You are viewing blog items for October 2015.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 29 October 2015, 09:07
One of the frustrating parts of our defeat in the Lords on Tuesday night was that we had the numbers to win but inexplicably 22 people who voted in the first vote - the amendment - did not vote in the second - the amended motion.
These included 11 Labour Peers, two Lib Dems, four Crossbenchers and five unaligned.
Of course, we are where we are but it is frustrating to know that so many people who voted FOR the Labour amendment decided, for one reason or another, to not bother to vote for the main motion.
Now our focus is on the next three weeks and we have a growing list of activities planned, many of which will be announced later today.
We have also received a great response to our £10,000 appeal to buy 50 million online adverts encouraging students to vote. We have so far received £5,572 from 421 people. If you would like to make a donation then you can do so here:
Posted: 29 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 28 October 2015, 09:17
There can be no disguising our disappointment at yesterday's Voter Registration defeat in the House of Lords. Our mood was made even worse by the fact that we won the first vote - on the amendment - but then lost the substantive motion. It would appear that some peers voted for the Labour amendment but then left the chamber and didn't vote for the main motion. This incompetence or error makes the whole affair even more frustrating.
But the fight goes on and today our team is preparing for an intense voter registration drive over the next three weeks. I say three weeks, because even though the new register will appear on 1 December councils are making the middle of November their own cut-off date. So, basically, we have three weekends left.
HOPE not hate is planning a multi-pronged strategy.
1) We are currently putting together 10-15 days of actions in towns and cities around the country. These will be targeted areas of the highest drop-off and where there is a high concentration of occupied properties where no-one is on the register. For example, over the weekend of 14/15 November we are planning to leaflet every property in Hackney, the borough where 23% of voters are due to drop off and where thousands more will not be on the register in the first place. Other areas being targeted include parts of Birmingham, Sheffield, Oxford, Leeds, Manchester, Bradford, Brighton and Cardiff. There will be others too.
2) We are working closing with several trade unions to co-ordinate mass emails to all their members reminding them of the importance of registering to vote and asking them to share Voter Registration images on Facebook and Twitter. We expect about two million emails to go out.
3) In a few areas of the country we are working with faith networks to spread a Voter Registration message through churches, mosques etc
4) We are seeking to raise £10,000 to place 50 million adverts/impressions online. These adverts will target students and young people.
We are doing what we can and liaising with other organisations to do likewise. Yesterday was a defeat but we still have three weeks left to give the voiceless a voice. Later this week we will start promoting our Voter Registration drives but in the meantime please do donate to our social media ad buy appeal
Posted: 28 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 27 October 2015, 12:46
In a few hours time, Lord Tyler will take the floor in the House of Lords to propose the annulment of the government’s plans to bring forward the full implementation of Individual Electoral Registration (IER).
At stake is the robustness and credibility of our democracy. Well over one million people could drop off the electoral register as a result of the government's decision to bring forward changes to how we register to vote.
They will be added to the millions of others who aren't even currently on the register or are on it incorrectly. That near-10 million people equates to 19% of all eligible adults, almost one in five of the population.
So, you can see why we say our democracy is in crisis.
The new drop-off from the electoral register is happening because the government has changed the way we register to vote.
Designed to reduce fraud and make the electoral register more accurate, councils now compare the names on their existing voter lists with HMRC and DWP records. Anyone who can't be matched is asked to re-register, but this time they also have to provide their National Insurance number.
New voters are also required to register individually, thus ending the system whereby one person in the household could register everyone else.
The changes came in last summer. As a consequence there were one million fewer people on the register than the previous year. The bulk of these were students who would have previously been mass registered by their universities.
Another five million people that councils weren't able to match with official records were allowed to stay on the register in order to vote in the general election. In the meantime councils have done their best to get them to re-register.
Many did, but it is the near-two million who have not yet re-registered who will now drop off in December.
Research by HOPE not hate found huge discrepancies in the drop-off rate around the country. Eight of the 10 worst affected local authorities were in London, with 23% set to drop off in Hackney and 18% in Brent. While inner London, where a much higher proportion of people live in private rented accommodation is worst affected, the more affluent suburbs have a much lower drop-off rate.
Glasgow is set to lose 13.3% of its electorate, while Birmingham will lose 56,000 people, a 7.7% share.
Councils initially had until December 2016 to register these voters but in mid-July the Government announced its intention to bring forward the change by 12 months.
The Government has argued that councils have had enough time to register people.
"Every single genuine elector who's out there will have been confirmed and put on the register," John Penrose, minister for constitutional reform, told the BBC.
"The only ones therefore taken off will be people who've either moved house, or died or in some cases never existed, because they were put on the register fraudulently."
He went on to say that nothing more could be achieved if we waited another 12 months.
Penrose is not correct. Is he really suggesting that 23% of Hackney residents are on the electoral register fraudulently? Is he really saying that the 30,000 occupied properties in Birmingham, in addition to the 56,000 people set to drop off the register, contain no genuine voters?
And do young people not count as genuine voters? According to Electoral Commission figures, only 25% of 17-year-olds are on the register, a drop of 47% from last year. And even the greatest optimist puts student registration at 30%.
The incompleteness of the electoral register undermines the credibility of our democracy and it's storing up problems for the future.
Most of those dropping off the register, like those least likely to be on the register in the first place, are already on the margins of society. They are the young, the poor, those who move regularly from one private rented accommodation to another, and the newcomers for whom English isn't a first language.
They are the very people who need a voice most. No wonder the Electoral Commission has also called on the Lords to annul the government’s decision to bring forward the full implementation of IER. Its latest briefing, circulated to Lords, clearly states that councils are not ready and the electoral register will not be accurate or complete.
What John Penrose also neglected to mention is that the government’s decision to bring forward IER by 12 months will have a dramatic impact on next year’s Boundary Review, which will determine the parliamentary constituencies for the next 10 years. The Boundary Commission will use the 1 December electoral register to make its calculations.
With most of those dropping off being from poorer and non-white communities in urban areas, as opposed to the more settled communities in the suburbs and more affluent towns, it is difficult not to see this as a political act.
With the drop-off rate in inner city areas four to five times higher than in more affluent rural areas, it's not hard to see how the new boundaries, based on the IER register, will massively favour the Conservative party in the Boundary Review.
The situation is set to be compounded by as many as 500,000 new students failing to register on arriving at college. Even the best estimates suggest that only 30% of first year students will be registered to vote. In some areas it is likely to be considerably less.
This too will have a major impact on the new boundaries, with student-heavy towns such as Lancaster, Cambridge and Norwich most affected.
It is estimated that 13% of Cambridge voters are likely to drop off the register in December and will be joined by thousands of newly arrived students who fail to register in the autumn. This will have major repercussions for what is a key marginal seat and radically alter the constituency boundary: outlying rural areas are brought in to make up the 80,000 electorate needed for the new constituency.
This year we mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which established for the first time the principle that everybody, including the king, was subject to the law. It has since come to symbolise human rights, democracy and free speech and has been used as an inspiration by the Chartist movement and the suffragettes in their respective quests for the vote. More recently, it was cited by both Gandhi and Nelson Mandela in their respective liberation campaigns.
In 2008, the US Supreme Court cited the Magna Carta in its ruling against the US Government over the rights of Guantánamo inmates to a fair trial. And so it is even more depressing that 800 years on from arguably the most influential document in legal history, we are about to witness the biggest disenfranchisement in our own political history.
Whether this happens rests in the Lords. We wish Lord Tyler well and urge all Peers to support his motion this afternoon.
Posted: 27 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 October 2015, 15:35
As you know, HOPE not hate has been leading the campaign to get the Government to reverse its decision to bring forward changes to the way we register to vote - changes that could result in as many as 1.9m people dropping off the electoral register.
Next Tuesday, the fight goes to the House of Lords. Lib Dem peer Lord Tyler has put down a motion to overturn the Government's plans.
And we are working closely with Lord Tyler to ensure the vote goes our way.
We have already sent a detailed briefing to every peer and we are now contacting the crucial crossbenchers - those peers without a party affiliation - to ensure they both support our position but also turn up. Later this week we will send a second briefing to peers.
We have also been getting the issue raised in several national and local newspapers.
We are doing everything we can to win this vote and ensure those who are most likely to drop off - the young, people in private rented accommodation and minority communities - have a voice.
But whatever the outcome, the fight for Voter Registration will go on. If we lose then we have just two weeks to ensure that as many people are on the 1 December register. If we win the vote, we have a year to get the 1.9m on the register AND work to sign up the millions of others who are not even on the register in the first place.
Just in case we lose the vote next Tuesday, we are organising a huge Voter Registration drive over the next two weeks. Sign up if you can help host an event in your area
I'll let you know about the result in the Lords next Tuesday immediately I hear.
Thanks again for your support
Posted: 21 Oct 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 October 2015, 11:37
EDL founder Stephen Lennon spoke to 20,000 people at a PEGIDA rally in Dresden on Monday night. The demonstration was called to mark the first anniversary of the anti-Islam movement but it could also herald the re-emergence of the group following a growing backlash against the decision of Angela Merkel to take so many refugees.
Lennon, probably better known as Tommy Robinson, was clearly excited to be there, posting pictures of himself on Twitter and announcing that Pegida was the "salvation of Europe".
He claimed Europe was at a “crossroads” and likening the refugee crisis to the Crusades, adding: “Angela Merkel seems to be handing out the birth right of German citizens like she is handing out candy to children ... this current immigration is an invasion.
“Our borders are being overrun. There is little or no control. A country that cannot control its borders will soon not be a country."
Lennon's Dresden speech comes after addressing a far less successful Pegida launch in the Netherlands ten days ago.
It now seems only a matter of time before Lennon launches a new organisation in the UK. He had intended to become co-leader of Sharia Watch in the summer but a combination of increased police pressure and the fall out from the aborted Muhammad cartoon exhibition led him to pull out. His relationship with Anne Marie-Waters, who set up Sharia Watch last year, soured, with Lennon angry that she cancelled the cartoon exhibition. He told his friends that she had "bottled it".
While Lennon has long argued against a new EDL-type of organisation and had hoped to be taken more seriously in a pressure group, his time in Dresden and his inability to be taken seriously as an intellectual means that a new street organisation is his likely avenue to return to frontline political activity.
Posted: 21 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 15 October 2015, 13:18
HOPE not hate is looking to organise Voter Registration drives over the last weekend of October (31/1) and the first two weekends in November (7/8 and 14/15).
Would you be willing to help host an event in your town?
We have identified the areas with the biggest drop-off in every town and city in the UK. We will send you maps, leaflets and a simple 'How to' guide.
All you will really need to do is to turn up at an agreed point with our materials and meet other HOPE not hate supporters.
We will send you a special HOPE not hate 'Democracy Project' T-shirt as a thank you.
Can you lead in your area?
If you do not feel able to lead an event then please sign up as and when an event is organised. I really can't stress how important this is.
Posted: 15 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 10 October 2015, 09:37
The trade union movement is throwing its support behind our November Voter Registration drive, with Unite and the GMB signing up to get involved.
Yorkshire & Humber TUC has voted to back the drive, with a planning meeting taking place shortly to discuss how regional unions can push voter registration amongst their members and how they can work together with faith and community organisations in Sheffield, Leeds, Wakefield and Barnsley.
Posted: 10 Oct 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Thursday, 1 October 2015, 17:14
On 10 October the beleaguered remnants of the English Defence League (EDL) are planning another of their ever-shrinking demonstrations, this time in the Buckinghamshire town of Aylesbury. The YouTube video advertising the event has garnered a mere 300 or so views, a far cry from the tens of thousands that greeted similar videos during the EDL’s heyday.
The demonstration was originally planned for 17 October but was brought forward in solidarity with ‘World Demo Day’, a coordinated event that will see dozens of anti-Muslim hate groups organising demonstrations simultaneously worldwide.
In America, the Centre for New Communities has identified at least 20 organised demonstrations collectively being billed as the ‘Global Rally for Humanity’. Some have argued that these events are a response to ‘Justice or Else Million Man March 20th Anniversary’ event in Washington, D.C. which is being headlined by Louis Farrakhan of the supremacist Nation of Islam. While that may have been the impetus for some the motivation for these rallies, most of the driving force is anti-Muslim sentiments.
The EDL’s promotional material for the Aylesbury demonstration is emblazoned with the logos of the German, French, Polish, American, Canadian and Australian Defence League, each claiming to be holding a simultaneous event.
Some, such as the Australian Defence League, have called for people to demonstrate outside the city halls of each State. Joining this call are affiliated anti-Muslim groups, such as the Sydney-based United Patriots Front.
However, despite what the EDL has claimed, the French and German Defence Leagues have not yet publicly announced any events. Neither has the Polish Defence League, although the fascist National-Radical Camp (ONR) and its allied group ‘Poles Against Immigrants’ has called a demonstration for 10 October.
Coincidentally, ‘World Demo Day’ coincides with ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson’s planned trip to Holland, where he will attend the launch of a Dutch version of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, or ‘PEGIDA’ as it’s now better known. This German anti-Muslim campaign group has, like the various Defence Leagues before it, sought to build a European movement of likeminded groups with varying degrees of success.
Attempts to launch a PEGIDA branch in the UK have been unsuccessful: the highpoint was a small rally in Newcastle in February attended by an assortment of British extreme right activists. There are, however, plans to officially relaunch PEGIDA UK in Birmingham on 27 February next year.
It is important not to over emphasise the importance of ‘World Demo Day’. Many, if not most, of the planned events likely to be tiny affairs. Beyond a small EDL gathering and a smattering of events in America, the grand claims made by the numerous Facebook groups of a global day of action are unlikely to be manifested.
That said, the attempt to forge an international day of action once again shows how the ‘Counter-Jihad Movement’ is a transnational movement seeking to organise beyond national borders on an international scale.
Posted: 1 Oct 2015 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments