HOPE not hate

Political

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Question 10

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 17:30


Q - Cheap labour gives companies bigger profits thus immigration is good for business' regardless of its impact on the community. Do you think this is a valid point?

A - Hi Fiona. Your point is very valid. Much of the economic success of the last decade was built on economic liberalism and making it cheaper for businesses to hire and fire its workers and reducing regulations. This might have boosted the economy overall but it increased insecurity amongst many in society and, as this report highlights, it the key driver for fear and hate. It is not just good enough for politicians to talk about ‘dealing with immigration’ if they then ignore economic and social insecurity.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 9

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:53


Q - Isn't this report an early Christmas gift to the BNP and EDL?

A – Not at all. The survey has given us an insight into attitudes in today’s England. It’s better to know these views and then do something about it then pretend these views do not exist. The key question is whether we – be it the anti-fascist movement or the political parties - can rise to the challenge. There are also many positives in the report too.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 8

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:44


Q - Basically you're saying this is good news for the EDL? Has your non-confrontation policy helped then, when it seems violence is the one way to dent their popularity?

A – Quite the opposite. The study clearly shows how the public do not approve of a confrontational approach. Violence, from whichever quarter, puts people off. Also, our strategy is to highlight the violence of the EDL and the tensions and trouble it brings to communities. An overwhelming majority of respondents agree with our approach.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 7

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:41


Q - Nick, Is it fair to say then that far too much of antifascism has been "shoe gazing" where actually we just talk to ourselves? I think the report is as courageous as it is worrying but it clearly says we have to change to keep pace.

A – I think it’s fair to say that this report should shake our complacency and highlight the work we need to do. Saying that, I think most people, deep down, will not be surprised with many of the findings. The question is how we respond? One of the key things is that we must focus on the Identity Ambivalents. This is the group who could be drawn over to the right because of their economic concerns. We must deal with them where they are and not where we would like them to be.

As to shoe-gazing, I think that’s unfair. We hammered the BNP in Barking & Dagenham don’t forget. That was less shoe-gazing and more shoe-pounding!!

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 6

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:24


Q - The coverage so far highlights the problem but you don't give us any solutions. Don't you have any?

A - Don't worry, the solutions will come. We conclude the full report with a 'What Next?' section and we shall be explaining where we go next over the next few days.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 5

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:14


Q - I also noted that this idea that 'English people' were more likely to vote for far right groups if their association with violence stopped was also shared by Asian English, and black English, particularly in the case of immigration. Why do you think this would be? I must say after reading the results I found myself half hoping the far right carry on with their thuggish ways! The idea of them ruling the country is abhorrent.

A – Two questions here and the first goes to the heart of our report. One of key findings in our report is that the old politics or race and immigration has morphed into the new politics of identity, culture and nation. Many non-whites consider themselves British (and to a lesser extent English) and they are as opposed to future new immigration as anyone else and this is probably due to the fact that they are among the most economically insecure in society and see new immigrants as a threat.

Likewise, many of the white people who are opposed to new immigration are doing so because of their own economic insecurities rather than because of pure old fashioned racism.

Race, immigration and identity is more complex than many have publicly admitted. There has been some criticism from some quarters for us releasing these findings but unless we understand the problem, and the scope of the problem, then we cannot hope to find solutions.

As to the second question, I think we can rely on the EDL to still give us the links to thuggery. Page 21 of today’s Star on Sunday has pictures of EDL activists with guns and knives!!

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 4

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 16:04


Q - Nick, What part does general alienation by the general public from the political process and the role of tabloid media play in these results?

A – There is a clear correlation between those in the fear and hate camp and alienation and dislike of politicians and indeed anything deemed political. We asked people their attitudes to local institutions and our representatives. The most respected within local communities - across the board - were GPs, headteachers and the women’s institute. The least respected are the local council, the councillor and the MP. The further right on our tribe scale you go the more people dislike these political representatives.

I gave people 13 institutions/individuals to grade but unfortunately I forgot to include the local media!

This and much more will be in the report which we will release tomorrow.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 3

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 15:53


Q - Can we please separate Racism from immigration they are too separate issues and should be dealt with individually, I am white English and my wife of 25 years is Indian, we both want a cap on immigration!!!

A – The full research makes clear distinctions between people’s attitudes towards immigration and racism and indeed they are quite different. Unfortunately the media are mixing the two up. Vincent makes an interesting point about his own views on immigration and are in fact common amongst black and Asian people in England. In fact, more British Muslims want a cap on new immigration than the average amongst the white population. The vast majority of non-whites are to be found in our Identity Ambivalent group and these people are more concerned by economic factors rather than race.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Question 2

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 15:44


Q - Surely the results of the survey simply show that the scaremongering tactics(dare I say, propaganda) of the media (red tops, sky news etc.) since 9/11...and that there is no effective counter propaganda or at least that what counter propaganda there is underfunded and isn't targeting the majority of UK subjects, but rather the flash points?

A - The key conclusion in the report is that economic pessimism is the key driver for fear. There are obviously a sizeable minority in society who dislike all non-white people but there's a larger group who are far more tolerant but their own economic insecurity has made them nervous and concerned about immigration.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Q & A session begins

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 15:36


Hi folks. Starting a bit early but there's a lot of questions lined up for me already. I can't promise I can answer all the questions but I'll get through as many as I can. Go here goes:

Q: How can you gauge an accurate view of the population from a survey of 5,054 ?

Five thousand people might not sound a lot but it is actually a very large sample. Most opinion polls are based on just 1,000 people. In addition, the 5,000 were weighted to be an accurate make up of English society. The survey was conducted by Populus, one of the most respected polling organisations in the UK.

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Fear and HOPE

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 27 February 2011, 12:27


The release of the Fear and Hope survey has raised a few concerns and issues about the general public's thinking on issues such as race, immigration, identity and multiculturalism.

Searchlight CEO Nick Lowles answer questions on it from 1600hrs. To keep it running smoothly, can we keep this limited to questions and not large statements and generalisations

 Posted: 27 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Going into communities

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 13 February 2011, 09:27


A week today the HOPE not hate campaign will be taking to the streets of Barnsley with the sole aim of winning the hearts and minds of local people ahead of the Barnsley Central parliamentary by-election. This is one of the BNP’s few remaining strongholds in Yorkshire, with the far-right party regularly polling in excess of 25% in four wards in the constituency.

“Our aim is to engage with ordinary people and explain that the BNP offer working class communities nothing,” says Yorkshire HOPE not hate co-ordinator Paul Meszaros. “And the best way to do that is to go into their communities, to talk directly to people.

“This type of community organising is what HOPE not hate is all about. It is going door to door, engaging with people on where they are, not necessarily where we would like them to be.”

The Barnsley action will be just one of several HOPE not hate activities taking place next weekend. We will also be out campaigning in Sandwell, Burnley, Stoke-on-Trent and Thurrock. More details will be made available tomorrow.

 Posted: 13 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Dangerous liaisons

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 10 February 2011, 12:54


It would appear that the Daily Star is cosying up to the English Defence League again. Yesterday, the newspaper ran a front page story with the headline: English Defence League to become political party. Today it carries a full-page piece on page four claiming the EDL leader is under 24-hour guard after threats to his life. It quoted EDL leader Stephen Lennon at length and ended by claiming that 99% of its readers would back the EDL as a political party.

This would be dangerous enough as simple news article but it appears that the Daily Star is actually creating the story. According to the bemused EDL leadership last night they had never told the newspaper that they were planning to become a political party and the journalists had either misunderstood or spun the story for their own ends.

Not that the EDL leadership are complaining. They are loving the attention the Daily Star is giving them.

The Daily Star is playing a very dangerous game. It appears to be deliberately inflating the intentions of the EDL with the intention of actually creating the political party they want. By supporting the EDL the Daily Star editor is aligning herself to racists, drug dealers and criminals.

 Posted: 10 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Luton: The day extremism lost

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 8 February 2011, 09:49


Police contain the EDL thugs

Police contain the EDL thugs

Now the dust has settled it is perhaps a good time to reflect on the weekend’s events in Luton. Despite the huge media coverage the day was a failure for both the English Defence League and the Islamist extremists of Anjem Choudary’s Islam4UK.

The EDL must have been disappointed with their numbers. At its height there were somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 EDL supporters on the march, far fewer than everyone had expected. The EDL had been telling journalists that they were hoping for up to 8,000 to be there. Police briefings in the days running up to the march suggested 5,000 to 7,000. I put the figure at 4,000 to 5,000. We were all wrong.

EDL supporters came from across the country. There appeared to be almost 50 coaches, though many were far from full. Hundreds more made their way on trains and in cars. What was clear, however, was the lack of Lutonians there. Despite the bravado of claiming mass local support the vast majority of local people shunned the demonstrations. The profile of the EDL demo was the same as for previous events. It was largely made up of white men, aged between 20 and 45, many either former or current football hooligans.

There was a splattering of women and older people and literally a handful of non-whites, but to all intents and purposes the composition of the demo was the same as it has always been.

The day passed off relatively peacefully, with just seven arrests. Despite some provocation and the now customary fire crackers thrown at police horses, the police did a good job in containing the EDL and keeping them away from the general public. The authorities were helped by the absence of Islam4UK as we believe it would have only taken a handful of these extremists to parade around with their provocative placards for serious disorder to break out. While I had been critical of the approach taken by the police in the run-up to the demonstration they did a good job on the day.

The fact that there was no violence was largely down to the excellent work of the local Muslim community who self-organised, debunked rumours and calmed tensions. There were over 300 stewards on hand and several mediation teams who were used to intervene when tensions rose. At one point during the afternoon over 1,000 Muslim youths began gathering on the Dunstable Road following rumours that a mosque had been attacked. The mediation teams and stewards went in and the group soon dispersed.

Across the city, the council's cohesion team, faith and community groups did an excellent job in reassuring local people and showing solidarity to one another.

We were happy with our intervention in the overall campaign. Once again we avoided counter-demonstrating on the day, preferring a strategy of constructive community engagement which sought to educate people about the EDL, provide experience and good practice from previous EDL demonstrations and reassure local communities. In the run-up to the day there was considerable tension between the police and the council and the police and the local Muslim community. Given the lack of trust, particularly from many in the Muslim community towards the police approach, we played a vital role in supporting key community leaders and activists. Because of our relationship building, the information/background we were able to provide via the magazine, briefings and one to one meetings, coupled with our sympathetic stance on building community, we were a trusted source of information on the day. The community mediation teams in the Muslim community found it useful to speak to our team on the ground and share information on how events were unfolding direct from the scene. They wanted to know about numbers of EDL, the mood, what was being done by the EDL etc. As rumours flew around about Qur’an burning by the EDL (for example) we were able to scotch those rumours instantly as a trusted and 'on side' source. This helped the community mediators calm young people down and counteract the rising tensions.

Also losers were the Islamist extremists. They boasted of making an appearance on the day but in the end they were nowhere to be seen. They had claimed that only they could defend the Muslim community but in their absence local people were able to cope just fine.

It is unclear where the EDL will go from here. Given Luton’s importance, both as a birthplace of the EDL and the link with Islamic terrorism, its relatively small numbers will be a major disappointment to its organisers. Future street mobilisations will only be smaller. There are some inside the EDL who are pushing for a more political approach in preference to street actions but this will alienate many of its current supporters. With the obvious thuggery of the EDL a political path looks slim.

Luton survived the EDL demo and it appears that the vast majority of local people – of all races and religions – shunned the extremists. The job now is to build on this by actually bringing people together in a town where fear has for too long reigned over hope.

 Posted: 8 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Luton reject the EDL provocation

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 17:10


I'm really pleased to report that it seems that today has passed off peacefully. The people of Luton have rejected the provocation of the EDL.

One of the main reasons for this was the great work done in the Muslim community to keep their youth off the streets. Hundreds of stewards and dozens of mediation teams were out to reduce tensions and refute the rumours that were circulating. Community elders stood hand in hand to calm youngsters down and encourage people not to rise to the EDL's bait.

Across the town, faith leaders from the Christian churches in Luton were on the ground to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments

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One of England's finest

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 17:00


What more can we say?

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 21 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Hanover Defence League

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 15:34


Hanover Defence League

Hanover Defence League

Here's a photo of some of the Germans at the march today

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Rumours

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 15:14


There are plenty of rumours flying around. First there was a story that a Koran was burnt up on the Farley Hill estate now there's a rumour that a mosque has been attacked in Bury Park. Neither are true.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Update

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 14:43


The EDL crowd is seriously thinning in St George's Square. Some are heading back up to High Town, where the march started, while others are wandering around the town. There are also reports of the police not allowing a large group of EDL out of the train station.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Bored

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 14:21


It is clear that many EDL supporters are bored with the speeches and are trying to leave the square. There are quite a few EDL outside the square, many drunk.

There has been a discussion on twitter about numbers. I still think there are 3,000 in total but it might be as few as 2,500. Either way, it is far less than the EDL were boasting and the police were expecting.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Bury Park update

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 14:11


Hundreds of locals have begun coming out of their homes in Bury Park. According to one report by Lord Qurban Hussain: "People are very worried - they don't know what to expect."

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Break off

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:57


There are reports that a group of EDL tried to break off from the main march with the intention of heading towards Bury Park but the were blocked by police.

Lennon is whipping up the crowd with claims that schools were banned from flying the St George's flag.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Numbers

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:45


Sky are claiming that there are 3-4,000 on the demo. It looks closer to 3,000 to me but it's hard to see how far the crowd go back.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 5 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Whose side are they on?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:32


One really has to question the tactics of the local police. While EDL thugs fight with police Stephen Lennon is helped out of the march and escorted - by police and his own security - to the square where the rally will be held.

Are they affording the same protection to local citizens terrified by the EDL demo?

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 4 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Ugly chants

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:23


A section of the EDL crowd began chanting at locals: "If it wasn't for the police you'd be dead."

The firecrackers I referred to earlier were thrown at the police horses at the front of the march.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The march is underway

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:18


The march is finally underway. There's lots of pushing. I can't tell numbers at this stage but there are several thousands.

Fire crackers are being thrown. Usual EDL violence.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Foreign speakers

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 13:06


Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff with Geert Wilders

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff with Geert Wilders

I can now reveal that two of the speakers at today's rally will be Austrian Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and the surfing rabbi from the US, Nachum Shifren.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is a representative of "Citizens' Movement Pax Europa" and last year she was charged with "incitement" and "defamation of religious teachings" in Austria.

Nachum Shifren is an extremist Rabbi from California who has close links to the Tea Party.

Just for clarification, the march hasn't actually started yet. There was some movement 25 minutes ago but it seems that they just moving into position. However, it is about to start any minute now.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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sick as parrots

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:47


Veteran BNP activist Kevin Scott has been saying that I'm as sick as a parrot watching the EDL numbers grow. All I can say is that however sick I might feel it's nothing to that being experienced by Scott and his BNP nazi mates. The BNP is being swept aside by the EDL and so are becoming increasingly irrelevant by the day.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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bottles thrown

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:43


It seems that there is some fighting between amongst EDL crowd. Bottles are being thrown. The police are withdrawing though I guess they will some be replaced by riot police.

The march appears to be setting off, well before the expected time. Perhaps the police think that the longer people are hanging around the greater the likelihood of trouble. There are still reports over over 20 coaches still waiting on the edge of the town.

Women are at the front of the march.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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EDL leader aligns himself with Cameron

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:31


EDL leader Stephen Lennon has said of Cameron's multicultural comments: "He's now saying what we're saying. He knows his base."

That just about sums up Cameron's ridiculous and badly timed intervention.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Falling out

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:26


The EDL leadership appear to have their hands full trying to keep their rowdy bunch in order. There's the drunken Sunderland group, others throwing bottles at the police and now the Scottish Defence League are taunting their English counterparts with chants of "where are your famous EDL?"

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Going home?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:16


It seems that the EDL leadership are trying to force Sunderland EDL away from the demo because they are too pissed. Given the length of the journey down the Sunderland EDL are less than keen to follow orders.

Reports are coming in that the first bottles have been thrown.

Overall, there have been 21 arrests so far and a coach stopped and drugs and a baseball bat found.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A local reports

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:12


Bradford EDL arrive in Luton

Bradford EDL arrive in Luton

I've just been sent this from a Luton resident. I think it sums up the mood of many local people to the whole day:

"It's quite scary , I don't live far from where this is taking place , the streets are quiet , no one wants to venture out . A lot of people left their homes last night . I can hear a helicopter flying overhead, scary business , I'm thinking I should have gone to stay with family too . Hope it doesn't turn violent! Regardless of what the EDL say , they are racist !"

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Mediation

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:10


Muslim community leaders have organised mediation sessions this morning to discourage their youth from coming out on the streets. There is a real determination within the Muslim community to prevent trouble.

Compare this to the EDL and their foreign nazi friends. Many are hell-bent on trouble and are happy to smear all Muslims with the extremist tag.

A correction from a previous post. It seems that the two coaches turned away from Bury Park are actually UAF coaches. The people on board have now disembarked and are making their way there on foot, followed by the EDL.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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coaches lined up

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:04


There are 18 EDL coaches lined up along Dunstable Road waiting to enter Luton. Police seem unwilling to allow them to move until much closer to the time the demo starts.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Police turn away coaches

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 12:02


It seems that the police have turned away EDL coaches from Sheffield and the Midlands which were making their way to Bury Park, where the Muslim community are gathering. It's unclear whether they are simply directing them to the EDL area of escorting them out of town altogether.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Poles update

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:57


There seems to be some confusion over the coachload of Poles I reported on earlier. From the bewilderment on the faces of those on board we initially thought that their coach had been caught up in the EDL convoy and brought to the demo. It now seems this might not be the case. The Poles have disembarked and gone into the crowd...

I'll let you know when I know more.

Meanwhile, Kevin Carroll is holding a press conference for the foreign media. Minibuses and coaches have arrived from Keighley, Swanley and High Wycombe. Coaches from Dudley and Blackburn are approaching.

The word is that the coaches from the West Midlands are stuck in heavy traffic on the motorway and are moving very slowly. If they are struggling then I can only guess that Preston will be lucky to get here before the event is over.

We reckon that there is about 1,000 EDL here so far and there's still 90 minutes to go.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Good news from Bury Park

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:43


Just had a call from Sam, who has been working on the ground for HOPE not hate in Luton for a few weeks. He's up in Bury Park with the Muslim community and there is a determination to chase off Anjem Choudary and his Al-Muhajiroun clowns if they turn up.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Polish tourists picked up by the police

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:32


A coach from Poland has just arrived but it seems against their will. From our eyewitness it appears that the tourist coach got directed off the motorway and put in with some EDL coaches. Will update you when I hear more but the people on board the coach seem bemused and a little be frightened.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Police clear the station

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:22


There are now clashes at the station as the police clear the UAF from the station. It seems that the station is now clear and large numbers of EDL are arriving on two trains from London.

South Shields, Grimsby and Portsmouth are the latest to arrive.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Is Butler in town?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:20


I've just had a report that Eddie Butler has just arrived in town. The former BNP man recently wished the EDL all the best for today on his blog.

It is obvious that the EDL is now becoming the main clearing house for Britain's extreme right.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Station update

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:16


The UAF have blocked the main entrance to the station but it seems that the police appear not too bothered. They have opened a gate further down the platform and are allowing the EDL through. About 50 have just got off a train.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Train station occupied?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 11:11


There is news that the UAF has occupied Luton railway station and are preventing the EDL from getting off trains. There have been some scuffles reported as the UAF have blocked one of the exits. I'm still looking for more details but if anyone has any more news on this please let me know.

Preston EDL are having a bad morning. Their coach turned up two hours late and the assembled crowd got very wet while waiting around.

The EDL are claiming that 900 supporters are coming on coaches from across the Midlands.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Police searches

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 10:49


Further to my last post the police have stopped the car carrying the German Blood and Honour supporters and are currently searching them.

Some of the Dutch Defence League have arrived. I've heard that they were staying in Bayswater, West London, along with some of the German Defence League.

EDL groups from North London, Gateshead, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes are already here. A group boarded a train at St Pancras this morning but nowhere near the numbers the EDL gave to the press. The EDL have been given two pubs and a nightclub to meet up in. The landlords/owners are allowed to serve drinks until 12pm and then close the venues an hour later, after which the EDL march will begin. All 300 pubs across the town will be shut from 12pm and not allowed to reopen until 7pm.

Interestingly, the police have been erecting steel barriers across streets, both to keep the EDL and UAF apart but also on some of the roads linking the EDL march route and Bury Park, where the Muslim community are gathering.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Foreign nazis are arriving

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 10:28


Foreign nazis are arriving in Luton looking for trouble. Far right activists from Sweden have been here for a couple of days and Norwegian and Dutch extremists are arriving shortly. Our spotters have also just seen a carload of German Blood & Honour supporters, wearing Combat 18 shirts, driving through the town.

We are also expecting hardliners from Vérité, Valeurs & Démocratie (VVD), a front organization of Bloc identitaire from France.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The omens are not good

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 5 February 2011, 08:00


I have to say that at first I thought it was a sick joke. On the day that thousands of right-wing extremists plan to march against Muslims in Luton, David Cameron decides to launch his own attack on multiculturalism and in particular the behaviour of some Muslims. I have not read in full details what he is planning to say today but the headlines play directly into the hands of the English Defence League.

I really hope today passes off peacefully. There are 2,000 officers on duty today, with many more in reserve, but this still might not be enough. The EDL are expecting in excess of 5,000 supporters to descend on the town, where they will be met by anti-fascist protesters at one end of the town and a large mobilisation of the local Muslim community at the other. Throw in groups of far-right activists, some from abroad, who are not aligned to the EDL but are making their way here for a fight, such as the Swedes I bumped into last night who know little about the EDL but were simply here for trouble.

On the other side there will be a big mobilisation from Anjem Choudary’s Al-Muhajiroun extremists. Luton is their base and there seems little chance that they will miss the chance to perform in front of the world’s media. He had a hundred out on a protest outside the Egyptian embassy yesterday so we can only expect many more today. Obviously they will be heavily outnumbered by the EDL but it could take only a handful of waving inflammatory signs to incite a violent reaction from the right-wing hooligans.

The policing for today leaves a lot to be desired and the more I hear about the tactics and attitudes of the local police operation the more I am concerned. The route the police have given the EDL will take them within a few minutes’ walk of the main Muslim neighbourhood in the town and where locals, including Choudary’s gang, are meeting. Unlike Leicester and Bradford, where the police went out of their way to reassure local communities, Bedfordshire police appear to have bent over backwards to accommodate the EDL’s demands much to the annoyance of many in Luton.

Barriers and road blocks are being erected across the town. Dozens of shops have been boarded up and there is palpable tension in the air. There has been some amazing work by individuals and groups over the past few weeks to promote a peaceful Luton and try to reassure local people. Let’s hope that they emerge victorious from today and the town can slowly return to normal and heal the wounds caused by the EDL’s protest. I fear though that Cameron’s speech, and the way it is being reported, has only added fuel to the fire.

I’ll be blogging all day today. We have teams out across the town so hopefully I’ll be able to give accurate and instant reporting of events.

 Posted: 5 Feb 2011 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Live blogging tomorrow

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 4 February 2011, 18:55


I'll be on the ground in Luton tomorrow for the EDL demo. I'll be blogging, uploading photos and generally giving a running commentary on the day's events.

We'll have teams following the EDL, with locals and in touch with council and community leaders throughout the day.

I'll be live from 10am.

 Posted: 4 Feb 2011 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments