my london diary index


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Protest at Lewisham Council & Mayor

Lewisham Council, Catford, London. Wed 28 Nov 2018

Some of the protesters held small posters 'Housing for People, not for Speculators
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Lewisham residents protested on a cold damp night outside a council meeting over the brutal eviction of Deptford's Old Tidemill Garden and the felling of trees as a part of the council's plan to redevelop this and Reginald House whose tenants and local residents have campaigned over many years to keep both the community garden and council housing.

Residents have produced plans showing how the council's housing objectives could be met without the loss of gardens and existing council housing, but the council have refused to give them proper consideration.

Some of the protesters had submitted questions about this and other local issues to Mayor Damien Egan and I left as they were queueing to enter. Security officers had told them that apart from those who had earlier submitted their written questions, few others would be admitted to the public meeting as space was limited.
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Southwark protest estate demolitions

Southwark Council Offices, London. Wed 28 Nov 2018

Aysen from the Aylesbury Estate holds up a 'Wanted ' poster for Southwark Council leader Peter John
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Southwark council estate residents lobbied councillors against the demolition of their homes as they went in to a council meeting.

The residents call for and end to council estate demolitions and the social and ethnic cleansing of the borough and want the council to work with residents who the council is increasingly disempowering. The council is setting up a new 'Resident Involvement Panel' to sideline the to many established residents associations, including Tenant Council, Homeowners Council, Area Housing Forums, TRA's and Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations (SGTO), and is setting up fake 'consultations' over estate demolition.

Among the protesters were some from the Aylesbury estate, already part demolished despite a majority ballot which callied for refurbishment rather than demolition.

Council policies are being driven by the need of private developers to make profits rather than the needs of local people. As a recent detailed report by ASH (Architects for Social Housing) has shown, 'regeneration' schemes by councils like Southwark involve large costs for emptying the esates and demolishing homes, which along with the costs of building new properties means that the great majority of the new estates have to be sold or let at high market prices, and only a very small proportion can be at comparable rents to existing social housing. Much of what is claimed as social housing will be at rents several times existing council rents or shared ownership which caters for those earning £60,000 or £80,000 per year.

Leaseholders have suffered particularly hard in previous schemes, and even in some of the latest are only being offered at best around half the costs of the replacement properties. Along with many tenants on estates they end up having to move well out to the fringes of London, often ending up in rented properties with very little security of tenure in a wholesale social cleansing of the areas.

ASH also show that the cost of refurbishment of typical estates is roughly similar to the costs of demolition and this can be done without destroying the communities or forcing people out on a permanent basis. Their schemes have also shown how the councils can acheive many new properties by infill or adding new floors on top of existing buildings. Their schemes would also retain public assests in public hands rather than giving land and property away at knock-down prices to the developers. The council's schemes do acheive greater housing densities, but with a cost per unit several times greater, which inevitably requires much higher rents and market sales, effectively pricing almost all of the original inhabitants out of the area, replacing them with new residents in high-income jobs - a process accurately described as 'social cleansing'.

Many of the councillors and officers involved in council regeneration schemes have benefitted from lavish entertaining by the developers, and some have moved into extremely well-paid jobs with developers or with special companies set up by councils as a part of the regeneration. But while this may benefit them and make huge profits for developers, its results are often disastrous for those who currently enjoy living in properties solidly built to last at least another 50 years with proper maintenance but in most cases requiring refurbishment to meet current energy standards and repair the faults, often caused by deliberate neglect by councils.
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Free Political Prisoners in Iran

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 24 Nov 2018
A protester smoothes down the banner for me to photograph it
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The Worker-Communist Party of Iran - Hekmatist protest in Trafalgar Square in solidarity with the Iranian People's Struggle and calling for the release of all political prisoners.

There were widespread protests earlier this year in cities in Iran following which many opposition figures were arrested and put in jail. The party want all of the jailed workers to be released and for an end to the many executions. They also want there to be properly independent trade unions.
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Extinction Rebellion Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, London. Sat 24 Nov 2018

People came and laid flowers, photographs etc in a silent remembrance as the protest neared its end
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At Buckingham Palace they set down the 'OUR FUTURE' coffin in front of the gates, and there was a short rally.

Gail Bradbrook read a letter from Extinction Rebellion to the Queen, asking her to save her country (and the world) by insisting the government take urgent climate action and press other governments to also do so, and the campaigners repeated the rebellion declaration once more.

There was then some singing followed by a silence in memory of those who have already died as a result of climate change, mainly in the Global South, during which people were asked to go and lay their wreaths, flowers, and other things they had brought on the coffin.

When this had finished, the drummers and other musicians began to play and people started dancing. The protest seemed to be over and I left.
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Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession

Whitehall & The Mall, London. Sat 24 Nov 2018

Campaigners form the Extinction Rebellion symbol with their bodies on Whitehall in front of Downing St
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Campaigners formed up behind the behind the coffin, with its message 'OUR FUTURE' for a funeral procession, led by drummers and a trumpeter.

The procession set off and walked slowly up Whitehall stopping briefly to sit down in the road in silence when the coffin reached Downing St. The route of the procession had not been announced in advance. When the procession moved on from, some remained in front of Downing St and laid down in the road to form the Extinction Rebellion symbol for around ten minutes, before moving to join the rest who had waited at the top of Whitehall.

There were at least half a dozen arrests in Whitehall, all apparently for criminal damage. As I stood by the memorial to the Women of World War Two, one protester took out a spray can and began to paint a slogan on it. I took a series of pictures and was rather disappointed when one of the police intelligence gathers in blue waistcoats came and grabbed him before he had finished, leaving just 'MOTHER' and a squiggle where he was trying to paint with a policeman holding his arm. He walked away quietly with the officer to the other side of the road.

When the procession had re-gathered at the end of Whitehall, Gail Bradbrook who had been walking in front of the main banner spoke briefly to tell us we were on the way down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. Police quickly closed the road gate leading to The Mall, but then thought better of it and opened it up again to let the procession through and it continued down road to arrive at the palace.
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Extinction Rebellion Parliament Square

Parliament Square, London. Sat 24 Nov 2018

Police stop the coffin with its message 'OUR FUTURE' and a legal observer makes notes
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On Day 2 of the Extinction Rebellion there was a rally in Parliament Square, with traffic blocked at all the roads into the square.

After reading the rebellion declaration the crowd heard a series of performances by singers and poets, learnt a new song and listened to speeches by environmental activists, an environmental lawyer and others.

At the end of the rally they formed a tight circle around the middle of the square and some began to dig a grave to bury a coffin which was carried on to the square with the message 'OUR FUTURE'. The diggers carefully removed a rectangle of the turf, and then began to dig a hole, but the ground below was compacted and a large crowd of Met and City of London police pushed through the crowd to occupy the area and stop them before they had dug more than a few inches.

Unfortunately the police action, which they said was to stop criminal damage, resulted in far more damage than the protesters would have caused, with the carefully set aside turf being trampled on by police, though it seems unlikely that any of the officers will be charged for the damage that they caused. There didn't seem to be any arrests of protesters at this stage, though they may have arrested some later.

I moved across to where police had surrounded the coffin and we stood waiting for some minutes, and I think there may have been a second attempt to make a grave also prevented by police, but the square was so crowded with people it was difficult to known.

Eventually the protesters decided to move off the square and to get ready for a funeral procession to lead off up Parliament St.
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IWGB at London University Founders Day

Senate House, London. Tue 20 Nov 2018

A person attending the Foundation Day is helped under the long red barrier banner

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The IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain) and supporters including students and staff protested noisily outside Senate House during University of London Chancellor Princess Anne's Foundation Day visit, calling for all workers to be directly employed by the university.

Police and security tried to keep the entrance clear, but the protesters stood in front of it so that people had to walk around them and their banner to enter. After a while the IWGB brought out a many yard long roll of red cloth, and held this on the pavement. Some people walked to the end and around behind it to gain entry, while others were helped under it by police and security who rolled parts of it up and held them up while protesters tried to keep it down.

There were a few minor scuffles, and some protesters were pushed rather firmly by one of the security men, with their complaints of assault being ignored by police, who seemed to be trying to keep the situation under control without making any arrests.

When most of those attending the event had arrived, the protesters walked around to the eastern entrance to Senate House in Russell Square. As usual the IWGB protest was a noisy one, with drums and vuvuzelas as well as loud shouting, and while Princess Anne may not have seen it, she and the others at the Foundation Day will certainly have heard it.

The University of London continues to drag its feet over bringing workers into direct employment. They have announced that although recommending that workers be brought in-house this will be subject to "in-house comparator bids" and that it will not happen until 2020 or 2021. As the IWGB point out this is in great contrast to the response of Kings College and the LSE who have agreed to take their workers back in house.

The IWGB say using outside contractors to employ staff is discriminatory as outsourced workers including security, cleaning and catering staff are predominantly migrant and BME workers and are on far worse terms and conditions than other staff and subjected to harassment and bullying.

They say the foundation day protest has now become an annual tradition and they continue to demand the University of London 'end discrimination, take direct responsibility for the employment and working conditions of outsourced workers and bring them in-house now!' Strikes continue, with the latest ballot among the cleaners being 100% in favour of strike action.
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No10 Vigil says stop Brexit

Downing St, London. Mon 19 Nov 2018
Campaigners with EU flags, hats and balloons outside Downing St
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On the day that parliament debated the petition ‘If there is No Deal to Leave EU, Brexit must be stopped’ protesters from the #No10Vigil held their evening vigil opposite Downing St.

There was a lively performance by Boris impersonator Drew Galdron and EU Supergirl Madelina Kay, Young European of the Year 2018 and then people rushed across to shout 'Bollocks to Brexit' and 'People's Vote' as a large group of Brexiteers emerged from a meeting with Theresa May at Downing St.

No 10 Vigil say the Leave Campaign broke the law and made promises they knew to be false in their campaign. Any deal that can possibly be made will leave the country in a worse position than remaining in the EU (and fail to satisfy the Brexiteers) while a 'No Deal' exit would be a national catastrophe. They say that Brexit is madness and call for a people's vote to remain in the EU, confident that now we have a much better idea of what Brexit really means a large majority will vote against it.
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Focus E15 protest former Newham Mayor

Policy Exchange, Westminster. Mon 19 Nov 2018

Focus E15 say that former mayor Sir Robin Wales has a terrible record on Housing in Newham
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Protesters from Focus E15 Mothers protested in the rain outside centre-right think tank Policy Exchange where former Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales now works and was speaking at a housing conference.

They say he left office with 1 in 25 homeless including 2,000 families with children under 5, left the largest council bank debt of any local authority, kept hundreds of council homes empty for over 10 years despite a huge waiting list while he tried to get rid of council estates and deleted 10,000 e-mails to avoid investigation into council dealings.

Rather than housing the people of Newham in social housing he tried to force them to go into insecure private rented accommodation in distant parts of England and Wales, away from friends, families, jobs and schools. The Libor loans that he took out have been disastrous to Newham, with interest repayments swallowing up the borough's council tax.

Robin Wales had held the position of elected mayor of Newham since it was created in 2002, and was the first elected mayor in the UK. He had previously been council leader and had run the council, which is overwhelmingly Labour (they currently hold all 60 seats), since 1995. In 2016 he tried to fix the Labour Party reselection process for the 2018 Mayoral elections to automatically select him for a further term, but the ballot had to be re-run after complaints that party rules had been broken, and in 2018 he was de-selected gaining 503 votes against Rokhsana Fiaz with 861. She became the first directly elected female mayor for any London borough.

Although Wales had stated that he was a socialist during the ballot, this has not stopped him taking a job with the centre-right Policy Exchange Senior Adviser on Local Government, Skills and Housing and co-authoring with conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton the report 'Building More, Building Beautiful: How design and style can unlock the housing crisis'.

The protesters held banners and posters and made their presence felt using a megaphone. After they had been outside for around 45 minutes, a man from Policy Exchange brought out tea for them, though some refused the offer.

At the end of the protest the tried to go in to the conference which was taking place on the sixth floor. I had to leave for another protest as they went inside, but as I expected the building security stopped on their way up to the conference and they had to leave.

Extinction Rebellion form Citizens' Assembly

Westminster Bridge, London. Sat 17 Nov 2018

Lancashire anti-fracking Nana Tina Louise Rothery speaks at the rally on the blocked bridge
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Having occupied five bridges since before 11am, the rallies were continuing on them when I returned around 2.15pm, with a number of speakers from around the country and around the world, some of whom travelled to speak on several of the five blocked bridges.

Scientific studies and reports now make it clear that countries around the world have only a very short time to take effective action to avoid widespread ecological disaster and possible human extinction due to the effects of man-made climate change.

The world needs rapidly to cut the burning of fossil fuels to zero, and reduce the use of these and other resources, as well as to change our habits of food use and methods of food production to become more ecologically sound. Meat and fish need to become occasional treats for those not on a vegan diet rather than staple foods, with animals raised without widespread use of animal feeds on soils unsuitable for more intensive agriculture. We need to stop overfishing and stop polluting the oceans so that fish stocks recover. We need to end the throwaway culture and end single-use plastics, minimise packaging and make products that last, to tackle seriously industries such as aviation, end the waste of arms production and minimise the use of motor vehicles.

New methods of producing materials such as concrete and steel with lower carbon emissions, for example reducing iron ore using hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water using renewable energy sources have some part to play, and carbon capture and storage may be able to help a little, but by far the most important technology for carbon removal will remain photosynthesis, and we desperately need to end deforestation, currently taking place on a huge scale, and to plant more forests around the world to remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Cleaning up the ocean is also vital as around half of the planet's oxygen production comes from algae.

The speeches I heard were all about environmental destruction which is currently taking place around the world. There was a huge welcome for Tina-Louise Rothery who was there with several other of the Lancashire Nanas whose protest against fracking at Preston New Road has been an incredible example to all concerned with our planet's future. Despite this, fracking has begun, and by this time had produced 36 seismic events in the area. Given the incredible damage caused by gas extraction in Holland, and fracking in parts of America, there is now no room for doubt that it should stop.

After the many contributions, those present were asked to split into groups of around 8 people and to form an embryo Citizen's Assembly. It was beginning to get rather cold and I had been on my feet too long to stay.
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Unity Against Fascism and Racism

Regent St, London, Sat 17 Nov 2018

I photographed the marchers as they came down Regent St
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Thousands marched from the BBC to a rally in Whitehall calling for unity against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK, with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s.

I arrived too late for the start of the march and walked up to meet the head of it on Regent St just a little south of Oxford Circus. After around half an hour people were still coming past, but I thought it was near the end and I returned to the Extinction Rebellion on Westminster Bridge.

The event was initiated by Stand Up To Racism, co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, and supported by many other groups and individuals including Diane Abbott MP and John McDonnell MP.
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Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo

Southwark, Blackfriars & Waterloo Bridges. Sat 17 Nov 2018
Protesters with flags and banners on Southwark Bridge
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Photographs of the blockade on Southwark, Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges across the River Thames. Extinction Rebellion blocked these and two others for several hours creating traffic chaos in Central London. I spent most of my time on Westminster Bridge where the largest group were protesting - and the pictures from there are in separate posts, below and above.

The protest was a part of a non-violent rebellion against the government for criminal inaction on climate change and ecological collapse on course to make human life binding policies to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce consumption, with a Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create real democracy.

The Extinction Rebellion by the Rising Up network calls for a fundamental change of our political and economic system to maximise well-being and minimise harm.
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Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts

Westminster Bridge, London. Sat 17 Nov 2018

Campaigners sit in the middle of Westminster Bridge with an umbrella with the message' Save Our Planet'
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Extinction Rebellion brought central London to a standstill by blocking five bridges across the Thames, Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark. I photographed the first couple of hours of the protest on Westminster Bridge.

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent rebellion against the British government for its criminal inaction in the face of the climate change catastrophe and ecological collapse which is currently on course to make human life extinct. They demand the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, reverse their inconsistent policies and work to communicate and educate everyone, that they bring in legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and reduce our consumption of all resources, with a national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes and create a real democracy.

Extinction Rebellion is a campaign by the Rising Up network that calls for a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm.

Police tried to persuade the protesters who were holding rallies on the bridges to clear them, and threatened the protesters with arrest, but many of them had decided they were prepared to face arrest and generally ignore the threats. Eventually police gave up harassing the protesters at Westminster and there were few if any arrests while I was there. Police at the other bridges were even telling protesters to go to Westminster and continue their protest there.

I left just before noon to go to some of the other bridges, but returned later in the day - see posts above.
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Burnham Beeches

Burnham, Bucks. Fri 16 Nov 2018
Most of the leaves had already fallen and much of the ground had a thick carpet of them
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We had planned to do this walk earlier in the month, but it had to be postponed, and the woods were rather less colourful than I'd expected, perhaps for the best.

One of the more commendable activities of the City of London in the late nineteenth century was the buying up of a number of areas of land well outside the city to preserve them from development, though doubtless the money to do so came from some very questionable activities. Burnham Beeches, a few miles north of Slough, one of the remaining areas of ancient forest which once covered most of Buckinghamshire, was purchased by the City in 1880, and is now a registered charitable trust with the City of London as the main funder and trustee.

The City encourages visitors to this and other areas it owns, while controlling access to maintain their character and the wildlife they support. I cycled here occasionally in my youth and was admonished by the wardens for leaving the major paths and roads for a more exciting path reserved for walkers.

Although I started walking with my family, I had a copy of the map on my camera, and at some point turned left into a wooded glade to take photographs, saying that this was the way to go. A minute or so later I turned around and they were nowhere in sight, so I continued on my own, knowing I would at some point meet them back at the car park. It was probably better that way. When I got there, they were nowhere to be seen, so I took another short walk in a different direction, before finally we were both in areas with a phone signal.

We then looked for a pub to have lunch, investigating a couple in Farnham village before deciding to make the long journey around Burnham Beeches to the Blackwood Arms, a pleasant pub with a good choice of beer.
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South Norwood stands with Grenfell

South Norwood, London. Wed 14 Nov 2018
Jane Nicholl of South Norwood Tourist Board holds the end of the banner at right
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After the disgusting video posted of a cardboard Grenfell tower being burnt at a bonfire party in South Norwood, the South Norwood Tourist Board organised a march to show solidarity with Grenfell, with several hundreds of local residents marching through the streets at the same time as the monthly silent march of remembrance in Notting Hill on the 14th of every month.

The marchers included several former residents of Grenfell Tower and some who lost friends in the tragic fire, and several came with a Grenfell United banner to support South Norwood's demonstration of solidarity.

The march, which was featured live on ITV news with interviews from Jane Nicholl of SNTB and Sandra Ruiz of Grenfell United, went along the main street and then down Portland Rd to end outside South Norwood Leisure Centre. There were short final speeches from Jane and Sandra, and then people made their way a few yards back along the street to The Portland Arms, where soup was being handed out free to all the marchers who wanted it, and I enjoyed a cup before going inside.
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Class War picket the Ripper Museum

Cable St, London. Sat 10 Nov 2018
One person tried to enter the shop but was pushed out by one of the shop staff
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A small group of Class War protesters returned for another protest outside the misogynist Ripper museum in Cable St.

The tacky tourist attraction which gained planning permission by pretending to be a museum of the history of women in London's East End is still open and has still not complied with all of Tower Hamlet's Council's planning decisions about its frontage. C

Class War complains about its incorrect and unsympathetic display about the victims of the murderer, some of whose relatives are still alive and upset by gory displays of their family members, and of its glorification of the murderer's gory crimes against working class women.

Class War held their 'Womens Death Brigade' banner outside the shop and tried to dissuade the few customers who turned up from going inside. Police arrived quickly and tried to move the protesters away from the shop door with one officer threatening them with arrest for swearing, which led to rather more bad language and a short reminder to her of the law. After a short protest outside the protesters rolled up their banner and left for a nearby pub.
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Global Day to save the Sunderbans

Altab Ali Park, London. Sat 10 Nov 2018

Rampal threatens the world's largest mangrove forest and would add to global warming
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A rally by the UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas & Mineral Resources, Bangladesh, supported by others including Fossil Free Newham was a part of a global day of protest to save the Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Plans by the Bangladesh and Indian governments to build the Rampal coal-fired power plant on the edge of the forest and other commercial developments threaten the wildlife in the area, including the Bengal Tiger, and endanger the livelihoods of over 3.5 million people. Development would also make around 50 million people more vulnerable to storms and cyclones, against which the Sunderbans serve as a natural safeguard, and the coal-fired plant would contribute to global warming and climate chaos.

There have been huge protests against the proposed coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh in which a number of protesters have been killed.
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Leave Voters say Leave Now!

Trafalgar Sq, London. Sat 10 Nov 2018
There were several with sticky tape over their mouths claiming they had been gagged
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Around two hundred people came to Trafalgar Square to protest with extreme right-wing organisation UK Unity at the lack of progress in exiting the EU and the concessions they see Theresa May making to the EU.

They were also protesting against the failure to curb mass immigration to the UK, and the sad state of affairs in Britain, with many holding posters calling on London's Mayor Sadiq Khan to resign. The protest was also supported by other right-wing groups including the For Britain Movement and UKIP, and there were faces in the crowd I remembered from protests by the National Front and other fascist organisations.

Similar protests were also taking place in Coventry, Norwich, Cardiff and Leeds. Their 5 point plan calls for Britain to leave the EU entirely without any payments, to end mass immigration, to properly run and fund our public services, to reform democracy including scrapping the House of Lords and to "Put British Laws, British Culture and British People first".

The two speeches I heard, as well as the posters and placards reflected some irrational views on Brexit, fired by emotion and ignoring the realities. One or two people stopped to argue with them and were shouted down. It was always the case that the kind of break with the EU that many voted for was impossible, and that if we are to leave there will be many unpalatable consequences. The best possible deal was always going to be a poor deal in many ways, and no responsible politician thinking about the future of the nation rather than their own personal fortunes would be campaigning or voting for leaving without a deal.
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Save Old Tidemill Garden & Reginald House

Deptford, London. Tue 6 Nov 2018

Class War had come to support the protesters

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Campaigners fighting to stop Lewisham Council and developer Peabody from demolishing Reginald House and building on the community Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden march to protest outside the New Cross Assembly Meeting where Lewisham Mayor and local councillors were to take questions from the public.

Locals who had occupied the wildlife garden were brutally evicted by bailiffs while police stood back and watched what the campaigners say was an illegal eviction last week. The community have prepared plans to show how the area could be developed to provide the same amount of housing while retaining the homes and the community garden which was built in the 1990s by local people, teachers, parents and kids from Tidemill School, but the council have refused to consider them.

The garden was ringed by a pair of security guards every couple of yards around the outside when I arrived, and a high level of security is being maintained on a 24hr basis, estimated to be costing Lewisham council tax payers around £30,000 a day. The council has spent far more on security than residents say would be needed for a proper evaluation of their alternative plans and the say that development of public land such as this should take place in partnership with the community to include as many social homes as possible, and that public land should remain in public ownership for the good of the community.

Some protesters went inside the meeting while others continued the protest outside, waiting for the Mayor to arrive. He was supposed to be there for a question and answer session beginning at 8pm, but had not arrived by the time I had to leave around twenty past eight, and it seemed unlikely then he would be coming. Police had arrived and gone in to the meeting, but people still outside were being refused entry - they were told they would be let in when the session was about to start.

I heard later that the Mayor did eventually come to the meeting, but that those outside were refused entry to the public meeting. When the meeting ended and the Mayor and other councillors emerged there were angry scenes and a couple of arrests. People were angry both because of the way the council failed to answer questions inside the meeting and because many were not allowed in.

Lewisham, like most other London Councils, mainly run by large Labour majorities, appears to have lost sight of the reason we have local government - so that councils can respond to the needs of the local community and preserve public assets and provide services for local residents. They are not businesses to be run to sell off public property for the benefit of developers and the career enhancement of officers and councillors.
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Class War protest Labour Housing record

City Hall, London. Sat 3 Nov 2018

Martin Wright holds a poster 'Labour - Leaders in the Social Cleansing of Council Estates in London
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Class War were among those who had come to protest about estate demolitions and the housing problems of London, but they and others including the Revolutionary Communist Group were not given an opportunity by the event organisers to speak.

Both groups have been among the most active in supporting high profile housing campaigns in London against estate demolition and other plans, mainly by London Labour councils who are responsible for the great bulk of estate sell-offs and demolition in London, involving over 160 council estates, social cleansing on a massive scale. Among those protesting with Class War was Leigh Miller, recently illegally evicted from Gallions Point Marina under orders from the Labour Mayor of London.

So it was hardly surprising that when a Labour politician go up to speak, Class War, one of several groups not allowed to speak at the event, erupted, shouting him down, making clear that it was Labour who was responsible for estate demolitions. It was perhaps unfair on Ted Knight, former Lambeth Labour leader, who is also fighting against these policies - and who when council leader was responsible for the building of some of the very estates that are now being demolished.

But as others who spoke had pointed out earlier, homes will only be saved if people become more militant and engage in the kind of direct actions which Class War advocates - and not by rallies like today's outside a closed City Hall.

Class War stood to one side at the end of the rally when most of the rest taking part marched around the empty offices, calling for a rather different revolution.
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No Demolitions Without Permission

City Hall, London. Sat 3 Nov 2018

At the end of the rally people marched around the empty City Hall
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Several hundred people, mainly from London's council estates under threat of demolition by Labour London councils came to a protest outside City Hall called by 'Axe the Housing Act'.

The protest called for an end to estate demolitions unless approved by a ballot of all residents, and for public land to be used to build more council homes rather than being turned over to developers to make huge profits from high-priced flats.

Speaker after speaker from estate after estate got up and spoke about the lies, evasions and often illegal activities of London Labour councils bent on demolishing their council estates. Instead of looking after their working class populations Labour councils are time and time again forcing through demolition of council estates, enabling developers to make huge profits by building flats for sale largely at market rent, with a small proportion of high rent 'affordable' homes and a miserably small number of homes at social rent, promoting schemes which cut by thousands the number of council homes.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was castigated by Green Party co-leader and London Assembly's Housing Committee chair Sian Berry for having fast-tracked approval for 34 demolition schemes by Labour councils in the weeks before a new policy insisting residents should have ballots was adopted, for allowing some schemes to go forward without a ballot, and for failing to insist that all residents were allowed to take part in such ballots.

There were a few more positive contributions, notably from Haringey, where Labour activists have stopped a £2bn giveaway of public assets and put in new councillors in place of those who planned the scheme.

There was a loud protest by Class War when a well-known Labour supporter, Ted Knight, a former leader of Lambeth Council got up to speak. Class War make the point that it is Labour Councils who are responsible for the vast bulk of estate demolitions and social cleansing in London and that the Labour Mayor has acted to facilitate this.
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Save Our Libraries march

British Library, London. Sat 3 Nov 2018
People were beginning to gather for the march, but there were rather fewer than expected
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People gathered at the British Library for a march and rally against cuts in library services, which are a vital part of our cultural services, especially for working class schoolchildren and young people.

Over 100 libraries closed in 2017 and we need the Government to take action to stop and reverse library cuts. The event in support of libraries, museums and cultural services was organised by Unison and supported by PCS and Unite, but they had done very little publicity and the numbers were far fewer than expected.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the march began to a rally at Parliament, where more people arrived.
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Euston to Kings Cross Coal Drops

London. Sat 3 Nov 2018
I don't know why there is an arch here either
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A non-stop 'delayed' train into Waterloo meant I had more time than expected and arrived far too early and had time for a walk from Euston to the newly opened retail development in the former King's Cross coal drops.

As well as the remaining buildings that have been re-developed, the railway lines used to extend over the canal, and both sides of Camley St (then I think called Cambridge St) had coal drops along their length, where coal brought from the North in railway goods wagons was transferred into carts for delivery across London. The wagons were lifted and tipped and later had opening doors in their bottoms.

The walk also took me through some of London's more impressive council flats and past St Pancras Station.


London Images

Nov 2018

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