Skip to content

Free Free Palestine

‘No justice; no peace’ shouted the people as they surged in a black, red and green cloud down The Kingsway towards Castle square a few hours ago:

This was the biggest demonstration I have ever seen in Swansea. Full of energy and young people, it nevertheless marked the terrible anniversary of Nakba Day in 1948, when 800,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes in Palestine. Some were forced onto the Gaza Strip and West Bank to give way to the creation of the state of Israel.

Recent attacks by Israel on Gaza have killed 103 (including 27 children), injuring 580 others. When challenged as to why civilian targets had been hit deliberately Benny Ganz – the Israeli Foreign minister merely said people were ‘sent texts’ to warn them to get out.

Be civil; disobey

About 50 people ebbed and flowed through Castle Square to the Castle itself, to demand the government ‘Kill The Bill’ today:

This was the first time we had seen each other since before lockdown so it felt celebratory, belying the seriousness of this (socially -distanced) meeting….

Take a look at the iniquitous penalties for different aspects of protest proposed in Pretti-Dick’s Policing Bill:

  1. Defacing a memorial will get you 10 years in prison (much harsher than rape which starts at 5 years).
  2. Not complying with the new protesting rules could incur a fine of £2,500.
  3. The government wants time limits, noise limits and in some cases proximity limits (e.g. around Parliament Square and equivalent places) to make it easier to convict protestors.
  4. A new offence of “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle”, effectively targeting Roma and traveller communities for whom travelling is a crucial part of their culture.
  5. The subjective interpretation of your action by the police will hold sway!

At the very least, this undermines rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Worse, it could criminalise many of us for simply defending our human -rights.

Protest and health service- things of the past if we don’t act fast

The cons are at it again, trying to shave away our rights to health whilst we are busy surviving a pandemic:

Anti Austerity Protestors in London 2018

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has already been sneaked through Parliament. The Daily Mail ran a piece quoting an undisclosed Home office source as saying :“crusty eco-crusaders” threatened “our economy and the livelihoods of the hard working majority.”Even a lone protester could be arrested if the police perceive them to be a ‘threat’.

On the subject of the NHS (see my collaged -sketch of a protesting NHS worker above),Doctors for the NHS, Keep Our NHS public and the NHS Support Federation wrote to Matt Hancock recently demanding an investigation into the selling of NHS shares in major G.P. practices (serving 375,000 patients)to Operose which is part of Centene – a US Health Insurer.

Set against this, even though 77% of staff in the NHS are women, their PPE was designed for Caucasian men and provides very little protection for women (slipping goggles, gowns too long and ill-fitting respirators) BAME women are at a double disadvantage. Throughout the world, hospitals with the best -fitting PPE have less intra-hospital contagion and less deaths.

This government is proving more and more of a toxin to us all in the UK, refusing to invest in safety whilst chopping swathes from our NHS.

Resist the withdrawal of our protest rights!

Reclaim The Night again and again

In Oct ’78 & January ’79 groups of us gathered in Soho and marched around Central London demanding safety for women as part of the original Reclaim The Night marches. This resulted in injuries to some on the first march (from the police) along with many arrests. The second march had ‘police protection’ but this seemed superficial. Around 200 women attended, of all shapes, ages and nationalities (I was a second-year student at Loughborough Uni).

It felt then like we were on the brink of change. We imagined being able to walk around in the middle of the night, not having to plan every lone-journey and being able to go on risky adventures as we pleased.

Installing my work Women Count declaiming violence against women (2017)

Unfortunately, recent events have shown we are still in the 70’s as regards both violence to women and ‘protection’ from the police. Since that time, I have been attacked 3 times (a low figure considering how much I have made a point of walking alone at night). How come Rangers supporters were allowed to parade unimpeded by police on the 7th of March whereas women were handcuffed, dragged and arrested last night for a simple vigil?

Woodcut print of Jill Saward (campaigner against violence to women)

The powers that be do not care about women’s safety– even with a woman heading the police force. The death of 207 women in 2020 (down from 221 in 2019) is reprehensible; Sarah Everard’s death must be memorialised and taken forward with our demands for immediate change.

Womens Day: remembering women who didn’t get the plaudits

It’s a commonly held misconception that if you try really hard you will be appreciated.

I want to bear witness to the hundreds of thousands of women who will never have their life work recognised. Like my mum Lily Mckenna nee Gouldborne:

On an everyday basis she stuck up for ordinary, vulnerable people. It was quite normal for her to stop if she saw someone ‘out of it’ on the street and ask ‘ Where do you need to get to luv?’ picking them up and walking them home. Another time (I witnessed this) she stopped a couple of woman from verbally berating a local prostitute. She ran up and told them to get lost, saying ‘this lady is making money to feed her kids’ and taking her off for a cuppa.

Her mum died when she was just 11, leaving her to bring up her baby sister and 6 year old brother. She worked in a munitions factory during WW2 and looked after my dad who had PTSD from his experiences in the Chinditz. She nurtured me, my three brothers and countless other people she helped along the way, relegating her gift for writing in order to care for others.

What a woman.

Remember revolting women; we are still here

Events on Capitol Hill over the past few days have got me looking back on the Women’s Anti-Trump Protests. This monoprint was one I made from sketches done live by myself on the Cardiff March in January 2017:

We have seen in Johnson’s Conservatives the same cronyism as the Republicans under Trump. Not once-even after the attempted coup on Capital Hill -have the Cons spoken against Trumps loathsome brand of oppression.

In his book The Travesty of Liberalism, Frank Wilhoit pointed out that conservatism has one underpinning need: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Johnson, Murdoch, Trump et al have made it clear they use ordinary people for their own gains, brutalising, neglecting or incarcerating those with no perceived power.

We women stood against oppression in 2017 and will continue to do so.

One wild cat’s retirement

Our old cat Roger (who is female and nearly 20 years old) has stopped chasing birds and mice, preferring to just eat & sleep her way through this eternity of Sundays:

Apart from sleeping on my best mohair scarf (above), she has taken to cleaning herself on my knee and just freezing with her leg aloft for a few seconds, forgetting which bit she was cleaning:

But my favourite has got to be when she sleeps on top of my clean sheets as they air on a radiator (below):

In her hey -day she was the best mouser around, losing her tail in a fight with a Bull Terrier.

Deportation for Xmas

492 people arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury on 22 June 1948 – including this young girl with her teddy bear: 

From that day seventy-two years ago, British life and culture got profoundly enriched despite overt and covert programmes of racism and profiling by the state. The ‘no blacks, no dogs’ attitude of landlords at the time meant these people where ghettoized and pushed either into unsanitary, crowded conditions or to outlying areas of cities and towns.

Racism in Britain has not gone however, it has simply changed its systematized shell, culminating horrifically in the Tory “Hostile Environment” and the ongoing Windrush Scandal.  

Pensioners protesting in Whitehall at an Anti -Racism Demo, 2018

The 13 people who were deported at the beginning of this month (instead of 50 due to the intervention of a raft of BAME public figures BARAC UK, BAME Lawyers For Justice, Detention Action et al) will be landing homeless in a Jamaica they do not know. With the multiple, Conservative caused, crises in the UK, many more deportations may happen before Xmas. The 13 people who were deported at the beginning of this month (instead of 50 due to the intervention of a raft of BAME public figures BARAC UK, BAME Lawyers For Justice, Detention Action et al) will be landing homeless in a Jamaica they do not know. With the multiple, Conservative caused, crises in the UK, many more deportations may happen before Xmas.

Good riddance Demonic

Now that Demonic Cummings’ attack dog (Lee Cain) has gone and Britain has effectively been poured down the Brexit plughole, his work is done. Never before has an unelected – bureaucrat done so much damage in such a short period.

Bojo on a drive with Demonic

I did this quick cartoon as an idea for a mural to vent my frustration at the weapons- grade hipocrasy of the cons. It’s been so rainy I’m just putting it up here.

Moustaches and Murals

To promote my fundraiser for Sheelair I was recently invited by Swansea Council to do a series of multi-cultural portraits of ‘Welsh Women’ along a section of the hoardings around the old Palace Theatre.

The list of women to be represented formed itself , just the mention of a women’s mural evoked a stream of suggestions; women unknown/known, past/ present from clients, colleagues & friends. I then set about doing the first 3 (with some haste given the oncoming Winter), hoping to do a unifying floral motif /sheelair logo afterwards to unify them :

Farhana Ali – Swansea Tattoo Artist
Dami Okhiria – Swansea Poet
Iris De Freitas: 1st Caribbean Lawyer trained @ Aberythwyth Uni 1922

By the following day Farhana had specs and a moustache and a few days later all 3 had been sprayed out!

This is to be expected, but I’ll be back for round 2 soon……