my london diary index


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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NHS at 70 - Free, for all, forever

London. Sat 30 Jun 2018

Part of a large group fighting the plans for Huddersfield Royal Infirmary who came with several 'sheep'
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Thousands marched through London from the BBC to a rally near Downing St to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, and to support its dedicated workers in demanding a publicly owned NHS that is free for all with proper funding and proper staffing and providing a world class services for every community.

The protest, organised by the the People's Assembly, Health Campaigns Together, Trades Union Congress, Unison, Unite, GMB, British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, CSP, BDA, and SoR was to defend the NHS against the increasing attacks and privatisation following a decade of austerity, underfunding and top down reforms with services are being cut and cancelled, hospitals and wards closing, staffing shortages across every part of the system and increasing parts of our health service are being outsourced to private companies.

Plans by many hospital trusts are opposed by many local groups, such as the campaigners at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in the picture above, where local GPs have declared the plan “seriously flawed, inadequate, unsafe and unworkable”. In March they were given the right to a judicial review over what they say was a flawed consultation, breach of public law, inadequate travel and transport provision, lack of community care provision, and potential breach of equality law. The trust had also claimed the building could not be maintained for more than a few years, while campaigners say an independent survey found it likely to be safe and serviceable for many years to come.

Although the Conservatives play lip-service to the NHS, saying it is safe in their hands, their actions are rather different. Their party voted against its setting up, and many leading Tories have written calling for its breaking up and privatisation over the years. Under Jeremy Hunt the reforms were largely aimed at preparing the service for ready privatisation and the legal basis of the NHS was changed to remove the obligation of the government to provide the service. While virtually the whole NHS staff was pleased to see Hunt moved from Health, his replacement Matt Hancock has received 32,000 in donations from the chair of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a right wing free market think tank which wants to see the NHS abolished.

A report by Social Investigations in 2014 found 65 Conservative peers, 12 Lib-Dem peers, 37 Labour peers and 33 Crossbenchers with interests in private healthcare companies, as well as 63 Tory MPs, 3 Lib-Dems, 14 Labour members and one other. Some held directorships, others were shareholders or had received payments from companies for various services etc. Matt Hancock's connection with the IEA chair was not specifically enough connected to healthcare to rate his inclusion, and there were almost certainly others in a similar position. While these interests are legal and declared, they show a very strong presence in parliament of people with a financial interest in private medicine rather than a publicly funded NHS.
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Torture protest at US Embassy

US Embassy, Nine Elms, London. Tue 26 Jun 2018

Protesters pose for a photograph in front of the US Embassy
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London Guantánamo Campaign hold a vigil on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, as they have done every year since 2010. This year they chose to hold it in front of the US Embassy in Nine Elms, because of the continuing use of torture by the US and the complicity of UK security services in this.

People set out a display and posed for photographs, after which there were several invited speakers and an open mike. The vigil was a part of a global movement with over 80 such events worldwide, took place outside the US Embassy and concentrated on the continuing widespread use of torture by the CIA.

Despite President Obama's claim to be getting rid of torture by the US, they are still torturing the remaining prisoners in Guantanamo and in secret prisons and military bases elsewhere. Trump's new CIA chief Gina Haspel ran a secret CIA torture prison as part of the extraordinary rendition (kidnap and torture) programme.

No US official has ever been prosecuted for their part in post 9/11 torture, and the CIA has a long record of running and participating in a global torture programme against leftists, nationalists and other Cold War "enemies" throughout Latin America and other parts of the world.

Trump has said he will bring back torture, but it never went away. Torture is of course also still used in many other countries around the world, including by British military and security personnel and the UK has also been complicit with CIA torture.
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Vauxhall & Nine Elms

London. Tue 26 Jun 2018
A platform close to Heathwall Pumping Station for the Thames TIdeway Tunnel
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This stretch of the river, not so long ago industrial is now covered with expensive flats. It was a nice afternoon and I'd taken an early train on my way to photograph a protest at the US Embassy to give me time for a walk.

It used to be an interesting walk, but much of the interest has gone, though you can now walk rather more along the riverside, with just one small deviation around Heathwall Pumping Station until you get close to Cringle Dock Waste Transfer station just to the east of the former Battersea Power Station site. In a few years it should be possible to walk the whole way to Battersea Park.

At the moment works are taking place in the river on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, with platforms just downstream from Vauxhall Bridge (unfortunately blocking the slope down which the 'Duck' tours using amphibious vehicles used to enter and leave the river) and close to the former gravel wharf, Middle Wharf, on Nine Elms Lane, in use until a few years ago. Pumping stations like Heathwall currently discharge surface water and sewage into the Thames when heavy rainfall is too much for Bazalgette's sewers to cope with, but the tunnel when completed will end this, storing and transferring it to Abbey Mills in Stratford and then on to Beckton along the Lee Tunnel which opened a couple of years ago.

My walk ended at the US Embassy, where I took a few pictures in the garden next to Nine Elms Lane before photographing the protest.
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Peckham & Deptford

Peckham & Deptford, London. Sun 24 Jun 2018

Deptford Creek & DLR
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We went to see some short films at Deptford Cinema, and took a few pictures before the showing and on our way home. Some where panoramic images.

In Deptford these were mainly around the Creek. We got off the bus at the stop before Queens Rd to take some pictures of the Pioneer Health centre and other sites in the area.
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Many Thousands March for a People's Vote

London. Sat 23 Jun 2018

People watching the rally which was relayed to a giant screen at the bottom of Whitehall
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More than 100,000 people marched through London in support of a People's Vote on any final Brexit deal.

There were too many to get into Parliament Square which was packed when the rally started despite the end of the march being reported still not to have left the starting point in Pall Mall. Many watched the rally on a giant screen at the bottom of Whitehall.

The rally was organised by groups including Healthier In The EU, Trade Deal Watch, Britain For Europe, Open Britain, Peoples Vote UK, Scientists for EU and European Movement UK and attended by groups from across the country. Although many of those marching had voted to remain in Europe, others carried placards and posters indicating they had been fooled into voting to leave. Recent opinion polls suggest that almost two thirds of people now back a final people's vote.
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Vote No to Disastrous Heathrow Expansion

Parliament Square, London. Sat 23 Jun 2018
Boris looks worried by the 3rd runway - and invented a trip to Afghanistan to avoid the vote
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Campaigners against the expansion of Heathrow hold a rally in Parliament Square with banners and placards against Heathrow expansion, calling on all MPs to vote against the third runway which would disastrously increase congestion, and noise and air pollution in and around London and make a dramatic contribution to climate change.

Its construction would cause years of disruption in West London and the official estimates by Heathrow and the government of its contribution to jobs and the economy are wildly over optimistic. Although the construction will provide jobs, once it is in operation, job opportunities in the area are likely to decline with increasing automation of various areas of work. Almost any other development likely in the area blighted by the expansion would provide more local jobs, and closing Heathrow altogether for a new town development would provide much greater opportunities.

Those taking part included some who have been on hunger strike outside the Labour Party HQ for 14 days so far. The protest came before Parliament votes on expansion on Monday. Heathrow expansion would be a disaster not just for those who lose their homes or would suffer increased pollution under the flight path in a city with already dangerous and often illegal levels of pollution thought to result in around 10,000 premature deaths in London each year, but will add the the already growing threat of irreversible climate breakdown that could threaten the future of human life on the earth.
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White Pendragons 'Independence Day' letters refused

Parliament Square, London. Sat 23 Jun 2018
Shaun Morris of the Arthur Pendragons argues with police who will not accept their letter
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A small group of right-wing activists, the Arthur Pendragons, meet in Parliament Square and are led by Shaun Morris to the gates of Parliament to hand in individual letters in a format he conceived declaring themselves to be free of the tyranny of parliament and the European union.

Police at the gate refused to take the letters and after a short discussion they pushed them through the railings onto the ground. The letters withdrew support for parliament's underhand dealings with the EU and demanded the return of all sovereign powers to the individuals and the British people, and an end to taxation and other orders and demands.

They claim their actions are based on English Common Law, and in particular the Magna Carta.

The group claim they are open welcome people of all races and religions including the settled immigrant communities, but have previously attempted a citizens arrest on London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, claiming he should not be Mayor "because he is a Muslim". Among their members are a number who were previously supporters of the racist English Defence League, UKIP and the English Democrats. Unlike some other extreme right groups they emphasise a non-violent orientation, with their slogan: "No Loss, No Harm, No Injury."

Their name harks back to the Anglo-Saxon past before the Norman conquest when Arthur Pendragon (King Arthur), according to medieval legends, led the defence of England against Saxon invaders. Modern historians doubt Arthur ever existed, though a Roman who stayed behind around Colchester after the rest of the Romans abandoned Britain is thought to have led a fight against Saxon invaders. But all the stories about him are entirely medieval inventions.
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No Heathrow block Parliament Square

Parliament Square, London. Fri 22 Jun 2018

Some of those taking part had been on hunger strike for 14 days already against Heathrow expansion
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Campaigners against the expansion of Heathrow sit down in the road and block traffic in Parliament Square for 30 minutes holding a banner and placards against Heathrow expansion. Those taking part included some who have been on hunger strike outside the Labour Party HQ for 14 days so far.

Police told the protesters individually they risked arrest and removal for obstruction of the highway, but they left after 30 minutes without any arrests.

The protest came before Parliament votes on expansion on Monday. Heathrow expansion would be a disaster not just for those who lose their homes or would suffer increased pollution under the flight path in a city with already dangerous and often illegal levels of pollution thought to result in around 10,000 premature deaths in London each year, but will add the the already growing threat of irreversible climate breakdown that could threaten the future of human life on the earth.
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Stop Arming Saudi to bomb Yemen

Downing St, London. Fri 22 Jun 2018

Protesters leave the gate to Downing St after their letter has been refused by police
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Campaigners take part in a protest organised by Stop The War and including a number of Yemenis at Downing St against the assault by Saudi-backed government forces on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, the chief entry point for humanitarian aid to Yemen.

A deputation went to hand in a letter at Downing St calling on Theresa May to end Britain's support for the bombing and the siege, but it was refused. Police claim that for security reasons they cannot accept letters at the gate, and the protesters had not given the several day's notice required to enter the street. The protesters argued it was ridiculous that matters of emergency could not be acted on more rapidly to no avail. Presumably had the protesters included an MP, he or she could have entered the street and delivered a letter to No 10, but ordinary citizens can no longer do so.

Lindsey German then came and read the letter to the protesters before putting it in the post. Since the start of the conflict in Yemen the UK has sold £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.
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Protesters Stand Up For The Elephant

Elephant and Castle, London. Thu 21 Jun 2018
Protesters block the road with a long banner 'Stop the Elephant Development - Shame on UAL'
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Local residents and students protest against plans by property giant Delancey and the University of the Arts London (UAL) to demolish the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre and replace it with luxury housing and a new building for the London College of Communication (LCC).

They marched along the busy roads around the centre, holding up traffic, and stopped for speeches at several points before returning for a final rally outside the LCC.

Previous protests have resulted in minor improvements to the plan, including 7% of social housing, but campaigners say the plans, coming before Southwark Council again on July 3rd, are social cleansing and gentrification, turfing out the working class, the largely Latin traders and the wider community from the Elephant.

Campaigners accuse Delancey of failing to meet planning obligations in two existing developments in the area, and of avoiding paying UK taxes through extensive use of off-shore shell companies. They say if the development goes ahead many of the new properties will be bought as investments by wealthy foreign investors and are likely to remain empty, and that the developer is carving up the Elephant & Castle with no regard for anything but the huge profits their plans would give them.
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Assange in Embassy for Six Years

Ecuadorian Embassy, London. Tue 19 Jun 2018

Peter Tatchell, just back from arrest in Moscow, stands behind a man holding up a poster of Julian Assange
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People at the rally outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London calling for Julian Assange to be allowed safe passage to the place of his choice to mark six years since he was given asylum there. They called for the UK authorities to allow him to leave the embassy and go to the country of his choice without being arrested.

Following a change in government in Ecuador, for the last 3 months Assange has been in isolation away from visitors, press & communications. The Ecuadorian government is now conspiring with the US and UK to force him out of the embassy and extradite him to the US where he would almost certainly face an unfair trial and be sentenced to a lifetime in solitary confinement for his unwelcome revelations of illegal activities by the USA.

There were songs from Irish singer Joe Black and others, and among the speakers were Lauri Love who successfully fought extradition to the USA and Peter Tatchell, recently returned after his arrest for protesting in Moscow.
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Staines Walk

Staines, Middx.Sun 17 Jun 2018

At right the former Ashby's brewery tap is now offices
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It was a dull day in Staines and I was still tired physically and emotionally after Saturday's Grenfell solidarity march when in late afternoon Linda persuaded me to take a leisurely walk around Staines.

We walked up towards the moor and on the path alongside the River Colne, but it was too overgrown with nettles and brambles to reach the ditch which we've sometimes crossed over on fallen tree trunks, and I'm not sure my balance would now be up for it, so we turned back and went up onto the bypass. The path down to the Colne also looked rather difficult, so we took the easier way long way down to the tunnel under the bypass.

From there we walked to the railway crossing and back beside the Wraysbury River into central Staines, then to the Thames and back home. It would have been a pleasant but uneventful walk if we hadn't been attacked by an out of control dog half way round. Its owner was only mildly apologetic as she pulled it off, but people should really make sure that their animals don't attack people. But I didn't photograph the incident.
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Justice for Grenfell Solidarity March

Westminster, London. Sat 16 Jun 2018

Moyra Samuels, Tasha Brades and Yvette Williams from Justice4Grenfell and Matt Wrack and Lucy Masoud of the FBU stand with the crowd in a 72 second silence for the 72 people killed in the disaster
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A large crowd at Downing St showed solidarity with the 72 killed and the survivors of the Grenfell fire a year ago at a protest organised by Justice4Grenfell and the FBU (Fire Brigades Union.) After some speeches at Downing St they marched to the Home Office for a brief protest before returning to Downing St for more speeches.

Speakers complained of the many promises made by Theresa May which have been broken, despite her promise all survivors would be rehoused in 3 weeks, a year later 50% of survivors and displaced families are still in emergency accommodation. 300 tower blocks across the country still have the highly flammable cladding used on Grenfell, and the government has reneged on its promise to fund the replacement and there have been none of the changes urgently needed to building regulations and safety inspections.

Although police have charged the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and its TMO with corporate manslaughter, they have yet to interview a single person under oath. The local community who pointed out many fire risks (the TMO refused to give details of the cladding) feel they are still being ignored and fear the public inquiry will be a whitewash.

Attempts are now being made in the press to put the blame for the 72 deaths on the firefighters who the community saw making heroic efforts and saving many lives. Had the evidence from the FBU about incidents elsewhere since 1999 or the safety complaints by Grenfell residents over a long period before the fire been taken seriously the disaster could not have happened. It was not the firefighters who turned a tower block that had been safe as designed and built into a dangerous building coated with highly flammable material which turned a minor fire into a blazing inferno; nor were they responsible for the unsafe gas installation, improper fitting of cladding, inadequate fire doors, restrictions on emergency access, lack of water supply and cuts in fire service provision etc.
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Massive Silent Walk for Grenfell Anniversary

Notting Hill, London. Thu 14 Jun 2018

The march walks away from Grenfell through a crowd on the street - most of whom joined it
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Thousands walked in silence from close to Grenfell Tower remembering the victims of the disaster on the first anniversary of the disastrous fire which killed 72 and left many survivors traumatised.

The blackened and scarred bulk of Grenfell Tower has now been hidden by white sheeting, at its top a grey panel with a large green Grenfell heart and the message 'Grenfell - Forever In Our Hearts'. Some felt it should have been left standing uncovered - particularly as the disaster was caused by covering up the building to make it look nicer for the academy at its base. Without that covering the fire would have been a minor incident with no loss of life.

The academy in front of the tower was also built without proper regard for access for fire engines to fight the fire when it happened. To make things worse, Boris Johnson had cut the fire service drastically and they no longer had the equipment to fight the fire in the upper stories - it had to come from Surrey - and successive governments had removed regulations and cut safety inspections (they called it 'red tape) which would have prevented the inferno.

We now have the start of a long-drawn out public inquiry, ostensibly to ascertain the facts; so far it has revealed nothing that was not common knowledge within days or weeks of the fire. It seems to many that its real purpose is to ensure that those responsible - particularly the council and its TMO which managed its property - are never brought to justice. If our justice system took events like Grenfell seriously there would already be several people behind bars.

Many of those made homeless by the fire are still in temporary accommodation a year later despite promises made by Theresa May and Kensington & Chelsea council, who many feel have failed the local community both before and after the fire. They say had the community and its questions about safety been listened to and respected Grenfell would not have happened and call for justice and for those responsible to be prosecuted.

Firefighters lined both sides of Ladbroke Grove as a guard of honour for the march and were kissed and hugged by many. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot and local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad and some Labour London Assembly members were among those who took part in the silent walk, which ended in a local park. I left the march before it arrived there as it had been made clear the press were not welcome there.
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'SOAS 9' deported cleaners remembered

SOAS, London. Tue 12 Jun 2018

Cleaners and students remember the nine cleaners deported when SOAS conspired with the Border Agency
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A rally on the SOAS steps remembers the SOAS cleaners called by SOAS to an 'emergency meeting' at 6:30am on 12th June 2009 after cleaners had campaigned to get the London Living Wage.

A few minutes after the start of the 'meeting', agents of the UK Border Agency rushed in, handcuffed all the cleaners and held them for questioning. Nine were then deported. The action was a part of the despicable 'hostile environment' for migrant workers, begun by the Labour government, but severely ratcheted up by Theresa May as Home Secretary.

People stood in front of SOAS with posters with their names - Alberto, Carlos, Heidy, Laura, Lucia, Manuel, Marina, Milton and Rosa - and listened to speeches about this disgraceful action by SOAS management, including from some of those who had worked with them and other staff and students.

Consuela and Lenin also talked about the long campaign to get the London Living Wage, decent conditions of service and to be treated with dignity and respect. A ten-year 'one workplace, one workforce' fight the cleaners to be 'brought in house', directly employed by the university has been won in principle but negotiations continue on its implementation.

The lecture theatre where that fake early morning meeting was held has been renamed by SOAS students as the Lucas Lecture Theatre, after the son born to Lucia who was pregnant when deported, and the documentary film 'Limpiadores' about the cleaners and the raid was to be shown there later in the day, followed by a panel discussion.
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Unite TGI Fridays demand Fair Tips & Fair Pay

Dept of Business etc, London. Tue 12 Jun 2018

Unite members protest outside the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for Fair Tips
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Strikers from TGI Fridays and others from the Unite Restaurant, Catering and Bar Workers Branch and Unite Community came to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy with a man dressed as a giant burger to deliver a letter to business secretary Greg Clark calling on him to put an end to employers taking a part of the credit card tips that customers leave.

Two years ago his predecessor Sajid Javid promised to tackle the problem but nothing has been done. The workers say TGI Fridays use the tips to drive down the pay of staff in kitchens, and demand to keep the tips they have earned and for proper pay for all restaurant staff.
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Stop Brexit 'Pies Not Lies'

Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Tue 12 Jun 2018

Steven Bray (right)who founded the he Stand of Defiance European Movement
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Protesters continue their protests outside Parliament calling for an end to the process of leaving Europe with a 'Pies Not Lies' Remainathon during the parliamentary debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Stand of Defiance European Movement, SODEM, started by Steven Bray in September 2017 have continued to protest every day that MPs are in session. They say the public was misled by deliberate lies to vote to leave the EU, that Brexit does not reflect the will of the people, and that few if any of the 52% actually voted for the kind of hard Brexit that the government is pursuing.
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Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day

Saudi embassy, Mayfair, London. Sun 10 Jun 2018

Protesters hold the largest Palestinian flag ever made, 70m long to symbolise the 70 years since the Nakba

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A large crowd squashed into the street in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy for a rally in support of the oppressed people of Palestine and others around the world.

The event, organised by the Justice for Palestine Committee, is supported by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and a wide range of pro-Palestinian organisations, and was opposed by the Zionist Federation and some right wing hooligans, who were stopped from attacking the peaceful event by a large police presence in the area.

Celebrated in many countries, Al Quds Day, established by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, has been marked in London for over 30 years.

This year's event was a gesture of defiance to the demonisation campaign and the ongoing murders by Israeli troops of innocent Palestinian protestors in the Gaza Strip commemorating 70 years since Israel was formed on expropriated Palestinian land.
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Zionists protest against AlQuds Day

Saudi embassy, Mayfair, London. Sun 10 Jun 2018

Zionists shout in hate at the rally supporting Palestinians and other oppressed people
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Police had set up barriers to keep the official Zionist protest around a hundred yards down the road from the Al Quds day event, while others who were football thugs roamed the streets.

Police struggled to keep the football supporters away from the Al Quds rally, and at one point had to tackle them forcefully when the got right up to the barrier around it. The organisers struggled hard to stop some of the pro-Palestinian protesters from engaging with the thugs, but although there was a great deal of shouting from both sides I saw no physical contact except some fairly forceful policing as the thugs were taken away. Among them were one or two Jewish men I recognised from previous Zionist protests.

The official Zionist Federation protest kept behind the barriers, and contented themselves with shouting at the Palestinians and their supporters, who largely ignored them, though a handful faced them at a distance and shouted back. This official counter-protest actually seemed to be a little smaller than in some previous years, and as a colleague remarked to me there may well have been as many Jews taking part in the Al Quds day event, which was supported by several groups and numerous individuals from the Jewish left as well as the ultra-orthodox Neturei Karta, who always attract a great deal of venomous anti-Semitic shouting from the Zionists.

The main thrust of the Zionist protest seemed to be against the display of the Hizbullah flag by some at the Al Quds day protest. Since it the flag of the Hizbullah political party in Lebanon as well as the banned Hizbullah military organisation its display has been ruled to be legal in the UK. Though it had almost disappeared at these annual events until the Zionists made increasing complaints against it.
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100 years of Votes for Women

London. Sun 10 Jun 2018

'Mothers and Daughters' on the march on Piccadilly
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Women wore purple, white and green head scarves to make up three strands of a huge procession in the suffragette colours through London marking 100 years since many British women gained the right to vote.

The 1918 act gave the vote to the first time to all men over 21 and to men like my father over 18 serving in the armed forces, but did not bring in universal suffrage for women. Women had to be over 30 and meet a property requirement. It was another ten years before all women over 21 - including my mother who was by then 23 - could vote.

My mother made no secret of her support for the Conservative party, displaying their poster in our front window at every election. My father, who kept quiet about his politics to avoid conflict at home, went into the polling station every time to cancel out her vote with one for Labour.
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End government killings in Nicaragua

Trafalgar Square, London. Sun 10 Jun 2018
A woman spray paints the images of a hand on the t-shirt of a protester
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A protest in Trafalgar Square calls for an end of the violence by the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua, where since the 19th of April police have killed over 100 protesters and a injured over 600, and there have been many unjustly detained, tortured and raped.

Both the CIDH (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) and Amnesty International have condemned the government atrocities and this solidarity protest is one of a number across Europe demanding the resignation of president Daniel Ortega and his wife and and vice-president Rosario Murillo and a transitions towards a transparent and free electoral process.
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Anti-fascists oppose Free Tommy protest

Parliament St, London. Sat 9 Jun 2018

People stand with banners and placards listening to speeches
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Only few hundred anti-fascists stood at the end of Parliament St, several hundred yards from the Free Tommy protest to oppose the march by Supporters of fascist and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, jailed for contempt of court.

The counter protest was called by Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism who say that Robinson and his supporters have a history of racism and islamophobia, and have many links to fascist organisations. Before leading the EDL, Robinson was in the fascist BNP.

Robinson pleaded guilty at his trial for contempt of court and knew that he would also be jailed for breaking his bail conditions from a previous offence. His jail sentence was not about free speech but about actions which could prevent a fair trial taking place, and could have led to a trial having to be abandoned.
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Free Tommy Robinson

Trafalgar Square & Downing St, London. Sat 9 Jun 2018

A man in a Union Jack suit looks at the gates of Downing St
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Several thousand gather in Trafalgar Square to march to a rally in Whitehall demanding the release of Tommy Robinson, jailed for contempt of court.

An angry crowd stopped in front of Downing Street where two thugs attacked me, attempting to grabbing me and attempting to pull my camera from my hand to prevent me taking pictures. I managed to pull away and move through the dense crowd, but they followed me through the mass of people for some distance repeatedly trying to take my cameras and camera bag until I got close to the police and march stewards in front of Downing St.

The stewards there were attempting to move the crowd away towards the stage where the rally was beginning. Throughout the march the crowds were chanting and singing for Tommy Robinson, a man who pleaded guilty to contempt of court and whose actions could have led to a trial being stopped.

They demanded he be freed from jail, wrongly claiming his arrest was an attack on free speech. A small counter protest took place a few hundred yards away, with several lines of police keeping the two groups well apart.
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Close all Slaughterhouses

London. Sat 9 Jun 2018

A woman holds a poster above her head at the front of the march on the Charing Cross Rd

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Vegans meet in Leicester Square and march through London calling for the closure of all slaughterhouses and a complete end to the killing of animals to provide food for human consumption.

As well as pointing out the cruelty involved and saying their is no such thing as humane slaughter, they also pointed out the huge environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, which they say is the leading cause of global warming, deforestation and ocean dead zones as well as the killing of 60 billion land animals and more than 1000 billion aquatic animals each year.

After meeting in Leicester Square they marched around central London, stopping at various locations for speeches. The first stop was in Soho Square, and I left the protest there.
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Flypast for Queen's Official Birthday

Leicester Square, London. Sat 9 Jun 2018

Red, white and blue smoke from the nine jets stretched across the sky
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A number of groups of aircraft took part in a flypast in celebration of the Queen's official birthday.

I took these pictures from Leicester Square where I was covering a vegan attempt, moving to one edge of the square where there were few trees to obscure the sky. The display ended with coloured smoke trails in red, white and blue.

The aircraft included some from World War II as well as more modern jet aircraft, with each group of planes flying over and then a short break before the next group. I found it hard not to think of the taxpayer's money being wasted.
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Colombian Carnival for Water, Life & Land

Colombian embassy, London. Fri 8 Jun 2018

People make a large poster about the 400 human rights activists killed
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A picket opposite the Colombian embassy supports today's Gran Marcha Carnival in cities throughout Colombia demanding their government respects the rights of local communities against the interests of mining companies.

Local residents voted against AngloGold Ashanti's huge La Colosa gold mine because of the extensive environmental damage it would cause. Hundreds of human rights and environmental activists have been assassinated for their opposition to projects including the Hydroituango dam. Oil extraction in Putamayo is causing excessive pollution and logging is destroying the Amazon forest at an alarming rate - last year an area of rainforest the size of Switzerland was destroyed.

Last year the people in the port city of Buenaventura began a general strike, continuing despite brutal repression with hundreds wounded for three weeks, only ending when the government agreed to set up a special $400 million fund to provide a public hospital, drinkable water supply and decent education, but less than 10% of this committment has been met and the fund has not yet been set up.

Paramilitary death squad leaders in the area have been released from prison, an assassination attempt made on a local Senator, and strike leaders fear they will be targeted.

Protesters from the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and London Mining Network handed out leaflets, displayed posters and banners and read statements in solidarity with the Colombian march.
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Die-in against Greenwich cycle deaths

Woolwich Town Hall, London. Thu 7 Jun 2018

A protester holds a poster for safe bike paths during the die-in at Woolwich Town Hall
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Cyclists staged a die-in outside Greenwich Council offices in Woolwich after three cyclist were killed by vehicles in the area in recent weeks, two by HGV trucks on the notoriously unsafe Woolwich Rd.

Plans to build a protected cycleway between Woolwich and Greenwich were apparently dropped because of opposition from Greenwich council, and Southwark Council are still objecting the the route west of Greenwich.

Plans to improve the dangerous Woolwich Rd roundabout where one cyclist was killed were also dropped. The campaigners called for urgent action to provide safe cycle routes in the area and staged a die-in in memory of the cyclists killed.
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University of London staff in-House now

Senate House, London. Tue 6 Jun 2018

Protesters push flags through the locked gates of Senate House
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Over 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post room staff and audiovisual staff on strike today at the University of London hold a lively rally at Senate House.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain is the largest union in the University of London central administration buildings where its members are employed by a number of outsourcing companies, working with worse pension, holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay entitlements and much more likely to suffer from bullying, discrimination and illegal deduction of wages than their in-house colleagues.

The University has spent huge amounts on extra security to fight the IWGB campaign rather than talk with the union, but has now been forced to review its facilities management contracts, but without proper consultation and the union has been left with no option but to escalate its campaign.

Supporters including students who had occupied a part of the university in support joined the striking workers who had been picketing the University since 6am and marched around the block to the other side of Senate House and then back again with drums and horns making a great deal of noise.

Speakers brought support from various groups including the UCU. There were cheers when it was announced that there had been some progress with management agreeing that the services would be brought back in-house at some future date, but the IWGB stressed the need to keep up the pressure with more protests until a full agreement was reached. As I left after around an hour and a half a samba band was arriving and the protest which I had thought was coming to an end continued.
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Zionists defend Israel shooting protesters

Downing St, London. Mon 5 Jun 2018

Zionists with Israeli flags shout at the protest against killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters
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A small group of Zionists held a counter protest, shouting insults from a short distance away, including during the silence, defending the right of Israel to shoot unarmed Palestinians who they claim were all terrorists.

One wore a shirt with the message "There's no such thing as Palestine", more an Israeli government intention than any connection with the continuous existence of Palestine since at least the days of Abraham. Another held the flag of the Israeli Defence forces, whose snipers have shot hundreds if not thousands of unarmed demonstrators in the past few weeks.

As well as those killed there are hundreds who will never walk again, injured in the legs by bullets designed to expand on impact and inflict maximum damage, probably also illegal under international law. Many of those killed were shot in the back as they moved away from the 'separation fence' and they include clearly marked medics and press. These protesters were defending a horrific crime which has shocked people around the world and is clearly indefensible to anyone with a shred of humanity.
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Free Palestine, Stop Arming Israel

Westminster, London. Mon 5 Jun 2018

Young women hold 'Free Palestine' placards as they listen to the speeches
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Protesters came to Downing St on the National day of solidarity actions for the Great Return March in Palestine to call for freedom for Palestine and an end the the killing of Palestinians.

They urged the government to stop supplying arms to Israel and supported the rights of Palestinians to return to their former family homes. Many came with Palestinian flags and bunches of keys to symbolise the right to return to the homes which people were forced to leave seventy years ago in the 1948 Nakba when the state of Israel was formed.

After a rally opposite Downing St they marched to protest in front of Parliament with further speeches and the reading of the names of those shot in cold blood by Israeli snipers before a minute of silence.
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Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland Now

Parliament Square, London. Mon 5 Jun 2018

Women hold posters calling for Abortion Rights in Northern Ireland

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Abortion Rights protesters called for the Government to end the human rights violation against Northern Irish women by legalising abortion in a protest at Parliament.

Abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland under laws passed in the Victorian era as it was the only part of the UK not covered by the Abortion Act 1967. In March this year, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Population, Development and Reproductive Health recommended that moves be made to liberalise abortion in Northern Ireland.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has said the current abortion laws amount to grave and systematic violations of women’s rights. Amnesty International polls have shown that almost three-quarters of those living in Northern Ireland want to liberalise the abortion law, an even greater proportion than in the recent massive referendum vote in Ireland.
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Sikhs remember the 1984 genocide

London. Sat 3 Jun 2018

Standard bearers and five Khalsa with swords walk barefoot at the front of the march
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Thousands of Sikhs met in Hyde Park to march through London to Trafalgar Square in memory of the 1984 Indian Army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar where thousands of Sikhs were massacred, and the government encouraged mob killings following the assassination of Indira Gandhi later that year for which the killers have never been brought to justice.

Since this 1984 Sikh genocide there has been a continuing program of police arrests, torture and killing of Sikh males in the Punjab and crippling economic and social policies. Sikhs demand independence from India and a Sikh state, Khalistan.
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Anti-Knife UK protest

Downing St, London. Sat 3 Jun 2018

Campaigners against violence join hands in solidarity
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Community groups and campaigners against knife and gun crime protest opposite Downing St, calling on Theresa May to take action to stop the growing number of killings using knives across the country.

The event was organised by Anti-Knife UK, founded by Danny O'Brien in 2008 which monitors knife crime incidents from across the UK on a daily basis. Danny spoke at the event, and explained that he was stepping down from the active leadership of the campaign which would be carried forward by others.

Many of those taking part were bereaved family members and their supporters and wore t-shirts or brought placards with photographs of the knife victims and pairs of empty shoes as well as banners. Speakers called for measures to tackle the problem including tougher sentences, tagging of all knives, knife arches in night clubs, equal rights for victims and families, a review of the laws governing self-defence and reasonable force and work in schools and communities.
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London Images

June 2018

Downstream view from Chelsea Bridge

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Images from journeys through Battersea, Chelsea, Vauxhall, Blegravia, Aldwych, Holborn, North Kensington and elsewhere on trains, buses and on foot.
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