Nine Months After the Entirely Preventable Grenfell Tower Fire, UN Housing Rapporteur Says UK Government May Have Breached Residents’ Human Rights

The Silent Walk for Grenfell, December 14, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.


Today, survivors of the Grenfell Tower Fire last June — and supporters from across London —  are taking part in a Silent Walk that begins outside the offices of Kensington and Chelsea Council and ends by the blackened skeleton of the tower, where over 70 people died. The fire should never have happened, but did so because safety standards have been fatally eroded over many years by those responsible for the safety of tenants and leaseholders — central government, local government, management companies that have taken over the management of swathes of social housing, and contractors.

For me, the fire was the defining moment of 2017, and in summer I wrote a song about it, remembering those whose lives were “so needlessly lost”, and calling for ”those who only count the profit not the human cost” to be held accountable. Three members of my band The Four Fathers — myself, Richard Clare and Mark Quiney, accompanied by my son Tyler beatboxing — were recorded playing the song by a German film crew in autumn. We released it as a video in December, and I’m pleased to note that it currently has nearly 1,500 views on YouTube (posted below) and on Facebook. Please watch it, and share it if you like it. We hope to make a studio recording soon, and would be delighted to hear from anyone in the Grenfell community who would like to be involved, as we would love it to be used to help the survivors.

Yesterday, over 150,000 of us also received notification that Parliament will debate the terms of the official Grenfell Inquiry on May 14, which, presumably, the government hasn’t recognized as marking exactly eleven months since the fire. The date has been set in response to a petition to the government, launched at the end of November, which stated, “Bereaved families & survivors call on PM to exercise her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint additional panel members with decision making power to sit alongside Chair in Grenfell Tower Inquiry: to ensure those affected have confidence in & are willing to fully participate in the Inquiry.”

Petitions are eligible for debate when they reach 100,000 signatures, and thanks are due to Stormzy for promoting it last month, when his request for support for the petition, following his extraordinary appearance at the Brits, when he tore into Theresa May for her failures on Grenfell, helped the petition get around 100,000 signatures in a single day.

Criticism by Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

Last week, the government — and the British political establishment in general — faced further criticism from the United Nations, when Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, told the Guardian she was “concerned that international human rights standards on housing safety may have been breached, and could have been a factor in the causes of the tragedy last June,” as the newspaper described it.

Farha, a Canadian lawyer, who has been the UN’s unpaid housing investigator since 2014, was in London last week “on an informal visit to meet Grenfell survivors and local residents, at the invitation of human rights law academics and activists,” and, as the Guardian put it, she was “concerned that residents had told her they had been excluded from decisions about housing safety issues before the fire and had not been engaged ‘in a meaningful way’ by the authorities about their views and needs in its aftermath.”

She said she had been struck by survivors’ “feelings of not being heard, of feeling invisible, and not being treated like equal human beings,” adding, “I’m concerned when I have residents saying to me they feel they are not being heard and that they are not always being treated like human beings. Those are the fundamentals of human rights: voice, dignity, and participation in solutions to their own situations.”

As the Guardian described it, she also said that “[s]afety standards in the tower – from the types of cladding used on the building to electrical circuits and ease of access to the building for fire and rescue vehicles – may have breached residents’ human rights to safe and secure housing.”

The Guardian also mentioned the terms of the inquiry, noting that the government “faces increasing criticism from survivors’ groups, residents and local politicians over what they feel is an unrepresentative and overly rigid official inquiry, headed by the retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.”

Farha said that her visit “was not to make a formal assessment of Grenfell,” in the Guardian’s words, but she stressed that she was “concerned that survivors and local residents had been stereotyped and discriminated against on the basis that they lived in social housing,” which “meant they may have been treated less as people with human rights, and more as objects of charity.”

As she put it, striking to the heart of the dreadful inequality that currently reigns, almost unchecked, in the UK, “Residents told me they feel the government’s position is that they should feel lucky that they are going to be rehoused and that they should feel lucky that they had social housing. That doesn’t suggest residents feel the government recognises them as rights holders. The fact that so many residents have said to me they are not being treated as human beings is suggestive of a society that is structured in a way where those in social housing are viewed perhaps as counting less. And that is deeply troubling.”

It is indeed deeply troubling, but it is also accurate, as I can confirm as a long-term resident of social housing. Over the years, social housing — genuinely affordable housing — has gone from being regarded as an important service, in which councils provided as much non-profit housing as possible, as an antidote to the profiteering of private landlords, to something that should only be used by the neediest and the most desperate. That this is a trick ought to be apparent from the fact that, as this narrative has developed, an insane housing bubble has also been allowed to develop, so that more and more people cannot afford mortgages, and are being strangled by unfettered private rents imposed by landlords whose greed is not challenged by any existing legislation. The need for not-for-profit social housing is, therefore, greater than it has been since at least the 1960s, although for the levels of inequality we’re now looking at, the increase in homelessness and the nature of the everyday struggles faced by so many people, it is starting to be more accurate to look back to the Victorian era for where the British political establishment thinks Britain in the 21st century should be.

Farha questioned whether regarding social tenants as inferior “may have influenced the decision to fit the tower with cheaper cladding that turned out to be flammable, reportedly to save £300,000,” as the Guardian put it. As she said, “If the population wasn’t viewed as somehow undeserving, as really lucky to receive the benevolence of state support for housing, if they were viewed as rights holders, I just wonder if that same decision would have been made.”

The Guardian also noted that Farha “has been a persistent critic of what she calls the ‘financialisation’ of housing, by which unregulated global capital is allowed to pour billions into exclusive, hyper-expensive new property developments in cities such as London, excluding local residents from local housing, pushing up rents and and fuelling housing instability,” and in February 2017 the newspaper ran a profile of her, under the heading, ‘Housing should be seen as a human right. Not a commodity.’

At the time, Farha was presenting a paper on housing commoditisation to the UN human rights council in Geneva, and the Guardian noted that her report included an analysis of Kensington, “a prime location for rich investors,” where the “numbers of vacant homes rose by 40% between 2013 and 2014 alone.” Her report stated, “In such markets the value of housing is no longer based on its social use. The housing is as valuable whether it is vacant or occupied, lived in or devoid of life. Homes sit empty while homeless populations burgeon.”

In the February 2017 profile, Farha used the phrase “residential alienation,” which, the Guardian noted, was borrowed from In Defence of Housing, a book by David Madden and Peter Marcuse: “In Vancouver, people were telling me they live in neighbourhoods where this house is empty because it’s been bought as an asset, this is occupied, this one’s empty and this one’s empty. So you have no neighbours, you have schools closing down because there aren’t enough students to go to the school; so your children, if you live in one of these vacated neighbourhoods, are not going to school in your community any more. Shops are closing, restaurants are closing. You see immediately a loss of vibrancy.” The analysis is remarkably similar to that put forward in ‘This dire Battersea Power Station development is genuinely dystopian,’ Owen Hatherley’s new article for the Architects’ Journal, about the horrible Battersea Power Station development, in which he states:

This is where it ends; developers offering cars to investors as incentives to buy flats in what were once meant to be pedestrian-based walkable cities, with empty private cinemas in barely occupied towers, and with what one estate agent describes as ‘empty rooftop bars with no one living at home to buy drinks at them’.

And, whereas many of the luxury riverside developments have been on industrial wastes with few landmarks, here, it is happening around one of the most recognisable and best-loved buildings in London, suffocating it with utterly useless, barely inhabited luxury living solutions, in a city where homelessness has got to the point you can barely move now without walking past people sleeping rough. It is genuinely dystopian. How did things get this bad?

Returning to Grenfell, Leilani Farha “said it felt symbolic that Grenfell Tower was in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the wealthiest and most socially unequal boroughs in the capital,” as the Guardian put it. She said, “My sense is that in London there is an emphasis on the development of property to attract money and wealth to the city. My concern is that is overemphasised, and the standards and wellbeing of tenants in social housing are underemphasised, and that is a structural issue.”

She added, recognizing an issue that is of profound concern to campaigners, and that is the focus of the new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK,’ which I narrate, “Social housing is under considerable stress in the city. I’ve heard that many council estates are scheduled for demolition for regeneration projects – which seems to mean the development of high-end properties and the displacement of those living in social housing.”

Farha was not able to meet ministers during her visit. The Guardian noted that “a meeting with the housing secretary, Sajid Javid, could not be scheduled,” but that did not stop a government spokesperson from complaining that, “Had the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing approached the government to discuss her concerns we would gladly have met with her to discuss the work we are doing to support the Grenfell community.” Perhaps she was remembering the unprincipled attacks on her predecessor, Raquel Rolnik, who, in 2013, had called for the abolition of the disgraceful bedroom tax on the grounds that it violated tenants’ human rights. Rolnik had “warned that Britain’s relatively good record on housing rights was being eroded by the sell-off and neglect of social housing, and by welfare reforms that left poorer tenants in poverty and despair,” but ministers dismissed her criticisms as a “misleading Marxist diatribe,” and I reported at the time on her treatment in an article entitled, Disgusting Tory Britain: UN Housing Expert Attacked After Telling Government to Axe the Bedroom Tax.

Farha made it clear that she “did not want to imply the UK government had done nothing in the wake of Grenfell,” because it “had done a great deal” and it “was important that ministers had set up an inquiry, she said, even if it appeared to be moving slowly and was not as wide in scope as it could have been.” She also said she was keen to start a conversation with the government, and had “not ruled out writing a formal letter to the UK government setting out her concerns.” She stressed that it was important that the government “engaged seriously and urgently with survivors and residents – who had struck her by their thoughtfulness, expertise, intelligence, and resourcefulness – and that it investigated the structural causes of the fire.” As she put it, “I don’t deny it is complicated, but lives are at stake. I’m hearing stories of suicidality, children being extremely traumatised. These are the days that will make or break people.”

And that’s a conclusion that no one in government should be seeking to dismiss, with a repeat of the Tories’ disgraceful behavior in 2013. The bottom line, however, as, in significant numbers, Grenfell survivors are still not re-housed, is that they are not given anything like the treatment that they would have been given if last June’s disaster had happened in the richer part of Kensington — although, of course, that is unlikely, as those responsible for the safety of housing in the richer parts of Kensington wouldn’t, I presume, be looking to cut corners to ensure greater profits in the first place.

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 music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in 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), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell‘, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

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, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

Quarterly Fundraiser Day 1: Please Help Me Raise $2500 (£1800) to Support My Work on Guantánamo

Andy Worthington calling on Donald Trump to close Guantanamo today, March 12, 2018. Andy is holding poster showing that, today, the prison has been open for 5,905 days.Please click the ‘Donate’ button to make a donation towards the $2500 (£1850) I’m trying to raise to support my work on Guantánamo for the next three months!


Dear friends and supporters – and anyone happening to pass by,

It’s that time of year again, when I ask you, if you can, to support my work as an independent journalist, activist and commentator, working primarily to educate people about the prison at Guantánamo Bay and to get it closed down — and, if you wish, my campaigning work to try and prevent the destruction of housing estates in London and across the UK, my London photography, and my music, with my band The Four Fathers.

I am, it seems, a very modern creation — a writer and campaigner funded almost entirely by my supporters, so if you can help out at all, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s $500, $100, $25 or even $10 — or the equivalent in any other currency.

You can also make a recurring payment on a monthly basis by ticking the box marked, “Make this a monthly donation,” and if you are able to do so, it would be very much appreciated.

The donation page is set to dollars, because the majority of my readers are based in the US, but PayPal will convert any amount you wish to pay from any other currency — and you don’t have to have a PayPal account to make a donation. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating 300 Days of My Photo Project, ‘The State of London’

A composite photo showing the most recent photos in my photo project 'The State of London.' I began taking photos on daily bike rides around London in May 2012, and began posting a photo a day on Facebook in May 2017.Please feel free to support ‘The State of London’ and my photo-journalism with a donation, if you wish. I receive no institutional funding for it whatsoever.


300 days ago, on May 11, 2017, I began publishing a photo a day on Facebook as part of a photo project called ‘The State of London.’ I’d actually begun the project five years before, on May 11, 2012, when I’d first started cycling around London taking photos of whatever interested me, the intention being to create a photographic record of the capital at this particular time in its history — under Tory rule, with the Olympics about to begin as the project started, and with hideous towers rising up everywhere, as the latest phase of the primary focus of capitalism in London over the last 20 years — an endless, artificially-sustained housing bubble that is a disaster for almost everyone except the very rich, and, of course, the developers.

As I began cycling around London and taking photos, I decided that I would visit all 120 of inner London’s postcodes — the ones beginning WC, EC, SE, SW, W, NW, N and E — as well as trying to visit as much of outer London as possible. In the first rush of my enthusiasm, I hadn’t genuinely taken on board quite how big London is, and how long it takes to cycle across it, while being regularly distracted by photo opportunities. It took me until September 2014, if I recall correctly, to visit all 120 postcodes, and, to date, I’ve only visited a handful of the outer postcodes — in particular, those nearest to me, for example, designated BR (for Bromley) and CR (for Croydon).

As the project has developed, I suspect that some of my enthusiasms have become apparent. To some extent, I have come to regard myself as a barometer of the weather, because I cycle almost every day, whatever the conditions (which, along the way, has also helped to keep me healthy, and has made me realise that we are meant to be outdoors much more than we generally are), and the photos inevitably reflect that, with some photos capturing torrential rain, for example, which is generally quite rare, and others capturing the dullness of the typical overcast weather that defines so much of the British weather (and, by extension, the British psyche — once a heavy dose of Puritanism has also been added). Other photos capture the beauty and clarity of the many different types of sunlight — at different times of the day, and at different times of the year, and I freely admit that I’m always in search of the strong, low light and long shadows that can be found towards the end of the day, and that I particularly love. Read the rest of this entry »

Two New London Screenings of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, Documentary Opposing the Destruction of Council Estates, in Hackney Wick and Walthamstow on February 20 and 24

Concrete Soldiers UK: an image by street artists the Artful Dodger, who has created the imagery and logos for the film.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.


In December, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, a new documentary film about Britain’s housing crisis, was released, for which I was delighted to have been asked by the director, Nikita Woolfe, to be the narrator. As we explain on the film’s website:

“‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ is a new documentary film by Nikita Woolfe, looking at an under-reported scandal in London and across the country — the social cleansing of council estates. Starved of funds by central government, councils and housing associations are entering into deals with private developers in which, instead of renovating estates, they are being demolished and rebuilt. The developers make huge profits, but existing tenants, and leaseholders are squeezed out, socially cleansed from their homes, and often from the boroughs in which they have lived for years, for decades, or for their whole lives.”

The film looks in particular at three struggles currently taking place — on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, and Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens in Lambeth — and is particularly concerned to provide a voice for those resisting the destruction of their homes. As we put it, “The film encourages viewers to have hope, and a belief that a fairer future is out there.” And with good news of late — Haringey residents seemingly victorious over their council, which sought to put all the borough’s social housing into a development vehicle with the rapacious Australian-based international property developer Lendlease, and with both Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan backing residents’ ballots before any demolitions can take place — it is to be hoped that 2018 will be the year that the tide finally turns on the social cleansing that has threatened to become an epidemic in recent years. Read the rest of this entry »

Over 1,200 Views for The Four Fathers’ ‘Grenfell’ Video, Remembering Those Whose Lives Were Lost, and Calling for Those Responsible to be Held Accountable

The Silent Walk for Grenfell, December 14, 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Last month, at a party of activists in Brooklyn, towards the end of my annual US visit to call for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on the anniversary of its opening (the 16th anniversary of its opening, on January 11), I played ‘Grenfell’, the song I wrote after an entirely preventable inferno consumed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in west London last June, killing 71 people.

I wasn’t sure how much the small audience of human rights activists knew about it — how much news of distant disasters spreads around the globe, despite the notion that technology has made us all inter-connected — but I realised when introducing it that it was, for me, the defining moment of 2017, and I’m sure my passionate rendition of it helped one small corner of Brooklyn to understand.

I wrote ‘Grenfell’ last summer, as my response to the disaster, and played it with my band The Four Fathers for the first time in September at a benefit gig for campaigners in Tottenham, as part of their opposition to the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a deeply unpleasant proposal by Haringey Council to enter into a £2bn deal with the rapacious international property developers Lendlease (the destroyers of Southwark’s Heygate Estate), which would involve the council transferring all its social housing to the HDV, with the ensuing destruction of entire estates, and their replacement with new private housing, from which most of the existing tenants would almost certainly be excluded. Read the rest of this entry »

Haringey Leader Claire Kober’s Resignation Ought to Signal an End to Labour’s Frenzy of Council Estate Destruction, But 70 Labour Leaders Disagree

On the left: Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey Council, who announced her resignation on January 30, 2018 after profound grass-roots opposition to her plans to transfer all the council's social housing to a 50:50 development vehicle between the council and rapacious international property developers Lendlease. On the right: a poster by the Stop HDV campaign, which led a brilliant grass-roots campaign against the proposal.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.


There was great news on Tuesday, as Claire Kober, the Labour leader of Haringey Council, announced her resignation, explaining that she will not be standing in May’s elections. Kober — and her close associates, like Alan Strickland, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing — had imperiously decided to hand over all of Haringey’s social housing to the predatory international developer Lendlease, in what was laughingly described as a 50:50 partnership. Lendlease, however, has all the money, and what was intended to happen, via the £2bn deal for Haringey, was a large-scale version of what Southwark Council arranged for Lendlease at the Heygate Estate in Walworth: the destruction of council estates and their replacement with private developments for sale, or for rent at unaffordable prices.

At the Heygate, as I explained in an article last September, 1,034 homes, housing around 3,000 people, were demolished, most of which were socially rented, costing around 30% of market rents. 2,704 new homes are being built on the Heygate’s replacement, Elephant Park, but only 82 of those will be for social rent, with the rest laughably described as “affordable” in the biggest scam in the developers’ current lexicon. “Affordable” rents were set at 80% of market rents by Boris Johnson, in his miserable tenure as London’s Mayor, but that is actually unaffordable for the majority of hard-working Londoners.

As Aditya Chakrabortty of the Guardian explained when describing the Haringey proposal, known as the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), in July, “Haringey plans to stuff family homes, school buildings, its biggest library and much more into a giant private fund worth £2bn. It’s the largest scheme of its kind — ‘unprecedented’, in the words of backbench councillors. Together with a property developer, it will tear down whole streets of publicly owned buildings and replace them with a shiny town centre and 6,400 homes.” Read the rest of this entry »

Following the Successful World Premiere of ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ at the Cinema Museum, the Next Screening is at Deptford Cinema on Dec. 18

A poster for the launch of 'Concrete Soldiers UK', at the Cinema Museum in Kennington on December 8, 2017.Last Friday a new and timely documentary film that I narrated, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, had its world premiere at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, London SE11, showing to a full house of over 150 people, with pre-screening performances from beatboxer Bellatrix and spoke word artist Potent Whisper. The film was directed by Nikita Woolfe, and is the result of three years’ work. As she says, “Three years ago I was looking at all the new developments in London and was surprised to see how much of the construction happened on old council estate land. I started wondering why the councils wanted to sell off their valuable assets and whether there were alternatives. That’s how ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ began. Three years later and ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’ is not only answering my questions but it has also become a film about the fighting spirit that I encountered on the way.”

The next screening is at Deptford Cinema on Monday December 18, at 7.30pm, followed by a Q&A with me and with representatives of estates and community spaces threatened with destruction in the borough of Lewisham — Old Tidemill Garden and Reginald Road in Deptford, and Achilles Street in New Cross — under the ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ umbrella term that I came up with in October, and which has so far spawned a benefit gig and a Facebook page.

Niki and I are planning to take the film on the road next year — primarily around estates threatened with destruction in London, but also beyond, if we can secure funding for our time and our travel. We also hope it will be shown in cinemas, and if you can help at all with any of these proposals, do get in touch. You can email me here, or you can email Niki here or call her on 07413 138909. We’re currently setting up a fundraising page, so if you want to help with that, do let Niki know. Read the rest of this entry »

How People Power Is Stopping Social Cleansing in Haringey

Stop HDV campaigners in summer 2017.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.


The struggle against social cleansing in the UK is a huge struggle, as councils enter into disgraceful deals with private developers, housing estates are destroyed, and tenants and leaseholders dispossessed, and victories often appear elusive.

As a result, what is happening in Haringey, in north London, is inspirational, as local activists have been working to successfully ensure that councillors who support the council’s social cleansing proposals — involving the creation of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a £2bn deal with a private developer — are de-selected prior to the council elections next May, and are being replaced with candidates who oppose the plans. See this page on the Stop HDV website for the extraordinary story of how, at the time of writing, there are now 36 Labour candidates who oppose the HDV, and only seven who support it.

The threat in Haringey is more severe than anywhere else in London, as the Labour council’s deal, with Lendlease, the Australian-based international housing developer, would involve all of Haringey’s council housing being transferred to the HDV. Even before an agreement is in place, plans have been announced for estates to be destroyed, and it is not scaremongering to suggest that the destruction and social cleansing, if it is not stopped, will be on a scale that has never been seen before in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

How Much Is A Life Worth? New Album Released Today by The Four Fathers, London Journalist and Activist Andy Worthington’s Band

The cover of The Four Fathers' new album, 'How Much Is A Life Worth?'I’m delighted to announce that today my band The Four Fathers are releasing our second album, How Much Is A Life Worth? via Bandcamp, where you can buy it on CD (which can be sent anywhere in the world), or as a download (either the whole album, or individual tracks). The CD costs £8 (about $10.67), plus postage and packing, while the download of the album costs £5 (about $6.67), with individual tracks available for $1 (about $1.33). These are the minimum prices, but you can always pay more if you want to provide us with extra financial support, to help us recoup the costs of recording and production.

The album features ten original rock and roots reggae songs — eight written by me, as lead singer and rhythm guitarist, and two written by lead guitarist Richard Clare. It follows the release in 2015 of the band’s first album, ‘Love and War,’ and continues to demonstrate a commitment to political issues, with six of the album’s ten songs being protest songs. The band also features Brendan Horstead on drums and percussion, Andrew Fifield on flute and harmonica, and Louis Sills-Clare on bass (replaced after the album was recorded by current bassist Mark Quiney).

Followers of the band on Bandcamp — or those who have seen us live — will already know some of these songs, as six of them have previously been released online, although all of them have now been slightly remastered. Those songs are, in order of release, ‘Close Guantánamo’ (used for the ‘Close Guantánamo’ campaign that I run), ‘Dreamers’ (a song about friendship, written for a friend’s 50th birthday), live favourites ’Riot’ (about austerity and the need for social and economic justice) and ‘London’ (a lament for how the capital’s vibrancy in the 80s and 90s has been destroyed by housing greed), ‘She’s Back’ (Richard’s song about Pussy Riot) and ‘Equal Rights And Justice For All’ (my celebration of habeas corpus, which always gets a laugh when I say live that no set is really complete without a song about habeas corpus). Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating 200 Days of Andy Worthington’s Photo Project, ‘The State of London’

Recent photos from 'The State of London', Andy Worthington's photo project, launched on Facebook in May 2017.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator, activist and photographer.


Today is the 200th day of ‘the State of London’, a photo project that I launched on Facebook on May 11 this year, the fifth anniversary of when I first began travelling around the capital by bike, taking photos on a daily basis. I also set up a Twitter page recently, and, in the new year I hope to get the website (currently just a skeleton) up and running. My article introducing the project is here, and also see here for my reflections after 100 days.

The photos cover every one of London’s 120 postcodes, and also include some of the outlying boroughs, and, since launching the daily photos on Facebook, I’ve posted photos from over half of London’s 120 postcodes.

They feature what I hope is a fascinating cross-section of the capital’s many faces beyond those seen by tourists — its abandoned and run-down places, its buildings old and new (the latter rising up like a plague of greed), night and day, the light, the rain, the seasons and the weather, political protests, and, increasingly, those parts of the city that are threatened with destruction — primarily, council estates that are being knocked down and replaced with new private developments from which the existing residents (both tenants and leaseholders) are generally excluded, a disgraceful form of social cleansing involving councils from across the entire political spectrum. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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