HOPE not hate

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You are viewing blog items for February 2009.

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Eddie does us a turn

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 February 2009, 22:26


Eddie Izzard recorded a short video for the HOPE not hate campaign yesterday before appearing in front of 600 students at Manchester University. Eddie made plain his opposition to the BNP’s politics of hate and urged everyone to join the campaign. A firm supporter of the European Union, Eddie said that one of its triumphs had been to stop wars between member countries.

He was joined for a Q & A session at the University by Sports Minister Andy Burnham and prospective parliamentary candidate for Manchester Withington Lucy Powell. In an event sponsored by the HOPE not hate campaign, over 100 students signed up on the night, bringing the total number of HnH supporters at the University to 700.

The event at the University comes on the eve of the formal launch of Manchester HOPE not hate. I don’t want to give too many details away at this stage but I can promise you that it will be a massive campaign that will mobilise literally thousands of people between now and the European election.

 Posted: 28 Feb 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The campaign is building

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 28 February 2009, 07:26


If you believe the press or certain ‘self-appointed’ political experts, the BNP has already won, but that is not the feeling I’m getting on the ground. No one is underestimating the task we have ahead but people are definitely beginning to mobilise.

On Thursday night HOPE not hate speakers were addressing audiences across the country. Almost 70 people attended the launch of a HOPE not hate group in Sheffield. Alan Weaver of the Midlands TUC addressed a political forum of the GMB in the West Midlands and I spoke to 80 people in Liverpool.

Following the BNP humiliation over its failed its City Centre event, the mood of the Liverpool was really vibrant. A victory had been won but everyone knew there was no room for complacency. We know the BNP will be back but by then we will be even stronger.

Eighty people was great, but we know that there is a much bigger network of people in the city who oppose the BNP. Over 1,200 people ‘new’ from Liverpool signed our petition to stop the BNP from marching in the City Centre. Add that to the 300 contacts we already had and you have over 1,500 in one city. That is phenomenal and a real resource for us to mobilise closer to the election.

What is most encouraging is that many of the people coming forward are young or have dropped out of politics through disillusionment. However, this is all changing with the threat of the BNP. The political pundits might be pontificating but there is a real campaign building on the ground.

 Posted: 28 Feb 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Back to school

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 26 February 2009, 11:33


Last night saw the budget meeting at Barking and Dagenham council and for the second year running the BNP proposed sweeping cuts in services. They also proved once again that they are too incompetent to run a market stall let alone a council. One of the BNP proposals, presented by Bob Bailey, was to cut £2m from the council’s marketing and communications budget. This promise might be a little difficult to achieve given that the department only has a budget of £1.4m!

Perhaps, rather than slashing council budgets the BNP should be registering for local adult education classes to brush up on their maths.

 Posted: 26 Feb 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Manchester – a clarification

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 February 2009, 21:19


A number of people have contacted me today about the proposed BNP meeting in Manchester Town Hall on Saturday. There appeared to be some confusion about what was actually happening. For the record this event had actually been called off two days ago!

My understanding is that the BNP booked a committee room in the Town Hall on Monday under an obscure name but the true nature of the meeting was almost immediately discovered and the booking was cancelled. This was on Monday. The BNP advertised the meeting on their website on Tuesday afternoon, a good 24 hours after the room had been cancelled.

It is clear that the BNP thought they could wind up people by announcing the booking on their website but unfortunately for them we didn’t fall for their PR stunt.

 Posted: 25 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Covering all bases

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 25 February 2009, 21:18


Yesterday was a busy day in London. It began with a meeting at ASLEF, the train drivers union. It is one of the oldest unions around and their headquarters in Hampstead seeps history. There are banners and union flags all over the fantastic building, well worth a visit if you get the chance.

Anyway, I had a meeting with the union’s political officer and I’m hopeful that they will be backing the campaign. From there I went to Parliament where I caught up with my old friends Frank Dobson and Jon Cruddas. A meeting has been arranged for Labour MPs in a couple of weeks time which will hopefully get them to encourage their local members to get involved in the campaign.

My final meeting was at 30 Millbank, home of the Conservative Party. With an audience of ten people, including three Shadow Cabinet ministers, we discussed the forthcoming European Elections and how the Conservatives can educate their own members about the true nature of the BNP.

 Posted: 25 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Another one bites the dust

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 24 February 2009, 23:36


The BNP are not having it their own way in the North West. After the humiliating climbdown in Liverpool it now appears that a planned meeting in Manchester has also been disrupted. This afternoon the BNP announced that it was holding a meeting in Manchester Town Hall on Saturday.

However, the meeting had already been cancelled!

We have learnt that a BNP member had indeed made a booking for a committee room on Monday but this was quickly spotted by eagle-eyed council staff.

The very fact that the BNP advertised the venue suggested that this was more a publicity stunt than anything else and by the time the story was posted on the website an alternative venue had been found. However, just to be on the safe side council staff will once again be looking at the booking forms tomorrow morning.

 Posted: 24 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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We Won!

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 22 February 2009, 17:41


The BNP have cancelled their march in Liverpool. Thanks you to everyone who signed our petition and passed it on to their friends. It worked - and was even mentioned in the Guardian yesterday.

This just shows what we can do together.

 Posted: 22 Feb 2009 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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BNP force match switch

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 22 February 2009, 06:18


Further evidence has emerged of the BNP’s role in forcing Everton’s home game against Stoke City to be pushed back 24 hours.

Today’s Observer reports that Merseyside Police asked the BNP to re-arrange its proposed activity to avoid a clash with the football but the request was denied. The Police believed that they were unable to cope with both events so was forced to contact the Football Association demanding the game was rescheduled.

The BNP hoped their Liverpool event would raise its profile ahead of the European Elections. It certainly has, but probably not as it hoped. Thousands of Everton fans had already made their travel plans and the club is likely to lose substantial revenue. Everton fans are unlikely to forgive the BNP.

To read the full Observer article, visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2009/feb/20/everton-british-national-party

 Posted: 22 Feb 2009 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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BNP lie machine in action

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 20 February 2009, 23:34


The BNP lie machine is in full force this evening as it tries to limit the damage from the fallout of the police moving the Everton v Stoke City on 14 March. The BNP is trying to claim that the match has been shifted because of an anti-fascist mobilisation.

But the truth is quite different.

The police moved the game for fear that a section of fans from Stoke City would join the BNP event. It should be remembered that it was a violent rampage by Stoke City fans in Oldham, in late April 2001, that unleashed a chain of events that led to the riots.

The Liverpool Echo has this evening ran the story prominantly and the headline makes clear where the blame lies: Everton match switched for BNP

You can read the full story here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/02/20/everton-match-switched-for-bnp-100252-22971990/

 Posted: 20 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A new twist

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 20 February 2009, 14:41


Stop the rally of hate

Stop the rally of hate

The campaign to get the BNP march in Liverpool on Saturday 14 March banned took a new twist today after it emerged that the police were ordering the Everton v Stoke City football match to be moved to the Sunday so as to prevent Stoke City fans from joining the far right event. This has infuriated Everton fans and the local press – and rightly so. Some Everton supporters groups are now circulating the HOPE not hate petition amongst their followers. In another development the BNP had also been hoping to end the day with a rally in St Georges Hall but this has been blocked by the council.

Thousands of people have now signed the petition. You can add your name here

 Posted: 20 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A BNP supporter is correct

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 19 February 2009, 06:15


It is hard to admit that sometimes a BNP supporter might be correct. But this is certainly the case with Giuseppe De Santis after he admitted that he had written “not a very good letter.”

Giuseppe, from East London and a close aide to Nick Griffin, decided to send a letter to the Electoral Commission complaining at third party interference in elections. In a completely incoherent rant he attacked the Commission for “deliberately failing to enforce election rules anytime the British National Party is standing in an election.”

He appears particularly annoyed about our link up with Blue State Digital – “an American company”, he is quick to point out.

Giuseppe was so furious about the anti-BNP conspiracy that he posted his letter on an Internet forum and encouraged others to do likewise.

I would like to add my support for Giuseppe’s wise opening remarks on the website: It is “not a very good letter.”

 Posted: 19 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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1000 and growing

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 18 February 2009, 18:26


This morning we launched a petition to get Merseyside Police to ban the BNP's march of hate through Liverpool. By 1pm, just 96 minutes after the email went out over 1000 people had signed our petition.

That so many people have signed the petition in such a short amount of time is just further proof that there is a grassroots movement out there that is beginning to mobilise for HOPE not hate.

Our intention is to hand in a petition containing thousands of names to the Chief Constable by Friday 27 February, so please do everything you can to spread the word.

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/stophate

 Posted: 18 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Stop the march of Hate

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 18 February 2009, 12:27


Today the HOPE not hate campaign launched a petition that calls on Merseyside police to ban the BNP from marching through Liverpool City Centre on 14 March.

The BNP's march of hate is designed to whip up racial hatred. Pure and simple. Liverpool is a multiracial society and does not deserve the hatemongers.

Please sign the petition and encourage your friends to do likewise

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/stophate

 Posted: 18 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Why do people donate?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 17 February 2009, 19:55


Why do people donate? That’s the question we asked some of the 356 people who donated to Searchlight last Friday. And there were some interesting replies. There were one or two veterans of the struggle who had been active back in the 1970s and wanted to help out again now. There were others who were new to activity but had been brought in by the HOPE not hate brand and were donating online for the very first time.

I am amazed with how much good will there is out there. I spend so much time dealing with the politics of hate that I sometimes forget that the vast majority of people stand up for the values of hope. And they come from all walks of life. Several who donated were active trade unionists, many of whom wanted to give specifically to our union toolkit campaign. Others, like the London schoolteacher or man who didn’t want his Grandfather to have fought a war in vein, simply supported our wider cause.

Last week I travelled Britain with US trade unionists Liz McElroy and Lindsay Patterson and one of the points they continually made was that the main reason people did not get involved was because they were never asked. Or if they were asked then they were often asked in the wrong way.

There have been many times in the past when I have moaned about the lack of activity or willingness of people to volunteer and get involved. Well, I know realise it is because I simply have not asked. If I had, and done so in the right way, then I might have been reading these responses long before now.

There is a tremendous amount of support out there, both towards our cause and Searchlight itself, and I really believe that we are beginning to tap into this now. The task facing us is huge but we are really building something quite special.

 Posted: 17 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Target reached and passed

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 15 February 2009, 21:23


Just a quick word to say thank you for everyone who contributed to our appeal last Friday. We asked you for help in raising £1,250 in just 13 hours and I'm delighted to say that we sailed past this target. We are now in the position to produce and distribute almost 700 toolkits across Yorkshire & Humber as a result of the appeal.

So, thanks once again. Your support is greatly appreciated

 Posted: 15 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Time is short

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 February 2009, 12:59


Today I launched an appeal to help us raise funds to deliver an anti-BNP toolkit to unions in Yorkshire & Humber. We have had an unbelieveable response. I have asked for £1,250 to help us produce 250 packs. Of course, if we can raise more than this then we can send out even more.

I'll try to update you later in the day with how many donations we have received.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, for those who have not yet, please do so. Your help and support is greatly appreciated.

 Posted: 13 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The tour comes to an end

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 February 2009, 08:28


It has been a really fantastic week touring the country with Liz McElroy and Lindsay Patterson, two US trade unionists from the AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers of America. We have spoken at a dozen meetings – to regional unions, to local branches, MPs and community activists. We’ve been to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and all across London. We were even able to join the Unite construction workers on their lobby of Parliament. In between we managed to enjoy a drink or two, eat some curry and fish and chips and savour the atmosphere in Soho’s famous Gay Hussar restaurant. And even after all that, Lindsay, who became better known as Nightclub Billy, managed to find the energy to go out clubbing every night.

The point of the visit was simple. To share some basic organising techniques and learn how the US unions engaged their members during the recent elections. I think anyone who turned up to a meeting to hear Lindsay and Liz were suitably inspired and few, I guess, will forget them in a hurry. Of course, the key question is what will be carried out over here. It was really great yesterday to attend a local GMB branch meeting in Barking and Dagenham, where 30 stewards were hopefully pumped up enough to put into action some of what they had heard.

Lindsay repeatedly made the point that the issues facing us over here were similar to those facing American workers. Liz would come out with fantastic one-liners which we will use to remind (or haunt) some of the key union organisers we met along the way. Here is my favourite:

“If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

Our fight over the coming months has certainly been boosted by their visit.

 Posted: 13 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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On the road

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 11 February 2009, 14:06


Apologies for not blogging for the last couple of days, I’ve been on the road and hardly seemed to have had a spare minute. It’s been a great few days. I’ve been travelling the country with Liz McElroy, from the AFL-CIO (equivalent to our TUC), and Lindsay Patterson, from the United Steelworkers of America. Searchlight and TULO have brought these trade unionists over to share their experiences of organising US trade unionists during the recent Presidential elections.

It’s been a real insight. Of course, organising is organising and we share many of the same experiences and hurdles, but it is clear that there is much more focus on engaging union members directly in the US.

On Saturday we held an organising day school in Birmingham. It was attended by over 80 people, which was great given the bad weather we have had of late. Sunday was a day off, so I took them around Liverpool. As usual it is only when I am showing people around that I actually get to see many of the sights myself. We went to the Slavery museum and then did the Beatles pub tour. Monday saw us in Manchester, where we addressed 30 key Unison organisers and branch officers. We were joined by Dan from Blue State Digital, who gave his own presentation about the online campaign. Yesterday we were in Leeds, where we did a meeting at the offices of Yorkshire TUC.

We are back in London today. I’m actually on my way to Wimbledon, to the headquarters of the GMB. Later today we are meeting up with Unite the Union.

I’ll write more about what Liz and Lindsay have been saying in due course, but suffice to say it is giving me, and I think everyone who meets them, real food for thought.

 Posted: 11 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Heaven and hell

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 8 February 2009, 07:02


The High Street in West Bromwich is my idea of heaven and the BNP’s hell. In a small stretch you have Afro-Caribbean shops nestling in between Asian sweet shops, Polish delis and a traditional English barber’s. Off a little side street is a Sikh Gurdwara, an Afro-Caribbean centre and a Unite regional office. It is a kaleidoscope of cultures, tastes and colours. People of all colours, religions and languages appear to co-exist quite happily with one another in a way that would make the BNP activist shake with fear.

If that wasn’t good enough then there is also the Sportsman, a Sikh-owned pub which looks a run down house from the outside. Inside, however, the communities of the High Street mingle and socialise, washing down their troubles with a pint of Cobra or Guinness, a plate of cheap but fantastic curry and cricket on the TV. As the evening wears on the bangla music begins to play and it is not uncommon for Sikh men to begin dancing.

The Sportsman is a truly wonderful place and is always on my itinerary when I go to the Black Country. And here I found myself on Friday night, with Liz and Lindsay, two trade unionists from the US who we are currently taking on a tour of the UK (more of them later). We were joined by a few friends and colleagues, including local MP Tom Watson, straight in from a five hour surgery.

Heaven and hell, two views of the same scene. But for me it’s Heaven every time.

 Posted: 8 Feb 2009 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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BNP hypocrite

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 February 2009, 17:22


There was good news from Tameside last night at the failure of the BNP to make much headway in a council by-election in Hyde Newton ward. The BNP still came second with 29% of the vote but this was hardly an increase on its share of the vote from last May.

What interested me was the content of the leaflets of BNP candidate Rosiland Gauci. Here she was campaigning against immigration and migrant workers and what did she admit about herself? That she had been a migrant worker for much of her life, having worked in several countries, including Malta, Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

Obviously what is good for her is not good enough for anyone else! I guess it is just another example of a BNP hypocrite.

 Posted: 6 Feb 2009 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A big thank you

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 February 2009, 23:08


Today I sent out an email asking for your views on the forthcoming campaign and how best we defeat the BNP. I’ve had a really fantastic response, with literally hundreds of people filling out our survey and giving me their opinions. There were several really interesting suggestions made which we’ll certainly be taking on board over the coming months.

I’m probably not in the position to answer everyone individually but I’ll definitely be contacting a few who asked me specific questions.

In the meantime a big thank you to everyone who gave up their time today to fill out the survey.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Paul’s in a quandary…

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 February 2009, 06:14


The news that a BNP candidate in a forthcoming council by-election in Croydon was convicted for sending death threats has left local voter Paul in a quandary. The Croydon Advertiser followed up on a Searchlight investigation which found that BNP candidate Charlotte Lewis was given a six-month sentence in 2001 for sending death threat to staff at a Cambridgeshire firm linked to testing on animals.

Commenting on the paper’s website, Paul has written: “This news leaves me in a real quandary. Now I'm wondering whether to not vote for her because she represents a racist organisation, or because she threatens people and endorses violence.”

Decisions, decisions

 Posted: 5 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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"We just want a level playing field"

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 4 February 2009, 17:04


David Smeeton was adamant that this dispute had nothing to do with racism. “We are not against Italian or Spanish workers working over here but we just want a level playing field. We actually want to work alongside them, just as we work in Spain and Italy. But we are not being given the chance.”

This morning I attended a protest at the Staythorpe power station. Over 50 people had gathered at the entrance to the plant to register their anger at the decision of contractors not to consider local people for employment. While much of the recent media attention has been focused on Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire, it is here, just outside Newark, that the dispute first kicked off last Autumn.

There was obvious anger amongst the gathered men about their situation, but little of it directed at the European workers on the site. Instead, their anger was directed at the contractors who, they believe, are deliberately not considering hiring local workers.

For Dave and others at the protest this is a problem that has been brewing for some time. They say European workers have been here for a while, often on worse pay and conditions, but this changed over time as they interact with unionised British workers. They say that the decision to refuse to employ any British workers can only be because hiring from abroad is cheaper (ie they are cutting corners on pay and conditions) and/or so they can’t interact with British workers who might be able to unionise them.

As the economy worsens, these disputes are going to become more common. These are difficult issues and a ‘British jobs for British workers’ attitude simply will not do. As I have previously mentioned we live in a complex and intertwined world where foreigners work here and British workers are based overseas. The BNP is trying to exploit the issue with simplistic racist and protectionist slogans. Of course this is nonsense.

Kevin Gough was dismissive of the BNP. “We’re not interested in the BNP. It is not a nationalist issue. We are not going down that road with them. I’ve been told that they’ve turned up here but I will not entertain them. Neither will most of these lads here. It is not a race issue. It is getting this show back on the road and working together in harmony. There are a lot of projects that are going to use European labour and rightly so, but don’t exclude British workers from the table.”

These are difficult issues and often there is no simple solution, but we ignore the anger and fear of these workers at our peril. These are real people struggling with the downturn in a global economy and if we don’t address their concerns then we’ll face the backlash. There is a growing tendency in some quarters to dismiss the protesters as bigoted xenophobes but that certainly wasn’t the impression we encountered today. To dismiss them as such and not answer their concerns would surely lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Dave summed up the mood of many of those present. “We were looking forward to this site being built and what we want is a quick solution so we can all get on together, build a project and make it a success for British industry and show Europe that we can work in harmony.”

 Posted: 4 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Churches United

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 3 February 2009, 20:25


On Thursday the voters of Hyde Newton ward, Tameside, go to the polls. The BNP has been working the area hard but then so have we. At the outset of the campaign we distributed a hard-hitting anti-BNP leaflet, now a second leaflet has gone out. An open letter signed by six local church leaders, representing the Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches, has been put out across the ward.

“We are united in our condemnation of this party’s policies and understanding of the world. We believe that the election of a BNP councillor would threaten the heart of a community which is essentially open and welcoming, kind and hopeful.”

The letter concludes: “Whoever we elect in Newton next week will have a major impact on our daily lives. Please vote in the local election. And when you do, think about the type of society you want Newton to be, and then vote for a party which does not rely on racial hatred and the fostering of division. Newton is better than that.”

Great stuff!

 Posted: 3 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The ageing of British youth

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 2 February 2009, 18:00


Having just seen a photo a the BNP youth leader Mike Howson at an international gathering of far right youth leaders I know realise what they mean when they say that young people are growing up a lot faster these days!

 Posted: 2 Feb 2009 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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I’m backing the Steelers

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 1 February 2009, 07:23


Tonight's Super Bowl sees the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Arizona Cardinals. I have to say that American Football is not a sport I normally follow but tonight I shall be cheering on the Steelers. I met the owner of the club during my visit to the States in October, when he and a couple of former players were out campaigning with the United Steelworkers of America to drum up support for Barack Obama.

 Posted: 1 Feb 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments