You are viewing blog items for September 2010.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 30 September 2010, 10:22
A couple of days ago I asked for your ideas about rebranding the BNP. Hundreds of you have sent in ideas. During the day I will be uploading a number of photos and slogans but here's one for starters.
To add your idea, click here:
Posted: 30 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 29 September 2010, 22:53
Great work today by our facebook team, who acting on a tip off mobilised our supporters to run a last minute campaign against the BNP's attempts to re-launch their Brighton group.
Tonight in Brighton, 30 people turned up outside the Branch Tavern Pub in London Road to protest, forcing the BNP to scuttle off elsewhere. Earlier in the day one of our staff had rung the pub to ask whether they knew that the BNP was meeting there, to be told "yes we do, and it's none of your business" and then "we don't give a shit what you think or do."
Having mobilized our facebook supporters to ring the pub and complain, the pub then claimed they were in fact holding a Kick Boxing school instead. How ingenious. Not to be put off, thirty people made their way to the pub to protest peacefully and keep the BNP out of Brighton.
Posted: 29 Sep 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 28 September 2010, 13:30
The HOPE not hate campaign is reaching across the political divide to assist the BNP in its hour of need. The BNP has recently announced that it is seeking to rebrand itself with a new logo and look following its disastrous May election campaign.
After a discussion amongst the HOPE not hate team we decided that we would be only too willing to help out.
We would like our supporters to send in their ideas for a new BNP logo and look.
Please send your ideas to http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/rebrand-the-bnp
While some uncharitable souls will say that rather than a new lick of paint the BNP's problem is its racist and fascist views we should take the BNP proposal at face value and help them with their rebrand. So, get drawing, designing, reinventing.
We will give a free 2011 Searchlight calendar to the best five ideas and we will be putting as many up as possible on our website and Facebook site.
The BNP needs your help!
Posted: 28 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 27 September 2010, 09:27
Whatever the decision of the Home Secretary on the application for banning the EDL demo in Leicester there is work to be done.
The police and the council may have decided that the EDL march is a threat to the city but many people in Leicester are yet to be convinced. Winning the hearts and minds of local people is now our priority.
We are drawing up a rolling programme of action that will see activities almost every day over the next two weeks. We'll be contacting our 1,500 HOPE not hate supporters in the city offering them a number of options to get involved, including general leafleting sessions and a downloadable briefing paper that can be used in one-to-one conversations with friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Posted: 27 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 26 September 2010, 18:28
Jon Cruddas let the cat out of the bag on Sky News this morning by announcing that he is writing a book about Identity, Englishness and class. What he didn't say was that he is writing the book with me.
A lot of people have looked at the rise of the BNP, and nationalism generally, in terms of failings of public policy, economic deprivation and New Labour. Few have looked at it from the perspective of the crisis of English identity, particularly in those communities which have suffered most with de-industrialisation. In our view the BNP, and now the EDL, are engaging in a cultural war and giving a new sense of white nationalist identity to many people.
And it is not just a problem for Labour. With some on the right looking enviously at the Tea Party movement in the US there is much talk about the prospects of a new nationalist movement – or even party – to the right of the Conservative Party but not as extreme as the BNP.
Posted: 26 Sep 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 25 September 2010, 17:26
Labour has today chosen a new leader. While HOPE not hate obviously didn't support any particular candidate we were heartened by the desire of all of them all to address the political vacuum which has allowed the BNP to thrive in too many of our communities. In mid-July all the candidates addressed a Searchlight conference on community organising.
Last week Ed Miliband gave the HOPE not hate campaign his full support:“I am very proud to support the HOPE not hate campaign, which has done a fantastic job of involving people of all ages and backgrounds in the fight against the BNP. It was such an inspiration to see all of the people who campaigned in places like Barking and Dagenham to help ensure the BNP did not succeed with their message of hate and intolerance.”
Posted: 25 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 25 September 2010, 13:18
Leicester City Council yesterday formally asked the Home Secretary to ban the English Defence League protest on 9 October. The decision was taken following an request and risk assessment from Leicestershire Police. The Home Secretary is due to give her answer early next week.
However, even if the ban is made the EDL is still likely to have a static demonstration in the city so there is still work to be done.
Now the job of anti-fascists is to win the hearts and minds of local people in Leicester. We need to explain why the EDL's racism is a threat to the city and how its attack on the Muslim is an attack on all of us. This means talking to real people in real communities. That is now our priority. Over the next two weeks the HOPE not hate campaign will be taking the campaign to the streets, places of worship and the doorstep in a similar manner to that done in Bradford in August.
Posted: 25 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 22 September 2010, 22:08
I've just heard news that 20 to 30 EDL thugs attacked a Socialist Workers Party meeting in Newcastle this evening. Two doormen were beaten but there are no reports of any arrests.
Earlier today two EDL supporters were arrested in Gateshead which led to an EDL demo outside the local police station.
Posted: 22 Sep 2010 | There are 11 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 22 September 2010, 18:20
I'm just on my way back from Leicester where I've had almost four hours of really constructive meetings with people in the council, community and faith leaders and trade unionists. We have been able to explain the lessons of the Bradford campaign, particularly how it turned the threat of the EDL into a positive community cohesion campaign. There really seems an appetite from local people and organisations to do something similar here.
Leicester is one of the most mixed cities in Britain and is often held up as a model of community cohesion. While of course it has its tensions people generally live together quite peacefully. None of this has happened by accident but rather is the product of years of hard and determined work. This is now under threat from the EDL who yesterday put in an application for a march.
While there have been encouraging sounds from the council leadership it is by no means certain that any application to ban the EDL march will be accepted by the Home Secretary. I know from my experiences of Bradford the criteria that need to be met over public order and public safety. There are the usual obvious concerns over the EDL coming to Leicester in targeting the Muslim community but there are other dangers too. One of the people I met today was from one of the main Hindu organisations who told me how EDL emails were already circulating within their community saying that the EDL's fight was only against Muslim extremists and they should join together. A representative from the Sikh community organisation also expressed his fear of how the EDL were trying to spread an anti-Muslim message within their community.
While the police and the city council will be looking at the public order issues, and deciding whether to apply for a ban, we are stepping up our campaign to demonstrate the strength of feeling there is in the city against the EDL march. Sam's been working on the ground here for a couple of weeks now and the results are beginning to show. A number of organisations I met had already met Sam and today they have promised to circulate our Leicester Together petition which we have just launched. Our HOPE not hate group at Leicester University is planning daily actions as students begin to return and several key unions are promising to use their local branches to get the message out. We are also finalising plans for a number of community events to take place across the city.
We've got just two weeks to build the petition so my initial target is for 5,000 signatures. Will we get it ... I guess only time will tell.
Posted: 22 Sep 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 22 September 2010, 10:42
I've had a busy few days. On Monday I spoke at a fringe meeting at Liberal Democrat conference organised by the Community Security Trust (CST). There were about 50 people present and there was a lively discussion and it was good to see some old friends there. Just before the meeting I bumped into Howard Sykes, from Oldham, someone whom I've worked with a lot over the years. I noted my surprise to see him in a suit, to which he replied, with a wry smile, "I'm in Government now." There was certainly a different feel to the conference than in previous years.
Most of my fellow speakers, including Lib Dem MPs Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley) and Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington), warned against complacency. I noted how I thought that as incumbents the Lib Dems would particularly come under pressure from the BNP. I also used the trip to Liverpool to discuss the formation of a Liberal Democrats Friends of Searchlight, so hopefully I'll have some news on that shortly.
My focus is now turning to next week's Labour Party conference and the EDL protest in Leicester in early October. We signed off a 16pp Labour Friends of Searchlight magazine and began setting up a whole range of meetings for my week in Manchester. I have to admit that I find September a hard month, travelling from one conference to the next. Perhaps it's a sign of age but spending night after night in hotels is less appealing these days.
Anyway, I'm off to Leicester today. We've got a really good group on the ground there who are coming up with some good initiatives against the planned EDL protest in the city on 9 October. I'll be writing more about this later today.
Posted: 22 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 20 September 2010, 09:20
The Daily Mirror has this morning signed up to our Kick It Out Day of Action on Saturday 16 October and has promised to promote it in the newspaper and online. The anti-racist Day of Action, being organised jointly by HOPE not hate and Kick It Out, will target football grounds across England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will be leafleting at as many grounds and we will also be taking out adverts in match programmes in our key areas.
Overnight people from Leyton Orient, Port Vale, Norwich and Ipswich all pledged to do something around their team’s matches, bringing the current number of activities promised to 15. Several more will be announced in the next 24 hours.
The involvement of Daily Mirror is obviously a massive boost to our campaign, both in terms of credibility and promotion. The Daily Mirror has long been a supporter of the HOPE not hate campaign and in the 2010 elections several sports reporters from the newspaper provided articles and information to our tabloid newspapers.
Posted: 20 Sep 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 19 September 2010, 13:54
The whole Tea Party phenomenon has been pre-occupying my mind a lot recently. Obviously there was Christine O’Donnell’s victory in the Republican primary in Delaware earlier this week, and the swath of connected articles that have appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. I’ve also been reading a draft of a report by our sister organisation in the US, the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, in conjunction with the NAACP, the country’s oldest civil rights movement.
However, I’ve also been pondering whether such a group could emerge over here and my conclusion is it a real possibility and it could be quite dangerous. I fear that there is political space for such an organisation. There is a ceiling on the support the BNP can attract, and they are quite some way off reaching that at present due to their internal conflicts, but there is also space to the right of the Conservative Party. It was interesting that some of the organisations behind the US Tea Party helped sponsor a conference in London ten days ago in conjunction with the British Taxpayers Alliance. From a quite different quarter I’m picking up that English Defence League guru Alan Lake is also articulating support for a UK equivalent.
A growing number of people are breaking with mainstream parties and there is widespread mistrust from even those who are still holding on to their political allegiance. A new party – or grassroots lobbying organisation – that links English Nationalism with a populist right wing agenda, albeit liberal on some social issues, could be quite successful.
I’ll be writing more about this in the next issue of Searchlight but it is certainly something that we need to keep an eye on.
Posted: 19 Sep 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 19 September 2010, 10:58
Plans are really coming along for our anti-racist activity at football grounds around the country on Saturday 16 October. Today we’re putting an appeal out for people to help organise leafleting sessions at their local football grounds and over the next few days we will be announcing a couple more partners for our Day of Action. By the end of the week we hope to have a fairly extensive map of activities around the country.
Football brings people together like few other sports and so it is a perfect opportunity for us to spread the anti-racist message. So if you can help organise an action at your local club, be it at a home game or away, then please click the link below. We will supply leaflets, T-shirts for organisers and badges to give away – we just need you to help host an event.
Posted: 19 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 18 September 2010, 20:16
The BNP today launched their ‘Bring back the boys’ campaign with a series of leafleting sessions across the country. Nick Griffin turned up with his few remaining party activists in Liverpool but got more than he bargained for as almost 100 anti-fascists gathered around him.
According to the BNP website: “This campaign will help establish the BNP as the only political party that is opposed to the bloody, unwinnable, futile and illegal war in Afghanistan.” Whatever the merits of British intervention in Afghanistan the BNP certainly has no answers. The far right party is posing as the patriotic party but perhaps the British public might like to know just how patriotic it really is:
1. In November 1986 Griffin headed an NF march to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, desecrating the memory of those who fought and died in the struggle against Nazism by marching ahead of a banner which bore the legend “No More Brothers Wars” a key rallying cry for post-war fascists who claim Britain was dragged into a “Jews war” against the Third Reich with whom it should have been forged an alliance.
2. In 1996 Griffin picketed Coventry Cathedral in protest at a service being held to commemorate the Nazis’ destruction of Coventry in the Second World War. Griffin did not think the Nazis had anything to apologise for and described the service as a “guilt trip”.
3. Griffin has described British RAF pilots as war criminals and murderers. He wrote an article in The Rune, the antisemitic journal he edited, praising the “courage and sacrifices” of the Waffen-SS soldiers while claiming in another piece that “the Waffen-SS were undoubtedly no worse than the troops of other nations … ” including Britain!
4. Only last month BNP official Adam Walker travelled to Japan for an international far-right gathering hosted by Issuikai, an extreme-right group that denies Japanese war crimes.While there he visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates the militarists who led Japan’s brief but disastrous rampage across Asia. “I realise that there are war veterans in the UK who will see this as an insult, especially on VJ day,” said Walker. “It’s easy to point fingers now but these people were doing what they thought was right at the time.” There’s lots more besides. I feel another HOPE not hate leaflet coming on.
Posted: 18 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 17 September 2010, 11:27
Interest in our footballing day of action on 16 October is rolling in. This morning we've been in discussions with the ICTU (Irish Council of Trade Unions) and NICEM (Northen Irish Council for Ethnic Minorities) about leading activities in Northern Ireland.
Other interest has come from HOPE not hate supporters in Grimsby, Southport, Berwick Rangers, Kings Lynn, Marine and Chatham.
Please get in contact with me if you would like to get involved in events at your local club.
Posted: 17 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 17 September 2010, 07:18
I’ve been inundated with emails and phonecalls about our 16 October Day of Action at football grounds around the country. While more details about the day will be released on Monday I’m really pleased to announce that leafleting sessions have already been agreed at Bradford City’s home game against Cheltenham and Sheffield United’s match at home to Burnley. Also to be covered is Dagenham & Redbridge’s match against Walsall.
One HOPE not hate supporter from Scotland got in contact asking if we were hoping to cover Scottish matches. My answer is a big yes.
Which games we cover is up to our supporters. Wherever local HnH groups feel able to organise an activity then we will provide the materials, including leaflets, T-shirts and badges. It is also a great opportunity for local groups to build links with football supporters groups, community organisations and the football clubs themselves.
Posted: 17 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 16 September 2010, 19:05
Just when I was thinking that life was slowly returning to normal within the BNP another leading figure has stepped forward to call on Nick Griffin to resign as party leader. John Bean, a veteran nationalist and editor of the BNP magazine Identity, has written to Griffin asking him to stand down in order to save British Nationalism.
In a letter to Griffin, published by Eddy Butler, Bean lists a number of failings within the party. He goes on:
"It is highly likely that an opposition Nationalist party will shortly be formed which would draw off more disgruntled BNP members, with the result that neither such a new party nor the present BNP would gain a single Parliamentary seat within the next ten years – and time is not on our side. One step that would halt, or at least limit, this splitting of energies would be for you to recognise the veracity of the adage “the buck stops here” and resign as Chairman of the Party in the near future, as opposed to your intention of doing so three years hence. This would not only reduce the loss of more members, but enable you to regain the respect that we all had for you."
Griffin wrote a polite letter back to Bean saying he would answer his letter after the 7 September court case but nothing has yet materialised.
It's still all fun and games within the BNP!
Posted: 16 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 16 September 2010, 05:36
After four days at the TUC conference I returned to London to be greeted by the furore of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s comments likening the UK to a Third World country.
The Vatican quickly distanced itself from his comments and the Cardinal pulled out of the visit citing ill health. However, in trying to make light of his comments the Vatican only made the situation worse. In a statement issued yesterday they claimed that the Cardinal was referring to Britain’s multicultural society.
I’m sorry?! If that’s not racism then I don’t know what is.
I fear that this belief is all part of a worrying trend within the dominant faction in the Vatican that views liberal democracy – and so a multicultural and multi-faith society – as the enemy.
Annoyingly some commentators have fallen over themselves to excuse his comments. The BBC’s Rome correspondent described it as “a slightly clumsy thing to have done on the eve of the visit” while the Cabinet Office can meekly say that his views did not represent those of the Vatican.
At least Clifford Longley, from the British Catholic newspaper The Tablet, was honest when he described the cardinal was "obviously talking nonsense".
Posted: 16 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 15 September 2010, 12:08
The Tea Party movement gained another scalp yesterday when Christine O'Donnell beat veteran Congressman Mike Castle for the Senate nomination in Delaware. This is the seventh major victory it has had in defeating more moderate Republicans in key primaries.
Much attention is given to the movement's anti-tax and small government agenda but let's be absolutely clear that the Tea Parties represent a really dangerous development in US politics. It brings together hardline racists, christian fundamentalists and nazis. It is backed by Sarah Palin, it has an active membership of hundreds of thousands and, according to some polls, the support of up to 17% of all Americans.
I'm currently reading a draft report into the Tea Party Movement which will soon be published by our sister organisation, the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights for the NAACP, America's oldest civil rights organisation. It is a brillant study that profiles their supporters and leadership.
With the Tea Party movement gaining such ground over in the US it is not surprising that people over in the UK, from the Taxpayers Alliance to the christian fundamentalists behind the EDL, are looking to develop something similar.
Posted: 15 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 17:30
I've just finished speaking at a fringe meeting hosted by the National Union of Teachers on fighting the BNP. It was a really good meeting attended by about 60 people, which given all the other meetings going on at the same time was fantastic.
I was on a platform with Kevin Courtney, the union's Deputy General Secretary and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas. Jon gave a really powerful speech about the loss of identity amongst many white working class people and how Labour had lost its link with its traditional communities. Kevin spoke about the support the NUT gave the campaign and the importance of teachers within communities. He also described as the organising model we used in the campaign as similar to that which the NUT is trying to implement. I gave a brief insight into the campaign and then focused on how racism could rise against the backdrop of the forthcoming cuts.
There was an excellent discussion with several contributors suggesting that the community orientated focus of our campaign was the way forward for the union more generally.
My day's been busy, with a series of meetings with national unions and regional officers. I hope to be announcing some really exciting initiatives over the next of days.
Posted: 14 Sep 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 12:04
Our latest film is being really well received on our facebook site. I've watched the film three times this morning and it brings a big smile to my face on each viewing.
I remember being interviewed by the Panorama crew in a empty hall after the count had finished and I said that it had been the most brilliant campaign I had ever been involved in. Of course the winning put the icing on the cake but during the campaign I met so many brilliant people - from all walks of life - who were just motivated to stop hatred. It really restored by faith in human nature and blew away the argument that people are no longer interested in politics.
Some politicians now argue that the answer to declining election turnouts is to make voting compulsory or set up booths in pubs and supermarkets. What nonsense. Give people hope and inspire them and they will turn out.
A lot of people wrote off the people of Barking & Dagenham as racists and lost causes but they too responded positively and heavily rejected the BNP. Griffin's comments at the end of the film about London being "lost" sums up their contempt for ordinary people.
Please watch the film and add your comments on our facebook site (www.facebook.com/hope.n.hate)
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 14 September 2010, 10:31
We’ve just uploaded our latest video onto our website. 'The Battle for Barking & Dagenham' recounts the HOPE not hate campaign in East London which helped defeat the BNP in last May’s election.
It’s a really great and uplifting film and a fantastic reminder of what we achieved. Over 1,500 people got involved in our campaign and this is a tribute to all their hard work.
A number of people have already contacted me to say what a "quality" film it is.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 13 September 2010, 21:25
Eddy Butler has argued that the BNP needed a new leader and to adopt a more modern approach to organising and campaigning. At a gathering of BNP rebels this weekend he demonstrated his new organising method.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 13 September 2010, 18:11
I’m up in Manchester at the moment for the TUC conference. With Labour in opposition and massive spending cuts on the horizon there is certainly a different feel to the event this year. Last night we held an Evening of HOPE – a social event to thank the unions for their support in the recent election campaigns. Over 120 people attended the event, with sizeable turnouts from Unite, GMB and Unison. Also out in force were staff from Thompsons Solicitors, who had backed our bus campaign. The TUC’s Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady was present, as were three regional TUC secretaries.
The Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire introduced an eight-minute film on the Battle for Barking and Dagenham, an account on our great victory over the BNP in East London.
It was great to meet up with so many old friends but there was also business to be done. The event gave us an opportunity to meet and discuss our current campaigns with individual unions and the TUC.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 12 September 2010, 09:59
A hundred EDL supporters turned up unannounced in Oldham town centre yesterday in a worryingly new development. While they ostensibly claimed to be marking the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and indeed they did lay a wreath, the nature of their mobilisation could be a sign of things to come.
The EDL met up in the Greaves Arms and marched through Oldham town centre to the local cenotaph where they laid a wreath and held a two minutes silence. Among those there were a number of current and former BNP members, including Griffin’s former bodyguard and convicted drug dealer Jock Shearer. The police moved in to break up the gang and they were met with a volley of glasses and bottles. A number of people were served with dispersal orders (Section 27 of the Public Order Act) which banned them from the town for 24 hours.
It was clear that many EDL supporters are becoming increasing frustrated at how the police have contained them in recent protests, not least in Bradford, where they were penned in by police and an eight foot wall. A growing number seem keen to just go it alone with spontaneous actions.
I’m nervous about where this is all going and I fear a growing cycle of both targeted and indiscriminate violence by EDL supporters. Some are actively hunting down their opponents, including myself, while actions like we saw yesterday in Oldham could spark off real violence within communities. And of course violence is what these people are after.
Posted: 12 Sep 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 12:25
The EDL have gathered opposite the US Embassy. This time I am heading off as I’m on my own and I don’t really fancy meeting them as they leave.
Given that the whole event lasted just a few minutes I can see why so few of them bothered to turn up.
Posted: 11 Sep 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 12:19
Guess what, I’m still here. You know how it is, sometimes you just can’t leave the scene.
Anyway, we are now in Grosvenor Square and three EDL women are laying wreaths at the memorial to the people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack. There are about 130 EDL now, all lined up behind a rope with their flags and banners on display.
Dudley EDL have the biggest banner. There’s Southampton and Rowley Regis as well.
They seem to be observing a minute’s silence.
Is this it? Is it over? Their chief steward, who’s wearing the same t-shirt as in Bradford, is encouraging them to move towards the US Embassy.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 12:06
And off they go in the direction of the American Embassy. Probably about 100, all pretty pathetic. There’s no sign of Tommy Robinson.
I’m dodging the stragglers so I might sign off for now.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 12:02
There really isn’t too much going on at the moment and I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay around. There’s probably about 100 of them now, maybe a few more depending on how many are inside the pub. Essex EDL are handing out flags.
There’s one old bloke with a severe identity crisis. He’s wearing a t-shirt with “Anglo-Saxon” emblazoned on it and waving an Israeli flag with Leon and Snowy written across it.
Oops, I think I’ve just been recognised.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 11:33
Two weeks ago the EDL told women to stay away from their protest in Bradford. This time they've obviously been encouraged as there are several here, many wearing their EDL polo shirts.
A few more police have arrived and a group of photographers have gathered close by but so far the EDL have not carried out their non-violent [sic] Fatwa they issued against photographers last week.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 11:29
The EDL numbers are growing and the four police officers have turned up. There's the usual mix of football hooligans and misfits and there's certainly a good contingent down from Luton.
But wait, two of the police officers have just left. Strange!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 11 September 2010, 11:13
I’ve just strolled through the EDL crowd who are gathering at the Hog in the Pound pub in Davies Street, just around the corner from Bond Street tube. There seem to be about 50 of them at the moment but I’m sure their numbers will swell as their protest outside the American Embassy draws closer. I’m surprised there are no police watching them.
There are a few familiar faces but so far no sign of Tommy Robinson who I can confirm was refused entry into the US yesterday morning.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 10 September 2010, 12:11
Last night I watched the events unfolding in Florida with a mixture of amusement and trepidation. A common complaint of our 24-hour news age is that you watch for 15 minutes and then you find the loop starting all over again. Last night was different.
Pastor Terry Jones had enraged the world with his promise to burn 200 copies of the Koran on Saturday, the anniversary of 9/11. Suddenly, and no doubt because he was under immense political and religious pressure, he seemed to pull back but only after saying that a deal had been done to move the mosque and Islamic centre that are currently being planned on a site two blocks away from Ground Zero.
“What a coup”, commentators reported. “How does a pastor with a regular congregation of just 12 wield such power?” reflected Sky News.
Of course his coup was not what it seemed. The Florida-based iman with whom Jones claimed he had made the deal said the pastor had twisted his words and all he had said was that he would try to facilitate a meeting.
The pastor felt cheated. “I have been lied to”, he responded and a little later he announced that he was thinking about withdrawing his decision to cancel the burn-fest. Given his belief that Islam is “of the Devil”, it is somewhat surprising that he made any kind of arrangement at all.
He now claims he has not cancelled the burning but postponed it. I think this whole charade was a face-saving exercise to pull back from the book burning. He now has the added bonus of being able to claim that the lying double-speak of the iman is further proof of the wickedness of the religion.
But of course the wider damage has already been done. Some have criticised President Obama for getting involved, claiming it only inflamed the situation, but of course he had no choice. As soon as news of Jones’s actions spread across the airwaves Islamist extremists were using it for their own ends. There was widespread anger across the Muslim world, with Pakistan even calling in Interpol about a possible terrorist backlash. With the controversy reaching an international stage Obama had little choice but to speak up, for if he had remained silent he would have been criticised.
My wider point is that extremism breeds extremism. Pastor Jones’s actions were jumped on by the very people he claimed to oppose, just as British right-wing extremists, such as the English Defence League, latch onto the actions of a handful of Islamic fundamentalists over here, and their actions in turn wind up the very extremists they have set themselves up to confront. Extremists need their nemesis to justify their own existence. They need to demonise their opponents and use their extremism to justify their own. In this context simply denouncing extremism – from whatever quarter – is not enough. As we demonstrated in Bradford we can oppose extremism by talking up what unites us – and by “us” I’m talking about the vast majority of people across all communities, religions and races who want to live together peacefully.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 10 September 2010, 08:53
I’ve picked up a rumour this morning that EDL leader 'Tommy Robinson' has been refused entry into the United States where he was due to attend an anti-Islam rally at Ground Zero in New York. Robinson was travelling with a number of other EDL leaders when he was turned away at the Immigration desk for apparent entry form irregularities. He was taken into custody and almost immediately put on a plane back to London. His fellow EDL members were allowed to go through.
I guess the only silver lining for Robinson is that he should be back in the UK in time to attend the EDL protest outside the US Embassy tomorrow.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 9 September 2010, 19:17
Any thought that the BNP threat had gone away with their awful performance in May's elections and their more recent infighting were dismissed today with the BBC's research into the impact of the impending public sector cuts.
Most of the key BNP target areas are among those that are most vulnerable to the cuts. Among them are Stoke-on-Trent (3rd most vulnerable), Sandwell (4th), Burnley (11th), South Tyneside (12), Barnsley (14th) and Rotherham (15th).
Also in the 30 most vulnerable areas are Tameside, Pendle, Wigan and Oldham.
It is going to be a tough couple of years ahead.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 9 September 2010, 07:57
A new wave of infighting and backbiting is engulfing the leadership of the English Defence League. At the centre of the growing discontent is the claim that EDL founder Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Paul Harris, is lining his own pocket through the sale of merchandise.
We have reported on these rumours for quite some time but now they have exploded publicly. A recent EDL meeting in West Yorkshire, shortly after their failed protest in Bradford, descended into recriminations and frustration at the Luton-based leadership.
Tommy Robinson hit back furiously. “Who do people think they are when they slate others who have done nothing but put their hearts, their souls, their time and relentless effort into the defence of our country, much to the annoyance of their families, their partners and even themselves?
“And what do they get other than a constant barrage of unwarranted abuse, hostility and fabrications propagated to inflame those hostilities?”
He went on: “So I’ve made millions from merchandise have i? Iv skimmed monies from the EDL movement and basically shit on our grass roots members making a living off it? Im supposedly parasiting off EDL success to line my own pockets am i?
“How fucking sad are these people?”
And he concludes: “Seriously these so called and self styled “EDL Members” need to take a good long look at themselves and see the harm they are causing, to divide is to conquer but i know that sometimes something has to be broken so it can be fixed. People who need to break away because of rumour, hearsay, and lies are welcome to leave, i only want real people with the best intentions for this movement involved. I have no time for political platitudes, for massaging egos, for babysitting or wet nursing so called “members” who have hissy fit tantrums, members who are the cause of the majority of strife within the movement.”
The organiser of the West Yorkshire meeting was John ‘Snowy’ Shaw, one of the two EDL members who staged the Dudley rooftop protest. Stung by Tommy Robinson’s attack, he meekly rolled over like a sad puppy.
“I said two things on Saturday that were passed onto me that I now know 100% are totally untrue, firstly that Tommy had made thousands of pounds out of EDL and secondly that Kevin didn't use his real daughter in the documentary. I would like to offer my most sincere apology to both these men for bringing their good names into disrupt, by repeating these lies that were brought to my attention instead of what I should of done and spoke to them personally. That was a grave error on my part and believe me or not I never went to that meeting with any intention of saying those two things and regretted them when I did, we are all human and we make mistakes I should know I have made plenty. I feel that some people have used my passion and commitment to the cause to manipulate me for their own agenda, maybe the fact that I am fanatical about EDL was my down fall.”
He concluded: “I don't now or have never wanted to cause a division within EDL, I only want what's best for the cause.”
The problem for Snowy is that he has caused a division and despite the public apology Tommy Robinson is not in the mood to forgive.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 8 September 2010, 14:57
Yesterday I blogged about our walk up Mount Kilimanjaro next summer, what I've dubbed the 'Walk for HOPE'.
We've had a fantastic response to it and over 20 people have already regstered their interest.
At 5,895m Kilimanjaro is the world's highest freestanding mountains and the views from the top quite amazing. It will be the walk of a lifetime and for a good cause too.
I'm on the lookout for photos and personal stories from anyone who has been up Kilimanjaro so we can put up on our website. Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To register your interest in the trip, to be held in early July 2011, visit http://www.setrust.org.uk/
Posted: 8 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 7 September 2010, 09:10
Next summer the Searchlight Educational Trust is putting on a sponsored walk up Kilimanjaro to raise money for a youth and community organising project we hope to set up later in the year.
So, if you fancy the walk of your life and my good company, please click through to the SET website
Posted: 7 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 4 September 2010, 19:15
After several incidents of homophobic attacks in Hackney the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community organised a community campaign to stop hatred in the borough. The campaign, Out East, was established to create Hackney pride and today a march and rally took place. Proudly supported by HOPE not hate the event saw over 400 local residents march through the heart of Hackney ending up at Shoreditch church for a rally with speeches from trade unionists, LGBT asylum seekers and of course the HOPE not hate campaign.
Commenting on the day David Braniff-Herbert, campaigns organiser and LGBT activist, said "today's march and rally shows how a real community response to hatred can have such a positive impact on a local area. This is community organising.''
Out East hopes to hold the event every year from now on.
Posted: 4 Sep 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 4 September 2010, 14:18
Yesterday morning two of our supporters from Bradford, impressed with our campaign against the EDL, offered to double the donations we received in the following 24 hours. This fantastic gesture was immediately and enthusiastically taken up by our supporters on Facebook.
I am pleased to say we received donations totalling £682 from our supporters meaning we will get the same again from Mr and Mrs Siraj.
So a big thank you all round to everyone who donated, especially Mr and Mrs Siraj for their most generous offer.
Posted: 4 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 3 September 2010, 12:45
Just had a marvelous message from a Mr & Mrs Siraj of Bradford. They have said they will match the total of all donations we receive on here between 11 am today to 11am tomorrow. You can donate here. Remember all donations we receive go towards the Hope not Hate campaign against the BNP and the EDL.
Posted: 3 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 2 September 2010, 12:10
The utter hatred the EDL has for journalists and photographers was clearly evident at their protest in Bradford on Saturday. They swore, abused and threw missiles at the press at every opportunity. Since Saturday EDL forums having been buzzing with veiled threats against named journalists, including myself and others connected with HOPE not hate. There has been a whole thread into discussing finding my home address.
Today we learn that that one of the groups supporting the EDL, Casuals United, has issued a “non-violent [sic] fatwa” on journalists. In a statement the group said: “At all future liaison meeting with police they will be told, left wing journos being let in is a threat to public order and we cant guarantee their safety.
“Any that do get in will be removed, whether they like it or not.”
The statement adds: “Muppets have walked around the EDL Bradford demo area taking pics and trying to humiliate people, while Nick from Searchliar lurks on a ledge across the road snapping away trying to catch anything that will get a “fascist” in trouble. At least two EDL members addresses have gone out on Facebook as a result. A deliberate act in the hope they will be attacked. Should we bend over to be shafted guys?”
Why the hatred of photographers and journalists? Because we tell the truth about the EDL. I listened to ‘Tommy Robinson’ on Talksport on Monday night and their strategy was clear. Continue to claim that they were a peace-loving, non-violent organisation but when evidence of their hatred and violence emerged then blame it on anti-fascist agent provocateurs.
Well, I’m afraid it won’t wash. The more people see of the EDL the more people are rightly disgusted. And they will hear about them through brave journalists and photographers who defy their threats and violence to report the truth. I for one will not be intimidated by EDL thugs. If anything, their threats make me even more determined to show the EDL up for what they are.
Posted: 2 Sep 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 2 September 2010, 09:39
It's a beautiful Thursday morning, I'm listening to Jamie Cullum on Jazz FM and I'm feeling good about the day. I've just been sent some from photographs from Rashid Ibrahim, one of the people who organised the delivery of food to the police in Bradford on Saturday night. He came across my blog and thought I might I might like a photo of the event.
Rashid runs Lifecare UK, a Bradford-based charity that provides urgent Health Support, Clean Water and Food that are required in emergency cases. Lifecare UK provides all its support to everyone regardless to Race, Religion, Culture or Sect and deals with everyone fairly and equally. You can visit their website (www.lifecareuk.org).
Anyway, hats off to Rashid and his friends. His simple gesture spoke volumes of what appears to be a new mood in Bradford and from the feedback I've got from our HOPE not hate supporters was both liked and appreciated.
Posted: 2 Sep 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 2 September 2010, 08:47
Yesterday I sent out an email to those who signed our petition to ban the EDL march in Bradford as I wanted their views about what we should do next. We not only stopped the EDL from rioting in Bradford but I believe we helped foster a new spirit of togetherness in the city. To build on this new mood we are going to continue our work in Bradford. It is no point us campaigning in the city, talking to thousands of people and having such a great victory if we just walk away as soon as it is done.
A lot of people have filled in the survey and I'll be taking a moment to read their views about what we should do next. In the meantime I thought I'd share just a few of the comments I've had about our recent campaign.
“The campaign was simple and straigh to the point. It united the people of Bradford no matter what their beliefs were. The speeches from all the community leaders were inspiring and made me proud to be a Bradfordian.”
“Bringing people together - you didn't have a lot of time to get organised and it was very well done. I feel it has really helped ordinary people show that all we want is to live peacefully and get on with our lives.”
“This was a fantastic campaign that was focussed directly on the needs of the community affected and not on any ideology. I cannot praise these aims high enough. Much as I agree with notions of "not surrendering the streets" and "they shall not pass" I am a Bradfordian who does not wish to see his city become a battleground for a fight nobody here wants. The fight was their aim, therefore the fight is what needed to be thwarted in order to thwart the EDL.”
“I have been consistently impressed by HnH's efforts to reach out to and unite groups who wouldn't normally attend an "anti-fascist" rally. I think your campaigns unite the political mainstream with the politically idealistic in a simple but very inspiring way. I think the non-ideological, inclusive language that you use allows powerful alliances to form. Let's hope they endure.”
“It shows everyone out there that Hope not Hate can make a difference. The world, not just Britain, belongs to each and every one of us. Joining together works, it proves that we are stronger than the hate-inciters. Fantastic!”
And finally, this one:
“Flaming gondolas! I’m an Aussie student in Bradford and I’d like to say that I love this city and Yorkshire people in general. I watched how your campaign brought people together and I thought it was totally inspirational. Well done you.”
Posted: 2 Sep 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 1 September 2010, 08:56
I have to admit I’m tingling with anticipation. Any minute now the van carrying our latest issue of Searchlight will arrive. It’s normally an exciting moment but today is extra special. We are going full colour and we have a new design. The contents inside the magazine are pretty good too.
It certainly looked good on the screen – let’s hope the printed version lives up to expectations. I’ll let you know shortly.
Posted: 1 Sep 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments