October 31, 2007

Anti-racism group growing fast

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A group formed in March to fight racism in Carlisle already has 85 supporters.

Carlisle Against Racism is holding a public meeting in the Tithebarn, West Walls, tonight in an attempt to reach an even wider audience. Since its inception, it has had stalls at events such as the Festival of Nations and continental market, and leafleted spectators at Brunton Park football ground. Its biggest event so far was “Love Music, Hate Racism!”, a gig at the Brickyard in Fisher Street earlier this month, which attracted 300 people.

Spokesman Brent Kennedy said: “We set up in March when we heard that racist candidates were standing in six wards in Carlisle for the city council elections. We answered the lies and myths they were putting out with facts and figures. We put out 18,000 leaflets, one through every door in wards where the British National Party stood.”

The group is adamant that it is here to stay and is planning an annual general meeting to elect officers and draw up a constitution.

Mr Kennedy added: “Racism is most dangerous when used for political ends. It divides people and diverts attention from the real problems. For example, racists blame immigrants for a shortage of rented housing. The real reason why there are 1.5m people on the housing waiting list is that council-house building is one per cent of its level in the 1970s. The facts are that immigrants make up seven to eight per cent of the working population but contribute 10 per cent of economic growth. Immigrant workers pay £2.5bn a year more in taxes than they claim in benefits and overseas students contribute £3bn to the British economy. Without immigrants, the NHS would collapse.”

Mr Kennedy is one of the speakers at tonight’s meeting alongside Paul Jenkins of Unite Against Fascism. The meeting begins at 7.30pm and admission is free.

Cumbria News and Star

Trouble at the court of Mad King Nick

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When party members pass damaging documents to “the enemy”, you can be sure there is something seriously wrong in the British National Party.

Over the past two months Searchlight has been inundated with information from inside the BNP which paints a very different picture from the one proffered by the party leadership. Instead of the public image of remorseless advance, the BNP is beset with internal problems, poor morale and a leadership that is becoming increasingly detached from many of the party’s key organisers.

What marks this present crisis out compared to previous internal disputes are the people who are becoming alienated from the BNP leader. We are no longer talking about the old Tyndallites – supporters of Nick Griffin’s rival and former BNP leader John Tyndall – whom Griffin happily dismisses as “vermin”, but about some of the more able organisers and party staff who have until recently been close to the party leader.

This group includes Sadie Graham, Chris Beverley, Ian Dawson and Steve Blake. The latest problems come on top of the departure of several other leading BNP officers and local organisers, including Scott McLean, Jonathan Bowden and Stuart Russell.

There is a variety of reasons for the growing frictions inside the BNP, though most are the product of poor morale and a sense of drift. Despite its public bravado, the BNP has not been having a good time of late. The 2006 election results certainly did not live up to expectations, recruitment continues to be like trying to fill a bath with the plug out, with too few members renewing, and the party has clear financial problems.

Three distinct groups seem to have emerged at the heart of the BNP. Firstly there are the “über-nationalists”, many of whom have not actually joined the BNP but currently have the ear of Nick Griffin.

Then there is the brat pack, made up of Mark Collett, head of publicity, party treasurer John Walker, his deputy David Hannam, head of security Martin Reynolds and Bradford councillor Paul Cromie. They have formed a laddish sect within the party but many others consider them not particularly able.

Finally, there are the party apparatchiks, or “Young Turks”, the more able organisers who have emerged in prominent positions and formed a tight bond over the past two years. They include Graham, Beverley, Dawson, Blake and Kenny Smith. They are the super-activists who are driving the party forward on the ground.

It is they who appear to have become most disillusioned with the direction of the party and the political judgement of Griffin himself. While they are at present staying loyal to the party some of them are prioritising local activity over national work.
In late September Dawson wrote a long letter to Griffin resigning from his post as head of group support. He had become disillusioned with the way the party was being run, and in particular the strong but highly damaging influence of Collett, Walker and Hannam.

“I have to work on a daily basis with Treasury, specifically Dave Hannam,” he explained. “Add this to the fact that Hannam, Walker and Collett have their own little clique which will stop at nothing to undermine, antagonise and mock decent nationalists, then something has to give.”

Dawson directs particular venom at Hannam, of whom he has nothing positive to say. He voices his frustration that his repeated criticisms of Hannam have fallen on deaf ears. He dismisses the notion that the party accounts were late (again) because of overwork and even questions the legitimacy of the party finances. He claims that the local bank balances are often wrong and rarely up to date, standing orders are processed very late, cheques are not cashed and new party units have to wait “an infuriatingly long time” for treasury packs.

“I don’t know what more I have to do or say to get through the point that Dave is completely incompetent,” he adds. “I would have replaced him ages ago, in a diplomatic way of course, yet as his face fits he is still on board, despite constant lies and incompetence. Just how bad do people have to be to do their job, and how many lies do they have to tell to cover it up, before they are sacked?”

Collett also comes in for intense criticism. “Mark Collett is without doubt the most deceitful, devious, arrogant, spiteful, greedy moron that I have ever come across. He is not a nationalist, plain and simple. Playing gangster rap music while hurling personal insults at hard working nationalists is about as low as it gets. What on earth is he doing in the Party? Yet not just that, what on earth is he doing as a national officer?”

Dawson is not alone in his disenchantment with the direction of the party and open hatred towards Collett and his group. Beverley recently resigned from the Advisory Council and his position running Excalibur, the party’s merchandising operation, to concentrate on his job as a local councillor.

Graham, the BNP’s group development officer, received a disciplinary letter from Griffin complaining that she was meddling in affairs outside her role. Apparently he backed down, admitting that he had not read an email from her. When word leaked out of Graham’s unhappiness, Griffin was forced onto the defensive, declaring on the BNP website on 3 October that she remains “firmly in place”.

Collett and Walker also appear to have acted as a catalyst for the resignation of Stuart Russell as the party’s press officer and the expulsion of the party’s recent Sedgefield by-election candidate Andrew Spence. Russell’s wife, Wendy, had been on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse and the final straw was when Arthur Kemp, Griffin’s new ideological enforcer, allegedly told him he was a useless fat old f***er who should just go away.

And although McLean cited the exigencies of business and family life when he resigned as the BNP’s deputy chairman, some say the real reason is that Griffin prevented him, in his capacity as head of the party’s disciplinary committee, from dealing with Collett.

So far it appears that Griffin is refusing to act against the Collett axis. Why, we don’t know, but Dawson’s claim that Collett has threatened to turn Queen’s evidence against Griffin if he is ditched is illuminating.

There is also increasing resentment from many establishment organisers towards the growing influence of the über-nationalists, the new kids on the block who have emerged as Griffin’s inner circle. They are increasingly influencing the direction of the party despite many of them being outside the party.

There is growing frustration that Griffin and his close entourage are ignoring party structures. The failure to hold regular meetings of the Advisory Council, supposedly the leadership body of the BNP, is further evidence that Griffin is building his own separate operation.

Many of the “Young Turks” have a longstanding dislike of Lee Barnes, particularly Blake. It recently flared up again on the BNP forum, the internal discussion board for BNP members. Replying to a posting on Barnes’s blog last month, which continued a highly abusive and personal attack on Sharon Ebanks, the party’s former Birmingham organiser who left to form the New Nationalist Party which folded last month, Blake wrote: “What purpose does the dissemination of this unattributed and unsubstantiated gossip serve?
“This is totally unfounded nonsense and just the kind of rubbish our mortal enemies want us to distribute in order to bring about doubts, suspicions and weaken morale.”

Barnes had dismissed “nationalist” opponents of the BNP as, “The retarded wing of pseudo-British Nationalism …”, calling Ebanks a “demented harridan” and her followers a “little clique of simpering scumbag accomplices”.

If the BNP were a normal political party, there would have been universal outrage at one of the leader’s inner circle writing such words and Griffin would have been forced to dump him. But the BNP is not, so Griffin continues to heap praise on Barnes’s warped blog.

The mistrust appears to be mutual. The Collett gang has little time for the “Young Turks” and does what it can to undermine them and blame them for its own shortcomings. Collett and his clique are also becoming increasingly outspoken about what they perceive is favouritism from the Graham faction to some branches and councillors over people close to Collett.

Likewise, the über-nationalists, who appear to enjoy acting as “advisers” rather than doing any real work on the ground, seem to have little time for many of the party’s organisers. The dismissive way in which they acted towards Russell is symptomatic of their overall approach.

Cass: pushed or jumped?

Over the summer, Nick Cass either stepped down or was sacked as party manager. According to some reports he was sacked minutes before an Advisory Council meeting in Wales after a string of blunders for which he was blamed.

Cass posted a denial of this version of events on various rightwing websites, insisting that he chose to resign and was offered another job in the party but declined, in favour of spending more time with his family. It is not clear whether this is the truth or Cass simply remaining loyal to Griffin, with whom he has been closely associated for many years. Dawson’s resignation letter certainly supports the former account. Criticising the party’s management style, Dawson comments: “Not telling people two minutes before a meeting that they have been replaced, e.g. the recent case involving Nick Cass”.

Either way, the result is that Cass is no longer on the party books and is concentrating on his local branch. Dawson and Beverley have followed suit, with Beverley not only giving up Excalibur but also stepping down from the Advisory Council.

Avoiding the issues

Griffin is trying to rectify some of the internal problems. He has established a three-person Central Management Team of “volunteer long-standing party activists” to help run the party. Tony Brewer, Michaela Mackenzie and Mark Clutterbuck will supposedly bring “decades of business management experience” to handling “internal staff management affairs”.

But while the intention may be commendable, Mackenzie is yet another person at the centre of the party’s internal disputes.

Griffin’s response to the current disquiet is true to form. He is letting his supporters make highly personal and abusive attacks on individuals, or at least not reining them in. Griffin could have dealt quickly and firmly with the supporter who virtually accused the BNP’s former education officer, Jonathan Bowden, of being a paedophile, but he did not. He could have told his attack dogs to stop abusing Stuart and Wendy Russell, but he did not.

Rather, he has joined in. In the immediate aftermath of his victory in the party leadership election in July he dismissed those who backed the rival candidate as “vermin”. Again, if Griffin had been leading a normal political party he would have been forced to resign or at least apologise publicly for such an outburst.

But this is history repeating itself. During the 1980s Griffin played a major factional role in the destruction of the National Front. He was behind many of the personal and political attacks on his group’s internal rivals and this contributed to the party’s virtual collapse.

The manner in which Solidarity, the BNP’s trade union front, is run, and the way Griffin is silencing through expulsion anyone who criticises his line, show that he has learnt nothing from the past. Passing the blame and refusing to accept responsibility for his own failures is another of Griffin’s traits.

It is also clear that at the moment Griffin does not want to, or feels he cannot, move against Collett et al. Until he faces up to the Collett problem there is little chance of an end to the increasingly damaging disputes in the BNP.

Dawson spells out the point in his resignation letter. “The party is in danger of fragmenting. … There are so many good people in the party that are being sidelined and have not been listened to. People are sick and tired of seeing the odious clique of Hannam, Walker and specifically Collett get away with things time and again.”

Dawson might have decided to resign of his own accord but in his letter he was articulating the views of the “Young Turks”.

What Griffin has done, and again this is true to form, is to shout conspiracy. Nothing pleases the BNP activist more than to believe that the political establishment is so scared of its potential that it will stop at nothing to undermine the advance of the BNP. In recent years we have heard claims that the UK Independence Party was established just to provide a respectable but ineffective home for British nationalists, that Labour opted for all-postal elections in 2004 in the north of England just to prevent the BNP from winning more council seats and that any internal criticism of Griffin, including Chris Jackson’s challenge to his leadership, is all part of a cunning plot by the security services to derail the BNP juggernaut.

Indeed, Griffin devoted four pages in a recent issue of Identity, the BNP’s magazine, to claim that the internal rumblings were simply another frantic state plot. He even claims that the writer of this article is a well-known nazi, although this is slightly undermined by his attack dogs on the internet who have insisted that Nick Lowles does not exist but is in fact Gerry Gable!

Crisis, what crisis?

Do the BNP’s internal wranglings really matter? Well actually yes. Despite what Griffin and his apologists claim, the BNP is in crisis. While it is true that the BNP is more popular than any previous British fascist organisation, in many areas its support has begun to plateau or fall. This trend began in the 2004 local elections but gathered momentum this May.

What is worse for the BNP is that many of the areas where its fortunes are ebbing, for the moment at least, are in their traditional heartlands: Oldham, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Sandwell and Dudley to name but a few. The BNP’s share of the vote was considerably lower this May compared to previous elections, especially in its key target wards.

This is having a knock-on effect on BNP branches. Oldham and Blackburn have virtually collapsed. Bradford and Burnley have suffered huge splits and the loss of two councillors in Sandwell has rocked and perhaps terminally damaged local fortunes. The BNP may be emerging in new areas, such as the East Midlands, and remains strong in others, such as Stoke-on-Trent, outer east London and Thurrock, but it is unlikely to win seats elsewhere.

The internal problems within the BNP stem partly from poor leadership but also from declining morale. A run of good election results and a new wave of recruitment could quickly turn the party’s fortunes around. Anti-fascists must step up work ahead of next year’s local elections to ensure that the ructions within the party continue.

On their way out

Several key people have left the BNP or resigned from their positions over the past three months.

Scott McLean (Deputy Chairman)
Left to concentrate on his business, but had become increasingly disillusioned with the party.

Jonathan Bowden (Educational Officer)
Resigned after a Griffin supporter publicly accused him of being a paedophile.

Nick Cass (Party Manager)
Resigned but was blamed for some of the internal problems in the party.

Stuart Russell (Press Officer)
Resigned after verbal exchanges with Mark Collett and Arthur Kemp.

Ian Dawson (Head of Group Support)
Resigned in exasperation after Griffin’s failure to deal with Mark Collett and Dave Hannam.

Ian Leadbitter (Sunderland organiser)
Resigned after falling out with other BNP members.

Walter Hamilton (Glasgow organiser)
Resigned to concentrate on business commitments.

Simon Smith (Black Country organiser)
Left the BNP over financial mismanagement.

Clive Potter (President of Solidarity)
Expelled from BNP after refusing to toe the Griffin line in Solidarity.

Personality clashes

A growing number of personality clashes are emerging in the BNP which threaten the party’s effectiveness.

David Shapcott v Sharon Wilkinson (Burnley)
Many people in Burnley BNP have little time for “Shoulders” Shapcott, the local organiser. Sharon Wilkinson is furious that Shapcott grabbed the glory over their High Court battle to win a recount after disputing the result of last May’s election in Rosegrove with Lowerhouse ward after he contributed nothing to the action.

Paul Cromie v James Lewthwaite (Bradford)
Bradford BNP is increasingly demoralised after it failed to build on its 2004 momentum. A major split has emerged between local chairman Paul Cromie and former councillor James Lewthwaite, to the point that Cromie is contemplating disciplining his former colleague for hampering the party’s recent election campaign.

Michaela Mackenzie v Robert Baggs (South West region)
Baggs has become increasingly frustrated at the growing prominence of Bristol-based Mackenzie and now he suspects her of being a Searchlight informer. Relations between the two have been bad for several years, after Baggs spurned her advances.

Mark Collett v Chris Beverley (Leeds)
The two former university colleagues have increasingly gone their separate ways in recent times. It is claimed that Collett deliberately failed to promote Excalibur in Identity, when Beverley ran the BNP’s merchandising operation. For his part, Beverley is dismissive of Collett’s abilities.

This article is the complete BNP in Crisis article from Stop the BNP and can be downloaded from here.

FBI used mafia capo to find bodies of Ku Klux Klan victims

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The FBI recruited a mafia enforcer to help solve the slaying of three civil rights workers by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi in the 1960s, according to evidence provided in Brooklyn state court by a mobster's moll. In the 1988 film Mississippi Burning that recreated the events, the case was broken when the FBI brought in a black agent to put the frighteners on a Ku Klux Klan member.

But Linda Schiro told the court it was her boyfriend, Gregory Scarpa, who had kidnapped a klansman, put a gun in his mouth and forced him to reveal the spot where the three had been buried. The FBI until that point had been engaged in a fruitless search for the civil rights workers, facing silence from the klansmen and the white community in general.

James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were beaten and shot by a gang of white supremacist klansmen and buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia. Rumours about the involvement of Scarpa have circulated for years and a report appeared in the New York Daily News a decade ago based on federal sources but this is the first time the claim has surfaced in open court.

Scarpa, who Ms Schiro said had boasted of involvement in 20 killings and was nicknamed the Grim Reaper, had been a capo in the Colombo crime family. He died in jail in 1994. The Mississippi case attracted a lot of political and media attention. Scarpa, according to Schiro, "said that [the FBI director J Edgar] Hoover at the time was getting a lot of pressure about the bodies, where they were."

Schiro, who met Scarpa in a bar in 1962 when she was 17, said she had flown with him to Mississippi in 1964. They walked into a hotel in Neshoba county where the FBI based itself during the investigation and he had winked at the agents. Minutes later, an agent had turned up in their room and handed Scarpa a gun.

"Greg changed his clothes - he left some money on the dresser - and he told me if he didn't come back, to take a cab to the airport and just go home."

He later told her he had kidnapped a salesman, a local klansman, catching him off guard by helping him carry a television to a car. "He put a gun in the guy's mouth. You know, he threatened the guy," she said. "He told him where the bodies were."

After Scarpa returned to the hotel, she said an agent gave him a wad of cash and took back the gun. She was surprised when she first learned he was working for the FBI. "I said, 'What do you mean, you're a rat?' And he said, 'No, I just work for them'."

Schiro is the star witness in the trial of a former FBI agent, Lindley DeVecchio, who is accused of providing confidential information that led to four murders. The prosecution claims that Scarpa gave DeVecchio money, jewellery, alcohol, prostitutes and a Cabbage Patch doll in return for inside information about informants and rivals.


October 30, 2007

Poster for BNP Conference demonstration

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Click here to download small image for leaflet (138KB)
Click here for HQ poster (pdf file - 4.4MB)

Please download the leaflet and poster and spread them around to your friends and colleagues.

Number of attacks on ethnic minorities soar

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Numbers of attacks on people because of their race or religion are soaring, according to Government figures.

The Ministry of Justice will this week disclose that 41,000 such offences were committed in 2005-06, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year. The statistics confirm anecdotal evidence from immigrant groups that ethnic minorities have been increasingly targeted in recent years, with the Muslim community under particular pressure since the September 11 attacks six years ago.

The figures will show black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people and are much more likely to be caught up in the criminal justice system.

There are stark differences in the ethnic backgrounds of crime victims, with the figures set to disclose that 10 per cent of murder victims are black, well above the proportion of black people in the population (2 per cent). Some 7 per cent of victims are Asian and 4 per cent from other ethnic minorities.

One in three black murder victims was shot, compared with one in 10 Asians and one in 20 whites.

Keith Jarrett, president of the National Black Police Association, last week argued that the ethnic minority communities wanted more people to be stopped and searched to reduce the number of shootings on Britain's streets.

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in London, said: "The increase could be tied in with the rise of far-right groups and some of the rhetoric around the war on terror. The police may also, in their attempts to reach out to ethnic minority groups, be recording more incidents."

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "These statistics show the fear of crime remains even though black people are already seven times more likely to be stopped and searched. Over the past 10 years there has been a significant change of attitude in the criminal justice system. This in part may account for the increasing reports of violence."

Home Office figures earlier this year showed Asians were twice as likely to be killed in stabbing or "bottling" incidents than a decade ago. The statistics, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, disclosed that the number killed "by sharp instruments" had risen from 4.5 per cent in 1997 to 8.5 per cent, with a surge in such murders after 11 September 2001. The proportion of black people stabbed to death rose from 7.5 per cent to 11.8 per cent.

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has documented rises in attacks on Muslims, including violent assault, verbal abuse and damage to property, since 11 September 2001.

Attacks were carried out on Muslims and mosques in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Bradford shortly after the bungled terror attacks in London's West End on 29 June and at Glasgow airport the next day.

An Indian sailor collapsed and died after being set upon by a gang of young people in Fawley, Hampshire, on 20 October. Ten teenagers were arrested following the assault.

Last week a teenager suffered a serious head injury in a racially motivated assault in Warrington.

Police are also treating an attack on four Germans in Saltney, north Wales, as fuelled by racial prejudice.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice would not comment on the figures until they were officially published.


Lancashire TUC calls on public not to use Blackpool hotel

3 Comment (s)
The Lancashire Association of Trades Union Councils (LATUC) is the representative body of the national TUC in Lancashire and brings together thousands of trade union members across the county. There are local TUCs in Blackburn, Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre, Burnley, Chorley, Hyndburn & Rossendale, Lancaster & Morecambe, Pendle, Preston & South Ribble, Skelmersdale (SW Lancashire).

The LATUC is calling for trade unionists and all decent people not to use a hotel in Blackpool which is the venue for the BNP conference. The hotel concerned is the New Kimberley Hotel, 585-589 New South Promenade, Blackpool FY4 1NQ.

LATUC Secretary, Peter Billington, said "we want trade union members and all decent people not to use this hotel. There are 2.7 million workers in the North West and 34% (918,000) of them are trade union members. We are writing to the national TUC and asking it to circulate the hotel's details to all UK unions so that members can avoid this place. The hotel is knowingly providing support for a group of violent, racist, criminal thugs. It shouldn't be forgotten that a Lancashire BNP member, who was also a BNP local council candidate, is currently in prison after having been convicted on bomb-making charges. Robert Cottage, three times BNP candidate was jailed in August this year for having stockpiled chemicals, bomb making equipment and a rocket launcher. Cottage is the latest BNP member to have been found guilty of criminal charges.

In the last year, another five BNP members and councillors have been found guilty of offences ranging from racially aggravated assault to attempted firebombing. The BNP is not a normal political party. BNP officials and members have convictions for rape, armed robbery, aggravated assault, unlawful wounding, firebombing, theft, issuing racially obscene publications, electoral fraud, football hooliganism, and other criminal acts.

Councillor cleared over 'offensive song' stunt

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A Burnley councillor filmed a fellow British National Party representative singing an offensive' song outside the office of a high-profile Asian MP.

Councillor Derek Dawson, Gannow's BNP ward member, was reported to the Standards Board of England by Burnley-born Shahid Malik, who is Dewsbury's MP, for his part in the publicity stunt. But the board has cleared Coun Dawson of any wrongdoing as he had not been acting in his capacity of a councillor at the time of the incident, which was later released for broadcast on the BNP's internet site.

Mr Malik, who was not present at the time, said that his staff had been intimidated by the song, Saville Town, which claims that the Dewsbury district, mainly populated by the Asian community, was rife with drug dealers and paedophiles. The MP, who is Britain's first Muslim minister, also claimed that filming had taken place inside his offices.

But an investigation by the standards board has cleared both Coun Dawson, and the person he was filming, Coun Colin Auty, a member of Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, of bringing their authority or office into disrepute.

Coun Dawson has now made a Freedom of Information request over the cost of the six-month investigation. He said: "I had no doubt about the outcome of the inquiry. Anyone with any common sense could see that there was no malice intended. It was all harmless. All of the words in the song are true - they were in newspaper clippings,"

Both councillors had claimed they were acting in a private capacity during their performance and filming of the song. Previously Coun Auty had been taken to the same watchdog by Mr Malik and been cleared, on similar grounds.

"The video was just a publicity stunt," added Coun Dawson, who said that only one verse of the song was performed outside the MP's office.

The final verse refers to drug problems and allegations of paedophilia in that area Dewsbury but Coun Dawson could not recall if it was this section of the song which was used.

In an official ruling on the latest case, a Standards Board of England official says: "The ethical standards officer concluded that Coun Dawson was not acting in his official capacity or performing his functions as a councillor when he filmed outside Mr Malik's office for BNPtv. Consequently, the ethical standards officer could not examine Coun Dawson's conduct any further in relation to this incident, and so could only find that there was no evidence of a breach of the code of conduct."

The inquiry also ruled that there had been no attempt to film inside the premises. Similar findings were made in respect of the separate complaint against Coun Auty.

Police did attend the filming, following a complaint, but no statements were taken and no further action taken, according to the standards board.

Coun Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley council, said "trying to create racial disharmony" by singing an offensive song in a mainly Asian area was "not acceptable at all".

Coun Dawson was elected to represent the borough council in May 2006 and forms part of a four-strong BNP group.

This is Lancashire

October 29, 2007

British politician's talk creates uproar

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Michigan protesters took offense to his political views, calling them "racist."

British National Party chairman Nick Griffin crossed the pond, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

Tempers erupted Friday at Michigan State University during Griffin's speech, which was organized by student group Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative youth organization.

University philosophy senior Seth Rompelman learned about the event through Facebook. He said he contacted Michigan State about Griffin's speech because he was worried about safety issues.

"Nick Griffin has a long history of promoting openly racist, fascist politics," Rompelman said. "He has been charged with inciting racial hatred and violence in England."

In March, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups and promotes tolerance, designated the student organization as a hate group.

The speech was intended for Griffin to address the overpopulation of Islamists in Europe, but turned into a question-and-answer session, he said.

"I couldn't really make my speech," Griffin said. "There was a fanatically hostile group of protesters."

Griffin recently spoke at Clemson University and Texas A&M University, where he said the audience was receptive to his message.

He said the speech at Michigan State, however, was heated.

Jon Stonehouse, a Western Michigan University student, said there was a clear division between Griffin's supporters and protesters.

"You could feel the tension the moment you walked in," Stonehouse said. "It was like the 'West Side Story.' "

Michael Stein, a Michigan State student who attended the event, agreed with Stonehouse.

"It should have been moderated," Stein said.

Michigan State student Andrea Norton said Griffin focused on radical Islam in extreme cases.

"I thought it would be kind of interesting to see these radically different views from my own," Norton said.

Stein said while he didn't agree with all of Griffin's comments, he would be concerned if Griffin wasn't allowed to speak.

"College campuses are all about getting to know the other side," he said. "It's all about free speech."

Griffin also said he thought it was "a very naïve and juvenile position" for people to feel he shouldn't be allowed to speak on college campuses.

It is important for all people to be able to speak at colleges, where "young people come with open minds," he said.

A fire alarm in the Veterans Medical Building, where the speech was being held, was pulled during Griffin's speech.

Terry Denbow, the vice president of University Relations at Michigan State, said aside from the fire alarm being pulled, the logistics of the event went smoothly.

"I thought the behaviors were appropriate for a heated discussion," Denbow said.

Denbow also said it is important for colleges to be open-minded, yet have a structured plan when approving guest speakers.

"The presence of someone doesn't necessarily indicate that something bad or good is going to happen," Denbow said.

After the event, a confrontation between protesters and supporters occurred outside the building, Stonehouse said.

"We heard someone scream 'Run, they're coming,' " Stonehouse said. "And you just see this big mob of protesters coming at you."

Griffin said he has been invited to speak at many British universities.

"So far, every single one of those invitations have been withdrawn," he said. "The only place I can speak at a university is in America."

The Minnesota Daily

BNP to speak at Exeter University?

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It looks like Exeter University Debating Society is again providing a platform for the British National Party. The anti-fascist Monitoring Group Rural Racism Project received an email from Daryl Scatcherd, the Debating Society's president, inviting it to provide a speaker to oppose the motion, "This house believes the BNP should have the right to express their views on university campuses".

The debate is to take place on the evening of Friday 2 November. The Monitoring Group believes that BNP speakers, perhaps even Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, have been invited to take part. Exeter University Debating Society has a long history of trying to provide a platform for the BNP, although most events have been called off at the last minute in the face of massive protests.

Scatcherd's letter says: "It will fundamentally be a debate on the issue of Freedom of Speech and we were hoping you could debate the reasons why people like the BNP should not be given the same rights as others when it comes to university education." It is easy to see which side he is on, and he must be pretty stupid to think that anti-fascists will debate the issue with the BNP.

The BNP has been active distributing its local Grassroots newsletter in Torquay and Exeter over the past two weeks.

The Monitoring Group asks people to email Daryl Scatcherd at dps203@exeter.ac.uk to demand clarification on whether the BNP has been invited to take part in the debate and who the speakers will be.

If you receive a reply, please pass it on to Searchlight (editors@searchlightmagazine.com) and the Monitoring Group (jmckenzie@monitoring-group.co.uk), so that we can coordinate action.

Stop the BNP

'Race hate' probe over party's leaflet

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A race investigation has been launched into a political leaflet distributed to thousands of Burnley homes by a far right group. The leader of Burnley Council is also considering legal action against the England First Party after claiming that the leaflets were 'peddling hatred'.

Burnley Police's hate crime and diversity unit began its probe after the publication was sent to homes in the Brunshaw, Gannow, Rosegrove and Cliviger areas. Councillor Gordon Birtwistle, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who was handed a copy of the leaflet in the Rosegrove area by a shop manager, said he was taking legal advice over its contents.

The leaflets are part of Operation Blanket Burnley, which will include the party fielding Steven Smith as a candidate at the next general election, a spokesperson said. Smith is the former leader of the Burnley branch of the British National Party (BNP). In 2001 he was jailed after pleading guilty to six charges involving forging signatures on nomination papers.

Titled "England is being deliberately destroyed by cowards, liars, anarchists and traitors", the leaflets criticise Labour and Kitty Ussher and Gordon Birtwistle and the Liberal democrats. It claims they have helped create a country where 'white people are facing the prospect of becoming an ethnic minority in their own land'.

A spokesperson for the hate crime and diversity unit said: "We are aware of the leaflets. We have a copy and we are examining them to see if there is anything improper in them."

Gordon Birtwistle condemned the leaflet for propagating racial disharmony within Burnley. He said: "I think these leaflets are absolutely disgusting and I am appalled. We have a multicultural community here, not just Muslims but also people from Eastern Europe. I would hope the police are looking at these leaflets. I am looking at it with my solicitors and the party. I am taking advice on the matter but I dropped the leaflet in the bin. Parties like this who are pedalling hatred should not be allowed to drop such leaflets through letter boxes."

Kitty Ussher said she was not prepared to comment on the leaflets or the party's campaign.

A spokesperson for England First, which has headquarters in Westview, Overtown, Cliviger, defended their campaign. He said: "The leafleting is part of our campaign for the general election so if the election was called people would be aware of our party. What has happened under the current government is not good for native people who we believe are being displaced. In the next 60 years native people will become a minority in England. We believe people will vote for us because they agree with our policies."

The party plans to put up candidates in Burnley, Milton Keynes and possibly Blackburn in the general election having fielded candidates at the last election in 2004.

Lancashire Telegraph

Letter: The BNP must operate honestly

3 Comment (s)
I was astonished to see a letter from Grenville Green saying that I'd referred to demonstrators against a BNP meeting as "left-wing thugs". This description is not from me.

What I said in a report to constituents is this: "The BNP booked the parish hall under an assumed name ("the British Heritage Association") and declined to leave any contact details, which stirred suspicions, and local trade unions organised an anti-BNP picket at which 100 or so people turned up. The police were forewarned and prevented any serious trouble between the groups though I gather there were some scuffles and the meeting was curtailed.

"I was down in Westminster so the above is all second-hand. My personal view is that legal parties are entitled to hold meetings, but should do so under their actual name; opponents, thus forewarned, are then entitled to express peaceful disagreement.

"I was tempted to get a friend to go to the meeting and insist on addressing them at length about Morris-dancing and the design of Napoleonic-era warships - well, if you've announced that you're having a meeting on British heritage, you can't reasonably complain if people want to talk about it, can you?"

Grenville Green asks for my source for this, since I wasn't there; it was a senior police officer responsible for policing the event, who also added that the BNP hadn't informed the police of their subterfuge, so it was only because they heard about it from other sources that they were aware of the event at all. It's not surprising that some town councillors were upset at this underhand use of council property.

Free speech is central to democracy, and that applies to all sides. Grenville is right that the BNP are entitled to hold meetings and express their views; we should oppose any attempt to disrupt their events, but they should be honest.

Nick Palmer MP House of Commons London

Nottingham Evening Post

October 27, 2007

Is the BNP's Lee Barnes losing the plot?

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Before you read on, you need to know that there's an awful lot of swearing in this article. Not from us but from Lee Barnes, the British National Party's legal beagle who seems, at the very least, to have severe anger-management issues.

Barnes' blog, entitled '21st Century British Nationalism', is illustrated with an image of the Celtic god of light, Belenus. Belenus can be identified with the Irish god Bile, and the word bile pretty much sums up a large part of the content of Barnes' blog, which seems to be one of the many vehicles the BNP is currently using to disseminate its impotent fury at well, pretty much everyone and everything really.

A recent post on the blog deals with the closure of the New Nationalist Party (NNP), the group formed around a nucleus of angry BNP ex-pats which decided to give up the ghost a couple of weeks back. This group was led by former would-be BNP councillor Sharon Ebanks who, if you feel you really need to, can be read about here.

Although Barnes isn't actually a member of the BNP, he certainly has taken to using the terminology currently in vogue on the far-right, describing the NNP variously as uniform fetishists, saps and muppets. His major burst of vitriol though, is reserved largely for Ebanks herself, who he calls a 'demented harridan' and who he takes to task several times for her apparent crime (and he should know, or so he says) of being mixed race.

'It is one of the great ironies of history that the last gasp of the old extremist far right was under the leadership of a half black female leader.'

That statement might not actually be racist but it certainly reads like it.

A few days later, he had a go at Pete Doherty of Babyshambles, drugs and Kate Moss fame. Doherty comes in for a lot of flak from the far-right because he's into drugs in a big way and looks like shit but mostly because he's outspoken on the subject of the far-right and is prepared to put his money (and his band) where his mouth is. Because of this, Lee Barnes says;

'Pete Doherty - Junkie scumbag piece of shit worshipped by scumbag UAF fuckwits and NME wankers.'

Barnes talks of nationalism as if he is simply a nationalist but it's clear that, like most of his comrades in the BNP, he is far from that. He is a racist, pure and simple. As a racist, his response to the news that the geneticist James Watson had been universally attacked by more or less the entire media for his views that black people are less intelligent than whites was entirely to be expected;

'The mewling maggot filth of the media that condition and brainwash the masses ensure that the rule of the stupids is ensured. When a man with a mind, a free thinking and visionary mind, dares reveal the stupidity of the stupids then all the stupids come together to destroy him...They are howling and barking and pissing on his footprints...Not one of the media maggots that attacked James Watson, nor the idiotic so called 'scientists' they managed to scrape up from the shallow end of the scientific brain pool to attack him, dared confront him in a free and fair public debate...Instead they all just howled when he left the country and continue pissing on his prints in the mud. What a complete bunch of gutless bastards.'

Not quite the language one would expect from the legal representative of a so-called political party, particularly if one considers that if, by some bizarre and terrible fluke, the BNP suddenly became the governing party, he would be either the Lord Chancellor, Attorney General or the Justice Secretary.

But Sharon Ebanks, Pete Doherty and the media pale into insignificance beside Barnes' hatred for, curiously, the judiciary.

We can all quote numerous cases of judges who appear to have become stuck in the 19th Century or those whose sentences are both ludicrous and insulting to the victims of crime but there is always another stage to go to - the Appeal Court, the High Court, the House of Lords and so on - and our legal system, including the judiciary, is rightly regarded as one of the best in the world - or was until the right to trial by jury was abolished for many types of case. I'm no great advocate for the law but if I was to be tried for a crime anywhere, I would rather be tried here in the UK. Mistakes are made but justice - in a very general sense - is fairly well-served. Though if you listen to Lee Barnes, you may well think again.

Injustice rightly makes us angry. Severe and blatant injustice can leave us seething with anger and, if the government of the day is watching the media, which generally follows the lead given to it by the public, can lead to changes in the law which we hope will eventually benefit all of us, not just those who have directly suffered. But even when dealing with a case of outrageous injustice, the government, in the form of its Ministers and other representatives, speaks of such things in measured tones, keeping emotion firmly to one side as it deals with whatever the problem may be in a dignified and resolute manner. Compare that to Barnes' views on some of the judiciary;

'Yet again the dumb fucking Leftist and Liberal judges that infest the legal system like lice on a dying dogs back, have let a piece of shit free...This judge is the same cunt that gave the Wonderland paedophile gang sentences that equated to 15 months in prison...this cunt needs sacking...The fucking judges put Kevin Hughes away for 2 years because he had a scuffle with an asylum seeker that led to the asylum seekers shirt being ripped...This cunt blinds an old man and he walks free - yet we all know the real reason dont we. Yep, hes from an ethnic minority.'

What Barnes deliberately forgets to mention is that the victim was from an ethnic minority too. And the reason that the attacker wasn't jailed? Because, in the words of the judge;

'[Jailing him] would do nothing to protect the public in the future and my real concern is the public. It seems to me that the best way of ensuring that he is not a risk, is in relying on various support from psychiatrists and probation officers.'

The attacker, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was sentenced to a three year supervision order which requires him to receive psychiatric treatment. A jail term would serve simply to punish the man: at least this way, he both suffers a form of punishment and receives proper supervision and treatment.

Justice is a very tricky game but it is worst served by those who put emotion before sense, a failing that suits the knee-jerk populist policies of the self-serving BNP.

One wonders about Barnes' legal training and education. Though they appear to have been enough to make him the BNP's legal whizkid, they don't seem to have been of a high enough quality to help him spell 'apointee' or 'farsical'. They do however, allow his inherent racism to show itself on any available occasion.

In an attack on sentences that he deems too lenient, it's notable that Barnes makes his appeal on emotional grounds in the first instance, using paedophile-sentencing to illustrate his perhaps fair point that sexual crimes against children should almost automatically receive the highest sentence that can be given under the law. The point is lost though by the long list of exclusively illegal immigrants, asylum-seekers and just people with non-English names who are listed for all sorts of crimes simply because they are not white and thus are natural targets for BNP ire. Any selection of criminals, whether it is based on the nature of the crime, the apparent low sentence or even the age of the accused, will show the larger proportion are white - Lee Barnes' idiosyncratic selection has proven that his legal eye has a definite list away from justice for any kind of ethnic minority, which perhaps explains why he's not actually a practising solicitor or barrister.

Normally I'd make allowances for someone who regularly sees UFOs (honest), ignoring them in much the same as I would those who regularly communicate with their spirit guide, but in Barnes' case I'll make an exception. For a man who is meant to represent the BNP's views on legal matters, in my opinion he comes across as a racist thug - no different from the shaven-headed loons who used to march with Nick Griffin in the National Front, except that he has hair.

Nazi attack on Scottish war graves

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Vandals have painted swastikas and Nazi symbols over graves of Scottish soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme.

French police are hunting the vandals who attacked the graves of 32 soldiers killed during the First World War in the battle for Contalmaison. The incident has resulted in thousands of pounds' of damage in an attack described by a Scottish historian as an "appalling desecration" days before Remembrance Sunday.

Peake Wood Cemetery, near the village of Contalmaison, records 103 fallen Allied soldiers and is one of many small plots scattered across battlefields, each with their distinctive white headstones administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGS). The cemetery marks the spot from which the final assault was made on Contalmaison on 1 July, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the scene of much heavy fighting by Scottish battalions.

The site is yards from a memorial to McCrae's Battalion, the celebrated Edinburgh unit formed with a large number of professional footballers, many from Heart of Midlothian FC.

Captain Lionel Coles, the Watsonian commander of the footballers' company, 16th Battalion the Royal Scots, was killed on the edge of the cemetery. Jack Alexander, who wrote the history of the battalion and who serves on the committee of the charitable trust that cares for the memorial that was erected in 2004, said he was disgusted by the vandalism. "As we move towards Remembrance Sunday, this appalling desecration is not the kind of thing we expect to see," he said.

The CWGC was notified of the attack last week and immediately arranged for the graffiti to be removed. Peter Francis, a spokesman, said: "It took a whole day. We were shocked and very, very angry."

Jacky Tonnel, the mayor of Fricourt district, which includes the cemetery, said: "I am outraged. Nothing like this has ever happened in Fricourt before and I can't understand it. I don't know if it was some kind of stupid game, whether it was adults or youths who did this, but one thing is for sure: it is scandalous and unacceptable."

Sir George McCrae raised his battalion of troops in less than a fortnight, thanks largely to the keenness with which many Hearts players enlisted. The club was top of the league when war broke out in 1914 and its players were renowned as some of the best footballers anywhere. But just four years later, there was barely a player left who had survived unscathed.

Contalmaison, just outside the town of Albert, was reached by McCrae's force in July 1916.


October 26, 2007

The Human Cost and The Investigation

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Waltham Abbey, Sefton Manor and Nelson, Great Yarmouth by-elections

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Two local by-elections occupy us this week, both in coastal districts on either side of the country, One involves the BNP, the other not-the-National Front.

[To pre-empt comments that the BNP also contested a seat at Waltham Abbey, we are aware of this, but the election at Waltham Abbey was for a town ward seat on a council with few responsibilities, and was essentially the same as a parish council election, which we do not usually cover in these reports. However, the odd result merits a few words.

Con 299 (30.4%, -27.4%)
BNP 281 (28.5%, +8.1%)
LD 274 (27.8%, +6.0%)
Lab 131 (13.3%, +13.3%)

As you can see, just 25 votes separate the top three, with the BNP just 19 votes short of a win. If it hadn't been for the Hope not Hate campaign in the area , the BNP may well have scraped through to yet another town/parish council seat. While politically, these seats are of little value, strategically they are well worth keeping an eye on. A councillor's career frequently begins at town/parish level. We ignore them at our peril.]

Sefton Manor

Stretched out along the Irish Sea north of Liverpool, the area covered by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council incorporates Southport, Formby, Crosby, Bootle, Litherland and Maghull, from which it draws 66 councillors. The council is unusually well-balanced politically, with 26 Liberal Democrats, 21 Labour, 18 Conservatives, and one vacancy (Conservative) in Manor ward, a
part of Crosby and scene of last night's by-election. No party has had overall control since 1986,

In May the BNP fielded just five candidates in Sefton (by contrast the UKIP fought nine seats - the UKIP coming off best in two of the three seats where a BNP candidate also stood). The BNP's performance in all five wards was unconvincing. Their best result came in Ford ward (10.27% and third place, beating the Conservatives and UKIP), the worst in Park ward (5.6% and last). In the other three wards, they scored 7.22% and last in Litherland, 7.18% and fifth of six (beating a Communist) in Church, and 6.8% and last in
Norwood (beaten by the Southport Party).

The BNP did not contest Manor ward in May, and so - again - we are unable to measure their performance against a previous outing. Even a comparison with nearby wards they did contest in May is rendered almost meaningless since these were Liberal Democrat and Labour held wards with entrenched majorities where the Conservative vote fell amongst the also-rans, while Manor ward returned a 48.09% vote share for the Conservatives in May:

Sefton Manor Ward May 3rd:

Lab 1082 (31.50)
Con 1652 (48.09)
LibDem 701 (20.41)

What is immediately obvious is that there was a sizeable Labour vote for the BNP to tap into in a ward Labour would find impossible to win unless Liberal Democrat voters were to switch support in large numbers.

Con 922 (40.52)
LibDem 769 (33.80)
Lab 419 (18.41)
BNP 94 (4.13)
UKIP 71 (3.12)

Total 2275
Turnout 22.8%

The result for Sefton shows the expected drop for Labour but a similarly large drop for the Conservatives too, despite the troubles on the council. The LibDems came out best with a hefty increase of 13% in their vote. The BNP trailed a long way behind with a little over 4%, a fair bit short of the 10% some were expecting. A dismal result for both the BNP and the increasingly disastrous UKIP.

Nelson, Great Yarmouth

On the opposite side of the country to Sefton is the Norfolk resort of Great Yarmouth, served by a Borough Council made up of 22 Conservatives and 16 Labour.

Despite the Norfolk location, and despite the handsome seafront, Great Yarmouth is not all that it seems, hiding pockets of deprivation that have seen it placed amongst the worst in the country and boasting the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Eastern England. Economic and social changes during the 80's and 90's brought serious crime and drug problems to the town.

In the late 90's London boroughs took to decanting asylum-seekers into Yarmouth, which caused great resentment as some landlords transformed hotels that were going concerns into refugee hostels, which impacted badly on a tourist trade that had been in steady decline for years and prompted one well-known tour company to temporarily sever its links with the town.

Despite it all, and despite much talk of the BNP coming to Great Yarmouth (which has never happened), there was very little friction between asylum-seeker and local.

In recent years, in common with most Norfolk towns, Yarmouth has seen a huge influx of Portuguese and East European migrant workers. Given that jobs are hard to come by in Yarmouth, and given that accomodation of any kind is at a premium, this settlement has passed off remarkably peacefully, though there have been low-level incidents, with fault attaching to local and incomer alike.

Nelson ward encompasses most of the seafront and the parallel streets reaching west to the River Yare. It is also amongst the most deprived wards in the country which alone makes it a prime target for racist organisations eager to capitalise on its social problems and to throw the focus of blame on to immigrants and migrant workers.

Tom Holmes, sometime chairman of the National Front, lives in nearby Caister-on-sea, and has regularly fought Nelson ward on behalf of the NF. His behaviour in the 2006 council elections saw him charged and found guilty of racially-aggravated harassment but Holmes was back to re-fight Nelson ward last May and took another shot in last night's by-election.

Old Tom's results in Nelson ward show why the BNP can hardly wait for him to pop his clogs so that they can move in. On his first outing in May 2006 Holmes scored a surprising 25.9% (with 345 votes), coming last in a three-cornered (Con/Lab/NF) contest. At the May local elections Holmes and the NF fell back slightly to 22.85% (with 298 votes) coming third out of four - a Green candidate brought up the rear.

Last night's by-election was very different from previous contests for a number of reasons. Though the ward had always been a Labour-Tory battleground, the Conservatives did not run a candidate, while the previously absent Liberal Democrats did. While the Greens stood again, so too did an independent. And there was a second "independent" - Tom Holmes, forced to fight without a party label as the National Front had neglected to register itself as a political party. However, Holmes fought a National Front campaign, and as the NF will broadcast any success he has we should judge Holmes's candidature accordingly.

Lab 329 (42.39)
LibDem 96 (12.37)
Green 43 (5.54)
Ind 259 (33.37)
Ind-NF 49 (6.31)

Total 776

Which, no matter how you look at it, has the appearance of a disastrous night for Holmes. Labour still has it but there is clearly room for an Independent in the seat - though not, by the looks of it, if he or she is linked (officially or not) with the National Front.


Another bad night, though not unexpectedly, for the BNP, a very bad night for Tom Holmes and another warning from us that if we carry on ignoring the signals from parish-level politics, we could be in for a few nasty surprises in a couple of years when the BNP suddenly produce a (small) handful of councillors who have been gathering experience at the parish pump. Lower-level politics are all part of Griffin's long-term game plan for the BNP, as we stated here and here. To ignore the importance of that plan is to badly underestimate the enemy.

Posted by Denise G and Antifascist


BNP full-scale campaign defeated in Waltham Abbey

A major by-election effort by the BNP failed to bring the party victory after an anti-fascist community group leafleted the whole ward. But a very close result left the BNP just 18 votes behind the winning Conservative candidate with the Liberal Democrats a further seven votes behind.

This was a seat on Waltham Abbey Town Council, despite the insistence of Martin Wingfield, editor of the BNP's magazine Identity, that if Peter Cooper (whom Wingfield called Peter Copper) won, he would join the BNP's six councillors on Epping Forest District Council. He would not have, but as it is he goes nowhere.

Although town councils have minimal powers and are only concerned with essentially non-political very local issues, the BNP pulled out all the stops and ran a campaign with several leaflets and a full canvass of the nearly 3,000 homes in the ward, which lies just to the north of London. The BNP's main campaign theme was, of course, immigration, as if a town councillor could have any influence on it.

The by-election on 25 October 2007 was the result of the resignation of a Conservative councillor just six months after he had been elected. This put the Conservatives at an immediate disadvantage.

Redbridge and Epping Forest Together, determined to stop the BNP gaining any foothold even on a town council, produced a leaflet explaining how the BNP is a party of hate and fails local people by blaming all problems on migrants instead of promoting real solutions. A dedicated band of activists distributed it throughout the ward in the final week of the campaign together with an updated version of Searchlight's popular national Hope not Hate leaflet.

It did the trick, alongside campaigning by the three main parties. The BNP had expected to win especially after a higher than usual turnout in the party's strongest polling district. At the count BNP activists stormed out in disgust before the official declaration of the result. A crowd of them were spotted in a pub looking depressed afterwards.

No doubt the BNP will crow about its near victory and 8% increase in its share of the vote. For us the result shows that the BNP can be defeated even where it pulls out all the stops in a campaign in what is mainly a "white flight" area with plenty of scope to stoke up fears about migrants and crime. But the BNP remains a clear danger and we need to keep working hard to show people what the BNP is really about.

The BNP also contested a by-election on the same day for Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council in Manor ward, which covers part of Crosby, north of Liverpool. The BNP had not stood there in May 2007 and should not have bothered this time. The party persuaded only 94 people to vote for it, giving it just 4.1% of the vote, though will probably try to take some comfort by going on ad nauseam about the UK Independence Party's even worse 3.1%.

Stop the BNP

October 25, 2007

Neo-Nazis jailed in Scotland and Sweden

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Nazi thug is jailed

A neo-nazi who failed to carry out community service has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

John Montgomery, of Hillside Road, told Greenock socialist activists a Browning pistol was waiting for them outside his house. He was then caught with a host of material from the banned white supremacist group, Combat 18, including posters tacked up on his walls and business cards which he had tried to hand out in Greenock town centre.

The 20-year-old was caught by police after failing to withhold his number when he made the malicious calls in April last year.

Fiscal deputy Nadine Dormer yesterday told the court how he then shouted and swore at police officers outside Harwoods nightclub, in Dalrymple Street, at 11.20pm. He was sentenced to 250 hours community service, but had only completed 13 when he appeared yesterday.

Sheriff John Herald jailed him for 30 months. He said the material was repulsive and added: “What you did goes beyond any freedom of expression. These two people whose choices of politics you did not like found themselves subjected to threats of violence.”

Greenock Telegraph

Two jailed for Nazi demo attack

Two men with neo-Nazi connections have been given lengthy jail sentences for their involvement in a knife attack during a clash between right and left wing extremists in Stockholm last month, Dagens Nyheter reports.

A 22-year-old man has been sentenced to six years in prison for attempted murder, while a 32-year-old man has been given two years as an accessory to the attack.

The younger man was convicted despite denying that he had stabbed a 20-year-old man in the neck. The 22-year-old is a member of the extreme right-wing group Svenska Motståndsrörelse ('Swedish Resistance Movement'), according to Dagens Nyheter. Fighting broke out when the neo-Nazi group was attacked by left-wing counter-demonstrators.

The 32-year-old man admitted to having a neo-Nazi past but claimed that he had left the ideology behind him. He said that he just happened to be walking through the Slussen area on September 1st when he noticed the demonstration.

He had recently been given granted conditional release from prison, where he was serving a nine year sentence for an attack that resulted in the death of a dark-skinned man on New Year's Eve in 1999. He will now serve the remaining two years of that sentence along with a further two years for encouraging the 22-year-old to stab an anti-fascist demonstrator.

There was no forensic proof tying the men to the crime. The court instead based its verdict on the testimony of a man who claimed to have witnessed the attack and heard the 32-year-old shout at the younger man to stab the victim.

The men have been ordered to pay the 20-year-old 109,000 kronor in damages.

The Local

BNP blasted by Merseyside top cop

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Wirral's top cop Graham Yip has hit back at a BNP leaflet that claims that the police have their hands tied by "political handcuffs."

The leaflet, distributed in Wallasey, states that robberies, muggings, sexual assaults and burglaries are "on the up" while police are "sat behind desks learning how to be politically correct."

But although it does not mention Wirral specifically, acting area commander Graham Yip fears that residents may be "adversely affected" by the headline: crime and anti-social behaviour are out of control.' The leaflet was pushed through letterboxes in the midst of encouraging figures released this week, that show crime on Merseyside has fallen to its lowest level in seven years, with Wirral leading the way.

The leaflet says: "When police aren't sat in offices, they're far too busy chasing drivers to collect a range of different penalties in yet more Labour stealth tax scams. And while the police are sat at the side of the motorway or in political correctness classes, the real criminals are free to wreck decent people's lives."

Pledging to put police "back on the streets where they belong," the British National Party flyer says that if they were in power: "The police would not have their hands tied by politically correct handcuffs and would be able to deal with criminals without fear of losing their jobs."

But Graham Yip blasted the leaflet as "misleading" and "inaccurate" after Home Office statistics showed there had been 8,494 fewer crimes in Merseyside than in the same period last year.

"A vital part of the Total Policing ethos within Merseyside Police is the requirement to provide reassurance to our communities," he said. "The facts concerning crime and disorder levels within the borough are the complete opposite to the misleading headline within the BNP leaflet. The only increases in crime were those linked to minor assaults and the theft of pedal cycles. By working with partners and local communities, my staff continue to reduce the levels of crime, and more importantly the number of crime victims within Wirral each year. I would like to reassure the residents of Wirral that Merseyside Police will not become complacent, and we will strive to maintain our position as one of the safest policing areas in the country."

Simon Darby from the BNP said: "Graham Yip could be seen to be interfering in the political process - he may not know it but he is propping up the Labour regime. He says that crime is down but things are far from hunkey dory - people just don't bother reporting crime anymore because the police don't answer the phone."

Wirral Globe

October 24, 2007

Who blew the venue?

12 Comment (s)
BNP officials and members are trying to work out who blew the venue of the Yorkshire Region Fund-raising Dinner. Who did you put your money on and why?

October 23, 2007

Czech Court cancels ban on neo-Nazi march through Jewish quarter

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Prague City Hall has seen a setback in its efforts to prevent a group of neo-Nazis from marching through Prague’s Jewish Quarter on 10 November, the anniversary of the largest anti-Jewish pogrom in the Third Reich. The Prague Municipal Court has just cancelled a City Hall ban on the controversial planned march; however, officials are still hoping to block the far-right demonstration.

Prague City Hall banned a march organized by persons with close ties to a right-wing extremist group called Narodni Odpor, or National Resistance. The march is supposed to take place on 10th November which happens to be the 69th anniversary of the largest anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany, known as the Crystal Night. The organizers contested the City Hall’s decision, and on Monday, the ban was revoked by the Prague Municipal Court whose vice-chairman Jan Ryba explains the reasons.

“I cannot give you the exact reasons because they have not been published and delivered to the respective parties. I can only deduce in the following way: when an administrative court cancels an administrative decision without a public hearing, the court does so, according to the court rules for procedural flaws. In this particular case, only one thing could have happened: the City Hall’s decision was cancelled without a public hearing due to procedural flaws.”

Allegedly, the right-wing activists want to march to protest Czech involvement in the occupation of Iraq. Jiri Wolf, the spokesman for the Prague Municipality, says the authorities believe the true purpose of the march is different which is precisely why the City Hall insists on the ban.

“According to our expert reports on the basis of which the ban was imposed, the march does have extremist features. In the justification of the ban, we said clearly that the announced purpose of the march is directed at promoting hatred and intolerance towards people because of their nationality, origin and religious faith. These are the main reasons why we banned it and why we will insist on the ban.”

There is still time to revise the justification of the ban so that it cannot be successfully contested by the far-right grouping. In case this does not happen and the march does eventually take place, Jakub Roth, the vice-chairman of the Prague Jewish Community says they expect the authorities to prevent any possible clashes.

“We are cooperating closely with the city of Prague; we as the Jewish community of Prague fully rely on the ability of the Czech Republic and of Prague municipality to guarantee the safety and security of all its citizens. Jews all over the world celebrate Saturday as their holiday so even this Saturday there will be a religious convocation in the synagogues in Prague. As has previously been announced, there will be religious services held even in front of the synagogues in the Prague Jewish Quarter.”

And does the Jewish Community expect a larger number of people to take part on that Saturday’s worship, given the significance of the day?

“We always expect a large turn-out for days of worship from our members; this is an important day, and we expect that yes, many people will come. Again we rely on the authorities to make sure that no irresponsible events take place and we are and will be closely cooperating with them in this regard.”

Radio Prague

Poland rejects populism and xenophobia in favour of pro-Europe liberal conservatives

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· Tusk government aims to join euro within five years
· Defeated leader's twin retains veto as president

Poland yesterday stepped into a new era of greater European integration, more influence abroad, and more tolerance and liberty at home in the wake of a surprisingly solid election victory by the post-Solidarity liberal conservatives of Donald Tusk's Civic Platform.

"A Platform Triumph", read the huge frontpage headline on the country's bestselling newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, celebrating the demise of the two-year experiment in isolationism, nationalism, and intolerance engineered by the outgoing prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and twin brother Lech who remains in office as president until 2010.

"It was a plebiscite," wrote Stanislaw Kurski, the paper's deputy editor. "The Poles rejected populism, fear, and the playing of one social group against another. They rejected megalomania, arrogance, and anti-German phobias. They rejected blackmail, snooping, and provocation."

Sunday's turnout of almost 54% was the highest since the beginning of the modern democratic era in 1989, indicating Poles' awareness of the high stakes; Mr Tusk's Platform, taking 42% of the vote, fared better than any single party since 1989; where two extremist parties took 18% of the vote only two years ago, on Sunday they mustered merely 3% between them and failed to enter parliament.

The result puts Polish politics in the most coherent shape ever. The new parliament will see the dominant liberal conservatives with more than 40%, Mr Kaczynski's nationalist populism with around one third, and centre-left social democrats and former communists with 13%.

After a year in which Mr Kaczynski repeatedly sought to block and veto EU policy-making and made Polish diplomacy the laughing stock of the continent, the Tusk camp yesterday promptly signalled a sea change. Poland will be the first country to ratify the EU's new reform treaty, pledged Bronislaw Komorowski, a Platform deputy leader, while José Manuel Barroso, the European commission chief, singled out the "European spirit" of the Polish electorate. The new government will also loosen Mr Kaczynski's welfarism, embrace the free market, and pursue tighter fiscal policies aimed at entering the euro single currency within five years.

Mr Tusk is expected to form a coalition with the small Peasants' party which took 9% of the vote. Between them they will have a comfortable majority of 240 seats in the 460-seat Sejm or lower house. That, however, is less than the 60% they need to override vetoes on government legislation by President Kaczynski who can be expected to try to make life difficult for the new government.

Mr Komorowski also said a priority was to construct as broad as possible a coalition to defeat any Kaczynski vetoes, meaning that Mr Tusk is likely to offer the centre-left something in return for support.

Lena Kolarska-Bobinska, director of Warsaw's institute of public affairs, says that prime minister Kaczynski's model for Poland was Israel. He sought to turn Poland into a combative, nationalist, and aggressive place ruled by a siege mentality, surrounded by perceived enemies, and utterly committed to the closest possible security relationship with Washington.

Mr Tusk will be more demanding of the US and keen to reach a much smoother modus operandi with Berlin.

But senior Platform figures, such as Jan Rokita or Radek Sikorski, are also critical of the EU and hostile to Moscow. Mr Sikorski, tipped to be the new foreign minister, is pro-America but increasingly critical of the Bush administration and demands that the Pentagon supply Poland with $1bn (£492m) worth of missiles in return for being allowed to deploy its missile defence facilities in north-west Poland.

Mr Kaczynski has been a highly divisive figure and on Sunday became a casualty of his own talent for confrontation and polarisation. His power base is the small town and the countryside, the elderly, the less educated and the poor. On Sunday Poland's burgeoning middle class, the young, the successful, the cities, took revenge.


A quick scoot around the far-right sites

18 Comment (s)
Disinformation and how not to do it

Poor old Sid Williamson, national something or the other for the almost-dead British People's Party, which consists of him, Unsteady Eddy Morrison and the glue-sniffing moron Kevin Watmough. He's made a post on his blog which seems to be an attempt at spreading disinformation about the relationship between three of the contributors to Lancaster UAF but doesn't seem to have quite got the hang of telling porkies. Perhaps he should have stayed in the BNP for a bit longer - Nick Griffin could certainly have taught him a few tricks.

Still, fair play to Sad Sid - at least he managed to spell my name correctly.

Standing up for the British - via the US

Picking out the stupidities from the average BNP report is like searching for hay in a haystack.

The BNP's Regional Voices section currently has a report on a recent meeting at which the hardcore racist and white supremacist Arthur Kemp spoke. Though the BNP regularly claims double the number of people attending its events when it reports on them, this particular item is more interesting for the picture used to promote the meeting.

The picture is headed 'Standing up for the British Working Man' and underneath it is the tagline 'British National Party - The British Resistance'.

Just one snag - there's absolutely nothing British about the picture. It's a famous cover from the Saturday Evening Post magazine and the picture is all about US democracy, showing a working Joe asking a question at something that looks like a community meeting. One assumes the law 'n order-loving BNP didn't attempt to seek permission to use the image or to faff around with it in the way it has - having added a couple of Voice of Freedom newspapers in strategic places just to spoil it.

One wonders why the party didn't use an image of someone 'standing up for the British working man' at a Solidarity gathering...

The late England First Party?

Whether the England First Party is currently a going concern is anyone's guess but the website certainly isn't. All that comes up when you visit is a picture of a nice sunset with a lighthouse in the middle of it.

Perhaps the EFP has gone the same way as the New Nationalist Party or possibly it's done the sensible thing and moved out of politics and into scenic photography. If that's the case, maybe it'll see some success at last.

Covert goes on the attack again (yawn)

Just for a change, Tommy Williams' Covert blog launches multiple attacks at all its perceived enemies in one glorious attempt to shoot down everyone it hates en masse. Hard luck Tommy - you missed all the targets. In one tiny paragraph in the comments section (pinched from Sid W's blog) we counted fourteen errors - the numbers in the articles are exponentially higher.

If you're going to attack us and score at all, you need to be rather more accurate than that.

October 22, 2007

Far-right website offers bounty of £1000 for 'very severe beating'

25 Comment (s)
Pete Barker, the administrator of the North West Nationalist blog, noted for its occasionally interesting rants against the BNP's Nick Griffin, seems to have tipped over into both lunacy and illegality by offering a £1000 bounty to anyone who will give a 'savage beating' to one Calvin Robert Johnson, who Barker believes is responsible for the death of his brother Chris, a National Front local election candidate and national steward before joining the Army.

Whichever way you read it, the story of Chris Barker's death is a tragedy. A former soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he succumbed to heroin and other drugs and eventually died in June 2001 after what an inquest described as a 'drugs and booze binge' at his then partner's home. Barker's arms were covered with up to ten injection marks and traces of heroin and cocaine were found in his body.

There are a number of peculiarities about the story, one being that Barker allegedly kept £10,000 in cash at his home, this sum having been saved from his occasional work as a cabinet maker. True or not, after his death his credit card showed a debt of £4000 and there was no cash found. In addition to this, Pete Barker claims that his brother had given up hard drugs twelve years before his death.

The case is both convoluted and disturbing, and while we can be sympathetic to Pete Barker's continued campaign to seek what he perceives as justice for his brother's death, which he regards as murder (more details here and here) our sympathy rapidly evaporates when we encounter Barker's appalling racism. Johnson, who Barker accuses of his brother's murder, is 6'4", black and Rastafarian, and is the half-brother of the dead man's partner, Melonie Ellis. Barker variously describes Johnson as looking like a gorilla, 'a nigger' and 'a savage negro beast'.

His racism is not aimed at Johnson alone. Referring to the Johnson family, he states 'There is no resident father...as is typical with negro families'. Barker has also approached organisations connected to the armed forces for support but has claimed that '...because Chris was murdered by blacks, the main official [in one of the organisations he approached] who has black grandchildren, did not want to know.'

This is not the first time he has offered a bounty in exchange for violence. Back at the end of June, Barker wrote:

'The family have a £10,000 reward for info on the negro scumbags leading to an arrest.But being as the Police in Sheffield are not worthy of the name, the family will pay to have 'street justice' donated to Johnson and Ellis. Please contact this site...'

Back in May of this year, Barker printed a picture of Melonie Ellis along with her full address and date of birth and with the headline 'Wanted for murder', with the claim that she and her half-brother '...and other blacks were also involved in the murder of the manager of the Niche nightclub in Sheffield around 1999'.

Obviously Barker has an understandable obsession about his brother's death and he's made it clear that he believes the instigators to be Johnson and Ellis but the way to justice is not via publicly announcing a contract on Johnson or anyone else, nor is justice to be achieved by launching racist attacks on those he considers responsible for the alleged crime.

Rightwing SVP tightens grip in Swiss election

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Switzerland's rightwing People's party, accused of racism and fanning Islamophobia, strengthened its position as the country's leading political force yesterday, gaining more than 2 percentage points to win a general election for the second time in a row, according to projections.

Led by the populist industrialist Christoph Blocher, the People's party, or SVP, was projected to have taken almost 29% of the vote, securing six more seats in parliament and two seats in the seven-strong cabinet that is always a coalition of the four strongest parties.

In a country where the glaciers are melting and concern about global warming is intense, the other big winner yesterday was the Green party which took 10% of the vote, according to the projections

For one of the oldest and most stable democracies in the world, the election campaign was unusually divisive because of Mr Blocher's contempt for traditional Swiss consensus and his breaking of taboos. The main opposition social democrats were the losers yesterday, after making the mistake of allowing Mr Blocher to dominate by calling for him to be kicked out of the cabinet whatever the result.

Mr Blocher is the justice minister in the outgoing federal cabinet and is expected to keep his place when a new government is appointed in December.

Yesterday's results illustrated two central points - that the SVP has probably peaked and is unlikely to increase its support after adding around a percentage point compared with 2003, but also that by winning its second election in a row, it has confirmed itself as the leading force in Switzerland and confounded opponents who had hoped that its performance in 2003 was a one-off.


October 21, 2007

Student hate group bringing ultra right wing conservative leader from England

2 Comment (s)
The Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University will host a speech by Nick Griffin, the head of the British National Party on October 26 at 7 p.m. according to press release on their website. No location for the speech has been announced.

The British National Party has drawn fire for allegedly being racist. The party has a platform statement which includes stopping all immigration to England.

"On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years. To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by a generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question."

MSU YAF was listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in April. Its chairman, Kyle Bristow, has been tied to the white supremacy movement and its legal advisor Jason VanDyke has been tied to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist outgrowth of the former White Citizens Councils.

Bristow declined to comment for this article.

Michigan Messenger

October 20, 2007

Love Music Hate Racism battles BNP bands

3 Comment (s)
About a year ago, singer Lisa Moorish told me how the BNP were skulking around in deprived areas of Britain handing out white power CDs to schoolchildren. At the time I said something like, "That stuff never really happens in the real world and it'd be better if we just ignored it because giving people like the BNP press only makes them stronger, etc etc." I'm pretty embarrassed about that little speech now, not only because Lisa's a committee member of the Love Music Hate Racism organisation (who are joining forces with NME and NUT to release a CD to raise awareness), but because of two other very serious things.

Firstly, I discovered the BNP are actually distributing their CDs in deprived areas, like West Yorkshire and the Midlands, which are often racially segregated and suffering from high unemployment. Neglected by central government, places like Keighley West in Bradford are where the BNP and its leader Nick Griffin do most of their evil-doings, attempting to recruit poor young mites with dads put out of work by the Polish next door with the lure of exciting-sounding WHITE POWER! CDs.

Here's the second reason: the CDs they're giving out free at school gates are so awful and they make Ashlee Simpson, Scouting For Girls and Pigeon Detectives sound like blissful, warm ocean waves.

The big BNP-sponsored album at the moment is called West Wind. It's a Various Artists album that ranges from creepy, middle-aged white guys doing folk rock songs about the glory of white people to creepy, middle-aged white guys doing heavy rock songs about the glory of white people being long forgotten.

The title, according to Griffin, comes from the fact that "there's obviously four winds and each of the three are bringing something evil into this land and the West Wind represents our people and our resistance to those evils."

What? Is this the 15th century? Who exactly is to blame? Polish witches who cast evil Turkish spells on whites by making Chinese curry out of African frogs? What are they talking about?

West Wind is made up of contributions from extreme right-wingers from the provinces singing songs based around lyrics written by Nick Griffin. They moan about corner shops, terrorism, the IRA, immigration and, in one particularly grating song called Forgotten, about how the media doesn't talk enough about the white people being killed in Iraq. Er, don't we have regular updates every week?

These BNP supporters who are giving out these CDs to our children are so far removed from the reality of the "real facts of white England" they make Skrewdriver seem like a sophisticated, all-lesbian terrorist group from Olympia, Washington.

So, this one goes out to all people with brains, ears and hearts; if you're not into 1970s, extremely backward, right-wing views or terrible music that makes the new Jonathan King album sound like good vibes, then you must do everything you can to support the Love Music Hate Racism cause. You may have to sit through some bangra-jazz-fusion-grime-indie-collaboration or something involving Hard-Fi for a bit, but making the world a better place is all about sacrifices. Is that too much to ask?

Comment is free


October 19, 2007

Trafalgar Club mugs meet again

14 Comment (s)
Tomorrow night at the plush Ardencote Manor Country Hotel in Claverdon, Warwickshire, the great and the bad who support the British National Party through its Trafalgar Club dining club will tuck into a meal that they hope will be better than the stale sandwiches they were fed last year.

For the minimum £180 a year they contribute to the club, as well as their invitation to the annual dinner and speech from Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, men receive a tie and women a “personalised organiser file”, though only in the first year. Perhaps in the second year they hand out mugs engraved with the words: “The BNP expects every mug to throw away their money to keep the leader and his cabal in the style to which they have become accustomed”.

Griffin, fresh from being rescued from an angry crowd in the East Midlands after the police threatened to arrest his private army of security men if they as much as growled at anyone, will soon be jetting off to the USA on a speaking tour of universities. Everybody knows it is just another attempt to raise money to get the party out of its latest financial mess.

It is unclear whether the Trafalgar Club has booked all the hotel’s 76 bedrooms at the special discounted rate offered. The BNP’s last fundraising dinner in Yorkshire ended in chaos when the vaunted 150 donors were reduced to 32 paying guests plus a free meal for the leader and his wife and a takeaway for the eight-strong security team.

We hope the hotel staff make sure that none of the BNP security team bring in prostitutes and a few lines of coke for their after-hours entertainment.

Readers might like to seek the hotel manager’s views about these matters by giving the hotel a call on 01926 843111.

Stop the BNP