London Indymedia

Hunger Strike in Parliament Square - day 25

Paul O'Hanlon | 20.01.2013 00:32 | SOCPA | Iraq | Other Press | Policing | London | World

Long term Parliament Square peace campaigner Barbara Tucker has lived round the clock opposite the Houses of Parliament for over 7 years. She has slept in the open for over a year now without a tent and has been treated for exposure. She is on a hunger strike in the hope of getting her confiscated tent back.

Hunger Strike in Parliament Square

Day 25 Sunday January 20th 2013

As a blanket of cold descends upon the capital, the long term Parliament Square peace campaign opposite the Houses of Parliament continues in sub-zero temperatures without a tent and only the shade of a green umbrella for protection against the elements.

Now in its 12th year it was instigated by the late Brian Haw in 2001 who was originally protesting against the sanctions on Iraq which at the time had claimed the lives of half a million children.

Brian’s protest caused the authorities no end of problems as he and his anti-war placards and banners were a constant reminder of all the lies that were told in the run up to the attack on Iraq in 2003. Members of Parliament had to pass his huge collection of displays and peace messages every time they went in and out of the Parliament. Many of them were unhappy about being reminded of the flimsy case for war.

The television and newspapers were likewise unenthusiastic about Brian and his campaign which received scant media coverage.

Then Home Secretary David Blunkett introduced the bill SOCPA (Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) which was aimed at removing Brian by banning protests with 1 km (about half a mile) of Parliament without police permission. The legislation was poorly drafted and Brian successfully argued in court that the act did not apply to him as his campaign predated it and the law could not be applied retrospectively.

His campaign was eventually reduced in size in May 2006 from 40 metres to just 3 metres by a night time raid of some 78 police which cost a staggering £27,000.

Brian continued to protest with his truncated display despite numerous arrests and assaults. He was joined in December 2005 by Melbourne born Barbara Tucker who has remained to this day.

Although he incurred the wrath of the politicians he was an inspirational figure to many in the peace movement and he won the Channel 4 News award for Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2006 garnering 54% of the votes cast. At a gala evening in February 2007 introduced by news presenter Jon Snow and attended by the likes of former cabinet ministers Jonathan Aitken and Charles Clark, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, future First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, Brian with Barbara Tucker in support accepted his award. Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, then head of the British Army, who embarrassed the Government by saying troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, came second with 18 per cent. The Archbishop of York got 12% while Tony Blair was backed by eight per cent and David Cameron by six per cent.

Brian sadly passed away from cancer in June 2011 after which Barbara has continued at the helm. Mrs Tucker or `Babs` has been arrested an astonishing 47 times in her 7 years in the square, usually on charge of `unauthorised demonstration`.

She has served two short spells in Holloway prison as well as suffering constant harassment from police, heritage wardens and passing rowdies.
Until January 2012 she had a tent but that was confiscated under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRSA). Since then she has slept in a chair on the pavement and now tries to sleep under a large green umbrella wrapped up in multiple layers of clothing.

Barbara took the decision to go on hunger strike in the hope of getting her tent back, starting on December 27th 2012.

The British media tend to ignore the campaign though there has been coverage on foreign TV stations.

I have tried to get the mainstream media interested in this remarkable campaign but with limited success. The Independent did a two page spread on day 3,000 in August 2009 when Brian was still alive and another piece on the 10th anniversary on June 2nd 2011, shortly before Brian died. The Evening Standard has done several short pieces while the most incredible response came from the news desk of the Sun (this from a London based journalist remember) who asked “Where is Parliament Square?” (!!).

Since Barbara started her hunger strike the London Evening Standard had a small piece on page 32 on Friday 4th January while Iranian Press TV did an interview on the same day. The mainstream newspapers were largely uninterested, the news desk of the Times rather callously saying “We don’t do hunger strikes.” The BBC has nothing, not even on its website. A hunger strike outside the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa by native American Theresa Spence did get on to the BBC website but the Westminster one has been effectively blacked out.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) did an interview with Barbara on Friday 11th January which was expected to be shown on their rolling 24 hour new service.

Small circulation left wing papers the Morning Star and Socialist Worker had a little coverage while green/left magazine Red Pepper expressed some interest.

From the Evening Standard of January 4th 2013:

The Press TV interview on January 4th 2013:

The campaign website:

Barbara gave her reasons for going on hunger strike:

Hunger Strike: Started on December 27th 2012.

“My name is Babs Tucker.

****Freedom**** of Expression is the most important right you can exercise to bring about change peacefully.

I did not come to Parliament Square to die and I do not want to die. I came to Parliament Square because people everywhere are entitled to - live - in peace, without the constant illegal wars being waged by government.

I have been campaigning in Parliament Square, with Brian Haw's Parliament Square Peace Campaign, 24/7 for seven years, during which time I have been unlawfully arrested 47 times and imprisoned twice without trial in Holloway Women's Prison in North London.

Our campaign's 24/7 presence reflects the fact that while wars rage and Parliament continues to only sit part-time, with many long breaks, the people do care about one another, all the time, in all weather.”

You can read the full statement on:

Barbara is strong willed and is likely to see this through. She does not want to die and I do not want her to die. The situation should be closely watched in the coming weeks and I would urge those interested and sympathetic to write to their MPs and to Mayor Boris Johnson and badger the media to give this brave woman some decent media coverage.

Paul O’Hanlon

Paul O'Hanlon
- e-mail:


Hide the following 3 comments

There are reasons

21.01.2013 18:40

for so little support from other activists - unless you worship at the conspiracy altar that even accused Maria Gallastegui of being an under cover cop (I mean, really.....??) Barbara Tucker will be abusive and aggressive (backed up by the ever faithfull Aquil of course). See these comments on Paul O'H's last post

She has single handedly broken up the peace camp support system that had slowly but solidly been built up around Brian Haw (a character known for his intransigence but a man whom many people found a way of working with until 'Babs Tucker' came along and systematically turned him against almost everyone supporting him) - why one could almost think her an undercover operation herself, she has been very effective.

Sadly the situation with Brian was allowed to deteriorate as, although those close to the situation were concerned no-one wanted to 'go public' and discredit Brian Haw himself, hoping he would see the light and distance himself from Barbara Tucker instead

As acab notes in this comment from 16.01.2013

"I once crossed the busy road to have a chat with Barbara. Despite the fact that I think her chosen method of political action (endurance camping) is a poor use of her time, I was keen to be friendly, say hello and see how she was doing. Anyone sleeping out as a protest for that length of time in central London has got to have some conviction and a few good stories to tell. I assumed that, while our methods differ, her heart's in the right place and we're basically on the same side. Nope!

I said hello with a smile, introduced myself and asked her how it was going. Almost immediately, and quite out of nowhere, she started ranting at me about the "genius man" David Icke. I remained polite, but said that I thought the man was not such a genius for a number of reasons. Cue Barbara laying right into me, saying that I was either with (in her words) 'Us' (presumably her and Dave) or 'Them' (as she gestured to parliament).

I'm not with 'Them'; I'm a fucking anarchist............" acab

Barbara Tucker pays homage to David Icke, and took Brian Haw down that road too (which led to him refusing NHS treatment for cancer in favour of some Icke funded 'alternative' method). She is remarkably conservative in her opinions and extraordinarily aggressive and her blog (which masquerades under Brian Haw's name, for commercial reasons I suppose) is often homophobic. Anonymous puts it well here
Babs = Barb.
17.01.2013 13:00

A lot of the comments here are true enough. Barbara Tucker is extremely confrontational which has its benefits of course when it comes to getting in the faces of the heirarchy encamped in parliament, but she is just as confrontational with other activists who actually show up to support the campaign for peace. I think she seems unable to actually tell the difference between the campaign for peace, and her own campaign. She certainly does seem to be very self centered and very very closed to other ideas that don't fit in with her own feeble reality.

I hae spoken with here over the years and some of her views don't fit well with the bog standard views of other activists I have met oer the years. She doesn't believe in publicly funded welfare, instead believing in privatisation of the public sector. She doesn't like big government, and believes instead in small government, she also claims to be descended from English nobility. If you talk to her and get her onto subject matter away from activism, she's actually a staunch conservative.

A year or two back, I also found she was dissapearing from Parliament Square and trundling off to some place at the back of Trafalgar Square for some unknown reason, She does this regularly.

The one thing that Barbara Tucker is known for, is preventing other campaigns from setting up in Parliament Square. She has done this not only by personally harrassing others who go to Parliament Square, but also by creating a conflict based environment which facilitates the police. Both Brian Haw and mostly Barbara Tucker have been the seed that the police and local authorities have used to advertise their power to prevent peace camps from establishing themselves in Parliament Square, which in antiwar terms, is the number 1 real estate site for actions against the war. A very effective press and media campaign has existed and been facilitated in Parliament Square to steer public opinion into beleiveing that Parliament Square is a no go area for the peace movement. As a result of that, Parliament has been able to build tremendous crimes against foreigners and Muslims all over the world. Barbara Tucker has facilitated and helped bring that about.

I cannot recall a single time, in which Barbara Tucker hasn't been routinely smearing others with the accusation that they are 'undercover' police. This has been her most regular tactic since she first appeared.

Of course she could just be an inefectual person who didn't achieve much, she could just be misguided and not good at coping with pressure. She could just be somebody who is reaping what she sowed. It wouldn't be the first time.

The point is, as far as we are concerned, is that the space directly in the heart of the criminal and warmongering government that purports to be representatives of the people, has been thrown away and handed freely to politicians, local councillors and police. They ahve used it to facilitate general and widespread damage against the antiwar movement, the movement for democracy and other movements in order to prop up their diseased and feeble heirarchy.

Big opportunity lost.



I did not write the piece with all those comments

21.01.2013 22:23

Dear Charity,

I'm sorry you sound bitter about Barbara. I did not write that `last post`.

"See these comments on Paul O'H's last post"

Somebody called `irritant` wrote it. I never use pseudonyms.

I know about the bad feeling between Brian and Barbara and Maria Gallestegui and feel it may have been a misunderstanding as much as anything else. Maria left the Square in May last year.

It’s a shame that there is bad feeling between those who believe in the cause of peace.
I still feel Barbara’s commitment is very high whatever one may think of her,


Paul O'Hanlon
mail e-mail:

War Crimes and Human rights breaches

24.01.2013 21:12

The crimes associated with waging aggressive war, laid down in the Nuremberg Principles and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, are clear.

“If any person, in furtherance of a state policy, orders the use of force to attack members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, that person and everyone who takes part in the attack is responsible for the consequences, breaks international law and, if it results in the deaths of innocent people, commits the universal crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression or conduct ancillary to such crimes”.
Nuremberg Principle III states, "The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”.
"Nuremberg Principle IV states, “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him”.
Nuremberg principles

Human rights breaches; Freedom from degrading treatment,
The right to liberty
The right to a fair trial
The right not to be punished for something that wasn't a crime when you did it
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs
Freedom of expression
Freedom of assembly and association
The right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms. If any of these rights and freedoms are breached, you have a right to an effective solution in law, even if the breach was by someone in authority, such as, for example, a police officer or other official.

UK Citizens demand the arrest of MP’s who are war criminals
UK Government WAR CRIMES

The treaty for the renunciation of war 1928 [Kellogg-Briand-Pact] prohibits resort to war and requires that all disputes are settled peacefully.
The UN Charter 1945 prohibits the threat or use of force and requires states to work together in conformity with the principles of justice and international law to maintain peace.
The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials 1946 upheld the principle that waging aggressive is a war crime and that individuals rather than states can be held to account in a court for war crimes.
The Geneva Convention 1949, 1977 govern the conduct of warfare, the protection of civilians and prisoners of war whilst prohibiting wilful killing, attacks on civilians, destruction of property, unlawful weapons as well as designating 33 separate punishable war crimes.
The Genocide Convention 1948 prohibits the adoption of a policy to destroy members of a national ethnic racial or religious group as such.
The Nuremberg Principles 1950 introduce the concept of personal responsibility for the universal offences of a crime against peace [waging aggressive war], crimes against Humanity, war crimes and complicity in such crimes.
The Chemical Weapons Convention 1992 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of chemical weapons.
The Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention 1972 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of biological and toxic weapons.
The Landmines Convention 1997 prohibits the development production stockpiling and use of landmines and anti personnel explosives.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 1998 gave the International Criminal Court power to prosecute genocide, crimes against Humanity and war crimes.

Morally Indefensible: Tutu Refuses to Share Platform with Blair
by Abby Zimet

Ever a man of conscience, Nobel laureate, anti-apartheid icon and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu has withdrawn from a leadership summit in South Africa to protest thepresence of former prime minister Tony Blair, whose support for the Iraq War Tutu condemned as "morally indefensible." Meanwhile, calls are mounting for the arrest of Blair for crimes against humanity when he appears.
"The Discovery Invest Leadership Summit has leadership as its theme. Morality and leadership are indivisible. In this context, it would be inappropriate and untenable for the Archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair."

Freedom of Information Veto
The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): My right honourable friend the Attorney-General (Dominic Grieve) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
On 31 July, I gave the Information Commissioner a certificate under Section 53(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act"). The certificate relates to the Commissioner's Decision Notice dated 4 July 2012 (FS50417514). It is my view, as the accountable person for the purposes of Section 53 of the Act in this case, that there was no failure by the Cabinet Office to comply with Section 1(1)(b) of the Act by withholding information contained in the minutes of the Cabinet discussions on 13 and 17 March 2003 concerning the military invasion of Iraq.
The consequence of my giving the Information Commissioner this certificate is that the Commissioner's Decision Notice, which ordered disclosure of extracts of these minutes, ceases to have effect.
I was required to reach a decision in this case during the summer recess as a result of the statutory deadlines set out in the Freedom of Information Act. A copy of the certificate was laid before each House of Parliament on 31 July. I am making this Statement to the House at the first available opportunity.
My decision to exercise the veto in this case was taken in accordance with the Act and the published Statement of Government Policy on the use of the executive override as it relates to information falling within the scope of Section 35(1) of the Act. In reaching my decision, I assessed the balance of the public interests in disclosure and non-disclosure of the extracts of the minutes and I considered whether this case met the criteria set out in that policy for determining whether or not this was an exceptional case.
It was my opinion as the "accountable person" in this case, as well as the collective view of the Cabinet, that (1) disclosure of this information would be damaging to the doctrine of collective Cabinet responsibility and detrimental to the effective operation of Cabinet

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair could face trial in Scotland for his war crimes in Iraq after the proposal was backed by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs).

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