HOPE not hate

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Recent events in Belfast

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 31 July 2009, 10:34


Just had an email from the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities thanking us for our coverage of the recent events in Belfast. It was a really good article about some quite awful events.

You can read Matthew Collins investigation into the life for an immigrant family in Belfast here.

 Posted: 31 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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BNP fail at first hurdle

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 24 July 2009, 07:56


The first test in public opinion since the BNP gained an MEP in the North West ended in humiliation yesterday as the fascist party saw its vote slashed in half in the Reddish North by-election in Stockport. The BNP saw its 2008 vote of 402 in Reddish North slump to just 195 yesterday despite active campaigning by its North West region.

In a ward won comfortably by Labour, with an increased share of the vote, BNP polled 7.9%, a drop of 6.6% on its 2008 result.

Only a few days ago the party boasted on having 40 activists from around region out campaigning. “

This was, in essence, a training day, for canvassers and logistics and although I and regional organiser Alistair Barbour were on hand to assist and offer advice, the whole operation was carried out by local activists,” said Clive Jefferson.

“This has been a low-key campaign up to now. Although we don’t expect to win either seat, we are confident of good percentages.”

Fortunately the people of Reddish North were not prepared to accept the BNP’s politics of hate. A hardhitting HOPE not hate leaflet was distributed by local activists across the ward and several people contacted us in a direct response.

Well done to everyone who took part in the campaign. Now our attention turns to a by-election next week in neighbouring Tameside. This should be a slightly harder fight but with another localised leaflet produced we are expecting the BNP to be defeated again.

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

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Stoke is back in play

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 22 July 2009, 04:14


There will now be council elections in Stoke-on-Trent in May 2010 after all. In a U-tun, the Government yesterday announced that it was reversing an earlier decision to suspend elections in the city to allow for a greater re-organisation of local governance and all-out elections in 2011.

Last year the people of Stoke-on-Trent voted to get rid of the Mayor in preference for a more traditional councillor/cabinet system. It had been feared that the BNP, which has nine councillors on the council, would enter the adminstration as part of a deal with Independents. In the event the Independents opted for a link with the Conservatives.

The decision to hold elections next May means that the city will once again be the focus for intense anti-BNP campaign. I will shortly be travelling to Stoke-on-Trent to meet local activists and the political parties to formulate a HOPE not hate strategy.

 Posted: 22 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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West Midlands begins to organise

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 12 July 2009, 10:55


The power of our online campaign was evident against yesterday when 35 people attended a West Midlands organising meeting. Drawn from 14 different local authority areas these people included 20 new activists who had become involved through our internet and email campaign.

The meeting looked back at the Euro campaign and more importantly began the discussion about the future. It was also an opportunity for us to thank local activists for all their hard work.

There was general acceptance that next year’s campaign will have to be quite different. While this year was about turning out ‘our’ vote, next year we will need to be more targeted, with a more sophisticated understanding of the electorate necessary. Different leaflets were needed for different groups within the ward and a more extensive voter ID operation was required so we focused on turning out the anti-BNP vote in the final week rather than reminding BNP voters about the election.

A number of new HOPE not hate groups are likely to emerge out of the meeting, including Birmingham, Kidderminster, South Derbyshire and Leicester, and each of these groups are drawing up campaign plans to draw in activists from our email lists over the next couple of months. Next month will also see the formal launch of Sandwell HOPE not hate, and other events in Nuneaton and Worcester.

Today I have to draft up our ‘Sink the Boats’ Leaflet. Over 400 people have already donated over £5,000 towards the cost of this leaflet, 273 donating for the very first time. Almost 3,000 people have donated to the HOPE not hate campaign since the beginning of the year, a truly fantastic effort. Quite apart from giving us valuable funds, without which we would have not been able to produce as much material as we do, it gives people a direct input into our campaign. By investing in the campaign people take a personal stake in ensuring it is a success. And hopefully, with the launch of our Organisers’ Academy, we can create a structure whereby our activists can drive the campaign forward at a local level – developing their own campaign strategies and priorities and self-organising.

In the short-term our priority is to get the Sink the Boats leaflets out. As I explained yesterday, this is the perfect activity to begin to mobilise our huge network of supporters. Later this week we shall be announcing forthcoming activities all over the country.

 Posted: 12 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Burnley says NOT IN MY NAME

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 10 July 2009, 15:43


Our office has just been sent this photo of 37 students from Burnley and Padiham who are adding their voice to the Not In My Name campaign.

How fantastic is this!

 Posted: 10 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Not in our church

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 10 July 2009, 14:57


The Methodist church has taken a stand against the BNP by banning its members from joining the far right party.

A resolution passed by the annual Methodist Conference, meeting in Wolverhampton, declared that “No member of the Church can also be a member of a political party whose constitution, aims or objectives promote racism. This specifically includes, but is not solely limited to, the British National Party”.

Earlier this year the General Synod of the Church of England passed a motion banning its clergy from joining the BNP. This goes further.

“We must be clear that racism is a denial of the Gospel” said Rev Sylvester Deigh, who proposed the motion.

“An openness to all people, regardless of nationality, is at the heart of Methodist identity” he continued.

The motion was seconded by the Rev Dr Angela Shier-Jones.

While strongly condemning racism and the BNP specifically, the motion declares that “those who support racist parties are also God’s children, and in need of love, hope and redemption”.

 Posted: 10 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Sink the boats?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 9 July 2009, 21:30


Earlier today I sent out an email to our supporters in response to Nick Griffin's outrageous comments to the BBC last night where he said that he supported the notion of sinking boats carrying people from Northern Africa.

This kind of remark from someone down the pub would be bad enough but coming from an elected representative is disgusting and is nothing more than incitement to murder.

Luckily many of you are equally outraged. In the email we asked our supporters for £7,000 to pay for 400,000 leaflets which we intend to distribute over the next few weeks.

Within a few hours of the email going out hundreds of people have already donated and we are well over half way to our target. We'll soon be putting the order in with the printers and more importantly getting the leaflets out through the doors. It is vital that people read the truth about Griffin.

If you would like to donate, please click here:

https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/page/contribute/sinktheboats

 Posted: 9 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Getting activists into the community

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 9 July 2009, 14:37


I'm in Durham at the moment attending a Unite educational school. There are 120 people here from across the country and there is a particular emphasis on campaigning. We are doing a session on the HOPE not hate campaign generally and the Not in My Name (NIMN) initiative specifically. We are customising the campaign for Unite and they will be encouraging their braches to take it to their members. Every delegate is being given one of union toolkits and it is hoped that they will use the NIMN sign up cards as a way of engaging with their members on the BNP and other related issues. Just as importantly it is hoped that they will get their activists out into the community.

I had a great meeting last night in Newcastle. Held in the offices of the Northern TUC, a number of local organisers from across the region came together to discuss the elections and the way forward. There was a really good and frank discussion about the campaign but more importantly a number of suggestions were agreed about the way forward. Among them was a concerted effort to establish anti-BNP networks in areas where none exist at the moment and also to create a organsers programme to develop a new layer of anti-BNP organisers.

The BNP are certainly feeling more bolder and I think we'll see more hardline and provocative statements, like that made by Griffin on the BBC last night, being made by their leaders. In County Durham the BNP has put out a quite shocking leaflet entitled: Hope not hate nutters in Ferryhill this Sunday!

These 'nutters', it turns out, was Show Racism the Red Card, who were attending a community festival. The four-page leaflet included an article defending racism. 'So what's wrong with saying one race is superior to another?'

 Posted: 9 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Catch up time

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 8 July 2009, 13:27


The bad thing about having a break is the huge in-tray awaiting you on your return. And so it proves to be the case with me. I've just come back from a few days to be met with a list of seemingly never-ending jobs. Not that I'm complaining, I had a good time away, but now it's catch up time.

There is the August issue of the magazine to organise, our Organisers' Academy to get off the ground and reports to write. Most pressing is organising our trip to Strasbourg next week to hand in our Not in my name petition. Everything is finally falling into place, including a terrific video put together by the Blue State team, which should go out in the next 48 hours.

Our petition currently stands at just over 86,000 so hopefully the new video will nudge it up towards our 100,000 target.

Obviously there's been a lot going on in the press, some of which I followed from abroad but some which I had initially missed. There appears to be growing concern at the possibility of far right terrorism in the UK. We have been saying this for a while but we've been continually frustrated with how this overlooked by many in authority. There have been nine Britons arrested on terrorist related charges over the past couple of years but these have not received the same media (and police) attention as those Muslims arrested during the same period. Of course, the new found concern is a start but the real question is what the authorities do about it and most significantly whether they will finally accept a link between the everyday racist material, like that spread by the BNP, NF and more openly nazi groups, and wannabe far right terrorists.

I'm now on my way to the North East. Later this afternoon I'm meeting some key activists across the region to discuss where the campaign goes from here and then I'm on to Durham, where I'll be linking up with Unite, who are holding a three day training course for 140 activists from around the area.

 Posted: 8 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Edging closer

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 3 July 2009, 16:49


We are edging closer to our target of 100,000 signatures for our Not in Our Name petition. Our present total stands at just over 84,000 – and that is 84,000 unique names and emails. This is a really tremendous effort but we need that extra push to help us reach our target. It is vital that the day Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons take up their seats in the European Parliament we are there telling the rest of Europe that they do not speak for us.

If you have not already signed it, or have not sent an invitation on to your friends, then please do so by going here:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/notinmyname

We also invited the 4,000 people who filled in our survey if they were interested in joining our HOPE not hate Organisers Academy, which would give them the tools and confidence to run local HnH campaigns. Almost 200 people have already signed up and what is most encouraging is that over half are women. The anti-fascist movement is too male dominated and getting more women in organising roles is vital. We’ll be contacting every one of the people who have signed up for the Academy shortly but given the number of emails that are flooding in at the moment it might take a few days.

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

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The HOPE not hate Organising Academy

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 2 July 2009, 11:25


Today I have announced plans for our HOPE not hate Organising Academy. The thought behind it is simple. If we are to prevent the BNP from winning more council or even parliamentary seats over the next 12 months we need to build an organisation capable of defeating them in every election and in every part of the country. That means mobilising activists and distributing leaflets but it also means organisers. To turn the widespread anger at the election of two BNP members to the European Parliament into a positive force we need people willing to step up and playing leading roles in their communities. This campaign will never be won from the centre. The only way we will win is building networks of HOPE in local communities, with local people deciding what the best direction of any campaign is.

Last week we sent out a survey asking for your thoughts about how we should take the campaign forward. Over 4,200 people responded, a truly amazing figure. I’ve spent the last few days shifting through the replies so I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who responded. I was particularly pleased to see that a quarter of the people who returned the survey were interested in becoming local HnH organisers, that’s over 1,000 people. It is as a result of this huge interest that we are planning to establish an Organising Academy.

The Organising Academy will be our way of supporting local HOPE not hate groups and the people who run them. We will shortly be announcing a series of one-day training days in every region of the country at which we will give a simple introduction to the HnH campaign, an outline of the 2010 campaign, the online and offline services which local groups can access and use (including our online events tools and our online phone bank) and some basic training in running an effective local group.

For those who want to go one stage further we will also be holding two weekend schools, one in the south and one in the north. This will allow us to develop leadership and organising skills. We are still putting the finishing touches to these programmes but I’m confident that this will provide potential local organisers with the confidence and skills to run successful local groups.

If you are interested in our Organising Academy then please click on this link:

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

 Posted: 2 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Senate calls on Obama to pardon black boxer

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 2 July 2009, 01:48


I was struck by an article in one of the US papers I bought the other day. It appears that the US Senate has passed a motion to pardon the late black champion boxer Jack Johnson who was sent to prison nearly a century ago because he dated a white woman. Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. It appears that the first attempt to convict him failed because he actually married the white woman in question so she was no longer a possible witness.

Johnson had been a thorn in the side of many white people, having won the heavyweight boxing title in 1908. The emergence of the first black heavyweight boxing champion sparked a search for the ‘great white hope’ but the chosen challenger, former champion Jim Jeffries, lost to Johnson. Jeffries had previously refused to fight Johnson several years before when the African American was the then challenger because of his race and decided instead to retire. However, on 4 July 1910 he re-emerged as the Great White Hope – and lost. The media reacted with outrage over the outcome of this fight, with some suggesting that this signalled the beginning of the end of white society. Race riots erupted across the country and several black people were killed.

It is perhaps not surprising that a racist white society sought to take down Johnson. What is much more surprising is that earlier attempts to pardon the former boxing champion failed. Last year it was the Senate which failed to support a House of Representatives motion. This time the Senate has passed a motion proposed by defeated Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

Yesterday’s blog was written in the total ignorance of the

two articles the Guardian was running on the exploitation of migrant workers by employers and the backlash that it is causing in its wake. This week Unite the Union is tabling a motion at Tesco’s AGM linking the company’s misuse of migrant workers to the rise of the BNP. Interestingly, several pension fund holders appear to be backing the motion.

I was reminded of the whole issue again today as I saw scores of migrant workers picking fruit and vegetables in the fields of central California. They scurried backwards and forwards to empty their trays of produce onto a waiting truck. I have no idea of the conditions these workers were employed on but I can guess that it is not great. Again, none of this is new. The Steinbeck exhibition described how landowners recruited Mexican workers in these very fields at the turn of the century only to use police and violence against them as they began to organise in a union for better wages and conditions. One of the problems many unions face today is the absolute refusal of most employers to allow newly arrived migrant workers to self-organise or even mix with British trade unionists in the workplace.

 Posted: 2 Jul 2009 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Still true today

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 1 July 2009, 05:37


Sorry I’ve not been writing on the blog for the last few days, I’ve actually been in the States, first at a community organising conference and then having a few days off. Today I spent several hours at the Steinbeck National Center, in Salinas, California, 17 miles west of Monterey, which is itself just down the cost from San Francisco. Steinbeck was a real hero of mine and it was some of his works that made me understand the world as I know it now. Steinbeck came of age during the 1930s depression and it was his graphic writings about the hardship of people that catapulted him onto the national stage. Unsurprisingly I found this section of the museum most fascinating and, perhaps more importantly, most relevant for today.

Steinbeck’s most famous book was probably The Grapes of Wrath, the story of the Joad family and their struggles during the Great Depression. They, like hundreds of thousands of other Americans, suffering from their own hardship of drought and poverty, moved west to California in search of work and a new life. There, they came up against unscrupulous employers and a resident population who were themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Seventy years later the world is again experiencing a recession and the latest scramble for work has brought about a renewed clash between newcomers and more established communities. Some liberal commentators have been quick to condemn the strikers at Lindsay Oil Refinery and other similar disputes as narrow-minded nationalists but it is important to understand the insecurity of everyone at this present moment. Steinbeck graphically illustrated how economic hardship bred fear, resentment and anger in The Grapes of Wrath:

“Men of property were terrified for their property. Men who had never been hungry saw the eyes of the hungry. Men who had never wanted anything very much saw the flare of want in the eyes of the migrants. And the men of the towns and of the sort suburban country gathered to defend themselves; they reassured themselves that they were good and the intruders bad, as a man must do before he fights.”

Seventy years after the book was written, The Grapes of Wrath continues to accurately depict the suspicion and hatred that stems from economic hardship and insecurity.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it.

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