You are viewing blog items for August 2010.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 31 August 2010, 08:09
After a week in Bradford and the best part of two months working with the Yorkshire HOPE not hate team on the anti-EDL campaign it seems like today marks the start of a new chapter. The Yorkshire HOPE not hate team are planning to build on the fantastic links they've developed during the campaign but my focus is turning elsewhere.
I'm particularly excited by the relaunch of our magazine Searchlight, which comes out later this week. We've gone full colour and we have a new design. I think it really looks lovely.
I will just return to Bradford for one last comment. It's all too easy in my life to became jaded from the hatred of groups like the BNP and EDL. Sometimes the worst thing is that I become immune to their racism because I have to read so much of it and as a result I'm not often shocked. It is nice, however, to read positive comments about our campaign.
On Sunday I blogged about how several Asian families turned up at the police station, carrying trays of food, to thank the police for all their hard work. My blog was widely read and many posted comments on our facebook page. Here are just a few and it’s comments like these that make my job so enjoyable:
Fiona: “What a heartwarming blog post that is.”
Sabrina: “Aww, that's a warm and fuzzy story. Thanks for sharing.”
Sheila: “Good on the Muslim community for having the dignity not to stoop to the level of these inbred thugs. Let's keep fighting the fight folks. HOPE NOT HATE!! Xxxx”
Soban: “That's brought a proper lump to my throat!”El: “That has just made an otherwise rubbish day good. Thank you.”
Neil: “This shows that the communities can work together against hatemongers like the EDL. A very nice article :)”
Jill: “It sounds like a major positive of the day may have been an improvement in the relationship between the Asian communities and the police - let's hope it can be built on :)”
Posted: 31 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 29 August 2010, 17:24
There was widespread relief across Bradford last night after the EDL protest passed off without major incident. Despite huge provocation from the racist hooligans the Muslim community in particular refused to rise to the bait.
But as I mention in my summary of the day last night, there was a far bigger victory in that Bradford is now able to move out of the shadow cast by the 2001 riots. The opposition to the EDL was almost universal across the city and has fostered a new and positive community spirit.
This was shown brilliantly last night. A huge police presence remained in the city in case of trouble, with most officers based in vans at the police HQ in the city centre. Late in the evening several Asian families arrived at the police station to thank the assembled officers for their hard work during the day. They then presented them with large trays of food, curries and samosas, which was gladly accepted by the police.
Bradford has rejected the racism and hatred of the EDL and is moving forward together as one people.
Bradford still has its problems but the campaign against the EDL, led by Bradford Together and HOPE not hate, has helped foster a new and more positive community spirit.
Posted: 29 Aug 2010 | There are 9 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 21:09
Ok, I'm going to try to sum up today. It's been both frustrating but pleasing.
It was frustrating because 800-1,000 EDL came into Bradford acted appallingly and largely got away with it. They chanted disgusting anti-Muslim abuse, threw bottles and other missiles whenever they could, repeatedly attacked the police lines and then, when a group did break out, were able to run around the city without being picked up. The police were soft on the EDL and this only encouraged them to get even more rowdy and obnoxious.
The police failed to push back the EDL at the beginning so they were able to goad locals from across the road. Police dogs and horses were deployed in numbers but every single one of them were pointing at local people, something that only antagonised locals.
The day was however at the same time pleasing in that despite the EDL provocation the day appears to have passed off relatively peacefully. Certainly there was no repeat of the riots that rocked Bradford in 2001. From that point of view the day was a success. Despite provocation and considerable anger the locals didn't rise to the EDL bait and everyone remain calm, or at least as calm as could have been expected in the circumstances.
But we should also look at a wider picture and here I would like to congratulate the people of Bradford and our supporters across the country. I saw at first hand how horrible, racist and violent the EDL were today. I have absolutely no doubt that if they had been allowed to march through West Bowling, a predominantly Asian area, there would have been a major disturbance. They weren't allowed to march because we stopped them. Our petition was cited by both the police and the Home Secretary as proof of local feeling.
And, looking forward, I think our campaign, coupled with other initiatives such as the Women's vigil, have helped foster a more positive spirit amongst local people. In the course of collecting the signatures for the petition we had successful conversations with 10,700 people in the city. The local newspaper did their bit and yesterday 400 local people attended our peace vigil.
Now, at last, I think Bradford has moved out of the shadow of the 2001 riots that has dogged the city for many years. The people of Bradford have not only survived the provocative invasion by the EDL but have stood together - as one city and one people - and that can only be good for the future of Bradford.
Posted: 28 Aug 2010 | There are 15 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 18:43
I'm finally leaving the area. I'll be heading back down to London this evening so I'll try to write a summary of my view of today.
I'd be interested in what other people saw and/or felt about today as well.
People can leave messages here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 28 Aug 2010 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 17:48
Was just standing down for the day but then I've just seen 15 riot vans speed past and park up in the city centre. Dozens of riot police are also on foot.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:52
I've just taken my 1,000th photo today. Some poor colleague is going to have the pleasure of going through them.
I've been told that Tommy is following me on Twitter. I've got some lovely photos of him when he arrived and police made him take his hood down for a few seconds.
It's all quiet down here but I've heard rumours there's trouble in other parts of the city. Again, no idea if it's true.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:42
I think even the police are now getting bored. A couple of hundred EDL have been allowed to move off in the direction of the coaches. Tommy's back on his phone. He's still in a small group still penned in.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:23
Tommy's back. He popped out of the police cordon for a minute but he's returned. Three more coaches are backing down the road. Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:21
I spoke too soon. They broken through the police lines but don't seem to have an idea where they're going... There's Tommy Robinson, right in my lens sight ... How sweet. Some EDL are shouting at me. And they're pronouncing my surname right too
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:06
They are boarding three coaches at a time. The first three are still being loaded. It is going to take ages at this rate.
Police sirens can be heard.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:05
It seems that some of the 200 EDL who got out of pen met some locals. Tensions are rising in the city but the EDL are slowly being led to their coaches
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 16:05
The EDL is being let out of their cordon and onto their coaches. There's talk of some trouble in the city centre but I have no information on this.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:39
Wolves hooligan Gily Shaw has just been arrested. I've just seen him being led into a police van.
It's all calmed down as police surround the remaining EDL supporters. Still no word on what has happened to the 250 EDL who broke out.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:31
250 EDL have broken out and are running up hill. One solitary police car in sight. This is a shambles ... The dogs are out of the van but are pointed at the locals.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:20
A group of Asian youths have now gathered not too far away. The EDL are chanting racist nonsense. Both groups are pushing at police lines. The EDL almost broke through
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:15
Organisers have just announced that three coaches at a time will arrive to pick people up but surely as soon as the police open their lines to allow those people through the rest of the crowd will charge.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:14
The EDL announced the end of the event and that was a sign for another charge. The speaker announced a 'piss up' in Halifax. Riot police with shields are now on the street
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 15:00
More riot police are arriving to reinforce their lines. The final speaker is Blackburn with Darwen councillor Michael Johnson, formerly of the England First Party and the BNP
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:53
The crowd are turning on their own stewards who are trying to get between them and the police. There is some nasty fighting going on
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:50
The EDL are fighting the police once more. A group of 20 pulled their hoods up and charged the police, some throwing punches. No-one has been arrested
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:50
The police are telling journalists on the ground that there are 2,000 EDL. That's not what I can see in front of me. Unless the police have a load held somewhere else I'm guessing that there are 800-1,000.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:49
The speeches are now taking place, five in total - or so we are told. Hundreds more riot police are arriving, most are heading over to the EDL lines. However 16 police horses are all directed at local people.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:31
The police have pushed the EDL back into the far corner. Why didn't they do that at the beginning?
I spoke too soon. The EDL are clashing with police again
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:24
The police seemed to have regained control. There's been a few arrests and the helicopter is in the sky. More EDL are on their way.
Some EDL were even attacking their own stewards.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:19
The police are finally moving the EDL on, pushing them back to the far side of the park. Appeals by EDL leaders for their followers to comply are falling on death ears.
There's still another 10 coaches of EDL supporters to unload.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 14:03
People are asking for more photos. I will when I can. I've taken over 400 so far but over 1,000 are arriving now so I'm bit busy at moment.
The Luton coach has just arrived. Is that Tommy Robinson in the blue jacket?
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 13:47
The EDL are singing blatant anti-Muslim chants. This is clearly winding up the growing numbers of Asian lads beginning to gather. Given that the police still clearly outnumber the EDL morons why is no-one getting arrested?
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 13:35
No more EDL have arrived yet but there's a rush of activity by the police so perhaps more are about to arrive. There's a rumour that 1,000 EDL are on their way from Halifax and the train from Leeds has not arrived yet.
Probably no more than 300 in the protest area.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 12:52
Coachloads of EDL supporters are on their way from Halifax and Keighley. Inside the EDL protest site 20 idiots have gathered. Hardly the master race
Posted: 28 Aug 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 12:32
We've just scored a bit of a PR result over the EDL. A journalist was interviewing a young Asian lad outside the EDL protest asking him about his views on the EDL coming to town. in a deep Scottish accent the Asian lad said he didn't see it was a problem. At wihch, one of our supporters pipped up, "that's because you are involved in the Scottish Defence League."
An exchanged occured, during which the Asian lad said that there were no nazis in the Scottish Defence League. "Then are you going to stop those two from coming on your demo?" our HnH supporter said, point at Charlie Robertson and Max Dunbar, two leading BNP supporters from Glasgow.
All this was in earshot of several journalists.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 11:55
Just got a call from someone in Halifax where some of the EDL are meeting up in a pub. There are about 100 at present, with a huge EDL banner. There are four coaches there to escort them to Bradford.
At the EDL site in Bradford another 10 police vans full of police officers has just arrived. There are dozens of journalists here too. BBC and ITN have hired banquet rooms in the Midland Hotel, overlooking the EDL site. Across the front of the hotel a women's peace banner is drapped. Sweet.
There's still over an hour to go before the EDL arrive but everyone is certainly ramping up their activities.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 11:38
Police have swamped the city centre. There are metal detectors up to the one entrance into the EDL demo area. Steel fences have been erected across streets between the EDL and the UAF protests. About half of the city centre shops are closed, including all banks and building societies.
Just seen some members of Scotland BNP walking down the street.
I will be blogging regularly throughout the day so stay tuned.....
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 08:57
I'm currently on my way back to Bradford from BBC studios in Leeds where I debated Jamie Bartlett, a researcher from Demos, on whether it was right to ban the EDL march for the Today programme. Not sure how I came across but I think I made my point. The general Demos argument is that banning marches only made martyrs of groups like the EDL, so increasing their appeal, and that even with a ban the EDL was still having static protest.
I explained how there was a major difference in stopping the EDL march through a predominately Asian district of the city compared to being hemmed in behind an 8ft wooden fence. I also made the point that far from pushing people into the hands of extremists our campaign had actually pulled the people of Bradford together. The deputy editor of the Telegraph and Argus told me last Monday that will the newspaper had helped collect almost 1500 names for our petition they had only received 5 letters of complaint.
I also made the point that riots and major clashes were far more likely to push people to extremism as they divided communities and increased suspicion.
I had a few other corker points to make but I ran out of time!
Posted: 28 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 August 2010, 04:38
It's been one of those nights. In addition to the EDL protest later today the city of Bradford is also playing host to a Goth festival, with over 1,000 expected. It seems like many thought the party was starting early ...along my corridor. So much for my good sleep, particularly when revellers began banging on my bedroom door at 2.30am.
Anyway, I thought I'd blog and upload another picture from yesterday's Vigil.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 August 2010, 20:43
Over 400 Bradfordians attended our Peace Vigil this evening. I will blog properly later but it was a really fantastic event with a great cross-section of the local population. There were representatives from the Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities, trade unionists and the Bradford Women for Peace.
We made the main item on BBC Look North News.
There were two highlights for me. The first was the singing of We Shall Overcome, which I found quite emotional; the second was coming across a local Bradford family who sent in one of the best photos of our Together campaign.
We have now gone out for something to eat but as I say I'll blog properly later and put up lots of lovely pictures.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 August 2010, 16:51
I’m down at the site where our vigil is being held in an hour. The stage is being erected and a Peace Tree has just been delivered by the organisers of the Bradford Women for Peace. From our event it will be taken to Infirmary Fields for the Be Bradford Peaceful Together event tomorrow afternoon.
The police held a briefing at lunchtime. I wasn’t there but I’ve just spoken to someone who was. There will be 1,400 police on duty on the streets, with another 2,000 in reserve. In all, officers from 13 forces are being deployed.
Everyone arriving at the EDL protest will be searched and photographed and any offensive placards and dangerous banners will be confiscated. I wrote earlier that the EDL was going to be put behind an 8ft wooden fence, well, what I didn’t know was that a special high tech security fence is going to be erected as well.
There will be steel gates blocking the one route from the UAF protest to the EDL’s. According to the police, the UAF will be subjected to similar searches to the EDL.
Ok, I should really get off to the vigil. There are police all over the city centre now, many wearing the green peace ribbons.
Posted: 27 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 August 2010, 14:08
Bradford's Women for Peace has begun the weekend of protests against the English Defence League presence by dressing the city centre in lime green ribbons and banners. "Given the pain and violence that was inflicted on the city almost a decade ago, as women we are standing firm against right-wing extremism and any attempts to sow seeds of discord among Bradford residents," Wahida Shaffi told the Telegraph & Argus.
Forty women sang songs and handed out ribbons to passers-by and virtually every lamppost, fence and railing in the city centre is adorned with green material.
Bradford is standing together and rejecting, in a positive manner, the race haters of the EDL.
Posted: 27 Aug 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 August 2010, 04:43
Breaking away from our campaign against the EDL in Bradford for a minute I have to say that I’m fascinated with American politics. Perhaps it is simply the lack of a language barrier, the apparent craziness of it all or simply that, as the world’s most powerful country, it matters – or more probably a combination of all three factors.
Obviously Obama and the Democrats are going into the November mid-term elections expecting a drubbing but the Republicans’ rapid move to the right might actually give them some hope. Much of this comes down to the Tea Party phenomenon, which is galvanising the grassroots of the party. It seems almost certain that Tea Party fan Joe Miller will win the Republican nomination in Alaska while in Arizona John McCain only just won his primary against a rightwing challenger but only after he tagged right at a rate of knots.
I’ll be writing a lot more about the US political scene over the next few weeks but here’s an interesting taster from an article from yesterday’s Washington Post to what is taking place:
“Liberals who saw Bush's presidency as a failed right-wing experiment thought Republicans would search for more moderate ground, much as Britain's Tories turned to the soothing leadership of David Cameron to organize their comeback. But this expectation overlooked the exodus of moderates over the last decade, which has shifted the balance of power in Republican primaries far to the right.
“...In the short run, the Republican lurch right has unleashed new energy in the party and helps explain why most polls show its supporters more enthusiastic than Democrats about this year’s elections. The Democrats’ chances of holding down their losses in November now depend heavily on whether they can generate a backlash against an increasingly immoderate GOP.”
You can find the rest of the article here: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/08/26/the_primary_differences_106895.html
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 26 August 2010, 19:36
‘We shall overcome’ is to become the adopted tune of our Peace Vigil tomorrow. We will be looking for the crowd to join us in a rendition (though the singing will be lead by local signer Joe Sheeran rather than myself!) and just to help them along we will be providing everyone who attends with a sing sheet.
I’ve looked into the history of the song and it’s really fascinating.
"We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became the unofficial anthem of the US civil rights movement in the 1960s. It was originally written by Rev. Charles Tindley, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1901 and was soon sung at integrated meetings of black and white coal miners in the early 1900s.The song was published in 1947 as "We Will Overcome" in the People's Songs Bulletin (a publication of People's Songs, an organization led by Pete Seeger. The song became associated with the Civil Rights movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan stepped in as song leader at Highlander Folk School, Tennessee, and the school a school that trained union organizers and which was the focus of student non-violent activism. With Seeger and Joan Baez singing it regularly at protests and folk festivals it quickly became the movement's unofficial anthem. "We Shall Overcome" was also sung by Robert F Kennedy, who led anti-apartheid crowds in choruses from the rooftop of his car while touring South Africa in 1966.
It has since been adopted internationally as a song of peace. After the racist serial killer "Lasermannen" had shot several immigrants around Stockholm in 1992, Prime Minister Carl Bildt and Immigration Minister Birgit Friggebo attended a meeting in Rinkeby. As the audience became upset, Friggebo tried to calm them down by proposing everyone to sing We Shall Overcome. A Hindi version of the song is very popular in India and often taught in the schools as a global peace song.
As party of our preparations for tomorrow’s vigil Ellie and a local council Sinead Engel were dropping off leaflets at various places around the city. At the Girlington Community Centre they got into a conversation with a local community worker. While totally supporting our campaign she did describe the ban as only a ‘partial ban’ as the EDL was still holding a static protest in the city. A young bloke, who was in the centre at the time, disagreed. “They’ve got the march banned,” he pipped up, in support of our campaign. “If it hadn’t been for them [us] the EDL would have been marching through West Bowling and it would have been nuts.”
He pointed out of the window and talked about the new Toys r Us store that had recently opening. “We need more of that,” he said. “We need the big shops coming back. We are only now getting over the 2001 riots.”
He reflects the mood of the city. Everyone is petrified of another disturbance and that is why virtually no-one in Bradford supported a counter-protest. And this is why the song ‘We Shall Overcome’ is so appropriate for this city.
It is fitting that as we talk about protest songs that I'm uploading a picture that Billy Bragg sent in. So, if you would like to add your photo and send us a message then you can do so here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 26 August 2010, 11:30
I've just been sent this photograph by some supporters in Bradford. Isn't it fantastic!
Sarah, who sent the photo in, entitled it "Celebrating diversity in Bradford".
Please send us your messages and photos:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 26 August 2010, 07:26
The people of Bradford have successfully mobilised against the English Defence League and now is the time for us to thank them.
We will be presenting a book to the council containing messages of support and photographs of people around the theme of Together.
We will need another 20 photographs if we are to achieve the montage we are after. Please send in your photos and messages to me today.
Let us thank the people of Bradford for their brave stance. You can send your photos and messages here by clicking here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 26 August 2010, 07:20
Our Peace Vigil is receiving overwhelming support from the trade union movement, including the Yorkshire & Humber TUC. In a letter to regional secretaries TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams gave his full backing and urged individual unions to help build it. He explained the approach taken by the TUC and said that subsequent events had vindicated this position.
"The TUC anti fascist committee decided to persuade the authorities to have the march banned and to advise our members to avoid the area on the grounds of public safety," he wrote.
"This decision was not taken lightly, it was taken, taking into account many factors including the history of the City including previous riots sparked off by a fascist presence in the city.
"The main reason however, was that local activists, trade unionists, and the people of Bradford were against any confrontations."
Accepting that there was some criticism of the TUC and HOPE not hate approach from some individuals he nevertheless believed that the campaign for a ban was something the Trade Union movement could be proud of.
"Although there has been serious differences of opinions from a number of individuals in how to oppose the EDL marching in our region, the TUC did think Bradford was a special case, and given the approach of most organisations and the people of Bradford, we feel our stance has been vindicated," he added. "We have shown the mindless few from the right wing organisations that the people of Bradford stand together and will not be intimidated or provoked by their messages of division and hate.
"I would like to thank all trade unions, hope not hate, local organisations and the thousands of individuals who have worked tirelessly and stood up in solidarity against the extremists, in making Bradford a city we can all be proud of."
You can join Bill Adams at the Peace Vigil at 5.30pm Jacob's Well car park tomorrow.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 August 2010, 20:20
I’m currently sitting in the Bradford Irish Club having a drink with Pat, the chairman of the club, Paul and Ellie. It’s not long before the conversation turns to Saturday. Pat says that he’s been talking to a lot of the local taxi drivers and there’s a unanimous view that trouble has to be avoided at all cost.
“We should just ignore this lot,” says Pat, of the EDL protest. “The best thing that can happen is for everyone to keep away from the city centre and just shun them.”
He went on: “The sound of silence is deafening.”
I really couldn’t say it better myself.
Posted: 25 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 August 2010, 18:18
Paul, Ellie (one of fantastic volunteers from the Dagenham campaign who has come up to Bradford for the week) and I have been working flat out today putting the finishing touches to our Peace Vigil plans.
Paul's just done an interview for a local community radio station where he described our vigil as a 'happy' event.
I couldn't help but laugh but the description is about right. With singing and a peace wall, where messages of support can be written, it is a sharp contrast to the hatred that will be offered on Saturday.
For those who live in Bradford, our vigil is being held at 5.30pm in Jacob's Well car park, which is in front of the council offices.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 August 2010, 08:34
The momentum is really picking up for our Peace Vigil on Friday as more and more Bradfordians offer their support. As I noted in the post earlier this morning there is real fear in this city about possible trouble on Saturday but there’s also a determination to not only oppose the EDL but celebrate ‘our’ Bradford. Our Peace Vigil on Friday afternoon provides them with a perfect opportunity to do just that in a relaxed and non-confrontational manner.
There is going to be community singing, messages of support from the city’s civic leaders and a ‘Peace Wall’ to allow people who attend to explain why they love Bradford. We are only holding the vigil for an hour but if the weather holds off I think it will be a really great event.
Here are some of the people and organisations supporting the vigil. All have a Bradford connection:
David Ison, Dean of Bradford; the Bradford Diocese; the Bradford Council of Mosques; Ian Greenwood, Leader of Bradford City Council; Imran Hussein, Deputy Leader of Bradford City Council; Marsha Singh MP; Gerry Sutcliffe MP; Terry Rooney; Yorkshire & Humber TUC; Keighley TUC; Bill Adams (Yorkshire & Humber TUC Regional Secretary); Unite Bradford 2 0130 branch; PCS HMRC Shipley branch; Grange Interlink; Yorkshire & Humber Unison; Bradford Unison; Bradford Women for Peace; Bradford Women’s Forum; Muslim Women’s Council; Touchstone; North East, Yorkshire & The Humber Unite; Pat McCourt (Chair, Regional Unite Committee); Incommunities; Pat Howley, Bradford Irish Club; Liz Firth, Changemakers Bradford; GMB Yorkshire Region; Linda McAvan MEP; Just West Yorks; Omar Khan (Omar’s restaurant); Sultan Satti Solicitors; Altaf Solicitors (Bradford); Narinder Kumar (Printplus); Bradford Resource Centre; Saba Gabrielle Moussa (Unison Bradford); Ann Morgan (Vice Chair Unite LGBT Committee); Girlington Community Centre; Nirmal singh MBE (Bradford Sikh Association); Dayal Sharma (Bradford Hindu Society); Sekhon Firth solicitors; Kabir Ahmed solicitors, Smartstep Property Group (Bradford); Thompsons solicitors.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 August 2010, 07:12
On Monday afternoon part of Bradford city centre was cordoned off after a suspect package was found in a pedestrian shopping street. For over 90 minutes police and emergency services studied a black rucksack that had been left on a street bench. I’m guessing nothing suspicious was found as police eventually took down their blue and white tape and life began returning to normal. But the incident reflected the heightening tensions gripping this city ahead of the EDL protest on Saturday.
Work is well underway to remove bricks and rubble from many of the building sites which litter the city centre and boards are being erected and steel fencing is circling several buildings and features. This is costing the council £100,000.
The police bill is considerably higher and I’ve heard that their operation is already costing over £2m. There will be 1,600 police on duty in Bradford on Saturday and thousands more are on standby in case of a major disturbance. All police leave in West Yorkshire (5,200 officers) has been cancelled and an arrangement is being made with several neighbouring forces to supply additional officers if the need arrive. While the police are keen not to disrupt shoppers they are making it clear that both the EDL and UAF protests, being held a couple of hundred metres apart, will be robustly policed and anyone breaking out of the respective police cordons will be arrested.
The police and the council have planned for Saturday for weeks but the real disruption will be for ordinary people. The city centre is being shut down for the day amid genuine fear of what the EDL protest might spark. Taxis will not be operating; all the city centre pubs have been ordered to remain closed, as are several shops and even high street banks. One bank is even staying open later on the Friday as it intends to shut its doors on Saturday.
Everyone I’ve spoken to over the last few days is apprehensive and afraid. That is why it was so important that we stopped the EDL marching down Manchester Road, through areas like West Bowling with high numbers of Muslim residents. Some people – almost exclusively from outside Bradford – have said that the ban makes no difference as the EDL will still be holding a protest in the city centre. They are totally wrong and it just exposes their lack of knowledge about what is going on here and, more importantly, what could potentially happen. Of course we would prefer it if the EDL wasn’t allowed to come to Bradford at all but it is much better that they are surrounded and ‘kettled’ in a confined space in a deserted city centre than allowed to march through residential streets.
And it is because of the fear amongst local people that their city could get ripped apart again that I get particularly annoyed when the London-based ‘thinkers’ of Demos tell us the EDL march should be allowed and glibly say: “There may be some clashes and serious disagreement but this is part of living in a liberal society." That is obviously an easy statement to make from the comfort of their West End offices but it is not a view that goes down well in Bradford. Local people have experienced what “some clashes” actually mean and that is why everyone is so apprehensive about what might happen on Saturday.
Posted: 25 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 24 August 2010, 10:04
How much difference does a day make. Yesterday morning Bradford was sunny and hot. Today, as I went to a 7.30am meeting with the council’s Event’s Manager, it was bucketing it down. Undeterred, the meeting went well, Bradford Together co-ordinator Paul Meszaros and I looked around the site of Friday’s vigil and we promptly went off for a large breakfast.
Support is coming in for the peace vigil from all quarters of the city. In addition to the names below we have had a big plug for the Vigil in yesterday’s Telegraph & Argus. Paul was quoted in the article as saying that the vigil will “be an opportunity for Bradfordians to come together and show the world that this is a peaceful and cohesive city.” (Today he even has a picture in the newspaper. He’s becoming such a celebrity that two people have stopped him on the streets to say hello to him!)
Those already signed up to supporting the vigil include: the Bradford Diocese, the Bradford Council of Mosques, Yorkshire & Humber TUC, Keighley TUC, Unite Bradford 2 0130 branch, PCS HMRC Shipley branch, Grange Interlink, Yorkshire & Humber Unison, Bradford Unison, Bradford Women for Peace , Bradford Women’s Forum, Muslim Women’s Council, Touchstone, Incommunities, Linda McAvan MEP and Just West Yorks.
Posted: 24 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 23 August 2010, 20:27
I’ve just read that the intellectuals at Demos are arguing that the Home Secretary should rescind the ban of the EDL demo in Bradford. My initial reaction was one of outrage and expletives against the centre left think tank. It’s fine for them to pontificate from the safety of their comfortable lifestyles in London, let them come up here and tell the people of Bradford that the racist EDL should march through Asian neighbourhoods.
At first I was going to ignore them but I’ve decided to take them on.
Demos argue that banning groups only encourages radicalism and, in terms of the right wing, would push people into the hands of “Combat 18 or the Racial Volunteer Force.”
Now, if Demos knew anything about the subject then they would know that neither C18 nor the RVF exist anymore. In fact, C18 has not existed at as organisation since 2002.
Then Demos claim that protest is an important part of a liberal democracy: "Preventing non-violent protest means others do not have the chance to counter-protest and demonstrate the strength of opinion against them. There may be some clashes and serious disagreement but this is part of living in a liberal society."
It is easy for Demos to say “there might be some clashes” but tell that to the people of Bradford whose city is still scared from the riots of 2001.
If Demos had been bothered to visit Bradford, or indeed speak to anyone in Bradford, then they would understand why people wanted the ban. This afternoon I met up with the deputy editor of the Telegraph & Argus, the local newspaper who courageously went out on a limb to back our campaign for a ban. In just three weeks almost 11,000 people signed our petition calling for a ban, that’s almost 6% of all adults in the city. Over 800 people filled in and returned a coupon in the Telegraph & Argus, an unprecedented return the deputy editor told me. What was most interesting was that the majority of the people who returned the coupon appeared, by their names, to be elderly white folk, again, not your usual leftie protestor.
The strength of feeling up here derives from a desire not to have a repeat of the riots that ripped the city apart in 2001, the scars of which remain today. The EDL wanted to march down Manchester Road into Bradford city centre, through areas where large numbers of Muslims live. To the people of Bradford this was provocative and incendiary and would well have led to widespread disorder. Of course we would rather the EDL did not come to Bradford at all but a static protest in the city centre is much more preferable than a march through predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods.
We didn’t call for a ban lightly but in this case the needs must. With Democracy comes responsibility and there has to be a limit to one group’s freedoms when in affects the wider population.
If Demos had bothered to speak to anyone in Bradford they would have understood why the majority of people welcomed the ban. Glibly saying that “there might be some clashes” is an insult to everyone who has to suffer the long term consequences in a city like this.
Posted: 23 Aug 2010 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 23 August 2010, 13:40
The EDL leadership are at pains to tell journalists that they are not racist and fascist. Well, let's see what they say about this photo of their sister organisation in Wales?
Posted: 23 Aug 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 23 August 2010, 11:00
I'm up in Bradford today to help build the Bradford Together vigil on Friday. It's a beautiful start to the day though whether the good weather will hold is another question.
I've got a day of meetings and planning sessions which will hopefully put some flesh on our plans for the vigil. Later today we will be releasing a list of Bradfordians who are supporting our initiative.
My job is increasingly London office-based these days so it's great to out and do some real community campaigning. And who better to do it with than my old mucker Paul. We go way back, 20 years in fact, when we found ourselves on the same History at college and we instantly found a common interest in anti-fascism to say nothing of a shared detachment from most of our other students. Anyway, I'm up in Bradford and it's going to be a busy but hopefully productive few days.
Posted: 23 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 22 August 2010, 23:19
On Friday the HOPE not hate campaign is supporting a peace vigil in Bradford city centre to give local people a chance to show their opposition to the EDL's politics of hate.
We are currently producing a 'book' and a photo gallery supporting the stance taken by Bradfordians in rejecting the BNP.
In add your support click here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
Posted: 22 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 22 August 2010, 12:52
During the 2008 US Presidential elections the right wing ran an vocal whispering campaign claiming that Barack Obama was a Muslim and so un-American and unfit to lead the country. This was particularly pushed by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, some of whose presenters never missed an opportunity to use his middle name 'Hussein' in a loaded manner.
Now it seems that the perception that Obama is Muslim growing. A recent poll has 18% of Americans thinking that Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March.
With the controversy over the proposed Islamic Centre and mosque two blocks away from New York's Ground Zero becoming a major political issue ahead of November's mid-term elections I can only imagine that soon even more people will think Obama is a Muslim.
It defies belief really.
Posted: 22 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 21 August 2010, 14:41
A war veteran from South Glamorgan is backing our campaign in Bradford. He has just sent us this message and photo.
"I was the Mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster in the war against Nazi hatred and racism. With the help of our Soviet allies and milliions of ordinary people we won.
We must not allow fascist thoughts to crawl out of the woodwork again."
Glad to have your support George. I hope others remember what you did and they do their bit now.
To stand alongside George you can add your message here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 21 August 2010, 10:15
Here's another picture that has just been sent in. We are creating a message book and photo gallery to present to the people of Bradford on Friday.
To add your message, go here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 21 August 2010, 10:08
Next Friday the HOPE not hate campaign will be holding a peace vigil in Bradford city centre. It is an opportunity to celebrate 'our' Bradford as opposed to the message of hate pushed by the English Defence League.
The people of Bradford have done their bit, with 10,700 - that 6% of all adults in the city - signing a petition which got the EDL march banned. Now it is the chance for you to give them your support.
We are opening a book where HnH supporters from around the country can send their messages to the people of Bradford. We are also asking our supporters to send in photographs of themselves with the simple message of 'Together' written on their hand or piece of paper. We will be displaying these photos and messages in Bradford on Friday.
Hundreds of people have already sent us messages of support - but we need more.
To add your message, go here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 21 August 2010, 00:11
It’s the end of a really long and busy day. I’ve given more than a dozen interviews, spoke to several newspaper reporters, all whilst working on the next issue of Searchlight.
We’ve also been putting the finishing touches to the Peace Vigil which we shall be holding in Bradford next Friday, a day before the EDL hold its static protest. The vigil gives local people an opportunity to show their opposition to the EDL and celebrate modern Bradford without fear of a confrontation with the racist hooligans.
People want to live in peace and without the fear of violence and hatred. We need to build on this new community spirit and forge a togetherness that will outlast the EDL.
Peace vigil – hosted by Bradford TogetherFriday 27 August 5.30pm-6.30pmJacob Well - 12-14 Kent Street, (outside council offices), Bradford BD1 5RL
Posted: 21 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 20 August 2010, 15:37
The Home Secretary has today banned the EDL march in Bradford on 28 August. While there is still the probability of a static protest the fact that the EDL will not be allowed to march through predominantly Asian areas of the city, as they had intended, must be welcomed.
The ban comes after the HOPE not hate campaign, through it's Bradford Together initiative, collected 10,700 signatures from within the city in three weeks. This equates to almost 6% of all adults. The campaign has brought together people of all ages, races and religions in a determined bid to stop racist hooligans invading the city and provoking trouble.
In the event of the EDL holding a static protest, Bradford Together will organise a peace vigil in Bradford city centre on the Friday (27 August). This will give local people an opportunity to show their opposition to the EDL and celebrate modern Bradford without fear of a confrontation. This event is being supported by the Bradford Council of Mosques, other faith and community groups and Yorkshire & Humber TUC.
Posted: 20 Aug 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 20 August 2010, 09:28
Support is really growing for our Peace vigil in Bradford. Yesterday our camera crew did an excellent interview with the chairman of Bradford Council of Mosques. He gave his full support to the vigil and urged the Muslim community to stay away from the city centre on the day and not rise to the EDL provocation. He felt the city was in a much better place to where it was in 2001 and that the weeks of work that Bradford Together had put in had been pivital in this.
Nationally, the messages of support are still flooding in and our message regarding the EDL march being banned was shared by over 500 people on Facebook.
To add your message, go here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
Posted: 20 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 22:23
It's been a long but fruitful day. Plans are really coming together for our Peace vigil in Bradford a week tomorrow. Details of a time and venue will be announced tomorrow but our aim is to have a local, Bradford-orientated, event.
This will be an opportunity for local people to show their opposition to the EDL. We are not encouraging people from outside Bradford to attend, though of course eveyone is welcome. This is for local people, and as has shown with our huge petition, there are more than enough Bradfordians who are opposed to the racist EDL.
Posted: 19 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 20:48
London is a large city but it can also be very small. I was on my way home this evening when I saw a BNP member, who had been a local council candidate in the recent May elections, standing at the end of my street eating some fried chicken bucket.
Luckily he didn't recognise me!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 15:52
Hundreds of people have already sent in messages for us to put in a book which we will present to Bradford City Council and the Telegraph & Argus supporting the Bradford Together initiative.
To add your message, go here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/WeAreOne
Here are a few of the messages we have received:
“I support Hope not Hate because I believe in equality for, also I believe that if we live together in this world and accept other people as we expect to be treated the world would be a better place for all of us no matter what our belief system is.” (Tam from Scotland)
“The people of Bradford should feel very good about what they have achieved. The rest of the country can say thank you for leading the way in extolling values that truly matter: tolerance, respect for all peoples and community spirit. Well done.” (Helen, East London)
“I heard a lovely saying the other day. 'Light a candle in the dark rather than cursing at the dark.' I believe that when people come together and work together in a positive activism - it can, albeit with much effort and trial, win out in the end. Well done for all your hard work!” (Noah, East London)
“As a born and bred Bradfordian, I am SO proud that thanks to the hard work, support and co-operation of so many people the EDL and other racist groups have been shown they're not welcome in our City.
Congratulations, Well done, and lets show the rest of the country and the rest of Bradford, that the city is a place of tolerance, respect and Together-ness.” (Melanie, Exeter)
“Hope defeats hate. The EDL will not set us against each other. We need to solve our problems together.” (Ben, York)
“I live in Bradford, and am proud of my city. There is work that still needs to be done but I have hope that Bradford WILL stand together. And we have shown that as a city we will not allow this to happen, we will stand together and we will protect our city and its residents.” (Olivia, Bradford)
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 12:47
The campaign against the EDL march in Bradford has engaged, mobilised and energised the people of Bradford. Over 10,700 signed a petition in just three weeks calling on the authorities to ban the provocative EDL march. We stood inside and outside churches and mosques, held stalls in the city centre and literally went door to door in several areas of the city. The campaign received the support of all faith communities, the trade union movement, the chamber of commerce and even the local newspaper.
And it was successful as the police and council have asked the Home Secretary to ban the march of hate.
Now, we are looking to celebrate Bradford's diversity. The EDL might still have a static protest but we are going to be positive and highlight what is great about the city. And we are asking you to tell us what you think.
We are opening a book which will be presented to the council and the local newspaper next Friday. We want you to tell us why you believe in hope? How should we foster a better community spirit? Even send a message to the people of Bradford. Tell us your stories:
Throughout the campaign we've been using the slogan "Bradford Together." And we'd like to keep that theme going – so please send us in your story, and take a photo of yourself with the word "together" written on your hand.
Be part of this moment – and part of our campaign's living history – right now:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 11:04
I've finally got around to donating to the Disasters Emergency Fund appeal for the floods that have devastated Pakistan and I would urge everyone to do the same.
I followed a section of the Indus River as I travelled along the Karakoram Highway from Kashgar (in Xinxiang province, North West China) to Islamabad two years ago. It is an area of outstanding beauty and, contrary to the popular perception in the media, I found the people welcoming and friendly.
It is heartbreaking to see the destruction being caused by the floods.
I would urge everyone to give something to the appeal.
You can donate by visiting the DEC website: www.DEC.org.uk/pakistan-donations
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 August 2010, 00:52
It was reported this week that Bruce Pierce, one of the members of the US nazi terrorist group, The Order, died in his prison cell on Monday.
Pierce was sentenced to 252 years imprisonment for the murder of Denver talk-show host Alan Berg in 1984. He was part of a Nazi terror group which attempted to kick-start a race war in the United States. Led by Robert Mathews, The Order declared war on America, or the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG) as they liked to call it. They funded their war by a series of armed robberies and planned to disrupt the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and even poison the water supply of three major cities. The group eventually collapsed after a fire-fight with Federal officers on Whidbey Island, Washington state, in which Mathews died.
Despite the group’s abject failure they became an inspiration for wannabe nazi terrorists across the globe, including Britain. Living the dream of The Order was a key motivator behind the Will Browning faction within Combat 18. I remember Darren Wells, Browning’s right hand man who later worked undercover for me at Searchlight, tell how they wanted to emulate The Order.
“We were like kids in a candy store,” he told me. “We really thought we were going to do something which hadn’t been done before. The mood of those around Browning was electric. People were reading the stories of Robert Mathews and The Order and saying, ‘Yeah we want to do the same.’”
But just like Combat 18, Pierce and The Order were just crazy nazi fantasists, though a lot more dangerous.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 18 August 2010, 00:32
The decision of West Yorkshire Police to ask the Home Secretary to ban the English Defence League march in Bradford is a real victory for all anti-fascists and, most importantly, it is a victory for the people of Bradford who have been saved the threat of the EDL sparking off trouble in their city.
Of course the EDL might now apply for a static protest and while we have seen violence at previous such events we need to be honest in saying the prospects of widespread disorder are greatly reduced. The ban, if it is approved, stops the EDL marching through predominantly Muslim communities like they had intended.
The police, in its statement to the press, acknowledged the strength of feeling of the people in Bradford and this is a direct result of the petition drawn up by the HOPE not hate campaign and its Bradford Together initiative. Over 10,700 people in Bradford, that’s almost 6% of all adults, signed the petition within three weeks and this proved crucial in swaying the police’s view.
The HOPE not hate campaign set out to stop the EDL from marching and this we did. At the same time we recognised that Bradford was in a different situation from many other cities and could not afford a repeat of the 2001 riots that ripped the city apart. As a result we opposed a counter-demonstration. We were supported in this position by the overwhelming majority of people within Bradford, including trade unionists, faith groups and community organisations. We came under criticism, almost entirely from people outside Bradford, but we believe our decision and strategy has been vindicated.
The EDL is now not marching through predominantly Muslim areas of Bradford because of People Power. While they still might hold a static protest, and so we will hold a peace vigil the day before, we should also welcome the decision of West Yorkshire Police in applying for a ban. The job now, within Bradford, is to continue the Bradford Together initiative and build on the new community spirit that has been forged in the last few weeks.
Posted: 18 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 17 August 2010, 17:56
West Yorkshire Police have today asked Bradford City Council to submit a request to the Home Secretary to ban the proposed English Defence League march on Saturday 28 August.
In a strongly worded statement, the police say they believe the risk to public order is enough to warrant a ban on the racist march. This will be the first time any police force has applied for a ban since the EDL tried to march in Luton in summer 2009.
Bradford City Council will now formally request a ban from the Home Secretary and a decision will be announced early next week. However, Home Office officials told HOPE not hate last week that it was highly unlikely the Home Secretary would ignore a request if one were made by the police and council and the stringent criteria for a ban were met.
While there is still a possibility that the EDL might hold a static protest in Bradford, a ban on a demonstration is a major success. The EDL had hoped to march down Manchester Road, a predominantly Muslim area of the city. It is also likely that as news of the ban spreads support for an EDL static protest will dampen.
The decision by West Yorkshire Police is a victory for the HOPE not hate campaign and the thousands of people who signed its Bradford Together petition. “Some people said that a petition was fruitless but we have proved that, when mobilised, ordinary people can exert pressure on the authorities,” said HOPE not hate co-ordinator Nick Lowles.
“While the EDL threat hasn’t completely gone away our campaign has contributed to the racists being kept away from Muslim communities in Bradford. This is a victory for the people of city and especially the 10,700 who signed our petition.”
The HOPE not hate campaign and its Bradford Together initiative will not stop here. If the EDL reapplies for a static protest then we will hold a peace vigil in Bradford City Centre on Friday 27 August. But even if the EDL stays away altogether we shall seek to build on this fantastic campaign to make Bradford Together a lasting initiative.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported us,” added Paul Meszaros, who ran the campaign in Bradford. “Over 10,000 local people signed our petition. That’s over 10,000 successful conversations we have had with ordinary local people.
“We still might face a static EDL protest but this is a significant victory and one we should all be proud of.”
Posted: 17 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 17 August 2010, 09:03
It seems that two more BNP councillors have resigned from the party and become Independents. County Councillor Deidre Gates, who represents South Oxhey on Hertfordshire council, and Seamus Dunne, Three Rivers district councillor for Ashbridge, have both become Independents out of disgust at how the BNP is being run.
This brings the number of BNP councillors who have resigned in the past week to four, the most high profile of whom is Richard Barnbrook.
It is yet more miserable news for Nick Griffin and the BNP.
Posted: 17 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 15 August 2010, 09:11
As the police ponder whether to ignore the will of the people of Bradford and allow the English Defence League to parade their hatred through the streets of the city perhaps Assistant Chief Constable Mark Gilmore, who is making the decision, should watch the latest EDL video, posted yesterday.
In a rallying call for supporters to descend on Bradford, the EDL video makes it plain that the racist hooligans are seeking a confrontation.
“The Battle for Britain is about to begin” announces the opening frame of the film, before zeroing in on a map of Bradford. There then follows still images from the 2001 Bradford riots, accompanied by the words “As we march into the lion’s den”.
The police insist that they cannot act against the EDL when they have static demos but the next minute or two or the film depicts EDL supporters marching ‘under police escort’ at different events across the country during what are supposed to be static protests.
We are then told: “Make no mistake, this is no walk in the park. We will be outnumbered and in unfriendly territory but we shall prove ourselves once again to defend our island home to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny.”
This video comes only days after the EDL leadership issued an instruction to local groups to not bring women to Bradford because of the likelihood of trouble.
The film ends with a scene of the confrontation from the Crusades and the words “No Surrender.”
So this is the peaceful, law-abiding EDL that the police seem to think have a right to march ahead of the will of the people of Bradford who they are supposed to protect and serve.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 15 August 2010, 08:10
The BNP’s financial mess seems to be attracting the attention of the authorities. Rumours are circulating that Nick Griffin was arrested and had to post bail in Bruges last week. It also seems that party Treasurer David Hannam has been questioned by police over the party's finances.
According to the BNP’s former webmaster, Simon Bennett, the BNP has been served by a winding up order by the accountants Deloitte LLP, acting as liquidator on behalf of HM Revenue and Customs, Allied Irish Bank and two other organisations.
It’s going from bad to worse for Griffin and co.
Posted: 15 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 15 August 2010, 00:33
I have to say that I’m pretty tired after a long and sometimes stressful week at work. Tonight I stayed in and watched Defiance, a film about the Bielski partisans in Belarus during the war. The group was set up by three brothers and they rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazi occupation. They hid out in the forests for several years and, despite repeated German assaults, by the war’s end their numbers had swelled to 1,200.
You can read more about the Bielski partisans here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielski_partisans
It’s a Hollywood movie but it was really uplifting and inspiring.
Searchlight is about to start an anti-fascist film club, with monthly reviews and discussions about anti-fascist and anti-racist films but I thought I would jump the gun!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 August 2010, 17:24
News has just reached me that the Richard Barnbrook, the BNP's representative on the Greater London Assembly, has written to the Chief Executive stating that he is to become an Independent. Barnbrook is believed to have told friends that he will not return to the party fold until "high level wrongdoings in the British National Party" are resolved.
Of course, it might not be as easy as Barnbrook thinks and a legal row is set to break out. Barnbrook was elected in the party list system so it could be argued that if he stands down from the BNP his place should be taken by the number two on the list - Bob Bailey.
I have just received this email that is now being circulated within the GLA:
"Richard Barnbrook AM has issued a statement declaring that with immediate effect he is resigning the BNP whip and will now sit as an independent member on the London Assembly. He has called for an independent internal investigation of certain allegations about the BNP stating that he will recommence sitting on the Assembly as a BNP member when such an inquire reports no foundation to the, unspecified, allegations. He has not resigned his membership of the BNP."
This is just the latest twist to the on-going implosion in the BNP. In a further move, Griffin has sacked two critics on the party's Advisory Council ahead of a meeting tomorrow which was supposed to go through the BNP accounts. Richard Edmonds and Ken Booth join a long list of BNP members being witch-hunt by Griffin.
It's all falling apart for Nick Griffin and given that he has a long record of destroying everything around him before he concedes defeat the very future of the BNP is now in doubt.
Murad Qureshi who sits in the assembly next to Barnbrook and is a proud owner of a Hope 51 BNP 0 T-shirt told me:
"As per usual we're seeing Richard self-destruct. In his case after losing in Barking and Dagenham where they were humiliated 51-0, I can only guess as to what is the state of his mind really is"
Posted: 13 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 August 2010, 13:22
While we wait for a decision from West Yorkshire police as to whether they will listen to the people of Bradford and ban the EDL march, the Bradford Together campaign is not letting up. Earlier today we sent out an email to those people who had signed the petition online stressing that whatever the Chief Constable's decision the Bradford initiative would continue.
"It has become too big for us to stop now," organiser Paul Meszaros told supporters. "Next week we will be asking you for your thoughts about how we can keep this campaign going so we can build on the goodwill and enthusiasm that has been generated."
This comes after a petition of 10,700 names was handed into the Home Office on Wednesday. "Collecting 10,700 signatures in one city in three weeks is an amazing achievement and reflects the widespread fear of the consequences of the EDL march," say Paul. "Those of us who live in this city remember 2001 and there is no appetite for more trouble."
Plans are also under way to organise a Peace Vigil on Friday 27 August in Bradford city centre if the police refuse to listen to the views of the people they are supposed to serve.
"The vigil will be an opportunity for local people to show their opposition to the EDL's message of hate in a dignified and positive manner," Paul told HOPE not hate. "We will not rise to the EDL provocation on the Saturday and so we will stay away from the city centre but we want to give people the opportunity to register their support for our Bradford – one where everyone can live in peace, regardless of race or religion."
Posted: 13 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 August 2010, 07:23
It's going from bad to worse for the BNP. Amid a huge financial crisis and a split that is tearing the party apart, the BNP is also failing at the ballot box. In a Kent by-election yesterday the BNP polled just 2.8%. It's hardly the news that will encourage its members to help meet Griffin's latest funding appeal of £150,000.
Posted: 13 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 12 August 2010, 19:54
There is a rumour circulating that the BNP has gone or is about to go into bust....
I know they have huge financial problems but I didn't realise it was this bad!
I'll let you know when I have more news
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 12 August 2010, 11:11
I've just had a call from a friend who this morning flew to Dublin. At Dublin airport he saw someone wearing a HOPE not hate t-shirt.
That's a great way to start a holiday!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 11 August 2010, 20:25
This afternoon I joined a delegation from Bradford to hand in a petition to the Home Office calling for the EDL demonstration, set for Saturday 28 August, to be banned.
An amazing 10,700 Bradfordians signed our petition, a clear indication of the strength of feeling surrounding the EDL's march of hate.
Let us not underestimated the magnitude of this petition. 10,700 names represents 10,700 successful conversations with local people, and is over 5% of all adults in the city. Another great community campaign waged in the city over the past year was the one to save the Odeon cinema. In seven months they collected 7,000 signatures and that was considered huge. We collected ours in just three weeks.
The Home Office took our petition quite sympathetically. We explained why we saw Bradford as different from most other places where the EDL had marched. We stressed that with democracy came responsibilities.
Officials made it clear that the key player now is West Yorkshire Police. When pressed they could not think of an instance when a Home Secretary refused a request from a chief constable and council for a ban.
It is our understanding that Bradford City Council has submitted a paper outlining their support for a ban. That leaves West Yorkshire Police. So, if they push for a ban then it will happen and the EDL march will not happen.
So, Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, will you accept the will of the people of Bradford and apply for a ban?
Posted: 11 Aug 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 10 August 2010, 20:24
The Trade Union movement in Yorkshire & Humber have unanimously backed our campaign against the EDL in Bradford. At a meeting of the TUC’s regional anti-fascist committee all the unions supported calls for the Home Secretary to ban the EDL march but also opposed a counter-demonstration.
In an email circulated to branches across the region, GMB regional secretary Tim Roache wrote: “that on this one occasion we should stay away”.
Roache, who is also the Chair of the Regional TUC, added: “The only reason for this is that the EDL are desperate for trouble to kick off, and as a community it would bring Bradford to its knees as it did the last time there was rioting in Bradford.”
The committee concluded: “If it does go ahead, then we do not turn up and encourage as many people as we can influence not to do so.”
This view is shared by union branches, faith groups and community organisations within Bradford itself. Most Bradfordians accept that the stakes are too high to hold a traditional counter-protest and believe that there are other ways to show our opposition to the racists of the EDL.
Tomorrow we hand in a petition to the Home Office of 10,000 Bradfordians who are opposed to the EDL march. That’s 10,000 successful conversations the HOPE not hate campaign have had with local people. Now, in my opinion, that’s real community engagement.
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 10 August 2010, 08:34
I'm really pleased to announce that we have just received a cheque for £1,000 towards our anti-EDL appeal from our good friends at Philosophy Football. We have worked closely with PF over the years and will do in the future.
If you would like to support our anti-EDL, which has already seen over 10,000 people in Bradford sign a petition calling on the Home Secretary to ban the march of hate, you can do so here
Here's what Philosophy Football had to say:
PUTTING OUR MONEY WHERE ARE T-SHIRTS ARE
At www.philosophyfootball.com we are hugely proud to produce the 'Hope not Hate' T-shirts in support of the campaign. Its an initiative that has helped popularise this most vital of messages and raised funds too. And we've put our design skills to good use too. When Hope not Hate wanted a banner to decorate their campaign HQ in Barking we were happy to come up with the idea, produced and pay for it. Nobody could have failed to notice the banner who visited the office to take part in the campaign against the BNP.
So when we heard of Hope not Hate's incredible effort to stop the EDL march of hate in Bradford we wanted to help immediately. This is a campaign that is uniting a city, creating an incredible breadth of opposition to a gang of thugs intent on one thing only, causing violent division.
Raising much needed funds at the height of the holiday season to help ensure the campaign can reach out to everyone in Bradford can't be easy but its an urgent necessity. So we've dug deep and are chipping in £1000. The cheque is in the post and we'd encourage all who want to add the defeat of the EDL in Bradford to the defeat of the BNP in Barking to make it a miserable year for the Far Right to chip in too.
And our Hope not Hate T-shirts will keep spreading the message, and raising funds for as long as its needed, from www.philosophyfootball.com
Posted: 10 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 8 August 2010, 08:48
The racist English Defence League is preparing for violence on its march in Bradford by telling women supporters to stay at home. That they are predicting trouble is surely just further proof that the EDL demonstration should be banned.
Our campaign to stop the EDL in Bradford has featured in a whole page article in yesterday's Guardian. You can see the article here.
Posted: 8 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 August 2010, 14:13
Our campaign against the EDL march in Bradford got a real boost this morning when we received the first batch of sign-ups from the Telegraph and Argus, including 800 coupons that had been filled in and posted back to the newspaper by readers.
This in incredible and the fact that 800 people put a stamp on an envelope and posted it back shows the strength of feeling in the city against the racist march. Hundreds more came in the form of the newspaper's online petition and another 280 came through the HOPE not hate's own post bag.
More mosques are collecting names today and our activists will be out again on Saturday.
I'm not sure what our current total is but we have easily collected over 10,000 names. Given that all these people come from within Bradford this represents 5% of all adults in the city. That's 10,000 successful conversations we've had with real people.
This really is becoming a campaign that's winning the hearts and minds of local people.
Posted: 6 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 August 2010, 08:06
For the last couple of days I've been in Sweden attending the summer camp of the SSU, the youth wing of the Swedish Social Democrats. It's a fantastic week long event with 1,600 people camping out close to the Norwegian border.
Graeme Atkinson, our European Editor, and I gave a presentation about the HOPE not hate campaign as part of a series of lectures around the anti-racist theme. With a general election only six weeks away and the far right Swedish Democrats polling 6.5% in the polls there was real interest in HOPE not hate and how we campaign against the BNP and in particular how we worked with trade unions. It was interesting to hear how so many of the issues we are facing in the UK are similar to those in Sweden.
The SSU hold a summer camp every four years, each time just before a general election. They discuss politics and meet socially but more importantly they prepare their activists for the coming election campaign.
I was only there for two days but it is an impressive event and it really did get me thinking about whether we could do something similar, albeit on a smaller scale in the UK.
Posted: 5 Aug 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 4 August 2010, 10:36
"The EDL are coming here to provoke further trouble - trouble this city cannot afford."That's the warning from Ian Greenwood, the leader of Bradford Council. He knows his city.
That's why today we are launching an appeal to raise £6,500 to fund our campaign against the EDL.
We can stop the EDL in Bradford. The EDL have applied for a demonstration not a static protest as they usually do. The Home Secretary has the power to ban the EDL march but she will not do this willingly. That's why we need to build a campaign that forces her to do just that. For that, we need money to pay for literature, campaign materials and lobbying.
Please help us to build the campaign that can stop the EDL.
Posted: 4 Aug 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 4 August 2010, 09:59
It is easy to take things for granted and overlook what achievements made in this line of work. In a world of constant political battles, where one electoral and political struggle follows another in some never ending contest, it is easy to forget past successes. Often it is only when one is criticised that you stop and think.
This is where I found myself overnight. I flew to Sweden late last night to give a talk about HOPE not hate and while waiting for what seemed like ages for my lift I mulled over some of the criticism to our opposition of a counter-demo in Bradford. My first reaction was to be defensive, to answer the critics point by point and defend our corner. I then got annoyed, thinking that most of the most vocal opponents (and to be honest only a minority of people who have contacted me have been critical of our position) are good at talking but have done little in the fight against the BNP and EDL.
From there I became reflective, contrasting their inaction to the work we have done in Bradford and beyond.
In 2004 Bradford was one of the BNP's strongest areas. They had four councillors and came second in at least six other wards. Today, the situation is very different. The BNP is pegged back into one ward and even here they act semi-independently of the party. The BNP has collapsed in Keighley, once its real powerbase, and while the party stands candidates in local elections they have virtually no activists to do any real work.
The main reason for the BNP decline in the city is down to the work of HOPE not hate Yorkshire and in particular its organisers Lorraine and Paul. They have worked tirelessly to build grassroots resistance to the BNP, working with community groups, faith groups and the political parties to isolate and defeat the fascists.
Just look at the campaign being run now in Bradford. We are just a few hundred short of collecting 10,000 signatures within the city in support of a ban. That's about 5% of all adults in Bradford. This is no mean feat and is the product of hard work and good links in the community. Over 130 people have been involved in the campaign over the last few weeks, many joining us for the first time. We have held stalls in the city centre, stood outside (and inside) mosques and churches and even gone door to door speaking to local people.
The trade union movement is fully behind our campaign, so are all faith groups, the chamber of commerce and politicians across the political spectrum. Even the local newspaper is backing the campaign. This has only happened through hard work and good organising.
A few days ago Paul was worried that we wouldn't reach our 10,000 target. It was always going to be a hard task. But since then even he has been surprised by the range of people who downloaded petition sheets and have been collecting names on their own accord. One person even rang Paul to say that he had personally collected 500 names in a solidly white working class area. People, young and old, are getting involved, many reluctantly, simply because they are scared of what might happen if the EDL march.
HOPE not hate Yorkshire have done, and continue to do, a brilliant job. This is real community politics connecting with people where they are not perhaps where we would like them to be. Their campaign against the EDL is a continuation of this community-orientated approach.
I think we will succeed in stopping the EDL march but even if we don't we can hold our head up high and say we did everything we could to stop them. In the process we have built deeper and stronger relationships in the communities we have to engage with.
Posted: 4 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 3 August 2010, 09:40
Over 6,000 people have signed our letter to the Home Secretary in less than a day. This is even more remarkable given that so many people are away on holiday at the moment. Almost 30% of those people who opened the email have signed the letter, one of our biggest ever click through rates. I can only imagine the number of co-signatures growing substantially over the coming days.
We have a real chance to stop the EDL protest in Bradford on this occasion as they have applied for a march rather than a static protest. The Home Secretary has the power to stop demonstrations on the grounds of public order and community cohesion so we need to exert as much pressure on her as possible to ensure that she does just that.
You can add your name to the letter here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/StopTheEDL
Posted: 3 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 2 August 2010, 12:10
I've sent out an email to our supporters urging them to co-sign a letter I've written to the Home Secretary and the Chairs of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Communities and Local Government Committee urging them to take action against the EDL.
As I've said on the blog before, we need to stop the EDL going to Bradford. This time we have a chance. The EDL have applied for a demonstration, not a static protest as they normally do. This means that permission needs to be given and the Home Secretary has the power to refuse. The law is very clear. This is one we can win.
Whether we can depends on whether we can exert enough pressure on the Home Secretary and this is why we need as many people to sign our letter.
You can sign the letter here: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/StopTheEDL
* UPDATE Within 50 minutes of my email going out an amazing 1,610 people have signed the letter
Posted: 2 Aug 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 2 August 2010, 09:12
For a party that claims to be championing Britain it might seem strange that the BNP is not celebrating the record medal haul at the European Athletics Championships. But then again, the success was yet another disaster for the BNP as the vast majority of those who won medals were not 'indigenous' Britons – as defined by the BNP.
Take, for example, Mohammed ‘Mo’ Farrah. He arrived in the UK as a 10 year-old Somalian asylum seeker in 1993 – at the height of media hysteria over asylum seekers – and now is a national hero, ironically enough fêted by the very same newspapers that led the anti-immigrant onslaught back then.
So while the BNP sit on the political margins and brood, the rest of Britain can celebrate some new British heroes.
Posted: 2 Aug 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments