my london diary index
 

May 2009

Spanish Practices in Regent St
Hizb ut-Tahrir protest War in Pakistan
Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan
A Day Off - Canal Walk
Demonstration against Police Violence
Rev Billy Performs at Downing St
Southern Yemenis Demonstrate
March to Defend Jobs, Services & Education
Photography Matters: NUJ Conference
Circle the City: Christian Aid
Walton on the Hill May Pageant
Pratt's Bottom May Queen
Derbyshire Interlude
Strangers Into Citizens
Banstead Village May Queen
Guilty: G20 Protesters Hand Themselves In
Visteon Picket KPMG Over Pensions
May Day March & Rally

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Spanish Practices in Regent St

Regent St, London, Sun 31 May, 2009
The Prado was displaying prints of its best-known works
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The 'Taste of Spain' festival in Regent Street seemed rather bland as well as rather too crowded in places. The display of pictures from the Prado in Madrid largely attracted attention because of the female nudity in some of the works (and it's a shame that Ruskin had apparently not studied this work in detail before his wedding night, which might then have been less of a shock to his system.) Quite a few people posed in front of it to have their picture taken - but by their friends rather than by me.

Reproductions of works of art such as this raise an important point of copyright. Firstly, Goya's painting although owned by the Prado is in the public domain in copyright terms, as he died over 70 years ago. As the reproduction of it was intended to be a faithful 2D representation - which clearly was intended - it lacks the artistic intent necessary for copyright to exist and so is also in the public domain. However copyright lawyers in the employ of many museums and photographic agencies who make money selling or licencing art reproductions take a rather diffferent view of intellectual property law.
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Hizb ut-Tahrir protest US War in Pakistan

US Embassy - Pakistan High Commission, London. Sun 31 May, 2009

Speaker reaching up to the US Eagle at the front of the Embassy in Grosvenor Square
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Over a thousand Muslims marched from a rally outside the US Embassy in London to the Pakistan High Commission this afternoon (Sunday 31 May) in protest against the attacks by the Pakistani army in Swat. The protest, organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, called these attacks an "American War", blaming them on American pressure on the Pakistan government and called for an immediate end to attacks by Muslims on Muslims.

As they marched, the protesters chanted a long list of slogans in English and Arabic, including "Zandar's shameful treachery obeying America's Policy", "One Million Muslim Refugees Left their Homes Forced to Flee" and "Muslim Killing Muslim is Haram, Save Yourself from this Harm."

Taji Mustafa, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain said, "At the behest of America, the Zardari regime is creating a disastrous civil war in Pakistan leading to the loss of her sons in the army, the death of men, women and children in Swat and the displacement of over 1.5 million Muslims in order to further America’s agenda of weakening Pakistan. The root cause of this bloodshed is Obama’s expansion of America’s war on terror and Zardari’s collusion with the US against the people of Pakistan."

Hizb ut-Tahrir's major objective is the replacement of the present corrupt rulers of Muslim countries - including Pakistan - by an Islamic Khilafah (Caliphate) that will be independent of Western influence.

The march was in support of Hizb ut-Tahrir rallies taking place on the same day in several cities in Pakistan.

The London march was split into three groups, with men in the front and rear and women in the centre group. During the two rallies, the women stood well to one side and all of those speaking were men.

We've seen Muslim women increasingly taking an active role in British society, working as doctors, teachers, lawyers and playing an active role in politics - for example in the Stop the War movement. Surely any modern caliphate - such as Hizb ut-Tahrir want to establish will need to have a proper respect for human rights, including the rights of women, although an Islamic interpretation of this may well differ in some respects from a Western one. It's very hard not to agree with Hizb ut-Tahrir when it talks about the corrupt regimes currently leading Muslim countries, but it would also be welcome to see them standing against repression - and in particular the repression of women - that is currently practicised in places including Swat and states such as Iran. Listening to the voices of women at their rallies would perhaps be a good starting point.
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Wedding 'Die-In' Against Afghanistan War

Northwood, Middlesex. Wednesday 27 May, 2009

A bloodstained 'bride' lies on a cold wet road outside London's Afghanistan War Base
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Two years ago today, on May 27, 2007, US forces in Afghanistan bombed a wedding party at Haji Nabu, killing 47 civilians; just one of numerous wedding parties massacred by NATO or US forces. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by US/NATO forces in the war, and earlier this month, on May 4, around 120 civilians, mainly women and children were killed in an attack in Farah province.

To mark these killings and call for an end to the killing in Afghanistan, protesters from Voices in the Wilderness UK, Justice Not Vengeance and London and Oxford Catholic Workers organised a 'die-in', an act of non-violent civil disobedience close to the main gate of 'HMS Warrior', the land-based Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood in London from which Britain's forces in Afghanistan are commanded.

It was a cold, wet morning when around 30 demonstrators, dressed for a wedding and including two brides and grooms, met at Northwood station for a march to the base. There were considerably more police than demonstrators, and after some negotiation the police agreed that the march would be allowed to proceed to a wide verge 200 metres from the main gate of the base.

On the way there were further discussions about the exact route, but after threatening to block the road with a 'die-in' the march was allowed to reach the road opposite the grass verge on which the police had wanted them to protest, and their path to the main gate, a short distance further on was blocked by a line of police.

The march organisers had previously decided they would stage the 'die-in' at the point they were stopped by the police from going further, and around half the demonstrators lay down on the road. Fortunately the organisers had come with a supply of black bin bags to put on the wet surface, but it was still cold and uncomfortable, and the rain, although light, was steady.

The rest of the protesters began a reading of the names of civilians killed in Afghanistan from the side of the road. Among those taking part in the protest were Maya Evans and Milan Rai who were arrested in 2005 for reading out the names of Iraqis and British soldiers killed in the Iraq War, opposite the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Rai became the first person to be convicted under SOCPA for organising an unauthorised demonstration in the vicinity of Parliament. Also present was Hillingdon MP John McDonnell

The Hertfordshire police had previously given a warning under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. They gave a further warning once people had 'died' on the roadway, but stood watching. After around 15 minutes, a second officer gave a warning that unless people cleared the road they would be moved, and said that they had 5 minutes to decide. Twenty minutes later a final warning was issued, and then groups of police moved to each protester on the road in turn. Each was told they were committing an offence and that unless they moved they would be carried to the side of the road, and that if they attempted to move back on to the road they would be arrested.

Several demonstrators got up and walked to the side, but most waited for the police to move them, which appeared to be done firmly but with minimum force. At one point the officer in charge directed his men to deal with one man before the other remaining protesters because he was obviously shivering and suffering from the cold. And as a photographer the Hertfordshire police made a pleasant change from the Met. For once I was only told to get out of the way when I was really in the way. There were some FIT officers from the Met present - let's hope they take some intelligence back to their force about how to police protest.

I saw one man who came back on the roadway being arrested and led away, but I was told that there were five other arrests of people who had defied the police injunction not to move back onto the road.

The organisers had intended that the 'die-in' should last an hour; it began at 12.22 and the removal by police started at 12.58 and was complete by 13.08, just three-quarters of an hour after the start. A few minutes later the police agreed to let the protesters march back down the road to the station.
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A Day Off - Canal Walk

Grand Union Canal: Wendover and Aylesbury. Mon 25 May, 2009
A day out from London . Path by a disused section of the Wendover arm of the Grand Union Canal - at left
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I spent the bank holiday on a walk with family in the country, not far to the north of London, though it seemed like a different country. Had I known it was going to be around 18 miles I might have turned down the invitation, but at least being a canal walk it was mainly flat.

Starting from Tring station we walked north on the main line of the Grand Union then turned down the Wendover Arm. The canal was closed in 1897, 100 years after its opening, and the first 1.3 miles reopened in 2005. The next section of around 1.7 miles is expected to be completed in 2010, but you can walk the full 6.7 miles to Wendover as we did. After taking a walk around Wendover we took the train to Aylesbury, where we spent another hour or so wandering around the town centre before walking the six miles of the Aylesbury Arm back to the Grand Union, and after a short stop at a canal-side pub in Bulborne, the two and a half miles back to Tring station.

The canals are of course not without interest. In the age they were built a considerable investment in manpower, money and engineering, and making a great impact on the economy, lives and landscape. Our guidebook tells us that when the canal to Aylesbury opened in 1814, the cost of coal in that town was immediately halved.

One of the leading British photographers of the mid-20th century, Eric de Maré (1910-2002), whose Penguin guide to photography published in 1957 got many of us started, played an important role in reviving interest in the canals as their commercial role was fading. In 1948 he made a 600 mile boat journey, photographing and documenting them, publishing his The Canals of England in 1950. It was a significant contribution to the start of canal cruising as a leisure pursuit, now the main role of our canal system.
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National Demonstration against Police Violence

Trafalgar Square to New Scotland Yard. Saturday 23 May, 2009
The front of the march in Parliament Square
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Around a thousand people took part in a National Demonstration against Police Violence in London yesterday (Saturday 23 May,) organised by the United Campaign Against Police Violence, set up following the G20 demonstration in London in which Ian Tomlinson, a man not taking part in the demonstration, was assaulted by police and died.

The coalition includes trade unionists and activists involved in organising the G20 Meltdown demonstration as well as campaigners against deaths in police custody. Among those taking part were the families of two men who died in Brixton Police Station, Ricky Bishop and Sean Rigg.

Ricky Bishop, a 25 year old black man died after being detained and brought into the police station in 2001. Sean Rigg, also black - like the majority of those who have died in custody - was taken into Brixton police station in August last year (2008) and within hours this fit 40 year old was dead. Police issued a number of misleading statements - as in the case of Ian Tomlinson, and failed to make a timely investigation.

The protest was led by a coffin with a brass plate "FOR ALL OUR LOVED ONES WHO DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY", and included a giant red figure representing one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - who led the four marches that converged on the Bank of England in the G20 demonstration. Prominent in the march and rally were Professor Chris Knight and Sean Rigg's two sisters, Marcia and Samantha.

This time the march led to New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, and as a protest against the police practice of "kettling" - surrounding protests and preventing anyone leaving or entering, sometimes for 8 hours or more, the protesters held hands to surround the building. There was a minute of silence for Ian Tomlinson and all those who have died in police care, and then a symbolic release of black balloons.

Although in general the police were on their best behaviour through the event, joking with press and protesters and making arrangements for the event to proceed safely, there a very large police presence, particularly around New Scotland Yard, and an almost surreal intervention during the final rally, when a police van drove up and a woman officer interrupted proceedings to read a statement telling everyone their presence was illegal. For a few moments it looked as if this might provoke a violent reaction from the otherwise peaceful crowd, but fortunately things soon quietened down.
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Rev Billy Performs at Downing St

Downing St, Whitehall, London. Saturday 23 May, 2009

"Officer, I can see you have a shopping problem"

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The Reverend Billy and his 'Life After Shopping' Gospel choir from New York were busy in London today on their 2009 UK Shopocalypse Tour.

I met them at Downing St, where they gave a brief performance, although unfortunately Gordon Brown wasn't at home. The police at this high security site, now hidden behind tall gates with armed guards, obviously didn't quite know how to handle the holy activists, and the officer who stopped the Reverend to question him failed to make much progress - other than being diagnosed by Billy as having a "shopping problem."

The Church of Life After Shopping believes that we need to "back away from the product" and resist the way that advertising and the media persuade us to live only thorough consuming corporate products, and get down to experiencing life directly.

We can live more by consuming less - and at the same time help save the planet and put an end to climate change, which is a result of our excessive consumption. It's a message that comes from New York, and Americans consume far more than people in other countries, but the UK also has much higher levels of consumption than are sustainable in the future, particularly if we want (or are forced) to move towards a fairer sharing of resource usage between rich and majority worlds.

Downing St was of course a key site at which to protest consumerism, which has been central to the expansion of our economy, but in many ways we now see to be a false God. As Billy says, following the G20 summit and the pathetic waste and greed shown in the continuing parliamentary allowances scandal, our government and MPs are clearly in need of the Life After Shopping Gospel.

Amen indeed brother!
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Southern Yemenis Demonstrate For a Separate State

Downing St, Whitehall, London. Saturday 23 May, 2009

Demonstrators in the pen on Whitehall

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Several people were killed in and many injured Aden last week when demonstrations there marked the 15th anniversary of the unsuccessful attempt by the southern Yemen leader Ali Salem al-Beidh to end the union with the north, which led to the 1994 civil war, lost by the South.

Southern Yemenis from the Southern Democratic Assembly (TAJ), based in London, demonstrated at Downing St in London on Saturday, calling for an end to the union.
They claim that the government has marginalized the South, and uses repressive methods to control the south.

Slogans on display in the London demo were mainly in Arabic, but those in English included:

Southern Yemen, a former British protectorate including Aden and the surrounding area, was granted independence as a socialist republic in 1967, and changed its name to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen two years later. North Yemen, under Ottoman rule until 1918, was a kingdom until 1962 when it became the Yemen Arab Republic. A decision in principle had been made in 1972 to unite the two countries, and this took place in 1990, when the present Republic of Yemen was formed.

Southern Yemen has most of the oil reserves of the country and other resources. TAJ accuse the Government of grabbing land and property and of human rights abuses.

Southern Yemeni leader al-Beidh, in a speech broadcast on Aljazeera, said "The national government has betrayed the people of the south. It has taken the land and resources as war booty, and has turned the south from a partner into occupied."

Other commentators suggest that people in other areas of Yemen are equally dissatisfied with the government and that looting by the military as well as chronic poverty and endemic corruption is nationwide. Yemen is a country racked by factionalism and tribalism, and many feel any the secession of the south would lead to a complete breakdown of the state.

The Yemen is a very highly militarised state, and its break-up could threaten the stability of its neighbour Saudi Arabia. The area might become a haven for Al-Qaeda terrorists - a future Afghanistan, and it could also threaten the efforts to stop Somali pirates.

Many critics of the government call for a crackdown on corruption, a change in the constitution which would give areas such as South Yemen a greater autonomy over their own affairs, and to hand power to a progressive coalition. The US government is among those putting pressure on the Yemenis to make changes.
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March to Defend Jobs, Services and Education

Highbury Fields to Archway, London. Saturday 23 May, 2009

The march on Holloway Road

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Around five hundred workers in North London took part in a march and rally to defend jobs, services and education on Saturday 23 May, 2009, walking from Highbury Fields to a rally at Archway, where speakers included local MP Jeremy Corbyn and local trade union learers.

The march was prompted by the loss of 1500 jobs in the area, including 550 mainly support workers from London Metropolitan University, 500 civil servants from Archway tower and more at City University, where adult education is under threat. The marchers included teachers and lecturers, students and support staff, civil servants and supporters. It was supported by many local groups including the Islington National Union of Teachers, the Public & Commercial Services Union, London Metropolitan University Unison and the University and College Union.

As well as the loss in jobs, these cuts also particularly threaten courses and provision such as nurseries that enable many students who have missed out on education a chance to gain qualifications.
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Photography Matters: NUJ Photographers Conference

Institute of Education, London. Monday 18 May, 2009

Met public order supremo Commander Bob Broadhurst listens as photographers attack policing in London
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The NUJ's second Photographers' Conference turned out to be rather more interesting than the first, which at times seemed to be more an Adobe shop window than anything else. I think there was one technical presentation, on colour management, but most of us were busy eating lunch.

With two of the sessions split into alternative groups I couldn't hear everything, but in the morning we got both some enlightenment and enjoyment. Paul Herrmann of Redeye included some good advice, but it was all a little too much about becoming the next Martin Parr for my taste (no offence to Martin, but there are other roads.) Nick McGowan-Lowe gave a very sound presentation on how to ensure your web site works for your business (this one does almost nothing for mine.) David Hoffman, one of the few speakers not to use pictures, started by talking about his 30 years of building his business as "a client-free zone" and went on to consider the future and the possibilities of surviing the avalanche by surfing on it , getting into the latest developments and going with them. It was perhaps the most challenging speech of the day.

Kevin Cooper's notes on covering demonstrations were a useful reminder, particularly for the more dangerous events, coming from his experience in Northern Ireland. The handout also included information on trauma and on the International Press Card issued by the International Federation fo Journalists, vital for those working abroad.

Penny Tweedie's romp through her career after the coffee-free break was highly entertaining as well as provoking thought. Only around 40 years ago the NUJ had stepped in to stop her getting a staff job in Fleet Street - on the grounds that she was a woman and thus wouldn't be able to cope with the difficult jobs that might come her way, particularly when she was the only photographer on the night shift. She set out to show them she could and certainly did.

Another thought-provoking incident came during the India-Pakistan war in 1971, when she was one of the group of photographers who walked away from an incident when they thought that their presence was actively provoking violence against prisoners - seconds before the bayoneting that got Horst Faas and Michel Laurent a Pulitzer Prize.

After lunch - which gave us a chance to look at the 2009 NUJ Photography Matters exhibition - came law and order, with Rupert Grey and Emma Hulme giving us a detailed view of the legal position and Jeff Moore and Paul Stewart presenting a slide show of police behaving well and, more commonly, badly on the street.

The came Commander Bob Broadhurst, very much sticking his head into the lion's den. His address came to an early end in uproar after he talked about the "phalanx of cameras" getting in the way of police at the G20 and added "I don't know whether, or what vetting system there is for holding an NUJ card, can anybody apply for an NUJ card who has a camera?"

Two hundred people jumped up to tell him that it isn't such a thing as an NUJ card, but a UK Press Card, issued by gatekeepers for the UK Press Card Authority under a scheme recognised by the Association of Chief Police Officers, and only available to bona fide newsgathers who have to work in public situations. But despite this clarification, Broadhurst continued to show his scepticism in several later remarks.

After the police actions against journalists at the G20 demonstrations, where police deliberately targetted photographers, Broadhurst must have expected a difficult time, and he got it. One photographer described how a police officer in riot gear told him he didn't care he was press as he held up his press card and proceeded to hit him with his truncheon, fracturing his arm. Another raised the incident on May 2 when and officer threated a group of around 20 photographers behind a police cordon with arrest under the Public Order Act unless they went away for half an hour when the police wanted to set dogs on some protesters. The official police excuse that they were unaware that those concerned were press, lacked conviction as the video of the event records the officer starting his threat with the words "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press."
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Circle the City: Christian Aid Sponsored Walk

City of London, Sunday 17 May, 2009
Other walkers leave a pre-walk service at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside

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Sunday afternoon I followed a woman with a red balloon on a six mile (10 km) trail around the city, or rather two cities of London and Southwark, which led us to around 30 different ritual locations. We gained access to many of these and in several were offered drinks and food.

It was Christian Aid's 'Circle the City' a fund-raising sponsored stroll from church to church to church... the woman was rather well known to me and all I got to drink was tea, coffee and lemon squash, though the asparagus quiche at All Hallows by the Tower was delicious.

In the course of our walk we got to see - if only rather briefly - the interiors of some of Wren's finest, and one or two by other architects. And the event at the end of Christian Aid Week had raised a considerable amount for the projects that Christian Aid supports in the majority world.
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Walton on the Hill May Pageant

Walton on the Hill, Surrey. Saturday 16 May, 2009

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Almost 30 different groups took part in the procession which forms a part of Walton on the Hill's May Fayre, including the Vicar and her church choir sitting on hay bales in a cart pulled by a tractor, various school and nursery groups, youth groups and more. And there's a May Queen in a car with her rather mixed entourage in a Youngs brewery dray. You can see more pictures about the May Queen that I took here in 2007.

This May Pageant was started (or 'revived') forty years ago in 1969 and seems to enjoy wide popular support unlike many similar carnivals elsewhere, with crowds in the streets following it, making it hard to take pictures.

By the time I'd reached the fairground at the end of the procession I was feeling rather tired, and it was time to find somewhere to sit and have a drink before going home, so this time I didn't photograph the events after the procession.
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Pratt's Bottom May Queen

Pratt's Bottom, Bromley, London. Saturday 16 May, 2009

Chislehurst May Queen waiting for start of procession at Pratt's Bottom
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It was cold dismal and spitting with rain when we arrived at Pratt's Bottom near Orpington, and the recreation ground was empty, but soon people began to turn up for the procession tothe Village Fete. As well as a cadet marching band and Miss Bromley, the procession also included May Queen groups from Green Street Green, Orpington, Pett's Wood and Pratts Bottom itself (although all the maps show it as Pratt's Bottom, those in the village seem to prefer it without the apostrophe.) Pratt's Wood seems very much out in the country and its May Queen group seems to be the outler among the groups which take part in the London May Queen.

Fortunately the rain stopped and the sun came out for the procession up the hill to the Fete, but the band at the front set a cracking pace, probably to warm themselves up, and the smaller members of the Queens' retinues had a job keeping up.

At the top of the hill was the usual fete (here are more pictures from last years rather wetter event) around the green, and in a brief ceremony this year's Pratt's Bottom May Queen was crowned by last year's queen, and Miss Bromley officially opened the fete, while I left to go to another May Fayre.
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Derbyshire Interlude

Curbar & Baslow, Derbyshire

Dry stone walls, fields, trees, cows, sky

A few pictures from Derbyshire where I went to a conference
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Strangers Into Citizens

Lambeth to Trafalgar Square, London. Monday 4 May, 2009

The march comes up Whitehall towards the rally in Trafal;gar Square
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Strangers into Citizens calls for a pathway to give long term irregular migrants a right to earn indefinite leave to stay in this country. Current best estimates are that around 725,000 people are currently living in the UK without a documented right to remain. They include asylum seekers whose cases have not been determined or who have been refused but have not been removed and those who have stayed on after temporary visas or permission to stay has expired.

Strangers into Citizens propose that these 'undocumented' migrants who have been in this country for more than four years should be elegible for a two-year work permit. At the end of this they should, "subject to criteria such as an English language test, a clean criminal record and valid references from an employer and community sponsor" be granted indefinite leave to remain.

These people are with us, many taking a valuable and active part in the communities in which they live. An amnesty for them makes sense on moral, religious, practical and economic grounds - at current removal rates it would take over 30 years and cost around £8bn to forcibly remove them, and they make a positive contribution to our economy.

Tens of thousands of supporters, mainly migrants came together in a march to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Many of them had earlier been at religious services in seven different locations in London. I joined the mainly Latin American march at North Lambeth - it had started at the Elephant and it joined up with most of the rest of the marchers at Parliament Square.

There were many - too many - speakers at Traflagar Square, representing the huge range of support for the proposal from religious, polictical and trade union groups as well as various ethnic groups and migrants from a number of countries. The rally ended with musical performances and a lively troupe of dancers.
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Banstead Village May Queen

Banstead, Surrey. May 2, 2009

The May Queen group in the procession to The Orchard for the crowning
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This was the 25th year of the Banstead May Queen, and there were a dozen or so of the previous May Queens taking part. The event is a part of the Banstead May Fayre and the procession includes all sorts of of other groups from the area as well as the May Queen and her retinue.

The procession goes the length of the High St to the roundabout and then back to The Orchard, a large grassed area in front of the Parish Church, where the fair is held. This year's Queen was crowned in a very brief ceremony by last year's May Queen and then she proceeded to make a short speech thanking various people for their contribution to the event, including her mother. This year she had the added duty to present gifts to the previous May Queens who had come to the event.

Displays of country dancing, maypole dancing and other performances then continued in the arena, while around there was a large area of stalls run by local groups - a typical large garden fete. This is obviously a very popular event in Banstead with around a thousand people coming out to watch the procession.
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Guilty - G20 Protesters Hand Themselves In

Bank, City of London. 1 May 2009

Protester dressed as 'Metropolitan Peace' threatens photographer with baton
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The Space Hijackers organised 'Guilty', an event starting at Bank at 17.04, inviting people to come dressed either as guilty criminals or as police, and for the guilty to give themselves in. This was a protest against the police violence in attacking largely peaceful demonstrators on April 1. Although a much smaller event, those present were the core of the G20 demonstrators, including some of the G20 Meltdown organising group who had brought their maypole for some May Day celebrations.

This time the police simply lined up in front of some of the more vulnerable sites in the area and stood back and watched. With no police provocation or attacks, this was a good-natured and peaceful event for the whole of the time I was there.

Had the police taken a similar laid-back approach on April 1, contenting themselves with protecting obviously vulnerable key sites - such as the RBS branch in Threadneedle St - there would probably have been little more trouble. Kettling - the surrounding and detention of groups of people, provocative actions by FIT teams and forcing people to remove masks, the use of riot police, dogs and police horses, police charges against media and demonstrators and related actions led to a great deal of minor injury as well as the death of an unfortunate bystander who was caught up in the police violence.

And of course to some damage to property. The most vulnerable and likely target for the small minority of demonstrators out to cause damage to property was only defended by a realtively small number of police compared with the huge forces confining demonstrators into an area where trouble was likely.

A number of those at 'Guilty' had brought kettles as a protest, and some made a carbon-neutral wood fire to boil up on and had a tea party. I'm pleased to be able to report that Marina wasn't a 'Miffy' and the biscuits were rather nice.
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Visteon Picket KPMG Over Pensions

Salisbury Square, London. 1 May 2009

Sacked Visteon worksers brought their banners to protest at administrators KPMG
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Although the sacked VIsteon workers have obtained imporved severance payments through fighting for their rights, there are still problems with their pensions. UK law doesn't adequately protect the funds paid in by employer and employee from unscrupulous managements, and pension funds can disappear. After the May Day rally, some former Visteon employes made their way to Fleet Street where they demonstrated outside the offices of the company administrator, KPMG, calling for their pension funds to be made avaialble in full to provide future pensions for the ex-employees.
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May Day March & Rally

Clerkenwell Green & Trafalgar Square, London. 1 May 2009
The march was as usual started at Clerkenwell Green
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May Day should be a Bank Holiday, but instead we have a silly 'not quite May Day' on the first monday of the month. But trade unionists and various communist groups, particularly from the Turkish and Kurdish communities celebrate International Workers Day with a march through London and a rally at Trafalgar Square on May 1.

This year's event was a little more complicated, with an anarchist rally and a May celebration complete with maypole by the G20 Meltdown organisers also taking part on Clerkenwell Green. There was a small autonomous group on the march but most of the anarchists decided they would continue their meeting in the pub.

One controversial group on the march was the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, JVP, a Sinhalese group formed in 1965 as a nationalist, Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party. It 1971 it led an unsuccesful revolution in which 15,000 young people were killed, and it was proscribed, but later emerged to take part in democratic politics at local and national level, becoming part of the government in 2004. In 2005 the JVP lent their support to the new Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, enabling him to form a majority government in return from a promise by him not to grant the division into federal states demanded by the LTTE which could have been the basis for a succesful peace settlement in the country. The alternative was the stepping up of miilitary activity to annihilate the Tigers now close to conclusion.

I had a few technical problems - like one of my older lenses deciding to stop focusing properly and then lbasically fall to pieces during the morning and . So there are a few less pictures from the Clerkenwell Green than usual. Later I managed to get it to more or less work with a little brute force and manual focus.

The rally at Trafalgar Square was frankly rather dull - and numbers in the square thinned out rapidly well before the end. Those leaving early missed a powerful address from one of the Visteon workers, as well as a vintage performance from Tony Benn, who seemed much livelier than at most recent events.
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