St John on Bethnal Green is an early 19th-century church in Tower Hamlets.
It was constructed 1826–8 to the design of the architect Sir John Soane (1753–1837). It is an Anglican church in the Diocese of London. Situated next to Bethnal Green tube station it is an imposing structure as you approach it from Bethnal Green Road.
Today’s blog is written by political satirist Owen Smith Junior – currently on a zero-hours contract.
One of my political heroes is Margaret Hodge MP. She is never afraid to stand up to bullying and always speaks her mind. Margaret, who helped launch the leadership challenge against Corbyn by bringing forward a vote of no confidence, said the team at the top of Labour had to step in to stop MPs being “intimidated, bullied, harassed”. “If this is the new kind of politics it is a dirty politics that I want no part of,” Margaret told the Today programme. “Bricks being thrown through windows, people being called ‘scum’, people being insulted, people being bullied, people being intimidated”.
Bearing in mind her vision and insight I decided to take my camera along to a Momentum rally in Liverpool last Thursday. Before I went I made sure I topped up my health insurance.
The Momentum meeting was held at the Liner hotel which offers “one of the largest event spaces in the City Centre”. Momentum estimated there were at least 50,000 people at the rally (typical of the lies peddled by the extreme left) but, as the ‘Brittanic Suite’ seats only 600 people, there could only have been around 750 people as there was also a lot of people standing up.
The meeting was kicked off by the so called ‘Liverpool Socialist Singers’. Listening to them I thought to myself how wonderful the music of Cliff Richard was compared to their boring songs about peace, Trade Unions and workers rights.
Councillor Alice Bennet banged on about how shocking it was that people now had to pay £25 to register to vote in the leadership election. She said this was “designed to disenfranchise the poor and low paid”. It is precisely because thousands of poor and low paid people paid £3 and voted for Jeremy Corbyn, that the Labour Party is now in such a mess!
Dr Alex Scott Samuel droned on about how privatisation was destroying the NHS. He criticised the record of Owen Smith and talked about Owen’s career history working for major international pharmaceutical companies. Personally I will be voting for Owen. His lucrative highly paid jobs working for multinational drug companies equip him for the role of Prime minister. Yes he’s had a couple of low points in his career but you can’t blame him for the $762 million fine Amgen got for illegally promoting the drug ‘Aranesp’ to cancer patients in a way that increased the likelihood of their deaths. Yes prosecutors said that the company was “pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety” as it promoted a non-approved use of Aranesp. Still you can’t blame Owen because he was only in charge of corporate affairs, corporate and internal communications and public affairs at the British division of Amgen while the biotech company was being investigated in 2008. Owen has gone on record with great ideas about improving the NHS. He has no problem with the involvement of private companies in delivering NHS services and welcomes them, “Where they can bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services that the NHS is not able to deliver”.
Owen has gone on record reflecting many of the ideas of my hero Tony Blair; On PFI (Private Finance Initiative) schemes, Owen said “We’ve had PFI in Wales, we’ve had a hospital built down in Baglan through PFI. If PFI works, then let’s do it.” Again Owen has shown vision when talking about education: “City academies in certain parts of inner city Britain, where schools were failing, where children were not being well served, have made great inroads”.
Another of my political heroes is Hilary Benn. Thankfully he hasn’t inherited the dreadful political genes of his father. Now that he writes for THE SUN he has really gone up in my estimation. Hopefully, like Tony Blair, he will now become a close personal friend of Rupert Murdoch (another one of my heroes). Writing in the Sun recently in support of Angela Eagle he said “just look at what she’s had to deal with in the last few days. A tide of abuse, much of it homophobic and misoginistic. A brick through her office window the day after she announced her candidacy. Death threats”. Ok it’s since emerged that no brick was thrown through her window and the leading LGBT publication ‘Pink News’ investigated the homophobic claims and found they were unfounded. However I agree with Hilary Benn (again writing in THE SUN) when he said that Angela ‘has that elusive and essential personal quality; courage”. Yes Hillary because it took courage to vote for the war in Iraq and courage to vote to bomb Syria.
I love Sclater street market. It’s a photographers paradise.
I keep asking myself how long will it be before big money destroys the place? Two high rise blocks are being planned for Sclater Street. The proposed development will tower over the local conservation areas and the local community. A 70 metre long wall of 12 to 20 storey towers coming right up to the edge of the pavement will permanently cast deep shadows over the narrow Bethnal Green Road and beyond. Hundreds of local residents and businesses, and English Heritage strongly objected to the proposal.
I have been going to Sclater Street market just off Brick Lane for nearly 40 years. Like everything else of value in the East End of London it is under threat from gentrification and money grabbing developers who care nothing for local people, culture or heritage.
I got a message recently from a friend in New York saying how wonderful Central Park was. Having been there a few years ago I had to disagree. I believe Liverpool Parks are among the most beautiful in the world.
Hundreds of people gathered in Liverpool last Saturday to demonstrate that Black Lives Matter. Sean Rigg, Joy Gardner, Cynthia Jarrett, Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Christopher Alder, Paps Ullah, Philmore Mills, Brian Douglas and many more have all died while in the custody of the British police. The mood of the demonstration was coloured by the recent tragic ‘death in police custody’ of 18 year Mzee Mohammed.
Kalum Walsh, the cousin of Mzee Mohammed (above) gave a moving tribute to his relative and friend. Many of Mzee’s family and friends attended the demonstration.
I remember photographing the ‘Oxford out’ demonstration in 1981 (above). The Merseyside police force at the time had a particularly bad reputation in the area for stopping and searching black youths under the hated ‘sus’ laws. Chief constable Ken Oxford led a police force that regularly arrested and harassed black youth in Toxteth. His astonishing rants at the time speak volumes about the racism that permeated the police force then: “Policemen in general and detectives in particular, are not racialist, despite what many Black groups believe. … Yet they are the first to define the problem of half-castes in Liverpool. Many are the products of liaisons between black seamen and white prostitutes in Liverpool 8, the red-light district. Naturally, they do not grow up with any kind of recognizable home life. Worse still, after they have done the round of homes and institutions, they gradually realize they are nothing.”
Karla Mohammed, the mother of Mzee (above) gave a dignified, moving and passionate speech about her son. “I don’t want another mother or father to go through what I am.”
Melissa, Mzee’s sister (above) also gave a courageous speech at the demonstration.
Speaking on the steps of St Luke’s church Karla Mohammed said: “I want to ask the Lord to see justice for my son. I will not rest, I will walk in my son’s shoes until I get answers, and anyone who had a hand in my boy’s death will be brought to justice. My son will not be a number or a statistic. His death will not be in vain.”
Marcia Rigg is the sister of Sean Rigg, who died at the hands of Brixton police officers in August 2008; she says “Black Lives Matter is about showing the world that black people’s lives are just as important as any other. When black lives matter, all lives will matter. That is the world we want, where all lives truly matter.”
Over the coming months I will be making an independent film about why Black Lives Matter in Liverpool with Hazuan Hashim. If you have something to say about this and would like to be interviewed for the film then contact Hazuan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can please leave a comment of support below for the family of Mzee Mohammed.
You may also like to see ‘From Cable Street to Brick Lane’. A film about the struggle against racism & fascism from the 1930s to the present day.