HOPE not hate

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How the EU Referendum has divided Britain

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 20 July 2016, 06:35


It will probably come as no surprise to you that Britain is a more divided country as a consequence of the EU Referendum campaign. But now we have the evidence.

Research commissioned by HOPE not hate and conducted by the pollsters Populus, has found an increasingly polarised society.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those polled believe Britain is more divided as a result of the Referendum vote and more people think there are more tensions between communities than when asked the same question in February.

I've written up our polling research. You can read it here:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/features/fear-and-hope-3/

To respond to this growing division in society HOPE not hate is launching a #MoreInCommon campaign in order to bring our communities back together and we have designated the weekend of 3/4 September to hold events across the width and breadth of the UK.

The highlight of this weekend will be a large community festival in Batley & Spen, where Jo Cox was the local MP.

There also will be events across the UK, some large-scale, like a food festival in central Bradford, but others much smaller and more localised initiatives, like a community picnic in Greenwich.

Our latest Fear and HOPE report shows the urgency of the #MoreInCommon camapign. Those most opposed to immigration and a multicultural society were the most pessimistic about the future when we conducted our 2016 Fear and HOPE poll in February.

Now, having overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU, these people are now the most optimistic about the future. By a huge margin they believe that both their economic fortunes are going to improve and that the Government will be able to drastically limit immigration.

If this doesn't happen - as it's unlikely to - then these voters will be very angry and let down and they will be looking for someone to blame.

So we must be ready and our #MoreInCommon campaign is the perfect way to start . On Thursday I will explain more about our weekend of action in early September and how you can get involved and together we can start healing the divisions in society.

In the meantime, please read our report into our divided Britain.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/features/fear-and-hope-3/

 Posted: 20 Jul 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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David Hopper – a grievous loss

posted by: Graeme Atkinson | on: Sunday, 17 July 2016, 12:52


Dave Hopper (second from left) at 100th anniversary of the disaster at Senghenydd Colliery in 2013 when 439 men and boys were killed

Dave Hopper (second from left) at 100th anniversary of the disaster at Senghenydd Colliery in 2013 when 439 men and boys were killed

Yesterday, we lost Dave Hopper, general secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association (DMA).

Dave, a supporter of HOPE not hate, represented so much. A marra to the marrow, he was cut from the hard rock above Durham’s deep seams of coal and was everything admirable about Durham pitmen: proud of his heritage, personally generous, unselfish, full of solidarity with others, anti-racist, internationalist, unflinching, loyal and stubborn in the cause of the working class and the mining communities.

His hostility to capitalism was relentless and limitless and his commitment to socialism, was boundless. He didn’t like fascism much, either, as was demonstrated by his presence at anti-fascist protests in the north east and by when, without hesitation, he and the DMA locked horns with Sunderland AFC after its, thankfully, shortlived appointment of the self-declared fascist Paolo Di Canio as club manager.

The awesome history of the Great Northern Coalfield, especially Durham, ran through Dave's veins and lived through them. We shall not see his like again.

I did not know Dave Hopper well but knew him enough – in the first place meeting him through a shared love of the Durham miners’ club, Sunderland AFC – to say this:

Dave Hopper’s loss is grievous. He was unique as a trade union leader, head and shoulders above those who make intrigue their life’s purpose. Dave was different. He knew he was answerable to better judges: his union, its members, the mining community and the working class.

When coal mining ended at his own pit, Monkwearmouth, in 1993, where he and others had led the momentous and bitter struggles of 1984-1985 and beyond, Dave and his comrades in the DMA and the Durham Mechanics determined that our traditions and memories were not just going to be allowed to fade.

And, they didn’t. Dave, his comrades and the DMA applied themselves intelligently to this huge task.

We see the results today. The DMA is still alive.

We saw the results just over a week ago: the Durham Miners’ Gala was the biggest and most successful since the halcyon days of the Durham coalfield. The pits are no longer there but their banners are, a magnificent expression of steadfastness and remembrance.

So much of this was down to Dave Hopper and we shall forever be in his debt.

In other circumstances, the final march of the brave heroes and heroines of the International Brigades through Barcelona on 1 November 1938, Dolores Ibárruri (“La Pasionaria”) bade them farewell with the words: “You can go with pride. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of the solidarity and the universality of democracy… We will not forget you.

Dave Hopper, too, made history and will always be a legend. And we shall certainly never forget him.

With sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Salud, Dave!

Graeme Atkinson for HOPE not hate

 Posted: 17 Jul 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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“For optimism. Always.”

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 July 2016, 14:53


I woke up this morning to hear the awful news of yet another terrorist attack in France. 84 more families will today be grieving.

Today, Jo Cox's funeral will be finally taking place. Another family grieving. Another great loss.

It is easy to lose hope with each passing tragedy. It becomes tempting to think that all of our good work can be so easily undermined and overturned by one act of violence or terrorism.

But that is what those who spread hatred want and that in itself should motivate us to redouble our efforts.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been amazed at the resilience of the British people and their determination to overcome fear and hate in their communities. Record numbers of people have been turning up to our #MoreInCommon meetings, most getting involved for the first time.

Dozens of new HOPE not hate groups are forming across the country and, more importantly, events are already being organised to bring communities together.

We have dozens more meetings happening over the next few weeks. Please sign up to one near you:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/more-in-common/

Even if you nearest meeting has happened, please still sign up. In some areas we already follow up planning meetings taking place so we can easily plug you in with your local group.

Over 260 people have also contacted us offering to help set up meetings in towns where events have so far not been organised and setting up more meetings all the time.

Let me know if you would like to help set up a HOPE not hate meeting in your area.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/more-in-common/

Next week we will be suggesting ways we can all bring our neighbours and communities together.

But today, let's pause for a moment and think about those who have lost their lives to terror. Please spare a thought for Jo Cox's family and also for the families of all those who died last night in France.

I'd like to end this email by quoting a tweet sent out this morning by my good friend Kirsty McNeill, a close friend of Jo Cox.

"For optimism. Always. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard." - Kirsty McNeill, Jo's friend

If you agree with Kirsty's words, then please sign up and get involved.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/more-in-common/

Thanks

Nick

 Posted: 15 Jul 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Concern that Jewish Labour MP accused of "media conspiracy"

posted by: HOPE not hate | on: Thursday, 30 June 2016, 18:54


HOPE not hate is deeply troubled to hear that at the launch of the Labour Party report into antisemitism within the party, a Jewish Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, was accused by a Momentum activist of being part of a media conspiracy against the party leadership.

The unfounded allegation that a Jewish person is part of some "media conspiracy" is precisely the type of anti-Jewish slur that was highlighted as unacceptable in Ms Chakrabarti's report. It is even more disconcerting to hear that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn failed to contact Ruth Smeeth in the hours after this incident.

Ruth Smeeth: Labour MP for Stoke North

Ruth Smeeth: Labour MP for Stoke North

Ms Chakrabarti's report was intended to help the Labour Party address antisemitism. This incident, and the failure of the party leader to deal with it or reach out to person at the receiving end, shows that there is still a way to go. Ruth Smeeth has posted a statement of her own here.

 Posted: 30 Jun 2016 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Racist incidents since Brexit vote unacceptable, authorities must take action

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 27 June 2016, 14:30


Since the Brexit vote last Thursday, there have been a disturbing series of reports of racist incidents aimed at Polish, Muslim and other communities.

Social media channels have also witnessed an upsurge of hatred.

Let us be clear: such an outpouring of hate is both despicable and wrong. Whatever direction our country now chooses, a path towards intolerance and division is not in anyone’s interest.

Choosing a vote on our future on the European Union cannot be a green light for racism and xenophobic attacks and HOPE not hate demands action against the perpetrators.

Those who would choose to polarise our society should be called to task for their actions.

HOPE not hate will stand by those communities under attack. But at the same time the authorities and police must also bring the full force of the law to bear against those who seek to exploit the Referendum to promote an agenda or racial or religious hatred, or indeed any other form of discrimination.

We call on the Government to give some clarity and reassurance to EU migrants about their status in the UK and their future.

Now is the time for all of us to redouble our efforts to focus on that which unites, rather than divides; to think carefully about the society we wish to shape; and to realise that, no matter what happened last Thursday, we all need to live together.

Social media hate messages

Social media hate messages

 Posted: 27 Jun 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Stand Together

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 24 June 2016, 07:12


A short time ago, after a campaign tainted with racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, it was formally announced that Britain had voted to leave the European Union. This is a seismic moment for our country and indeed Europe.

I worry that there is a real danger that the bitterly-fought contest could leave a lasting legacy of division in our country. We cannot allow this to happen.

As the nation looks towards a life outside the EU, we will need voices that champion our vision of Britain and supports those most at risk from any sort of xenophobic backlash.

That's why I'm asking you to join me in building HOPE not hate into an organisation capable to meeting the challenge.

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/still-believe

One thing is sure. We cannot allow the toxic Referendum debate to spill over into local communities. Speaking to those from eastern and central Europe, and indeed other immigrants, over recent days it is clear that many are worried. They are uncertain about their future and concerned about a racist backlash.

Get involved to ensure this doesn't happen

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/still-believe

But let's also be clear that we need to reach out to those areas which have been abandoned by mainstream politicians, particularly those in often de-industrialised parts of Britain. We need to offer an alternative narrative to those voices wanting to blame immigrants for all their problems, whilst also genuinely addressing people's real concerns.

Ultimately, we need to offer more positive channels for people to effect change in their local communities.

Over the next few weeks we are going to be organising meetings across the country to consult with our supporters and agree a plan.

Are you in?

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/still-believe

Britain has spoken and now we need to stand together for the tolerant, diverse and multicultural society we want. We need to heal the rifts and try and bring communities together.

I won't lie, none of this is going to be easy, but the simple truth is that if we don't do it then no-one will.

HOPE not hate has prided itself with working in the most difficult of communities. Now we are fighting for our entire country.

HOPE not hate has never been so needed. Please join us

Thanks

Nick

#StandTogether

 Posted: 24 Jun 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Continuing Jo’s work

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 19 June 2016, 07:36


We have been overwhelmed by the support the public has shown both to Jo Cox’s memory and in so generously donating to support the work of Royal Voluntary Service in Batley and Spen, the White Helmets in Syria, and ourselves.

To be honest, we are all still coming to terms with this dreadful killing and the wider, uglier ramifications it appears to represent. Our thoughts remain with Jo’s husband Brendan, and their two young children, at this dark and terrible time.

Whatever funds we receive from donations in Jo’s memory will be used to support our work in exposing and combatting extremism, and in strengthening our many regional projects and teams to foster greater dialogue and understanding between (all-too-often) divided local communities.

In particular, we will launch a campaign this summer to heal some of the divisions in society that have opened up during the increasingly toxic and bitter Referendum campaign.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you – new supporters and old – and to remind you that there are far more good and decent people out there than there haters; that there is far more that unites us than divides, even at times of great change.

We will, as Brendan Cox so poignantly wrote on the eve of Jo's death, fight with renewed vigour against the very hatred that killed her.

 Posted: 19 Jun 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Jo Cox: The Language Of Hate Has No Place In Politics

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 17 June 2016, 17:52


As I write this, I’m still reeling in shock and horror at the murder of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, who was so brutally killed yesterday. I had been sharing drinks with her husband, Brendan, only the night before. Now he is a widower and their two young children face life without a mother. I find it hard to imagine their pain.

But as much as I feel pain, I also feel anger. How dare someone snuff out such a bright voice of hope in this manner? A principled and passionate MP, who championed women’s and refugee rights. What gives the killer the God-given right to make this choice? Jo, a former head of policy at Oxfam, had a bright future as both a mother and a Member of Parliament. Now that’s all gone.

There is much speculation about Jo’s killer, Tommy Mair, 52, who shot and stabbed her multiple times outside a constituency meeting in Birstall, near Leeds. That Jo had received hate mail in the months before her death; that police were (apparently) considering offering her protection. What we do know is that while her killer Mair may have had a history of mental illness, it appears he also had a 30-year long relationship with far-right groups, stretching back to the 1980s.

He is alleged to have shouted “Britain first” multiple times during the attack. Britain First is the name of a far-right organisation, led by a former British National Party (BNP) extremist, that invades mosques and carries out provocative stunts in Muslim communities “in the name of Christianity”. There is nothing Christian about this vile hate group, which has its ideological roots in the extremes of Protestant Loyalism as well as violent far-right organizations.

Mair was a subscriber to S. A. Patriot, a South African magazine published by White Rhino Club, a pro-apartheid group. The club describes that magazine’s editorial stance as opposed to “multi-cultural societies” and “expansionist Islam.”

Our friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center in the USA have reported that Mair was a long-time supporter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, purchasing over $600 (£420) of items, including instructions on how to build a gun.

Run until his death by Professor William Pierce, the National Alliance was once one of the most powerful neo-Nazi organizations in the world, controlling a music business, selecting and training cadres, and being linked to numerous killers, including ‘The Order,’ a group that killed Jewish radio host Alan Berg and carried out bank robberies and counterfeiting.

Pierce also wrote The Turner Diaries, about a fictional white uprising that led to the nuclear destruction of Israel. In it, he described a truck bombing almost identical to the Oklahoma bombing of 1995: later, Timothy McVeigh would carry out his bombing, killing 168 (including 19 children). A copy of The Turner Diaries was found in the trunk of his car.

Nick Griffin, the former British National Party (BNP) leader, took quickly to Twitter to claim that the Remain camp in the EU Referendum would seek to exploit Jo Cox’s death. Griffin’s sickening cynicism knows no bounds: after all, it was in his former party that the London nailbomber David Copeland, another disturbed loner, found his home.

Copeland went on to kill three people, including a pregnant woman, as well as injure hundreds more in April 1999 in 13 days of attacks against the black, Asian and gay communities in London, culminating in the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho.

After that attack, Griffin wrote about gay commemoration of the victims, claiming: “The TV footage of dozens of gay demonstrators flaunting their perversions in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.”

More recently, in January 2015, a Sikh dentist had his hand almost hacked off by another white supremacist attacker, Zack Davies, in a supermarket in north Wales. Davies, linked to a neo-Nazi group called National Action, thought his victim was Muslim and screamed during his attack: “This is for Lee Rigby”—referring to the off-duty soldier murdered in 2013 by two Muslim extremists in Woolwich.

Already other far-right groups are crowing at Jo Cox’s death. Yet this isn’t only a sad tale of lone misfits. Jo’s killing took place in one of the most febrile atmospheres that, as a seasoned anti-racism campaigner, I’ve ever known. The EU Referendum seems to have brought out the worst in our nation, not the best, with claims made daily about immigration and constant demonizing of immigrants.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage unveiled a poster featuring Syrian refugees heading into Slovenia last year, titled “Breaking Point”—as though these refugees were all heading to the UK (they weren’t). He has spoken about immigrants as sexual predators, while others have claimed that 76 million Turks are coming to the UK if we remain inside the EU. And it’s not just far-right populists who have made these claims: scare stories abound about the threat that immigration poses to our nation, almost blinding everything else (whipped on by a coarse and virulent press).

The far right often slams the same “liberal and cultural elite” that press and populist politicians like to blame for the nation’s ills. Anders Breivik invoked the spectre of “cultural Marxists” as a reason for his targeting not of ethnic minorities, but the 77 young Norwegian Labour Party activists he slew in Norway in 2011.

Those who stoop low, who use the language of hate and stir the fires of resentment in order to win votes, need to accept responsibility for what they do. Whilst the killer is alone to blame for his killing, we as a society need to think about our actions too.

As Jo’s husband Brendan wrote yesterday, in an unbelievingly poignant note: “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”

This piece originally appeared in Newsweek Europe

 Posted: 17 Jun 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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With Sorrow In Our Hearts

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 16 June 2016, 10:46


I am writing in shock and sadness. I've just learned that Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, has died after being shot and stabbed by a lone attacker today outside her constituency surgery.

I am sure that you, like me, are utterly numb at this senseless killing.

Our hearts go out to Jo's family, including husband Brendan and their two children, at this awful time.

Jo Cox was a brave and passionate MP, who championed refugee & women's rights, campaigned against modern slavery, and was a former head of policy at Oxfam.

More recently, Jo had been a strong campaigner to keep Britain in the European Union.

While it does appear that her killer was possibly a far-right activist, questions over his connections and motives can wait for another day.

For now, difficult as it is, our thoughts have to be focused on keeping the memory alive of a principled and much-loved woman, who stood up so passionately for what she believed.

And the best way to do that is for us all to redouble our efforts to challenge hatred, prejudice and intolerance wherever we encounter it.

Yours in sorrow,

Nick and the HOPE not hate team

 Posted: 16 Jun 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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London Stands with Orlando

posted by: Taranjit Chana | on: Monday, 13 June 2016, 12:17


Guest blog by Taranjit Chana, a leading HOPE not hate supporter in London.

Our thoughts are with those who were killed and injured in Orlando, Florida.

There are no words to express the sadness, pain, and anger. This horrific act of homophobic violence is a reminder that we (the LGBT + community) and our allies has, is and will always be a target for haters globally, haters who will kill. Hating people for who they are is wrong. We must all come together, in solidarity against the haters and ensure that hope always triumphs.

There will be a vigil tonight at 7pm in Old Compton Street:

Taranjit Chana
Chair of GMB Race Equality London

 Posted: 13 Jun 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments