You are viewing blog items for February 2008.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 17 February 2008, 13:17
I’ve managed to have a bit of time off this weekend and with the sun streaming down here in London I thought I’d visit a few markets. This is where you find the real communities and get a glimpse of a changing London.
First port of call was Well Street market, tucked away a few minutes walk from Hackney Downs station. There is little to see here, well only three stalls to be exact, but it is more famous for who once was there. It was here that Jack Cohen once had a market stall before he went on to open up his first Tesco shop. The rest, as they say, is history.
The market stall holder I chatted to knew nothing of the Cohen connection to the market. I think he slightly misunderstood what I was saying and thought that Cohen’s stall was exactly where his is today. With great excitement he told this to all his friends, before turning to me and saying that he too would have supermarkets before long!
Well Street market is not what it used to be, not least because of the Tesco metro which now occupies one end of it. The irony of this was not lost on me.
It was back on the train and a quick walk over the Thames brought me to Borough market, clearly the number one eatery in the whole of London. I purposely avoided getting any money out before I went there because, as has all too often happened in the past, I knew I would come away with an empty pocket and a full belly.
My final stop was Brixton market, and this was probably the most interesting. I used to come down here as a boy. I remember being fascinated with the hat stalls and would stand around for ages looking at these huge colourful things. The hat stalls have largely gone, partly I guess because of changing fashion but also because of the changing demographics of the area.
Brixton is synonymous with the Afro-Caribbean community but this is changing, as Africans and other immigrants have moved in. There is also a thriving Colombian community in the area, as was shown by the rammed full Colombian café in the indoor market.
That is London, always changing, never the same. I can understand why some people are worried about change and nervous about the unknown. But I find it fantastic. It is the sign of a thriving city and one that needs defending against the BNP.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 17 February 2008, 09:15
Yesterday The Times ran a front page story which claimed that more Poles were leaving Britain than arriving. The rising cost of living over here and a booming economy back home meant that a growing number of young Poles returning home.
Surprisingly enough, this story was not carried in the Express, Mail or Sun!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 10:57
Back on the road today, well actually the train. This time I'm on my way up to Leeds and Rotherham to put the finishing touches to our local election campaign. I left a beautiful London morning to be greeted by fog 30 minutes into my journey. Who says that there is not a North/South divide?
My mailbag was full following my posting about my night out at Latif's in Newcastle. In fact, I've not had so many people contact me following a blog before. So, to keep everyone enthralled I'll be giving you a culinary Hope not hate tour of Britain over the next couple of months. Tonight I should be in for a treat. Linking up with my old mate Paul and he does like his food!
Plans are well under way for our Weekend of Hope in London (14-16 March). We should be putting up information about this on our website very soon.
Just before I sign off, I must just admit that as we approach Peterborough the sun has come out again. So much for my London bias!
Posted: 13 Feb 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 22:02
I had a spare couple of minutes today so I read the latest issue of the BNP magazine Identity. To my great amusement the main piece was a six-page attack on Searchlight by Nick Griffin. The BNP leader claims that we are behind the internal troubles inside his party.
These six pages follows on from the four he devoted to us in the previous edition. My view is that if he is making us such an issue then we must be doing something right!
Posted: 12 Feb 2008 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 11 February 2008, 19:08
18 years ago today Nelson Mandela walked free from prison after 27 years behind bars. A giant of a man, his belief in humanity and reconciliation should be an inspiration for everyone.
There is probably no other person alive on this planet who commands such respect than Mandela.
Unsurprising then that the BNP remain outraged that he was released.
posted by: Jon Cruddas | on: Monday, 11 February 2008, 08:29
Just travelled back down to London following successful Hope not Hate Conference up in the North East.
It was a joint effort between the TUC and Labour party and we had well over a hundred people participating.
Twenty BNP picketed the event- says a lot that: a picket against an event billed as being against hatred.
All in all a good days work- lots of detailed planning for local organisation in the region, but also a very positive feel amongst the people there.
No BNP councillors in the region and a real commitment to keep it that way. All power to their elbow.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 11 February 2008, 07:46
Today’s Independent runs a fascinating testimony of the horrors of the Cambodian genocide from one of its architects, Kang Khek leu. Known as
'Cambodia's Himmler', he oversaw the deaths of 17,000 people. As he prepares to go on trial, he gives a chilling insight into the Khmer Rouge – the most detailed account yet from a top henchman.
It is well worth a read
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 February 2008, 15:02
I am writing this on the train back to London after a fantastically successful morning at the Durham county cricket ground. Over 110 people, overwhelmingly from the County Durham area, attended a TUC-organised Hope not hate event to discuss strategies to beat the BNP.
They were joined by activists from Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and Teeside.
It was the first such activity I had attended in the North East but if the atmosphere was anything to go by I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of work being done here over the next year.
I'm sitting opposite Jon Cruddas who promises that he is about to blog about the weekend too. While the BNP does not pose the threat it does in some other regions there was a real determination not to be complacent.
This trip brings back memories of the Labour Party deputy leadership campaign where for the best part of a year Jon and I travelled around the country every weekend. As was the norm back then, the evening consisted of a good curry and a couple of beers. We often joked about writing a guide to the curry houses of Britain.
Last night we went to Latif's curry house, famous for its 'Curry Hell' hot dish which is free to anyone who finishes it. Abdul Latif might have died three weeks ago but his restaurant lives on. For more on the man who revelled in his Viz nickname 'the curry mentalist' visit
Anyway, we avoided the Curry Hell but it was a great meal nevertheless, though still not nearly as good as our favourite Indian which is in Albert Square in Manchester city centre. More about that in some future post.
The BNP organised a picket of our event today though unfortunately for them Searchlight had learnt about their intentions and measures were put in place to stop them intimidating the audience. A couple of BNP had tried to register for the event but thanks to the ever watchful eyes of TWAFA they were identified and turned away at the door. As it was the 20-odd misfits who gathered outside looked particularly stupid when one of them shouted through the megaphone: "They just want to keep us at the bottom where we belong."
No kidding, that is what the fool said.
Anyway, I'd just like to put on record my thanks to the organisers of the event and I look forward to working closly with them in the future. I was also particularly impressed with Stephen Hughes MEP who gave a fascinating and clear explanation of the growth of fascism across Europe.
Posted: 9 Feb 2008 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 February 2008, 16:13
It has been a dreadful week for the BNP. Two councillors have resigned, the House of Lords rejected an appeal by BNP members Chris and Barry Roberts in a case against Searchlight and last night the party failed to secure a by-election victory despite the best efforts of the Daily Mail and the BBC.
And just when they thought it could not get any worse …it did. Today two High Court judges threw out a claim by a defeated BNP candidate who had challenged a council election result last May. The BNP’s John Rowe got the same number of votes as Labour candidate Paul Re
ynolds in the Rosegrove and Lowerhouse ward. Lots were drawn and Labour won.
Rowe took the case to court, ably backed by his close friend and BNP councillor Sharon Wilkinson. To their dismay the BNP has refused to financially support the case, though they were quick to claim credit late last year when it appeared that the election result would be overturned.
At the centre of the dispute was one ballot paper which had been awarded to Labour but which Rowe’s legal team insisted should have been discarded. The judges ruled in favour of the Returning Officer and the original outcome stands.
This leaves Rowe facing a legal bill of £30,000. More significantly, it might also spell financial ruin for Sharon Wilkinson as she was backing Rowe’s bid. Wilkinson is up for re-election this year, perhaps she will reconsider this now.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 February 2008, 07:32
They are dropping like ten pins! Hot on the heals of the resignation of Alan Bailey from Havering Council we have now learnt that another BNP councillor has packed it in. Alan Warner has resigned from Heanor Town Council and
Denby Parish Council, telling the local paper that both roles were a waste of his time.
I would obviously like to congratulate Warner on this wise decision and urge the few remaining BNP councillors to listen to his wise words …and pack it in themselves!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 21:34
I can now confirm that the BNP has one fewer councillor after Alan Bailey resigned from Havering council citing work pressures. A by-election is set to be held in what appears a tight three-way fight between the BNP, the Conservatives and Labour.
Running the BNP campaign will be local organiser and longtime football yob Jason Douglas who, it would also appear, lives in Bailey's house, although he registers his black cab at a different address.
One of Searchlight's reporters was in the back of his cab the other day and wondered how he has been able to obtain a licence from The Public Carriage Office in London. Maybe the rules have changed but normally convictions like Jason's used to rule you out. (Perhaps a reader could enlighten me?)
Douglas has had problems remembering his address in the past. During one previous election in Redbridge he appeared to be living in two places at once. Mind you he has so much on his plate these days he could be forgiven for making the odd 'slip' in filling out forms. When he is not brawling at football or driving his cab he is running three East London BNP branches.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 08:21
I have been up most of the night following the Super Tuesday elections. Bit of an anti-climax because I was obviously supporting Obama (he was the HOPE candidate after all). However during the evening I got a call from an old friend.
Darren Wells was formerly a nazi and one of the main players in Combat 18. He eventually saw the light and for a couple of years worked inside the organisation for Searchlight. During this period he helped stop one planned bombing campaign and played a significant role in helping to prevent further nazi-inspired violence in Oldham in the two weeks after the riots.
Anyway, he rang me to chat about the elections. He too was following the results and he too was backing Obama.
So alongside Robert De Niro and myself, I reckon Darren is truly one of the Goodfellas!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 23:25
There's a rumour circulating that the BNP has lost another councillor, this time Alan Bailey from Havering. I don't have any more details yet but I'll be sure to let you know if this story stands up.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 13:52
As if the Voice of Change rebellion were not enough, the BNP leader now faces calls for a division of the North West region, for which he recently appointed himself organiser and top candidate for the European Parliament in 2009 despite living in Wales. Some local activists think it is too big to run as one entity. And Cumbria members are complaining that once again the rest of the region did not support their latest leafleting drive.
Has Griffin surrendered to Hope not Hate in despair? Well it certainly beats jumping off the Tyne Bridge.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 4 February 2008, 16:06
There was a general sigh of relief when the clock struck 4pm today and our London website went online without a glitch. As usual it was a bigger task than we first imagined but a big thanks to everyone who has helped put it together.
You can visit it at www.hopenothate.org.uk/london
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 4 February 2008, 08:47
The Department of Schools has just announced that they are funding a project to take two young people from every sixth form in the country to Auschwitz as a bid to foster greater understanding of the Holocaust and other genocides.
I went on a trip organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (www.het.org.uk) a couple of years ago and I have to say I found it a very moving and motivating experience. It really does put everything I do in my life into perspective.
The fact that it was minus 9 and snow was several inches think probably made it all the more haunting.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 3 February 2008, 15:03
It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in a railway station coffee shop. I thought I’d update my blog as I wait for my train back home. It’s been another busy few days, this time up in the North West of England.
With London being such a focus this year I’m finding it more difficult to spend as much time as I would like on the road. This is especially the case with the North West where, due partly to our own success, I feel that it is no longer such a priority. It was here that the BNP first made its breakthrough in 2001 and over the next couple of years Burnley, Oldham and Blackburn were the front line.
Times have changed. The BNP hardly exist anymore in Blackburn, are a mere shadow of themselves in Oldham and now only have four councillors left in Burnley, down from a one-time high of eight.
All this is about to change. BNP leader Nick Griffin has announced his intention to be the party’s leading candidate in the region in next year’s European Elections. Needing as little as 9% of the vote, the North West is set to become the frontline once more.
The BNP is planning monthly regional activities between now and then to raise the party’s profile. As I write this, at 10am, Griffin himself will be making his way to Burnley for the first such activity.
There are several established anti-fascist groups across the North West, including my old friends in Oldham and Burnley. In the aftermath of the riots in 2001 I lived up in the region and worked closely with Oldham United Against Racism and Burnley Trades Council.
Last Thursday evening we brought together groups from across the North West. Over 25 people representing 15 organisations from 12 local authority areas were present. I found it a very uplifting meeting, not least because it was conducted in a friendly and comradely fashion. There were people from several different political parties and none, different trade unions and faith groups. All were united in a determination to develop a regional network that can defeat the BNP this May but also build a platform for resistance for the European Elections.
In addition to the people there from Manchester, Oldham, Tameside, Wigan, Liverpool, Lancaster, Blackpool, Burnley, Sefton, Bury, Ribble Valley and St Helens, there were others from Pendle, Blackburn, Preston, Hyndburn and Stockport who were unable to attend but keen to get involved.
I will be holding several of these regional meetings across the country over the next few weeks. If you or your organisation would like to be invited to the meeting in your area please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: 3 Feb 2008 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments