wounded thousands taking part in the protests over the last 6 weeks and which reach a climax in the next few days.

The protesters had set up a small Palestinian refugee camp in the gardens and entertained crowds with dance, theatre, music and Palestinians telling their own stories of exile from Palestine over the two days, and called on everyone to keep up the international pressure to isolate Israel through boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions until Palestinians can live with the same freedoms as anyone else would expect and until finally they can return to their homeland.

I had been at a conference a few miles north of the city and came back after that ended to catch only the last half hour or so of the action.
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Rochdale Canal

Stanycliffe, Greater Manchester. Sat 12 May 2018

The railway passes over the canal at one of the locks
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I was in Stanycliffe on the outskirts of Middleton, just south of Rochdale for a weekend conference. We had a little free time on the Saturday afternoon, and I went out for a walk with three friends, continuing a little to take pictures after they turned back.

Our walk together had taken us south along the Rochdale canal, and I went a little up the hill from this before coming back down the the canal again, returning to the conference centre just in time to snatch a cup of tea before the next session started.
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Capital Ring Greenford to South Kenton

London. Mon 7 May 2018

Harrow-on-the-Hill and the sign for the Kings Head pub, now closed
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It was that useless early May Bank Holiday, we got instead of a May Day holiday from some half-hearted Labour government but the weather was good so we decided to go for a walk.

Section 9 of the Capital Ring goes from Greenford to South Kenton, and passes through Horsenden Hill and Harrow on the Hill. It isn't a very long section, though I think the measurement of 5.5 miles is a little on the tight side, particularly if you like to wander a little. With a couple of short detours and a walk to Northwick Park station at the end as South Kenton was closed, we probably covered around 8 miles and given the hot weather and a leg which was at times rather painful it was more than enough for me.

Although it more or less started next to the Grand Union Canal, this is one of the more hilly sections of the capital ring. You can download details of the route from the web - or buy the guide book so I'll not bother with these. We were fortunate that St Mary's Church in Harrow-on-the-Hill was serving cream teas; surprisingly this church is not actually on the route, but it should be a compulsory detour to visit the Peachey tomb in the churchyard. This is now a Grade II listed building, described in the listing text:

Horizontal stone slab on low brick base protected by an iron cage, dedicated to John Peachey (d.1780), his sister Elizabeth (d.1804), his brother Daniel (d.1804), and William (d.1831). Noted as the place where Byron composed some of his early verses, later referred to by him as "my favourite spot".

Byron while at Harrow School in 1801-5 often came to sit beside this tomb (probably to escape the bullies who were tough on poets) and admire the view from the path beside it - I had to climb up a little to photograph it - and like so many views it is now rather hidden by excessive vegetation - and in 1807 composed his poem poem Lines Written beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow which expressed his wish to be buried in the spot.

This was not to be. The sad tale of the illegitimate daughter he fathered with the teenage stepsister of the writer Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont about which he said "I never loved her nor pretended to love her—but a man is a man–& if a girl of eighteen comes prancing to you at all hours of the night—there is but one way" ended with the child's death in an Italian nunnery at the age of 5. Put there and neglected by Lord Byron, her death filled him with remorse and he brought her embalmed body back to Harrow with some ceremony to be buried at the church.

Byron devised a memorial tablet for her, naming her as 'Allegra, daughter of George Gordon Lord Byron' with a text from the book of Samuel: 'I shall go to her but she shall not return to me.', but the rector refused to let it be put on the wall of the church and her resting place was unmarked until a small tablet was allowed to be put near to where she was buried by the church door by the Byron society in 1980. Perhaps surprisingly it did not include Byron's text.

And although Byron had made clear his wish to be buried in the churchyard, this too was refused because of his scandalous life. Nor would Westminster Abbey have his body, and it was buried in at St Mary Magdalene Church, Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire. Later his legitimate daughter, Ada Lovelace, who Byron never saw, having left for Greece where he died whilst his wife was pregnant was buried beside him. Westminster Abbey finally relented and allowed a memorial there to him in 1969.

The Peachey tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage for his many fans, and many of them chipped off a little of the stone as a memento. The parish was forced to erect the iron cage around it which still stands if rather rustily for its protection.

We thought we had ended our walk in the Windermere pub, next to South Kenton station, a building I've often admired as the train rushes past on its way to or from the northwest. It has a fine 1930s interior though unfortunately the prices are a little higher now than they were. After sitting with a pint of bitter there my leg felt miraculously revived, though the effect was relatively short-lived it was enough to take me to nearby Northwick Park without pain after we found that because of a signal failure there were no trains serving South Kenton.
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Windrush Immigration Act protest

Home Office, London. Sat 5 May 2018

A woman wearing a 'More Blacks More Irish More Dogs' t-shirt speaks at the Home Office
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At the end of the rally opposite Downing St in solidarity with the Windrush families and other immigrants, people marched to the Home Office for a further rally there.

The protesters demanded:

• The 2014 Immigration act is repealed.
• An immediate end to deportations and detention of Commonwealth Citizens.
• All those deported be brought back to Britain immediately.
• Guarantee protection of all Commonwealth Citizens.
• All those affected in any way be given compensation for deportation, threats of deportation, detention, loss of housing, jobs, benefits and denial of NHS treatment.
• No hostile environment for any immigrants.

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Windrush rally against Theresa May

Downing St, London. Sat 5 May 2018
Stand Up to Racism and other banners opposite Downing St
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A rally at Downing St organised by Stand Up to Racism called for Theresa May's racist 2014 Immigration Act to be repealed and an immediate end to the deportation and detention of Commonwealth citizens, with those already deported to be bought back to the UK.

It called for protection to the guaranteed for all Commonwealth citizens and for those affected to be compensated for deportation, threats of deportation, detention, loss of housing, jobs, benefits and denial of NHS treatment.

There should be an end to the 'hostile environment' introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary for all immigrants. Speakers also condemned the blocking by the government with a late three line whip and the last-minute withdrawal of MPs pairing arrangements to ensure information about the Windrush scandal was kept secret in a way that threatens the normal working of Parliament. Among those speaking were Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, trade unionists, and people from organisations standing up for immigrants and opposing immigration detention including Movement for Justice who brought two women who had been held in Yarl's Wood to speak.

At the end of the rally the protesters marched to the Home Office for a further rally outside.
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Anti-Abortion March for Life

Whitehall, London. Sat 5 May 2018

Anti-abortion marchers with posters on Whitehall
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Several thousand taking part in the 'March for Life UK', a largely Catholic event, marched down Whitehall to a rally in Parliament Square.

Opposed to abortion they aim to raise awareness of the hurt and damage that abortion causes and to unite all the pro-life groups in the UK to help bring to an end what it calls the greatest violation to human rights in history. They argue that even at conception the fertilised egg should be awarded and equal right to life as the woman whose body it is in.

Previous annual marches by the organisation have been held in Birmingham and this was their first London march. It came a few weeks an Irish vote was expected to repeal the 8th amendment and allow abortion in Ireland, and some posters and placards called for a 'No' vote in this.
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Women protest anti-abortion march

Parliament Square, London. Sat 5 May 2018

Pro-choice campaigners call for the Irish to vote to repeal the 8th amendment with outlaws abortion
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Feminists in the abortion rights campaign held a rally in Parliament Square before the annual March for Life UK by pro-life anti-abortion campaigners was to march to a rally there.

They insisted on the right for women to choose and opposed to any increase of restrictions which would lead to the problems we saw before the 1967 Abortion Act, when women risked their lives in back street abortions. They called for women in Northern Ireland to be given the same rights as in the rest of the UK and for an end of the harassment of women going into clinics, and supported the Irish referendum on 25th May to repeal the 8th amendment passed in 1983 which recognised the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child, effectively banning abortion in Ireland.

I left to go to a protest at Downing St while they stayed in Parliament Square to make clear their opposition to the so-called 'March for Life' anti-abortion marchers who were due to arrive for a rally.
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Croydon march for May Day

Croydon, London. Sat 5 May 2018

The marchers halt briefly in the centre of the main shopping street
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Trade unionists and others met in Croydon to march through the city centre to a rally at Ruskin House in celebration of May Day, International Workers Day which is celebrated internationally on May 1st.

Unfortunately May Day is not a Bank Holiday in the UK, and this event came a few days later on the following Saturday. The marchers were lead through the main shopping street by a piper and drummer in full Scots dress, attracting the attention of shoppers and others on the busy street.

I left the march before it reached Ruskin House where there was to be a rally with speakers including Ted Knight, once the leader of Lambeth council and then one of the best-known Labour politicians, derided in the press of the day as 'Red Ted'.
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Lambeth Housing Tell Us the Truth

Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London. Tue 1 May 2018

A woman speaks outside the Town Hall about Lambeth's broken promises on housing
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An emergency demonstration outside Lambeth Town Hall before Thursday's council elections called for a public inquiry into Lambeth Labour’s housing policy, an immediate halt to estate demolitions and a call to stop the privatisation via Homes for Lambeth which is leading to social cleansing.

A Freedom of Information request by Brixton Buzz last month showed that the council built just 17 council homes with secure council tenancies between June 2014 and March 2018, despite claims in the current Lambeth Labour manifesto to "build 1,000 extra homes at council rent by 2019. By early 2018 we had over 950 homes completed, being built or already approved by Lambeth’s cabinet meaning that we will complete our ambitious programme of building 1,000 extra homes at council rent for local families."

The actual number is thought only to be half that provided on the FOI request, either 8 or 9, around 1% of the council's claim. The council is engaged in a large-scale programme to demolish council estates together with private developers and replace them with expensive private housing with only a token proportion of social housing.
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CAIWU Mayday Mayhem at Royal Opera

Royal Opera, Covent Garden, London. Tue 1 May 2018

CAIWU members arrive on their open-top bus to protest at the Royal Opera House
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London, UK. 1st May 2018. Members of the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union CAIWU celebrated International Workers’ Day with an open-topped bus tour stopping to protest outside some of London’s most notorious employers where CAIWU is in dispute over the victimisation of five members for their trade union activities.

Companies protect their reputations by employing contracting companies to manage their cleaning and to treat those who work in to clean their offices badly. The bus stopped close to the Royal Opera House and CAIWU members held a short and noisy protest outside, ending by warning that they would keep on coming back until they got a satisfactory settlement for the cleaners who have been unfairly dismissed or threatened with dismissal for their trade union activities.
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Precarious Workers go to King's College

London. Tue 1 May 2018

Percy, a cleaner and a recent ex-student both spoke outside Kings College
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After protesting outside the Ministry of Justice, the precarious workers marched on up Whitehall and the Strand for their second May Day protest, outside King's College, where cleaners are campaigning to be directly employed by the college.

After making a great deal of noise there, and a speech by one of the workers they went off to visit a number of other sites, pausing briefly close to the Royal Opera House to greet the open-top bus in which CAIWU members and supporters had been making a tour around London with a number of protests outside sites where they are in dispute.

I left the Precarious Workers May Day protest at that point to photograph CAIWU protesting at the Royal Opera House, were several members had been unfairly dismissed.
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Precarious Workers go to Ministry of Justice

London. Tue 1 May 2018
Protesters shout in front of the Ministry of Justice for cleaners to get the London Living Wage
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Precarious workers, on poverty pay and exploitative contracts whose largely unskilled work is essential to keeping society running, hold their own march as a part of the celebrations on International Workers Day, joining in with the London May Day Rally before visiting a number of exploitative workplaces, where workers are in dispute, including the Ministry of Justice.

Those taking part included the IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain), United Voices of the World the union, staff from Picturehouse Cinemas, the Women's Strike Assembly - UK, London Wobblies, Another Europe Is Possible, Plan C London, Labour Campaign for Free Movement and the Precarious Workers Brigade.

They demand guaranteed hours and a living wage, the decriminalisation of sex work and an end to trade union victimisation and repeal of the anti-union laws.

They marched from Trafalgar Square and briefly down the Mall before turning down Horseguards Rd and going on to the Ministry of Justice in Petty France. Police lined the front of the building as they held a noisy rally with dancing outside, ending with a speech from Petros Elia of United Voices of the World calling for the cleaners there to get the London Living Wage.
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May Day Rally

Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 1 May 2018
Most of the CPGB-ML were on the plinth, together with Kurds

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As usual the rally was dominated by trade union speakers with only one speaker from the migrant communities while I was listening. It didn't reflect those taking part in the march.

Although there were some good speeches, and the event started well, but some were less riveting, and I wandered away from the platform after a while. Many of the other marchers had also left, with local pubs doing good business from some of the trade unionists. It seemed rather curious that speakers apparently were supposed to be 'non-political' in their speeches because of the elections later in the week. If you can't be political at a May Day Rally why bother?

As well as those who had come for the rally, other protesters were gathering in the square for a march and protests by Precarious workers, one of whom, a victimised union rep from the Brixton Ritzy was the penultimate speaker at the main rally. By that time there were only a few of the other marchers left listening. It's a shame the May Day rally doesn't really reflect the march, and it should be a celebration of May Day rather than a rather humdrum event.
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May Day March on the Strand

Strand, London. Tue 1st May 2018

Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin, Kurdish leader Ocalan and Defend Afrin banner on the march
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I had left the marchers shortly before the May Day march celebrating International Workers Day left Clerkenwell Green to attend two other events, and rejoined them as the front of the march came from Aldwych to go along the Strand to Trafalgar Square.

The march was rather smaller than in previous years and mainly composed of groups from London's international and migrant communities, though there was a trade union section leading it, with a band from the Musicians Union.

I photographed most of the groups on the march and then worked my way back towards the front. As they reached Charing Cross station some of the younger Turkish and Kurdish marchers set off smoke flares, but I was too far back to get many pictures.

I photographed the remaining marchers entering Trafalgar Square and then went on to photograph the rally - see the section above.
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Against Deportation Charter Flights

Home Office, London. Tue 1st May 2018

A protester holds posters. Our immigration law is racist and unjust - and not just for Windrush families
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A protest at the Home Office organised by Movement for Justice called for an end to immigration charter flights.

The protest was held as the Home Office intended to carry out a mass deportation to Jamaica later in the week in the middle of the Windrush scandal which would include members of the Windrush generation.

The protest at the Home Office and later at the Jamaican High Commission called for an end to all these mass deportations, which have led to a rounding up of many who are in this country legally but whose cases are still disputed by the Home Office.

Protesters called on the Home Office to end the flights and for the Jamaican High Commission to refuse to issue travel documents or accept any immigration charter flights from the UK.
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Lyme Disease epidemic

Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Tue 1 May 2018

A woman in a wheelchair because of Lyme disease shows a poster about the NHS failure
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Campaigners at Parliament highlighted the serious dangers of Lyme Disease from tick bites, calling for public education and for the NHS to abandon useless tests and tackle this killing disease seriously with effective tests and treatments.

The danger can be lessened by appropriate clothing on walks through long grass or woods and by prompt and correct removal of ticks attached to skin using a simple device. Lyme Disease is often misdiagnosed and leads to extreme fatigue and can proceed to disablement and even premature death.

The NHS continues to use an out of date and unreliable while reliable tests are in use in other countries. Unless diagnosed and treated immediately, Lyme disease can take very lengthy treatment, at least 6 weeks of antibiotics, which is often not available on the NHS, and which may not work.

The protest was organised by the Chronic Lyme Disease Support Group UK, and included those suffering from the disease which is a hidden epidemic in the UK, with many sitting down at the event and one woman in a wheelchair.
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London May Day March meets

Clerkenwell Square, London. Tue 1 May 2018
A Kurdish marcher in a red mask hold flags of the People's Protection Units YPG and YPJ
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Socialists celebrating International Workers Day including many from London's international and migrant communities met at Clerkenwell Green on May Day for the march through London to a rally at Trafalgar Square.

They celebrate the many achievements of struggle by workers over the years and show their determination to fight against attempts to reduce workers rights and to continue the fight for equality and justice.

The numbers coming on the march seemed considerably lower than in recent years, and there were rather fewer trade union banners in evidence, and fewer other groups. Even those from the many migrant communities seemed to have less support, though they now dominate the occasion. International Workers Day is a far more important event in many other countries than the UK, and most workers here will have been at work as usual, as the opportunity to make May 1st a Bank Holiday was sadly missed when a former Labour government brought in an early May bank holiday.

I left shortly before the march started to cover two unrelated protests elsewhere in London.
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London Images

May 2018

Possibly some remains of Bermondsey Abbey
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Most of the pictures this month were taken south of the river, either from buses or trains or on short walks around areas while waiting until I could take a train home. Among the areas featured are Wandsworth, Vauxhall, Lambeth, Southwark, Bermondsey, London Bridge, and there are several views of the Thames.
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