Among the groups demonstrating around Parliament Square on budget day were the PCS, 'Can't Pay Won't Pay', Stop the War and CND, the Democracy Village as well as the continuing Parliament Square Peace Campaign. London, UK. 22/06/2010
Among the groups demonstrating around Parliament Square on budget day were the PCS, 'Can't Pay Won't Pay', Stop the War and CND, the Democracy Village and the continuing Parliament Square Peace Campaign. London, 22/06/2010
So many things were happening around Westminster that it wasn't possible to photograph them all. I got to Downing St just as probably the biggest demonstration of all was packing up, with trade unionists and climate campaigners demonstrating against the coming cuts, having been held up taking pictures the Democracy Campers calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan and the save return home of the soldiers; after reading a list of the names of the 300 dead they made a short-lived attempt to stop the traffic for a minute of silence, but were quickly pushed back by police.
A little later I found a PCS demonstration outside the treasury and photographed that, and then later went with the Democracy campers along with their banner to the media village on College Green. Then along came the thirty or so 'Can't Pay Won't Pay' campaigners, with a coffin and a little street theatre (it even got them a short mention on the BBC) and I followed them back to Parliament Square, missing a couple of attempts by the campers to make citizens arrests of a Milliband and Ed Balls for their support of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.
By the time I did get back to College Green, that bit of action was just coming to an end, but King David was there - I'd met him earlier when he had been demonstrating with the PCS, and had just been the subject of a peculiarly
"potty plod" incident, the kind of thing that gives the police such a bad image with the public.
King David's career as a boxer (unbeaten in his fights) came to an end in 1994 when he lost his left eye and received horrific facial injuries as a result of a shotgun blast. One of the issues on which he has campaigned is gun violence, with proposals for practical action to cut down gang gun violence, which he accuses Mayor Boris Johnson of ignoring and treating him in a discriminatory way.
As a part of his very individual campaigning approach, he uses a part of a brass ornamental pistol, which you can see him holding in my picture. It's really difficult to think why any police officer should consider this to be a reason to search him under terrorist legislation, the reason given on the stop and search form he showed me. Incidents like this give the Met a bad name, and King David should at least receive an apology from the force, and the officer concerned some kind of reprimand, but I suspect it's unlikely to happen.
Of course there were politicians around, trying to look important, but mainly seeming rather boring (with the exception of Caroline Lucas) men in grey suits. Another set of men in gray suits came with placards and masks to protest about the housing crisis, with the lack of affordable homes made much more serious by the coalition's actions. And a man with a megaphone was lampooning the whole thing and getting some attention from the police who tried to move him away from the broadcasters while clearly trying to avoid arresting him.
Continuing at the centre of all this was the Parliament Square Peace Campaign (PSPC), there since June 2, 2001. Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker have been dragged into a court case brought on my the presence of the urging, and Brian was in court until the afternoon. The court had earlier refused to allow Mrs Tucker to give her evidence that the other protesters in the square had been used as 'agents provocateurs', allowed to misbehave by the police in order to give a pretext for the removal of the PSPC, which has previously been granted a legal right to remain.
One of the more ludicrous claims of the GLC case is the huge amount they say will be required to restore the square to its previous state after the clearance of the camp. As a regular visitor to what has for many years been one of the more neglected areas of London, I can attest that much of the grass has already recovered from the various events not connected with the camp that have taken place (as they do regularly) before the camp arrived, and that given a few days work by a couple of gardeners to break up some of the hardened earth path and perhaps a few handfuls of grass seeds the rest would soon revert to its normal rather poorly grassed state. Perhaps they based their claim on making available as an extra centre court for Wimbledon!
The last event before I left was a demonstration by Stop the War and CND, pointing out that the war in Afghanistan had cost more than £20 billion, and that a large saving could be made by deferring or cancelling the replacement of our Trident nuclear deterrent, for which there is no longer any possible military justification, presumably why it has been kept out of the military spending review.