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New International Alt-Right movement formed

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Sunday, 26 February 2017, 19:15


Colin Robertson, of Millennial Woes, in the blue shirt. @Expo

Colin Robertson, of Millennial Woes, in the blue shirt. @Expo

HOPE not hate/EXPO exclusive

A new international Alt-Right movement has been formed, bringing together far right groups from the US and Europe. Simply called Altright, it mergers the three main Alt-Right operations in the world and will have a major influence on the far right across North America and Europe.

News of this new organisation emerged at a far right conference held yesterday in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

The event, called Identitarian Ideas IX and organised by leading Alt-Right figure Daniel Friberg, saw over 300 people attend from the UK, Sweden, America, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands.

In a joint research operation, HOPE not hate and the Swedish anti-racist magazine EXPO sent researchers into the conference and also photographed it from outside.

The Alternative Right is an international set of groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by so-called ‘social justice warrior’s’ (SJW) and pro-multicultural and liberal elites using ‘political correctness’ to undermine western civilization and the rights of white males. Its roots lie in the so-called ‘Reactosphere’ or ‘Dark Enlightenment’ which was a community of bloggers active since the 2000s.

In the UK, the Alt-Right overlaps with the New Right, a broad alliance of new and more traditional far right activists, and a contingent from the UK-based London Forum attended the conference. They were joined by members of Swedish far-groups including Nordic Youth, Motgift and the Nordic Resistance Movement.

London Forum supporters were handing out business cards

London Forum supporters were handing out business cards

Also present was leading “counter-jihadist” Ingrid Carlqvist, who co-runs Dispatch International and until recently was a prolific writer for the US-based Gatestone Institute, which has close links to Donald Trump's administration. Her presence, in a room full on unrepentant nazis, will severely embarrass and damage claims by the international counter-jihad networks that it is not extreme.

Speakers at the event included Henrik Palmgren from the Alt Right platform Red Ice, Magnus Söderman, the former chief ideologue of the openly Nazi Swedish Resistance Movement and Rueben Kaalep who leads the youth movement of the Estonian Blue Awakening.

Jason Reza Jorjani, the Editor-in-Chief of Arktos books, a Alt-Right publishing house founded by the Swedish ex-skinhead Daniel Friberg and the American John B. Morgan in November 2009 and now based in Budapest, opened the event by outlining the recent merger of three of the movements leading organisations; Arktos Books, Red Ice and the infamous National Policy Institute led by Richard Spencer. The new group, Altright, has a single board and an office in downtown Washington D.C.

The Board of Directors for the new organisation are Daniel Friberg, Jason Jorjani, Henrik Palmgren, William Regnery, Richard Spencer and Tor Westman.

The American Editor will be Richard Spencer, while Daniel Friberg is the European Editor. The Culture Editor will be Jason Jordan.

Also speaking at the event was the Scottish blogger Millennial Woes, recently identified as Colin Robertson from Linlithgow. His short but extreme speech left the audience under no allusion of his belief in racial nationalism. He even quoted the infamous ”14 Words” - We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children - a confession of faith for the Nazi movement.

Conspicuous by their absence were leading US Alt-Right figures Richard Spencer and Greg Johnson. It was announced at the conference that Spencer was banned from entering the EU, while Johnson had been due to speak but pulled out at the last minute.

During a period when the Alt-Right had been experiencing infighting and schisms, the amalgamation of the three most substantial and influential groups is highly significant. Importantly, the merger unites a number of previously linked but separate schools of far-right thought; New Right (Nouvelle Droite), Archeofuturism, the Fourth Political Theory (Alexander Dugin) and the Identitarian movement.

As Jorjani put it at the conference, the merger “represents nothing less than the integration of all of the aforementioned European right wing schools of thought with the North American vanguard movement most responsible for the electoral victory of President Trump.” While he dramatically over-estimates their influence as a movement, this merger remains an important development of the Alt-Right and the growing internationalization of far right politics.

* A full report on the conference, including a detailed list of the individuals and organisations present, will follow in the coming days.

 Posted: 26 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Farage throws agent under the bus

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 23 February 2017, 08:54


Chris Bruni-Lowe, right, out and about campaigning in Thanet with Nigel Farage

Chris Bruni-Lowe, right, out and about campaigning in Thanet with Nigel Farage

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has tried to distance himself from any wrongdoing in the election expenses scandal engulfing UKIP. Yesterday, HOPE not hate revealed that UKIP had not declared a minimum of £26,305 in the returns to the electoral commission for the South Thanet seat which Farage contested. We said the true figure could have actually been over £35,000.

Pressed for a comment from the BBC, which ran the story yesterday, Farage tried to absolve himself of any blame. "I didn't do the returns myself, but I was deeply conscious the whole way through that we had to be desperately careful."

He added: "I have no reason to think anything's wrong."

"I must have asked the question ten times 'are we absolutely sure we've got this right?' and I was absolutely assured that we had done this as thoroughly and as professionally as we could."

Some would suggest that his response indicates that he is worried that there is truth to our allegations. Rather than dismiss our claims out of hand, he prioritised extracting himself from any responsibility.

Whether his agent, Chris Bruni-Lowe, will be so happy to be thrown under the bus by his former boss remains to be seen.

HOPE not hate is pressing Kent Police to widen its current investigation into the alleged over-spending in South Thanet by the Conservative Party to include Nigel Farage's campaign too.

Read our investigation here: UKIP flout election law in campaign overspend

 Posted: 23 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Call in the police

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 22 February 2017, 19:34


HOPE not hate is writing to the Electoral Commission and Kent Police to demand that they investigate the flouting of electoral law by UKIP during Nigel Farage's unsuccessful campaign to become an MP in 2015 in South Thanet.

A two-month investigation by HOPE not hate's new investigations team has found UKIP failed to declare significant election expenditure, misallocated spending and ignored electoral convention by dividing costs evenly between general election and local council candidates. We have calculated that Nigel Farage's campaign failed to appropriately declare at least £26,302 in its electoral returns and possibly well over £35,000.

You can read the full story here.

While candidates were allowed to spend £15,087.30 in the 'short' campaign, the period from 9 April 2015 until polling day on 7 May 2015, our investigation has found UKIP spent at least £26,000 - almost twice as much as they were allowed to spend.

Our investigation found campaign staff, billboards and mobile advans omitted from the South Thanet electoral returns. We found thousands of pounds of campaign expenditure in the party's long returns (where it is allowed to spend more) even though the labour and materials were used in the short campaign.

And we found Farage's team ignoring Electoral Commission guidelines by equally dividing his campaign expenditure amongst 65 district and parish candidates. This led to the ridiculous situation where his taxi fares were divided 65 ways!

Read HOPE not hate's exclusive story.

Kent Police is already investigating claims that the Conservative Party candidate hid campaign expenditure during the South Thanet. Now, we are writing to Kent Police to demand that it widens the investigation to include Nigel Farage's campaign.

UKIP has clearly benefited by the breakdown in trust people have in politicians and the political system. Now we can reveal that it is UKIP that has flagrantly flouted the rules.

 Posted: 22 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The Year Hate Went Mainstream

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 14 February 2017, 20:52


In a year dominated by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump, there were mixed fortunes for Britain’s far right. For them it was a year of further marginalisation, convictions and bans punctuated only by extreme acts of violence – such as the horrific murder of Jo Cox.

2016 was also a year where a new far-right threat became more evident, one that was at the heart of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon played out largely on social media and to an international audience.

That’s according to our new 76-page report, State of Hate 2017, the most comprehensive look at far-right extremism in the UK and across Europe.

Violence in 2017

The year started with a violent confrontation in Dover, where fascists and anti-fascists clashed at a National Front march, which led to the jailing of over 50 far-right activists. It ended with the leader of the anti-Muslim outfit, Britain First, being sent to prison and the nazi grouplet National Action (NA) banned as a terrorist organisation by the British government.

2016 started with a violent confrontation in Dover, where fascists and anti-fascists had a four-hour clash at a National Front march.

2016 started with a violent confrontation in Dover, where fascists and anti-fascists had a four-hour clash at a National Front march.

While some dismissed the banning of NA as a PR stunt - the first time a far-right movement had been proscribed since World War Two - the truth is that the authorities felt compelled to act as a result of NA’s increasingly violent rhetoric and emerging evidence that some activists were trying to encourage younger recruits to carry out acts of terrorism.

However, while the ban has effectively shut down the organisation, the people within it and the networks in which they operate continue.

Far-right and radical-right parties

UKIP continued to marginalise traditional far-right parties, with groups like the British National Party (BNP) struggling to maintain any significant presence.

While some within far-right circles hoped that the EU Referendum result would lead to the collapse of UKIP and open a space for a racial nationalist party, this has failed to materialise.

However, all is not well for UKIP either. Former leader Nigel Farage and millionaire backer Arron Banks are increasingly operating parallel to the party. Meanwhile, the Brexit vote result has seen a drop in UKIP’s electoral support as some of its voters obviously feel “the job is done”, while others believe that Theresa May’s government has assumed much of UKIP’s agenda.

More significantly, UKIP is in a financial mess, struggling to raise funds and facing EU demands to pay back misused funds.

With UKIP likely to struggle to defend the 121 wards – achieved during the party’s first electoral breakthrough in 2013 – in the 2017 county council elections, success in the forthcoming Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election has become vital for both new leader Paul Nuttall and his party.

It is abundantly clear that there will be compromises over Brexit and this, coupled with rising economic anxiety and probable inability of the government to reduce immigration substantially, could lead to mounting disenchantment and anger. With the Labour Party currently in turmoil, it will be a UKIP-type party that benefits.

Whether that party is actually UKIP remains to be seen.

The “Alt-Right”

2016 saw the emergence and increasing impact of British alt-right and far right bloggers and vloggers.

Among these is Milo Yiannopoulos, who is heavily involved in the far-right-friendly Breitbart News network, and Battersea-based vlogger Paul Watson, who is enmeshed in the conspiracy website InfoWars. Watson, with 451,000 Twitter followers and 717,722 subscribers on YouTube, was one of the main figures behind fake news/conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues in the run up to the US election, including the disgusting “Is Hillary Dying?” hoax. His videos were viewed millions of times and were even taken up by Fox News.

While the Alt-Right is generally a US phenomenon, a similar trend has been growing in the UK under the name New Right. One of its expressions, The London Forum, is now regularly attended by over 100 people and new groups have formed in the South West, Yorkshire and Scotland. Last year, saw expansion of the Forum network into America.

Also intervening in the US elections was former Britain First leader Jim Dowson. From his new Hungarian office, in the centre of Budapest, Dowson set up a series of US-focused websites with the sole intent of denigrating Hillary Clinton and promoting Donald Trump. He also developed ties with Russians who had connections to people in the Kremlin.

Dowson, with former BNP leader Nick Griffin, spent much of 2016 building an international network of far-right parties, militia groups and religious extremists. Most worrying have been his growing links with people and organisations with links to the Russian state.

Similarly, the presence of Polish far-right groups – such as National Rebirth of Poland and Polish C18 and pro-Ukrainian paramilitaries in the UK such as the leaders of the Misanthropic Division – brings a new level of extremism and experience to British far-right activists.

Assault on liberal democracy

The Trump administration’s mainstreaming of anti-muslim hatred, the increased political impetus of far-right parties in parts of western Europe, the activities of alt-right activists spreading prejudice and fake news online and authoritarian regimes becoming more confident in central and Eastern Europe, all show we are living in very dangerous and uncertain times.

These right-wing forces, coupled with Russia’s continued attempts at interference in world politics, are challenging the foundations of the liberal democracy that was largely created as a result of the horrors of WWII.

Human rights, equality legislation and the collective will to intervene to stop genocides and human suffering around the globe are all now being challenged.

The British far right is still a bit part player in this wider picture but, in its many guises, it is still dangerous. The threats lie in increased far-right violence and terrorism, to the vloggers and social media networkers of the Alt-Right who will have an increasingly influential role on the shape of events.

2016 was the year of Brexit and Trump’s election. 2017 could turn out even more tumultuous.

Download our new report State of Hate 2017

 Posted: 14 Feb 2017 | There are 12 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Colin Robertson’s Woes

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Sunday, 5 February 2017, 10:11


Far-right vlogger Colin Robertson

Far-right vlogger Colin Robertson

Far-right vlogger Colin Robertson, better known as Millennial Woes, has said he may leave the UK due to increasing opposition and scrutiny. In a recent YouTube video he explicitly named HOPE not hate as a cause of his anxiety saying:

‘I think I should leave Britain […] I know that I am going to be watched a lot more closely because HOPE not hate, which is also part funded by George Soros, have said they are going to scrutinize the Alt-Right.’

To the public at large Robertson remains an online irrelevance but he has received a level of infamy in some circles after his involvement with America’s leading ‘alt-right’ organization, the National Policy Institute (NPI), was made public. Robertson attended and spoke at NPI's ‘Becoming Who We Are’ conference at the Reagan Building in Washington, DC in November 2016. The event garnered international media attention after footage emerged of supporters giving Nazi salutes and shouting ‘Hail Trump’.

Having long operated in the shadows as Millenial Woes his real identity was recently exposed and it emerged he makes his racist YouTube videos from his parents’ home in Linlithgow, Scotland.

It is likely his comments about HNH were sparked by our recent announcement of a new investigative unit designed to monitor, challenge, probe and analyse the growing threat posed by the radical and populist right which will include the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ and its propagandists like Robertson.

Whether he actually intends to leave the UK or whether this is just another attempt to manufacture his image as a martyr is unclear but the fact that he left a link to a funding website under the video perhaps gives an indication of his real motivations.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Antisemitism on the rise

posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Thursday, 2 February 2017, 12:20


Photo via CST, credit, James Lillywhite/Twitter

Photo via CST, credit, James Lillywhite/Twitter

Today the Community Security Trust, the Jewish charity monitoring antisemitism and protecting the Jewish community, released its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2016, which reveals a record number of antisemitic hate crime incidents recorded by them. The report lays out that 21% of British Jews had suffered antisemitic harassment in the past 12 months. Other antisemitic incidents include violent assault, damage and desecration of property abusive behaviour, threats, and mass-produced antisemitic literature.

The report states: ‘It is likely that there is significant under-reporting of antisemitic incidents to both CST and the Police. And that the number of antisemitic incidents that took place is significantly higher than the number recorded in this report’. This underreporting is reflected in the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which suggests under 20% of incidents are reported to the police.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend, let’s call her Sarah. Sarah is a professional, and has worked within the Jewish community for many years. Her three children go to Jewish schools, and travel by bus to school. She recounted a recent Friday night dinner where her eldest son laughingly told the family that while he was standing at the bus stop with a bunch of friends, all in their school uniform, which includes a kippah (skull cap), a man driving a lorry slowed right down and made obscene gestures at the boys. They were the only people at the bus stop, and they were all visibly Jewish.

Sarah was a bit taken aback by this. She told me she had not really thought about her children having to confront street antisemitism up until that point. But the next part of the conversation really shocked her. Her 12-year-old joined the conversation:

“You think that’s bad? You should have heard what happened to me last week!”

He recounted that he and friends his age had been playing football in the backyard of a synagogue when a group of much older boys came up to the fence and shouted to them, telling them that Harry Potter was better than the Jews because he survived the Chambers. Shocked, Sarah asked her son what happened next, had they told an adult, maybe involved the CST guard on the front gate of the synagogue? He shrugged, and said they just ignored them and carried on playing.

The wakeup call for Sarah was that her children have had Streetwise training from the CST, and know about antisemitism. When she asked them, they were able to verbalise what they should have done, and even understood that it would be important for the CST and police to know about the incident at the synagogue. Whether it just wasn’t ‘cool’ to be seen to react, or whether this kind of verbal abuse is the norm for Jewish children, they chose not to report it or even to tell anyone about it.

The other reason that antisemitic sentiment in Britain can never be accurately measured is that the vast majority of Jewish people are not visible targets. There are small parts of the Jewish community who choose to follow a very visible dress code, such as the Charedi communities in north and northwest London and north Manchester. In addition, boys attending Jewish schools may choose to continue wearing their kippot outside of school grounds.

Other than that, the vast majority of Jews are not visible targets for street antisemitism and therefore we can never know whether racist opportunists would commit more verbal and physical abuse to Jews if they were only able to identify them!

The CST report is a timely reminder that unfortunately antisemitism is growing, and like all forms of hate, must be acknowledged and challenged.

The full report can be found here.

 Posted: 2 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Fake news and radical right will soon be under increased scrutiny

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 January 2017, 14:16


HOPE not hate will shortly be launching a new investigative unit to challenge, probe and analyse the growing threat, and lies, posed by and from the radical and populist right.

We’ll be turning our focus on the cesspool inhabited by an array of far-right sites, populist political parties and movements, and some of the new kids on the block attempting to rebrand old hatreds (‘alt-right’, etc).

Our new team will be made up of experienced journalists and researchers, backed by a digital unit.

‘Fake News’

Now, more than ever, we need to forensically analyse the so-called populist and radical right and their modus operandi.

It’s not enough to just expose the violent haters – which of course we will continue to do.

We have to be able to shine a light on those who poison communities, poison the airwaves and choke social media with their rhetoric, as organised hatred takes on new forms in this new era. We have to drag out those lies into full view and, by doing so, help those that believe them understand the falsehood which sits behind them.

In a world where black can seem white, when the stock-in-trade is in fake news, now more than ever: truth matters.

Dispel

Dispel will be the blog that accompanies our new investigative unit.

It will focus not just on the UK, but also international issues, monitoring the likes of the ‘alt-right’-friendly Breitbart and Arron Banks’ new Westmonster blog, as well as some of Britain’s most virulent right-wing commentators.

We will take on, expose and counter the growing influence of key online rightwing bloggers such as Millennial Woes and Prison Planet, as well as social media propagandists such as former Britain First leader Jim Dowson, who HOPE not hate and The New York Times revealed had run a “constellation” of pro-Trump websites and Facebook pages ahead of the US elections.

Dowson, who has become closely connected to prominent Russian political figures over the last two years, boasted of making it his mission to “spread devastating anti-Clinton, pro-Trump memes and sound bites into sections of the population too disillusioned with politics to have taken any notice of conventional campaigning.” His memes and articles were watched and shared millions of times.

Donald Trump’s election success and the anti-immigration campaign waged by Arron Banks’ Leave.EU highlighted the impact of social media in poisoning the political narrative.

Backed by Breitbart and other far-right blogs and commentators, the new far-right threat is whipping up an atmosphere of hate and – ultimately – undermining our democracies.

Hatred knows no national boundaries, thanks to social media, which is why we’ll also be collaborating with organisations in both the USA and Europe to assist with our investigations and rebuttals.

This is now a global fight

Donald Trump’s chief strategist, former Breitbart editor-in-chief Steve Bannon, told a small rightwing audience at the Vatican in 2014 that the West was facing a “crisis of capitalism” after losing its “Judeo-Christian foundation.”

He said that Breitbart’s mission was to create a global news agency to spread its message to an international audience.

Breitbart has written articles which are very positively inclined to the far-right Front National, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party and the anti-Muslim AfD in Germany. In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election Breitbart announced it was expanding its media operation in the UK, France and Germany.

It is now our turn to do the same. And as we go forwards, I ask you to support our efforts. Stay turned for more developments. Dispel will correct the wrongs and and truth will have the last word.

 Posted: 27 Jan 2017 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Surviving Trump’s inauguration

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 January 2017, 17:32


In exactly 24 hours Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. I’m sure, like me, you are horrified at the thought and scared about the future. You are not alone: 58% of Britons think the world will be a less safe place, while only 4% think it will be safer.*

Many of you might be tempted to sit at home with a box of chocolates or hide under the duvet. But some of you might want to show your opposition to Trump by doing something more pro-active, instead.

Here are six suggestions to survive Trump’s inauguration:

1. Post this up on your Facebook and Twitter pages

Hey @realDonaldTrump, did you get the message?
#HOPETrumpsHate Please share

Share on Facebook

Tweet this

2. Do a nice deed to someone you know (or someone you don’t)

3. Get active with HOPE not hate

4. Join the women’s march on Saturday

5. Become a Friend of HOPE not hate

6. Watch this video and remember you are not alone in opposing Trump

The inauguration of Donald Trump makes our world an incredibly dangerous place. But it should also start of the fightback. A fight for hope, not hatred.

If you believe another world is possible then let’s get through tomorrow and let’s make it happen

* Polling carried out by YouGov for HOPE not hate

 Posted: 19 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Women are tearing down the walls that divide us

posted by: Akeela Ahmed | on: Wednesday, 18 January 2017, 11:13


2016 was unfortunately marked by dog whistle politics, the rise of the Far Right, and an increase in hate crimes against women and minorities. We are living in increasingly challenging times, and when I speak to everyday grassroots women, they often tell me about their fears for their safety, anxieties about what the future holds, and report a sense that the most divisive elements of society have been emboldened on the back of political campaigns which have been dogged by xenophobic rhetoric. I was keen to participate in the Women’s March, so that I could mark the beginning of 2017 with positive action, which would unify and bring people together, irrespective of their background or views.

The Women’s March is taking place in many cities all over the world, on the 21st of January 2017, the day after President-elect Trump’s inauguration, and will be a global show of strength and solidarity of diverse communities marching for equality and the protection of fundamental rights for all. As a passionate believer in listening to and promoting diverse women’s voices, I couldn't wait to get involved with and support a global movement for everyone, organised and led by women. Women’s voices are fiercely needed now more than ever before, as during the US elections we have seen how women have been demeaned, patronised and are expected to put up with routine sexual harassment. Moreover, we are now living in a world in which for many women of colour and especially Muslim women, physical assault, verbal abuse and anti-Muslim hate attacks, are not only on the increase but have become a daily norm. Thus it is vital that women’s voices of all backgrounds, including minority groups, are meaningfully heard, and their experiences which are often intersectional in nature - that is they face multiple challenges such as racism, misogyny and ablism - are acknowledged and amplified.

We may not all agree on all issues, but when faced overwhelmingly with the prospect that our fundamental rights to exist are being threatened, it does not matter. Critically, many unified voices will be much more effective and powerful in sending a message to those who would seek to divide, that we will not allow a climate of fear and hatred to overcome us. And our message is clear: walls will not be built to separate us from our neighbours, Muslims are equal citizens and justice (social/political/economic) is a fundamental right for all.

It would be too easy to focus on the negative consequences of the new era of divisive politics that we now find ourselves in. This would however, only lead to despair and hopelessness, which in turn leads to fear, and this fear is exploited by the far right and other xenophobes.

It is my hope that by coming together in solidarity, across all boundaries of sexuality, ethnicity, race and religion, we will demonstrate that a united and just society is not a far away dream but a very real and tangible possibility. Change will happen when we join together to stand up to and fight for justice against misogyny, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred, taking our negative feelings of despondency and channeling them into positive affirmative action. So let’s come together to march on London, not in protest but in celebration of diversity, equality and peace.

There are further marches taking place elsewhere in the UK, including:

  • Bangor, Gwynedd
  • Barnstaple
  • Belfast
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Lancaster
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Shipley
  • Southampton
  • St. Austell
  • York

For more information on the London march see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-march-on-london-tickets-29951554907?aff=es2

For other marches click here

 Posted: 18 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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MLK: Hope, not hate, will win the day

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 16 January 2017, 14:07


Today is Martin Luther King Day.

It is a time when much of America, and the wider world, celebrates the brave commitment to peace that drove Dr King throughout his life – and, indeed, cost him that life.

During King’s era of the Civil Rights struggles America was a divided country. Today it is more divided than ever.

Donald Trump is about to take office. He has talked about ‘making America great again’, yet his rhetoric has not often matched such lofty ideals.

Just two days ago, the President-elect launched a disgusting attack on veteran civil rights hero John Lewis, tweeting that he was “all talk”, after Lewis said that Trump was not a legitimate president.

A long-serving Congressman, John Lewis is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King.

He was savagely beaten by state troopers during the historic 1965 march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Like several other politicians, he has announced that he will not be attending Trump’s inauguration this Friday.

UK

The UK, too, is grappling with division.

Economic anxieties, worries about immigration, our future relationship with the European Union, pressures on housing, the NHS and social care are all rising. Communities face unprecedented pressures.

Politicians from the radical right have leapt in to the void, seeking to exploit these fears for their own political ends. The rise of such right-wing populism has shaken the political core of Europe.

Its politics is deceptively simple and based on the ‘blame game’: pointing the finger at the elites, at the media, ‘liberals’, immigrants and minority communities, seeking to turn the clock back to a mythical “better age”.

Don’t give in

As with Dr King’s time, it can be easy to give in to despair. There were those who lashed out against change then. Who responded with violence to the call for equal rights.

To opt for the easy choice and turn on our neighbours is a fool’s quest. It is a race to the bottom.

Yet it can be easy to feel cowed.

Now more than ever it is important to remember Martin Luther King and redouble our efforts to challenge prejudice and hatred; to build a society fit for everyone.

So as we prepare to witness the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, I want you to reflect on Dr King’s famous words:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

2016 was a difficult year; 2017 will be a challenging one. But it will also be a year of hope.

#MLKDay

 Posted: 16 Jan 2017 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments