September 30, 2007

School sets example after race-hate incidents rise

4 Comment (s)
Dalena, a Slovakian girl with an ear-to-ear grin, sat reciting numbers yesterday in heavily-accented English with a British classmate at the special needs unit in Chatham's Luton Junior School. After successfully counting to 20 together, the two nine-year-olds smiled at each other and then walked holding hands back to their classroom to join an excited gaggle heading off on a visit to the school's allotment backing on to a row of tatty terraced houses.

In any other school, such a scene would have been unremarkable. But at Luton Junior, it served as a symbolic rebuff to the ugly events – and subsequent hysteria – that have forced the stationing of police at the gates to the school and made the north Kent community it serves the latest focus of the debate about race relations in Britain.

Tony Goulden, a local Labour councillor and the chairman of governors at the school, said: "If you believed what you read, this school has spent the last week in the grip of some kind of race riot. That could not be further from the truth. This is a school where the children learn to count in each other's languages, learn to say hello in each other's languages. This school is the cure, not the problem."

The "problem" is Britain's response to one of its latest waves of immigration – the 70,000 Slovakians who have come to the UK to work since 2004.

Dalena is one of 32 Slovakian children, some from a Roma gypsy background, who have arrived at the Luton Junior School in recent months after their parents arrived to meet local demand for agricultural labour. Together, the Slovakian children make up just 8 per cent of the school's roll of about 400 pupils. But Slovakian integration in Chatham has not gone smoothly of late.

For the past fortnight, the neighbourhood of Luton, a faded and deprived corner of the Medway town, has been racked by tensions over a series of claimed racially-aggravated assaults and verbal clashes between the established population and a recent influx of Slovakian migrant workers and their families. In the past six months, police have recorded 13 racist incidents.

Matters came to a head 13 days ago when Jake Stedman, a 10-year-old pupil at Luton Junior, was found by his mother outside the family home with two black eyes and a bleeding head after allegedly being chased into an alleyway by a Slovakian mother and beaten, reportedly with a metal bar. The incident came a day after the boy had confronted another Slovakian woman outside a convenience store, thrown a blackberry at her and punched her on the arm, allegedly shouting "go back to your own country".

The clash made national headlines this week. The Daily Mail proclaimed: "Boy, 10, 'battered by woman in race row at his school'". The Times stated: "Schoolboy, 10, 'is beaten by migrant'." Further oil was poured on the fire with reports that police were considering criminal charges against the boy.

The reality is somewhat different. Kent Police said yesterday a 10-year-old boy had been given an official reprimand after admitting common assault and that a 36-year-old Slovakian woman arrested in connection with the attack on Jake has been released on police bail. It is understood there is no evidence that a metal bar was used and all incidents took place some distance from the school.

Nonetheless, the result has been an uncomfortable week in the spotlight for Luton Junior and its 410 pupils in an area where social deprivation has created strains. The British National Party regularly gains 15 per cent of the vote and unemployment runs above the national average. About 10 per cent of the population are immigrants, many from Eastern Europe.

In the fevered atmosphere of recent days, a small number of parents verbally abused members of staff after rumours – unfounded – circulated that an allegation of bullying against a Slovakian pupil had been ignored. Other parents showed their support by showering the school with gifts of flowers and cards.

But mutual suspicion and incomprehension still hung around the school gates yesterday. Clare, a 32-year-old parent, said: "It's the fault of the Slovakians. They don't make any effort to mix, they hang around in big groups. I understand they have a different culture but people around here don't want them to have a free ride. They are taking jobs, using our schools but not giving back."

Most Slovakian parents are reluctant to talk, preferring to pick up their children and rush away. But Dagmar, a mother of two children, who arrived in Chatham in 2005, said: "It is very hard not to conclude there is some racism behind this. We do the same work that everyone else does – picking crops, working in pack houses. But Slovakians have darker skin than other Eastern Europeans. I don't hear of Poles being abused in the street. But often I hear of it from my Slovakian friends."

But inside the classrooms of Luton Junior, such turmoil is ignored. At playtime, Slovakian children can be seen teaching clapping games to their English classmates.


September 29, 2007

Anger as BNP targets town with racist video

16 Comment (s)
Local politicians have slammed a disturbing British National Party (BNP) video that is using Horley as a focal point to win support.

The notorious far-right party has been blasted for "frightening people with factually incorrect information" by posting a four-minute film on video sharing site YouTube. They say it exploits serious issues surrounding the Horley Master Plan in an attempt to justify its bigoted policies, with the film itself featuring shocking racist terminology. And Councillor Mike Miller, ward councillor for Horley West, condemned the video as "a load of rubbish".

He disputed the party's claims that 1,500 homes would be constructed in the northwest sector of the plan, and 1,100 homes in the north-east sector. Mr Miller said the actual figures are 1,400 and 700 respectively, with an additional 500 homes to be built on brownfield sites within Horley. And he added the party's views on race were "best ignored".

A BNP activist unashamedly uses the phrase "white-flight" in the film, an inflammatory term used to describe the migration of Caucasians from multi-ethnic inner-city areas.

Mr Miller said: "I'm not in favour of right-wing parties like them. They want to eradicate anything but the English and we don't live in that sort of world and that sort of society."

Town councillor Mike George condemned the BNP, led by Nick Griffin, for "mischief-making" and playing the "race card". He said: "The Master Plan is controversial on the issues of planning and flooding.The race card has not entered into any of the discussions that we have had. It's purely speculation on their part as to who are going to fill the houses."

And Mr George, chairman of the Court Lodge Residents' Association, also accused the party of political opportunism. He said: "They are a bit late in the day. The plan has now been fully discussed, it has been consulted on, so it is a bit late for them to say this is an issue they are concerned about. I would say: 'Why now, and why Horley?'."

Mr George's accusations of opportunism appear justified, with the BNP only now adopting the pretence of concern about building on floodplain and green-belt land, despite the Master Plan having been in the pipeline since 1994. Instead, the film provides a disturbing insight into the party's bigotry, with activist Steve Horne claiming much of the development in Horley will house so-called "white-flight".

He says: "Undoubtedly some of the people in Horley will live here,or move here. But I believe most of the people who are going to live here will come from London, what's known as white flight - people that aren't happy with what's going on in London at the moment and want to escape to the countryside. It's towns like Horley that have to suffer this in the long term."

When consulted about the video, Simon Darby, press officer for the BNP,was disarmingly honest about the party's racist stance, saying that "people liked to live among themselves". He said: "With more and more people coming in and more and more people wanting to get out and live in semi-sub-urban areas, there's really no escape from liberal multi-culturalism. Whereas people used to think they could live in a nice area and send their children to a predominantly white school, that sadly is no longer the case."

Surrey Mirror

Discredited Irving plans comeback tour

8 Comment (s)
· Historian blames Himmler, but not Hitler
· Writer freed from jail says views have 'crystallised'

Ten months ago he was languishing in an Austrian jail, less than halfway through a three-year sentence with his career - and professional reputation - in tatters.

This week David Irving, the discredited British historian who was described by a high court judge as a Holocaust denier and a racist, says he is launching a comeback with a speaking tour of British cities and a series of new books. "I have kept a low profile for several months because I have had to sort out where to live and to address my financial situation," said Mr Irving, who was declared bankrupt in 2002 after an unsuccessful libel action over claims he was a Holocaust denier. " But now I am ready to start again."

Mr Irving's career has been littered with controversy, culminating with his arrest in Austria in 2005. He was sentenced to three years in jail after a judge ruled that two speeches he made in 1989, dismissing the Auschwitz gas chambers as a "fairy tale" and questioning the existence of extermination camps, breached Austrian law. His appeal was upheld, with the judge saying the crimes were a long time ago and that Mr Irving had undergone an "impeccable conversion".

However, drinking tea on the sofa of a 10-bedroom house he has begun renting near Windsor, Mr Irving says that his views on the Holocaust have crystallised rather than changed. He says that he believes the Jews were responsible for what happened to them during the second world war and that the "Jewish problem" was responsible for nearly all the wars of the past 100 years: "The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune, but that is the short version A-Z. Between A-Z there are then 24 other characters in intervening steps." Mr Irving was due to address a meeting in Coventry last Friday - although that event was disrupted by protesters - and held another meeting at his home on Saturday. He plans to speak in Halifax and Birmingham as well as at several unnamed universities.

Last night, news of his attempts to kickstart his career were met with disbelief and anger from Jewish groups and political opponents. Lord Foulkes, of the Labour Friends of Israel, said: "It is a frightening thought that he is still pursuing his agenda." Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said Mr Irving no longer had any legitimate claim to be a serious historian. However, Mr Irving still insists he is a respected academic. He says that a document, which he is 80% sure is genuine, suggests that 2.4 million Jews were killed in Poland, but goes on to claim that the gas chamber at Auschwitz was fake. "It was not the centre of the killing operations - it has only become a focus because it is the site that is best preserved. Much of what is shown the tourists there is faked postwar - watchtowers, even the famous gas chamber."

He added: "In my opinion now the real killing operations took place at the Reinhardt camps west of the Bug river. In the three camps here [Sobibor, Belzec, and Treblinka] Heinrich Himmler's men (mostly Ukrainian mercenaries) killed possibly as many as 2.4 million in the two years up to October 1943. There is now nothing to be seen of the Reinhardt camps, neither stick nor stone, so few tourists go there. I have visited all four sites earlier this year."

Pressed as to whether this change undermined his previous stance, Mr Irving replied: "It is a crystallisation of my view." Asked if he now accepts there had been a Holocaust against the Jewish people he said he was "not going to use their trade name". He added: "I do accept that the Nazis quite definitely, that Heinrich Himmler, organised and directed a programme, a clandestine programme, for the liquidation of European Jews ... and that in 1942-43 alone over 2.5 million Jews were killed in those three camps." He added that Hitler was "completely in the dark" about the programme.

Last night Gerry Gable, of the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, said: "This man is a hardened rightwing extremist and this latest development proves he is determined to pursue his agenda."

The Guardian.

September 28, 2007

BNP thrives on hatred

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The revelation that the British National Party (BNP) has identified Horley as its new outpost in the south east comes when local anger towards over-development is at an all-time high.

Residents are no longer content to sit back and see their wide open spaces turned into massive developments and are prepared to fight any new plans for extra housing.

The BNP has obviously witnessed this growing anger and now believes it can garner support in this crucial region by criticising Labour's plans for more housing in the south east.

Despite the moderate talk, residents will hopefully be able to realise what the BNP really stands for and always has: a extremist right-wing party which thrives on racial prejudice and hatred.

When the BNP ran for a seat in the Merstham ward in local elections last May, it once again pushed policies which were important to local residents, including affordable housing, welfare and employment.

Its candidate, Peter Phillips, got thrashed and ended any likelihood of the BNP posing any future threat in that area.

Ultimately, the same should happen in Horley.

While Labour's plan for more housing in the south east may be controversial, it is still much more preferable than a party which thrives on hate.


Thursday's by-elections - nondescript performance by BNP

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There are just three local council by-elections on which to comment this week, the British National Party contesting two of them but failing to put in a promised appearance in a third.

Both seats the BNP did contest were virgin territory for them, leaving us unable to measure their performance against previous outings.

Chester-le-Street Central ward saw a strong Labour vote on May 3rd, its two candidates garnering 42.07% and 39.52% respectively, leaving a lone Local Conservative to scrape a meagre 18.12%. Thursday's contest was more straightforward. In a dismal 25% turnout a single Labour candidate took nearly 60%, and while the Conservatives lost 2% on May, the intervention of LibDem and BNP candidates sucked enough votes from Labour to give them 14.89% and 9.38% each.

Chester-le-Street Central ward result (percentages on right):

Lab 324 59.56
Con 88 16.18
LibDem 81 14.89
BNP 51 9.38

Total 544

With nothing to compare the BNP's Central ward vote against, it is difficult to assess its importance. Their 9.38% does not begin to approach the 20%-plus gained in similar first-time outings in Nuneaton and Whitehaven last week, however the pitiful turnout and that fact that the party did not contest the nearby Washington East ward by-election - allowing it to concentrate its resources - worked in the BNP's favour.

The BNP did contest Washington East in May, receiving only 6.29% of the vote. Reasons for not contesting this time were that the party missed the nominations deadline, and that it wanted to concentrate on Chester-le-Street Central. Either excuse could be true - or it might be that the party was worried that on current trends even May's 6.29% would be eroded down to something even more embarrassing.

Whatever the reason, the abandonment of Washington East can only mean that the BNP believed it could do very much better in Chester-le-Street Central - if an improvement of slightly over 3% in a very low poll can be said to be anything of the kind. Though the outcome is hardly pleasing to us, this nondescript result can hardly be pleasing to the BNP, particularly as the local party organisation was able to concentrate resources into the ward.

BNP hopes in Lloyd's ward (Corby), an electoral division of Northamptonshire County Council, were for a 20% vote. As with Chester-le-Street Central, Lloyd's ward was virgin territory for the BNP, and we know (because they have told us) that a half-way professional campaign was mounted, which included some determined canvassing. As we noted last week in our remarks on Nuneaton Abbey ward, there must be something amiss with the BNP's electoral machine, since whatever the party's canvass returns were telling it, less than 13% of Lloyd's ward's electors (on a 30.7% turnout) voted for the BNP.

Northants CC Lloyd's ward (Corby) result:

Lab 1093 53.47
Con 375 18.35
LibDem 311 15.22
BNP 265 12.96

Total 2044

Neither the Chester-le-Street Central nor Northants CC Lloyd's ward results are particularly instructive, though we can note with a certain amount of satisfaction that the BNP expected to do better. Washington East would have given us a more realistic indication of the party's fortunes, but we must wait until next week when the BNP will be contesting some previously fought wards for a more productive analysis of its ongoing electoral performance.

September 27, 2007

Three horse race - but two thirds didn't bet

1 Comment (s)
THE British National Party stood last week for the first time in a Copeland Borough Council election.

By the time of last Thursday night’s count, the campaign had been fought, largely in Whitehaven’s market place, where BNP candidate Bill Pugh had canvassed hard. But seeing the way his party colleagues jostled for position around the counting tables you’d have been forgiven for thinking they were about to go to war again.

Mr Pugh conducted himself quietly, sitting calmly at the back of the room with his wife, and praising his opponents when the result was announced. He was described by one of the other politicians in the room as “a good guy who’d fallen in with the wrong crowd”.

That crowd was out in force, displaying their red, white and blue BNP rosettes. Regional organiser Clive Jefferson scoured the room during the count, occasionally barking orders to the others: “You keep an eye on that!” “Don’t let them away with anything.”

It was clear it was going to be a long night.

Mr Jefferson looked furious at times, watching events all around the room, stopping occasionally to glug from a bottle of Lucozade.

The room had an air of unease about it, which seasoned Conservative councillors Norman and Yvonne Clarkson clearly sensed. They wandered around the room, shaking hands with people from all three parties and generally brightening the mood.

Brigid Whiteside and her husband Chris, the prospective Tory candidate for the next general election, stood quietly at one end of the room while Labour’s Jeanette Williams sat, looking the most nervous of all the candidates.

Even when it was clear she had won comfortably (they divide the votes into batches for each party before they count them and her stack was substantially larger than anyone else’s) she refused to get excited.

Her fellow Harbour ward councillor, Henry Wormstrup, took some of the pressure off her when his mobile phone rang and he was the unfortunate one who was the first in the room to be frowned at by elections officer Alan Southward.

The tension mounted, and under Mr Jefferson’s watchful eye, each of the votes not marked with a clear X was scrutinised and added to the appropriate pile.

Yet two-thirds of the Harbour Ward’s eligible voters did not turn out on polling day.

The BNP is, understandably, the most controversial political party in the country. Its views on race and immigration are, its organisers claim, greatly exaggerated in the media in an attempt to discredit what they stand for.

If you looked past the Union Jacks and BNP slogans, Mr Pugh’s election leaflet read for the most part like an electorate’s dream. He advocated a return to weekly bin rounds, moving away from fortnightly collections; an end to the council’s Executive “squandering tax-payers’ money” on what he regards as extravagances such as the away-days recently revealed by The Whitehaven News.

He was also keen to protect our hospital services and look after elderly residents, as well as providing more affordable social housing.

But there, in the middle of it all, was another pledge, to stand against plans for a large-scale mosque in Whitehaven. The only trouble with their pledge is that there isn’t a mosque planned for Whitehaven, on any scale, large or otherwise.

The BNP delivered a petition to The Whitehaven News before the election, in which they claimed that 1,000 people were against the plans for a mosque. A number of names appear twice or three times and dozens of the signatures were from people from outside the area. Osama Bin Laden was among the signatures.

Back at the count, the returning officer – Copeland’s chief executive Liam Murphy, said that, politics aside, it had been one of the most exciting by-elections in Copeland’s history.

As it turned out the police presence wasn’t necessary, and the expected trouble didn’t occur. Perhaps Copeland’s decision to enforce a rule that exists but which is rarely exercised,which limits the number of supporters who can accompany each candidate at the count, was a wise one.

But for now the voice of democracy has spoken, Harbour’s newest councillor has taken her seat – and the good people of Copeland get back to their day-to-day lives.

Whitehaven News

Mixed matches

8 Comment (s)
What is it like growing up in a multi-race family? The first findings of a two-year project reveal some surprises that should put an end to the stereotypes. Picture the parents of a mixed-race child, and what do you see? If you believe the stereotypes, you will probably imagine a youngish white mother, probably on a council estate, pushing her frizzy-haired baby in a buggy, with the unreliable black father nowhere to be seen.

Such characterisations, epitomised most recently by Little Britain's Vicky Pollard and her black boyfriend Jermaine, have thrived in the absence of evidence to the contrary. But they are about to be challenged by the first piece of research to examine who mixed families really are, where they live, and what, if anything, they have in common.

This Friday, at a conference in London, Rosalind Edwards, a professor in social policy and director of the families and social capital research group at South Bank University, and Chamion Caballero, a research fellow in the group, will present the first findings from their two-year research project into the parenting of mixed-race children. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the research used data from the 2001 national census to assess the socio-economic and geographical characteristics of mixed couples, and interviews with parents to find out how they negotiated the racial, ethnic and faith differences within their families.

Middle class

What they found may surprise you. Contrary to assumptions about broken families and poverty, the census analysis found that most parents of mixed-race children (55%) are together, whether married or co-habiting, and that mixed families are overwhelmingly middle class, with most of them educated to degree or professional level and living in homes they own.

The areas where mixed families live also offers food for thought. The research identified a band of mixed couples running down the centre of England, from Leeds and Manchester in the north, to Birmingham and Leicester in the Midlands, and London and Brighton in the south, raising questions about why mixing was happening less in other areas. Although, as might be expected, most mixed families lived in areas within multicultural cities, there were also significant numbers in more prosperous suburbs and small towns, with further groups in traditional manufacturing and industrial areas.

The results of interviews, too, were thought provoking. Caballero and Edwards interviewed 65 parents from around the country about how they brought up their mixed-race children. The approaches varied. Some tried to give their children a distinctly mixed identity, either by familiarising them equally with aspects of both cultures - particularly through food - or trying to foster mixedness as an identity in itself. Others stressed a single aspect of their child's identity - often their religious beliefs - while a third group adopted an "open" approach, telling their children that they transcended categorisation.

The parents interviewed came from a range of social, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds, and a number were mixed themselves. Their overall message, whatever their background, was how much their status as a mixed family was not an issue. Yes, some had faced opposition from their own families to begin with, but in many cases having children had helped overcome this. Other extended families had gelled from the beginning, sharing aspects of each other's cultures and increasing their awareness of issues such as racism in the process.

"Generally, problems are perceived to be inside mixed families, but parents told us it is people outside that tend to have an issue with it," Caballero says. "People are saying they are happy and their children are happy. But once a child starts school or comes into contact with the community, people's attitudes can be negative."


There are questions to be asked about whether it matters that the majority of mixed-race families are middle class rather than working class. Should we necessarily be happy that mixing is happening more among professionals than we may have expected? This deserves thought, but it is important that misrepresentations are challenged. As Caballero puts it: "Everything before was assumptions. This is concrete."

The research, which will be published early next year, introduces the real voices of mixed-race people and their families, offering a much-needed challenge to those who seek to speak for us and about us. Although further research is needed into the experiences of lone-parent families, the fact that so many mixed couples are getting on with it should challenge the notion that relationships between people of different races or religions are inherently difficult.

But it also should not blind us to the problems that do exist. The fact that so many spoke about negativity from the outside world impinging on the stability of life inside the home should ring alarm bells. It should also be noted that the happiness and stability of mixed-race families and individuals depends a great deal on context.

This summer, I wrote about Gareth Myatt, who was 15 when he died in a children's prison in 2004. A mixed-race boy growing up on a white council estate in Stoke-on-Trent, he struggled with his identity. But when his mother tried to get him help she was advised to send him to an African-Caribbean youth club, an experience he found uncomfortable. Had Gareth's family had the means to move to an area where there were other mixed teenagers, or known about the many grassroots organisations offering support to mixed families around the country, things might have been different for him.


When I first wrote about this subject a year ago for Society Guardian, I was fearful of the response. It was an article I had to write, but I didn't know how people would react to what I was saying. I was worried about being branded a self-obsessed, "poor me" journalist - but, more especially, of being accused of not wanting to be black.

The emails I got - and am still getting - from readers, were like a confirmation. To date, there have been around 150: from teenagers struggling with where they fit; from adults extolling the virtues of a mixed identity; from parents of mixed children wondering what all the fuss is about; and from more isolated single mothers asking where to go for advice. They came from all over the country and abroad, and included letters from mixed Asian and white and Japanese and white people, who pointed out my own bias.

There was hostility, too, although far less than I expected. If it was so hard for you, one email implied, doesn't that prove that inter-racial relationships should be discouraged? Hostility also came from the black press, with one newspaper accusing me of "demanding a divorce from the black race" by speaking up about my mixed identity, and describing the many readers who wrote in as tainted by "self-hatred".

This is a sensitive area for black people from the Caribbean and Africa, who have a long and painful history of being divided up according to colour during slavery and colonisation. But the response, "Just shut up and be black", is inadequate for people with one white parent, whose authenticity will always be questioned. Just ask the Rev Jesse Jackson, who got into trouble last week after apparently accusing the presidential candidate, Barack Obama - mixed race, but often described as black - of "acting white"; or the rapper Kanye West, who last year described mixed-race women as "mutts".

Since writing last year's article, my own views have been reshaped through conversations with the many academics and grassroots activists working in this area who, having functioned for years in relative isolation, are increasingly being brought together. I have realised that even as a mixed person, my own assumptions have been tainted by our hidden history, in which the white women who had relationships with the black seamen who settled in Britain early in the last century were branded prostitutes, their offspring tragic mongrels who would regret being born.

Such characterisations have long tentacles: I have spoken to more than one white mother who feels her mixed child is seen by others as evidence of her promiscuity. Yet people continue to have relationships, as they have always done, and - as the Joseph Rowntree research shows - are not weighed down daily in some kind of cross-cultural battleground.

Last September, I described mixed-race people as "the elephant in the room", ignored by public bodies and political rhetoric. I am happy to say there has been progress. Earlier this month, a series of meetings between the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Commission for Racial Equality - long considered to have ignored the issue - and the Runnymede Trust equality policy research organisation culminated in an online conference aimed at formulating government policy "that delivers equality to all mixed-race people". Discussions will continue at South Bank University this Friday, when a range of interested parties are brought together in person.


That such events are taking place is a cause for celebration. Although it remains to be seen how they will actually affect people's lives, it is exciting to hear the range of viewpoints emerging as the debate grows - including those from the many mixed backgrounds that have long been sidelined. After years of being absent, our voices are finally demanding to be heard. I will be listening with interest, and I'm sure I won't be the only one.

· Parenting 'Mixed' Children: Negotiating Difference and Belonging will be published early next year by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. For more information about Friday's conference at London South Bank University, go here (pdf).


Directory: organisations supporting mixed race people and families
Map: where mixed race families live
Table: where mixed ethnicity families live

September 26, 2007

Hatewatch for the week of September 26th 2007

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White Supremacist Exploits Jena, La., Family
Well-known Mississippi white supremacist Richard Barrett, leader of the Nationalist Movement hate group, is working to exploit the family of Justin Barker, a white teenager allegedly beaten by six black youths in Jena, La., who were later charged with attempted murder...

Neo-Nazi Posts Addresses Of Jena Six On 'Lynch' Webpage
Bill White, commander of the American National Socialist Workers Party, listed the home addresses of the six black youths known as the "Jena 6" on a webpage that urged readers, "Get in touch, and let them know justice is coming."

New Neo-Nazi Group Distributes Leaflets
The Ohio State Hooligans, whose leader recently broke away from the Imperial Klans of America, announced their presence by passing out neo-Nazi literature in five Ohio towns...

Skinheads Plot Rally In Flint, Mich.
The Rollingwood Skins, a racist skinhead crew with ties to the National Socialist Movement, announced plans to hold a rally outside the headquarters of the Flint chapter of the NAACP...

Oregon Town Faces Surge In Racist Activity
Skinheads are staring down Hispanics in a local park and fights between white and non-white high school students are increasing, along with swastika graffiti in the normally quiet town of Butte Falls, Oregon...

The worst of Worcester

7 Comment (s)
If you are of Pakistani origin, there are few less desirable places to live in Britain than this pretty cathedral city.

Think of Worcester and a vision of a pretty cathedral, rolling hills and the famous Malvern natural springs would probably come to the mind of Guardian readers. It would be no surprise to them that Worcester was named the 14th most desirable area to live in Britain in the recent Affordable Affluence Index.

A fascinating aspect of my job as a reporter at Eastern Eye is to learn how stark the difference is between assumption and reality - and none more so than in Worcester. The truth is, if you are British Pakistani or Pakistan-born male, there are few less desirable places to live in Britain than Worcester.

Why? The following brutal attacks have occurred on Pakistani taxi drivers in recent times:

• A driver was doused with petrol and set on fire.
• Another was left with psychological problems after being smashed over the head with a metal bar.
• Another was almost choked to death with his seatbelt.
• Another was stabbed and left for dead.
• In yet another incident, a driver suffered severe facial injuries after being lured by his passengers into a quiet cul-de-sac.

Worcester is a case study in exposing the extent of racism that still exists in middle Britain, the illusion of inclusion, and the failure of the authorities to deal with the problem. After all, Worcester City Council is still considering whether to put CCTV in taxis, despite years of lobbying by drivers.

Pakistanis make up a tiny minority in Worcester, 1,200 out of its population of about 93,000. Sadly, they have given up reporting the regular racist crimes to the police because the perception is that few convictions ever occur. Instead they now contact me, asking that Eastern Eye highlight their plight in the hope of pushing the apathetic local authorities to act.

This has confirmed my growing opinion that the smaller the number of Asians in comparison to whites in a city, the more fearful Asians are of racism; no wonder there's a trend for Asians to live together rather than to live among whites.

Some of the community I spoke to blame the British National Party for ratcheting-up racial tensions through leaflets that complain migrant workers take up jobs previously held by "British" students. Others warn of the Islamification of Britain and appeal for an end to new mosques in the city. Pakistanis claim that the attacks follow terrorism-related stories that appear in the media; it gives white racists an excuse to relieve their frustration on innocent cab drivers. Only this summer a CS gas canister was thrown into Worcester Central Mosque.

Pakistanis here do not hang around in groups, or hide away in mosques mumbling to one other in urdu. They are not, to use Trevor Phillips' words, sleepwalking into segregation.

But this lack of segregation is likely to change in time judging by the comments in heard in Worcester. There are about 250 Pakistani drivers out of the 311 in the Worcester Taxi Association. They perform a vital public service yet are denied the basic human right of being able to work without fear for their safety. What makes the situation in Worcester more appalling is the brutality of the attacks. Having stones, bricks, and even a crow bar hurled at their taxis' windows has become a common experience for drivers as have jibes such as "Abdul", "Bin Laden", and "Here comes the Taliban".

The attacks bear a chilling resemblance to the racially aggravated murder of taxi driver Mohammad Parvaiz in Huddersfield last year. In February four white men, who were armed with stones, bricks, and fence posts on the night of his killing, were jailed for his murder.

When I mentioned the police to taxi drivers, there were looks of resignation and scorn: "We're not a priority", "They're only interested in extremists", "All the police say is 'we're too busy'." The taxi drivers are in an untenable position as they cannot carry a weapon or defend themselves for fear of having their licence taken away, thus losing their livelihood. Their view is rooted in the lack of a high-profile conviction for racist attacks in the city.

The police and council will cite initiatives such as a forum set up this year for drivers to report attacks. But perceptions are crucial to race relations.

It is easy to knock the police without considering the lack of resources, officers' workloads and the endless forms they must fill in. But there should be clear policies in an effort to engage with minority communities, not just gimmicks. The scandalous attitude of Worcester's Racial Equality Council (WREC) sums up the isolation felt by Pakistanis. Despite numerous phone calls and e-mails, I was told WREC was "too busy with other matters" to spare a few moments to speak about what work they are doing to ease racial tensions. In principal it is a good idea for racial equality councils to be set-up regionally, but the fact that no one from the community mentioned them, questions how effective they really are.

Comment is free

September 25, 2007

'Bradford must fight BNP' warning

13 Comment (s)
Bradford must take the lead from Oldham in keeping out the British National Party, the Labour Party conference has heard.

Mohammed Azam, of Labour's Black Representation Committee, told delegates that people must continue to challenge the racist myths and not give credence to the far-right party. Speaking in Bournemouth today Mr Azam told a meeting of the Unite Against Fascism that the strategy adopted in Oldham, where he headed up the Coalition Against Racism, is proof the BNP can be driven back and have an impact in areas like Bradford and Keighley.

He told delegates: "In Oldham the BNP polled its highest results in the 2001 general election that year. It did this against the backdrop of the myths that Asian were main perpetrators of violence, creating no-go areas for whites. The reality was that Asians were the main victims of attacks, but this was going unreported to the police."

Mr Azam said the situation was turned around against the BNP - which can be replicated in other affected areas, including Keighley, where he said the extremist agenda was often fuelled by myths.

Bradford councillor Anne Sinfield (Lab, Keighley West) hit national headlines about four years ago when she formed Families Against Child Exploitation (FACE) after allegations that gangs of Asian men in Keighley were grooming under-age girls for sex. She later accused the BNP of hi-jacking her campaign to promote its own racist agenda.

West Yorkshire Police set up Operation Parsonage which investigated claims about older Asian men targeting vulnerable white girls. The inquiry resulted in ten people - nine men and a woman - being charged with offences ranging from rape and indecent assault to witness intimidation."

Keighley MP Ann Cryer has been at the forefront of attempting to tackle the problem after receiving complaints from mothers about young Asian men targeting their under-age daughters. She said that attempts to raise the problem with community leaders had met with little success, with most of them being in a state of denial about it.

In Bournemouth party delegates were told challenging racism had to be central to the strategy. The meeting was told a recent poll showed 38 per cent of British people "look at Muslims in a bad way".

Issuing a rallying call for all party members to go out and stamp out the BNP, Mr Azam said: "Stopping the BNP making breakthroughs is always more effective than moving them out when they have a foot in."

Telegraph and Argus

September 24, 2007

'Barmy' Barnes's Blog Backfires

19 Comment (s)
Lee Barnes, the BNP’s “Legal Eagle” may be the Nutzis very own version of haemorrhoids. But we’re a little concerned he may be losing his grip. Or as one Stormfronter wrote today, "[Bagel] Barnes has gone totally bonkers"

Were he actually a member of the BNP instead of we presume, a Griffinite sycophant and hanger-on, Barnes would surely rival Mark Collet as the least liked party member; an embarrassing pain in the arse, no less.

There’s something about Barnes you see, that riles the Nutzis in the BNP (and indeed all of the other satellite shysters,) because far from being a Devils Advocate that introduces political debate for the politically dead to wrangle with, Barnes inflicts upon the far-right views that are (even) to them mostly repulsive.

Barnes is billed by his small army of followers (his mum and dad mainly) as some sort of radical free-thinking, far-right modernist. He bills his blog as "a synthesis of the best of history with the needs of the future." Get you, ducky!

His views are to say the least, controversial among the Nutzis and he’s been "at it" again on his latest entry, not by being the "free-thinker" modernist he would like himself to be seen as, but more like the egotistical sociopath we presumed that he is.

"As many people will know over the last couple of years there have been many
malcontents, scum, idiots and lunatics who have been attacking me on every
forum and website run by assorted reds, state security services and uniform
he writes in his latest entry. Doesn’t Barnes realise that is the BNP in its entirety?

And so, it may be Barnes’s normal, liberal demeanour that makes his detractors write such things about him as being "gay, Jewish and had been molested by at university by a gang of lecherous ethnic immigrant university students." Well, there couldn’t be two of them, could there?

But he doesn’t stop there. He feels he’s been accused by BNP members of among other things, "being behind their fridge doors nibbling their cheeses." Has he been to Barking, then?

Barnes is pissed off. So one must wonder, why does he persist if it is clearly vexing him so?

Fishes in ponds, comes to mind for a start. Barnes is a vain example of an attention seeking, incongruous BNP "associate." Partly, it’s his apparent "love" of Israel and admonishment of Holocaust deniers that gets up the noses of most of the "malcontents, scum, idiots and lunatics" of the BNP, but he’s also forgetting that in the Leadership Cult business, if you want to be loved in spite of your vanity, you must at least make an attempt at embodying what the serfs believe in.

Griffin’s done it; he’s been a street soldier, a hard liner, a radical etc, etc.

Barnes pretends to be at a loss as to why he is disliked, but by the same token switches from giving the impression he does not seem to care to becoming increasingly hot under the collar about the conspiracy against him!

He’s furious it seems, that his Wikipedia entry was edited. He has got the conspiracy bit alright, but that was merely edited and taken down because he was deemed not important enough to warrant a page. If he would just blame the Jews for this, then he’d be back up on there in a flash.

Lee wants to be loved, so he's started swiping at all the others at the very bottom of the movement. Why, he thinks, should he have to swim with them? For instance he asks, why does “the dimmest nationalist scum on the planet still queue up to lick the mans (sic) boots……..

"This a man who admitted he was a thief and liar who used nationalists money donated to him to pay for lapdancers and gambling in casinos." No not Nick Griffin, but the American David Duke, Griffin’s friend.

Or, why do they (BNP members) still just pay attention to a person(s) "regarded as deviant freaks known only for their perversions and not their politics."?

No, not Dicky Barnbrook, but another old mate of Griffin’s; Martin Webster.

The list of people he feels more in need of contempt than himself is endless. It includes of course an attack on "Sharon Ebanks, Britains (sic) premiere Half Black Nazi" too, but at least she has Keith “Steptoe” Axon. Poor Lee Barnes has it seems, no-one.

So then Lee names a list of his achievements, included in this is an attack on the far-right lawyer Adrian Davis who, according to Barnes took on "a libel case for Jay Lee that resulted in him having to drop his right to claim damages from the ASLEF union for unlawful expulsion ( a case which I won in the Employment Tribunal ) with the net result that the only winner was Adrian Davis who got his legal fees."

[Actually, what happened there was even better than just poor old Jay Lee losing his case: The whole episode gave Trade Unions the right to expel BNP members, by a ruling of the European courts, Mr Barnes. It over turned the unfair expulsion.]

Or Davis’s "taking on the Chris and Barry Roberts case against Searchlight which resulted in them having to pay £150,000 in costs and having to sell their houses. The only winner was Adrian davis (sic) who got his legal fees."

Really? Is professional jealousy perhaps, causing loose lips?

It’s (his blog) an interesting insight into the mind of Barnes. One that makes one think that he is fast losing grip on reality.

All perhaps is not lost for Lee, permanently. As he writes: "The issue of UFO's is not one that the establishment politicians willever (sic) address or look at in a political manner even though the issue of UFO's is of direct National Security interest.

I have seen UFO's twice so far. Once in broad daylight I was walking with my family on a local beach called Upnor in Medway in the early Eighties when I was about 14 and as I gazed up at the top of the tree line of the woods adjacent to the beach I saw a dull grey silver disc rise up and fly over the local woods. It was about six foot long and about six foot wide and rose up into the sky then disappeared back below the skyline as soon as I sighted it. The movement was deliberate and controlled."

He could be onto a winner here (if he can some how blame the Jews for this) but with the way he’s carrying on at the moment, he’ll be just another one of those many nutters that the BNP deny any responsibility/knowledge of.

Should this happen, Barnes should call David Icke for advice. If he can just throw in a few Lizards and Jews with his UFO's, at least someone somewhere will listen to him.

September 22, 2007

Time to step up the campaign against the BNP conference in Blackpool

33 Comment (s)
For years the British National Party has tried to convince the public that it has changed, that it is no longer racist, that it is a legitimate political party that simply wishes to take part in the democratic process - only to be shown up time and time again as a thoroughly racist group that has absolutely no interest in democracy except where it furthers the BNP's own agenda.

One of the innovations its leader Nick Griffin has brought in to try to convince the electorate that racism in the party is all in the past is to allow a clearly limited number of idiotic non-whites and Jews to join - much to the annoyance of the more hardline members - but that this is all a smokescreen becomes apparent when we read the comments of Griffin's supporters like Graham Williamson, former treasurer of the National Front and old chum of Nick Griffin and boss of the one-man PR company Accentuate, which now seems to be working for the BNP-front Solidarity, who suggested a stunt to deflect any accusations that the fake union was racist:

'The first ‘stunt’ should be a Press Conference launching the Union in Essex unveiling our first Sikh member Pramjit Sadra. This of course helps to counter the racist...accusations.'

That the racism and thuggery of the BNP is now largely covert rather than overt is demonstrated again and again as BNP members and allies, ignoring their leader's pleas to hide their hatred from the public, allow themselves to display their true hatreds either by attacking Iraqi asylum-seekers (Kevin Hughes, who earned himself two and a half years inside) or appearing and lauding Nazi Germany in programmes like the Channel Four documentary Young, Nazi and Proud (Mark Collett who, just a week later, was again sharing a platform with Nick Griffin).

Racism aside (though there is a mountain of evidence that proves the racism of the BNP beyond any shadow of doubt) there is continual thuggery and violence in the party. In just the past few weeks, we've seen David Enderby, the BNP councillor from Redditch, lose an appeal against his conviction for attacking his former wife, her mother and a fourteen-year-old girl at a party. Enderby, who claims he's ex-SAS, is not only still in the BNP but the party's recently-appointed Press Officer Simon Darby has made his views clear about the conviction:

'...the latest attempt to poison the electorate against the BNP involves our Redditch councillor David Enderby. Just a couple of weeks ago I attended David's appeal hearing concerning his ridiculous conviction for assault at Worcester Crown Court.'

The party welcomed the violent thug Kevin Hughes back too.

Another fine example of type of person the BNP wants in its ranks is former candidate Dominic Bugler, who was recently given an ASBO after subjecting his neighbours to 18 months of abuse at his family's hands.

BNP Parliamentary candidate for Hull Brian Wainwright was guilty of a campaign of hate mail against the local mosque, a Muslim councillor and a local anti-fascist activist. A letter in which he claimed, 'Muslim blood will be spilt' included 'SS' and skull and cross bones imagery. Another letter was sent to a local anti-fascist activist threatening that Combat 18 (the Nazi terrorist organisation who take their name from Hitler’s initials) would visit.

Swindon BNP activist Mark Bulman (who has used the pseudonym Bullock) was sentenced to five years after attempting to firebomb a local mosque using a BNP leaflet as a fuse. He also daubed swastikas and racist graffiti on local shops and businesses that he believed to be ‘ethnic’.

In June 2006 BNP councillor Brian Turner was found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence. He escaped a jail sentence and was instead ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work in the community. Turner has previous convictions of common assault and police assault after he was convicted of beating up his wife Melanie Turner.Again, just a few of many, many examples.

Part of the process of pretending to be a legitimate political party is for the BNP to act as though it is one and this, in the past couple of years, has including establishing an 'annual' conference. Anyone who has ever been to an annual conference of one of the real political parties or a trades union will know that they are generally an example of democracy in action. Leadership battles are fought, rules are made or amended and proposals are made, seconded, discussed and voted upon by the delegates who are there representing the wishes of their branch of the party/union. Not so with the BNP. After the last leadership challenge, Griffin wrote this:

'It was a pathetic, pitiful, desperate attempt to cause trouble for the most modernised and most successful nationalist party in British history by a handful of cranks left over from the BNP’s most sterile past, aided and abetted by a gaggle of Hollywood Nazis, congenital losers and thieves.'

Griffin then went on to describe the challenger's supporters as 'vermin' and has spent a good deal of time since the challenge vigorously purging them from the party.

The BNP drones on about 'democracy' on every available occasion yet never, in a million years, will Nick Griffin allow a democracy in the BNP. One of his recent blog posts had this to say on the issue of those party members who have unsuccessfully attempted to push through a truly-democratic 'one man, one vote' system:

'This group must now accept that their scheme to put the destiny of the BNP in the hands of anyone who deigns to pay their membership has been comprehensively and permanently rejected, in favour of a system that gives power only to those who have earned it, and who continue to earn it. The argument is over, and anyone trying to raise it again against the repeatedly expressed will of the vast majority of the party will mark themselves out as a would-be saboteur and a candidate for expulsion.'

The BNP always has difficulty finding a venue for any event - even a pub in which to hold a small meeting. To find somewhere that was big enough to pass off as a venue for anything as large as a 'conference' must have been a real problem for them. However, according to one of our correspondents writing in the comments section of a recent post, the BNP's former Blackpool organiser Roy Goodwin is friends with the owners of the New Kimberley Hotel, a run-down dive on New South Promenade, a pretty hefty walk from Blackpool Tower. This hotel, managed by Peter and Susie Metcalfe, was not only happy to host the conference for the BNP last year but was also happy to ignore the anger of the neighboring hotel owners, local trades unions, the local newspaper and many local people at bringing such notoriety to the area.

Far from considering such a community relations disaster something that should be avoided this year, the New Kimberley is once again allowing the BNP to infest its premises to the detriment of the immediate area and of course Blackpool itself.

The local TUC, Blackpool and Fylde College Student's Union, the newspapers, the NUS, the local MPs and numerous local councillors have all condemned the hotel for hosting the conference and the BNP for having the audacity to believe that Blackpool would welcome its presence but all to no avail.

That the BNP ignores local opinion is no great surprise. After all, it has no real interest in people or their opinions. The New Kimberley however, is an entirely different matter.

Blackpool has, of late, lost some of the edge it had over its competition as a holiday and nightlife resort. With super-cheap flights available, stag and hen parties (long a staple of the Blackpool scene) are increasingly choosing to jet off to Malaga or somesuch place instead. The astonishing decision not to use Blackpool as the site for a so-called 'super casino' has also hit the town hard, leaving depression and anger in its wake. If nothing else, the super casino would have generated a massive business boom for the area. Blackpool hoteliers and tradespeople are working hard to get Blackpool back to the hugely-successful resort it was until a very short time ago and the very last thing the townspeople want is for it to be tarnished by association with the racists and thugs in the British National Party.

One would have expected the party and the BNP-supporting New Kimberley to have realised that the BNP wasn't wanted in Blackpool when all its seven candidates were rejected by the electorate at last May's local government elections - but racists have never been noted for their intelligence.

It's up to us then to drum some sense into the hoteliers who want to pollute Blackpool with this filth. It's up to us to let the New Kimberley know that the BNP is not wanted in Blackpool and that the hotel is wrong both to invite them to the town and to expect us to sit back complacently and let them get on with it.

Almost all of the senior members of the BNP have strong connections with more overtly racist or nazi groups. Nick Griffin himself is former National Front and has lost none of his hatreds over the years, even if they have been tempered in public thanks to the law.

We've seen the effects that the BNP has when it moves into any town - racist attacks increase, racist stickers appear and other racist groups move in to take any scraps that are left and stir up more hatred wherever they can. The British People's Party, a virulently Nazi group that also pretends to be a political party, has been plastering highly offensive stickers all over Blackpool recently and the National Front stickered the town pretty comprehensively just after the last BNP 'conference'.

This is what the New Kimberley has invited to Blackpool and this is why we all need to make the effort to let the New Kimberley know precisely how we feel about this. It's no good telling the hotel owners that the BNP is a racist party - they already know that after inviting them last year and if what our correspondent said its true and they are indeed friends of the former Blackpool BNP organiser Roy Goodwin, they will know precisely what the party is all about and they will approve of its disgusting views.

One of our friends called the hotel and was informed that a) the BNP conference had been cancelled, and b) that the owner of the hotel was a Mohammed Abdul - presumably the New Kimberley's idea of a joke because neither of these statements is true. We're working on finding out who the owner is (and we will) but we need to you ring the hotel and attempt to speak to the managers (Peter and Susie Metcalfe) to put them right on why they should not be holding the conference there at all and we need this done as soon as possible (particularly over the weekend though that's not essential).

If you've rung before, ring again. You can't email them because they don't appear to have moved into the 20th century yet, let alone the 21st.

We will have the demonstration outside the hotel on November 17th at midday and it will be a large demonstration that will show those inside the hotel that plenty of us are prepared to take a stand against the BNP wherever it sticks its ugly shaven head. In the meantime, the hotel needs to know that its invitation to the BNP is intolerable and that under no circumstances will we allow the conference to go ahead without continual and loud protest.

We're working on checking out suppliers to the New Kimberley, the coach companies who bring many of its guests and the trade organisations who work with the hotel and once we have the information we are seeking, we'll pass that along to you. In the meantime, let's get calling and making our voices heard.

The New Kimberley, 585-589 New South Promenade, Blackpool FY4 1NQ, is run by Peter and Susie Metcalfe and can be reached at 01253 341184.

Curiously, the New Kimberley Hotel is registered at Companies House as the address for a company called Goldprime Properties UK Ltd (Company No. 05357988) whose accounts (in a neatly ironic twist) similarly to the BNP's own, are long overdue, its last return having been required but not forthcoming on 9.3.2006. There is a proposal lodged with Companies House to strike Goldprime from the register of trading companies.

Perhaps the BNP chose the New Kimberley because the hotel's financial position so closely mirrored that of its own, both being apparently close to going under. Or perhaps it's simply the moral bankruptcy that the party and the hotel share that the BNP finds so appealing. Either way, the parallels are beginning to seem uncanny.

It's not surprising that the New Kimberley isn't doing too well. We've been checking through the reviews from guests who have stayed there. One, a person calling himself Jacks2607, wrote this back in June 2006:

'The new Kimberly hotel Blackpool, its an utter disgrace, the food was absolutely disgusting, the manager was a complete waste of time. Our rooms had holes in the walls and during our stay the rooms were NEVER hoovered, it was damn right filthy. The portable appliance tests were over a year out of date and some even 2 years!. Everyone else on the holiday with us agreed. I reccommend this hotel to NO ONE. We would have been better off in a shanty town.'

A tatty third-rate hotel hosting a fake conference for a tatty third-rate party.

It's time to start pushing this protest forward and to let the New Kimberley know that it is doing the people of Blackpool and the region around it an immense disservice by allowing this bunch of thugs, thieves, racists and trainee-terrorists to infest it.

Neo-Nazis release school newspaper

0 Comment (s)
Germany's main neo-Nazi party has launched a youth propaganda campaign by distributing newspapers in schools that portray Adolf Hitler as a Second World War peacemaker and the Allies as warmongers.

State prosecutors in the east German city of Dresden said yesterday that police had confiscated some 150 of the offending newspapers circulated by the country's neo-Nazi National Democratic party (NPD) at schools in the region.

They said the newspapers, entitled Perplex, carried a seemingly harmless front page picture of two hands about to join under the slogan "Young, Cheeky and German". However, inside pupils were encouraged to turn their schools into German-only institutions and to despise foreigners.

Christian Avenarius, a spokesman for the state prosecutors, said: "The newspapers are clearly designed to influence young people. Hitler is portrayed as somebody who tries to negotiate peace during the Second World War. By contrast the British, Americans and Russians are depicted as warmongers."

Dresden's state prosecutors said they would bring charges against the NPD for inciting racial hatred and for being in breach of youth protection laws. The party has been prosecuted for distributing racist CDs in schools in the past.

German intelligence officials said the newspapers were part of a far wider campaign by the party to distribute tens of thousands of similar documents at schools nationwide.

The newspapers mark the latest attempt by the NPD to broaden its support in eastern Germany where the party holds seats in regional parliaments in Saxony and in Chancellor Angela Merkel's home state of Mecklenburg-Pomerania.

Mrs Merkel is under pressure to ban the NPD after an incident last month in which eight Indian market traders were beaten up by a mob screaming racist abuse in Saxony.


Swastikas sprayed on college walls

5 Comment (s)
A series of swastikas have been daubed on the walls of Swindon College. The graffiti was discovered as students arrived for lectures on Monday at the college's North Star campus.

Jaginder Bassi of Swindon's Racial Equality Council said he thought a leaflet by the British National Party against a possible mosque near the site might explain the damage. But the BNP has strongly denied responsibility for the graffiti and said it is not the type of thing they would do.

College maintenance staff removed the swastikas on Monday, which were daubed on an exterior wall in red and black paint. But the episode has left a bad taste in the mouths of college staff.

Swindon College spokeswoman Amanda Burnside said: "We think it was done over the weekend. From the school's point of view it is very regrettable, particularly since it has happened to the new college building."

When asked if a student had done the damage, the college's marketing manager refused to rule it out. She said: "We can never say never about the possibility that it was done by a student but it would be extremely disappointing if that were the case. Most of our students respect the new buildings and are proud of their surroundings. We have security guards on patrol at weekends to minimise the chance of these type of incidents."

Mr Bassi said: "I am quite surprised by this graffiti because it has not appeared in Swindon for a while. After a member of the British National Party was taken into custody last year the problem seemed to have gone away."

Mr Bassi thought one explanation was a leaflet being distributed by the BNP. The pamphlet he refers to is titled Swindon Super-Mosque?' and has been distributed around the North Star area. It attacks the possible construction of a new mosque on open ground near Osborne Road, and can be seen on the party's website. And though Thamesdown Islamic Association has not submitted any planning proposal, Mr Bassi thinks the leaflet explains why the swastikas appeared.

He said: "This graffiti may or may not be linked but it seems plausible. It is trying to create discord and antagonise people when there isn't anything going on."

But the BNP denied any involvement with the graffiti. Mike Howson, the BNP chairman for Wiltshire, said: "This incident has nothing to do with us and is probably some left-wing individual with too much time on their hands. We don't even know why people contact us about this kind of thing because the days of racist graffiti are long gone. As I say, it must have been someone who was bored and wanted to cause a stir."

This is Wiltshire

September 21, 2007

Thursday's by-elections - still no breakthrough for BNP

27 Comment (s)
Thursday's crop of local by-election results brought no sign of a revival for the electorally moribund British National Party. In only one ward (Southend Shoeburyness) did they improve over their May vote - by 0.5%, their candidate coming fourth out of five standing, with 13.94%.

Elsewhere where the BNP's by-election vote can be measured against its May outings the trend of BNP stagnation and vote leakage continued.

In Worcester St. Clements their vote dropped from 15.8% to 11.67%, a loss of 4.3%, giving them third place in a field of five. In Birmingham Brandwood the loss was 2.65%, down from an already low 8.85% to 6.2%., putting the BNP third in a field of eight.

Sharon Ebanks's rebel New Nationalist Party also stood in Brandwood, scoring a paltry 25 votes (0.5%) - a fact BNP members are already using to take the focus off their own dismal performance. Ebanks's party has for some time been considered a spent force and this result can only further underline its irrelevance.

In Wigan's West ward the BNP's vote loss was marginal. The lack of a Conservative candidate this time around did not help them and it appears that most Tory voters gave their support to the Liberal Democrats, who did not contest the seat in May. With 264 votes (13.78%) the BNP came a poor third to the LibDems, who took 24.22%.

The BNP broke fresh ground in two other wards, obtaining a better result than it claims it expected in Copeland Harbour (Whitehaven) and a worse than expected result in Nuneaton and Bedworth Abbey.

In Copeland Harbour ward BNP candidate Bill Pugh came third of three with 23.44% of the vote, a surprise to the BNP and anti-fascists alike. The turnout was disappointing with only a third of electors bothering to take part, a fact which may have helped the BNP, which conducted an intensive campaign and pulled out all the stops to get its vote out on polling day.

The BNP's biggest disappointment of the night came in Nuneaton and Bedworth's Abbey ward, contested by serial candidate Alwyn Deacon. The BNP believed it might win the ward and never failed to talk up its prospects, BNP deputy leader Simon Darby writing on his blog that the election would be "close" and that he thought the BNP were "in with a chance".

It wasn't to be. The BNP came second in a field of six, mustering 21.49% to Labour's 37.94% - putting the BNP more than 16% adrift and leaving questions to be asked about the effectiveness of its research and the veracity of its canvass returns. The Liberal Democrat vote collapsed back from nearly 36% to just over 19%, the party's supporters switching to Labour as the perceived scale of the BNP threat became apparent in the last days of the campaign.

We have previously said that the months' long picture of BNP vote stall may be interrupted by the odd nasty surprise and the Copeland Harbour result certainly comes close to being that, but overall the story of electoral stagnation continues. It should be borne in mind that these are isolated by-elections and that the BNP is able to concentrate its supporters and finances into these small areas for intensive campaign work, a luxury that will not be available to the party next May.

Even so, while a comparison of last night's votes with those obtained in May (where possible) certainly indicates that the BNP is as far away from a breakthrough as ever, the results from Copeland Harbour and Nuneaton and Bedworth Abbey wards deserve some attention. There was no danger of the BNP being elected in either of these places, but the party has established a strong base vote in both. Though our feeling is that this is as good as it's going to get for the BNP in these wards and that subsequent elections will see their vote fall back, nothing can be taken for granted.

No matter how the BNP spins last night's results - and they will spin them - electorally the party is clearly at bay. We must be frank and admit that pre-May we quietly shared the BNP's expectation that by now we would be dealing with around 100 BNP councillors and recording a number of local by-election successes. That hasn't happened and on current form seems unlikely to happen any time in the near future, pleasing us as much as it has caused bitter disappointment within the BNP - but this relative good news does not mean that we can afford to take our eye off the ball.

The BNP will be looking for ways to break out of its present electoral impasse and we must remain as vigilant as ever. A single terrorist incident or a misguided statement by a leading politician could put a completely different gloss on the situation.

In no small measure the BNP's retreat into electoral stagnation can be ascribed to the unsung and untiring efforts of those small groups of anti-fascists who take the ugly truth of the BNP to the doorsteps of voters come rain or shine. They deserve our gratitude and support. Thank you, boys and girls. Your success is their failure.

Results (May percentages on right):

Birmingham Brandwood

Lab 1998 42.74
Con 1663 35.57
LibDem 285 6.10
BNP 290 6.20 8.85
Green 193 4.13
UKIP 64 1.37
NNP 25 0.53
Ind 157 3.36

Total 4675

Copeland Harbour

Lab 463 44.31
Con 337 32.25
BNP 245 23.44

Total 1045

Wigan West

Lab 837 43.68
LibDem 464 24.22
BNP 264 13.78 13.8
Com Act 219 11.43
Ind 72 3.76
Green 60 3.13

Total 1916

Southend Shoeburyness

Lab 460 23.48
Con 494 25.22
LibDem 66 3.37
BNP 273 13.94 13.41
Ind 666 34.00

Total 1959

Worcester St. Clements

Lab 604 42.48
Con 478 33.61
BNP 166 11.67 15.8
Green 52 3.66
UKIP 122 8.58

Total 1422

Nuneaton and Bedworth Abbey
Lab 807 37.94
Con 329 15.47
LibDem 409 19.23
BNP 457 21.49
Green 115 5.41
Ind 10 0.47

Total 2127

Protest against David Irving meeting in Coventry tonight

11 Comment (s)
Tonight (Friday 21 September), with the help of the British National Party, David Irving, the notorious Holocaust denier and liar, is booked to speak at the Royal Warwicks Club in Coventry. Tomorrow night he intends to speak in Windsor, where he now lives.

Since his release from prison in Austria late last year Irving has gone back to his old ways, addressing a large audience of antisemites in Hungary, before moving on to a book fair in Poland, from where he was expelled.

Back in the UK, Irving has so far spoken at a small meeting in Rugby and popped up in John Sweeney's Panorama programme, Weekend Nazis, signing his books for admiring men dressed up in SS uniforms.

The promise of an invitation to speak to the European Society at St Andrews University rapidly evaporated after the university "raised concerns" about "security and use of their property". However Irving boasts that he still has another invitation to participate in a debate at a so-far-unnamed university on 23 November.

Searchlight calls on people to protest against Irving being allowed to spread his poison in Coventry, a city that was badly bombed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Phone the Royal Warwicks Club on 024 7622 0425 to tell the management what you think of the club giving space to this man and his Nazi supporters (though don't be rude to club staff who had no say in the booking and probably object just as much as you do).

If you want to protest outside, go to the Royal Warwicks Club, Tower Street, Coventry CV1 1JS. Doors open at 7pm.

Stop the BNP

September 20, 2007

Swastikas daubed on couple's home

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A County Antrim man newly married to an African nurse says he is living in fear after racist slogans and swastikas were painted on their home. Paul Morton's car was also damaged during the incident in Portballintrae near Bushmills on Wednesday night.

Mr Morton and his wife had just moved into the house in July, and police are treating the attack as a hate crime. He told the BBC's Evening Extra that he was scared that they may come back and carry out more serious attacks.

"They could throw things through your windows or pour stuff through your letterbox," he said. "You never know what's going to happen - it has come as a total shock."

The attackers poured paint stripper on their car. It happened at about 0100 BST. His wife was not at home at the time, as she attends nursing college in Dublin. Mr Morton said they have not experienced any animosity in the village since the wedding.

"I'm born and bred in Bushmills and it's a complete shock - you always hear about these things happening but never expect it to happen to you," he said. "To think it's maybe somebody you've known all your life who did it makes it even worse."

Police have appealed for information.


York tenant wrecks flat before eviction

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A nightmare neighbour who tormented local residents, trashed his own home and then refused to leave has finally been given the boot.

Mark Caple, 24, blasted music from his flat in Fossway, York, day and night, making the lives of other tenants a misery. Then when city council officers went in to forcibly evict him - after he had flouted a court instruction to get out - they found racist graffiti daubed over the walls and much of the property badly damaged.

One of Mr Caple's former victims today hailed the eviction, saying he had made her life hell. Tina Parry, 45, who lived in the flat below his for nearly two years, said: "By the end of it I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown and my partner was ill. We did nothing to Caple and he did a lot to us. Why he did it all, I will never know."

She said he had often knocked on her door in the early hours of the morning to wake her up, or played loud music all day and night. Ms Parry, who has also now moved away from Fossway, kept a log of her miserable ordeal, and said: "I pity whoever's going to have to put up with him now."

City of York Council was granted possession of the flat at a court hearing, and Mr Caple indicated he would leave. But he failed to do so, and council officers started eviction proceedings. When they went in, they found racist and anti-council slurs on the walls. "Up the BNP" and "I'd like to see the council get any of the money I owe them. Keep dreamin' boys."

Litter, dishes and unfinished food were strewn all over the house and much of the furniture was damaged. A tub beside the sink had "BSE cakes" written on the lid, and officers found a final reminder from the council discarded among the rubble.

A council spokeswoman said: "Much of the contents of the property will have to be disposed of and it will need to be re-decorated before it can be re-let. The cost of this work will be charged to Mr Caple once his new address has been established."

She said the eviction followed work by the council's tenancy enforcement, legal and environmental protection teams, and said Mr Caple's former neighbours had been very supportive of the action.

The dispute between Ms Parry and Mr Caple featured in The Press last December, when we revealed that the number of complaints about noise nuisance in York had doubled in the preceding 12 months. More complaints were received from Fossway than any other city street. The Press tried without success to contact Mr Caple.

The Press (York)