You are viewing blog items for January 2009.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 31 January 2009, 02:18
The BNP is trying to exploit the protests in Lincolnshire for its own racist ends by turning an issue about contracts and jobs into a racist one.
Everyone should be alert to the dangers of this protest spiralling out of control, as the BNP would wish, setting worker against worker rather than tightening employment rules to ensure that employers cannot use one group of workers to undercut another – of whichever nationality or race they may be from.
It is also vital that people are not fooled by fascist propaganda. Their policies would crash the British economy. Millions of Britons depend on foreign-owned firms for their jobs. If the BNP got their way and all non-whites and foreigners were booted out of the country then why wouldn’t all these foreign-owned companies pull out as well?
Despite the announcement of 2,500 job cuts this week, the steel company Corus still employs 24,500 people in Britain. When the BNP kick its Indian management out of the country they would be throwing these people onto the scrapheap.
Then there are the hundreds of thousands of British workers who rely on British companies winning overseas contracts. If it’s “British jobs for British workers” then will the BNP support the American aviation industry withdrawing all work from British Aerospace and Rolls Royce and giving it to American companies?
And finally, what about the millions of Britons living and working abroad? If the BNP kicked out everyone in Britain whom they did not like, why wouldn’t other countries do the same?
We live in a complex and interwined global economy. As we have so graphically seen during the recent financial collapse, what happens in one country quickly affects another.
What we need is for workers to enjoy the same rights and conditions across Europe and for people to be paid the rate for the job in the country they are working in.
This, together with proper trade union organisation of all workers – British and “foreign” – and not racial scapegoating is how we stop exploitation of workers and undercutting of wages. The BNP is no friend of the British worker.
Posted: 31 Jan 2009 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 29 January 2009, 16:28
The HOPE not hate team are all over the country at the moment, addressing meetings, planning future actions and of course fundraising. Good news is coming in thick and fast. This morning the national executive of Unite the Union voted to support the HOPE not hate campaign, which will allow us to spread the message to well over one million trade unionists across the country.
In the North West recent meetings have meant new groups forming in Preston and Blackpool, with other meetings taking place in the Ribble Valley and Pendle where there are existing groups. On Tuesday night I addressed the Labour councillors on Manchester City Council and received unanimous support for the HOPE not hate campaign.
Across in Yorkshire the HOPE not hate team has been putting the finishing touches to a new regional website and have made some cracking headway with faith groups. Down in the West Midlands Matthew addressed the regional exec of the FBU and is presently on his way to a meeting in Burton. Up in the North East, local trade unionists are busy turning out every last vote in a council by-election taking place today.
The article about our link up with Blue State Digital in Monday’s Guardian has caused quite a stir. Several organisations have contacted us in the last 48 hours inviting us to address meetings or link websites. I have also been emailed by several BNP members. For people who repeatedly tell me that they are not bothered about our online campaign they certainly are fixated with it.
Will email again later with news of our next campaign email – what they call in the trade, a kicker!
Posted: 29 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 27 January 2009, 21:18
Thanks to your hard work, our petition to demand that Nick Griffin apologises and withdraws his statements about the Holocaust have been signed by thousands and thousands of people since it went live just before lunch time.
If you've not signed it yet do so now -
If you have signed the petition, please invite your friends to do the same –
Our campaign is being built from the grassroots up – what's really great about all of this is that today alone we've bought in over 1000 new supporters to our movement.
Thank you – and keep up the good work!
Posted: 27 Jan 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 27 January 2009, 17:04
I'm back up in the North West, continuing the build the campaign ahead of the June elections. Last night I spoke at a meeting in Preston which resulted in yet another local group being formed.
There are three HOPE not hate meetings in the region tonight. I'm in Manchester, Jason is in Pendle and Bob Brown is in Blackpool. It's pretty much like this for the rest of the week, with at least two meetings happening every night.
Our latest campaign email went out today. Hopefully I'll get in from my meeting tonight to have an apology from Nick Griffin in my inbox!
Posted: 27 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 25 January 2009, 19:45
PR Week has written about Searchlight’s link up with Blue State Digital, the campaigning company which ran Barack Obama’s online campaign.
It seems to have got our nazi friends in a bit of a tizz.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 25 January 2009, 19:34
One of the great things about the European Election campaign is that it is taking me to new places all the time. Yesterday morning I was in Winsford, addressing Labour Party activists from across Cheshire. Virtually everyone in the room signed up to the campaign and two new groups look like being formed as a result. I took a wrong turning on the way back to the train station but I was compensated with some terrific scenery along the way.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 24 January 2009, 04:37
It really has been a roller coaster of a few days, though fortunately most of it was spent in the upwards direction. The Bexley by-election result was certainly too close for comfort. Though the BNP was defeated it was only by eight votes and I’ve been told that during one recount they were actually counted ahead.
The campaign in the North West is really motoring. On Thursday evening I addressed a meeting in St Helens and I now hope a local group will emerge as a result. At the end of the meeting I was approached from a woman who asked if she could help set up a group in Warrington – eh, yes please!
Yesterday was spent split between Liverpool and Manchester. The TUC formally opened their new office so it was a good time to catch up with some old friends and meet plenty of new ones too. Our film man Gregg was up for the day doing a bit of shooting for our Union DVD that will be out shortly. We used the TUC event to interview TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, Unite Regional Secretary Kevin Coyne and FBU Regional Secretary Neil Thompson. We also grabbed a quick word with local MP Louise Ellman.
Then it was back to Manchester where we had a planning meeting to set up a Manchester HOPE not hate group. I’m really excited about this project as I think it is going to be really massive and with 36% of the North West electorate living in the Greater Manchester area this is what will be needed. In between all this I managed to do an interview with the Guardian about our link up with Blue State Digital, raise some money, read some hate mail (always fun!) and enjoy a post-work drink with some friends.
All in all, it’s not been a bad 48 hours.
Posted: 24 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 January 2009, 08:45
If anyone needed a reminder of the growing BNP threat then it was there for all to see in the East Wickham ward by-election, which is in Bexley, yesterday. The BNP missed out on taking the ward by just eight votes. It was the Tory vote that really collapsed, dropping from 1362 when the ward was last contested in 2006 to 798 now. The BNP came second with 790 votes, up from the 601 they polled in 2006. Labour came third with 700 votes, down from the 931 votes in 2006.
Last Saturday the HOPE not hate team was out, delivering a very strong anti-BNP leaflet throughout the ward. It would be nice to think that we persuaded enough people to vote to make a difference.
By all accounts this was a really intensive BNP campaign, with as many as 10 different leaflets being distributed. (There will be a detailed article about this result in the next issue of Searchlight).
There was better news in Essex, where the BNP were trounced in another by-election.
With several key by-elections coming up around the country, including Newcastle, Tameside, St Helens and Carlisle, there is certainly no room for complacency.
Posted: 23 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 January 2009, 19:59
I’ve just recorded a short video about the campaign we are intending to run over the next few months. I hope you will spare a few minutes to watch it. I’m really excited about this campaign because I know it is going to involve many more activists than we have ever mobilised before and harness new technology with traditional grassroots campaigning.
Obviously, this all comes at a cost, so if you agree with our campaign ideas I hope you will consider making a £5 donation to the HOPE not hate campaign.
Posted: 21 Jan 2009 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 January 2009, 15:52
Yesterday was a really special day and one that I’m sure will be remembered for many years to come. Just as some might talk about where they were when they heard the news about Kennedy’s assassination, I hope I will forever remember where I was when Barack Obama was sworn in.
There are some who criticised Obama’s speech for lacking the flair of many of his campaign orations, others are already questioning the radicalism of his programme. But these naysayers and doom merchants fail to understand the significance of what has happened, given the depressing history of race in US history over the years.
Of course Obama will not achieve everything he would like to and I’m sure it won’t be long before many people turn against him but his election does signify real change. Something that really struck me, both when I heard him at a rally in Virginia a week before the election and again yesterday, is that his speeches are very political, and this is especially impressive given the wider American political scene.
The other key element of his election victory was a triumph of HOPE over fear – a phrase Obama himself has repeatedly used. While of course I would have preferred him to use the slogan HOPE not hate, for obviously reasons, it is really uplifting to see a positive message resonating so well with the wider population. Particularly at a time of rising political and economic insecurity, when there is most danger that people will be motivated and manipulated by fear, it is really good that so many people opted for a positive path.
I managed to watch the inauguration on the ninth floor of the Unison headquarters, along with about 100 of their staff. A few of us who went over to the States last Autumn used the occasion to meet up again, which was really nice.
All this rounded off a good day. Earlier, we held a meeting for trade unions and other interested bodies, to discuss the forthcoming European Elections. Thirty-five people attended the briefing and ten unions were represented. Our campaign strategy is finally in place and is beginning to be rolled out. For those of you who receive our HnH emails then you should have received our latest communication – including a video of me discussing the campaign. I don’t think it was my finest hour but I’ll leave it to you to judge. Just to give you a little taste of our growing online sophistication, we sent out six different emails to different audiences.
Posted: 21 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 20 January 2009, 08:46
Today’s the day that so many people never thought they would see. An African-American gets sworn in as President of the United States of America. A black leader of any Western country would be remarkable, but it is even more so given the history of the USA and the role of race within it.
I’m sure that over time many people will be disappointed with Obama, as he grapples with challenges at home and abroad. But let us sweep aside those worries for today and enjoy a real moment of history.
Posted: 20 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 19 January 2009, 20:48
To many people in London the Midlands is just the Midlands. West, East – it’s all pretty much the same. I guess it’s pretty much how the north views the south, or for that matter how the south views the north – entities to be treated as one. Well, of course that is not the case and the East Midlands has a strong and proud identity, even within the trade union movement. The M1 is more than just a road; it is a border – psychological and real.
This morning I was in Derby where I met officers from the East Midlands region of Unite. Much of our focus has been until now on the West Midlands, but the BNP pose just a serious a threat in the East. Indeed, at a local council level we now have more problems in the East Midlands. Among those at the meeting were Regional Secretary Adrian Axtell and Political Officer Nigel Hadfield. I was accompanied by my Searchlight colleague Matthew Collins, who will be leading our HOPE not hate campaign across the Midlands between now and June.
It was a really productive meeting, with a programme of action being agreed that would see us combine traditional workplace and community campaigning with the utilisation on new technology. Most positively, there was a real determination to link the anti-BNP campaign with workplace issues, something that is especially important given the wave of redundancies the union currently has to deal with.
Matthew was even decked out in a suit. Doesn’t he look smart!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 19 January 2009, 06:37
It has been another busy weekend on the campaign trail, with much of the focus being on two key by-elections. Twenty-five anti-fascist activists delivered 4,000 leaflets in the East Wickham ward in Bexley, and a slightly higher number were out in Hyde Newton, in Tameside.
BNP leader Nick Griffin was supposed to be East Wickham, with the party’s Lie Lorry, but neither were seen. Up in Hyde Newton, the BNP were delivering free copies of the party newspaper to every household, but given that we only saw three activists out on Sunday, and that included the candidate, they still have a lot of work to do.
Perhaps the rest of the local BNP were choking on their cornflakes at the report in The Observer that one in ten children were now mixed-race (
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jan/18/race-integration-study). The study, carried out by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Essex University, claimed that the face of Britain was changing dramatically, with some ethnic groups, starting with Afro-Caribbean, disappearing altogether. The report concluded that future generations "will not see race in the way we see it".
If this is the case then perhaps the BNP is campaigning in vain.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 16 January 2009, 20:33
One of the great things about our new online tools supplied by Blue State Digital is that we can monitor how many people actually open up our HOPE not hate emails and then link through to an action. This is important as it allows us to ensure that our emails are relevant, interesting and, most importantly, used to build the campaign.
I am really pleased to say that 64% of those who received the HOPE not hate email opened it up. Given that over 10,000 emails were sent out this was a terrific ratio and, according to BSD, way above the average for organisations with a similar size email list.
During a visit to the BSD headquarters in Washington DC last October, I was told how they graded people who were on Barack Obama’s email list by their level of online activity. Those who rarely opened up the Obama campaign email, didn’t donate and sign up online for local activities were described as ‘deadbeats’. This caused a bit of amusement amongst myself and a couple of UK trade unionists who were over in the States with me. We had all signed up to the Obama emails but obviously were not in a position to get more involved or donate.
Working on the same criteria I’m delighted to say that the HOPE not hate campaign has a lower ratio of deadbeats within its ranks than most other organisations with our size of email list. However, this should also be a warning, if you don’t want to become a deadbeat then read the emails and get active!
Posted: 16 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 15 January 2009, 20:32
After the best part of a week on the road I’ve finally made it back to London. I didn’t manage to achieve everything I set out to do but it’s still been a very productive week on a number of different levels. On the train back down I received an email saying that Unite in the East and West Midlands and the GMB in the East Midlands were all supporting the HOPE not hate campaign.
However, I also read a rather strange article in the Independent in which Holocaust Denier David Irving claimed that Hitler appointed him to write his biography. I kid you not.
Mr Irving, 70, told The Independent his belief was based on a 1970s meeting with Erwin Giesing, the doctor who treated Hitler after the bomb attempt on his life in 1944.
“He claimed that, when calling at Giesing's surgery in Aachen, the doctor replied 'Yes, I've been expecting you.'”
To read the full story visit:
Anyway, I’ll leave it to you to decide on the state of Irving’s mind….
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 15 January 2009, 12:12
Yesterday we launched a bid to sign up 2500 people to the HOPE not hate campaign in 48 hours. It was a tall task but 20 hours into the appeal we have had just over 1000 new people signing up. This is really fantastic. What is just as important is the number of people who sent on the appeal to their friends. Loads of people have done so and this bodes well for the future.
I did have one quite aggressive email from someone is Sussex who thought they she had just received an email from Nick Griffin! She certainly gave me what for but after re-reading the letter so wrote back, explained her mistake and promised to send on the sign-on forms to her friends.
Obviously I’ll keep you informed on how we are doing with our target but in the meantime please, please, get your friends and colleagues to sign up.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 14 January 2009, 15:09
Overnight we launched our revamped website (www.hopenothate.org.uk), though not without a few small glitches. However, it looks really good and will certainly build over the coming months. We will be having regional pages, regular videos and reports from the campaign trail.
I spent this morning in Manchester, finalising our plans for our leafleting session in Tameside on Sunday, writing (yet another) funding application and trying to work out a filming schedule for the DVD we are currently making.
Alongside the new website is our first email with Blue State Digital. I hope you’ve all received your email in the last couple of hours – if not then you are not a registered supporter of the HOPE not hate campaign. You can sign up here
Our target is to gain 2500 new HOPE not hate supporters in the next 48 hours. Of course that’s a big ask but the task facing us is huge but the potential support out there is even bigger. We already have over 10,000 supporters so it is quite manageable, especially if we all try to sign a few people up. That includes me. I’ve just gone through the 500-odd email addresses I have and the majority are not sign up so there is work for me to do as well.
I’ve set myself the target of finding 50 new HOPE not hate supporters by the weekend so I’ll let you know how I’m getting on…
Posted: 14 Jan 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 14 January 2009, 07:48
I’ve been up in the North West this week speaking at meetings, planning strategies with unions and making a short film which will be out next month. My day was somewhat disrupted yesterday due to a powercut which brought Manchester City Centre to a standstill. I was actually visiting Unison at the time and they, like many other offices in the area, were force to shut down as the lights went off. Fortunately a few of us were able to relocate in a watering hole where we enjoyed a good healthy British breakfast.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay there for long as I had a lunchtime meeting with Kevin Coyne, the regional secretary of Unite, and a couple of his political officers. We discussed the forthcoming European Elections and agreed to work together on a number of projects. I have been encouraging unions to start engaging with their members more directly than they have in the past, especially when it came to tackling BNP and racist sentiments amongst their members, and this appeared to be in line with Kevin’s own thinking. Unite have been one of our biggest supporters over the past few years and I’m sure this will continue into the future.
I’ll leave you with one statistic. Unite has 280,000 members (inc retired members) in the North West and when you take into account spouses and other people of voting age in the household then this figure rises to over 500,000. That is almost 10% of the electorate in the North West. You can now see why it is so important to get the unions to talk directly to their members!
Posted: 14 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 13 January 2009, 08:31
I guess the general ratio of the people notified for a meeting to those attending is quite small. We regularly have to send out emails and flyers to hundreds of people to get anything like a decent turnout to a meeting or leafleting session. Well, I’m pleased to say that last night I think I smashed all records at an activist meeting in Tameside.
The HOPE not hate campaign has never been active in Tameside before and as a consequence we have few contacts on the ground. We managed to rustle together a list of 31 names and even this included a few from neighbouring Oldham who were thought might help out in the by-election. To our great surprise 25 people turned up.
It was a really productive meeting and a plan of action was agreed.
We also had some feedback from the campaign generally itself. It appears that the BNP has already distributed a calendar and a leaflet in the ward. The Conservatives have been out canvassing, probably the first time this has happened in this ward for 20 years, and Labour had 50 out last Saturday for a mass canvass to signal the start of their own campaign. It’s going to be a busy few weeks and I hope that any HOPE not hate supporter in the Greater Manchester area can give us an hour of their time.
Posted: 13 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 12 January 2009, 10:48
Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist giving you a sneak preview of one of our new cartoons for the European Elections. Congratulations to our designer, he has captured the theme just right.
You’ll be able to see this and lots more on our updated website when it goes live in a couple of days.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 12 January 2009, 07:49
It feels like the European election campaign is really kicking off. Our updated website will be launched this week and we’re also beginning our speaking tour across the North West. Over the next three weeks we’ll be addressing almost 20 meetings throughout the region, though fortunately not all being done by me. This week will see HOPE not hate speakers address meetings in Tameside, Liverpool, Bury, Manchester and Blackburn, though from next week things really pick up with as many as four meeting on any one day.
The by-election in Tameside will obviously be the focus of much of our activities in the North West over the coming weeks but it is vital that this doesn’t distract us from building the local infrastructure that will be needed to stop Griffin in the European Elections.
I’m juggling my campaign preparations with the community training manual that we will be bringing out in March. I’ve just been reading Anthony Painter’s biography of Barack Obama in which he talks about the influence of Saul Alinsky on the President-elect’s community organising days. Interestingly, he notes that both Obama and Hilary Clinton were admirers of Alinsky and during one private exchange early in the primary season both swapped notes on the man. Of course Alinsky had his faults and his form of organising was particular to the United States but there is much we could learn in terms of involving and empowering communities, understanding power relationships and mobilising through Action. Anthony Painter is a good friend of mine so I would recommend that people go out and buy his book!
Closer to home, I’ve just spoken to Gerry Gable who reported on a successful campaign day in Maldon on Saturday. In response to some BNP activity Gerry and a dozen Essex activists, including two local vicars and some Trades Council activists from Chelmsford, were out with HOPE not hate material. There was a really positive response, with two people even giving donations to the campaign.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 9 January 2009, 23:24
I’m writing this on the train travelling back to London after a flying visit to the North West. After a quick meeting with Frank Hont, regional secretary of Unison, I made my way over to Tameside for a discussion about a forthcoming council by-election in Hyde Newton ward. Last May the BNP polled 28% in the ward and coming only a few months before the European Elections this is going to be a really crucial contest. It is a traditionally strong Labour seat but given the economic downturn and the fact that the BNP will throw regional if not national resources into the ward it is going to be a hard fight. However, the mood in the meeting I attended was determined and I’m confident that we will more than match the BNP for enthusiasm and commitment.
I have to admit that Tameside is somewhere I really don’t know. Over the years I have got to know Oldham well but this was my first trip to Ashton-under-Lyne. I was particularly pleased to see the renovated indoor market, much of which had to be rebuilt after a fire destroyed much of the original building, though I was too late to pop inside. Given the extent of the fire it is amazing that they have managed to use the original walls.
One interesting point about the by-election is that the BNP is changing candidates. Over the last few years local organiser Nigel Byrne has been the candidate but this time he has been replaced by Rosalind Gauci. Perhaps the BNP think she is a better candidate or perhaps this reflects the continuing rift within the local branch between Byrne and Anthony and Beverley Jones. While Beverley Jones was expelled from the BNP along with the party rebels early last year her husband, Anthony, has stayed in despite a serious rift with Byrne. The fact that Anthony Jones is Gauci’s agent, and indeed the Chairman of Tameside BNP, might suggest where the power currently lies within the local branch.
Whatever the internal differences within the BNP this is going to be a hard battle and one that I will be reporting on regularly over the next few weeks. I’m confident that we can keep the BNP at bay but it is going to be a hard fight and so if you live in the Greater Manchester area please do get involved.
Posted: 9 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 8 January 2009, 08:17
Did I say I liked this cold weather? Don’t know about you but it really got to me yesterday, fortunately it seems that it is turning and the worst is past us. Anyway, it was another busy day putting into place the tools we are going to need to see off the BNP in the European Elections. Much of the day was spent writing material for our new website which we hope to launch next week. The most exciting element are the new tools that are being provided by Blue State Digital, the campaigning company which is helping us run our online campaign.
I’m also working on a community campaigning training manual which is due out in the Spring. This really is the future. If we are remove the BNP from the communities in which they are organising then we really need to work in those very communities and help local people find positive answers to their own problems.
The father of this form is organising is Saul Alinsky. Here’s a quote for the day: “As an organiser I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sense weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be – it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be. That means working in the system.”
Today is more planning. I’m working with Unison to develop an exciting new form of organising that we hope will increase turnout amongst it members and have to write a report on that this morning. This afternoon I’m off to see the guys from Philosophy Football to discuss how we can link social events with activism in the run up to the Elections.
Sky News is talking about a UFO attacking a wind turbine. I think it’s time to get on with the day…
Posted: 8 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 7 January 2009, 06:21
I don’t know about you but I’m not minding this cold weather too much. I know a lot of people are struggling but I have to say that I much prefer a bright cold day rather than rain or even sweltering heat. Yesterday I travelled up to Birmingham for meetings with the Midlands TUC and West Midlands Unison. Apart from delays to the service the scenery was fantastic. The cold snap certainly doesn’t allow you the chance for sluggishness.
My meetings were also very productive. I used the festive period to put the final touches to our 2009 campaign strategy and now it is a case of meeting our union and community partners to discuss our plans. In addition to our national plan we are devising strategies for each individual region and supporting union. In some cases we are creating work plans for unions at a regional level. We’ll be releasing more details of this over the next few weeks.
Posted: 7 Jan 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments