Photos: The Protest Against Theresa May Outside Downing Street, June 17, 2017

18.6.17

'Safe housing is a right not a privilege': a placard at the 'Protest Against Theresa May' outside Downing Street on June 17, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

See my photos on Flickr here!

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The text below is adapted from the accompanying text for my photos on Flickr.

Yesterday, I cycled into central London to join a ‘Protest Against Theresa May’ that had been called by the journalist Owen Jones and the writer Sara Hanna-Black, and that was attended by thousands of people.

I hope you have time to check out my photos, as there was no shortage of witty and angry placards aimed at Theresa May, especially after her disastrously poor response to the terrible fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London on Wednesday. For my response to the Grenfell disaster, see Deaths Foretold at Grenfell Tower: Let This Be The Moment We The People Say “No More” to the Greed That Killed Residents.

What a difference two months can make in politics. When Theresa May called a snap election at the start of April, she was 20 points ahead of Labour in the polls, and presumed that she would win a landslide victory. Then, on the campaign trail, she was wooden, aloof and unsympathetic, and her manifesto was a disaster, containing a provision for care funding for older people that was instantly dubbed the “dementia tax”, and was vilified by many of her own supporters, and even by the media that generally supported her unconditionally.

In the end, she lost her majority, requiring her to woo the religiously fundamentalist Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to stay in power, and fatally eroded her credibility, while Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s leader, found an enthusiastic welcome for his anti-austerity message. For more on this, see my article, Corbyn Rises, Theresa May Falls; Hard Brexit Now Looks Untenable.

May, meanwhile, clinging onto power, failed to provide leadership after the Grenfell fire, visiting the site and meeting the emergency services, but refusing to meet any of the survivors, in complete contrast to Jeremy Corbyn, who, as usual, showed the common touch — and evident empathy — that led to him increasing Labour’s share of the vote in the General Election by the largest margin since Clement Attlee after World War II.

How long, I have to ask, can Theresa May last? And, just as importantly, how can we make sure that a disaster like Grenfell can never happen again, given the corruption and profiteering of so many of those involved in providing social housing to poorer people in the UK? Those on whom unrelenting scrutiny must fall are in central government, in local government and in the various organizations that have largely taken over social housing from councils in the last 30 years; in particular, the arms’ length management organisations, like the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation that was responsible for Grenfell Tower.

Also see the photo set here:

Justice for Grenfell

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, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), 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).

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5 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, linking to my photos from yesterday’s ‘Protest Against Theresa May’ outside Downing Street, when thousands of people turned up to call for her resignation – many with angry, witty and creative placards. The protest was called after May’s dismal performance in the General Election, when, through her own incompetence and inability to connect with voters, she lost her majority, forcing her to try to cling onto power through an alliance with the the backwards-looking religious fundamentalists of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists Party. Some of the placards commented on this, but even more – like the one shown here – focused on her latest failure, which came about after the protest was first called, and involved her scandalous refusal to meet survivors of the Grenfell Tower inferno on Wednesday, a failure for which, I believe, she will never be forgiven. As I have recently stated with my band The Four Fathers, it is time to #StandDownTheresa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpVb06VXkOM

  2. Tom says...

    Good for you. While I hope protests are never violent, I can understand it if they were. Why? Yes, violence means you’ll probably have less credibility with those you’re trying to recruit to your cause. On the other hand, human beings can only take so much.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Tom. It was pretty disgusting when the right-wing media accused left-wing activists of hijacking the protests by residents, because it doesn’t take much empathy to understand why residents might be angry on their own terms, and why other people might also share that anger.

  4. Tom says...

    Hi Andy,

    Just to ask. Have you ever been hassled by any govt. agency in regards to your activism? Whether yes or no, stay safe.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    No, I haven’t been hassled, Tom. A lawyer friend in New York would say that’s because we have free speech but only as long as we’re not causing the authorities too much trouble. I guess I’m a manageable irritant!
    Thanks for your concern, by the way!

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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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