You are viewing blog items for October 2010.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 31 October 2010, 16:51
Anyone involved in electoral politics will understand the frenzy of activity that takes place in the last few days. Literally years of planning, organising and strategising have now come down to just the final hours. In the UK we talk about the 72 hour “Get Out The Vote” operation. In the US it is a four day game plan. And what intensity it involves. I’ve now left the south and I’m heading back to Pennsylvania where I’ll spend the last few days of the campaign. It is one of the key battleground states, with the Republican candidate holding a steady lead over his Democrat rival for the Senate seat, but over the past week the gap has narrowed to within the margin of error.
Yesterday Barack Obama was in Philadelphia and with his encouragement the Democrats contacted 100,000 voters in one day alone. Their effort was supported by the AFL-CIO (equivalent to our TUC) which made an additional 80,000 contacts in one day to union members. I’m guessing the Republicans are doing something similar.
The sheer scale of the operations over here is amazing and insightful. While we don’t have the level of money US elections guzzle up we can still learn a few things and that’s my plan for the next few days. My bag is already overflowing with books and campaign manuals.
That said, I will be making a quick detour to Wilmington, Delaware, this afternoon where I hope to catch up with the Tea Party Express bus. Entitled Tea Party Express IV: Liberty at the Ballot Box, the bus tour has been on the road for the past 14 days since its launch by Sarah Palin back in Nevada, home to the symbolically important Senate contest between the Tea Party favourite Sharron Angle and the Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid. An amusing aside is that Reid was born in Searchlight, a small town of under 1,000 people about 40 miles from Las Vegas.
I was hoping that Sarah Palin would put in an appearance in Delaware but it appears that she’ll be campaigning today in West Virginia.
From Delaware I’ll make the short hop back to Philadelphia where I’ll join the AFL-CIO battle bus as it hits workplaces tomorrow morning. Having missed the HOPE not hate bus tour in our general election campaign as I was co-ordinating operations in Barking & Dagenham, I’m quite looking forward to taking to the road once again.
I’ve just had a text from a couple of friends from London who told me that they’ll be passing through Philadelphia tomorrow so hopefully I’ll be able to rope them into the campaigning too. With the polls opening in a little under 45 hours‘ time it is all hands to the pump.
Posted: 31 Oct 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 30 October 2010, 13:54
It's 7.30am over here in New Orleans but I've been up for the past hour following events in Amsterdam on twitter. It seems that the EDL are having a torrid time thanks to poor numbers and a huge mob of Ajax hooligans and antifa. Such a bad time that they can't even get to their meeting point.
I'm really proud of Matthew and the HOPE not hate team on the ground in Amsterdam for keeping us up to speed with what is going on.
Over in Washington DC today there is a joint Rally for Sanity and March for Fear event. Organised by left of centre comedian and TV host Jon Stewart in response to rival TV commentator Glen Beck's recent right-wing rally and as a reaction to the emergence to the Tea Party, the rally is expected to attract over 100,000 people. I can't make it so I'm going to a satellite event here in New Orleans.
Anyway, between now and then I'll be continuing to follow events in Amsterdam.
Posted: 30 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 29 October 2010, 23:24
While Matthew is covering the EDL event over in Amsterdam I'm having a couple of days break in New Orleans, where, you'll be surprised to hear, that the city is gearing itself up for the holloween party tomorrow night.
Posted: 29 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 29 October 2010, 17:21
I have been involved in anti-fascism and anti-racism for longer than I care to remember and it is easy to become immune to the hated I encounter on a day-to-day level. It is also easy to take for granted the hard of work of my colleagues and others involved in the struggle. But every now and then I come across a story of real heroism that reminds me of the hardship people have had to face in fighting for equality over the years and this in turn makes me very proud of what we all do today.
Sometimes extreme hatred, anger and dignity are intertwined in the same story. This is the case of Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was killed in Mississppi in August 1955. I learnt about his story at the fantastic Civil Rights Memorial Centre in Montgomery, Alabama. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday Montgomery was the both the capital of the Southern Confederacy and the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights movement.
Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old boy on vacation from Chicago, reportedly flirted with a white woman in a store. Three nights later, two men took Till from his bed, beat him, gouged out one of his eyes and eventually shot him. They tied a 32kg cotton gin fan around his neck and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River, where it was found three days later.
His body was returned to Chicago amidst understandable anger. His mother insisted that his coffin remain opened at his funeral so people could see the true horror of what had been done to him and this only catapulted his story into the national news. It caused understandable anger amongst the black community and politicians and newspapers urged justice to be done. Eventually two men were arrested and charged with his murder but, this was the deep south, and both were acquitted by an all-white jury.
A year later, knowing that they could not be charged with the same offence twice, they admitted to kidnapping and killing Emmett in a magazine article.
This story is both disgusting and inspiring in the same instance. The horrific murder coupled with the dignity and determination of Emmett's mother should be a stark reminder about what human beings are capable of but also of the need to do everything in our power to prevent this type of hatred in the future.
Emmett's story is also a reminder of the hatred still within our midst. The racism that led to his murder was excused and even promoted by the White Citizens Councils, a pro-segregationist organisation, which eventually became the Council of Conservative Citizens. Many of these people are now prominent players in the various Tea Party organisations, which is dominating the political agenda over here in the US elections. As Randall Williams, a civil rights veteran from Montgomery, commented to me, "when Tea Party supporters talk about taking their country back we all know who they want it take it back from."
Old habits die hard but it is through stories like Emmett's we must continue to do what we do.
Posted: 29 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 28 October 2010, 16:02
I spent last night in the company of Randall Williams, a veteran civil rights activitist from Alabama. In really appalling weather he gave me a fascinating tour of Montgomery, a city that was both the capital of the Confederacy and also the birthplace of the modern civil rights movement.
I was struck with just how close everything was. Martin Luther King's church was just 50 metres from the steps of the State building. Just down the road was the telegram office where a telegram announced the start of the Civil War and then a bit further along was the bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded the bus, and it was her refusal to give up her seat to a white person which sparked the bus boycott.
As Randall told me amidst the storm, he personally knew all the civil rights leaders with the exception of King himself. Randall was just five years old when Rosa Parks boarded the bus, 15 when black people were finally given the vote and 18 when King was shot. He was brought up a white racist family in rural Alabama but at an early age knew that life was wrong. He became an activist and a journalist, finally working for the Southern Poverty Law Centre and headed up their anti-Klan project in the early 1980s. As he himself noted, with some pride, the project was established to deal with a KKK revival, which at its height had 20-30,000 members in the early 80s but by the time Randall left the Klan Watch project was down to 1,500.
I had earlier visited the Rosa Parks museum and the Civil Rights Memorial Centre but Randall was a player at the time, knew the characters intimately and gave me a new insight into what happened. He described the clashes of personality, the differences and tensions between the middle class blacks who frequented King's church and the poorer blacks who lived further afield. Most interestingly, he claimed, and this was his personal opinion, that the Rosa Parks incident was less of a case of a middle-aged black woman tired after a long day at work but a calculated move to spark a crisis. Rosa, he told me, was an educated woman and the chair of the local NAACP group. She would have been acutely aware of the consequences of her actions.
Randall has now moved on in his life, running a book shop and publishing house but he is no less interesting and committed to social justice. As a mark of his own role in the civil rights struggle his hand print adorns the wall of the Rosa Parks museum alongside other more famous actors during this period.
Posted: 28 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 25 October 2010, 15:23
Yesterday I experienced a very different America. I’ve made my way down to Lexington, Kentucky, the heart of the Bible belt, or as some locals like to say the buckle in the belt. There is a crucial Senate election here where Tea Party favourite Rand Paul is looking strong against Democrat Jack Conway. I came here to sample a different America from what I had experienced on my other stops on this trip – and I certainly did that. The taxi driver who took me from the airport into town ignored my general questions about the city and the weather in preference for my opinion on last night’s UFC fights. I looked at him blankly and soon the conversation dried up.
My first stop was a gun show, held in the Oleika Shrine Temple, a Masonic-type lodge. I’m afraid that I was not allowed to take photos but perhaps that was no bad thing. Before me were fifteen tables selling an assortment of handguns, rifles, ammunition and survivalist literature. Some stalls even sold Uzi sub-machine guns and M16 assault rifles.
Amidst my fascination and bizarre amusement with the plethora of guns on display I totally missed at first the huge Nazi swastika hanging above one of the stalls. I have to admit a slight shiver went through my body when I saw it and I waited for the stall holder to wander off before I made my way over. To be honest the stall sold World War Two memorabilia, as did another stall, but I found the young lad, presumably the son of one of the stall holders, wearing an Iron Cross T-shirt disconcerting to say the least.
The gun show was a surreal experience. Here I was in a temple, albeit of some sort of Masonic cult, with pictures of the charity and healthcare work hanging from the walls but with weapons of death laid out in front of me. There were very few people there and the stall holders appeared to fit my stereotype which perhaps is unfair. I got chatting to a couple of the stallholders, and they were more than pleasant. Others, however, appeared to deliberately keep their distance.
From there it was off to the races at Keeneland, home of some of the world’s best thoroughbred racehorses. Over 15,000 people were packed in to watch nine races on what was a beautiful afternoon. I got chatting to a few more people, including one who described himself as a Blue Dog Democrat – a term for moderate-to-conservative Democrats. He comes from the South and was a former Green Beret veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and yet he was very liberal on issues of race and religion and even highly critical of America’s role in the world. He too was a gun fanatic and believed one day he would need to take up arms against the Government but I found him engaging and interesting. I was able to have the type of conversation that I was simply unable to have with those at the gun show.
Coming from liberal England it is hard to fully understand America’s love of guns, their hostility to central Government and their religious faith. I’ve also learnt from my brief time over here that belief in guns, anti-Government and the Bible doesn’t automatically make you a right-winger, but of course there is a correlation! In Kentucky it is legal to carry concealed weapons and so I was slightly surprised to be met at the entrance to the Temple with a sign reading: “No loaded weapons” and “have your weapons ready for inspection”.
Posted: 25 Oct 2010 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 23 October 2010, 20:33
I'm watching the Senate race in Pennsylvania with some interest. I was there a week ago as the polls gave the Republican candidate Pat Toomey an eight point lead over his Democrat rival Joe Sestak. I was calling the State for the Republicans, much to the anger of my AFL-CIO hosts who told me all was not lost.
Well, to my amazement I might have to eat humble pie as there has been an incredible turnaround in the polls over the last few days. Toomey's lead has been shrinking and in fact in the latest two he is now trailing Sestak.
I'll be in Pennsylvania during the election week so at this rate it seems as though the drinks will be on me.
Posted: 23 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 23 October 2010, 19:17
This morning I was interviewed by the Revd Jesse Jackson for his weekly TV show. It meant a 5.30am start which after a late night was quite a struggle.
Jesse Jackson was over in the UK earlier this week so he was keen to hear my take on the public spending cuts and how this might impact on community relations. I sat in for the rest of the programme, which was largely focused around what was at stake in the forthcoming elections and the need to get the vote out. There was an interesting discussion about the apparent lacklustre state of the Democrat campaign and whether the problem was simply a question of the administratiuon not vocalising their achievements properly or whether they simply had not achieved enough to galvanise their base. I made the point that it was not enough simply to stress how previous generations had fought to get the current generation the vote but rather people had to be given a reason to vote - they had to be given some hope. This is something which is in short supply over here.
Early voting is possible in most states so Jesse Jackson plans to use a church service tomorrow to lead the congregation down to the polling booths to cast their vote en masse. I'm sure that would be an interesting spectacle.
The programme will be aired tonight on the World network.
Posted: 23 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 22 October 2010, 23:40
Last night, after a sizeable burger at the Billy Goat's I found myself in a small, run down bar near my hotel. Central Chicago was heaving but this bar, with a small group of locals, was far from full. I found myself switching between two TV screens, one showing the crucial Philly baseball game against San Fransisco Giants and the other with the MSNBC, a News Channel. I love politics but even I have to admit that the US elections is a dispiriting spectacle. Every commercial break for over an hour was filled from beginning to end with election adverts, most of which were scaremongering and downright nasty. The news in between consisted yet more slanging matches.
Unsurprisingly, I soon turned my stool toward the ball game.
I mention this because this afternoon I did a 20 minute interview for Chicago Public radio. I was talking about the HOPE not hate campaign, the rise of Islamophobia and how I believed that the same anger that is motivating the Tea Party supporters is behind the rise of nationalism in Europe. Anyway, the conversation soon turned to my view of US politics and this election campaign. I voiced my disillusionment with the whole process, contrasting the increasingly sour debates in states such as Nevada, Colorado and Illinios with the contribution of the Rent is Too Damn High party candidate in the New York Mayoral debate.
When will the political parties learn that ordinary people are increasingly put off with these antics. The name-calling and constantly negative campaigning either totally alientates voters or entrenches hardline positions. When asked about what I thought of the US elections on the radio programme, I simply said "there has to be a better way of doing politics."
Posted: 22 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 22 October 2010, 17:28
Yesterday afternoon I had a really interesting meeting with Jacqueline Kendall, Executive Director of the Midwest Academy, America's largest grassroots organising trainers. We discussed different organising models, the difficulties and pitfalls of taking community organising into the political arena and the general ebbs and flows of fundraising and organising cycles.
It was a fascinating chat with a woman who has been at the coalface of community organising since the early 1970s.
One point she made which is just as poignant for the UK as it is in the US is that you cannot let up even after you think have won a campaign. In talking about the huge Immigrant Rights marches in the US a few years ago and the 2008 Presidential elections she said that a failure to plan for the aftermath had been major shortcomings in both campaigns. In the first case it was what next after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of DC to demand a path to citizenship and equal rights for immigrants while in the latter it was a failure to keep those spontaneous networks together after the election to ensure that the promises were met.
She accepted my view that there was a fear in the Obama camp about having a large organisation demanding change on the outside but she said that in fact the opposite was needed. She referred back to the ground-breaking Mayoral contest of Chicago in the 1980 when Harold Washington became the first black Mayor. She said that he faced so much opposition from the establishment that many of his supporters thought it was wrong to put extra pressure on him. It took Washington chief of staff to convene a meeting of his key supporters to say that pressure from them was exactly what he needed to help him fend off attacks and push through his agenda.
While Jackie made the connection with Obama and how he needs his base to be fighting and pushing him hard I thought about our own campaigns back in the UK. Be it in Barking & Dagenham or the anti-EDL campaign in Bradford and Leicester, our work is not done. We need to keep the networks we mobilised together and push the authorities to deliver for people.
It is so easy to move on from one campaign to another but building a legacy and continuing the fight after everyone else has gone home is often the most important part of any campaign.
Posted: 22 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 22 October 2010, 13:34
Just received an email to say that the business relationship between Jim Dowson, the BNP's Belfast-based fundraiser, and the BNP has ended. I don't know who ditched who first but the BNP is now searching for a new company to oversee their fundraising and administration.
This has all the signs of rats leaving the sinking ship....
Posted: 22 Oct 2010 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 22 October 2010, 12:26
Right wing politician and MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan has, a few minutes ago, described the British Government's austerity measures as Tea Party politics.
I wonder if David Cameron and Nick Clegg would identify themselves with the politics of Sarah Palin et al.
What do you think?
Posted: 22 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 21 October 2010, 21:37
I’m in Chicago now, spending a few days with Kitty Kurth. She runs a PR firm and is an active Democrat. I met her and her partner Kevin Lampe in Barking & Dagenham during the general election campaign and they extended an invitation for me to come to Chicago the next time I was in the US. So here I am and this morning I went into the southside of Chicago to witness the launch of hip hop star Che “Rhymefest” Smith in his bid to become a city alderman (councillor) for the 20th district.
What little I know about Chicago politics is not too complimentary, a view shared by many people on the ground. Unfortunately it has a reputation for nepotism, favours and old pals networks, largely because it has an all-powerful Mayor who has governed the city for more years than many would care to remember. He is now, after 21 years, standing down and there is a chance for new blood.
So at 10am this morning 30-40 journalists gathered at a carwash in the middle of the area he hopes to represent to hear Che explaining why he was putting himself forward as an alderman.
“Politicians have failed our ward,” said Che. “It’s time for new ideas, new approaches and new leadership. I’m launching my campaign for alderman because this community deserves better.”
The carwash is run by Catherine Haskins, who during the summer opened her doors to young people to encourage them off the streets.
“The 20th Ward is one of the most economically challenged wards in our city,” Che continued. “Jobs are hard to come by. Crime is up. Streets aren’t clean. For too long, politicians have ignored our community and focused their attention downtown. It’s time for a change in direction. It’s time for leadership focused 100% on our neighborhoods.”
You can see a clip of his launch here:
Posted: 21 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 20 October 2010, 16:53
I'm sitting in on a telephone press conference which is launching the Tea Party report at the NAACP Washington office.
It's a fantastic launch with all the major US news agencies on the line. A reporter from the CNN is just asking a question.
Listening to Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart explain the findings of their research to journalists makes me proud to know and work alongside them.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 20 October 2010, 12:49
She’s a defender of the Constitution against the liberal, socialist and the downright infidel Barack 'Hussein' Obama but it seems that Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell has a problem with remembering the Constitution. In an election debate last night O'Donnell challenged her Democratic rival Chris Coons to show where the Constitution requires separation of church and state, drawing swift criticism from her opponent, laughter from her law school audience and a quick defence from prominent conservatives.
"Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked.
Coons responded that O'Donnell's question "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is. ... The First Amendment establishes a separation."
She interrupted to say, "The First Amendment does? ... So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?"
Her campaign issued a statement later saying O'Donnell "was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution."
You can see the clip herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V0puVHC304&feature=related
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 20 October 2010, 12:20
In a few hours time our good friends at the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights – Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart – will be releasing their excellent report into the Tea Party. Entitled Tea Party Nationalism, it is an exhaustive report into the group and the extremists within the Tea Party. More importantly, in my view, it looks at the social dynamics of the movement, who is involved, why and their underlying views. Here is just a short segment from the introduction:
“The result of this study contravenes many of the Tea Parties’ self-invented myths, particularly their supposedly sole concentration on budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government. “Instead, this report found Tea Party ranks to be permeated with concerns about race and national identity and other so-called social issues. In these ranks, an abiding obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate is often a stand-in for the belief that the first black president of the United States is not a “real American.” Rather than strict adherence to the Constitution, many Tea Partiers are challenging provision for birthright citizenship found in the Fourteenth Amendment.
“Tea Party organizations have given platforms to anti-Semites, racists, and bigots. Further, hard-core white nationalists have been attracted to these protests, looking for potential recruits and hoping to push these (white) protestors towards a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy.”
The report is a brilliant piece of investigative research and I’m really proud to be contacted to the authors, who are not only colleagues but very close friends.
Before the press launch, I’m meeting some people from the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organisation in the US, where I hope to discuss their One Nation campaign and some possibly joint work. I’m also hoping to fit in a meeting with the New Organizing Institute which will be brilliant as they really are at the coalface when it comes to grassroots organising.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 19 October 2010, 22:09
Earlier today I announced several dozen places where we hope to hold HOPE not hate activities over the weekend of 13/14 November.
Now I'm pleased to announce some more, so here's the complete so far:
Leicester, Long Eaton, Canterbury, Hull, Ruislip, Wakefield, Oldham, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Swindon, Preston, Corby, Enfield, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Sandwell, Weston-Super-Mare, Mill Hill (London), Sudbury, Leyton, Walthamstow, Barking & Dagenham, Bristol, Manchester, Swadlincote, Blyth, Stockport, Leeds, Newark, Barnsley, Lowestoft, Farnborough, Bedford, Brighton, County Durham, Biggleswade, Llandrindod Wells, Nottingham, Cockermouth, Calderdale, Burnley, Thurrock, Bournemouth, Lancaster, Great Yarmouth, Worcester, Broxbourne, Bolton, Luton, Nantwich, Bromsgrove, Banbury, Weymouth, Tooting and Hartlepool.
To organise an event in your local area click here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 19 October 2010, 19:55
Gay rights has become an increasingly controversial issue on the campaign trail over here. From allowing gay men into the army to the issue of gay marriage in California, there’s hardly a news bulletin without some reference to the issue. There have also been a number of violent assaults and even murders on gay men across the States.
The issue was really ignited over the last week when the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, Carl Palidino, appeared on national television Monday and expressed revulsion at gay pride parades. "Is that normal? Would you do it? Would you take your children to a gay pride parade?" Paladino asked host Matt Lauer on the Today show, speaking of his Democrat rival Cuomo. "I don't think it's proper for them to go there and watch a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don't think that's proper. I think it's disgusting.”
He also told a group of Orthodox Jews that gay people should not be allowed to be teachers. He said that children should not be "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option – it isn't."
Then there was the Republican candidate in Colorado, who has strong backing from the Tea Party movement, compared being gay to alcoholism.
So it was with amusement that I came across this advert. I have to warn you about the strong language used but I guess this is mild compared to the hatred and ignorance increasingly directed at the gay community in the United States.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 19 October 2010, 12:10
Forget the Tea Party, the Republicans or even the Democrats. I'm backing New York Governor candidate Jimmy McMillan who is standing for the Rent is Too Damn High Party.
Here's his contribution to a televised debate amongst the candidates last night:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 19 October 2010, 10:05
On Saturday 13 November the HOPE not hate campaign will be taking to the streets of Britain to remember those who sacrificed so much defending our country against Hitler’s Nazis. We will also be using the day to remind people how the BNP thought it was wrong that Britain went to war with Germany.
With the Government about to announce huge spending cuts it is even more vital that we tell voters why the BNP is not the party for them.
Yesterday I asked some of our activists to help us organise events and I’ve had an amazing response.
Here are just some of the places where we are looking to hold events:
Leicester, Long Eaton, Canterbury, Hull, Ruislip, Wakefield, Oldham, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Swindon, Preston, Corby, Enfield, Middlesbrough, Wigan, Sandwell, Weston-Super-Mare, Mill Hill (London), Sudbury, Leyton, Walthamstow, Barking & Dagenham, Bristol, Manchester, Swadlincote, Blyth, Stockport, Leeds, Newark, Barnsley, Lowestoft, Farnborough, Bedford, Brighton, County Durham, Biggleswade, Llandrindod Wells, Nottingham, Cockermouth, Calderdale, Burnley, Thurrock, Bournemouth, Lancaster, Great Yarmouth, Worcester, Broxbourne, Bolton and Luton.
To organise an event in your local area click here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 21:33
I came to the US interested in learning more about the Tea Party movement and so far I've been thwarted in these attempts. I had signed up to go to the Tea Party convention in Las Vegas but it was cancelled late on in the day because too few people had registered. On Saturday I hoped to attend a Tea Party rally in Dover, Delaware but buses don't seem to run at weekends so again this didn't happen.
So you can imagine my surprise when I came across some anti-Obama activists outside the White House this afternoon. I was even more surprised to find them to be supporters of Lyndon LaRouche, well known to us at Searchlight for his right wing conspiratorial views.
There were about seven LaRouche activists there, some with placards with pictures of Obama with a Hitler moustache.
After taking a few photos I went over and struck up conversation with one of the people there. "Wasn't it unfair to link Obama to Hitler?" I asked. "No," came the reply. According to this woman the same people and institutions that funded Hitler were funding Obama - including, she told me, the Bank of England. hmmmm.
They were campaigning for the 25th Amendment to be enforced. Now I've watched the West Wing and 24 and know that the 25th Amendment can be envoked when the President is mentally ill or incapable of running the country through some other illness. "He's a depressive," I was told. "He's taking anti-depression tablets and got a whole group of doctors around him."
Obama should go, she told me, and new banking laws should be introduced.
When I asked the woman how she would describe the politics of the LaRouchites, she replied: "We are Democrats." Real Democrats, she told me, not like those who stand for the Democrats today.
At that she collected her placards and went off with her friends. The picket was now over.
Posted: 18 Oct 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 21:11
A number of people have commented on my blog about Chancellor Merkel saying that I mis-reported her quote about immigrants having to speak German. I have to hold my hands up and accept that in a dash to write the blog and did not report her words correctly. I apologise for this but the overall jist of the blog still stands.
Her claim that multiculturalism as "failed, and failed utterly" is both wrong and dangerous.
For those who said that there is nothing wrong with making people speak the language of your country of residence, yes and no. Of course speaking the language of residence is helpful to a cohesive and integrated society but this is not something that should either be legislated or act as a determining factor into whether someone can stay in a country or not. My point was one of hypocrisy. Take, for example, of Britain. There are 800,000 Britons living in Spain, I wonder how many speak fluent Spanish? There are a lot of Britons living in Thailand, how many can speak fluent Thai?
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 19:56
Throughout the day we’ve been receiving reports about our Kick it Out activities across the country over the weekend. There were over 30 events and just under 100,000 leaflets were distributed. Everyone has reported a really positive response and several told us that they had run out of leaflets and could have distributed a lot more.
The EDL circulated a story on Saturday that they had driven a group of leafleters away from Newcastle’s St. James’ Park. I’ve know heard from the people who did the leafleting and they give a very different story. Yes, they eventually moved away from St. James’ Park but only because they had run out of leaflets.
What was most encouraging was that many of those organising local events were doing so for the very first time. So, thanks to everyone who helped out and I hope you'll volunteer to organise another activity in the near future - possibly even November, where we already have promises of 51 activities.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 12:26
An hour ago I sent out an email to people who had registered an interest in becoming more involved in HOPE not hate asking them if they could help organise an activity in their area over the weekend of 13/14 November.
It's Remembrance Sunday weekend and it's a chance for us to thank those who gave so much to defeat fascism. It's also a chance to remind the British public how the BNP leaders have insulted their memory by calling British forces war criminals whilst speaking of their admiration of the Waffen SS.
An hour in and we've pencilled in 17 events already - from Nottingham to Burnley, Brighton to Worcester.
If you would like to help organise an activity in your area please click here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 10:16
On Wednesday I'm attending the launch of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights report into the Tea Party movement which has been produced for the NAACP, America’s oldest civil rights organisation.
I’ve been lucky enough to read an advance copy of the report, entitled Tea Party Nationalism, and it is a really excellent piece of research as well as being a damning indictment of the Tea Parties themselves.
And so it was with great pleasure that I heard the report get referenced on MSNBC’s Meet the Press.
Here’s the click: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/39710321#39710321
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 18 October 2010, 00:02
My mind is a bit frazzled. I’ve spent the last few hours working my way through a forthcoming report on Tea Party Nationalism, a New York Times op-ed on how the rage won’t end on election day (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/opinion/17rich.html?_r=1&emc=eta1) and the introduction to a book I picked up in a bookstore yesterday called The Backlash, which is about how the US right has responded to Obama’s presidency.
The common theme of them all is the growing right wing rage in the US, be it manifesting itself in the Tea Party movement, growing Islamphobia and anti-Muslim violence or the more general anti-Democratic and anti-liberal tirades on Fox News. This is a country deeply unhappy with itself and with the economy showing no signs of recovery and unemployment at over 10% things are only going to get worse.
But even in the few days I’ve been here I’ve seen many similarities with Western Europe. Things obviously manifest themselves in different ways depending on political, cultural, religious and racial heritages but there is the same disconnect with mainstream parties and politicians as we are seeing in Europe. The rise of the Tea Party movement is similar to the rise of right wing populism in Northern and central Europe and there is a similar cultural war unfolding that links race, nationalism and religion to a crisis of identity.
I’m learning a lot but the central purpose to my trip remains unanswered - how do we combat this growing rage? If I can come away a bit more enlightened than I am now then I feel the trip would have been successful.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 17 October 2010, 21:56
Meet Glen Urquhart, the Republican candidate for the House of Representatives for Delaware district 1, the same state as where Christine is running for Senator. A wealthy real estate investor who self-financed his campaign, Urquhart campaigned as a social conservative with the backing of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Conservative Fund, along with Tea Party groups such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots.
He is also supported by the Tea Party group FreedomWorks and has signed the right wing charter, the Contract From America.
In a filmed indoor meeting, Urquhart claimed it was Adolf Hitler who came up with the concept of separating church from State and not Thomas Jefferson. He concluded: "So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State, ask them why they’re Nazis.”
You can watch the gaffe here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kh4xhem8tM
Urquhart is also against big Government. “God gives ‘inalienable rights’,” says Urquhart. “‘In God We Trust,’ not in big government. This isn't religion, it's reality. Our Founders knew nations collapsed by creating entitled "rights." Entitlements create more takers than producers, cause unsustainable debts, and drive away Jobs.”
Posted: 17 Oct 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 23:36
Another report from today's anti-racist leafleting. 'Kick it Out' leafets were distributed outside the Cardiff City Stadium this morning, before the derby clash between high flying Cardiff City and local rivals Bristol City.
The Secretary of Searchlight Cymru Ian Titherington stated, "We have been delighted by the response both from the supporters and the club staff. Being in a multi-cultural city, Cardiff football club has always been very pro-active in stamping out any racism and today's efforts were very well received by their supporters. We are very grateful for the support they showed today."
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 21:32
An indication of the storm brewing across Europe was evident today after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a gathering of her party’s youth that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed".
Her comments come against rise anti-immigrant feeling in the country. A recent study by Friedrich Ebert Foundation think-tank showed that more than 30% of Germans believed Germany was "overrun by foreigners" and a similar proportion had felt the country’s immigrants had come for the social benefits.
Merkel went on to say that immigrants living in Germany needed to do more to integrate, including learning to speak German. "Anyone who does not immediately speak German", she said, "is not welcome".
Now I wonder how Ms Merkel and other Germans voicing these sentiments would react if countries around the world began imposing language tests for Germans visitors and citizens?
I know for a fact that millions of Brits who live abroad, without knowing the native language, would be on the boats back.
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 13 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 18:38
Arsenal fans were also involved in the anti-racism day today. Here's a photo from a couple of the volunteers.
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 17:25
Today saw anti-racist campaigning at football grounds around the country and by all accounts got a great reception.
HOPE not hate linked up with Kick It Out to produce some basic anti-racist literature to distribute amongst football fans around the country. We didn't publicise these events as we knew that the thugs of the English Defence League were planning to make life difficult for us and we didn't want to put our activists at risk.
There were over 20 people giving out leaflets at the Wolves v West Ham match and there was also a good turnout at Derby, where the Rams Trust put on an anti-racist display.
I'll hopefully do a more detailed round-up of what happened over the weekend.
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 16:21
Today I was hoping to catch up with Christine at a Tea Party rally in Dover, Delaware but unfortunately I couldn't get there as public transport doesn't seem to run on the weekend. So, instead, I thought I would bring Christine to you...
You see, Christine is perhaps the most famous of the Tea Party-supported candidates and she has earned a reputation for a whole range of kooky views. In fact, she has begun to get such a reputation that she had to deny that she was a witch in her latest TV ad. I kid you not. Here it is:
I'm sorry, but who really believes she is a witch??!
Anyway, don't let her mad views distract you from the dangers of the Tea Party agenda.
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 16 October 2010, 14:29
That’s the appeal from the Drummond Pike, COE of the Tides Foundation to the boards of several major companies asking them to withdraw their sponsorship of Fox News until controversial host Glenn Beck has been removed. Pike and his organisation were recently targeted by assassin Byron Williams who claimed to be inspired by Beck’s online hatred.
“To say we were ‘shocked’ does not adequately describe our reaction. Imagine, for a moment, that you were us and, had it not been for a sharp eyed highway patrolman, a heavily armed man in full body armor would have made it to your office with the intent to kill you and your colleagues. His motive? Apparently, it was because the charitable, nonpartisan programs we run are deemed part of a conspiracy to undermine America and the capitalist system, which is hogwash.”
Beck is one of Fox News’ most controversial figures. He describes himself as a conservative with libertarian leanings and argues for small government, the right to life, freedom of religion and opposes gun control. Much of his anger is directed at progressives. During his 2010 keynote speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Beck wrote the word “progressivism” on a chalkboard and declared, “This is the disease. This is the disease in America”, adding “progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution!”
Beck believes that progressivism infects both main political parties and threatens to “destroy America as it was originally conceived”. In Beck’s book Common Sense, he argues that “progressivism has less to do with the parties and more to do with individuals who seek to redefine, reshape, and rebuild America into a country where individual liberties and personal property mean nothing if they conflict with the plans and goals of the State”.
However, he is also a well known conspiracy theorist, claiming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is building detention camps. He suggested that President Obama is purposefully “tanking” the economy to force young people to work for ACORN and AmeriCorps, and said that Obama and former President George W. Bush are “moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism”.
The charge of fascism is a common threat for Beck, who last year on Fox News claimed that Obama’s health care plan would ultimately lead to a fascist state. Six months earlier, also on Fox News, he again claimed that the US was heading for fascism. “I am not saying that Barack Obama is a fascist,” he said. “I’m not saying the Democrats are a fascist. I’m saying the government under Bush and under Obama and under – under all of the presidents that we’ve seen, or at least most of the presidents that we’ve seen for quite some time, are slowly but surely moving us away from our republic and into a system of fascism.”
The anti-American conspiracy which he riles against on Fox News links liberal thinkers, the Democratic Party, unions and major corporations and progressive organisations – among them the Tides Foundation. And it was these conspiratorial tirades which inspired ex-felon Byron Williams to want to shoot staff members of the Tides Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union this summer. Fortunately he failed in his mission after he was stopped by a police officer for erratic driving and then opened fire, wounding two officers. On his arrest he boasted that he had been inspired by Beck’s outbursts.
Pike is determined to hold Beck to account for his rhetoric and is urging the station’s sponsors to withdraw their support until Beck is removed. “While we may agree to disagree about the role our citizens and our government should play in promoting social justice and the common good, there should be no disagreement about what constitutes integrity and professionalism and responsibility in discourse – even when allowing for and encouraging contending diverse opinions intelligently argued,” his letter continued. “This is not a partisan issue. It's an American issue. No one, left, right or center, wants to see another Oklahoma City.
“The next ‘assassin’ may succeed, and if so, there will be blood on many hands. The choice is yours. Please join my call to do the right thing in this regard and put Fox News at arm's length from your company by halting your advertising with them.”
Posted: 16 Oct 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 October 2010, 22:35
There’s an interesting article on the front page of the New York Times today about the rising influence of the Tea Party movement within US politics. It seems that there are 33 Tea Party-supported candidates in winnable House of Representative seats and another 8 who stand a good chance of being elected to the Senate which could leave them in a really strong position if the Republicans take one or both houses.
Back in the UK the Tea Party movement is often written about as eccentric cranks with whacky, almost comical ideas. Of course that’s completely true but they are a powerful force in US society with a network that has involved over two million people and, according to some polls, as much as 18% support within the wider population. Now we could see them holding real power in the House and Senate and so forcing the Republican Party to adopt part of their programme – which of course is a prelude to the big battle for control of the Republican party in 2011 and even the next Republican Presidential nomination the following year.
During my time over here I’ll try to give you a brief summary of some of the various Tea Party-supported candidates in these elections.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 October 2010, 22:10
Hello from the United States. I’ve come over here to look, talk and learn. The country is just 18 days away from the mid-term elections and there is a hive of political activity going on which I’m keen to learn from and bring the best practice back to the UK. Over the next few weeks I’m spending time with the AFL-CIO, the Democrats, civil rights groups, online campaigns and even the Tea Party movement. I will visit a gun show, the races, basketball and perhaps a jazz club or two. Along the way I’ll be drinking some good bourbon, some gumbo and shrimp and a good old greasy Philly cheese steak from Pat’s. I’ve even been told that an old civil rights activist I’ll be linking up with in Montgomery, Alabama will be treating me to some pigs ears, a soul food classic – or so I’ve been told.
It’s going to be a lot of fun but also hard work. I’m going to be giving a couple of talks about the HOPE not hate campaign, attending the launch of a report into the Tea Party and following and learning from activists in several states across the country.
I’m currently in Philadelphia but that wasn’t the plan. I should have been in Las Vegas now, attending the Tea Party convention which I had registered for under a false name, but just my luck they went and cancelled it because of a lack of attendance. With Plan A thwarted I began to look for an alternative which I thought I had found in a Tea Party rally in a small town in Delaware tomorrow afteroon and which will be addressed by Senate candidate Christine ‘I’m not a witch’ O’Donnell. However, it seems that public buses don’t actually run on a Saturday so that plan seems thwarted as well so now I’m scrambling around for a Plan C. Never fear, I’ve plenty of other opportunities to catch up with the Tea Party movement along the way.
I arrived last night to a wet and cold Philadelphia. Today is no warmer but the sky is blue. That is an omen, my hosts at the AFL-CIO tell me. Their candidates in Pennsylvania may be behind in the public polls but they insist that their own information tells them it is going to be a lot closer and this is apparently a view shared by the Republicans.
I’ll continue to blog about events back in the UK but over the next few weeks I hope to give you a small insight into the mid-terms elections and in particular how issues around race, immigration and nationalism are playing out.
Posted: 15 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 October 2010, 19:39
I've written a comment piece in this week's Jewish Chronicle about the forthcoming EDL event outside the Israeli embassy next week.
In highlighting why the Jewish community should rightly reject the overtures of the EDL I make the point that extremism only breeds extremism.
You can read the article here:
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 15 October 2010, 14:54
The problems for the BNP seem to be going from bad to worse. Yesterday the BNP was humiliated in another council by-election, receiving just 2.9% in a low turnout in York. This continues a trend of recent months where the BNP vote has regularly dipped under the 5% level. While most of these by-elections have not been in key target wards the poor performance reflects a party with little activism and poor morale.
Today I've seen a report that the party has just lost another councillor, this time a community councillor in Llandybie, in South Wales. Meirion Bowen, a former Plaid Cymru county council candidate, joined the BNP in April 2009 claiming that local people were "disillusioned" with the mainstream parties but has now decided to go independent.
With a leading figure in the party threatening to reveal documents showing the full extent of the party's debt it is set to be a difficult autumn for Nick Griffin.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 13 October 2010, 23:40
Meet Tommy Robinson leader of the English Defence League. Here he is being questioned by police after he and his friends jumped off a coach to during a confrontation with locals. He claims to lead a peaceful organisation but as you can see here the EDL is nothing of the sort.
Posted: 13 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 13 October 2010, 08:10
I thought I'd share this letter from Abdulkarim Gheewala, President, Islamic Education Trust in Leicester. He spoke at our Peace Vigil last Friday and his message of solidarity summed up the determined mood in the city.
"The EDL by declaring to protest here and by singling out the Muslim community induced anxieties and nervousness for the Muslim community in the city. The last few weeks and days were not easy, pressure continued to mount and everyone in the community were concerned to find constructive and positive ways to face this challenge.
In this difficult time, we were not left on our own. From the Bishop of Leicester to leadership of all faiths and no faiths, from the community groups to all the agencies including politicians, MPs, cllrs, City Council Officers to Police officers, engaged with us on a supportive terms. The local media including the Mercury acted in a most responsible way in dealing with many sensitive issues. Last Friday evening peace vigil and Multi faith prayers at the St. Martins further demonstrated solidarity of unprecedented nature. Hope and not Hate event echoed message of unity, togetherness and 'One Leicester'. We were not allowed to feel isolated.
What we have experienced in last few days, is a genuine spirit of 'Oneness' in Leicester. The unprecedented nature of engagements, partnerships and cooperation, we never experienced before. History will record this event with pride. Leicester has shown the way forward and set a shining example of harmony and peace. On behalf of my community I thank everyone of you for your support. Regular phone calls on Saturday from friends and colleagues from all of you to check if things were ok, are greatly appreciated. To have update from the Senior leadership from the Council, chief executive and senior Police officer outside the Mosque on the day is an unforgettable event. Thank you all.
The Muslim community and its leadership faced this challenge with full of dignity, hope and optimism. This was only possible due to moral boosting support and assistance from all of you. We remain truly thankful to you all.
I want to congratulate my community and it's committed leadership for showing restraints and courage in facing this difficult challenge in a most positive way. Our young people from all walks of life were committed, full of enthusiasms, at time full of angers & frustration, showed the admirable restraints and followed unanimous decisions taken by us all. Well done, all of you.
If EDL had come to Leicester to learn about us on a peaceful term we would have treated them as our guests and offered them a curry treat of this wonderful city. The opportunity is missed. The 'One Leicester' defeated them in dividing the communities. We have come out more stronger than before in our resolve. Thank you 'One Leicester'. We belong to you."
Abdulkarim Gheewala, President, Islamic Education Trust
Chair, Indian Muslim Association, Leicester
Posted: 13 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 10 October 2010, 16:20
I've just been told that John from Rev and The Makers will be doing a special performance for HOPE not hate tonight in Leicester to support the One Leicester campaign.
He will be playing at 8pm at the Indepent Arts Centre, Humberstone Gate, Leicester.
Posted: 10 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 10 October 2010, 13:53
The One Leicester Together festival kicked off with samba bands and now Billy Bragg is singing to a crowd of over 5000 people with his new song about Hope not hate and battle of Barking. Billy got a huge cheer when he condemned the racist English Defence League.
People of every religion, race and background here to stand united as Leicester Stands as One.
Posted: 10 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 20:44
As life is slowly returning to normal on the streets of Leicester it is perhaps an appropriate time to reflect on today's events.
I would put the EDL numbers at 1,500, perhaps a few more, perhaps slightly fewer. The police I think have said 1,200 while the BBC said 2,000. Either way there were certainly a lot more than there were at Bradford.
The police were a lot harder on the EDL than their counterparts in Bradford. They were more aggressive towards them, boxed them in more quickly and stamped down on any misbehaviour instantly.
However, they let themselves down by letting the thugs leave the area without much supervision and so allowed the EDL to run around the streets and ultimately clash with locals.
The EDL once again showed their true selves by constantly fighting with police, including throwing smoke and stun grenades, bottles and full beer cans. They chanted racist abuse and given the chance, which they were after the demo ended, randomly attacked young Asian and black people.
One of the main positives of the day was that the overwhelming majority of locals heeded advice and stayed away. Yesterday 700 turned up at our HOPE not hate peace vigil and we are hoping for even greater numbers for our community event tomorrow. It would have been understandable for local people to take to the streets to demonstrate their anger but wisely people decided that this was precisely what the EDL wanted.
The most surreal moment of the day was the conversation I had with Tommy Robinson and also the one my colleague Matty had with the EDL's number two, Kevin Carroll, when they were being held against a wall after they had been arrested.
A final mention has to go to the HOPE not hate team. There were eight of us in total, working in four groups of two. We all had our specific jobs to do and these were carried out fantastically. Some of us are veterans of right-wing activities but for two or three of our team this was their first experience and they conducted themselves in an exemplary manner.
Leicester today turned its back on the EDL's message of hate and refused to get provoked into violence. Tomorrow people have the opportunity to come together as One Leicester.
Posted: 9 Oct 2010 | There are 8 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 18:00
We've finally left Tommy and decided to call it a day. Unfortunately it seems that the police missed Tommy and his friends trying to confront the Asian youths and so intend to let them go.
Well, I'll try to summarise today's events a bit later but for now I'm getting off the streets.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 17:05
Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll are among a group who have been arrested.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 17:04
Let me just repeat that: Tommy Robinson, leader of the EDL, was heading up a gang that attempted to confront some local Asian youths.
Tommy has just been arrested.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 16:56
A group of 100 locals have just attacked a couple of coaches carrying EDL supporters.
Now police are fighting with the EDL as they try to get off other coaches.
Tommy Robinson is leading a mob on the streets.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 16:51
It's hard to ascertain exactly what's going on. The EDL are surrounded by riot police near the Leicester Mercury building. There are a few large groups of locals also kettled in nearby.
Cordons of riot police have shut the bulk of the city centre.
The EDL are beginning to board their coaches so perhaps the worst is over.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 16:21
I'm afraid to report some fighting on the streets with the EDL clashing with locals. It seems that there are at least two areas of the city where trouble is happening.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 16:00
Fire crackers are exploding as the EDL turn their backs on Tommy and clash with police.
In come the horses and yet more riot police.
"The EDL is going nowhere", says Tommy Robinson. A bottle has smashed a couple of feet from me. All I can see up ahead is police batons swinging in the air.
I've just been told that several police officers have been hospitalised today.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 15:54
The police seem to be preparing for the end of the EDL rally. Hundreds in full riot gearing are moving in and swamping the area and surrounding streets. Lines of police are moving in every direction.
A red smoke grenade has just gone off.
Tommy Robinson has just taken over the mic.
Fighting is breaking out
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 15:26
Yes, EDL leader Tommy Robinson has just arrived.
And what's this? A bloke giving a nazi salute walks straight past him but the EDL leader does nothing. What a surprise!
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 15:21
One speech seems enough for this crowd. We are now being entertained by Citizen Steve who is singing a Sham 69 song.
Lordy, how much longer.
EDL are still arriving and these latecomers include some of the leadership.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 15:08
So there we have it. The reason why the EDL protest had no music and speeches was because someone tried to sabotage their generator. Luckily some beady-eyed EDL man spotted whatever was occurring and fixed the problem.
That's their excuse anyway.
So the EDL rally has begun. I have no idea how many people are here as we've been moved back across the road.
Still more EDL are arriving on foot
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:54
The police have begun to move into the EDL pen, pushing the thugs back to the far end.
Another 50 EDL are approaching on foot but it's gone very quiet. I guess there must be speeches but I'd be surprised if anyone can hear anything above the din of the helicopter.
As I look into the distance more and more EDL are approaching on foot. I'm not sure if they have got off coaches further afield.
Loads more riot police are now entering the area.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:52
A quite badly injured copper has been taken away on a motorised stretcher.
More police horses have arrived.
There's a bit of a stand off and several coaches are still waiting to unload.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:51
The lull duly ended when a smoke grenade was thrown into the police lines.
The EDL charged again, with some lashing out and kicking a police dog.
Several more coaches are arriving. Given the violence and atmosphere I don't know why they don't just stop the coaches from unloading.
More riot police are arriving, this time with long shields. The horses are being used to push back the EDL.
A police dog has slipped its leash. This could be fun. Several EDL supporters have climbed on nearby buildings.
A copper was knocked over and repeatedly kicked. Other EDL supporters began chanting 'let him die'.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:19
There's been some serious fighting between the EDL and the police. The riot cops have been wading in.
The press have been pushed back as a helicopter circle overhead.
A semblance of order has been restored but perhaps it's the lull before the storm. I can see four more coaches in the distance and I've been told that there's another nine winding their way through the streets.
Riot police, dogs and the sound of the helicopter is drowning out the racist EDL chants.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:04
As a fire crackers explode around the police horses an EDL supporter, who is also a BNP member breaks through the crowd and tries to attack some Asian lads. He's immediately arrested.
The main EDL group charge at the police lines to get at the media.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 14:00
The EDL are up on the fences shouting abuse at anyone around them. The odd bottle and beer can is being thrown.
A small group of Asian youth have gathered across the road and are now being targeted with abuse by the EDL.
More coaches are just arriving.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 13:55
The EDL are arriving thick and fast now. In coaches and on foot. There's probably 4-500 now, including a sizeable group from the North East.
Another three coaches are arriving. The EDL are trying to come out of the pen and face down the police.
The police are moving in to push the EDL back.
It's all a bit chaotic so it's hard to guess numbers but I think 700 so far.
Posted: 9 Oct 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 13:54
Tensions are beginning to rise amongst the increasingly bored EDL group. The two coaches that have arrived so far have brought those arriving on the train. A few have tried to leave the area but have been blocked by police.
I've just heard that there is a group of 40 EDL walking through the city. They approached shoppers at the clock tower, where we had our vigil yesterday, and police are moving in.
More EDL coaches are arriving here and a convoy of coaches are on their way in from Market Harborough.
And hundreds more police are now arriving too.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 13:31
The EDL coaches are beginning to arrive into the protest area. A group from Stoke are the first here.
A few photographers positioned in overlooking buildings are the early target of the EDL hatred.
There's probably about 150 here now
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 13:00
Just had a call to say that 13 coaches of EDL supporters are coming into Leicester from Market Harborough. I’m guessing that’s the bulk of the North West, Yorkshire and Midlands.
Back at the protest site it is all very quiet. I’ve just overheard a strange conversation where one local approached another two local EDL supporters and said “is this where the riot is happening?”
I didn’t quite hear the reply but the first man then said: “yeah, I’ve heard that there are going to be 5,000 of us and there’s only 200 coppers here so it shouldn’t be too difficult to kick it off”.
A few women have arrived with Union Jacks bringing the number in the protest zone to 15.
Posted: 9 Oct 2010 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 11:59
Small groups of EDL are beginning to arrive in Leicester. The police have provided four pubs for them to drink in, obviously deciding that it is best to keep them in small confined areas where they can watch over them.
A group of 15 EDL have just walked past. You can imagine my surprise to see it led by Neil Parish, the former leader of Blood and Honour. He saw us and promptly pulled his baseball cap over his face.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 9 October 2010, 08:19
I've just been on a quick walk around the town centre and like Bradford a few weeks ago there is an strange feeling about the place. The police are already on the street in numbers and numerous shops and restaurants, which were doing a thriving trade yesterday, are boarded up and obviously closed.
I think everyone is hoping that the day passes without incident, the EDL go home to wherever they have come from and then the people of Leicester can celebrate the city it is tomorrow when we hold our community festival in the city centre.
We've got several teams out in the city today and we'll be providing updates as often as possible. You'll be able to follow us on this blog site, on facebook and twitter.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 8 October 2010, 18:22
Over 600 people have just attended a HOPE not hate One Leicester peace vigil in Leicester city centre ahead of tomorrow's EDL protest. They heard a number of community leaders speak of their love of the city and their determination to stand together against the hatred of the EDL. There was young and old, white and black, Christian and Muslim. It was a fantastic representation of the city of Leicester.
The city is decorated with our lime green material, including some council buildings. One arts cafe, in the area where the EDL will be held, has repainted its front lime green and thousands of people are walking around in our badges and small ribbons. The people of Leicester are sending a clear message that this is their city and the EDL is not welcome here.
A big well done must go to Sam, one of our HnH organisers, who has spent the past two weeks up in Leicester organising on the ground.
Posted: 8 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 7 October 2010, 08:03
Last Saturday over 100,000 people marched in Washington DC calling for jobs not racism. Organised by the NAACP - the oldest civil rights group in the US - and supported by trade unions and community groups, the protest was called to unite people around a positive future for the country around the slogan One Nation Working Together.
One of the common slogans seen and heard on Saturday was "HOPE not hate".
This is clearly becoming an international struggle.
Posted: 7 Oct 2010 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 2 October 2010, 13:52
Just had a call from Sam who is in Leicester leading a team leafleting and petitioning against the EDL protest next weekend. It wasn't long before a group of EDL supporters, who were in town handing out their own leaflets, surrounded our team in a clear attempt to intimidate.
Well, despite the EDL's best efforts the result was quite the reverse. Shoppers, watching the EDL thugs at work, queued up to sign our petition and take leaflets. A group of young Muslim women signed up and thanked us for our campaign. An elderly woman on a mobility shopper shouted out "we don't want these fascists in our city".
Leicster is uniting against the EDL.
Posted: 2 Oct 2010 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 1 October 2010, 12:09
Faith and community groups, trade unions and civic leaders are coming together in Leicester as one to oppose the racist EDL. In an amazing sign of unity civic society in Leicester is coming together in the face of the EDL to stand up and celebrate what is great about the city.
Only this morning almost 40 people representing all the major faith and community groups in Leicester came together and signed our Leicester Together statement.
HOPE not hate has joined forces with Leicester City Council to put on a number of positive events over the weekend. On the Friday there will be a Peace Vigil in the heart of the city centre, followed by decorating the area with our peace ribbons. Shortly after the Bishop of Leicester will holding a special service in the Cathedral.
The main event will take place on the Sunday afternoon when we hold a community festival in the city centre. This is an opportunity for the people of Leicester to celebrate what is great about the city and the peole who live within it. There will be Chinese dragon dancers, Morris Dancers (decked out in our One Leicester design), Irish and Polish dancers, choirs, African drummers and Maypole dancers.
Billy Bragg has also agreed to perform and I'm hoping to announce another big star this afternoon.
We have also gained the backing of the Midlands Regional TUC and locally there is support from City Unison; City GMB, City fo Leicester NUT, Leicester NASUWT, Leicester ATL, Leicester NAHT, Leicestershire Teachers Association (NUT).
Our approach to Leicester is similar to that taken in Bradford. It is about winning the hearts and minds of local people in a positive and unconfrontational manner. With over 1,000 police likely to be on the city centre streets to cover the EDL protest we do not believe that we can achieve our stated aims on that day. Shops and businesses are closing and there will be tension in the air. That is not the environment under which we can realistically hope that anyone but hardcore political activists or groups of young men will come out onto the streets.
Rather, we want to provide a safe environment when the ordinary people of Leicester can come out and celebrate their city in a peaceful and friendly manner.
Engaging with communities and winning the hearts and minds of ordinary people is the new politics of anti-fascism. We are no longer dealing with small groups of hardened nazis with little or no support in the communities as we were in the 1980s and early 1990s. Now we are dealing a BNP that ignores the streets in favour of the ballot box and the EDL which is tapping into a rising Islamophobia within society. All this requires a different approach from anti-fascists - one that puts engaging with real people in real communities first.
This is not about ignoring the EDL threat, quite the opposite. It is about opposing the EDL in a way that is going to win the hearts and minds of the ordinary people of Leicester. That has to be our number one priority and we have to find tactics that achieve that goal. A counter demo, penned in behind police lines and set in a highly charged atmosphere, impresses no-one. In Bradford the positive community events - including the petition, peace vigil and the decorating the city - had a far more positive outcome and involved a lot more people than the 300 people attending the counter protest on the day which was tucked away behind police lines.
I've co-written an article with Paul Meszaros about this for the October issue of Searchlight and we will shortly be bringing out a pamphlet on the same theme. Called A Journey to Hope, it will look at the new challenges facing anti-fascism, explain why the old confrontation approach is no longer viable or productive, provide case studies of good community campaigning and outline the route anti-fascism should take today.
Posted: 1 Oct 2010 | There are 10 comments | make a comment/view comments