Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Vote 23 July to keep the BNP out of Norwich North

From The Mirror:

Hate crimes have soared in nearly every part of the country over the last decade.

Ugly incidents have increased by up to 27 times in regions with higher numbers of British National Party members.

Racist and religiously motivated offences totalled 39,643 in 2007 to 2008, the last year for which UK statistics are available.  Ten years ago, there were 21,750.

The near doubling of the national average hides alarming hotspots.

Yorkshire and Essex, where the racist BNP have spread, are among the worst hit. The number of offences across Yorkshire shot up from 338 to 3,592. North Yorks had a 2,767% rise. Essex saw a 949% increase - to 913 from only 87.
The BNP, which stops non-whites joining, has 1,600 members in Yorkshire and 670 in Essex, according to a recent leaked list.

London bucked the trend sharply. The Met police still handle the most hate crimes but they almost halved from 13,850 to 7,353.

The Lib Dems' Chris Huhne, who unearthed the figures, said: 
Ministers must examine what the Met are doing and ensure best practice is spread nationally.

The alarming rise in these crimes will be of huge concern to anyone who values this country's proud record as a tolerant and diverse nation.

BY-election date set for July 23

The crucial Norwich North by-election, which if Labour loses will re-open party sniping at Gordon Brown, is to take place on Thursday, July 23.

In the Commons, Government business managers have moved the writ for the contest which was forced by the resignation of Labour's Ian Gibson, amid the expenses and second homes row.

He had a 5,459 majority at the 2005 General Election which would be toppled on a 5.9% swing to Tories.

2005 result: Ian Gibson (Labour) 21,097 (44.9%), Conservative 15,638 (33.2%), Liberal Democrat 7,616 (16.2%); Green Party 1,252 (2.7%); UK Independence Party 1,122 (2.4%); Independent 308 (0.7%). Turnout: 61.1%.


This leaves just 23 days of campaigning for all parties, and the pace promises to be fast and furious in this midsummer heat.

HOPE not hate, Norfolk, is launching its own dedicated campaign against policies that are hateful, divisive, simplistic and deceitful, that is, the policies of the BNP, personified in the person of the Norwich North BNP candidate, the "Reverend" Robert West.

Keep watching this space for more details.

"Reverend" Robert West and the Churches

There is something slippery in the way Robert West repeatedly avoids answering reasonable questions about his title, "Reverend"; about how just a few years ago he denied being connected to the BNP; and about the way he cherry-picks biblical text to justify his own and the BNP's anti-Christian view of the world.

Where was he ordained? According to the Norwich Evening News, West has "displayed his ordination certificate on a tv show", which is hardly a satisfactory accounting. There does not seem to be a record of this event,

Robert West is evasive on other matters, too. In 2006 in an interview on Three Counties Radio he denied that he himself was a member of the BNP, but in the same interview he confirmed that the British National Party (BNP) was helping in the establishment of a new political church group in Lincolnshire, the Christian Council of Britain (CCoB).

Now that the "Reverend" Robert West is standing as the BNP candidate for Norwich North in the by-election of July 23, past evasions and untruths are becoming evident.

In March 2006 Robert West was instrumental in founding the Christian Council of Britain (CCoB), which, according to Searchlight, seeks to provide a religious veneer to the BNP’s racial ideology. It emerged in response to the trial of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, in order to give his statements that Islam was a “vicious, wicked faith” an air of religious authority. According to West, the CCoB was "to represent Christian values and the Christian heritage of the country". The first activism of the CCoB was to picket against the showing of "Jerry Springer, the Opera".

The CCoB website, a work in progress, states: "The CCoB is a patriotic Christian organisation that is not 'politically-correct' " and that the CCob is "an independent, non-political organisation autonomous of any political party in Britain"; however there is no doubt that it is supported by the British National Party.

The Christian Council of Britain has been criticised by a number of mainstream British Christian organisations. For example, the Methodists wrote: that 'Christian belief is incompatible with any political party or philosophy that is based on hatred or treats people as inferior because of their race, beliefs or for any other reason' and argues against the CCoB's theological views on separation of races.

Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social justice, said, ‘I am outraged that the BNP and its allies are using Christianity to further their agenda of segregation and division. I think most Christians will be deeply affronted by this and want to speak out against such misguided extremism. We reaffirm our earlier statements that Christian belief is incompatible with any political party or philosophy that is based on hatred or treats people as inferior because of their race, beliefs or for any other reason. We are deeply concerned that some people are now appropriating Christian language and symbols for policies that are the very opposite of Christian values.’

The CCoB has claimed that the Bible justifies its support for the BNP’s repatriation policy. But the Revd Ken Howcroft, Coordinating Secretary for Conference and Communication, said ‘this was a way of interpreting scripture that was used to justify apartheid in South Africa, the banning of mixed-race marriages and the setting up of homelands. The South African Council of Churches condemned this interpretation, and some of the churches that did support this interpretation later formally repented. In Galatians Paul writes ‘In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile,’ and this makes it clear that there is no Christian basis for racial discrimination or separation.’

Recently Rev West and the BNP have used stunts to win attention in Norfolk, for example interrupting a service at St. Faith’s Church.

This is part of a broad attack on the 'institutional' Christian Churches. The Roman Catholic Church, Protestant churches, and, in particular, the Church of England have all been criticised by the "Reverend" West in public scoldings that have increased since the Church of England made a courageous public stand against the BNP. 

The Anglican Bishop of Norwich, according to his chaplain, the Reverend Simon Ward, is well aware of the BNP's candidate for Norwich North. Ward said in a telephone interview with HOPE not hate, Norfolk, that "West's presence in the by-election race has been flagged up" and they are following the BNP's local campaign with concern. 

The Bishop of Norwich will 'respond appropriately' in a press release planned nearer the by-election date. 

The Reverend Simon Wilson of Foulsham as also been following events, and he wrote this to HOPE not hate, Norfolk coordinator Sid Frisby:

In the European Elections, you are probably aware that the BNP leafleted and disrupted services in several churches in King's Lynn under the guise of the "Christian Council of Britain".

I am also trying to explore the legality of him being "Reverend" on the ballot paper.

Of course, if he were a mainstream cleric, he would be barred from standing in the first place.
In May this year, just before the polls opened for county council and European elections, East Anglian bishops of all denominations issued a joint statement (reported by the Eastern Daily Press) urging people to use their vote and remain vigilant.

The bishops' statement said. 

The East of England has a notable history of welcoming people fleeing persecution elsewhere in Europe, sometimes on religious grounds. As Christian leaders in this generation, we believe that hospitality and living together with mutual respect remain the foundation of a civilised society. All human beings are created equal. That is why racism is a sin.

Christ calls on us to love our neighbours as ourselves and in this forthcoming election we believe it is right to be vigilant about any party or individual candidate seeking top use people's fears for their own well-being to stir racial and religious hatred.
As Searchlight notes:

The crude attempt by the BNP to “Christianise” its racial message is particularly ironic given that the BNP website harks back to the halcyon days of pre-Christian paganism (!) calling for the resurrection of “ancient faiths” while extolling the virtues of “ancestral folk traditions”.

As far as the BNP is concerned “Christian” equals “white”, the party apparently being unaware that the vast majority of Christians in this world are black Africans.

At best the BNP has a tenuous grasp of genuine Christian theology, with which its own ideology is clearly incompatible. Indeed as Dr Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney, observed, 

if Jesus were ever to walk this green and pleasant land, the BNP would be committed to his repatriation. Even their great love of St George is a joke: George was either Turkish or Palestinian, and his legend migrated to this country from the Middle East.

The underlying BNP strategy remains clear: to set religion against religion and in doing so to fuel division and hatred. 

Doubts over BNP man's title claims

There was confusion last night over whether Norwich North's British National Party (BNP) candidate has the credentials to call himself “reverend”.
The Rev Robert West is at the centre of a row over his ministerial moniker, which he claimed was genuine - even though he admitted he had no current connection to any Christian denomination.
When questioned, Mr West, who lives in Holbeach in Lincolnshire, said: “It's been dealt with once and I don't have to justify myself.”
He said he had explained himself and shown his ordination certificate on a TV show in recent months, and said he had been advised “not to go through it all again”.
He said he had been “ordained as an elder” of the Apostolic Church of Wales some years ago. He claimed the word “elder” in the New Testament came from a Greek word meaning “priest”.
Mr West, who will be bidding to win the vacant Norwich North seat once the by-election date has been announced, said: “Ordination means recognition. It's simply recognition of what you are. It recognises your gifts.”
Meanwhile, UKIP leader Nigel Farrage was in Norwich yesterday outlining how his party planned to reach out to traditional Labour voters and Tories disenchanted with David Cameron's Conservative Party.
Norwich Evening News

Denise G of Norfolk Unity writes:
"West claimed the word “elder” in the New Testament came from a Greek word meaning “priest”.
In fact "Elder" derives directly from the Old English "ealdor", meaning "elder", "parent", often in the sense "wise older one". It is the stem of words like "Alderman".

By-election date imminent

A Norwich North by-election was due to be called today - however it is understood former MP Dr Ian Gibson will not be standing as an independent candidate.
Two days after selecting Chris Ostrowski as their candidate, the Labour party has been persuaded to move quickly to get the by-election out of the way.
And with Gordon Brown setting out his political stall in his 'Building Britain's Future' re-launch yesterday the government is all set to put his revamped policy menu to the voters in Norwich North at the earliest opportunity of July 23.
And culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, who was in the city campaigning with Mr Ostrowski at Sparhawk School in Sprowston, yesterday became the first senior member of the government to call for an early by-election date - stating it would be fought on a 12-year government record which included falling crime in the city, the building of new schools, and the new Norfolk and Norwich Hospital which had seen waiting times fall.
“It's going to be difficult but it's great that we have in Chris a young and enthusiastic candidate,” Mr Bradshaw said. “The opinion poll over the weekend showed it's neck and neck with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems can't win here.
“The Tories have foolishly committed themselves to at least 10pc cuts across the board,” he added. “They have got to start telling people in Norwich how many fewer police, teachers and classroom assistants there will be.”
The culture secretary also insisted that the new candidate also had the backing of his predecessor.
“Ian is a great friend of Norwich and has been a fantastic MP. I spoke to him today and he made it absolutely clear that he fully supports Chris,” he added. “He wants Labour Party members and Labour voters to really get behind Chris and Ian doesn't want to sacrifice his great legacy.”
Mr Ostrowski, who works as a product manager for John Lewis in London, but will be basing himself in the city during the campaign, was previously Labour's seventh placed candidate for the region in this month's European elections, the lowest possible, but he insists he is the man for the future in Norwich North.
On his 28-year-old shoulders will now fall the twin by-election burdens of either trying to hold the seat in the wake of a collapse of support for Labour nationally or stemming the scale of any defeat.
He insisted he would be his own man - and even confessed he had worked with Dr Gibson to New Labour's university tuition fees policy, when he was a student officer at the UEA, before later changing his mind.
Dr Gibson has kept himself out of the spotlight since his de-selection, and there was again no word from him yesterday. But he did manage to stoke rumours he would stand as an independent during an impromptu interview in the street with Newsnight's Michael Crick last week.
Today sources close to the MP said there was no chance of him standing, and he had simply been caught off guard outside his office, being lured into a conversation on camera when he should simply have walked away.
In fact it is understood that Dr Gibson is working through the process of closing his Norwich office and is expected to take a long break after that.
Norwich Evening News 24

HOPE not hate, Norfolk, will be campaigning against the undemocratic BNP in this by-election, because of its divisive and possibly illegal policies.

Monday, 29 June 2009

The Way Forward

With the BNP winning two seats in the European Parliament Nick Lowles looks at where the anti-BNP campaign goes from here:

There are three clear facts that need to be remembered at the outset of this article. The first is that the British National Party has won two seats in the European Parliament. This provides it with the platform, financial clout and semi-respectability from which it hopes to build future success at a local and even parliamentary level over the coming year. Secondly, their election is a game changer. Debates around no platform, access to the media and political representation will change whether we like it or not and we will need to adapt accordingly. Finally, and in terms of this article probably most importantly, anti-fascism can be successful particularly if it becomes more organised. While I will argue that only by addressing the public policy issues that give rise to the BNP and challenging the racism at the core of its support can the far right be properly defeated, anti-fascism, particularly at a local level, can halt and even reverse its growth.
It is also important to dispel two widely (though separately) held assumptions. Firstly, this is not the protest vote against mainstream parties and useless locally elected representatives that many politicians would like us to believe. It is an increasingly hard and loyal vote which is based on political and economic insecurities and moulded by deep-rooted racial prejudice. This in turn is linked with a second myth, that the way to beat the BNP is simply to tack left and offer more socialistic policies. While this might peel off some BNP supporters who feel economically marginalised, it will not in itself address the strongly held racist views of many BNP voters. As the YouGov poll (see below) clearly shows, the racism of many BNP voters goes well beyond simple opposition to current immigration and eastern European migrant workers which one might expect if their support for the BNP was prompted simply by economic insecurity. Belief in the intellectual superiority of white people over non-whites, the view of nearly half of BNP voters that black and Asian people can never be British, the almost universal dislike of even moderate Islam and the contempt and suspicion many of their voters have towards a liberal and multicultural society show how hardline much of the BNP support is and how it will take more than a more progressive economic policy to win them back fully.
More importantly, and regularly overlooked by politicians, activists and commentators alike, are issues around identity. As I have discussed before, the BNP is emerging as the voice of a forgotten working class, which increasingly feels left behind and ignored by mainstream society. As the YouGov research confirms, the majority of BNP voters feel that the Labour Party, for many their traditional political home, has moved away from them and is now dominated by a middle-class London elite who care more for Middle England and the interests of minority groups than for them. Class politics exists but not as we once knew it. The Labour Party, in line with many other centre-left parties across western European and Scandinavia, draws the bulk of its support from the middle class, public sector workers and minority communities, especially in the big cities. The BNP, on the other hand, is the voice of a section of the white working class, particularly in those areas of traditional industry that have experienced the greatest economic and social upheaval over the past twenty years.
Most of the local authorities with the biggest BNP vote are in areas once dominated by the car, steel, coal or ceramic industries. All have gone, and those people able to leave have left. While some new jobs have replaced those lost, the work is generally lower skilled, short-term and further away from their home. In addition to economic difficulties the identity of the areas has collapsed, leaving behind a confused, resentful and alienated minority. This is the cultural war that the BNP has cleverly exploited, particularly by tapping in to people’s paranoia that outside forces are deliberately conspiring against them and giving preferential treatment to others (viewed by most BNP voters as undeserving).
However, all is not lost. While the BNP vote edged up it did not make the sweeping gains it and others predicted. The vast majority of voters still reject the BNP and many of those equally disillusioned with the political process did not vote BNP but stayed at home.
Addressing the widespread economic insecurities, solving the democratic deficit and forging new progressive identities requires public policy changes that are beyond the remit of the HOPE not hate campaign and anti-fascism generally. We can mobilise the anti-BNP vote and even sometimes suppress the pro-BNP vote but we cannot build houses and reduce waiting lists; we cannot prevent undercutting of wages and the abuse of migrant workers. Local anti-fascist movements cannot get resources into communities, often the poorest, dealing with extraordinary levels of migration. That is the job of politicians and political parties. It is their failure currently to do so that is resulting in the increasing tribalism of local politics along racial and religious lines.
Making a difference
What we can do, however, is make a difference on the ground. And we do. Results in several local authority areas in the European elections showed the BNP vote (both actual and share of the vote) down compared to 2004.
Among these areas were Burnley, Pendle and Oldham in the North West, Bradford and Kirklees in West Yorkshire, and Sandwell and Dudley in the West Midlands.
A common factor in all these areas has been the intensity of local anti-BNP campaigns, which has been all year round and not just a leaflet at an election. And this sets the model for the year ahead. We will go into the 2010 local elections with an emboldened and financially secure BNP and we believe the number of council wards at risk is now over 150 across the country. The BNP’s main target will be Barking and Dagenham where it will be looking to take control of the council.
To fight the BNP effectively we must move away from city and town centre events to focusing on the very communities where the BNP is drawing its support. We need to return to localised leaflets and newsletters, tapping into the local identities of neighbourhoods and addressing local issues to undermine the BNP’s message of hate. Smaller, local events are more important than one-off larger ones. The recent anti-racist carnival in Stoke-on-Trent might have been attended by 15,000 people but was it really the best use of £300,000? Even the carnival the year before, in Hackney, might have been attracted 60,000, but what impact does it have on the London hotspots such as Barking and Dagenham and Havering? The effort required to put on and build such an event drains and diverts activism away from local campaigning, which will be the priority in 2010. Of course in the ideal world we would like both big national events and smaller local events, but where funds and activism are limited this is not possible. A proper local strategy requires us to localise our campaigning. What works in one area will not work in another. Talking to principally Conservative voters requires a quite different leaflet to what would be put out in a traditionally Labour area. Localising our approach allows us to deal with local issues and also to target our message depending on what we are trying to achieve. And mobilising the anti-BNP vote is sometimes quite different from trying to suppress the BNP vote.
That is why the HOPE not hate campaign will be encouraging and supporting local groups to begin their own local anti-BNP newsletters. We hope that by starting this summer and focusing on the key wards for 2010 the newsletters will become a crucial tool to defeating the BNP at the ballot box.
To begin to undermine local BNP support we also have to build alliances within the community. Local anti-BNP groups need to be accepted and even respected. Every community has key movers and shakers and spending a bit of time cultivating relationships with these people will open new opportunities, allow our message to be widened considerably, potentially increase our activist base and give us a regular flow of information to rebut BNP myths and lies.
We also need to be cleverer in how we present our arguments. The YouGov survey shows the complete lack of respect BNP voters have towards authority – way beyond those of other parties. That means dogmatic or one dimensional arguments on anti-fascist leaflets are likely to fail.
We have to recognise that we might not always be the best messenger to get over an argument. One of the most successful leaflets we have ever produced was in Halifax where we got quotes from local doctors and pensioners to dismiss BNP claims that asylum seekers were forcing old people off GP lists and causing hospital operations to be cancelled. The strength of getting other people to speak up for us, particularly those respected by local people, is also evident from the survey. Local GPs, at 82%, came out as the most trusted professionals among BNP voters.
A new reality
We also have to accept that the political landscape has shifted. Searchlight comes from a proud tradition of No Platform, a belief that fascism should not be allowed to air its politics of hate publicly. We have always opposed legitimising fascism through public debate and where fascists try to incite hatred within communities through provocative marches and actions, we have backed mobilisations against them.
While I still adhere to this in principle I also believe that we have to accept a new reality. Firstly the BNP has MEPs and whether we like it or not Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons will appear more regularly on television. No platform agreements between political parties were already breaking down before the election, with only Labour holding to them, and this process is likely to quicken now. Likewise, we also have to change our tactics on the streets. The hammer attack on a BNP activist in Leigh, Greater Manchester, in March was an unmitigated disaster. When we learnt about the BNP’s intention to hold a fundraising event in a local nightclub we got almost 5,000 people, including 400 from the local area, to sign an open letter from a local vicar calling for the event to be cancelled. Our pressure proved successful but what should have been a great media story, showing the strength of people power against the BNP, became three days of appallingly negative local headlines after an anti-fascist struck a BNP member in the head with a hammer.
Our response to any BNP activity is a tactical issue. Just as we always consider what is possible, so we have to think about the possible outcomes. With large chunks of local people supporting the BNP something that gives the party media sympathy is often counter-productive. In a 24-hour-communications world every small event that in the past would have gone unreported can be headline news on television, the radio and on the internet within minutes. With the BNP leaders far more politically savvy than in the past it is not difficult for them to spin a story to their advantage.
There is also a need for an honest debate about the use of rallies, marches and pickets. While one could argue that it is important continually to oppose the BNP gaining any legitimacy, such protests are increasingly ineffective and, probably more importantly, a distraction from the real work required in the communities. The reality is that most people other than a few highly motivated activists will not come out on a regular basis. Continually chasing the BNP uses up their time when there is more serious but perhaps less glamorous work to be done in local communities. Again, people might say that we should do both. That may be the ideal but it is not the reality and choices have to be made. We have to prioritise our agenda rather than continually react to the BNP’s. Obviously there will be times when mobilisations are important but this cannot be a distraction from the real work at hand.
Moving forward
Over the next few months our priority is to build anti-fascist groups in every community in the country. Over 115,000 people have engaged in some activity for the HOPE not hate campaign. That’s an incredible one in 470 adults in Britain. Over 80,000 people have signed our “Not in my name” petition since the election, of which over 60,000 were completely new to us.
This shows the level of anger at the BNP success, but now we need to harness it in a positive and constructive way that helps us build the necessary networks that can defeat the BNP in the community. Our initial job is to turn our online supporters into activists on the ground. Hopefully some will emerge as local organisers, committed to the localised strategy ahead. Old hands must be encouraged to support new organisers and we will be providing an organising and leadership programme in every region of the country.
A series of one-day training events will be held to give key activists from local groups the basics in running a local campaign group, working in a target ward and building alliances within the community. From there a handful of the most enthusiastic local organisers will be invited to a three-day residential programme, to be held in the late autumn, where they will develop leadership and organisational skills. Developing a pool of local organisers is the way to ensure good quality campaigns. Whatever the enthusiasm of local activists a lack of organising skills and the ability to localise campaigns effectively will result in continued reliance on national help, which in turn reduces the effectiveness of a local campaign.
To support local groups, particularly in the run-up to next year’s local and probable general election, the HOPE not hate campaign will be seeking to put trained organisers on the ground in each region of the country. The work of local groups will be further supported by an even bigger online effort than we achieved this year. Through online telephone canvassing, supporters across the country will be able to help in our key battlegrounds from their front rooms. Matching groups and activists in one part of country where there is no BNP threat to an area where there is one can help us raise money for local material.
Remaining focused
The BNP success has led some to argue that we need to politicise anti-fascism, even to offer a political alternative to the BNP. While there are clearly public policy failings and a democratic deficit, it is not our job to fill this void. We must leave that to the political parties, old or new.
We are about defeating the BNP, both by turning out those voters totally opposed to their racist politics and by dispelling myths and challenging the assumptions and ignorance that give rise to BNP support. We have a big job to do but it can be done. The work on anti-BNP campaigns in East Lancashire, Oldham, the Black Country and West Yorkshire is testament to that. However, for us to defeat the BNP over the coming year requires hard work, building local broad-based coalitions, adapting to the new realities and being a little bit smarter than we have been before. Get these components right and we can hold the BNP at bay.
A hard and alienated vote
Who votes BNP and why
A new survey into the attitudes of BNP voters has produced some startling revelations. Unsurprisingly BNP voters are overwhelmingly opposed to immigration and asylum seekers but a sizeable number also share the BNP’s hardline attitudes about citizenship and racial superiority.
It shows that BNP voters are predominantly working class, drawn from former Labour-voting households and feel more insecure about their economic prospects.
Conducted by YouGov from 29 May to 4 June, the survey questioned 985 BNP voters as part of a much bigger study of the political views of 32,268 people. The study tells us that men are twice as likely to support the BNP as women, 44% of BNP voters are aged 35 to 54 and 61% are drawn from the social groups C2DE. One third of BNP voters read The Sun or the Daily Star, whereas only 13% read the Daily Mirror and those reading The Guardian and The Independent are statistically insignificant. One fifth claim to be members of trade unions or trade associations and 36% identify themselves as skilled or semi-skilled manual workers.
On one level the report tells us little new. More BNP supporters regard immigration as one of the key issues facing the country at the moment – 87% compared to 49% among all voters. Again unsurprisingly, 94% of BNP supporters believed that all further immigration should be halted. This compares with 87% of UK Independence Party voters, 68% of Conservative voters, 46% of Labour voters, 43% of Lib Dem voters and even 37% of Green voters. Only 4% of BNP voters believed that recent immigration had benefited the country.
What is more startling is the strength of the racial attitudes of many BNP voters. In a result that gives the lie to the BNP vote simply being a protest, 44% (compared to 12% of all voters) disagreed with the statement: “non-white British citizens who were born in this country are just as ‘British’ as white citizens born in this country”.
Among BNP voters 21% strongly disagreed with the statement compared to just 1% of Greens and Lib Dems and 2% of Labour and 3% of Conservative voters.
More disturbingly, 31% of BNP voters believed there was a difference in intelligence between the average black Briton and the average white Briton.
Although only 2% of BNP voters deny that six million Jews, Gypsies and others died in the Holocaust, a further 18% accept that the Holocaust occurred but believe it has been exaggerated. It is clear that the BNP receives support primarily on issues of race, immigration and identity but there is also a clear link with economic insecurity. Several of the questions probed respondents’ views on their current and future economic prospects. BNP voters repeatedly had the most gloomy outlook.
When asked whether they were satisfied that they had enough money to live on comfortably, 74% of BNP voters said no, compared to just 43% of Labour and 50% of Conservative voters.
On whether they were confident that their family would have the opportunities to prosper in the years ahead, 75% of BNP voters said no compared to just 35% of Labour voters.
Over half of BNP voters felt the financial situation of their house- hold would worsen over the next 12 months. In contrast only 29% of Labour voters agreed and 27% thought it would get better.
Again, more BNP voters thought someone in their family would lose their job in the current recession than supporters of other parties.
One of the most startling results was the response to the statement that “there is a major international conspiracy led by Jews and Communists to undermine traditional Christian values in Britain and other western countries”. Amazingly one third of BNP voters completely or partially agreed.
However, the significance of this response actually lies in the feeling of victimisation felt by many BNP supporters and cleverly exploited by the BNP itself. The view that they are losing out because of the conscious action of others is widespread among BNP supporters and it comes out clearly in this survey. Over three quarters of BNP voters believed that white people suffered unfair discrimination whereas only 3% thought Muslims did. Nine out of ten BNP supporters felt that councils allowed immigrant families to jump housing queues.
This feeling of victimisation coupled with a widespread belief that the Labour Party, which most once supported, at best no longer cares about them and at worst conspires against them makes these voters susceptible to the BNP’s big lie. It is hardly a surprise then that so many people in Barking and Dagenham were happy to believe the Africans for Essex myth.
Think of the balance of forces. On one side you have the Labour Party (which 57% of BNP voters think no longer cares about them), politicians (who 78% of BNP voters think are corrupt), senior officers in the council (who only 1% of BNP voters trust a great deal) and immigrants (who 87% of BNP supporters think are a problem and only 4% believe contribute anything positive). Then you have the BNP, the anti-establishment party speaking up for the forgotten white working class. This survey is both predictable and disturbing. While immigration remains the dominant issue for BNP voters it is clear that they more than any other group feel economically insecure and politically abandoned. What is shocking is the depth of their racism and the alienation from mainstream politics. Support for the BNP goes far beyond being a protest, as some politicians would have us believe, and the racist attitudes will not disappear simply by improving economic conditions.
We should be under no illusion that a long and hard struggle lies ahead.
What do you think?
We are opening up the August issue of Searchlight to find out your views on the way forward. Please restrict articles to 500 words and get them to me nick@stopthebnp.org.uk by 10 July. (Please note that space is limited and we cannot guarantee to publish every article.)
Nick Lowles, Searchlight

Race is on for city by-election

The race is on to find Norwich's new MP after the Labour party revealed its candidate to replace Ian Gibson in the forthcoming by-election.
Chris Ostrowski, 28, was selected by party members in the constituency as the candidate for the vacant Norwich North seat. He is a UEA graduate who has been active in the Norwich Labour Party but more recently has been a member of the Labour Party and Christian Socialist movement in London. He was also a candidate for the Eastern region in this month's European elections.
All the major parties now have candidates in place for a by-election campaign, though there is still no date for polling day.
Today, the stream of leading politicians of all parties was due to bring culture secretary Ben Bradshaw to Sparhawk school in Sprowston while shadow aviation minister Julian Brazier was due at Norwich airport.
Yesterday and today, UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage has been in Norwich. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas is visiting the city tomorrow.
Mr Ostrowski said after the selection: “It's a privilege to get the chance to go from here and speak with my friends and all of the people in Norwich North to ask them to vote for me to become their MP.
“Let me be clear, we will run a positive campaign. We will proudly talk up Labour's achievements and we will always be proud of Norwich.
“Where I think the threat of Conservative cuts could damage Norwich or hurt the chances of its people, I will speak out. This is not negative campaigning and I will not needlessly raise fears, but people deserve to have the choice put in front of them, and I will always do that.
“I look forward to an energetic and fair campaign and I can't wait to meet the voters.”
Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said: “Chris Ostrowski is a very strong candidate for Labour in the Norwich North by-election. He knows and understands Norwich well and will fight for the needs of his constituents with intelligence and determination.”
Around 50 members attended the selection meeting at the Holiday Inn in north Norwich yesterday.
John Cowan, vice chairman of Norfolk Labour Party, said: “It's very interesting that they've opted for a male candidate, my preference was always going to be for a female candidate.
“Chris is a fairly strong candidate. I worked with him during the Euro election campaign. He's obviously spent some time in Norwich at the UEA but it would've been nice to have someone a bit more local.”
Dr Gibson, who sparked a by-election by resigning when he was barred from re-standing as a Labour candidate in the row over his expenses, was not present. He did not comment on the selection last night though on Friday he hinted he might stand as an independent, depending on who was chosen.
Mr Clarke said he had not spoken to Dr Gibson about the selection, but said: “I know Ian knows Chris and respects him.”
The Conservative candidate is Chloe Smith, the Liberal Democrat candidate is April Pond and the Green candidate is Rupert Read. There is also a Ukip candidate, Glen Tingle, and two independents, Craig Murray, who is a former ambassador to Uzbekistan and Bill Holden. Mr Murray today stepped up his own campaign by taking out a full page advert in the EDP, the Evening News' sister paper.
Mr Ostrowski's selection means two of the candidates are under 30, with Chloe Smith 27 years old.
Norwich Evening News 24

Beat the Odds

Here are Ladbrokes odds for Norwich North by election.

At the moment they are as follows;

Conservatives 1/5
Labour 9/2
Greens 12/1
Ian Gibson 14/1
Craig Murray 33/1
Liberal Democrats 33/1
UKIP 100/1
BNP 200/1
Bill Holden 200/1
Libertarian Party 500/1

Summer Campaign

Gordon Brown is under pressure to declare the date of the Norwich North by-election, and some pundits predict an announcement by the end of this week.
Some predict that voting will be sometime in July, whilst others suggest the prime minister will delay the by-election until the autumn.
Whenever it will be, this by-election is of great interest in the political landscape, for it will indicate the mood of the electorate.
Will voters reject the major parties in disapproval of the expenses scandals? Will smaller and non-traditional parties make significant gains?
Voters in Norwich North are centre-stage in a by-election of national importance.
In the meantime, preparations for the By-Election have thrown up opportunities for enthusiastic volunteers willing to forgo lazy days of summer for some exciting work in local politics.
All political parties are searching for volunteers to operate the telephones and answer email, and to canvass and campaign - from delivering leaflets from door-to-door to updating web sites.
Most campaign organisers do not even require that volunteers be members of that party - they understand that some want to learn more before making a choice.
This is an ideal opportunity for unemployed youngsters in the region to learn new skills in strategy and team-working, whilst gaining some interesting experience for the all-important c.v.

Labour, which has just selected Chris Ostrowski as its candidate, welcomes all volunteers. Host families may be available. Check out http://www.norwichlabour.com/, email campaigns@norwichlabour.com or telephone the charming Alex 07921 406859.

The Conservatives have a dedicated 'Campaign Together' website which seems to be out of order, although it is possible to read a number of disgruntled posts from dissatisfied site users.
If you would like to help Chloe Smith get elected to Parliament for the Conservatives, here are contact details. Web: http://www.chloesmith.org.uk/ Email to: chloe@chloesmith.org.uk Tel: 01603 414774

The LibDems invite help for their campaign to elect Liberal Democrat April Pond in the Norwich North by-election. To volunteer help for the LibDems, call the campaign HQ on 01603 416649, email on hq@norwichlibdems.org.uk, or just come along during the day.

The Greens' candidate Rupert Read urges potential volunteers to "make history, startle the old parties, and give ourselves a real shot at electing the first ever Green Party MP in Norwich North. The Greens need lots of help on numerous tasks in the office and on the streets.
"Please come and stay with us: we can put volunteers up, it will be fun, and you can learn on the job from the expert Norwich team!" Please call 01603 611909.

Craig Murray
writes: "We are going to need volunteers. The election will be in July or September , with July looking more likely. Either way we need to start now. Stevie has volunteered to coordinate. We need office workers, canvassers, leafletters, drivers, media handlers, IT campaign organisers, graphic artists, printers, fundraisers, volunteer coordinators, diary keepers, candidate cheerer uppers, accommodation providers. There is something everybody can do, of whatever age, however mobile, wherever they are."
Send an initial email to putanhonestman@hotmail.co.uk giving full contact details, stating what time or resource you might make available, if you live in Norwich or if you can come when you might come, any relevant experience (not that this is required) and anything else that might help. We will work out shortly how to make donations - the offers are greatly appreciated. Accommodation will be available in Norwich for volunteers.
Bill Holden is not asking for volunteers, but contact details are on his website

Libertarian Thomas Burridge has not published contact details. Try the libertarian national website

HOPE not hate, Norfolk will also be looking for volunteers. We support all the democratic parties, and look forward to an interesting, free and fair by-election.
We do not support the divisive and hateful messages of the BNP, however, and we shall be campaigning against the policies of despair as proposed by the BNP's "Reverend" Robert West.
Contact us by email hnhnorfolk@gmail.com

Sunday, 28 June 2009

"Reverend" West in his own words

"Reverend" Robert West is the BNP candidate in the Norwich North by-election.

He has strong views on the Christian Churches, women's place, race, and homosexuality. These views he often justifies with Biblical quotes.

About 'institutional churches' West said:
"The Christian Council of Britain is a group set up to represent Christian values and the Christian Heritage of the country.
"A big problem with the institutional churches is that they seem to have lost their way."
When asked who he was referring to, West said he was referring to The Church of England, The Methodists and a "large number of Baptists."
"They have almost become extinct in their faithfulness to holy scripture" he said.

About race he wrote:
'I feel that I can endorse — from a Christian viewpoint — the BNP’s stance on race, immigration, ethnicity and voluntary repatriation.
Whilst the BNP is a secular and not a religious party, its views generally agree with the Bible’s own teaching that we are to live as nations, in our nations, and not to submit to a "resurrection" of the Babel thesis of one undifferentiated mass under some form of, probably dictatorial and very unstable, world governance.
"The mixing of races challenges the glory of God" he said, and the BNP placed online a video of a speech by West, who stated that a multiracial society is "a transgression of God's will."

About women he claimed:
"the market has been flooded with women working and it would be better if they stayed at home".
"The domestic sphere is a natural place for a woman to be," he said. "I honestly think it is woman's right to be at home. Women should get married and their first priority should be the home.
"Recently the home has been abandoned and this modern way does not work. I think many women agree with this, even though they are working themselves.
"This is my view and I hope to get the people of Norwich to listen to this."

About homosexuality he wrote:
"the moral law within our nature teaches us that sodomy/homosexuality is hateful. It will not be good for the law of man to fight that. It will be like a dam across a torrent, storing up trouble for the future."

Labour candidate for Norwich North selected

A Labour party activist from London has been selected as the candidate to replace Ian Gibson in Norwich North.
Chris Ostrowski, who works for John Lewis, was selected by party members in the constituency this afternoon. He is a University of East Anglia graduate who has been active in the Norwich Labour party in the past.
Four candidates had been shortlisted for the selection by Labour's ruling National Executive Committee. The other three were Victoria MacDonald, the local party secretary, who had been tipped as the front-runner, Michelle Savage, a local member, member of Labour's National Policy Forum and vice-chairman of the East of England regional board, and Ffinlo Costain, an environmental media consultant and former parliamentary candidate.
Around 50 members attended the meeting at the Holiday Inn in north Norwich. Mr Ostrowski said after the selection:
“It's a privilege to get the chance to go from here and speak with my friends and all of the people in Norwich North to ask them to vote for me to become their MP.
“Labour has an excellent record in Norwich. We have delivered seven Sure Start children's centres across the city - in 1997 there were none.
“Crime is falling and the number of police officers is rising.
“Labour have introduced Neighbourhood Policing to help clamp down on anti-social behaviour in our streets and parks and they are working.
“But there is still so much more to do. I know that Norwich is a great place to live, and it deserves the best.
“So let me be clear- we will run a positive campaign.
“We will proudly talk up Labour's achievements and we will always be proud of Norwich. “However, where I think that the threat of Conservative cuts could damage Norwich or hurt the chances of its people, I will speak out.
“This is not negative campaigning, and I will not needlessly raise fears, but people deserve to have the choice put in front of them, and I will always do that.
“I look forward to an energetic and fair campaign, and I can't wait to go from here and meet the voters.”
Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said:
“Chris Ostrowski is a very strong candidate for Labour in the Norwich North by-election. He knows and understands Norwich well and will fight for the needs of his constituents with intelligence and determination.”
The date for the by-election has yet to be set.
Norwich Evening News 24

Stakes are high for Ukip

The UK Independence Party has been campaigning in the heat of the day to raise the profile of its campaign for the Norwich North by-election.

Party Leader, Nigel Farage MEP was expected to join the volunteers today, and on Monday June 29 it is planned that he will be carrying out a variety of commitments including the unveiling of the Party's 'clean start for Norwich North' campaign posters.

While he is in Norwich, Mr Farage will publicly call for Gordon Brown to set a date for the by-election, in the interests of the constituents of Norwich North, who have had no representation at Westminster since June 8.

Glenn Tingle, UKIP's prospective Parliamentary candidate for Norwich North said:
"I am honoured that Nigel will be with me in the constituency. His personal commitment to Norwich North is a huge step forward for my 'clean start' campaign and amply demonstrates the importance with which the Party is treating this by-election.
"I am greatly looking forward to working alongside him."

Ukip is aware that the stakes are very high. Even before the results of the elections of June 4, Michael Heaver (Chairman of UKIP's youth wing) wrote:
"It is imperative that we stand in the Norwich North by-election. It is occuring as a result of a Labour MP caught up in the expenses scandal, in a city that is not afraid for voting outside of the old parties; Norwich South, the bordering constituency, has a big Green party presence and I believe it may return a Green MP at the next General Election.
"If UKIP wishes now to stand as the anti-sleaze, anti-establishment outfit then visibility must be high. If we are to succeed in doing this, then UKIP members far and wide must pile into the constituency during the by-election and carry on the momentum we have at the moment. There will not be a better opportunity."

Overshadowing the Ukip Norwich North campaign have been allegations that Glenn Tingle was once a member of the National Front.

HOPE not hate, Norfolk, believes it is in everyone's best interest to clear this matter up once and for all, and has called on Mr Tingle to respond to these allegations.

If these allegations are unfounded, then they should be laid to rest.

It is high time that Mr Tingle cleared his name or owned up to a past error of judgement.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

BNP wishes 'to save deposit' in Norwich North

As dedicated opponents of bigotry, the HOPE not hate team in Norfolk take the threat of vote gains for the BNP seriously.

HOPE not hate, Norfolk, urges all of the electorate in Norwich North to cast their votes in the imminent by-election for a democratic party.

Any democratic party!

When people do not vote, extremists like the BNP with their few but active supporters win a higher percentage of the overall tally.

Then they crow their hateful and divisive messages from the rooftops like deranged roosters.

Why does HOPE not hate call the BNP 'undemocratic'?

The BNP seeks legislative power over ALL British citizens, but denies SOME British citizens the right to participate in the process. It does this through rules of membership that mean only 'white indigenous British' can become members of the BNP.

This undemocratic requirement is judged a 'potential breach of race discrimination law' by the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission), which has given the BNP until 20th July to provide written undertakings that it will make the changes required by the Commission.

Failure to do so may result in the Commission issuing an application for a legal injunction against the BNP, and could open the floodgates to a series of law suits against the BNP.

The BNP has apparently decided to ignore the EHRC, and is hoping against hope that the by-elections and the coming General Election will give them more votes.

The BNP yearns 'to be taken seriously'.

This is the BNP argument:

At the European Election these were the votes cast in Broadland
Conservative Party 11,647
UK Independence 8,117
Liberal Democrats 5,141
The Green Party 3,549
Labour Party 3,247
British National Party 1,864
BNP Percentage: 5.6%

At the European Election these were the votes cast in the City of Norwich
The Green Party 9,039
Conservative Party 6,329
The Labour Party 6,045
Liberal Democrats 5,409
UK Independence Party 4,449
British National Party 1,686
BNP Percentage: 5.1%

The BNP was in one county council election in the consistuency, in Sprowston.
The result was:
John Ward (Conservative Party 1123
Glenn Tingle (UK Independence Party) 663
Barbara Lashley (Labour Party) 593
Corinne Russen (Liberal Democrat) 564
James Dexter (Green Party) 298
Julia Howman (British National Party) 228
BNP Percentage: 6.6%

The BNP's Martin Wingfield vows:
"We shall be campaigning very hard to save our deposit and on the above results, we must be in with a chance. . . with all the publicity the Party has had since our 'Victory in Europe', I think our vote share will be on the increase.
"The two unknowns are what will happen to the Ukip and the Green vote.
"The Greens don't usually perform too well in by-elections whether it's local council or Parliamentary. . .
"Neither (Green nor Ukip) party saved their deposit in 2005.
"This was the result then -

General Election 2005:
Ian Gibson (Labour) 21.097
James Tumbridge (Con) 15,638
Robin Whitmore (Lib-Dem) 7,616
Adrian Holmes (Green) 1,252
John Youles (UKIP) 1,122
Bill Holden (Ind) 308

Then the BNP's Martin Wingfield makes a wish:
"12 months ago we fought an excellent mid-summer campaign in Henley for the parliamentary by-election there. We only polled 3.6% but because we beat Labour that news made the headlines. This time we could make the news again by saving our deposit."

If enough fairer-minded Norwich North citizens vote for the democratic party of their choice, the BNP will find saving its deposit a vain hope. And at a time when it needs every penny.

As battle lines are drawn and candidates are named, HOPE not hate, Norfolk, has one great asset in this fight to keep Norwich North firmly and fairly democratic.

And that is the candidate that has been put forth by the BNP, the "Reverend" Robert West, a most interesting character.

More about him on Sunday.

Cameron supports local pubs

Tory leader David Cameron was in Norwich yesterday campaigning with Chloe Smith, the Conservative candidate for the Norwich North seat, ahead of the forthcoming by-election.
Before a visit to the NHS Walk-in centre in Dussindale, near Norwich, Mr Cameron visited Evening News publisher Archant Norfolk's headquarters where he spoke to journalists and added his support to the (support your local pub) campaign.
He said: “The campaign is very important - we are losing pubs at a terrible rate in this country. The message should be use it or lose it; people need to be supporting our local pubs.
“I do think you need to make sure the police are really cracking down on the illegal sale of alcohol in shops too, as that leads to so much of the antisocial behaviour. Pubs get wrongly blamed.”
It's the second big boost to the campaign, launched in February in a bid to get more punters to visit struggling pubs.
Three months ago the campaign received big name backing in Parliament when campaigners and trade association chiefs pledged their support following a crisis pubs summit.
As reported, Mr Cameron was in Norwich less than two weeks ago when he held a 'Cameron Direct' question and answer session at The Hewett School in Cecil Road.
On that occasion his speech was overshadowed by the reaction he received when he adopted a German accent to slam Labour's plans to introduce ID cards.
Mr Cameron's German-accented question “Where are your papers?” elicited a strong response from a member of the audience who questioned its wisdom, although Mr Cameron insisted it was “light-hearted”.
There is still no date set for the by-election, but an opinion poll of 500 Norwich voters found that 34pc would vote Tory, compared to 30pc for Labour, 15pc for the Lib Dems, and 14pc for the Greens.
Labour is due to select a candidate tomorrow.
Mr Cameron also paid tribute to former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson stating he was a “respected” and independent voice in Parliament, but he declined to say whether Dr Gibson would have faced the same fate if he had been a Conservative MP.
“I don't know enough about the individual facts of this case.”
And he fended off claims that 27-year-old Miss Smith was too young and inexperienced to be an MP, and said the campaign would be as much about local issues as the need for a change of government.
“The most important thing is that Norwich should choose the best member of parliament and in Chloe Smith we have got an outstanding candidate, who is Norfolk through and through, lives in Norwich, and has got a very good business career underway,” he said.
Meanwhile, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw will be in Norwich visiting youngsters at Sparhawk Infant and Nursery school in Sprowston on Monday.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, will also be canvassing in the city tomorrow and Monday.


Ukip Site Concerns Ukip Chairman

Yasin Akgun wrote:

RE: Michael Walker's comments about UKIP

I'd like to make a complaint about Michael Walker's ignorant comments about UKIP; making such sweepingly unintelligent statements that he probably picked out of newspapers with a reading age of 12 such as "ukip are bnp in suits".

I'm a Turkish born Brit. I am a member of UKIP, working for UKIP right now. I'm also the Vice Chairman of Young Independence, the youth wing of the party.

So how Mr Walker can make bizarre claims that UKIP are basically the BNP is beyond me. I've campaigned with Hope Not Hate before and so have other UKIP members, there's plenty of other valuable organisations like yours but we've always perceived your organisation to be more intelligent but after Mr Walker's comments my respect for your organisation has gone right down. I hope that you ensure that Michael Walker does his research before he makes ignorant and unfounded comments. It really does make Hope Not Hate look less credible.

Regards,Yasin Akgun

Michael Walker responds:

Yasin Akgun acts outraged as I suggest that comments made by Glenn Tingle (the UKIP candidate for the Norwich North by-election) imply that there is very little difference between the views of the BNP and Mr Tingle with regards to immigration.

Unfortunately for Yasin it would appear that Mr Tingle's true views are even closer to the BNP than we first suspected as Tingle has refused to deny that he was previously a member of the National Front.

Perhaps even more unfortunately for Yasin is a comment from Tom Wilde, a senior UKIP member and the moderator of the Democracy Forum, UKIP's own in-house discussion forum.

Tom Wilde writes:
This is completely unacceptable behaviour by Glenn Tingle.Occasionally the anti-fascists have had a pop at UKIP in the past, usually unfairly and often because they've been fed duff info by the europhiles. That's annoying, but what I really hate is that in this case they seem to be right.Going round collecting a petition for people to be evicted for a "crime" for which the cops have just failed to find any evidence is unacceptable campaigning.

I don't know the truth of the claim made in this thread that Glenn Tingle was once in the National Front, but if that is so then to my mind it strengthens the case for banning any former National Front or BNP member from representing UKIP in any election ever.

We've already had the Buster Mottram business, where an ex-NF member of UKIP turned out to be working for the BNP.

I'm aware that people want to be fair to individuals who may have just made an unwise choice or two thirty years earlier, but UKIP has serious work to do so I don't think we need to put up any more of these losers embarrassing the party.
So Yasin, what is it to be? Does UKIP still want Mr Tingle to represent them at the election? Or do you agree with Mr Wilde that Tingle is a loser?

And in case Yasin claims that Tingle's views are a one off, here is another comment on a UKIP website - I think the fact that concerns here are being raised by UKIP's Welsh Chair suggests that racism is endemic in some wings of UKIP.

Dissent in the UKIP ranks as UKIP website focuses on non-white immigration

UKIP has published an article on its website, reproduced from the Daily Telegraph, entitled "Britain’s non-white population up 500,000".

While this may be acceptable for a national newspaper to print, for a party in which certain factions have had alleged close links to the BNP, and which claims to be focused on UK withdrawal from the EU, doubts must be raised as to the reason for posting this article on the UKIP website.

Such doubts have been raised by UKIP supporters with some incredulous supporters commenting that UKIP might as well announce their merger with the BNP and asking themselves if UKIP really are the BNP.

Indeed, the Chairman of UKIP Wales was so concerned that he wrote to UKIP leader Roger Knapman.

Below is the text of the message:

Roger (Knapman),

I am very concerned to see that 2 out of 3 of our top stories on ukip.org website relate to immigration (and with no reference relating them to the EU).

I am particularly anxious that the main headline refers to "Britain's Non-White population is up 500,000".

I accept it’s a newspaper headline but is it a top story for us? What impression does this give to those who view our site?

I understood that our concern is space not race is this correct?

I hope and trust this is an oversight on someone’s part.

To prevent further embarrassment I think it should be removed or at least placed out of the 'top story' bracket - our Party is experiencing enough problems without adding to them in this way.

Other stories such as EuroPol, Barroso's key note speech to French Parliament (who introduced him as the leading politician in Europe when he is merely head of the Civil service in the EU) and Vice President EU Commissioner Wallstrom's upcoming participation in the 'Sound of Europe' Conference have not been included.

Richard Suchorzewski

Labour too close for Tory comfort

Tory leader David Cameron was back in Norwich yesterday launching an attack on “Labour spin” over its spending cuts claims, as an opinion poll suggested that his party had a narrow lead of less than 5pc in the forthcoming by-election.
Mr Cameron was campaigning with Tory candidate Chloe Smith at the NHS Walk-in Centre in Dussindale, near Norwich, praising the Conservative-run county council for its idea for adapting the site into a Surestart centre for children after it closes.
Labour's embryonic campaign has targeted the Tories with claims their spending plans, if in power, would see up to two Surestart centres close in the city and fewer police.
But Mr Cameron rubbished the suggestions which have appeared in a recent Labour newsletter sent to hundreds of homes in the city, and denied the party was vulnerable on social issues.
He also knocked back any idea that the nation's parlous finances could see the Tories reluctant to support funding for the Norwich northern bypass (NDR), or that they would prefer to see a toll road built.
“There is a road programme and the NDR has got an extremely strong case and Conservatives have been campaigning for it, whereas Labour has been lukewarm,” he said.
“Labour's leaflets are, frankly, appalling,” he added. “I was just blown away by what I read. How Gordon Brown can say he has got a moral compass, I just do not know.
“Here we are in a health centre that is being shut under the Labour government and it is the local Conservative-controlled county council that is giving us the choice of reopening it.”
There is still no date set for the by-election, but yesterday an opinion poll of 500 Norwich voters found that 34pc would vote Tory, compared to 30pc for Labour, 15pc for the Lib Dems, and 14pc for the Greens.The poll, by the University and College Union comes even before Labour selects a candidate on Sunday and may boost hopes the party could run the Tories closer than previously thought.
Mr Cameron also paid tribute to former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, stating he was a “respected” and independent voice in Parliament, but he declined to say whether Dr Gibson would have faced the same fate if he had been a Conservative MP.
“I don't know enough about the individual facts of this case,” he said. “He clearly had some big questions to answer.”
And he fended off claims that 27-year-old Miss Smith was too young and inexperienced to be an MP, and said the campaign would be as much about local issues as the need for a change of government.
“The most important thing is that Norwich should choose the best Member of Parliament and in Chloe Smith we have got an outstanding candidate, who is Norfolk through and through, lives in Norwich, and has got a very good business career under way,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the 'non-election' campaign continues, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw will be in Norwich visiting youngsters at Sparhawk Infant and Nursery school in Sprowston on Monday.
And Nigel Farage leader of the UK Independence Party will also be canvassing in the city on Sunday and Monday.
SHAUN LOWTHORPELast updated: 27/06/2009 00:01:00

Friday, 26 June 2009

Education a key issue according to by-election poll

Investing in education and training will be a key vote winner at the forthcoming Norwich North by-election, new research commissioned by the UCU (University and College Union) has revealed.
It might be early days when it comes to the Norwich North by-election but the Labour candidate is the only one yet to be selected and locally rumours are flying around about a late July polling day.
There are many university and college staff and students in Norwich North and as the recession kicks in, more people are placing education and training (or retraining) at the top of the political agenda.
The poll shows that a third (34%) of people in the constituency would be more likely to vote for a party if committed to spending extra on education. Over three-quarters (77%) of constituents said that providing affordable access to education and training was important in helping Norwich and the country beat the recession, while four-fifths (82%) called for every local person who met entry standards to be entitled to a free place at a local college or university.
The voting intentions are closer than many people expected with Labour just 4 points behind the Conservatives.
The Greens seem to have made big gains since their showing in the 2005 general election; it will be interesting to see how their vote interacts with Labour and the Lib Dems (the Lib Dems and Greens entered into a public spat only hours after the Lib Dem candidate was selected). The poll of 504 people came out:
Con 34% (+1)
Lab 30% (-15)
LD 15% (-1)
Green 14% (+11)
Other 7% (+4)
There are cuts happening across the country left, right and centre. They are happening in higher education and further education. Student places are being capped and graduates who leave university today (with substantial debt) are far from guaranteed a job.
With increasing youth and graduate unemployment, students who won’t find university places this year and adult learners who want to retrain but do not have access to courses it is no surprise that education in Norwich will be an issue in the by-election.

Gibson may stand as independent in Norwich by-election

Ian Gibson, who stood down as Labour MP for Norwich North last month, has hinted to (Michael Crick) that he may stand as an independent in the forthcoming by-election for the seat.

Talking to Newsnight in his first TV interview since he announced his resignation, Dr Gibson refuses to rule out the possibility of standing as an independent. He implies that his decision will partly depend on who Labour pick as their candidate to replace him.

The national Labour Party will tomorrow reduce the current shortlist of around 12-13 contenders down to three names. Members of the Norwich Labour Party are due to meet on Sunday to choose their candidate from these three.

Gibson is a popular figure in Norwich and if he does stand in the by-election, it would probably wreck any chance Labour has of keeping the seat. The Conservatives need a swing of just under six per cent to win Norwich North, an easy target in the current political climate.

An ICM poll in Norwich North commissioned by Norwich University and College Union gives the Tories a four per cent lead over Labour - 34 per cent to 30 per cent. The poll suggests the Lib Dems will simply be fighting Greens to avoid coming fourth, with the Lib Dems on 15 per cent and the Greens on 14 per cent.

Michael Crick
BBC Newsnight

This may bring the number of independents standing to three: Craig Murray, Bill Holden and now, possibly, Ian Gibson.

Winning as an independent after leaving the Labour party has happened three times before.

The more independents there are the less predictable is the voting outcome, as the traditional parties will lose votes.

Another wild card is the Libertarian candidate for Norwich North, Thomas Burridge.

BNP's West wants people of Norwich to follow his line. One does.

At the start of the week we learned that the British National Party (BNP) had confirmed that the "Reverend" Robert West will bid to become the next Norwich North MP.

Norwich Evening News 24 reported on June 23:
Mr West caused controversy on BBC1 in February when he said the answer to the recession was for women to “work at home” and he is against all forms of multi-culturalism.
And the 53-year-old, who lives near Spalding in south Lincolnshire, said today: “We are taking a strong anti-immigration line. And we are against the issue of sovereignty to the European community. I believe multi-culturalism is unnecessary and evil.
“I want the people of Norwich to follow this line and realise we have not been tough enough on immigration. I do not want anywhere in this country turning into the Middle East.
“This is Britain and I will fight to keep it that way.”
Mr West said although he does not live in the city he believes he can represent people here because he comes from a “rural community” which is similar to Norfolk and he has lectured for the University of East Anglia (UEA).

These policies were criticised by several Norfolk politicians. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said to the EN reporter:
“I want voters to reject extremism and if anyone stands for the BNP they should be rejected. They are a racist party and are preying on vulnerable people.
“I believe in treating people equally and this party does not share this view.”

These comments provoked a furious response from an EN reader, who wrote:
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb stated:
"I want voters to reject extremism and if anyone stands for the BNP, they should be rejected."
Surely this decision is the prerogative of the electorate at the ballot box.
They are not stupid and will vote for the party that offers what they want.
Mr Lamb et al should really concentrate on promoting the "virtues" of their own parties instead of wasting time and money castigating the BNP.

Fred S Curtis
Valley Road New Costessey

Which prompted a response in turn from alert reader, HOPE not hate, Norfolk's Sid Frisby:
I note with some interest the letter from Mr Fred Curtis "let voters make their choice".
Could this be the same Fred Curtis who, according to the leaked BNP members list, is currently a member of the BNP?
I am sure that the voters will make their own choice when the BNP tell us what they really stand for and drop the pretence of being a democratic political party.
Sid Frisby

Woodcock Close Norwich

Independent Craig Murray's Campaign Song

From the Craig Murray blog:
Norwich North Campaign Begins
We are now getting established in Norwich North. Our first leaflet is being printed. Meeting rooms have been booked; an office and accommodation have been rented. Priority today is to sort out the internet and other communications.
There is still no definite date set for the by-election yet. I have been trying to hire empty shops to use as campaign centres, but the Conservative Party has in some cases got there first and been hiring them for two months - so they obviously expect an early election. But it is the government which calls the date in this case. I still think July 23rd is most likely - New Labour are going to lose and it would be best to get the bad news out of the way before the summer. But Brown's instinct is generally to procrastinate.
By law a minimum of only seventeen days notice has to be given for a by-election, so it could be sprung upon us any moment.
There is a genuine disgust at the political parties among the electors of Norwich North. There seems to be a public understanding that the expenses scandal is only a symptom of a party political system that is not functioning and not helping people.
I think we have a genuine opportunity to give the political establishment a real shock here. But I very much need help. We already have plenty of tasks for volunteers to campaign, we can accommodate people and it's time now to come to Norwich and launch a radical assault on our rotten political system!

Corrigan Brothers Give Campaign Song
We now have an official campaign song, kindly donated by the Corrigan Brothers. Here is their press release:
Corrigan Brothers have today granted Independent candidate for Norwich exclusive rights to use their MP EXPENSES SONG in his campaign. Craig has agreed to perform the song with the Brothers. Lead singer Ger Corrigan said today, we had originally offered to help pay back the expenses of any MP who agreed to sing a duet of the song with us. We have however received no offers from expense shamed MPs!
After reading last Saturday’s Daily Telegraph supplement “The Complete Expense Files” we wholly endorse Craig’s campaign and are delighted that our song will assist in his victory.

The last song we did for a politician , Mr Barack Obama (There’s no one as Irish as Barack O'bama) helped greatly in his election and we hope to perform at Craig’s inauguration like we did at President Obama’s”. Go Craig!
Click here for the Corrigon Brothers' song

Click here for more about former ambassador Craig Murray.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Cool Reception for BNP Candidate

So how will the "Reverend" Robert West be received when he goes about his campaigning as the BNP candidate for Norwich North?
Denise G. of Norfolk Unity has been rifling through the files for this report:
While leading members of the BNP are afforded the luxury of having themselves pelted with eggs, those lower down the ranks are only thought worthy of cheaper alternatives.
In the case of the BNP's Norwich North by-election candidate this was a jug of iced water expertly flung at pretend prelate the "Reverend" Robert West by an irate housewife in North Hykeham, Lincs, when West - sporting his trademark dog-collar - came calling on behalf of the racist party.
The incident happened in 2006, soon after West resigned from a Conservative Party about to expel him for speaking at BNP meetings and for his role in setting up the BNP's bogus "Christian Council of Britain".
The unnamed housewife later told the Lincolnshire Echo: "He was wearing a dog collar so I asked him whether he was a real reverend. He refused to enter into a debate about it. I had the jug of iced water because I was preparing for friends who were visiting that day. I refuse to apologise. I have no remorse. If he comes here again I will empty a whole jug over his head."
The matter of whether West is a "real reverend" or not has exercised quite a number of people for quite some time, not least those who take a closer interest in religious affairs than the "Rev." West finds comfortable.
In the past West has refused to discuss the validity of his orders - that is, who ordained him, into which church, when and where? Without valid orders, West has no more right to call himself "Reverend" or to pass himself off as a clergyman than you or I.
There have been unsourced reports that West was ordained as an "Elder" into something calling itself the Apostolic Church, but the only legitimate existing British church of that name denied all knowledge of him, telling a researcher for the Love @nd Rage website:
First of all may I confirm that The Apostolic Church does not support the views or the activities of the British National Party. The Church has no political association whatsoever.On the second matter I am uncertain about who is the Mr Robert West mentioned in the article. One thing is certain: he does not speak on behalf of The Apostolic Church. If this person lives in Lincolnshire he does not attend The Apostolic Church. In fact as a denomination we have no churches in Lincolnshire.I note that he is quoted as being ‘ordained as an elder’ within the Church. If this person has had any association with The Apostolic Church in the past the only means by which he can maintain either his membership or office is by attending one of our churches. If he were an active member of the Church his views would not be accepted by the Church and disciplinary action would be undertaken by the Church which strongly distances itself from views such as these.
West operates - if that is the word - the Grace Covenant Fellowship from his Holbeach home, the "Fellowship" strongly suspected, like the "Christian Council of Britain", of having a membership of one.
Following the European elections West appeared on BBC television's "The Big Question", in company of ex-Nazi and ex-National Front leader, Andrew Brons. At the beginning of the show West was explictly challenged by Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley to say how many members the CCB had, and not for the first time shied away from answering. Bartley told West in no uncertain terms that it had one, namely himself, to which West could only grimace lamely.
Back in April, however, on the East Midlands version of The Politics Show, West produced what he claimed to be a diploma from the Apostolic Church Bible College, located in Pen-y-groes, south Wales. An Apostolic college certainly exists in Pen-y-groes, and is indeed run by the Apostolic Church, a Pentecostal Christian denomination founded in the early 20th century. Its title, however, is Apostolic Church School of Ministry (ACSOM), previously the Apostolic Church International Bible School.
What is immediately apparent from its website is that ACSOM and the church to which it is attached are multi-cultural, multi-racial, and inclusive. Its members do not wear dog-collars, nor do they use the title "Reverend". And the last thing they will preach about is the "sin" of race-mixing.
Little wonder, then, that the church is keen to distance itself from the claims of the "Reverend" West.
As Jonathan Bartley asks of the well-watered "cleric": "Will any church come forward to claim him? Or is this another example of BNP deception?"
Well, the voters of Norwich North and Norfolk journalists are going to have every opportunity to find out the answer to Jonathan's question when West and his cohorts of decidedly unsaintly BNP hatemongers descend upon the Fine City in the near future.
Don't forget to ask: who ordained Robert West? Into which church? When? Where? And let's see his written orders, please.

Green Party select candidate for Norwich North fight

The Green Party last night selected Rupert Read to contest the Norwich North by-election, leaving Labour as the last major party not to have a candidate in place for the poll.
The Greens believe they could pull off a surprise in the constituency following the selection of Dr Read, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia. He defeated teachers Jessica Goldfinch and Claire Stephenson in the three-way contest.
Earlier this month Dr Read stood for the Greens in the European Parliament elections, narrowly failing to win a seat after the party polled 8.8pc of the vote in the region.
And last night he said was looking forward to the by-election, triggered after Ian Gibson's resignation.
“I'm honoured to be given the opportunity to represent the Green party in a by-election in which, for the first time ever, the national spotlight will be on the Green party and our prospects are being taken extremely seriously.”
Meanwhile the unofficial campaign continued apace with Tory candidate Chloe Smith in Sprowston with shadow energy and climate change secretary Greg Clark.
Labour Euro MP Richard Howitt will be at the Norwich University College of the Arts meeting aspiring artists to highlight the European Year of Creativity and Innovation.
On a less high-brow level, Labour, who will choose their candidate on Sunday, also took a swipe at the Tories over crime - recycling claims the Conservatives would cut spending by 10pc, while the Lib Dems were challenging Miss Smith to condemn the party's new alliance in the European Parliament.
Meanwhile Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is back in Norwich today and could face embarrassing questions about the strength of party support for candidate April Pond.
The Lib Dems have strongly insisted they could do well in Norwich, despite the fact that the party has been on the retreat on the city council - holding only six seats after running the council in 2005.
But Tory blogger Iain Dale claimed on his website that Mrs Pond was in fact the third choice and the party first tried to recruit former BBC journalist Martin Bell, and the EDP's retiring editor Peter Franzen.
Mr Franzen, who steps down next month, yesterday refused to confirm or deny the speculation, but in his response to the blogger said he would not be drawn any further.
“It is true that Nick Clegg came to the EDP last week to do a 'web chat' and that he and I discussed Norwich North and my imminent retirement as editor of the Eastern Daily Press, but I think it would be unfair to the now-adopted prospective parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems (April Pond) to say any more than that,” he said.
A Lib Dem spokesman also declined to divulge anymore details of any approaches to non-party members by their leader, and said insisted the party was “delighted” with its choice of candidate.
“Like any political party we cast our net far and wide for candidates encouraging them to stand in our internal selection contest,” he said.
“The choice of candidate is always left to our local members and this by-election is no different.”