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The Gagging Bill - Electoral Commission raises serious issues

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 29 August 2013, 20:11


Next week Parliament will be asked to vote on the second reading of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration. We've made it clear that part 2 of this Bill is, whether by design or by default, is a direct attack on civil society.

This afternoon the Electoral Commission have published their briefing note on the impact of the Bill and what Parliament should consider in advance of the second reading on Tuesday. The briefing is damning in it's summary, raising a series of concerns about the current proposals.
Specifically the Electoral Commission raises the following points:

  • The Bill creates significant regulatory uncertainty for large and small organisations that campaign on, or even discuss, public policy issues
  • The Bill gives the Electoral Commission a wide discretion to interpret what activity will be regulated as political campaigning, which they do not want to have.
  • Some of the new controls in the Bill may in practice be impossible to enforce.

You can see the Electoral Commission briefing here:
http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/156580/Transparency-of-Lobbying-Non-Party-Campaigning-and-Trade-Union-Administration-Bill-Second-Reading-Briefing.pdf

HOPE not hate will continue to campaign against the Bill with partner organisations, and urge the Government to make significant amendments or take the time to reconsider.

 Posted: 29 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Martin Luther King: I have a dream

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 28 August 2013, 11:18


Today marks 50 years since one of the most inspirational speeches in history. The themes outlined by Dr Martin Luther King Jr in his 'I have a dream' speech on August 28th 1963 continue to be relevant and guide the work of HOPE not hate and civil rights organisations across the world. The work of the global civil rights organisations continue and we must honour Dr King's legacy.

Visit our dedicated page to Dr King here

 Posted: 28 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Nearing our target

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 24 August 2013, 07:31


Yesterday, we put out an appeal for £6,000 towards the cost of our campaign to prevent the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill severely limiting our ability to operate in the 12 months before a general election.

The £6,000 will pay for the following:

  • A legal brief on how this Bill will affect HOPE not hate which will then be sent to every MP
  • 20,000 campaign postcards
  • A lobby of MP’s surgeries in the first week of September
  • 250 special HOPE not hate ‘Gagged’ T-shirts
  • A campaign pack for our local organisers to help us build these lobbies
  • A lobbying presence at all three party conferences

I'm delighted to say that 253 people have donated £4,887, which means we are just £1,113 short of our target. Can you help make up the difference?

https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/democracy-team-ready-to-roll

 Posted: 24 Aug 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Charities line up against Government Bill

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 24 August 2013, 06:45


Dozens of charities have co-signed a letter written by the Chief Executive of the National Council of Voluntary Organisations to the Government to express concern over Part II of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

"For many charities and voluntary organisations, raising awareness of issues affecting the people and causes they support is a routine and important part of their work and central to their charitable objectives. However the rules in the new bill risk seriously hampering their ability to speak up on issues of concern, including as part of their fundraising activities.

"We are concerned by the broad scope of the proposed changes to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, and by their lack of clarity. We are seeking urgent legal advice in the interests of preventing this bill from having disastrous unintended consequences."

Among the charities signing the letter were: Action for Blind People, Action for Children, British Heart Foundation, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Countryside Alliance, Guide Dogs, Islamic Relief UK, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, The Royal British Legion, RSPB and the Salvation Army.

Pressure is really building on politicians to reject or at least amend part II of the Bill. This pressure is only going to increase as we approach the Bill's second reading on 3 September.

You can read the full letter here: http://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Chloe-Smith-non-party-campaigning-final.pdf

 Posted: 24 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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It's David Cameron v the Big Society

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 22 August 2013, 09:56


Yesterday, HOPE not hate signalled its intention to launch a campaign to get Parliament to throw out or amend section II of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.

This Bill, if it becomes law, would severely restrict the ability of HOPE not hate to fight racism and fascism in the 12 months before a General Election. The Bill reduces the amount we would be able to spend in the 12 month election period by 70% whilst widening the range of activities we would have to account for. General campaigning staff costs would have to be included for the first time, as would organising rallies, conferences, policy briefings and even our website and blogs. Even some aspects of our work that have absolutely no relation to elections - such as research and general anti-racist community campaigning - may have to be included.

Worse still, the restrictions and caps placed on us go way beyond what is required by political parties.

And it is not just HOPE not hate that will suffer. Any organisation or individual that attempts to influence public opinion in the twelve months ahead of a General Election would be affected by these proposed new rules. This includes charities, unions, campaign groups, think tanks, faith organisations and even bloggers. That is why HOPE not hate has been involved in a series of meetings and discussions with other groups affected. We are all in this together.

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill was supposed to increase transparency and trust in politics but it is in fact shutting down the space for anyone other than political parties to actively participate in politics. At a time when there is so much distrust of political parties and politicians within British society we should be looking to increase participation in politics not reduce it.

And this, fundamentally, is the problem with this Bill. A deliberate attempt to limit criticism and participation by third party groups, charities and unions, combined with poor and sloppy drafting, has left us with a Bill that restricts Freedom of Speech for ordinary people.

The billionaire owner of a national newspaper is exempt from these rules. The millionaire donors to political parties are exempt from these rules. The political parties themselves are exempt from these rules. It's business as usual for the political and business elite. But for the cancer charity that wants to campaign against the closure of a hospital wing, the British Legion who wants to campaign for the Army Covenant or HOPE not hate, in its campaign against racism and fascism, it is not business as usual.

It is David Cameron v the Big Society.

I want greater transparency and a level playing field in politics for everyone involved. But this Bill is an affront to a modern democracy. It is unworkable, politically motivated and, probably, illegal. We must do everything we can to ensure that the little people have a voice and can be heard.

Join our efforts to protect Free Speech:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/gagging-hope-not-hate/

 Posted: 22 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Our 'Democracy Team' is growing

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 August 2013, 22:41


Over 1,400 of our supporters have volunteered to help us in our campaign to prevent the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill from severely restricting our campaigning. That is an amazing platform from which we can launch a campaign to tell MPs that this Bill is both unfair and undemocratic.

On Friday, we will be outlining our campaign and giving our supporters a number of ways they can get involved.

In the meantime, you can join our 'Democracy Team' to defend the rights of HOPE not hate, and every other organisation that seeks to influence public opinion in the 12 months leading to a general election, to campaign.

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/gagging-hope-not-hate/


 Posted: 21 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The Government is trying to gag HOPE not hate

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 August 2013, 07:43


The Government is pushing forward a Bill early next month which will severely restrict the way HOPE not hate can campaign in the 12 months before a General Election.

The restrictions are so severe that we would not be able to campaign against the BNP like we did so successfully in Barking and Dagenham in 2010.

The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill was meant to be an attempt to clean up politics and make it more transparent but has ended up restricting the way people can engage in politics. By design or default, it is an attack on free speech and democratic engagement.

We have produced a briefing on how this Bill will impact HOPE not hate:

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/gagging-hope-not-hate/

The Bill will:

  • Slash the amount of money we can spend in the 12 months before a General Election by 70%. We can now spend only 2% of what the BNP can spend.
  • See staff time and a range of other costs included in our campaign expenditure for the first time.
  • Dramatically limit what we can spend in a single constituency.
  • Bring our blog, magazine, research and even policy papers we produce during the year into our election expenses.

Indeed, the restrictions on third parties will now be far more extensive than those on political parties.

At a time when trust in political parties and politicians is at an all-time low we need to increase involvement and participation in the democratic process not limit it. This Bill is nothing more than a gag on our right to engage in politics and criticise political parties.

HOPE not hate was set up because political parties were leaving a vacuum in local communities in which the BNP flourished. Now the Government want to stop us doing that in the future.

This bill is coming before Parliament on 3 September and we intend to launch a campaign to stop it. We have no choice, the very future of HOPE not hate is at stake.

Later this week I will explain how we can help defeat this Bill. In the meantime, please read the briefing and if you want to help, please sign up to join our 'Democracy team' which will form the backbone of our local and national campaign

http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/gagging-hope-not-hate/

 Posted: 21 Aug 2013 | There are 8 comments | make a comment/view comments

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MPs still not contacted about recent 'Go Home' advan - is yours amongst them?

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Tuesday, 13 August 2013, 08:20


Last week we asked just 16,000 of our supporters to ask their local MPs their views on the recent 'Go Home' advans and seemingly random checks by UK Border Agency staff at London stations.

Over 2,000 people wrote to their MPs, which is an quite unbelievable take up. 560 MPs were contacted and 150 have so far responded. We are currently going through the replies and we will be collating them into report very soon.

Given it is the summer holidays many MPs seem to be away, so later this week we will urge those who have not received replies to send a gentle reminder.

In the meantime, we are still keen to get the views of the 90 MPs who have not yet been contacted, so if you live in the following constituencies I would urge you to click through to the link and send a letter:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans

East Midlands:

Ashfield; Charnwood; Kettering;

Eastern:

Luton North; South Suffolk; Harwich and North Essex; Stevenage; Broxbourne;

London:

Putney; Chelsea and Fulham; Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner; Croydon South;

North East:

Tynemouth; Hartlepool; North Durham; South Shields; Newcastle upon Tyne North; Stockton South; Hartlepool;

North West:

Altrincham and Sale West; Preston; Warrington North; Carlisle; Liverpool, West Derby;

South East:

Southampton, Itchen; Sevenoaks; Chesham and Amersham; Bracknell; Guildford; Esher and Walton;

South West:

Mid Dorset and North Poole; Bournemouth West; North Wiltshire; Devizes; Plymouth, Moor View;

West Midlands:

Dudley North; Staffordshire Moorlands; North Warwickshire; Birmingham, Hodge Hill; Walsall North; Stafford; Rugby; The Wrekin; Aldridge–Brownhills; Warley; Birmingham, Edgbaston; Walsall North;

Yorkshire & Humber:

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford; Don Valley; Doncaster Central; Doncaster North; Brigg and Goole; Doncaster Central;

Northern Ireland:

East Londonderry; West Tyrone; Lagan Valley; Foyle; Fermanagh and South Tyrone; East Antrim; South Antrim; Belfast West; Mid Ulster; Newry and Armagh; North Antrim; South Down; Strangford; Upper Bann; East Antrim;

Scotland:

Ochil and South Perthshire; Aberdeen South; Dumfries and Galloway; Gordon; Orkney and Shetland; Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill; Linlithgow and East Falkirk; Central Ayshire; Rutherglen and Hamilton West; Perth and North Perthshire; East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow; Glasgow North; Na h-Eileanan an Iar; Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk; Airdrie and Shotts; Moray; East Dunbartonshire; Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Angus; Banff and Buchan; Perth and North Perthshire;

Wales:

Gower; Caerphilly; Carmarthen East and Dinefwr; Islwyn; Llanelli; Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney; Torfaen; Vale of Clwyd;

Please send a letter to your MP if you live in one of the listed constituencies

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans

 Posted: 13 Aug 2013 | There are 3 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Justifying the unjustifiable

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 11 August 2013, 07:34


Anjem Choudary implies that the two women attacked by acid got what they deserved in Zanzibar

Anjem Choudary implies that the two women attacked by acid got what they deserved in Zanzibar

The horrible acid attack on two young women in Zanzibar have rightly shocked and appalled all decent people. Not so Anjem Choudary who, in a series of tweets earlier this morning, sought to blame the two women for the attack.

"Non Muslims must behave themselves when they go to Muslim countries where Muslims want Shari'ah. Otherwise the consequences could be serious," he tweeted.

A few minutes later he tweeted: "There is an Islamic revival among the youth who reject the regimes trying to please non Muslim tourists with alcohol, clubs, promiscuity etc"

"Zanzibar should be an eye opener for anyone travelling to Muslim countries: The situation is very volatile & Shari'ah is a matter of time."

Of course, Choudary doesn't just confine his thoughts to Muslim countries. Unlike other Islamist extremists groups, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, which claim to only agitate in the Muslim world, Choudary believes that his mission is to fight for Shariah in every country in the world. On Friday he tweeted: "Muhammad (saw) said 'Be busy in the big things in this world' eg establish the Khilafah, engage in Jihad & command good & forbid evil openly."

This explains why so many of his followers go on to commit terrorism and why HOPE not hate intends to do more to oppose him and his group.

 

 

 Posted: 11 Aug 2013 | There are 10 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Tory MP and UKIP MEP linked to racist group

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 8 August 2013, 13:51


Today, the blogsite Liberal Conspiracy exposed the Traditional Britain Group for overt and disgusting racism after they called for the newly appointed Labour peer, and millions of ethnic-minority Britons to “return to their natural homelands”. The TBG, which was recently addressed at a fundraising event by conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, also refers to Labour MP Chuka Umunna as "a Nigerian" and Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi as "foreign".

Read the full story here: - http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/08/08/exclusive-william-rees-mogg-and-the-right-wing-group-that-wants-black-britons-to-leave-the-uk/.

HOPE not hate celebrates Britain's diverse society. It is clear from these disgusting quotes, openly available on Facebook, that the Traditional Britain Group does not. This group operates at the fringes of conservative and right wing politics and has links to fascist parties like the Front National in France.

In addition to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, UKIP MEP Gerald Batton hosted the Group's relaunch in 2010. There should be no such place in British politics for racists such as Traditional Britain Group. Both David Cameron and Nigel Farage should condemn the TBG and make it clear that none of their members should associate this group.

Since the story broke, Rees-Mogg has issued a statement disassociating himself from the group: "I am shocked by the comments made by members of the Traditional Britain Group which I note from the Liberal Conspiracy website seem to have been made after I had addressed the dinner. I can entirely disassociate myself with the Traditional Britain Group as I have never been a member or supporter."

We are now contacting Gerald Batton to see if he will do likewise.

 Posted: 8 Aug 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Two thirds of the way there

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 5 August 2013, 17:25


453 of Britain's 650 MPs have now been contacted by HOPE not hate supporters for their views on the recent 'Go Home' advans and spot checks at London stations by UK Border Agency staff.

That is over two thirds of all MPs.

A number of MPs have already written back and while we are still going through the responses I can say that there have been some really interesting and surprising replies.

We are currently compiling a list of which MPs have not been contacted so we can concentrate in getting constituents to send letters to them. As a starter for ten, if you live in the following constituencies then please click through and send a message to your local MP:

Berwick upon Tweed

Blackburn

Bradford East

Brentwood

Chichester

Dagenham

Doncaster North

Normanton, Pontifract and Castleford

Rhondda

Twickenham

Click here to send an email to your MP:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans


 Posted: 5 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Great take up

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 5 August 2013, 14:42


305 MPs have now been contacted by constituencts asking them for their views on the recent Home Office advans telling 'illegal immigrants' to hand themselves in or face arrest and random searches by UKBA staff at London stations.

You can ask your MP their view by clicking here:

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans

Later today we'll have a look at which MPs have not been sent letters and then we'll put a call out for people in those constituencies to send in a letter.

 Posted: 5 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Ask your MP

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 5 August 2013, 14:07


Over the last couple of weeks the Home Office has put advans onto the streets of London asking 'illegal immigrants' to hand themselves in or face arrest. Additionally UK Border Agency staff have been randomly questioning people about their immigration status at London transport stations.

This is nothing more than cheap and cynical stunts to make it appear they are acting tough on illegal immigrants in an effort to head off support for UKIP. In the process, however, they are seemingly racially profiling people and whipping up community tensions.

This is inexcusable.

The Government is, unsurprisingly, defending its actions so we have decided to ask every British MP where they stand. They, after all, are there to represent us in Westminster and make up the Government and Opposition.

It is they, more than the Government, who are susceptible to pressure and public opinion. Let's hold them accountable.

I've drafted a letter you might like to send to your local MP. All you need to do if fill in your name and address - amend the letter if you wish - and hit send. The letter will then go directly to your MP.

Send the letter now

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans

Once you have received a reply we would ask you to send it back to us so we can collate the answers and then we will decide our next move.

Too many MP's have stayed silent on these ads and random immigration checks. Let's put them on the spot for once.

What does your MP think?

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/speakout/go-home-advans

The Government is playing fast and loose with race and immigration for political gain.

In May 2015 MP's are up for re-election and they will once again be asking for our votes. Let's judge them on where they stand on key issues and this is one of them.

Help us see where the MP's stand.

 Posted: 5 Aug 2013 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A big thank you

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 1 August 2013, 06:44


I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has donated to HOPE not hate in the last few days. We reached our £5,000 target in less than 48 hours, which is pretty damn good given it's summer holidays and many people are away.

In fact, we have raised £5,707 from 360 people.

This money will fund a new national leaflet and up to 25 leaflets for our key areas of the country and will build on a training event we had in London last Saturday, which was attended by 30 new HOPE not hate organisers.

The new organisers had attended the recent HOPE not hate meetings and were drawn from Huddersfield, Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Birmingham, Warwick, Leicester, Cardiff, Newport, Colchester, Brighton, Southampton, Colchester, Ilford, Uxbridge, Portsmouth, Cambridge and Dartford.

In addition, new HOPE not hate groups are forming in Edinburgh, Bury, Chester, Wirral, Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Boston, Corby, Northampton, Reading, Oxford, Luton, Bristol and Plymouth.

 Posted: 1 Aug 2013 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments