You are viewing blog items for January 2008.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 08:19
Yesterday there was news of how the ‘baby boom’ was costing the taxpayer an extra £200m a year. Much of this boom, a study by the NHS found, came from foreign-born mothers having children here. Of course the story was written up as another example of how immigrants are draining our economy.
I have four observations. Firstly, most of these babies will grow up to be UK citizens, get jobs and pay tax. I’m sure over their lifetime they will quite comfortably put back into the system far more than the maternity costs.
Secondly, an increase in babies is actually good for the economy. A couple of years ago one Government Department produced figures showing that by 2050 there would only be two people in work for every pensioner. Surely having more people of working age in 2050 is going to help us pay for our own retirement (yes, the pensions of the very journalists writing these stories).
My third observation is that, according to the same statistics that the BBC and others use, the cost of maternity actually was down last year compared to the year before. Of course, this fact didn’t make it into the main news.
Finally, the 60% increase in maternity spending over the last 10 years has to take inflation and the cost of more expensive new equipment into account. Suddenly the increase is not as large as the lurid headlines suggest.
The media have flagged up some genuine problems, of that I have no doubt. But surely it is just as much a problem of poor forward planning and relocating resources than anything else.
I wonder whether there would have been the same hysterical headlines if there had not been an ‘immigrant’ angle to the story!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 06:38
If the election outcome was determined by our pre-election organisation then there would be no doubt that the defeat of the BNP would be in the bag. I can honestly say that in all the time Searchlight has been running local election campaigns we have never been so organised. There is a great network developing around the country and a real thirst to learn from one another and help each other out.
Of course it isn't and there is still plenty of work to be done.
Over the next few weeks I will be in most regions of the country, speaking at meetings and dayschools and having more private conversations with local anti-BNP group organisers in the key local authority areas.
If anyone has been following my blog on the http://www.stopthebnp.org.uk/ website then you'll know about the internal problems in the BNP. Obviously any in-fighting is good news for us but it does create new problems. How do we plan Yorkshire when we have no idea if the rebels will be standing for the BNP or at all? Just how many far-right parties will be standing in the Greater Manchester area?
The February issue of Searchlight, which is out at the end of the week, gives our assessment on the likely electoral impact of the BNP split. If you don't already subscribe to Searchlight I reckon it's time you did!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 09:27
Yesterday it suddenly dawned on me that the launch of our London election website was only a week away. Slightly concerned I spoke to our designer who told me that in no uncertain terms could not stop the countdown clock on our website so it looks like my next few days will be working flat out getting the site together.
On a more serious note, I hope you will like it. We really believe that the Internet offers our London campaign a completely new dimension but it will only work to its true capacity if people use it.
This past week has been hectic. Sorry for not posting more regularly but it seems to have been non-stop. I went up to Sheffield last Thursday where I met our friends at Hope not Hate Yorkshire. We were putting the finishing touches to our campaign strategy, which has not been easy given the turmoil inside the BNP up there. It was good to be back up in Sheffield. I lived there for five years. Much has changed but much is as it always was.
The next day I was in the East Midlands, where I was meeting officers from Unite the union. We were actually discussing the 2009 European Elections, how's that for forward planning.
There was no let up over the weekend. There was our February edition of Searchlight to finish and sign off and I also spent quite a bit of time taking photos for our forthcoming London campaign.
Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day and a moment to remember the horrors of the last century. I have to admit that past events have passed me by but this year I have kept a closer eye on what has been going on. This is largely due to my recent trip to Rwanda. I've probably mentioned this before but it is incredible to see a country returning to 'normal' so soon after the genocide. It really does highlight the bad and good in human nature and our capacity to overcome the odds.
It is this strength of purpose that we all need to take us through these next few months, especially in regard to the London elections.
Posted: 29 Jan 2008 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 09:03
Today's going to be another organising day. We are launching our London campaign shortly but there seems to be a never-ending list of things to do. Not that I'm complaining, especially with the 100-odd people who have offered their services as volunteers. A fantastic response. Hopefully this year we have set in place the network to utilise these people.
Just got off the phone with Hope not Hate Yorkshire. They really are motoring in Rotherham, which is our main target authority in the region outside West Yorkshire. Hope not Hate Rotherham was formally launched last December with a meeting of over 60 people and last weekend they had a really successful activity with almost 40 people out. I know this is only the beginning as Paul and Lorraine have big plans for Rotherham over the next few months.
Talking of Yorkshire, I know it is the AGM of the regional TUC this weekend so I hope that more trade unions will get involved in the Hope not Hate campaign. (If you want to get involved in the Hope not Hate Yorkshire then contact them at email@example.com)
For the past few years I seem to have spent more time out of London than in it. Obviously with the London Assembly elections this will have to change for this election campaign but it is important for me and the rest of the Searchlight team not to take our eye of the ball in other areas. It is no point pegging the BNP back in London if they make substantial gains elsewhere. Over the next few weeks I will be visiting most regions meeting the unions and local anti-BNP organisers. Obviously most of these meetings are invite-only but if you are keen to get involved or are linked to a group that would like to become part of the growing Searchlight network across the country then please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll sign off now. I have to catch a train to Barking and Dagenham.
Posted: 23 Jan 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 15:12
It is always embarrassing to have to admit you were wrong and even more so when one has to apologise in public, but yes, today I have to accept a mistake. Yesterday I derided the BNP claims that they had 250 activists out in London over the weekend and delivered 100,000 leaflets.
I stuck my neck on the line and suggested half this number of activists and only 35,000 leaflets.
It now appears that I was too generous. The latest figures doing the rounds is just 90-100 and that comes from BNP election chief Eddie Butler.
As I mentioned yesterday the campaigning weekend was as much for internal party consumption as it was to kick-start the London campaign. It would appear that Griffin and friends deliberately sought to exaggerate their numbers so as to give the impression that the party was fully behind his leadership. You only have to read Richard Barnbrook’s account of the weekend to see how he was trying to ‘big’ up Collett, Darby et al to see the real agenda at play.
As reports were coming in of BNP activity it did indeed seem impressive. Small groups of BNP activists were out in a number of wards across East London. However, on closer inspection not all was what it seemed. It appears that BNP team were out but just doing the main routes through areas rather than the entire ward so as to give the impression that more was actually being done.
So, yes, I admit I was wrong, but my embarrassment isn’t anywhere near that of the party leadership. Given that this was a national turnout then a figure of only 100 is not too impressive. I was in Sandwell earlier this year when we had 221 people (yes, that is the number who signed in), virtually all from the Black Country and Birmingham area. On that particular day we managed to deliver 45,000 newspapers. Now that was impressive.
Posted: 22 Jan 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 21 January 2008, 16:06
The BNP was out in force last weekend in London in what was billed as the first of several national mobilisations in the run up to the London elections in May. However, every report seems to recall a slightly different story.
The first posting was made by Simon Darby on his blog when he reported on the Saturday night that almost 200 people had delivered 100,000 leaflets. Then there were reports on Stormfront on the Sunday that it was actually 250 people. Finally, today, the official BNP website reported 250 over the two days delivered 100,000 leaflets. However, the accompanying photograph of the massed ranks of the party faithful shows just 63 people, and that’s probably being generous.
So the question is who is telling the truth? If one believes Darby then the extra 50 people did not hand out a single leaflet. If the explanation is that the extra 50 people came out on the Sunday then they obviously didn’t hand out a single leaflet.
Searchlight believes that they are all lying. We admit that several wards were covered but the total number of people was considerably fewer than the 250 boasted and only about 35,000 leaflets were distributed.
Of course we shouldn’t expect anything more from the BNP. The event, after all, was just as much for his internal audience to prove that he still has a following. It was also organised by Richard Barnbrook, who recently claimed 25,000 leaflets were delivered in Lewisham shortly before Christmas though the real figure was less than a quarter.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 21 January 2008, 08:14
A left wing organisation recently produced a critique of the anti-fascist movement from their own political perspective. Unsurprisingly it was critical of the current movement, especially the UAF. While it acknowledged that the emphasis on local campaigning by Searchlight was far more effective it criticised our use of celebrities.
Obviously I’m not going to reply on this blog to their wider political analysis, though I might find another venue for that if I can find a spare hour, but I would just like to make one observation. The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty document was most outspoken about our use of businessman Alan Sugar. Interestingly enough, his picture on our Hope not hate leaflet caused the most interest from ordinary people and many became inquisitive enough to look inside the leaflet.
Given that his popular TV show was on at the same time Searchlight makes no apologies for using him or other celebrities if it attracts interest from people who might not otherwise read our material. This does not negate from a need to address the causes of support from the BNP, indeed, the AWL document praises our Keighley campaign, but if a spoonful of sugar is needed to sweeten our message then so be it.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 22:55
Wow, what a day it has been. We have been preparing for the launch of our new website for several days now, fine tuning here and here repeatedly, but there is always some trepidation when the moment comes and the site goes live. To be honest I was in bed when the site went up but of course I couldn't sleep so my day started ridiculously early.
And it has been non-stop ever since. This morning I had a meeting at SERTUC, the regional TUC, to discuss the forthcoming London elections and then over to The Mirror to discuss possible joint work over the next few months. Then it was back into central London where I had a meeting with a potential press officer and finally I had a meeting in the House of Commons to discuss the London elections.
This last meeting brought together fifty people from a range of community organisations, trade unions, political parties and faith groups. There was a real buzz about the place. We are all acutely aware of the threat posed by the London elections but there are also opportunities through which we can push our own agenda of hope. Frank Dobson MP chaired the meeting. Obviously I can't go into the details of this meeting at this stage but more shall be revealed when we launch our London campaign in a few weeks.
It's not 10.48pm and I got home to find over 250 emails waiting for me. Almost all are complementary about our new site, a few offer some suggestions for improvement and there are even a few donations towards the campaign. Not bad for a first day.
With the anxiety of the website launch now over I really do feel that the campaign has begun.
Posted: 17 Jan 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Jon Cruddas | on: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 12:30
There is no doubt that 2008 will mark a key date in the long term fight against the BNP. 2007 was not a good year for the BNP. At the local elections in May they predicted wining between 30 and 60 more local council seats; in the event they won nine and lost eight. By the end of the year they were drowning in internal faction fighting, expulsions and vendettas. Allegations of illegal activity and financial irregularities not only are threatening to tear the BNP apart but also mean that both the police and Electoral Commission have been formally approached to investigate their internal affaires. In short 2007 was a good year for the anti-fascist movement.
However, no-one should be under any illusions that the conditions that have led to the upsurge in support for the BNP persist. These include, amongst others, systemic Home Office failures, economic insecurities, enduring inequalities in terms of access to public services, such as housing and health, and the terms of debate around race, migration and demography. Economic downturn of the type many commentators assume will intensify these forces and make our struggle even harder.
Against this backdrop, the elections for the Mayor and London Assembly will be critical. The BNP hope to win two seats in this poll which, critically, is conducted under proportional representation. These elections are in turn the stepping stone to the European elections next year again under PR- this is the focus of their whole medium term strategy which they hope will transform their fortunes.
That is why we have to intensify our energies and campaigns this year. We must forge new alliances at local level; wide and deep alliances to defeat them at local elections. We must build our most systematic campaign this year in London to close down any possible breakthrough. We must also talk policy and seek to shift the terms of debate away from the intolerance that characterises present political discussion.
All in all 2008 will be a busy year.
Posted: 13 Jan 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 11 January 2008, 07:16
Firstly let me say thank you for visiting this site. I hope you like it and find it useful. More importantly, I hope it convinces you to get involved in the Hope not Hate campaign. Only together can we stop the BNP.
This year’s Hope not Hate campaign will be bigger and better then ever before. We will build on the success of 2007, when we prevented the BNP from making any electoral advances and even pushed them back in many key areas, and also introduce new campaigning techniques and initiatives.
The most obvious change this year will be the use of the Internet. While the Internet will never replace door-to-door grassroots campaigning it does allow us to communicate, organise and mobilise on a far greater scale than previously possible.
This is my blog. It will be an opportunity for me to let people know about the Hope not Hate campaign, to ask your opinion and to encourage you to get involved. I hope it will also provide a window into one of the most exciting and important campaigns of the year.
I hope to write my blog as often as possible though of course this will be slightly dictated by the pressures of a political campaign. I welcome feedback and will publish as many comments as possible but I hope you appreciate that given the deluge of abuse we get from our opponents (we must be doing something right!) I cannot promise every comment will be posted up.
So, I’ll sign off now. I hope you enjoy this website and it motivates you to get more involved. Be part of the movement.
All the best
Posted: 11 Jan 2008 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments