Parliament’s top official Black Rod displeased by Back To 60’s Flash dance on College Green

The BackTo60 Flash Dancers from pose in front of Henry Moore’s sculpture, Knife Edge.

BackTo60s new guerrilla campaign to highlight the plight of the 50s born women who are waiting up to six years to get their pension took on a new dimension yesterday – and brought the displeasure of Parliament’s top official, Black Rod.

Campaigners engaged Pandora’s Box performers to do a flash mob dance performance on College Green opposite the House of Lords. This is part of a guerrilla marketing campaign that has so far seen images backing the campaign projected onto Parliament and the Bank of England at night and the appearance of campaigning graffiti washed into the pavement outside Portcullis House, the Treasury and the Supreme Court.

Soundtrack: Dave Gammie Film: Manou Bendon Medigang Dancers: Pandora’s Box

Pandora’s Box Flashmob dance on College Green

But little were they to know that College Green – which might seem to me or you a public green place – is in fact part of the private Parliamentary estate.

So no sooner had the music started and the dancing began, Black Rod, who is The Queen’s representative in the House of Lords instructed one of her 30 staff to come down to remonstrate with BackTo60 organiser, Joanne Welch.

A lively discussion followed only mellowed when the member of staff, Fiona Shannon, who had been instructed to ask the dancers to go, realised she was one of the women born in the 1950s who would benefit from a victory by the campaign.

She then went off however to get reinforcements – allowing the dancers to do a quick encore – before the dancers decided to disappear down a Westminster sidestreet.

Joanne Welch said: ” I genuinely thought this was a public place and didn’t think we needed permission to stage the event. It is used regularly by broadcasters and also has been used by Remainers and Brexiteers to stage noisy demonstrations. I apologise if we needed permission.We will know next time.”

A House of Lords spokesperson said that College Green is part of the parliamentary estate. Any requests for filming or other activity are dealt with by Black Rod’s office on behalf of the House of Commons.

The spokesperson added :”Protests and operating amplified noise equipment are not permitted on College Green. The participants were made aware of this and left voluntarily.”

But not without accompanying their mission.

Not amused: Sarah Clarke,The Lady Usher of Black Rod Pic credit:

For those curious about Black Rod,the current holder of the office is Sarah Clarke, the first woman appointed to the £93,000 a year post in 650 years.

She organises the State Opening of Parliament and the highest profile part of her role is summoning the House of Commons to hear the Queen’s Speech. She is also responsible for business resilience and planning for the House of Lords, and leads a department that includes the Yeoman Usher and the House of Lords Doorkeepers.

She was appointed last year having previously organised the Wimbledon tennis championships for a number of years.

As the Queen’s representative she now knows that her 1950s British subjects are pretty angry about the loss of their pensions.. Perhaps Her Majesty should be sent a video of Pandora’s Box great performance compliments of BackTo60,

BackTo60 Graffiti on the pavement outside Portcullis House
The guerrilla imaging campaign included a projection of one of my blogs on the wall of the Bank of England

36 thoughts on “Parliament’s top official Black Rod displeased by Back To 60’s Flash dance on College Green

  1. Perhaps the government. Should realise who pays their wages . And who actually pays for parliament & the grass . Yes it’s the people of this country. So for me it’s our ground as much as theirs

    Liked by 1 person

  2. can this be posted on face book please so we can share thanx also have you heard any snippits around about the result with the JR


  3. Brilliant footage and wonderful to see the support of these young people. Thankyou to you all

    Well it certainly brought some life to the outside of the House of lords maybe they should do this inside and wake up the 2 thirds that are either asleep or organizing a night at the theatre.

    The group were unaware of the rules, as agreed we shouldn’t be doing anything against the house of lords as we are respectful of their rules. It’s a damned shame they aren’t respectful as to why women born in the 50’s have been driven to use these tactics in the first place.

    If they managed to get their heads out of the financial times they might realise theirs more going on out there than buying bitcoins and Brexit.

    I’m pleased the black rod earns £93k a year salary and feel confident she won’t have to worry about not getting her state pension. We can only fantasise about that type of salary. The group caused no damage to anyone on anything, they didn’t impact on people’s lives and they didn’t cause suffering to anyone.

    Can the government say the same?


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those young dancers will be affected by the State Pension age rises as much as anyone. If youngsters care about climate change, which is all about caring for the future, they should think about themselves in 40 years time…the time to act is now, on the environment AND the State Pension!


  5. Very well done to you all I myself are 1950s women am having to still work because of it it’s appalling we had no notification .


  6. Its a bit rich the Govt complaining about #50sWomen protest on a piece of land paid for by UK citizens taxes!!
    Well done #Backto60 for accomplishing your mission though, and highlighting the campaign to get our stolen pensions back.
    Innovative creative campaigning by campaign Director Jo Welch, clearly sending the message that the Govts attempts to create an impression of intergenerational division is not working.
    Our young people support their mothers, nans & aunties, disrespect them at your peril in the ballot box!!
    Well done and grateful thanks to Pandoras Box dancers, you did us proud xx
    Thank you David for posting this and your unending support for our plight.


  7. We want justice. We want what is ours no more no less. After 50 years hard work We want our pension NOW. Just stand up and admit you were wrong GOVERNMENT OF ENGLAND SCOTLAND AND WALES


    • Thankyou very much David Hencke for this it as cheered me up reading this was feeling down in the dumps this morning till I saw and read this. And many many thanks for your solid support in our fight for our pensions. How the DWP can say we have no rights to expect a pension is astonishing when we have paid into the gov coffers all our working lives since 15 in my case is theft on a grand scale it as to be so they should not have rights to take it from us and not give anything back or moving the goal posts as is what they done and with short notice to boot. It is great the young ones are supporting our cause too as this will effect them in years to come as well as climate change. Many many thanks to all at back to 60 you are working very hard on our behalf and it is very much appreciated. and 🤞🤞 for the JR..


  8. Black Rod is displeased (had she not heard of losing her pension like the rest of us?) but not as much as the 3.8 million 50s Women who have had their pensions stolen from them. It is like a cancer eating away and destroying innocent people’s lives and that of their families because of this vile injustice. But there is a simple cure and that is to give these women back what is rightly theirs. Thanks again David Hencke and the very professional, talented young Pandoras Box – great performance. Thank-you.


  9. How many times have we seen anti-Brexit protesters here photobombing news reports ? Nothing said then. I’m pretty “displeased” that I haven’t got my pension yet


  10. Black Rod is displeased? I am livid! That we have to be going to these lengths to achieve justice.
    The morning after the Judicial Review released this publication

    Leaving these statements for good measure.

    6. Statement of compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics
    The Code of Practice for Statistics (the Code) is built around 3 main concepts, or pillars:

    trustworthiness – is about having confidence in the people and organisations that publish statistics
    quality – is about using data and methods that produce statistics
    value – is about publishing statistics that support society’s needs
    The following explains how we have applied the pillars of the code in a proportionate way.

    6.1 Trustworthiness
    DWP analysts work to a professional competency framework and Civil Service core values of – integrity, honesty, objectivity, and impartiality. The analysis in this release has been scrutinised and received sign off by the expert lead analyst.

    We protect the security of our data in order to maintain the privacy of the citizen, fulfil relevant legal obligations and uphold our guarantee that no statistics will be produced that are likely to identify an individual, while at the same time taking account of our obligation to obtain maximum value from the data we hold for statistical purposes. All analysts are given security training and the majority of data accessed by analysts is obfuscated and access is business case controlled based to the minimum data required.

    6.2 Quality
    The analysis presented is derived from DWP administrative and survey data. The methodology and calculations have been quality assured by DWP analysts.

    6.3 Value
    This release updates an illustrative estimate that was produced in 2015/16 for the Work and Pensions Select Committee of the cost of reversing legislated increases in women’s State Pension age.

    This will reduce the administrative burden of answering Parliamentary Questions, Freedom of Information requests and ad hoc queries to ensure timely responses to public queries around the cost of reversing the current legislated increases in women’s State Pension age.

    The figures have been seen in advance by Ministers and officials.

    Why would a government have the need to leave statements of truth and accuracy?


    • Clearly truth and accuracy must come under the same header as fraud and deceipt within government policy.

      The government and its agencies do not understand what these headers mean. As they come under the heading we would acknowledge as honesty, respect and common sense.

      Not only do they not know what they mean they wouldn’t know how to spell such a tricky word as honesty.



  11. What offence have this dance group committed! None. What offence have the government committed….Theft on a huge scale, disgusting way to treat a generation of 1950’s women. Please Judges, do the right thing and restore the said date of state pension at 60 to the 1950’s women generation. Thank you


  12. I must be missing something, I don’t see how this dance is going to be of any benefit to the campaign, in fact anyone who saw it would not have any idea as to what was going on and why
    Hope no money was used producing this?


    • the dancers were dancing to let parliment know that we are not going away until we get what’s rightly ours and to keep protesting in whatever way we can thats legal is the only way to do it. I take my hat off to the young dancers well done you all. and well done all at back to 60 I am very grateful for all you are doing to help get our pensions back..


  13. Surely the Judges will see that the extra year delay to our pensions in 2011 was not down to equalisation,but was down to AUSTERITY measures by Osbourne and Cameron and the LIB DEMS and was morally wrong and unjustified !
    An extra year of working and another loss of £7-8000 is a lot of money to working class
    women. Why don’t they give up some of their pension for the sake of Austerity! But of course not because its only the working class that have to suffer for ‘Bankers and Governments ‘Cock-Ups’.


  14. Hurrah for David hencke.. We need your support.. Thank you. We desperately need OUR money returning to us which was stolen.


  15. How dare the government keep ignoring us, give back our money that you have stolen. We will carry on fighting. Why delay Judicial Review result I know why because they know they are guilty. we want our money back. Thank you David hencke.


    • First of all thank you to the dancers for supporting the cause.😊 I will be 61 this year and have worked full time from leaving school. At 55 I was made redundant within a few months was diagnosed with breast cancer had surgery , chemo , radiotherapy. Also diagnosed osteoporosis. I Helped Care for my mum who had Alzheimer’s during my treatment. After my mum passed away I started looking for a job. I could not believe how stressful and soul destroying this would be. I applied for so many jobs only to have no luck . I volunteer in a charity shop and have done various courses to help improve my prospects . I never in a million years would of believed i would be in this situation at my age. I was told by the jobcentre that my husband has to support me but he is nearly 73 and has health issues. We are not intitialed to anything as we just are just over what they say we can manage on 😠 I am disgusted in 2019 and having been an independent woman all my life to have to depend on anyone.! I feel so angry that woman born in the 50s like myself are being Robbed of the Money we have paid in . I have joined the back to 60s campaign and have suggested to my friends to join. The more voices hopefully this Cruel Act will be reversed


  16. Steal billions from the pension pot: no problem. Renege on contracts over 40 years standing: no problem. Pick on a group of vulnerable women to steal their pensions and go to extraordinary lengths to hide it: no problem. But dance near the anachronistic house of lords: off with their heads!

    Says it all really. Let’s hope the Judicial Review holds these people accountable for their flagrantly dishonest behaviour. If not, what outrages will they commit next (other than depriving pensioners of their right to watch TV and taking their homes?


  17. Great flash dance from Pandora’s Box and does parliament not belong to the people of this country? A lot of these people should be cleared out of parliament as they do not think of the people of this country first and foremost. Keep up the campaign BACK TO 60, I was born in 1956 and follow you wholeheartedly and hopefully we can win this campaign. 👍👍


  18. Well done on your sustained campaign

    In view if the car tha the case is in the Courts

    What is your position on the outcome of the case

    We all support the reversal of the situation back to the 60Ss

    Do you think it is a maximalist position

    In view of the fact both government and opposition do not outright support this position
    Any co consideration for a staggered phased in of age equalisation

    In my correspondence I also specify that the arduous combination of home life and work is taken the toll for thousands of women ,who are are being h .adele to carry on working in spite of ailing health

    Good luck with your campaign

    And speedy fruition to your endeavours



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