Friday, 28 August 2009
Last week we ran a successful campaign to stop a right wing Islamophobic football hooligan march through the streets of Luton. Over 14,000 letters were sent to the Home Secretary and Chief Constable of Bedfordshire police within 24 hours.
It proved decisive and the march was subsequently banned.
Now we need your help once again. On Saturday 5 September the right wing football hooligan group, the English Defence League, plans to use the England v Slovenia match as an excuse to whip up hatred and trouble in central Birmingham. The last time they demonstrated there were 19 arrests as the city centre came to a standstill after running battles broke out. With the England game drawing thousands to city centre pubs the potential for further trouble is severe.
Unfortunately the local council seem unwilling to act. That’s why we have set up a tool so our supporters can contact the council directly and urge them to reconsider. So far we have only sent out 5,000 to people on our email list who live in and around Birmingham but within 24 hours over 800 emails have already been sent in to the council.
With your help we can push this to 1,000.
We will be writing to every Birmingham councillor early next week to encourage them to take a stand against hatred. We want to do that with the backing of a huge number of local people. So please do sign up and send a message loud and clear to the council that the football hooligans are not welcome.
posted by: Nick Lowles on: Friday, 28 August 2009, 17:43
Thursday, 27 August 2009
The BNP says it submitted its latest quarterly donations report in July and suggests that the Electoral Commission has made an "administrative error" in stating that the party had not complied with the requirement.
Simon Darby wrote on his blog late last night after most of the media had reported the supposed failure: "On checking the awful publicity generated today I quickly find out that our submission was sent by recorded delivery and after a couple of calls to the Electoral Commission they begin to realise that a mistake is a distinct possibility".
Complaining that the Commission had nevertheless failed to remove a strong statement from its website that the BNP's failure to deliver the return was "unacceptable", he continued:
"Tomorrow morning if I do not get a satisfactory solution to this problem I am very seriously considering calling in the Metropolitan Police".
HOPE not hate, Norfolk checked BNP's Simon Darby blog, and found this interesting paragraph:
Can anyone remember the article attributed to a senior member of the Electoral Commission some few months, possibly years back in which they advocated an electoral system which would "keep the BNP out" or words to that effect. If someone could provide me with a link it would be most useful.
Mr Darby cites "a senior member of the Electoral Commission" and actually gives a direct quote (that he qualifies in the next phrase).
What could Mr Darby be hinting here? Seems to be suggesting some wrong-doing by the Commission.
Not a very clever move, in the circumstances.
Noor Ramjanally abducted and threatened unless he stops Islamic prayer services at Murray Hall
From This is Local London:
A MUSLIM community leader was kidnapped from his home by two men and taken to Epping Forest where he was ordered at knifepoint to stop his religious work.
Details are starting to emerge of the latest attack on Noor Ramjanally, whose home was firebombed last month.
He was in his flat in Valley Hill, Loughton, on Monday when he heard someone repeatedly ringing the intercom outside.
He said: The doorbell kept ringing, I thought it was someone to fix up the flat. I came down and they grabbed me. They put a weapon, I think a knife, at the back of me and force me into a 4x4.
They didn't say anything until I was in the forest. They said they didn't want the Islamic group in Loughton.
Last month he received hate mail threatening his family and later suffered an arson attack at his home.
Essex Police have confirmed they are treating the latest attack as a hate crime and are linking it to the two previous incidents and the use of Murray Hall.
Superintendent Simon Williams said: "We are treating these offences with the utmost seriousness and are putting considerable resources into the investigation.
"While that investigation continues we will be working with the whole population of Loughton to ensure that all members of the community are free to practise their religion and beliefs safely and freely."
By Edmund Tobin
Extra From Harry's Place:
There is an astonishing quote from Pat Richardson:
Councillor Pat Richardson, leader of the BNP group on the local council, said her party was not behind the attacks on Ramjanally. “Firebombing is not a British method. A brick through the window is a British method, but firebombing is not a way of showing displeasure,” she said.
The BNP is a party of thugs and gangsters.
By David T
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
From Red Pepper:
We recognise that there needs to be a debate concerning the efficacy of different approaches to undermining support for the far right if we are to refine our intervention. Unfortunately, Keiron Farrow offers little in terms of a positive way forward.
His piece casually runs together the Hope not Hate (HNH) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) campaigns, two organisations he says have ‘broadly similar approaches’, and in doing so blatantly confuses their methods and approaches.
The first important thing to say regarding HNH is that it is a constantly evolving campaign. Because we are not stuck with any old dogma we are able to gauge what works, refine those elements that are helpful and move away from tactics that do not work. For a long period, especially during the 1990s, anti-fascism was something of a minority interest, with a few committed groups and individuals either spying on or beating the far right. This approach might be described as proportional as the BNP offered no political threat in those days, although they posed a physical threat to those they targeted. This changed in the early years of this decade as the BNP for a number of reasons was able, under Nick Griffin’s leadership, to present itself increasingly as a political solution to the problems faced in certain communities.
Since that time we have seen a growth in the far-right vote that is without precedent. During this period the anti-fascist movement has had to learn how to deal with a party that knows how to win elections. We have also had to deal with an organisation that has moved out of its traditional strongholds and is able to gather a sizeable vote almost anywhere. The BNP vote can now longer be dismissed as a protest; rather, the BNP has become the first choice for a significant number of voters.
Certainly, 10 or 15 years ago, the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight would highlight the criminal convictions of far-right activists and candidates. However, this tactic is used far more sparingly these days as we know it has a limited appeal. Rather what we have seen is a growing realisation and understanding that anti-fascism has to address the political, social and economic issues that are giving rise to the far right.
At HNH we know that most people who vote BNP are not Nazis, and we also know that there is a whole host of issues on which they feel ignored. Even here, though, there is an ongoing debate about what these social issues are. We are told often that it revolves around job and housing insecurity. These clearly play a part, but it is also about other less tangible discontents. We are sometimes told that the question is about identity and in particular English and working-class identities ... but are we really being told, in a polite way, that the big issue is immigration? The BNP has managed to give racial ideology and, in particular, fear of immigration a growing political outlet. It is tapping into large reservoirs of racism that have for too long gone unchallenged.
For HNH, taking on the BNP is primarily about working with those communities under threat from the BNP. We have seen in some of our exemplary work, such as in Keighley, that grass-roots campaigning where local people take ownership of the fight against the BNP can be absolutely effective in defeating them. Keighley went from being a BNP ‘capital’ in 2004 to having no BNP organisation or even candidates by 2007. This was achieved by some old-fashioned proper community development work with residents on the threatened estate.
Ironically, the leaders of that particular community came from the mums at the local Sure Start, which suggest to me that it is vital to defend what working-class communities have gained what has been gained over recent years, something Farrow neglects to mention. It is through this careful and patient work that the broad-based alliances necessary to defeat the BNP can be built.
There is also the point that third-party campaigning is limited in what it can achieve. For the BNP to lose an election, another party has to win. Hope not Hate is not an appendage of the Labour Party, but clearly it is often the case that Labour that needs to get more votes than the BNP for the BNP to lose! We disagree entirely with the claim that the BNP can never fulfil its programme and that its real crime is delaying the rise of independent working-class opposition. This seems both complacent and self-indulgent. It almost seems that Farrow believes that voting Labour is a worse crime than voting BNP. What is astonishing is that our hard-left critics have not managed to make any headway over the past few years; their derisory election scores are indicative of how irrelevant they are to the working class of which they speak so much and understand so little.
Farrow is right to suggest that the battle for hearts and minds continues on the estates devoid of the far left. But if at the end of this the working people reject the hate of the BNP and vote Labour it will be called a victory. The election of Griffin and Brons as MEPs is devastating, but we must bear in mind that there was no massive surge to the BNP. Rather, the Labour vote collapsed. It is worth remarking, however, that in Bradford, for example, where HNH is long established, the BNP vote went down while the Labour vote went up. Intelligent community-based campaigning exposes the BNP for what it is, as well as providing a defence of civil society.
by Paul Meszaros, Hope Not Hate Yorkshirehq[at]hopeyorks.org.uk
The British National Party is to be fined for failing for failing to report its donations and accounts to the Electoral Commission.
Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, parties are required to report donations on a quarterly basis to the watchdog, and must also submit their annual reports and accounts.
The BNP's breach of the rules was described as "unacceptable" by Electoral Commission chief executive Peter Wardle.
We have not yet received a donation return for this quarter from the British National Party. This comes on top of their failure to deliver their latest annual statement of accounts to the Commission.
This is unacceptable and the party will be issued with fines for both reporting failures.
We will also be assessing the systems they have in place to ensure compliance with the law.
The British National party (BNP) will be issued with a fine for failing to issue a return to the Electoral Commission concerning its donations. The party will be issued with a separate fine for failing to deliver their latest annual statement of accounts.
"This is unacceptable and the party will be issued with fines for both reporting failures," said Peter Wardle, chief executive of the Electoral Commission. "We will also be assessing the systems they have in place to ensure compliance with the law.”
The BNP were not the only small party to face the disapproval of the commission, with the Co-operative party and the Christian party both reporting "very large" donations late.
"We'll be assessing the systems they have in place to ensure compliance with the law and expect to see them reporting donations on time in the future," Mr Wardle said.
The Conservatives received the most donations, with £6,394,673 going to the opposition. Labour received £4,391,632, while the Liberal Democrats received £1,132,079. The 20 political parties registered in Great Britain received a total of £13.2 million in donations between April and June 2009, according to returns handed in to the commission. Figures were higher than normal, a fact most analysts put down to the local and European elections.
“This was the fourth highest quarter ever for donations – the second highest outside a general election quarter – and we received donations reports from a larger number of parties than usual," Mr Wardle said.
Another call to challenge the obnoxious nonsense spouted by the far-right
Following the BNP’s annual event ‘Red, White and Blue’ the other weekend, what should have grabbed the headlines (and which was only mentioned in passing was the racism endemic in the event itself.
What in fact grabbed the headlines were the 19 protestors arrested largely for public order offences (4 of whom were charged), and the £500,000 policing cost at public expense. Only a few weeks ago, violence had already made the headlines.
Whilst I am by no means undermining the importance of peaceful protest as a legitimate method of getting heard (I do, in fact, attend rallies), if the right-wing extremists remain predominantly challenged by the left-wing extremists, the argument against the BNP gets distorted. In fact, it can serve to bolster the BNP’s message as did the photographs of young Asian men attacking white-protestors during the Birmingham riots. Moderates need to reclaim the upper hand by systematically challenging the BNP’s ideology rather than resorting to violence.
Since about 2006, particularly post-7/7, the BNP has consciously changed their rhetoric from being anti-Asian, -Black and -Jewish, to being ardently anti-Muslim. In a paper that I authored entitled In Defence of British Muslims: A response to BNP racist propaganda (pdf), I therefore took 10 of the key accusations directed against Islam and British Muslims by the BNP and systematically deconstructed them by highlighting their intellectual inconsistencies and factual weaknesses.
Such arguments are easily undermined using proper statistics, and historical and textual evidence. For one, Islam is not a religion with a cunning master-plan for its adherents to emigrate with the intention of mass conversion. The Islamic concept of migration (hijrah) is to flee from religious persecution rather than a calculated drive for world domination.
The incredible level to which the BNP will stoop was revealed by Lee Barnes in a blog on the drugs problem in the UK. Referring to a young student, Rachel Whitear, who died of a heroin overdose Barnes wrote:
The BNP will stop at nothing it seems—not the manipulation of the death of an innocent young girl’s life or the damning of an entire religion— for the furthering of their cause. Luckily for common sense, a man was charged with incitement to religious hatred the other week for distributing the said leaflets.
She was not an angel, she was an accomplice to genocide, terrorism and a funder of the most vicious criminal gangs on the planet as she funded the terrorists and gangsters that cause such misery across the planet. The idea that she should be regarded as a victim is repulsive. Every junkie is a criminal, not a victim.
The body of every dead junkie should be photographed and hung on a wall of shame in every community so that young kids can see the real price of heroin. Their lives should be regarded as a disgrace not as victims.
The BNP’s accusations against Islam are offensive to any Muslim, but easily torn apart by intellectually countering these arguments. The BNP are drastically short of funds, and the number of votes has not actually increased on 2004 (rather their share of the vote increased with the slump in Labour support). We don’t need to panic. Instead, members of British society, Muslim and non-Muslim, desperately need to start intellectually reclaiming the debate and systematically challenge the BNP’s racist and inaccurate arguments.
By Lucy James from the Quilliam Foundation
Some people argue there are no limits to free speech, but the law and unwritten constitution does set boundaries. Simon Woolley argued that the BNP cannot be allowed to operate outside these limits
The BNP and their supporters must have a good old laugh every time defenders of our liberal democracy try to defend the indefensible. The liberals argue: ‘I hate the BNP, but however loathsome they are we mustn’t close down debate.’ Or they say: ‘I disagree with what they say, but I’ll defend to the death their right to say it.’
And so the pseudo-political debate is framed, not about what the BNP stand for, or what they stand against but simply about their right, in a modern society, to say it.
It is of course a cul-de-sac debate which the BNP can never lose so as long as they stay within a nat’s hair of the incitement to racial hatred law. Moreover, many of the BNP’s detractors quickly become their defenders when discussing the almost sacred cow that is freedom of speech.
There are two principal debates we should focus ourselves on in regards to the BNP. First and foremost, the ideological debate. The battle for ideas. What type of society do we want? How can we all get on with each other? How much immigration can this nation support? How do we fairly dispense limited public resources, particularly in a recession? Who should come first, and why? How do we create real opportunity for all? What is our national identity?
Legitimate questions that are rarely framed without the hysteria and hyperbole that polarises the debate. Having spineless politicians, who pander to a bigoted agenda rather than face it down, means that important questions are not properly explored because the debate is too infected with prejudice and fear.
But if we park the ideological debate for a moment, there is another area of discussion which has hardly been discussed before the Equality and Human Rights Commission raised it by challenging the legality of the BNP constitution.
This question goes to the very core of what are the limits to our democracy, and how much are we fight to uphold and protect them.
Over centuries our unwritten constitution has given us a framework for our democracy. From Magna Carta to the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, our democracy has evolved to reflect our changing times. This framework gives us a democracy which, for all its limitations, seeks to balance individual freedoms with fairness and tolerance.
More importantly, anyone wanting to play a part in the governance of this country must subscribe to these rules. And for good reason. As absurd as the proposition may sound, our democracy would not accommodate the extreme prejudices of the Taliban, not just because the British voters wouldn’t accept it, but also because the Taliban’s imposition on women, -that they remain veiled and uneducated for example-, would be against our law.
If our values and the laws that help enshrine them are to mean anything then surely it is right to challenge any political party that so blatantly flouts our nation’s basic principals?
Surely it is a basic principal for any British citizen to join any political party either because they subscribe to their values, and or they may want to join to be a part of a change within it.
At the moment a Black person is powerless to democratically change the BNP’s constitution or their policies that so blatantly seek to discriminate against them. One of the more unpalatable policies would be the right for British employers not to employ Black people.
Some people would argue that challenging the BNP in this way, particularly after their recent European electoral success, will seem like a spiteful move to suppress ideas we don’t like. But this is not about suppressing ideas.
Their odious ideology needs to be effectively challenged on the door step up and down the country. This particular aspect is fundamentally about political parties operating within the law. A law that enshrines our freedoms and equality.
by Simon Woolley
The decision of Trevor Phillips’ equalities body to take the British National Party to court over the far-right outfit’s “apartheid constitution” is a brave gamble, but one which seems to enjoy fairly widespread support.
One community activist, who first mooted the idea of challenging the BNP’s very legitimacy three years ago, said he couldn’t understand why it had not been done earlier.
Nic Careem, a former Labour activist from Camden in north London, who is now with the Conservatives, said he originally argued that black and Asian people should join the BNP en mass to cause chaos and expose the extent of racism inside the party of Nick Griffin.
He told OBV Blog today:
I was speaking about this at meetings three years ago, saying that we should challenge the BNP’s legitimacy from within. I’m glad that the equalities commission are now doing it. I’ve never understood why the old CRE [Commission for Racial Equality] never challenged it.It’s doubtful whether many Black people could be persuaded to become BNP ‘entryists’ in order to destroy the far right party from within, but there is certainly merit in the legal challenge to the BNP’s constitution, which forbids non-white people from joining.
The point about the BNP’s policy of discriminating on the grounds of race matters because they are a party that on the surface competes for the votes of all voters, and seeks to govern for all races, even though we know that, in their hearts, they only wish to serve white people.
It’s a very different situation compared, say, to the Black Police Association, a body that does not seek to police only for Black people but wants to a quality service for everyone. The BPA, like any Black association in a large public authority, is simply a coming together of Black people to lobby for equality.
Unlike the BNP, who want to actively discriminate in favour of white people, I have never come across any BPA member who wants preferential treatment for Black officers.
The key difference seems to have been lost on Telegraph columnist Gerald Warner, who claims today that the move against the BNP by the Equality and Human Rights Commission will end up “backfiring” and lead to the BPA being outlawed. Warner writes:
Many people feel considerable unease about our police force being Balkanised into ethnic groupings. (Would a National White Police Association be tolerated?) It is difficult to avoid the impression that Trevor Phillips is tugging at a thread on his pullover that could unravel the whole garment.While Warner is voicing a commonly-held opinion, his misguided views need to be challenged head-on if the EHRC’s legal action against the BNP is to be taken seriously by the public at large.
There is a world of difference between an organisation that believes in racial supremacy, and a group that comes together because they know strength-in-numbers is the only way to tackle institutional racism. But it’s time to make this argument all over again now.
From the Guardian:
The British National party is being taken to court over claims its membership criteria breach human rights law.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it had issued county court proceedings against the party leader, Nick Griffin, and two other officials today over the BNP's membership rules.
The party's constitution limits members to people who are "'indigenous Caucasian' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that race".
The commission first wrote to the BNP in June stating that it believed the party is in breach of the Race Relations Act. The far right organisation responded by saying it intended to clarify the word "white" on its website.
However, the commission said today that it believes the BNP is still discriminating against "potential or actual members on racial grounds".
"The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful," said John Wadham the commission's group director.
"The commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP."
Wadham said the BNP could still avoid court action if it moved quickly to change its membership rules.
However, a spokesman for the party said it intended to fight the move, claiming the action was politically motivated.
"It is strange that this is happening now when these rules have been in place for a long time," said the BNP's deputy leader, Simon Darby. "And we certainly resent the fact that some unelected body which is 70% ethnic can accuse us of racism."
The commission said it had decided not to take action on two other grounds set out in its original letter to the BNP after the party agreed to comply with the law.
by Matthew Taylor
Whilst some anti-fascists fear that this is a hasty and ill-thought-out move by the EHRC, others believe that the racist constitution of the BNP should be challenged. It doesn't seem right that a political party seeking legislative power over all Brits should exclude some Brits from the party and that process because of anything as superficial as skin colour.
But if the BNP were to change its membership rules, it will alienate the racists who are most drawn to the party, so the BNP is facing a real dilemma.
As CST blog writes:
If the BNP is to avoid a legal injunction in this case, it may have to alter its character to such an extent that it ceases to serve its purpose for most BNP members. BNP spokesman John Walker told the BBC that the BNP would be prepared to change its membership rules “to remain within the law…[but] I don’t think we should be bullied by outside forces. They are asking us to change our whole political ideology.” This quote outlines perfectly the dilemma facing the BNP. It wants to be a normal political party, offering itself at election and winning seats. So far, it has had moderate success in local and European elections doing just that. But its “whole political ideology” is based on discrimination on the basis of colour, religion and ethnicity.
The BNP’s efforts to ditch its extremist, racist image have so far been entirely superficial; you do not have to scratch very far beneath the surface to find the same racism that has always been there, because it is written into the constitution of the party. The EHRC seem determined to put this to the test.
Monday, 24 August 2009
Yeah I know its the News of The World, but they have done an undercover expose of the real nature of the ‘family’ Red White and Blue festival.
Elsewhere stalls were selling T-shirts with slogans like It’s A White Thing and books such as Race, Evolution and Behavior – which insists whites give birth to larger-brained babies and blacks are prone to crime.
Supporters gave Nazi-style salutes and shouted Sieg Heil.
But the most sickening bit was :
…local council candidates John Coombes, of Maidenhead, Berks, and Dick Hamilton of Marlow, Bucks, were sitting with others around a brazier.
Hamilton’s ghettoblaster blared out songs supporting Hitler and attacking “ni**ers”.
Then began the “trial” led by Coombes, 45.
A 12-year-old girl there with her dad (we are protecting her identity) held a golly called Winston over the fire as Coombes “charged” him with “mugging, rape, drug dealing”.
He sneered: “Right Winston, you’re about to get cooked. Anything else to say?
“Says he ain’t a drug dealer. He thinks he’s not black. He’s charged with being black. Now get on there.”
Skinhead Hamilton chipped in: “If he jumps off he’s innocent.” Coombes went on: “He’s guilty, guilty as charged.
“Let’s get a real one – in the town we’ll find one or two. They’ll also be guilty of the heinous crimes I charged him with – may God forgive your horrible soul.” Coombes repeated the charges then added: “He may have appeared innocent to you lot but I’m sure he done lots of things wrong.”
Much as I dislike the NOTW, the reality is I’d much rather this was in their paper than a leftie one due the the numbers who will read it .
The Equality and Human Rights Commission are taking legal action against the British National Party over concerns about its admissions policy.
BNP Party Leader Nick Griffin Photo: PA
The Equality and Human Rights Commission today began legal action against the British National Party over concerns about ethnic restrictions of its membership.
The Commission issued county court proceedings against the party after voicing concerns in June about the BNP's constitution and membership criteria.
The BNP responded by saying that it intended to clarify the word ''white'' on its website, but the Commission said it believed the party will continue to discriminate against potential or actual members on racial grounds.
''The BNP's membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular ''ethnic groups'' and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act.
''The Commission believes the BNP's constitution and membership criteria are discriminatory and, further, that the continued publication of them on the BNP website is unlawful. It has therefore issued county court proceedings against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials,'' said the Commission in a statement.
John Wadham, group director, Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: ''The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful.
''The Commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP. However, the party still has an opportunity to resolve this quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the Commission requires.''
The BNP is continuing its substantial online campaign with the launch of an ambitious Facebook application. Supporters can download the application to their Facebook page where it prompts people who view their profile to join the BNP mailing list and donate online.
The BNP are continuing to take the online initiative, spreading its message using popular social networking sites. The party has even developed its own social network site.
Nothing British believes that the fight against the party could be won or lost via the internet, and encourages other political parties and movements to invest time and energy into expanding their online campaigns.
Sunday, 23 August 2009
The poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Booker prize nominee AS Byatt will be appearing at the University of East Anglia's literary festival this autumn.
Fans of Alexander McCall Smith and his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series will also be able to see him at the prestigious festival.
The Arthur Miller Centre International Literary Festival starts on Wednesday September 23 with novelist and historian Richard Flanagan. Carol Ann Duffy, who became the first female poet laureate this year, is speaking on Wednesday September 30. Theatre and film director Sir Richard Eyre will be at the UEA on Wednesday October 7. He has been artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse and the National Theatre and directed films, including Iris and Notes on a Scandal.
Two nominees for this year's Man Booker prize are also appearing - Dame Antonia Byatt, a past prizewinner who is nominated this year for The Children's Book, and Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, who is nominated for Brooklyn. AS Byatt will be there on December 2 and Colm Tóibín on October 12.
Shirley Williams, a former cabinet minister under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan and the daughter of Vera Brittain, is speaking on November 23. Her books include God and Caesar: Personal Reflections on Politics and Religion, and an autobiography, Climbing the Bookshelves.
Alexander McCall Smith, who was born in Zimbabwe in 1948 and became professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, will be talking about his latest novel Corduroy Mansions, which was first published on the internet. He is also author of The Sunday Philosophy series, the 44 Scotland Street and Isobel Dalhousie series, and will be speaking on Tuesday November 17.
Spanish novelist and translator Javier Marias is appearing on Wednesday November 11.
Festival organiser Chris Bigsby said:
We are delighted with the varied and international line-up on offer at the literary festival this autumn. Whether people are interested in politics or poetry, fiction or film, there should be something for everyone. It is a testament to the literary and creative reputation of the University of East Anglia that we can once again host such a high-quality festival.All events begin at 7pm in Lecture Theatre 1 at the UEA. Season tickets are £36 (£30 concessions) and individual tickets £6 (no concessions) from the UEA Box Office on 01603 508050.
by SARAH BREALEY
HOPE not hate, Norfolk recalls that Norwich is bidding to join Edinburgh, Iowa and Melbourne to become a UNESCO City of Literature. As well as worldwide kudos and the strengthening of the strong literary tradition of Norwich, the designation could also bring fresh financial advantages for the city.
As well as forming part of the celebration of modern Norfolk.
Saturday, 22 August 2009
A couple of things set my Crackers sense tingling this week that I wanted to follow up, but didn't have time. Luckily, Jamie Sport has taken apart the laughable Daily Mail investigation that shows there are more dirty foreigners looking for work than locals in 'Mail compares apples with oranges, comes up with bananas' at MailWatch, and MacGuffin has taken apart the scary story about there being one rule for Muslim customers at Lloyd's TSB and another for everyone else in 'Shameless Mail stirs up anti-Muslim hatred' at TabloidWatch.
You don't need superpowers to tell when some tabloid stories are rubbish. Sometimes, spotting certain phrases can tell you that what you're about to read will be a load of old monkey cack. Back in 'Nick Fagge, quality journalist', I pointed out that one of these is 'investigation by the Daily Express'. There's another in 'Revealed: The areas of Britain where there are more migrants chasing jobs than locals' in yesterday's Mail. It's 'investigation by the Daily Mail'. Seeing those words lets you know you'll be doing the equivalent of switching on CSI to see that the entire cast has been replaced with the Chuckle Brothers.
Since Jamie's already demolished it at MailWatch, I don't need to look at it in detail. It's enough to point out that Sue Reid has taken figures for the number of people looking for work in one month, and compared them with the number of dirty foreigners who were given National Insurance Numbers in an entire year. Guess what? There were more people doing one thing in one entire year than people doing another in just one month. Well, blow me down. I'm sure this was just a genuine mistake and not at all deliberate.
The fact that the hack involved is the same one who offered people money to come from Poland in their Polish registered car to be photographed breaking the law in order to prove that Polish drivers break the law doesn't indicate that Sue Reid was starting with her conclusion and making the figures fit at all.
In any case, the investigation has now been favourably copied over to the BNP website. Well done, Sue Reid. Hurrah for the blackshirts!
The second story has been demolished too, so all I need to do is quote TabloidWatch saying:
Oh. As usual the spokesman from Lloyds TSB is relegated to near the end of the article. They say:
All of our Islamic accounts comply with Islamic law and are available to anyone regardless of background or faith.'These accounts are structured differently to our traditional accounts and are designed to help prevent a customer slipping into the red. A comparison with the overdraft charging structure on other accounts is meaningless.Available to anyone, you say? That's weird, because the way the Mail presented the story it was as if them Muslims were getting a special deal that wasn't available to anyone else.
Also, MacGuffin points out that the unplanned overdraft fee for all Lloyd's TSB accounts is £15 per month. That one's been favourably reproduced over at the BNP site too. Win double for the Mail!
In the really rather pseudy 'Columnists: Creators of Imaginary Worlds', I said this:
what we get [from the tabloids] are the same stories repeated endlessly, regardless of what is actually happening. These are the stories that the tabloids have identified as being what their target audience want to hear; stories about how certain groups live up to stereotypes, stories about how people in authority are completely stupid and lack common sense, stories about how crime is inexorably rising, stories about how immigration is destroying the fabric of society (usually because of the earlier one about stereotypes) and so on.By Five Chinese Crackers
Both these stories show that process in action. The first (from a hack who has already deliberately tried to manipulate events to get hold of a story that fits the anti-immigration narrative that says that foreigners are criminal) fits in with the 'we are being overwhelmed by foreigners taking our jobs' narrative. Of course, it's rubbish because it compares a month's activity with a year's. But the point of the story was never to actually seriously investigate anything. The point of the story was to push the job-stealing narrative.
The second story even quotes someone from Lloyd's TSB at the end pointing out that the entire story is rubbish. The paper still goes with the story and buries the quote at the end to cast doubt on it, because the point of the story was never to give an honest comparison between different types of bank account. It was to push the 'Muslims get special treatment' narrative.
It's inevitable that the BNP will jump on anti-immigration and anti-Muslim stories that appear in the papers and use them for their own ends. That's one reason why papers should be sure that whenever they publish these kinds of stories they should be accurate - and not just slapped together hogwash designed to attract gullible readers to the paper. Trouble is, that would mean the papers would need to change their entire reason for existence to, oh I don't know, reporting the news accurately?
Whether you believe it’s a tool used by the state to suppress freedom of speech and kow-tow to minorities, or think it’s just another example of different people forcing acceptance upon us, one thing is certain: political correctness is everywhere.
Well, it is if you’re a Daily Mail journalist and can’t think of anything to write about, anyway. All you have to do is take an utterly mundane, entirely innocuous event, twist it around a bit, add an agenda, misrepresent the details and – bam! a ready made tale of political correctness gone absolutely raving bonkers.
Such were the circumstances (probably) behind Master Daniel Bates’ storming piece of journalistic ineptitude ‘Blacklisting banned: Citizens Advice axes ‘offensive’ word and tells staff to use ‘blocklisting’ instead‘, which managed to slither itself limply onto page 3 of Monday’s Mail.
‘Blacklisting banned?’, you can almost hear Mail readers splutter with disbelief, ‘well that’s just politicalcorrectnessgonemad! For fear of upsetting the blacks, no doubt!’, they honk.
Bates has the scoop:
The Citizens Advice service has banned staff from using the term "blacklisting” over fears that it is offensive and “fosters stereotypes”. The taxpayer- funded quango, which advises members of the public on consumer, legal and money issues, has instead replaced it with “blocklisting” to avoid appearing “prejudicial”.‘Banned’ it, they have. ‘Replaced’, it has been. Pretty firm words. You can be sure that the word ‘blacklisting’ really has been done away with when such strong terms are used. Note the use of quotation marks around things that The Mail deems to be silly: 'stereotypes’ are silly, and ‘prejudicial’ is absurd newspeak. These are the crazy things that result in political correctness going mad and stop us talking freely. Also note the word ‘quango’. We all hate quangos, whatever they are, because they waste money and David Cameron said they were bad.
Bates adds wearily:
Critics branded it “daft” and “political correctness going over the top”, but the Citizens Advice has refused to back down, even though critics say it renders everyday communications unintelligible.Notice how the traditional ‘political correctness gone mad’ has been replaced with ‘political correctness going over the top’. Presumably the politically correct brigade did away with ‘gone mad’ because it offended the mentally ill or something, and decreed that ‘going over the top’ would be an acceptable replacement. It’s political correctness gone mad.
But I digress. I wonder who the critics are?
John Midgley, co-founder of the campaign against political correctness, said: “This is just daft and another example of political correctness going over the top.”
A man who spends his time seeking out and decrying examples of political correctness is the source. Objective, I think you’ll agree, and I’m sure he was in full possession of all pertinent facts when Dan Bates called him for a quote.
In fairness to Mr Midgley, he couldn’t have been aware of the intricacies of the case because, in fact, our intrepid hack Daniel Bates wasn’t either.
When we spoke to Citizen’s Advice, they told us that, actually, the word ‘blacklisting’ and variations thereof have not been banned at all, and that the whole story has a somewhat prosaic IT related explanation.
Far from being some meaningless new PC term, ‘blocklisting’ is actually a word commonly used in the IT industry referring to a list of blocked IP addresses or users. Apparently, the IT department at Citizen’s Advice issued a memo in July regarding spam emails, explaining that a number of them had been blacklisted. In reply, an employee pointed out that ‘blocklisted’ was probably a more appropriate word, and everybody forgot about the whole thing because it was really quite boring.
The ‘offending’ word was not ‘banned’, and there was no communication or policy asking people to use ‘blocklist’ instead of ‘blacklist’. Our contact was also keen to point out that, contrary to The Mail’s description, Citizen’s Advice is not a ‘quango’, but a network of independent charities.
None of which matters of course, to the Mail commenters who will add the hackneyed saga to their catalogue of examples of things banned in the name of not offending those different to them, who splutter such outraged responses as ‘Good grief!! And we’re paying these idiots’ salaries!’ and ‘Makes me wonder why anyone would go to these idiots for advice.’ Nor will it matter to The Star or The Telegraph, who picked up on the Mail’s enthralling tale of IT memos gone mad without bothering to contact Citizen’s Advice for comment, thereby ensuring the story’s continued presence as just another example of bureaucratic lunacy.
It’s journalism gone rubbish.
Journalism and statistics go together like Dog the Bounty Hunter on a dinner date with Tolstoy.
Usually, statistics in the Mail come from some press release sent out by a company with a vested interest (if the story’s science related), from a ‘report’ (by the TaxPayers’ Alliance), or from an NGO, quango, or think-tank (if the figures suggest a rise in crime, for example). The figures are often based on Government figures which have been analysed, edited, skewed, and reinterpreted. Such data are processed and packaged into an easy-to-understand, journalist friendly document by one of the third parties mentioned above, that tells the hack everything they need to know, like this: ‘X has gone up by Y, meaning Z’. The journo, who is thankful that they haven’t had to wade through boring old figures themselves, will then pad their stats based article out with quotes and additional information to establish context – or, in most cases, to completely mislead the reader.
Sometimes, though, an ambitious journalist will tire of rewriting pre-compiled reports and studies and decide to go and look at the statistics for themselves. This is a risky thing to do because the journo is well aware of their lack of training in stats and the potential for time-consuming redrafts if they make a mistake. On the plus side, it makes it look like they’re actually doing some research and deserve to get paid. Luckily, Mail hacks don’t have to worry too much about errors because, should they make an appalling mess of things, nobody will actually notice (or care).
Such is the case with Sue Reid’s ‘SPECIAL INVESTIGATION’ on migrant workers and unemployment in today’s Mail, headlined ‘Revealed: The areas where there are more migrants chasing jobs than locals‘. Sue seems quite proud of her data-mining, as there’s a little photo of her looking pleased with herself next to the words ‘SPECIAL INVESTIGATION’. No expense has been spared on art direction either; there’s a picture of a Romanian builder photoshopped into an image of Britain split up into different coloured areas to indicate the number of foreign people looking for jobs in each district. There’s a long column of statistics, and even a pie chart.
The piece begins proudly,
The true extent of the huge influx of foreign workers into Britain is revealed in an investigation by the Daily Mail.In a line that wouldn’t be out of place in a BNP pamphlet, it adds,
The figure[s] expose as a sham the New Labour pledge of ‘British jobs for British workers.Sue helpfully explains the methods behind her SPECIAL INVESTIGATION and where she got her numbers from:
[The article] is based on information from each local authority based on two sets of official figures.Unfortunately for Sue, her methodology is catastrophically flawed. She has taken the cumulative total number of National Insurance number (NINo) registrations for the entire financial year 2007-08, and compared it to the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in the single month of July 2009. Unsurprisingly, this has thrown up figures such as Edinburgh where supposedly the 10,022 ‘local jobseekers’ are outnumbered by 12,450 ‘new migrant workers’.
The first is the total in each area of National Insurance Numbers given to adult overseas nationals entering the UK during 2008.
The second set of figures is the claimant count for each local authority area in July, compiled from Government statistics released last week.
A claimant is a person on job-seekers’ allowance who is actively trying to find employment. Newly arrived foreigners cannot get this payout.
Basically, Sue has found that there were more foreign people looking for jobs in a 12 month period than there were local people looking for jobs in one month, which is hardly surprising is it? And that’s ignoring the fact that using figures from two different financial years, which were experiencing vastly different economic climates, is somewhat questionable.
Her second failure is to compare a cumulative, stable figure with an average, changing figure. She tells us that in 2008 there were 733,090 new NINos given to migrants, the number she uses to compare against the number of JSA claimants in July 2009. This 733,090 includes everyone given an NI number between April 2007 and March 2008, many of whom, obviously, will already have found work and therefore will not be competing with the locals looking for work in July 09 – a whole two years later. While NINo registrants will have been entering into work during that period, thereby removing themselves from the fluctuating pool of people competing for jobs, many of the JSA claimants in any given month will the same people who were claiming the month before, and, chances are, the month afterwards. It is quite clear that comparing the two statistics is completely and utterly redundant; you might as well compare the number of motorbike accidents in 1972 with global temperature increases during 1990-1995. The relationship is meaningless.
Let’s be fair to Sue, because I can see what she was trying to do, and the Office for National Statistics website is a bit confusing. Let’s say the comparison between NINos and claimants is valid, and let’s assume that not a single new NINo registrant managed to find a job during Apr-Jul 07 (the first quarter of the 2008 financial year).
In that period, the national total number of NINos was 166,133. The average national number of JSA claimants over that same quarter was 887,757*, meaning that, actually, there are five times as many ‘local people’ looking for work than there are migrant workers. If we look at the latest period for which data is available (Oct-Dec 08), the ratio of local workers to migrants actually increases to 6:1, and the number of NINos granted to foreign workers decreases to 134,800. Is this the influx mentioned at the beginning?
How about the particular regions in which migrants supposedly outnumber local jobseekers? (I acknowledge that I’m taking a rather liberal attitude to statistics at this point, but, when you’re forced to compare apples with oranges, somethings got to give.) One of the ‘worst’ named areas in the article is Brent, where the Mail tells us that 19,240 migrant workers were given a NINo in 2008. In that same year, there were, on average, 6,647 JSA claimants each month. If we divide that 19,240 total NINo figure by 12 we find the average number of new migrant workers in any one month – 1,603. Looking at an average month in isolation and assuming that the previous months new NINo registrants and jobseekers all found jobs, that means there are actually four times as many local jobseekers than migrants.
Even using her own massively flawed methodology, it’s abundantly clear that there are not more migrant workers looking for jobs than British people doing the same. Sue Reid is the blacksmith of statistics, bashing blindly away at data until it transforms into something else, unrecognisable from the original materials.
The question is why, when migrant jobseeker numbers are actually falling, does The Mail want people to think they’re rising?
** Update from Liberal Conspiracy:
I’m not linking to it, but Sue Reid’s “investigation” is now a fully fledged press release on the frontpage of the BNP’s website, titled “More Immigrant Jobseekers than Indigenous Brits”, copied and pasted from the original in the Mail.
There couldn’t be a better argument for press responsibility.
An utterly disgraceful piece of anti-Muslim propaganda appears in today's Daily Mail.
An overdraft? That'll be £200 at Lloyds TSB (but only £15 if you're a Muslim) is designed solely to 'prove' that them Muslims are being treated better than you. In your country. By a company you partly own.
The messageboard idiots have reacted in an entirely predictable way, many threatening, Private Eye-style, to close their accounts because of this.There is one problem with all their complaints, which the Mail admits half way through the story:
The Islamic account is available to all customers at Lloyds TSB.Oh. As usual the spokesman from Lloyds TSB is relegated to near the end of the article. They say:
All of our Islamic accounts comply with Islamic law and are available to anyone regardless of background or faith.Available to anyone, you say? That's weird, because the way the Mail presented the story it was as if them Muslims were getting a special deal that wasn't available to anyone else.
These accounts are structured differently to our traditional accounts and are designed to help prevent a customer slipping into the red. A comparison with the overdraft charging structure on other accounts is meaningless.
And the spokesman is also correct about charge comparisons being meaningless. The Islamic accounts do not receive interest payments (in accordance with Shariah law) so surely it is only fair that the money saved from that is passed on in other ways? They also do not have an overdraft facility.
But there is another problem with the Mail story, probably the crucial one. The Islamic account can not have a planned overdraft facility, because it is not in line with Shariah Law. If they go overdrawn, it is called an unplanned overdraft, and the bank says:
we will not usually agree to provide an Unplanned Overdraft either. But if they do, there is no difference: the unplanned overdraft fee for all Lloyds TSB accounts is £15 per month.In any case, the Mail has deliberately whacked up the overdraft figures to £200 which only applies if someone goes over £100 overdrawn, at which point they will be charged £20 per day for maximum of ten days. But there is a sliding scale of fees, depending on how overdrawn the account is and for how long. They have just picked the biggest number to make it sound a lot worse than it actually is.
So the Islamic accounts don't pay interest and don't often provide an overdraft (the business account appears to specifically rule out any overdraft facility), two things which most other account holders would expect, if not demand. And yet somehow, them Muslims are being portrayed as getting something 'special'.
Which also happens to be available to everyone.
Who would have thought the Mail would take two things which can't really be compared and compare them , in order to make it look like Britain isn't Britain any more?
Rightwing groups have been banned from holding marches in Luton for three months in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the violence that has marred similar demonstrations across the country.
The English Defence League, which has been involved in violent clashes in Birmingham and Luton this year, had planned to hold a series of demonstrations against "Islamic extremism" over the coming weeks.
Anti-racism campaigners said the events were intended to whip up tension and more than 14,000 people had written to Alan Johnson, the home secretary, demanding action. Today police confirmed the Home Office had granted a banning order.
Nick Lowles of the Hope not Hate campaign said: "Our voices have been heard. Luton is a safer place because of it. This is just further proof of what we can achieve when we get organised."
Luton has seen a number of violent protests this year. In March a small group of Muslims staged a demonstration during a homecoming parade for soldiers from the Royal Anglian Regiment. Tonight Bedfordshire police charged seven men in connection with the incident. They will appear at Luton magistrates court on 16 September.
The March demonstration was followed by counter-demonstrations which led to Asian businesses and residents being attacked. In Birmingham this month members of the English Defence League and linked group Casuals United clashed with anti-racism campaigners, resulting in 34 arrests and one injury.
Bedfordshire police today said there had been growing concern about planned demonstrations by rightwing groups that had prompted a "robust unified response" by the police and the council.
Chief Superintendent Andy Frost, divisional commander for Luton police, said: "The risk the proposed marches pose to public safety has left us with no alternative but to apply for a banning order."
Weyman Bennett, the joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, welcomed the ban. "What we have proved is that where we, as a multiracial group, organise and stand up the EDL can be defeated."
The league denies it is racist, claiming it would march "alongside Muslims and Jews who are against militant Islam".
The announcement of the ban came as a man and a woman were charged under the Data Protection Act after a British National party (BNP) membership list was leaked on to the internet. Dyfed-Powys police said the man, aged 27, and woman, 30, were due to appear at Nottingham magistrates court on 1 September. The BNP called for a police investigation last November after the details of 10,000 of its members were published online.
Friday, 21 August 2009
I've just been told some good news and I wanted you to hear it before it's released to the media.
The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, has stopped the Luton protest from going ahead. We won.
And what's even better - the far right can't protest in Luton for the next three months as well.
Sources have told me told that this happened because of our campaign. And our campaign happened because of you.
Over 14,000 letters were sent - a phenomenal achievement. We've made the world a better place today - we all should be proud of what we've achieved.
In the coming weeks and months we'll continue to face up to the far right wherever they stand and whatever they do. . .
We all should be deeply proud of what we've achieved today - it really is a great result.
TITVS ADVXAS, a leader write for the BNP’s website, calls (on his personal website) a female student:
“a transgendered woman (in effect is a neutered man, thus having no real gender – an ‘it’)”
He also shares his views on homosexuality:
“To call some one ‘homophobic’ because they are simply nauseated by the overt campness and public displays of sexuality and sexual behaviour, is extremely unfair. Simple Christian revulsion should not be turned around in this way!”
Nothing British understands that Christianity teaches tolerance and respect for one another.
Much like British values.
Nothing British is also concerned about the BNP’s views on women.
Soap Dodgers – By TITVS ADVXAS
That story is told by political parties like the BNP to further sow seeds of hatred and division against foreigners, and against legitimate asylum seekers and legal immigrants.
In reality the illegal immigrant faces a life of exploitation, sordid living conditions, and fear of capture.
The treatment of illegal immigrants by the police is usually fair, firm and fast. They are held to account and generally deported according to the law of the land.
Under new legislation the employers of illegals face hefty fines for not properly checking references :
From EDP 24:
Three suspected illegal immigrants have been arrested after officers raided a Norwich takeaway.
The Peking Chinese Takeaway, in Dereham Road, Norwich faces a £30,000 fine following the raids, which saw three kitchen staff arrested.
Two of the workers, a 24-year-old Chinese man and a 29-year-old Chinese woman, have been detained in custody while arrangements are made to deport them.
Meanwhile a third employee, a 36-year-old Chinese man, has been bailed to report each week at Bethel Street Police Station.
The raid on Monday evening was made by UK border agency officers following intelligence received.
Unless the takeaway can prove that the correct pre-employment checks were conducted, it now faces a fine of up to £10,000 for each member of staff.
Gail Adams, the UK Border Agency's regional director for the midlands and the east, said: “We are working hard to pull the plug on the illegal jobs which lure illegal immigrants to come to the UK in the first place.
“Illegal working is unfair on honest employers who recruit staff with the right to work in the UK and who pay them a proper salary.
“Employers who don't play by the rules will get struck off our register, lose the right to recruit staff from outside Europe, face on the spot fines and could potentially end up in jail.”
The EDP was unable to contact anyone from the takeaway last night.
Last month Zizzi in Tombland, Norwich, found itself facing looking at a hefty fine for the second time in two years when two Brazilian men, aged 21 and 27, were found to be illegally working as chefs in the kitchen. Both men had overstayed the length of their visa and had used fake identity cards to gain employment, and were deported within days of the raid.
In April two Bangladeshi men, aged 32 and 33, were arrested following a raid on the Prince of India restaurant Prince of Wales Road Norwich. One was identified as a failed asylum seeker while the other had entered the country illegally.
And in January a similar raid saw three illegal immigrant workers arrested at the USA Fried Chicken and Pizza Restaurant in Queens Road, Norwich. Three Turkish men aged 28, 29 and 40 were arrested by UK Boarder Patrol officers.
The UK Boarder Agency says a tough new civil penalty system was brought in last year to provide a fast and effective way of tackling bosses who fail to carry out proper checks on workers from outside Europe.
Guidance for employers on preventing illegal working can be found on the UK Border Agency website, www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employingmigrants or by calling the UK Border Agency Employers Helpline on 0300 123 4699.
Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed in Norfolk should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be assured.
by ROB GARRATT
Thursday, 20 August 2009
There are moments that our movement of hope is made for. This is one of them.
In a few weeks time, football hooligans, far right extremists and Islamophobes are planning to descend on Luton, with a simple goal - to whip up fear, religious tension and violence. And you won't be surprised to hear that the BNP are involved.
The last time the anti-Islam protesters marched in Luton, gangs of thugs stormed the predominantly Muslim area of the town, smashing up cars and shopfronts along the way - and forcing law abiding men and women to flee or fight to safeguard their homes and families. Riot police had to be deployed and 35 people were arrested. We can't let this happen again.
I've set up a tool on the Hope not Hate website that lets you contact the people who can stop this violent gathering - the Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Bedfordshire's Chief Constable Gillian Parker. It will take you less than a minute to send a message - all you need to do is click here:http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/luton
We only have to remember how BNP supporters triggered the Oldham riot in 2001 to realise the consequences of these actions. We must stop this - we can't let these thugs take control of our streets even for a single moment. The BNP are actively involved in this protest because they know that whipping up violence and inter-community tension can only benefit them. Chris Renton, a BNP super activist, has helped the hooligans with their website. Marlene Guest, who stood as a BNP Euro candidate in June, will be attending and recently spoke at a local anti Islam gathering. And Martyn Page, treasurer of the BNP's Broxtowe group, has boasted about bringing "hundreds" of people to the anti-Islamic event. The key organiser of the protest has also admitted to attending BNP meetings.
Our society is based on rights and responsibilities - and we have a duty to protect our communities from these organised, violent thugs. If you agree, please take a moment to help us stop this dangerous, hateful event:http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/luton
We can stop this violence. We can stop the racists intimidating and attacking the law abiding people of Luton. But I need your help - and just a minute of your time:http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/luton
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
BNP “Christian Council” uses God to justify racism
The “Christian Council of Britain” is a pseudo-religious organisation run by the racist “Reverand” Robert West the BNP’s vicar.
The BNP quote from the bible to justify their politics:
It is the will of God that the one race of mankind be divided into nations or descent groups with each having its own homeland where its interests, identity and values can be protected, upheld and promoted (Genesis 10: 5, 32; Acts 17: 26-27) . This right is claimed by all nations of the world who have used this right to promote their own independence in their own countries. In the British people now claiming this right for themselves they would appear not to be out of step with both the Word of God (the Holy Bible) and all the other ethnic groups that, by the Will of God, make up the world.Rev. West then goes on to claim that calling the BNP racist
“… is misconceived in that the British National Party has no racist foundation, or ambition to displace or replace any nation, or ethnic group, from their own historic and national homeland; indeed the British National Party is striving for the integrity of the British people in their own homeland.”The Christian Council of Britain – Christian Council’s answer – By Rev Robert West BNP.
However (t)he Church of England rejects BNP understanding of the Bible:
The Church of England (spoke) to Nothing British about the BNP’s The Christian Council of Britain.
A spokesman for the C of E said: ” The Church of England does not share what appears in this case to be a very particular interpretation of the scriptures.”
“As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said on 24 May,
HOPE not hate, Norfolk remembers that just before the by election in Norwich, church leaders were united in a statement which commented:
Christians have been deeply disturbed by the conscious adoption by the BNP of the language of our faith when the effect of those policies is not to promote those values but to foster fear and division within communities, especially between people of different faiths or racial background.”
the British National Party candidate styles himself as ‘Revd’ and is often to be seen dressed as a clergyman. He belongs to no known denomination and voters should not be misled by his adoption of clerical dress. The policies he promotes are not shared by any of the Churches we serve and are contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. There we read that in Christ ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female’ (Galatians 3.28).
Christians in Norfolk and Norwich have had a long tradition of welcoming the stranger. We pray that this generous instinct may continue to be celebrated here.The joint statement, which devastated Robert West's campaign in Norwich, was signed as follows:
The Rt. Revd. Graham James, Bishop of Norwich (Church of England)
The Rt. Revd. Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia (Roman Catholic)
The Revd. Graham Thompson, East Anglia District (Methodist Church)
The Revd. Richard Lewis, Regional Minister, Norfolk (Baptist Union)
The Revd. Paul Whittle, Moderator Eastern Province (United Reformed Church)
John Myhill (Society of Friends)
This would seem to place Robert West and his Christian Council of Britain (CCB) well outside mainstream Christian religion in Britain today.
It is difficult to see how the self-styled 'Reverend' West and his vanity parish, the CCB, can survive such humiliating and devastating comments from the established churches.
BNP deputy leader Simon Darby today boasts about not paying his BBC licence fee. In doing so he is the latest in a long line of BNP officials who appear to take glee from refusing to hand money over. Writing on his blog, Darby says: “they can chase me all they want and take me to court if they wish, but I am not paying for the BBC to pump waves of anti-British Islamo-Marxist poison into my house.”
Given the attitude of the BNP towards the BBC perhaps some of the Corporation’s journalists might like to find a bit of backbone/courage and be a bit more critical of the fascist party. While we would obviously rather the BBC stopped giving the BNP a platform at all, surely they should at least refrain from interviewing BNP party leaders who publicly refuse to pay the licence fee.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
He should have been hailed a hero for his wartime codebreaking.
Instead he was prosecuted for his homosexuality and took his own life. So why has Britain never said sorry?
Alan Turing helped crack German Enigma codes during the Second World War
He may have played a pivotal role in securing victory in the Second World War for his country six years earlier, but few outside the academic community would have recognised Alan Turing as he made his way down Manchester's Oxford Street shortly before Christmas in 1951. Someone who did notice the athletically-built scientist, however, was a young working class gay man called Arnold Murray.
Homosexuality was still illegal under the same repressive laws which had sent Oscar Wilde to jail half a century earlier. But regardless of the risk, the chance encounter was to develop into something more substantial and Murray spent a number of nights at the older man's modest home in suburban Wilmslow.
A month later, after Turing, a veteran of the then still secret Bletchley Park code-cracking team, had been giving a talk to the BBC on his pioneering work on artificial intelligence, he returned home to find his house burgled.
The culprit was an acquaintance of Murray's, who would prey on Murray's lovers, thinking they would be so afraid of being outed that they would not report the thefts to the police.
But Turing defied this convention and went straight to the police, where he admitted his affair – a "crime" for which he was spared the normal two-year jail term in favour of a hormonal treatment designed to beef up his masculine urges and suppress his homosexuality. The resulting publicity was to prove too much to bear and in June 1954, the 41-year-old was found dead in bed by his housekeeper. He had eaten an apple he had laced with poison.
The consequences which unfolded were not only a tragedy for Turing, his friends and family, it also robbed the world of one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Now campaigners are demanding an official apology from the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recognising the "consequences of prejudice that ended his career". More than 700 people have signed a petition started by the leading computer scientist John Graham-Cumming on the Downing Street website, including gay rights campaigners, politicians and scientists.
"What really annoyed me about this was here was a man who died in his early 40s because he was a homosexual. He was a war hero but here was a part of our history that we were turning a blind eye to when we should be celebrating it. There were a lot of homosexual people during the war doing incredible work – if it was not for Turing we would most likely be having this conversation in German," Mr Graham-Cumming said.
Turing had already made major contributions to mathematics and the embryonic computing sciences before the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. But it was for his work among the wartime Enigma code crackers at Bletchley Park for which he will be best remembered. "Turing realised that we had to turn what was then a cottage industry of code breaking into a full scale industry. He was probably the most important person there," said Simon Greenish, director of Bletchley Park Trust.
His "bombe" machine was able to rapidly de-code the 158 million, million, million variations used by the Nazis in their commands with the creation of a prototype high speed processor. It saved tens of thousands of lives and variations on the original helped both the British and the US to eventual victory.
But although he was, by any measure, a genius, Turing was an idiosyncratic figure bordering on the strange. A runner and rower of Olympic ability, he used to occasionally run the 40 miles between London and Bletchley to attend meetings. His behaviour and high-pitched voice drew furtive smiles from colleagues who tolerated his eccentricities such as chaining his tea mug to the radiator or riding his bicycle wearing a gas mask to avoid hay fever.
After the war, and having been awarded an OBE, Turing moved to the US to work at the National Physical laboratory where he began work on creating the stored-program computer but returned to Manchester in 1948, where he continued his pioneering work in the field of mathematical biology. But the arrest and conviction in 1952 for gross indecency shattered him. The chemical castration caused his breasts to enlarge and bloated his athletic physique. He was also banned from travelling to America. What followed was described by his biographer David Leavitt as a "slow, sad descent into grief and madness" and Turing began travelling abroad in search of sex safe beyond the reach of the British law.
Professor Richard Gill, Professor of mathematical statistics at Leiden University, is among those to sign the petition. "He was one of the geniuses of the 20th century and I have the feeling he was also a pretty decent guy. How his life ended was incredibly sad. In his last years he was thinking very deeply about some very difficult puzzles which give most people a bit of a headache. He was surely going further with this work and was certainly not finished yet," he said.
But there is another twist in the story of Alan Turing. Some have been moved to question whether he saw himself as a gay martyr. His chosen mode of death echoed his favourite fairytale Snow White, from which he was often moved to quote the phrase "Dip the apple in the brew, let the sleeping death seep through". His family insisted his death was merely a tragic accident while others have even hinted more darkly at murder because the inquest was never to establish that the apple contained cyanide. Recent years have seen his reputation partly restored. A memorial statue has been erected on the fringes of Manchester's Gay Village while the city's inner ring road bears his name. An official apology, however, continues to elude him.
Jonathan Brown report
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Monday, 17 August 2009
A BNP spokesman and head of the BNP’s legal team, Lee Barnes, has referred to “modern” women as being “self loathing”, “sexless” and “androgynous” monstrosities.
He goes on to say:
“Her tongue is pierced as a way to express her inner pain and self disgust, her arms are tattooed with ugly vulgar art that reveals no beauty or function other than simply to debase the beauty of her own pale, white skin, her hair is shorn to the skin like some religious penitent repenting the sin of her whiteness, her breastless chest mocking the female nourishing form that gave her and gives our race its life.
"She is a monster, a sexless polymorphous perversion of nature.”
The near million who voted for the British National party in June's Euro-elections are certainly angry and no doubt racist to varying degrees, but how many of them would really be up for sending a gunboat down the Liffey? Very few, because there are surely not a million people so lunatic that they would want to start a war on these islands. Yet that would surely be the result of the BNP pledge of "welcoming Eire as well as Ulster as equal partners in a federation of the nations of the British Isles".
Just like the cheery talk of welcoming Ireland back into the union, the party's Derbyshire garden party over the weekend provides the flimsiest veil for a programme that is not only nasty, but rooted in delusion and paranoia. Alongside the tea, cakes and patriotic memorabilia – designed to create a "family" atmosphere and reinforce the half-respectabilty afforded by winning two Euro-seats – the Red, White and Blue festival featured a clutch of white crosses to commemorate people supposedly killed "as a result of anti-white violence". Persecution complex by day gave way to evening self-confidence, as far-right fanatics outside the camp gave fascist salutes and shouted "sieg heil".
We report today how the BNP shipped in fascists from overseas to address its gathering. The party leader, Nick Griffin, no doubt regards links with far-right parties abroad – many of which are much better established than his own ragbag outfit – as a way to make the BNP look serious. Tellingly, however, his attempts to form a grouping in Brussels failed, as even fellow extremists feared the damage that would be done by associating with the BNP.
It is not hard to see why. A handful of BNP leaders may nowadays don suits, but a large proportion of the activists, councillors and candidates remain boot boys, often with criminal convictions for violence. Mr Griffin's one fellow MEP, Andrew Brons, has a genteel manner but was, as a young man, involved with Nazi-style groups that engaged in arson attacks on synagogues. He has German, and quite possibly Jewish, ancestry making his embrace of the most exclusive form of British nationalism a source of psychological speculation.
The brutal mindset of Griffin himself was betrayed only last month, when he suggested that the Europeans should "sink several ... boats" carrying African immigrants. Mindful, perhaps, that few of those who had voted him would truly support drowning men, women and children at sea, he added as an afterthought that they might be thrown life jackets. The hope must be, as has already happened in some town halls, that the more the public gets to know the BNP the more they will lose patience with people who are as unpleasant as they are odd.