Photos: London Protests Against the Tories and Austerity

12.6.15

My son Tyler Worthington at an anti-austerity protest in May 2015 (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photo set on Flickr here!

Since the Tories got back into power, without even needing the Lib Dems for a coalition, thanks to the unfairness of the “first past the post” voting system, the largely corrupt and biased British media and the propensity of voters outside Scotland to vote Tory (and UKIP) in slightly larger numbers than Labour and the Green Party, it is obvious that any of us who care about society, community, the welfare state, the NHS, social housing, the working class, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, Muslims and immigrants have a huge fight on our hands for the next five years — unless, as is to be hoped, the Tories manage to tear themselves apart.

I confess that I was reassured that, the moment it became obvious that, with the support of just 24.4% of the electorate and 36.9% of those who voted, the Tories had managed to secure 50.8% of the seats in the General Election on May 7, spontaneous protests took place in London and Cardiff.

I think we need to be on the streets as much as possible, to show our discontent, and to remind ourselves that we are not alone, and I hope that the national anti-austerity protest in London on June 20, organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, will be as big as possible. The Facebook page is here.

In the meantime, I’ve been to a few recent protests — the People’s Assembly Against Austerity held a protest opposite 10 Downing Street on Wednesday May 27, the day of the State Opening of Parliament, at which I saw John Rees, one of the founders of the People’s Assembly, address the crowd. Another of the speakers was Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour, Islington North), who said, “Keep the spirit of that world you want to live in — not the nasty divided one we’re in.”

On Saturday May 30, other protests took place. My first stop was Trafalgar Square, where the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) was highlighting the strike by staff at the National Gallery, who are fighting to save their jobs against management’s plans to privatise 400 of the 600 PCS jobs at the gallery. The protest came during a ten-day strike, following 24 days of strikes since February, and those on strike are also calling for the reinstatement of PCS representative Candy Udwin, a tenacious activist who has been sacked.

I caught a powerful speech by PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka who said, “The National Gallery is a much-loved institution and it must be stopped from damaging its own reputation. It must halt this pointless privatisation and reinstate staff member and PCS rep Candy Udwin immediately. This could be the future for all of us unless we act now. As a new Tory government announces its intention to pass a union-busting bill, it is vital that this rally is also a mass protest against victimisation and attacks on our rights.”

I then made my way down Whitehall to another protest opposite 10 Downing Street, this one aimed primarily at defending the Human Rights Act against theTories’ vile plans to scrap it — plans which, as I explained in a detailed article here, would need us to leave the Council of Europe and the European Union if they are to be realised — as well as leaving us in a club of two in Europe, with the dictatorship Belarus, of countries that have turned their backs on human rights legislation.

The event was called The Great British Right Off! – Protest for the Human Rights Act, and the Facebook page explained that it involved “young trade unionists, students, the disabled and other campaigners and activists who strive for social justice and equality.”

At the protest, where I spent some time catching up on events with Labour campaigner Jos Bell, who I got to know when we were both campaigning to save Lewisham Hospital in 2012-13, I also met up with my son Tyler and his friends — including Louis Sills-Clare, the bassist in my band The Four Fathers — who had started their day at Waterloo where UK Uncut had also organised a protest. This involved activists hanging a 20-metre banner over the side of Westminster Bridge facing Parliament which read, “£12bn more cuts. £120bn tax dodged. Austerity is a lie.”

I’m glad that I managed to take photos of Tyler and Louis, as representatives of young people unwilling to although I concede that mine couldn’t compete with those taken for Vice Magazine, which I encourage you to have a look at.

So a final reminder: if you’re in London — or wiling to travel from elsewhere — I hope to see you a week on Saturday, June 20, for the huge anti-austerity march organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. We meet at the Bank of England, and start marching at noon, ending up at Parliament Square.

As the organisers explain on Facebook, where 64,000 people have already said they are going:

With the Tories going it alone in government we know exactly what to expect. More nasty, destructive cuts to the things ordinary people care about- the NHS, the welfare state, education and public services.

We’ll be assembling the demonstration in the heart of the City of London right on the doorstep of the very people who created the crisis in the first place, the banks and their friends in Westminster. We demand that the bankers and elite should pay for the crisis and not the vast majority who had nothing to do with it.

Now is the time to get organizing, to mobilize our communities, to prepare transport and spread the word. We need to do all that we can to make this demonstration bigger and bolder than ever we have done before.

See here for details of transport from across the country, and see here for information about the various blocs taking part in the demo.

A link to the photos is also below:

Dear Tory Party, don't be a**holes all your life

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers). He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, the co-director of “We Stand With Shaker,” calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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20 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Sanchez Montebello wrote:

    Nice to see the kids involved.
    It is in the best interest for their future.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Sure is, Sanchez. The young people need to say enough is enough. The good thing is that my son and his friends understand that there is much more to life than the lies of the corporations and the endless merry-go-round of materialism. I think they will be better equipped than many of “Blair’s children,” those who grew up between 1997 and the crash of 2008, believing, falsely, that we never had it so good.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Something about apples and trees 🙂

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Yes, thanks, David!

  5. damo says...

    I loved looking at the vice mag photos and it was great being there ….this world now belongs to the young….and God willing they wake up band together and rid the world of the monsters,the blaires,camerons,the corperates,…..young people this is your world ..don’t let it go to hell….

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Damo. Yes, the Vice photos are great photos, aren’t they? And yes, we all need the young people to rise up – those who see that they’re being herded into a life of subservience and materialism unless they revolt. Twice in recent memory school kids have rebelled, and been punished for it – during the Iraq War protests, in 2003, and in 2010 during the widespread opposition to the tripling of university tuition fees and the end of EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) for sixth-formers from poorer backgrounds. They need to do so again – although I understand how hard it is. The state school system is dedicated to suppressing dissent.

  7. damo says...

    The Tories are becomeing more sinnister by the day..IDs is rolling out at streatham job center ..mental health assesments by staff at the job center …..they are saying if you are unemployed your mad????

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Absolutely disgusting, Damo.
    As Johnny Void writes:

    A consensus has emerged amongst politicians, charity bosses and think tanks that unemployment, homelessness or living in poverty are themselves evidence of psychological defects. That if you are unable to find a job – or even worse don’t want one – then there must be something wrong with you, something that can be fixed. And if you are unemployed because you are sick, then becoming employed will cure you. It is utter fucking horseshit and flies in the face of the reality of a low pay economy where work is often bad for your health and four million people are chasing 700,000 jobs.

    See: https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/iain-duncan-smiths-first-re-education-centre-to-open-in-streatham-jobcentre/

  9. damo says...

    The Tories realy are like some form of ….subhumans…. Throwbacks, primatives, priverliged troglodites….this area shepards bush is now starting to become overun and…..infested…..by yuppies…..chelseas full, fulhams full, so now there infesting the bush, I watched last night a groupe of about 30 all I can describe them as young ….hooray henrys….young upper class …..they sat on the street opposite my house for two hours, screeming, screeching, shrieking….singing some kinda fuckwit rugby songs…they were looking for some party God knows this was at 7 pm …pissing in the street, leaving there trash everywere..just the level of dissrespect, the contempt.
    There are elderly peole liveing there …they only moved on when a couple of big black guys turned up ……and got heavey with them…….but this is wot were dealing with Andy this is the torie mentality …how and why are people not takeing to the streets and stringing up all the Tories…how…lol

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Horrible story, Damo, of the arrogant class that hasn’t any capacity for self-reflection. If this had been young men from the working class, the police would have been called.
    I think, unfortunately, deference is back in a big way in British society. You can see it in all the flags people wear or have on objects in their flats, you can see it in the approval ratings for the Royal Family, in the support for armed forces charities, in the ratings for Downton Abbey.
    On Facebook, a new friend just shared my anti-austerity photos and was criticised by a Tory, who wrote, “England has rejected Left Wing Socialism in favour of Centre Right politics. Holding protest marches in London is pointless, as it will not change the result. These socialist activists can’t even see that their actions are counter-productive, as this kind of ‘direct action’ reminds people of the dark days of mass strikes and violence in the 1970’s and 80’s, an era that lead [sic] to 17 years of Conservative Government. It didn’t work then, and it certainly won’t work now. All the general public see is a group of disorderly sore losers.”
    That’s a quietly smug endorsement of England as a right-wing nation – complete with the antique disapproval of the industrial action of the 70s – but it’s part of what we’re dealing with, unfortunately, from the dull, dull, dull conservatism of Middle England to your pissed-up Hooray Henrys in Shepherds Bush. Scotland went left, while England veered to the right, leaving the millions of us who didn’t vote for the Tories (or UKIP) largely unrepresented, as the leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party – and many, but not all of its MPs – continue to forget where the Party came from and who they’re supposed to represent.

  11. damo says...

    I hope your friend responded harshly to the facebook torie troll,….and tore a strip of……it……that’s the torie mentality anyone who dosent agree with them is a loser and must be punnished espeshialy if your on any kind of benefits and are weak and vulnerable …….never the stronge or tuff….oooh how the Tories love to kill small defenceless little animals. Mandy rice Davis ended the age of defrence in the 60s it seems we have come back full circle …and deference and the class system are back full time the so called breeding lol,lol,lol, or financial paid for …class…people over the last 50 years ………haven’t learned a fucking thing…….there like lambs to the slaughter…..led by the nose, yes master, no master, 3 bags full master,……just sheep…..I’m trying to stay opptamistic Andy I realy am but my God people are stupid right now…….not all thank god…….people are alive, full of love and hope, …..we more than ever need to start fighting back ….for real ….its now or never and be fanned with that foul torie troll.

  12. damo says...

    If you want to see a prime example of torie / posh cowardice ..have a look at ex torie / ukip mo Douglas carswell being escourted away from the anti torie protest …then whineing and blubbing to the press …it got nasty, realy nasty…..lo,lol,lol, pathetic….there’s a male…that’s like the majority of torie/ ukip males…..never had any guts …..or lead in its pencil, lol

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    My friend – a Muslim in the north west of England – was polite, Damo, but I’m not sure politeness works. These people are waging a war, but the other side isn’t fighting back.
    On a good note, I’m glad to see that Jeremy Corbyn got the nominations required to stand for the Labour Party leadership. He – and his close friend and colleague John McDonnell – really are what Labour MPs should be. I look forward to him being able to air his views as widely as possible, about the evils of austerity and how a left-wing approach is needed to take on the Tories and to restore hope to a society crippled by, on the one hand, rampant greed, and on the other, indifference or small-minded hatreds that fail to see the bigger picture.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Carswell really is an example of a UKIP opportunistic, isn’t he? Ignored in the Tory Party, he thought he’d make a name for himself with UKIP – or as UKIP, given that he’s their only MP!
    “Targeted by ‘murderous lynch mob'” was the Daily Mail’s ridiculous take on it, based on Carswell’s own words. Really, what a coward. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3099760/Ukip-MP-Douglas-Carswell-targeted-murderous-lynch-mob-anti-austerity-protesters-clash-police-outside-Parliament.html

  15. damo says...

    Where is the march takeing place on Saturday andy

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Damo,
    It begins at the Bank of England at 12, and then we march to Parliament Square.
    Here’s the map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zb3GvmkMsc94.km3K5vcR2yeo
    And the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/460624807433119/
    65K signed up, let’s hope that pans out. Those recent demos had 6,000 or 7,000 people saying they were going, then only about 300 turned up.
    Good idea to have it on the solstice, though. I always thought it should be a national holiday.
    Hope to see you there – and not just send messages to each other!

  17. damo says...

    I’m going let’s hope people do turn up en masse this time i’ll find you??

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I do hope so, Damo. If not we should meet anyway, but I’ll be on my bike and looking out for you.

  19. Cameron is a cock | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News says...

    […] the rich and the poor over the next five years. For my most recent article about austerity, see: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2015/06/12/photos-london-protes… And for my most recent photos, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/sets/72157652100358663 […]

  20. No to these dangerous cu*ts | Daily Photos says...

    […] the rich and the poor over the next five years. For my most recent article about austerity, see: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2015/06/12/photos-london-protes… And for my most recent photos, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/sets/72157652100358663 […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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