You are viewing blog items for May 2014.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 26 May 2014, 13:44
There is no disguising the scale of the UKIP triumph in the European Elections. While the political "earthquake" did not quite materialise in the local elections, their emphatic victory in the European vote has sent shockwaves through the political establishment and could - and I stress could - alter the political map for years to come.
It wasn't just that UKIP came top of the popular vote and secured more MEPs than any other party but they did so with uniformity across the country. They performed alomst as strongly in traditional Labour areas in the North East and Yorkshire as they did in the Conservative South and East Midlands.
However, UKIP performed especially well in a number of key areas of the country and this gives an indication as to where the party will prioritise in next year's General Election.
Top of these were Boston, in Lincolnshire, where UKIP took 51.5% of the vote. This was followed by another Lincolnshire town, South Holland, where they took 48.5%.
In total, there were nine local authority areas where UKIP took more than 45% of the vote - all areas currently covered by Conservative MPs.
There is much debate as to whether this is a flash in the pan or a fundamental change in British politics. Given the concentration of UKIP support and their policy of focusing on these areas ahead of the General Election, it does seem as though we are entering four party politics. However, it should also be remembered that UKIP polled less well in the local elections and, without the huge publicily afforded to them in these elections next year, they might struggle in a domestic election.
Another problem facing UKIP is how they are going to keep their broad coalition together as they develop party policies. At the moment they are all things to all people but as they develop domestic policies and - hopefully - get the proper scrutiny, they might find that the voter in the industrial north is quite different from the more affluent south.
However, my guess is that UKIP will emerge as a lasting political force, at least in the short-term. Their strategy of targeting a handful of seats at next year's General Election seems sensible and even if their vote nationally slipped back to 8-10% this would be enough to impact on the outcome of several key parliamentary seats.
While time will tell if UKIP will become a lasting force, these elections should also be a time for us to pause for thought. Just as the emergence of the BNP as a political threat in 2002-2003 made us re-assess the best way to defeat them, so we should use these elections results to do the same with UKIP. That is why, over the next few weeks, HOPE not hate will start a discussion with its supporters to determine if and how we should take on UKIP in the future. We will look at the polling, their concentration of support and profile those people supporting them.
We will ask our supporters whether we should prioritise suppressing the UKIP vote in the future or whether we should just concentrate on defending and promoting our diverse society.
In 2002, as the BNP began winning council seats in the north of England, we admitted that the traditional anti-fascist approach was not working. We devised a new strategy and the birth of HOPE not hate was one outcome. Now, as UKIP - with its anti-immigrant rhetoric and racist undertones - wins a national election by some margin, it is time to critically assess how we take them on in the future.
Posted: 26 May 2014 | There are 9 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 24 May 2014, 17:13
Today’s headlines are all about UKIP and the gains they’ve made in Thursday’s local elections, yet despite their claims, the picture is far more mixed than UKIP or the pundits suggest.
The earthquake promised by Nigel Farage has not materialized. Yes, UKIP gained 128 seats and held on to 35 others, but at 17% of the national vote, support for the party was down from last year’s 23%.
The results were actually quite patchy. While they won subtantial seats in Rotherham, Great Yarmouth and Basildon, there were many many more places where they won nothing.
And with just under 300 councillors, UKIP still have a fraction of the 20,000 that exist in Britain.
While these results clearly show how UKIP as emerged as a serious political force with a reach across the country, how this will impact on future elections remains to be seen. Polling of UKIP voters by Lord Ashcroft suggest that half of those who voted UKIP on Thursday will vote for another party in next year’s General Election.
Quite who is voting for UKIP is also interesting. While they certainly did extremely well in Labour’s heartlands, research by Lord Ashcroft suggest that just over half voted for the Conservatives in the 2010 General Election, with 20% voting for the Lib Dems and only 15% choosing Labour.
What is not in question, however, is that UKIP’s vote was significant and reflective of a deep malaise in British politics. This should not be ignored even if UKIP falters in the future.
The HOPE not hate campaign
HOPE not hate ran its largest campaign to date, with over two-and-a-half million newspapers and leaflets being distributed nationally, thousands of people involved and strong and lasting links across many local communities built. Over 3,600 of our supporters donated to our campaign over the last few months and this helped us fund an eight-page supplement in the Daily Mirror.
While not underestimating the size of UKIP’s advance, we believe that our efforts made a real difference.
Our strategy was two-fold. We set out to answer some of the underlying reasons why people are attracted to UKIP. And we attempted to explain why UKIP’s racism and xenophobia was not the answer, whilst also getting out the anti-racist vote. All the time we were careful to differentiate UKIP as a party and those inclined to vote for it. We highlighted the racism of its candidates without calling its voters racist. We spoke out at the way the party was whipping up a climate of xenophobia and fear whilst using our campaign literature to explain why the UKIP had no answers to the real fears and concerns of voters.
There have been some real success stories.
In the North West of the country, where we distributed over 600,000 newspapers and leaflets, UKIP won just six council seats. And in London, where we put out over half a million pieces of literature, it only got seven percent (7%) of the vote.
Even more amazingly, UKIP failed to land a single seat in Barking & Dagenham. This was a stunning repeat of the successes we had against the BNP in 2010.
Time for reflection
But there is no disguising the fact that UKIP pose a serious political threat. In addition to the 163 council seats that they won, the party came second in a huge number of other areas, often attracting 30%+ of the vote. These ranged from Labour’s former industrial heartlands in the north east and Yorkshire, to more affluent towns and suburbs in the south of England.
While pollsters and academics can argue the reasons people voted for UKIP and who these people were, the fact remains that there is a lot of work for us to do and do it we will.
We will continue to scrutinise UKIP and their policies and we will expand our research team to monitor the performance of these new UKIP councillors. More widely, we will continue to fight for OUR diverse Britain whilst also explaining why UKIP’s simple solutions are not the answer to people’s economic insecurities.
But we will also pause for thought and reflect on this campaign before we move ahead. We will start a conversation over the coming weeks about how and why people voted for UKIP and how we can pull them back. Just like we did with dealing with the BNP ten years ago, we will critically assess different strategies and work out a plan going forward.
And this is a discussion that we want to ensure our supporters are actively involved in.
Whilst the media is focused on UKIP, we mustn’t forget that barely one-third of people voted in these elections. What happens to our younger, more diverse Britons who tend to vote less? They must be part of our conversation too. It would be a mistake to sacrifice their future on the altar of UKIP’s rising star.
Going forward, much will depend on if and how UKIP builds on these results. Can they become more than an one man party? Can they develop a coherent policy agenda? Can they build effective local organisations that can seriously challenge for parliamentary seats in 2015? Can they stay united and not have further fall-outs, both locally and nationally?
And then how will the mainstream parties react to UKIP's rise? Will they continue to ignore them or will they run after their voters with more hardline policies on immigration and Europe?
These were difficult elections and UKIP has clearly entered the political arena and while it is too early to be sure of its long term impact, we can be proud that we did make a positive difference.
Posted: 24 May 2014 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 15:06
On the BBC election programme Jeremy Vine has just presented some regional share of the vote figures.
In the north of England Labour is well ahead.
Lib Dems: 13%
But in the south of England the Conservatives are in front.
Lib Dems: 17%
The UKIP vote is fairly uniform
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 14:24
Much has been made of the relatively poor vote UKIP received in London but it should also be noted that they haven't as yet made much of an electoral breakthrough in the North West.
Just looking down the list of elected councillors and I can only find two in Hyndburn and two in Bolton.
There are still several councils to declare, but so far it does seems that they have failed to make an electoral breakthrough in the region.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 14:09
So far I think UKIP have made 105 gains so far, though a few more are expected to be announced within the hour. Here is my list so far:
Castle Point (5)
Cannock Chase (6)
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 13:40
Is it me or are the UKIP gains drying up? I know there are still several dozen councils still to declare, and in some UKIP will win several seats (like Havering and Barking & Dagenham), but there have been a whole host of councils that have recently declared without a UKIP win.
Several are areas where UKIP could have polled well. They include Barnsley, Gateshead, Amber Valley, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Croydon.
So far, UKIP have gained about 100 seats. Last night pundits were expecting them to win between 100 and 200. At this present rate it looks as though it could be somewhere in between.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 13:29
For obvious reasons I've been following the voting in Barking & Dagenham quite closely. I had long thought that UKIP could do very well here, as they would mop up most of the anti-Labour vote. My concerns grew when I saw the results come in from Basildon, where UKIP gained 12 seats, and other parts of Essex.
So, my thought was, is Barking & Dagenham going to follow the path of most of London and reject UKIP or be more like Essex.
The feedback I'm getting from people at the count is that Barking & Dagenham will be somewhere in between. UKIP are likely to pick up a few seats but perhaps not as many as some feared.
We shall now very soon as the first results are expected within the hour.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 11:35
At 11.30am UKIP have won 98 council wards. They include:
Castle Point (5)
Cannock Chase (6)
Posted: 23 May 2014 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 11:27
It seems that the BNP might have held on to its one seat in Pendle. There is a third recount but I'm hearing that the BNP candidate is six votes ahead of the Tory candidate.
Posted: 23 May 2014 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 11:25
UKIP have tried to explain away their 7% vote in London by claiming that they were the victims of "more media-savvy, well-educated population".
Given that many of Britain's poorest boroughs are in London - such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney - this arguement simply doesn't wash.
More realistically, London's diverse multicultural society simply didn't find UKIP attractive.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 04:03
At 4am UKIP have won 72 council wards. They include:
Castle Point (5)
Cannock Chase (6)
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 23 May 2014, 02:40
Here's the UKIP gains that I can find. At 2am it stands at 30:
Castle Point (5)
Cannock Chase (6)
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 23:09
My friend Jason tells me that there appears to be evidence that many people split their votes up in Burnley, voting UKIP in the European Elections and Labour in the locals.
Burnley, it should be remembered, was a BNP stronghold and back in 2003 the fascist party was briefly the second largest on the council. Interestingly though, UKIP could only find four candidates in the town this year.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 22:54
So, the word on the streets is this:
Our activists in Cannock are reporting no obvious UKIP surge, unlike Nuneaton, a former BNP stronghold, where people fear UKIP may have done well.
There's been a low turnout in Burton and no obvious UKIP surge.
UKIP is believed to have done well in Newcastle under Lyme, at the expense of all the main parties. Some seats will be to close too call.
There has been a right battle down in Basildon today, with UKIP and Labour fighting it out.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 22:07
While we wait for the first results to be announced, we are going to play gossip corner. And first up is Bradford.
My old friend Paul tells me that UKIP have polled very well in Keighley West, once a BNP stronghold, however, it is not clear whether they have done enough to win the ward. In neighbouring Keighley East it appears to be a three-way contest between Labour, UKIP and Respect.
Elsewhere in Bradford, UKIP are likely to have picked up some second places, though Respect look like they have been well and truly beaten. The Tories appear to be struggling, though the Lib Dem vote has not collapsed as much as some predicted.
We will have to wait until tomorrow to see how accurate Paul's predictions are
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 21:45
It seems that UKIP are almost certainly going to come first in the European Elections, if the polls and political parties themselves are to be believed. UKIP has had a small but steady lead in the polls for over a week now and this lead grows when only those absolutely certain to vote are counted.
However, there are a couple of interesting elements which might not make it such a certainty.
What impact will the 'An Independence From Europe' play as a spoiler? They are at the top of the ballot paper and this - according to one pollster - could attract 2-3% of the vote.
And what about the Labour turnout machine? UKIP clearly have a lot of support out there but in many wards where they should stand a chance there is no campaigning from the party and what campaigning there is tends to be visual and loud stunts, such as cars/vans with speakers on. With Labour boasting that their members will knock up 2m people today, will that be enough to tip the balance in their favour in tight battles?
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 21:29
Over the next couple of days the HOPE not hate team will bring you all the latest information, the results and some initial analysis.
In addition to the European Elections, which will be counted on Sunday night, there are councillors up for election in 161 local authorities across the country. Almost half of the 4,000 councillors up for election are in London, where there are all-out elections.
Most councils are counting tomorrow, but a few of interest tonight which will give us an indication as to UKIP's strength in traditional white working class communities include South Tyneside, Hartlepool, Wigan and Sunderland.
Croydon is expected to declare at 2am and this should tell us how well UKIP can expect to do in outer London. The two key local authorities to keep an eye out for are Havering - where it is not inconceivable that UKIP could be the largest party - and Barking & Dagenham, where they will become the official opposition on the council. Both count tomorrow.
Eastleigh declares at 2am and this will show how much of a potential threat they are in next year's General Election.
Away from UKIP, the BNP is standing 105 candidates, down from the 743 they stood four years ago. They are not expected to make any gains and it is likely that their vote will evaporate at the expense of UKIP.
Please do feel free to contact me during the night, either in reply to the blog, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @lowles_nick
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 May 2014, 15:18
Today is election day. But it is also one year since the terrible murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south London.
It is a day we remember with great sadness – but also hope, after the nation drew together in the face of barbarous hate.
The killers, Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, claimed to be motivated by their faith. Yet they were condemned and disowned by every Muslim and Muslim organisation in this country. They were led howling from the dock after the judge said they had “betrayed” Islam.
He was right: they had.
People from all faiths, and none, came together to mourn Lee Rigby’s death: to commemorate his service and to reject the hatred of his killers.
We came together as a nation. The killers failed.
We produced a groundbreaking report into the extremist cult to which the killers were linked. Al-Muhajiroun, run by Anjem Choudary, helped recruit scores of fanatics who were later involved in terrorism or fighting overseas. ‘Gateway To Terror’ was one of the biggest such reports ever produced.
But there are still some who wish to use Lee Rigby’s murder for their own, twisted ends – and not just those from the Islamist extremes.
The Loyalist-linked, Christian fundamentalists from Britain First are campaigning using Lee’s name on their ballot papers and in their videos – despite Lyn Rigby, Lee’s mother, saying she is “heartbroken” by such actions.
I ask you: how sick is that?
Of course, it didn’t take long for the fanatics from the Far Right to take advantage of Lee Rigby’s death. On the night of his murder, 100 yobs from the English Defence League descended on Woolwich and attacked police in a drunken rage.
Other EDL supporters called for all Muslims to be killed, for mosques to be burned and bombed – in effect, for the hatred espoused by Adebowale and Adebolajo to be spread.
That’s right: the Muslim-hating fanatics did the killers job for them.
Whilst mosques were burned (35 in total were attacked last year) and hatred spread like wildfire across social media, a young Ukrainian neo-Nazi called Pavlo Lapshyn set off bombs outside three mosques in the West Midlands.
Lapshyn had already stabbed to death an elderly Muslim grandfather, Mohammed Saleem, 82, who’d worked hard to make a good life for himself and his family in Britain.
As his daughter Shazia said recently, Saleem doted on his seven children and 23 grandchildren, many of whom had been to university.
No murder is justifiable.
Lee Rigby’s murder was a pointless outrage, as was Mohammed Saleem’s.
That’s why this week, I and others were joined by several prominent Muslims in calling for a dignified public memorial to Lee Rigby.
We said: “If the family’s desire is to have a memorial, neither they, nor the British public as a whole, should be denied the chance to commemorate Lee Rigby’s service and sacrifice in a proper way.”
Unlike the fringe neo-Nazi groups and thugs who are marching today with their faux patriotism, we believe there is a better way to remember Lee; a better way to lend our love and support to his family and to his memory.
That’s why I urge you to remember today with HOPE, not hate, in your heart and to join with us in celebrating Lee Rigby’s life.
NOTE: The Government has just announced it is endorsing a memorial to Lee Rigby http://bit.ly/1nh42CF
Posted: 22 May 2014 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 May 2014, 21:50
This is my article that appeared in today's Daily Mirror:
There are many things in Britain that make me angry. Our great NHS is severely underfunded; our young people are being let down with a lack of opportunities; the vulnerable are hit by benefit cuts and most of us are struggling to make ends meet.
If that wasn’t bad enough too many of us feel ignored and forgotten by our politicians.
So it’s easy to see the appeal of someone like Nigel Farage and UKIP. He’s the bloke down the pub, speaking ‘like it is’.
But if something looks too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true.
And that’s the case with UKIP.
Farage is a phoney and simply telling us what we want to hear.
He’s no man of the people. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth: privately educated at a top public school, Farage worked in the City. He then set up an overseas Trust fund for his family's money and – after almost 20 years as an MEP – he is as much a career politician as those he claims to despise.
With his heroine being Margaret Thatcher and his hero Enoch Powell, he doesn’t speak for the likes of us. He supports a flat rate of income tax, which will only benefit the rich and hit the poorest hardest, while his deputy is pushing for the privatisation of the NHS.
In fact, UKIP’s simple quick-fix solutions are actually a distraction from the real issues we face.
We solve nothing by whipping up fears about immigration. This only creates further fear and divisions. The real solutions – like a proper economic policy, better job security and higher wages, and greater investment in our schools and training - gets ignored.
Let’s have a debate about immigration – but let’s make sure it is an informed discussion, where we don’t simply divide people because of the colour of their skin or their religion. If people work hard and play by the rules then they should be allowed to live here peacefully. Our sense of fair play is what makes Britain great.
I want our politicians to offer us some hope and a vision for a better tomorrow and I’m frustrated, angry and tired that too many of them do not. But voting for Nigel Farage – or even worse the BNP’s Nick Griffin – is not the answer. You might think it is just a protest vote but the real issues affecting us – housing, jobs, the cost of living – will go unaddressed.
So, please reject the politics of fear and vote for a party which offers Britain some HOPE for a better tomorrow.
Posted: 21 May 2014 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 May 2014, 17:49
The Daily Mirror carries the 8-page HOPE not hate supplement today, meaning that our message of HOPE reaches another 2.5 million people.
This supplement was only made possible by donations from over 650 of our supporters, so a huge thank you to each and every one of you.
Posted: 21 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 May 2014, 14:29
Guest blog by Dom Anderson, NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship)
One of the aspects of my year in office at NUS that I have felt most proud of has been seeing students from up and down the country turning out at protests and rallies to oppose Racism, fascism and xenophobia. Whether it was the demonstrations when UKIP came to town, marching against the EDL or posting leaflets through doors in our communities up and down the country; the message has been a clear one: Students will not tolerate the sort of hatred being brought by far right and nationalist groups.
Students historically have been at the forefront of some of the greatest battles in this country. We have been the frontline historically in everything from the apartheid in South Africa to mobilising en masse wherever the racists come to town. I am proud of this legacy.
There is however more to be done. In 2009 the BNP gained a foothold in the North West, a foothold that is a major source of embarrassment to the UK region that arguably has one of the most progressive and socially radical histories. When my granddad and his brothers arrived in England from Jamaica in the 60’s it was Manchester and the Irish community in Moss Side that welcomed many of them with open arms. However this very weekend we saw Nick Griffin in Bolton standing proudly next to a National Front banner, the same National Front whose members spat at my mother when I was in a pushchair simply for having a mixed race child. The same National Front who terrorised BME and international students on our campuses in the 80’s and the same National Front who along with the BNP and Britain First fly the flag for fascism in this country.
We must always fight racism and fascism because our Britain is worth so much more than that.
We’ve done the campaigning, we’ve marched the streets and we’ve walked through the estates; now our biggest weapon is the ballot box. On the 22nd we as students need to get out and vote. We need to send a message to Nazi Nick and his racist mates that we don’t want him representing our country. Britain is about diversity and a culture of togetherness and we will not be divided by the likes of him.
This is the best opportunity we have ever had to bankrupt the BNP, let’s do it. Let’s resign Griffin to a life of making really bad stews on his AGA.
We can’t also forget the ‘soft racism’ of UKIP. Just last week Nigel Farage was exposed as the nasty little racist he is with his rhetoric about Romanians. UKIP may talk the talk but they don’t care about students, they are a party of prejudice and privilege and it’s time to show them that at the ballot box.
We know that when students and young people vote, racists lose. Let’s prove that on the 22nd May.
Posted: 21 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 17 May 2014, 16:23
The Sun newspaper has today carried a stinging attack on Nigel Farage following car crash of an interview with LBC yesterday, declaring that the party leader is a racist.
"Nigel Farage was challenged yesterday on whether UKIP is racist," the leader comment read. "He put a gun to his head and fired."
It concluded its most devastating attack on the UKIP leader by stating: "It is not racist to worry about the impact of millions of migrants on Britain, as we have argued for years.
"It is racist to smear Romanians for being Romanian.
"Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, did just that."
You can read the full editorial here http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/5531814/The-Sun-says.html
Posted: 17 May 2014 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 17 May 2014, 08:26
The Daily Mirror newspaper has offered us an eight-page supplement to spread the HOPE not hate message this Wednesday -- we just need to scrape together £20,000 to cover the costs.This will mean that we will have the chance to address almost TWO AND A HALF MILLION more people the day before Election Day.
The even bigger news? We actually only need £10,000 because every donation you make will be doubled by a small group of generous HOPE not hate supporters.
This is the biggest opportunity of the campaign and one I don't think we should pass up.If you agree, then please help us reach the £10,000 we need to make this supplement happen:
Posted: 17 May 2014 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 16 May 2014, 11:45
We have always been quite clear about what UKIP is and what is not. However, all too often their populist rhetoric sounds frightingly similar to right wing populists across Europe.
One of our supporters has sent us in this short video:
Follow me on twitter: @lowles_nick
Posted: 16 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 13 May 2014, 22:12
'Ukip is playing the race card, so I'm leaving the party'. These are obviously not my words but those of Sanya-Jeet Thandi, the British-born woman of Indian descent, who today announced that she was leaving UKIP.
For the last couple of weeks UKIP had used the LSE student to defend the party against accusations of racism in the national media. Today, however, she announced that she was leaving because it had descended into a "form of racist populism".
Writing in the Guardian, she said: ""In reality, however, the direction in which the party is going is terrifying: Ukip has descended into a form of racist populism that I cannot bring myself to vote for. This week I decided to leave the party and I will abstain from voting in the upcoming European elections. I urge other Ukip supporters to do the same."
Referring to the recent UKIP poster which said '26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?', she added: "The … poster epitomises where the party is going wrong. This anti-immigrant campaign undermines Ukip's claim not to be a racist party. They are turning the election into a game of 'us' and 'them'. Well, I am with 'them'."
Posted: 13 May 2014 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 13 May 2014, 16:48
We are delighted to hear that at today's National Executive Committee meeting of the National Union of Students, they voted to affiliate to HOPE not hate. We are looking forward to working with them in the coming months to defeat the politics of hate, fear and extremism, both on campus and in communities across the country.
Posted: 13 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 12 May 2014, 21:41
Plans are now well under way to prepare for our last big push before the elections - Transport Tuesday. On this day we plan to distribute at least 250,000 Get Out the Vote leaflets at train, tube and bus stations across the country.
So far we have organised 139 events across the country, with more being added all the time.
One of the exciting things from this campaign has been all the new activists who have got involved. At the weekend we had groups out leafleting in Lincolnshire, Market Harborough, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Peterborough, Andover, Reading and Middlesbrough. Another 3,000 leaflets were given out in Keighley, meaning that 87,000 have been distributed across West Yorkshire.
Our Manchester team have delivered almost 60,000 newspapers across the city, with another 100,000 being delivered in the other Greater Manchester borough.
Whatever the results of these elections, the growing HOPE not hate network bodes well for the future.
But for now, our focus is on Transport Tuesday, with our aim being to organise at least 200 events. So if you want to help us and lead an event in your local area, then please do fill out the form here:
Posted: 12 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 11 May 2014, 16:59
This morning UKIP leader Nigel Farage tried to pass the buck for the increasing focus upon his party’s policies of racism and anti-immigrant hatred by blaming us for inciting violence.
On the BBC Sunday Politics Show, Farage told Andrew Neil that:
"Sadly we have a a couple of organisations out there headed up by senior Labour Party figures, who purport to be against fascism and extremism, who receive funding from the Department of Communities, who receive funding from the trade unions, who have acted in a violent way more than once."
This is an utterly ridiculous claim, as anyone who has ever dealt with HOPE not hate could tell you. We’re a mainstream organisation which fights against racism and extremism. We are not aligned to any political party and will work with anyone to defeat racism and intolerance. Our supporters are made up of the young and old, faith and non-faith, Left and Right, drawn from all corners of society.
These supporters have not attacked or disrupted any UKIP meeting, nor have we encouraged anyone to hold protests outside such meetings. This is simply a lie by Nigel Farage, designed to detract from the growing number of extremists being exposed within his party.
Over the past two weeks our supporters have been delivering over one million community newspapers and leaflets explaining why UKIP does not have the answers to the problems facing ordinary people in this country.
UKIP’s simplistic, populist message may appeal in times of austerity, but it can – and does – cloak some very unpalatable racist and intolerant views, which are being used to whip up hatred. HOPE not hate has simply exposed these views to scrutiny, which has clearly riled the UKIP leadership.
So what’s the real background here?
Last year we began to identify racists and extremists within UKIP. We initially tried to form a constructive relationship with the party leadership but it became quickly evident that they had no interest in working together to root out these racists. (The then-chief executive even failed to turn up to a meeting with us in their own building.)
Then in Autumn, the UKIP conference voted to proscribe HOPE not hate, so putting us on a par with the BNP. More recently, Nigel Farage has claimed – in an article in The Independent – that I'm a member of the Communist Party with close links to the Socialist Workers Party: claims which are utterly untrue.
Now Farage is peddling a fantasy that we have received Government money to take him on. This is a lie. Three years ago our charitable arm (our organisation consists of a charitable wing, and a separate non-charitable campaigning arm*), received a grant for £60,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to undertake anti-racist community work in four areas of the country. This was a one-year project which ended in 2012, long before we started scrutinising UKIP. Since then we have received no public money.
UKIP and Nigel Farage are resorting to smearing us and telling lies because they are upset at the scrutiny we have been putting them under. Rather than deal with the racists and extremists we identify, UKIP would prefer to attack us. That says more about them than it does us.
We believe that UKIP is deliberately stoking up a hatred of foreigners for political gain. We recognise that not all UKIP supporters are racist and that they are supporting the party for a number of reasons. But when a political party deliberately whips up an anti-immigrant frenzy by using provocative imagery and false claims, generating a climate of fear, then they must be challenged.
*The accounts for both HOPE not hate’s charitable and campaigning arms are independently audited and registered with the Charities Commission and Companies House.
Posted: 11 May 2014 | There are 6 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 9 May 2014, 06:35
We are now beginning to focus on the final week of our 2014 campaign, with turning out the anti-racist vote our priority. Centrepiece of this will be Transport Tuesday, where on Tuesday 20 May, we leafleting tube, train and bus stations across the country.
We began an appeal yesterday to some of our London activists and we already have over 50 leafleting sessions arranged. Several trade unions have signed up to cover the big central London stations, including Unison, ASLEF and the RMT, with local branches covering their own areas across the capital.
Today, we will be pushing this initiative out to our activists in the rest of the country so we expect the number of stations to rise considerably.
Leafleting stations is easy. It requires just 2 – 4 people to do it effectively, only takes an hour of your time and you have a steady stream of punters to deliver to. Sign up to a station near you
Once you sign up we will put you in touch with the others who want to cover the same station, send you a batch of leaflets, a one-page briefing outlining some simple do’s and don’t’s and a HOPE not hate badge. If you are prepared to take a lead at a station then we will send you a HOPE not hate T-shirt.
So, please do sign up and help us turnout the anti-racist vote
Posted: 9 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Owen Jones | on: Thursday, 8 May 2014, 17:22
Colchester and its people are rightly proud of the heritage of the town.
Nationally famed for being the country’s oldest market town and the former Roman capital of the England, migrants have had a positive and lasting impact on town for over 2000 years – from Claudius Caesar’s men and the Sixteenth Century Dutch settlers to the much more recent arrivals of the Nepalese via the Gurkhas and the Asian community who serve the hospitals.
Despite these communities being extremely settled in the town and a trip up North Hill will offer you food from all corners of the globe; it is very rarely celebrated and just accepted as the modern Colchester vibe. However, recently small extremist groups have been trying to upset this peaceful situation and divide the community.
Vile racist graffiti has appeared in various underpasses and in the Summer the English Defence League descended on the town to try to use Lee Rigby’s horrible death to whip up fear and hatred for their own islamaphobic aims. A group of horrified locals decided that something had to be done. It was time for the town to stand up against these groups, defend modern Colchester and celebrate all that makes the town an enjoyable place to live.
Colchester Together aimed to do just this, to showcase how diverse the town is, and how we are better off for it. Hosted at Wivenhoe Town FC, during their local football derby match with Stanway Rovers, combined three British passions – sunny bank holidays, football and a good curry!
The event highlighted just how Colchester has been benefited from various cultures choosing to come to the town and make it their home; embracing the local ways of life while living their own mark on the community. Children participating in fun village fate style games, where they won Chinese Spring Festival gifts, presented in the custom red envelope to bring good luck. Later in the evening while people tucked into some delicious Indian curry, made just around the corner from ingredients all scored from within the town, a local ska act provided the entertainment, paying homage to the local Afro-Caribbean community.
Feedback from the event was delightful, which many people really happy to see an active celebration of all parts of the local community. Hopefully as HOPE not hate’s campaign heads into the final straight of the European Elections, ripples from this event will disperse within the town reminding people of that the subconscious tolerant and peaceful town must be defended.
Posted: 8 May 2014 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 8 May 2014, 09:01
Guest blog: Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru
This year marks an important centenary. The beginning of a mindless period of death and destruction. An avoidable war where millions were killed or damaged after young working class people were sent in their droves to the trenches of France and Belgium.
A war fought by ordinary people from this country and from across Europe too.
For all its imperfections today – and they are numerous and fundamental – Europe in 2014 is immeasurably a better place for its citizens than the Europe of 1914.
The parallels between now and then are thankfully limited, but there are some stark and concerning similarities between the current political and economic climate to that of the inter-war period.
An analysis of opinion polls suggests that at the forthcoming European Parliament elections as many as one in four votes may be cast for formerly marginalised right-wing parties, preying on a mood of anger and despondency with politics of division and prejudice.
To see UKIP-type politics as a fleeting Anglo-centric phenomenon would be a mistake and an underestimation of the broader danger our continent faces.
It is perhaps the mood-music set by UKIP and their ilk that poses a greater threat to the usually socially inclusive society that has been built in Europe. Innuendo and carefully presented intolerance can find an attentive audience during times of deep economic hardship and social inequality.
This is a Europe-wide wave of extremism. Evidence for this can be glimpsed by looking at the company the UKIP group keeps in Brussels. Their allies in their European Parliamentary group include parties who have glorified mass-murderer Anders Breivik. Others in the far-right parliamentary group have compared childbearing Muslim women to Osama bin Laden.
Domestically, UKIP is committed to ending multiculturalism and in its place vows to work for “one common British culture”. They have publicly supported BNP policy of “forced repatriation” of migrants to the UK.
This is not the face of UKIP that appears on the endless hours of publicity handed by the mainstream media to this party which has no MPs. Dangerously, UKIP and its leader are often presented as the acceptable face of the right: anti-establishment anti-politician types who are hitting back for the forgotten masses.
Shouldn't a basic knowledge of relatively recent European history be ringing alarm bells for us here?
Many people in Wales who are attracted to UKIP because they are angry at those who destroyed the economy, at politicians who milked the system and at the limited prospects provided for their children are right to be angry.
I agree with the vast majority of UKIP voters who want to see public services in public hands, who want to see rail nationalisation and an end to poor working conditions.
Perversely it is UKIP that disagrees with them.
This is a party that - once you remove its quick-fix, quirky veneer - reveals a policy platform that would probably hurt UKIP voters more than any other group of voters.
A flat tax that would see school cleaners & catering staff in the same tax bracket as hedge-fund managers.
A withdrawal from the EU that would jeopardise one in ten jobs in Wales.
An end to paid maternity leave for mothers working for small businesses.
An erosion of redundancy and overtime pay that would plunge thousands more into poverty.
A wholesale sell-off of the National Health Service that would not harm those rich enough to pay for private treatment but would see most working people suffering in a US-style system.
There is one issue that UKIP has managed to exploit above all others and in doing so has exposed the failure of more progressive politicians. Immigration.
For too long, the immigration or migration debate has been dominated by the political right, backed by sections of the reactionary press.
Those of us who believe in equality and inclusivity must step up our efforts in not only acknowledging but also addressing the concerns people have about inward migration. There have been impacts on jobs and wages.
Not enough has been done to clamp down on gang-masters who exploit migrant workers by paying below the minimum wage and in doing so pricing out local – often low-skilled workers - from the labour market with devastating consequences for both parties.
And fundamentally, the European Union as a whole has failed to prioritise the living standards and wage levels of its citizens across the continent. A borderless trading bloc has been a crucial to European economic cooperation. It was not meant to include narrowing the economic options of the people in its poorest regions to westward migration.
The principle of EU wealth redistribution (and remember, there is no such geographic wealth redistribution in the union that is the British state) should and must result in enhanced living standards and prospects for all EU citizens in their home communities so that moving to another state is seen as an option rather than a necessity.
Resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities must be Europe’s mission for the coming period.
The EU’s relative failure to do this could be a factor in the growing feeling that it has become so remote from its people. That is often reflected in the lexicon of its leaders; talking of the ‘EU’ or ‘Europe’ but less so of its ‘people’ or ‘communities.’
In the coming European election we must expose the great con of UKIP: its false portrayal as the friend of the disenchanted.
Only by confronting and most importantly of all, by providing an alternative vision of hope, can that be achieved.
I know that many people across Wales share my view that this isn’t as good as it gets for our people.
Wales is not predetermined to be poor and our economy is not inevitably destined to be weak.
Plaid Cymru’s mission – at all levels of government – is to further the Welsh national interest in an outward-looking spirit of solidarity and inclusivity.
Ours is a civic nationalism that does not distinguish between creed or origin or religion, only between those who want to see Wales an international success story and those who want to hold us back.
For those who are in Wales but haven’t considered voting Plaid Cymru before: if you share our vision for a fairer, greener and socially just Wales, then by lending us your vote in May we can and will collectively defeat the politics of division.
Posted: 8 May 2014 | There are 7 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 4 May 2014, 09:23
There are another 20+ HOPE not hate events going on around the country today but if there is not one in your area - or you cannot make it - please do drop us a line and we will send you a batch of leaflets for your local area.
You can do so by signing up here:
For those people out campaigning today, please do send in your reports and photos. We are putting together a video of the weekend, including a gallery of photos
Posted: 4 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 3 May 2014, 21:18
Just got back in from a day's campaigning. It's been a great day, not just in London but across the country. Hundreds of thousands of newspapers and leaflets have been distributed by hundreds of HOPE not hate supporters across the country.
The largest event was in Bradford, where over 120 people put out 34,000 leaflets. Other big events included Manchester, where over 70 people came out, and in Brighton, where 27,000 newspapers were put out. Between 10-15,000 newspapers were also put out in Birmingham, Leicester and Harrow.
Other events were smaller but no less important.
There was a real energy to the day, with most of those getting involved did so for the first time. I think many people just felt pleased to be able to respond to all the negavity that is being pushed out in the media. This is also evident by the new people contacting HOPE not hate over the last few days. Leaflets are being dispatched to Maidenhead, Basingstoke, Winchester and North Devon, to name just a few.
In Bradford, however, the day brought out many people who had not been out for several years and this probably reflects the seriousness that people are viewing the threat posed by UKIP.
There are plenty more actions planned for tomorrow. Among the biggest will be Camden, Leeds, Cardiff and Liverpool.
Posted: 3 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 2 May 2014, 20:05
It's been non-stop today as the team prepare for our campaign weekend. With the exception of a couple of final deliveries, everything is in place for tomorrow. In fact, part of the reason why we are still delivering is that new orders are coming in all the time.
This afternoon we received an order for 17,000 leaflets from Sefton and 8,000 leaflets from Salford. In addition, literally dozens of our supporters are asking for material to deliver in their own areas.
Several areas where we have activities planned have already begun to up the amounts they plan to distribute.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who donated to our appeal yesterday. An astonishing 365 people have donated in just 24 hours, so thanks.
I'm finally getting ready to leave the office. Tomorrow I'm out with some of the HOPE not hate team in Barking and Dagenham, while on Sunday I'm joining a leafleting team in the Midlands.
Posted: 2 May 2014 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 2 May 2014, 07:46
Over the next few days HOPE not hate will be out campaigning around the country ahead of the local and European Elections. Over the next couple of weekends we are holding 97 events around the country and we expect to distribute 1.3 million newspapers and leaflets.
More events are being organised all the time, especially in London and the South East. Dozens of individuals are also ordering leaflets to distribute in their own areas.
We've produced an infographic which shows the scale of our effort over the next ten days. Quite simply, this is our biggest campaign to date.
You can get involved click here.
Posted: 2 May 2014 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 1 May 2014, 14:23
HOPE not hate has just published a full list of UKIP and far right candidates in the forthcoming local and European Elections.
In total there are 2057 UKIP candidates in the local and Mayoral elections and just 106 standing for the BNP.
To my knowledge this is the first and only full list of UKIP and far right candidates available, so all credit to our research team who put it together.
Posted: 1 May 2014 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 1 May 2014, 11:05
As UKIP tops the opinion polls for the forthcoming European Elections, a debate has broken out on social media and the internet over how best to tackle the party’s message of fear. In particular, should we call it out for being ‘racist’ and is this an effective political strategy?
The leading twitter proponent of the 'UKIP are racist' camp is Telegraph blogger Dan Hodges, who wrote the other day that UKIP was a racist party. On the other side are the political scientists Matthew Goodwin and Rob Ford, who have just written a book on UKIP called Revolt On The Right and suggesting attacking UKIP is ‘counter-productive’, supported by blogger Sunny Hundal.
Of course, it is a bit of a false argument to limit yourself to one charge, as any successful political campaign will use a combination of strategies which can fluctuate depending on circumstances and tailored for specific audiences. For example, in this case, the message to ‘soft UKIP’ supporters will be quite different than that used to talk to people who are very likely to be strongly opposed to UKIP.
But, anyway, here’s my take on the debate.
First, is UKIP a racist party?
Quite simply yes. It is deliberately whipping up fear – and by extension – hatred of foreigners, with its provocative posters and inflammatory language. It is deliberately exaggerating figures and playing on people's anxieties about immigration in order to win political support.
Believing otherwise is, at best, just politically naive or – at worst – giving UKIP leaders a credibility they do not deserve.
Only today The Times reports that a UKIP candidate calls for a ban on Islam and for all mosques to be knocked down; another mocks Olympic hero Mo Farah, claiming he can’t be “British”. Andre Lampitt, one of the stars of its televised election broadcast, posted a string of disgusting racist messages on Twitter about Africans and others, identifying himself as “Rhodesian”. William Henwood, a UKIP council candidate, tweeted that comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”. UKIP has belatedly begun procedures against two members, one of whom was a former BNP member and another who had donated to the violently anti-Muslim EDL. Other UKIP supporters have made (widely-ridiculed) homophobic comments.
Now, if a politician or a political party is deliberately playing the race card then they need to be called out. If we say nothing then we are implying that this behaviour is somehow ok.
Does that mean that all UKIP supporters are racist?
Of course not.
Many UKIP voters, however, are racists, or at the very least are intrinsically xenophobic. They may claim persecution by the liberal elite and the politically correct, but racism is too often a cloak for hatred and other intolerance. Goodwin and Ford’s own research over the last couple of years clearly shows that many UKIP voters are opposed to any immigration into the UK; that they are strongly hostile to Muslims; and their opposition to the European Union is simply reflective of a wider cultural unease about Britain’s multi-ethnic make up.
Of course there are people minded to vote for UKIP who are not racist. Some might simply be against any further immigration into Britain, while others are just supporting UKIP to register their disgust at the mainstream political parties.
The argument that it is wrong to attack all those who support UKIP as racist is clearly correct – but then I don’t know anyone who is actually doing that. Just as we always differentiated between the BNP leadership and BNP voters, so too can we differentiate between those at the heart of UKIP who have devised their racist campaigns and the people who are tempted to vote for UKIP.
Should we label UKIP racist in our campaigning?
Yes, we should, though we need to do it in a sensible way.
Some would say that labelling UKIP as racist is both ineffective and counter-productive. They point to opinion polls which show no drop in support for the party following its many scandals. They claim that name-calling will actually harden support for UKIP. To me this totally misunderstands political campaigning. It’s horses for courses. The message we send to one section of voters can be different to those we send to another.
In 2011 HOPE not hate produced the Fear and HOPE report, a look at the drivers of hate in the UK. It broke society down into six cultural ‘tribes’, depending on their attitude to immigration and multiculturalism. Two of the tribes were very positive about immigration, two really opposed. However, half the population were in the middle, with mixed views. The largest single group we defined were the Identity Ambivalents, those who in theory were minded to be quite positive about immigration and multiculturalism but because of their economic insecurity were nervous about further immigration.
Many of this group might be minded to vote for UKIP because of their strong stance on EU immigration. Therefore, it is vital that we explain to these people why UKIP’s anti-immigration and economic policies will do nothing to alleviate their economic insecurity. At the same time, this group is broadly anti-racist and so highlighting UKIP’s racism and the racist views of their candidates is clearly beneficial.
Likewise, because of the voting system in the European Elections every vote counts: it is vital that we mobilise the quarter (25%) of society that is very positive about immigration and multiculturalism. If highlighting UKIP’s racism motivates these voters than so be it.
Simply attacking UKIP as racist without addressing some of the underlying issues behind its rise is clearly insufficient. But so too is pretending that UKIP is a neutral player, merely articulating the views of the vast majority of the population (Nigel Farage’s line).
Yes, UKIP is tapping into popular concerns over the impact of immigration but it is also fanning the flames with its anti-immigrant hysteria and outright lies. It is poisoning the political discourse and encouraging a climate of intolerance. Over this, we should not remain silent.
In fact, the UKIP leader sounds worried. This morning he attacked me personally, and HOPE not hate, on BBC radio and in national newspapers, claiming I was a Communist and linked to the Socialist Workers Party (I am neither), or that we were linked to another organisation Unite Against Fascism (we are not) and that because our charitable (non-campaigning) arm accepted government funding in the past (now ceased) we are part of the ‘Establishment’ trying to stop them. I guess he must be feeling riled.
This weekend HOPE not hate is organising over 90 events across the country at which we hope to distribute over one million newspapers and leaflets. We will call out the UKIP campaign as ‘racist’ but we will also explain why UKIP’s simplistic solutions do not answer the very real concerns of economic insecurity many people face.
The political mainstream is in a spin over how to deal with UKIP. There is a danger that saying it is wrong to call UKIP racist ends up as an excuse to do nothing. Not only is this morally wrong but it is ceding ground to the anti-immigrant party and allowing it to dominate the agenda.
To HOPE not hate it is not a case of either/or. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and during that time we have run huge campaigns in which we ousted the BNP from most corners of Britain. As anti-racists we have a duty to confront racism and oppose those who are deliberately whipping it up for electoral gain. We can – and will – take on racial hatred. But we will do so understanding the economic insecurities that is driving UKIP’s support and seeking to deconstruct it.
Posted: 1 May 2014 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments