November 29, 2007

Comment: No Platform works!

16 Comment (s)
One of the most successful weapons devised to combat the growth of Fascism in the United Kingdom is the long standing No Platform policy. It is a policy that thirty years ago seriously hobbled the then ascendant National Front, and which continues to invoke cries of pain and outrage from the British National Party.

No Platform is based on the principle that some views are so extreme, so abhorrent, so divisive, so much based on hate and bigotry, that no platform should be provided for the espousal of them.

No Platform worked.

It ensured that odious organisations such as the BNP could never claim legitimacy or parity for their bigoted beliefs and were never provided with an audience in which to disseminate them. Their failure to obtain television air time or to have their policies reported uncritically in the wider media has caused them an inestimable degree of harm and is a major (perhaps the major) factor in ensuring that organisationally their progress and growth has been at best snail’s pace, and that electorally they are largely moribund.

The No Platform stance of the media unions means that we do not wake up to find a Griffin or a Darby on the breakfast TV sofas, smarming and spinning at full bore for having been invited to comment upon the latest breaking immigration story and matters arising. It keeps them off the Question Time panel and out of the news studios.

No Platform also ensured that the bacillus of fascism and its related -isms were never allowed to infect our places of learning, namely the universities - prime targets for organisations suffering from a cruel intellectual deficit, and thus necessarily overburdened at all levels by charmless low-calibre human material which thinks in simple slogans and believes the bigoted tirade to have a moral and political equivalence with the policies of the mainstream parties.

We anti-fascists daily come upon the illiterate scratchings with which BNP members disfigure various parts of the Internet. To see them in action is to take away any surprise at all that modern-day snake-oil salesmen like Griffin, Barnes, Darby, et al, have risen to the top of the BNP. It could never really be otherwise.

And that’s how we would like to keep it - the decidedly dodgy leading the irredeemably inept, dancing them around and around the houses in continuous procession that always returns to its starting point - thus sustaining a moral-boosting illusion of movement and progress when there is none at all.

Readers of these pages are well aware of the surfeit of problems besetting the British National Party - internal dissent, purges and expulsions, stolen “trade unions”, missing accounts, electoral stagnation … which taken together all adds up to a highly satisfying six months for anti-fascists, particularly as we feared (and the racists expected) that at this point in time we would be dealing with an organisationally larger, slicker and electorally better represented BNP.

Given this, we are entitled at ask: who in their right minds would choose this very time to provide the British National Party with invaluable national publicity, to allow them to spuriously present themselves simultaneously as champions of free speech and “victims” of “left-wing” censorship, and to provide them with a platform on which to do it?

As we are all aware, this week the Oxford Union Debating Society drove a coach and horses through No Platform by inviting the BNP’s Nick Griffin and jailbird “revisionist” author David Irving to address them on the subject of “free speech”.

The president of OUDS is Luke Tryl, a prominent member of Conservative Future, the Tory Party’s youth organisation. He justified the invitations on the grounds that “these people are not being given a platform to extol their views, but are coming to talk about the limits of free speech”.

From the beginning Tryl must have been alive to the fact that not only would the appearance of Griffin and Irving provoke widespread condemnation and protest, but that he was handing the BNP a priceless propaganda coup which it was certain to exploit and abuse - as it has - to its own benefit.

In fact Tryl had ample warnings, not least from OUDS members, that the only winners in this self-inflicted debacle were going to be the BNP and David Irving.

Yet he persisted, doggedly, to the point where serious questions concerning Tryl’s own motives are being asked.

Did he sacrifice No Platform purely to raise his own profile, with a calculating eye fixed on his own future political career? Or is he really so naive as to believe that “free speech” is an absolute, and that some of the most poisonous characters on the extreme fringe of British politics should be given platforms from which to espouse their creed of hate because Luke Tryl and his idealistic young friends have the arrogance of mind to believe that they are capable of “exposing” and “refuting” their arguments?

Young Mr Tryl might care to recall that both Griffin and Irving are veterans of the legal system, and have crossed swords with some of the best legal minds available. In Griffin’s case a lengthy trial failed to “refute” him, while in Irving’s the sharpest barristers took weeks to nail the man down.

What hope do Mr Tryl and those of like mind believe they have in “exposing” and “refuting” their arguments - assuming, of course, that people of Mr Tryl’s apparent high calibre are on hand to do the refuting?

No Platform having been breached for no particularly convincing reason by OUDS, students at the University of East Anglia have leapt in to widen the crack, claiming that free debate is the only way to tackle extremism.

We might be forgiven for asking the simple question - on what basis is this dogmatic pronouncement made, when every scrap of available evidence and our own long experience tells us that No Platform has achieved that end admirably?

The UEA’s student union displays the same breathtaking arrogance spiced with naiveté (we assume it to be naiveté) as that falling from the lips of Mr Tryl. According to them:

If fascist groups were to come to campus to debate, our representatives should be inside the room arguing with them and proving them wrong, not just protesting pointlessly outside

thus missing the point that any invitation extended to fascist groups to debate is in itself an admission that political hate organisations are qualitatively no different to other political organisations; and again making the arrogant assumption that, when faced with some of the wiliest veteran speakers of the extreme right, it is a given that the fresh-faced students will prove them wrong.

The UEA students further say:

If we ban these groups, we give them the moral high ground - they can claim they are unfairly treated and accuse those who do believe in democracy of being hypocrites


Hasn’t that been exactly the position for the last three decades? Has it harmed anybody other than the fascists themselves, as was the whole intention?

Then we have:

[Perceived objection to new policy] ‘Fascist/racist groups will attack people [on campus], especially ethnic minorities, LGBT students and other discriminated against groups.’

This may be true. However, if it is, this is a matter for the police as it would be a criminal offence. You cannot assume people are guilty, however unpleasant they are, before they act.

So that’s all fine and dandy then. What this seems to be saying is that those lovers of free speech who feel themselves impelled to invite hate groups onto campus will take no responsibility for the actions of their esteemed guests, which must be dealt with by the police - presumably after people have been hurt, since “you cannot assume people are guilty … before they act”.

It’s a risk the “ethnic minorities, LGBT students and other discriminated against groups” will just have to take, apparently for the sake of somebody else’s “free speech”.

No Platform has hurt organisations like the BNP as nothing else could. They know it and we know it.

They know that the needless (and perhaps self-serving) actions of Luke Tryl and the OUDS represent an important first strike against No Platform, and could be a major step along the road that eventually will lead the BNP into the sun-lighted uplands of craved-for respectability.

Already the BNP are crowing that No Platform is broken, and that the remaining dominos will fall. In their fevered collective imagination the likes of Griffin and Darby are about to park their ample backsides on the breakfast TV sofas and to take their places as equals amongst the great and good on Question Time.

We must break the spell.

The breach is not yet so wide as to be beyond repair, and we understand that moves are afoot within the relevant organisations to restore the status quo.

No Platform must then be applied with renewed vigour.

It is a point of honour amongst liberals to claim that though they may disagree with another person’s point of view, they will fight to the death for the other’s right to say it. While the danger of death is remote, this well-known slogan is empty cant.

Allow me to rephrase it:

Though I may disagree with another person’s point of view, I will do all in my power to preserve the other’s right to say it - unless that other’s point of view is founded upon hate and bigotry, in which case I will do all in my power to suppress it.

Is there any hope that the last surviving Nazis can be brought to justice?

4 Comment (s)
Why are we asking this now?

Because the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights group which has brought hundreds of Nazi war criminals to justice since the end of the Second World War, has just launched a campaign called "Operation Last Chance". It is being run by Efraim Zuroff, the new head of the Wiesenthal Centre who points out that as the Second World War ended over 60 years ago, the remaining Nazi war criminals still alive are now so old that they may die before being brought to justice. He says the world has a "last chance" to catch them and bring them before the courts. The campaign will involve a media campaign and the offer of financial rewards for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the suspects.

How many people are we talking about?

Hundreds – ranging from Nazi concentration camp guards who beat their prisoners, to a handful of big-time Nazis who were responsible for mass murder and brutal torture. In Eastern Europe there are an estimated 488 Nazi war crimes suspects. Between 150 and 300 fled to South America and some Middle Eastern countries after the war, though no one knows how many are alive.

Who are the chief targets?

The last remaining major Nazi war criminals are Austrian-born Dr Aribert Heim, who is wanted for the murder of hundreds of Jewish prisoners at the Nazis' Mauthausen concentration camp where he worked as a doctor in 1941, and Alois Brunner, a close aide of the convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who invented a mobile gas chamber used on thousands of Jewish prisoners. Heim ranks alongside infamous Auschwitz death camp doctor Josef Mengele as one of the Nazis' worst individual war criminals. A court trying him in his absence in 1979 said he "wallowed in the fear of death suffered by his victms" while performing lethal operations on them without anaesthetics.

Where are they?

Brunner, now 93, was recently spotted and photographed in Syria where he lives under an assumed name. Repeated attempts to extradite him have failed. Heim's lawyer, Fritz Steinacker, may know his whereabouts, but claims that revealing such information would breach Germany's client-lawyer secrecy legislation. There have been several alleged sightings of Heim in Egypt, Spain, Germany and South America. He has been on the run since the 1960s when Germany issued his arrest warrant.

Why did the arrest warrant take so long?

Like many war criminals, Heim managed initially to cover up his wartime activities. He worked for years as a gynaecologist and later as an army doctor after the war. He married and lived undetected near Frankfurt, where he played in the local ice-hockey team. The Austrians opened an investigation in 1957; the Germans followed in the early 1960s. Nazi colleagues are believed to have tipped off Heim just before police arrived to arrest him. He drove away in his Mercedes and has evaded capture ever since. Two years ago, German state prosecutors announced that he was at the top of their list of wanted Nazi war criminals.

Where are the Nazis hiding?

Eastern Europe is one area which is believed to be home to Nazi war criminals. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre launched a Nazi-hunting operation there in 2002 and came up with the names of 488 Nazi war-crimes suspects. Ninety nine cases have been submitted to local prosecutors. However, only three arrest warrants and two requests for extradition have resulted from that campaign, though scores of cases are still under investigation. Alois Brunner is still being afforded sanctuary in Syria. South America, where Operation Last Chance was launched earlier this week, has been a favourite haven for Nazi war criminals. In Argentina in the 1960s, President Juan Peron's government organised missions to rescue Nazi war criminals from post-war Europe after branding the Nuremberg war crimes trials as "infamy". Scores of unrepentant Nazis were given top jobs under assumed names as technicians in the Argentinian armed forces. Right-wing military dictatorships in Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay have been other havens. In the Middle East, anti-Israeli circles have given sanctuary to Nazis.

Are any still in Europe or the US?

Yes. Even 60 years after the Second World War, war criminals are found to be living in Europe and the US. Organisations like the Simon Wiesenthal Centre say that there is a new readiness to track down Nazis in South America because many countries there are now full-blooded democracies. However, the organisation complained only last year that countries such as Austria, Germany and Poland had an abysmal record of bringing suspected war criminals to justice. In Germany, ex-Nazis wanted for war crimes committed outside the country do not have to be extradited under existing laws.

What have efforts to find Nazis achieved?

Apart from the Nuremberg war crimes trials, which were conducted by the Allies immediately after the Second World War, there have been some spectacular catches of Nazi war criminals. One of the biggest involved the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the masterminds of the Nazi Holocaust. He organised the transport of millions of European Jews to the death camps, but fled to Argentina after the war. However, in 1960 he was kidnapped by Israeli secret agents and taken to Israel where he was put on trial, convicted of war crimes and executed in 1962. Other big catches include Klaus Barbie, a Nazi Gestapo chief nicknamed the "Butcher of Lyon" who was tracked down in South America and stood trial in France in 1987. Franz Stangl, commandant of the Treblinka death camp in Poland, where only 40 out of over a million prisoners survived, was extradited from Brazil and sentenced to life imprisonment in the then West Germany in 1970.

And the failures?

Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz concentration camp doctor who performed brutal medical experiments on inmates, died in Brazil in 1979 after spending most of his post-war years living with impunity in Argentina. Eduard Roschmann, the so-called Nazi "Butcher of Riga" who was blamed for the death of 40,000 Jews in Latvia, died in Paraguay in 1977. He never faced a trial.

Will Operation Last Chance result in more Nazis being put on trial?


* If enough people come forward with information which leads to their arrest – and South America's democracies show willing

* If the financial rewards for doing so are big enough

* If the major criminals still out there – such as Heim and Brunner – are still alive if – and when – they are eventually caught


* Countries such as Syria continue to harbour suspected criminals

* Often in recent years, many Nazi war crimes suspects are judged to be too old and infirm to stand trial

* Operation Last Chance could have already missed the boat if it turns out that the majority of Nazi war criminals are already dead


A quick look at the BNP's week...

2 Comment (s)
(Not counting large demonstrations against it and its friends)

BNP said nothing about allotments

There's an interesting letter in the Ilford Recorder this week from one William F. Marten, pointing out how the BNP will lie without a qualm to the voters to attempt to con them into believing that the party's councillors actually do something good from time to time (they don't). The letter refers to Julian Leppert, the BNP's last candidate for London Mayor.

'With reference to your article, "Shock as BNP take credit for allotment 'victory'" (Recorder, last week), I was at the town hall with plot-holding friends when the allotment sales matter was referred back to cabinet.

I know that BNP councillor Julian Leppert did not speak on the matter, and I don't think he asked to speak either. He did vote the right way, but that is as far as his support for allotments went.

It isn't unusual for the BNP to claim credit for things that they have done nothing to achieve. Not the behaviour of an honest political party.

Quite a few of my family live in Hainault. Two uncles have allotments there. They aren't left-wingers, but they are disgusted by Cllr Leppert's claims.

To the best of their knowledge he has never visited the allotments nor spoken to anyone on the sites. They are outraged that he is now claiming credit for the allotment "victory".

In any case there is no victory yet. Allotment sales go back to the cabinet in January. I think it highly likely that our out of touch cabinet members, egged on by certain officers with their minds on bigger, prestige projects, will still try to sell New North Road, Goodmayes and Vicarage Lane South allotments. It is a massive threat to the quality of life in Redbridge. But do they care? I fear not.'

Bravo William, for having the decency to point out the truth!

Richard Barnbrook fails to please (as usual)

Talking of Mayoral candidates, there was disappointment for fans of the dancing diva, Dicky Barnbrook, when he turned up at the recent Civic Reception a week or so ago without his usual arm candy (Simone Clarke, the other dancing diva in the BNP) and, not even bothering to hire an escort for the night, sat on his own and downed a hefty three bottles of wine along with his dinner before storming out in a huff at being ignored all night by his so-called comrades in the BNP.

And what was the disappointment? That he didn't give a repeat performance of his exhibition last year, when he took over the entire dance floor a la John Travolta, complete with terrible white suit.

And finally...

The BNP wins an award (at last)

Yes, the party of free speech and accountability (ho-ho) has received an award from the St Albans and Harpenden Review. The Kim Jong-il delusional politician award, to be exact.

'The winner is the British National Party. The BNP and its "army" of keyboard supporters appeared online to support an article about the right wing extremists. They are here to protect us all apparently. They will ensure that England keeps its identity. The same fanatics pop up whenever any article mentioning the party appears anywhere. They all pretend to be local supporters, yet when the by-election comes round, the BNP usually finishes behind the Monster Raving Loonies with four votes.'

How we love sarcasm. Well done to the BNP for the award. It couldn't have gone to a more deserving party.

The Henry Guterman M.B.E. Memorial Lecture

0 Comment (s)
The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region, Faith Network 4 Manchester, Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, Indian Jewish Association Manchester, Council of Christians and Jews, Manchester Council for Community Relations, National Association of SACREs, The Jewish Youth Project, Zionist Central Council, Heathlands, Morris Feinmann Homes, Outreach, Disabled Living, Unite Against Fascism, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Council of Hindus), Academy for Indian Culture & Education, Manchester City Council, Trafford Borough Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews
are pleased to invite you to

The Henry Guterman M.B.E. Memorial Lecture
to be delivered by Lord Janner of Braunstone Q.C.

DATE: Thursday, 29th November 2007, 7.15pm Reception. 8.00pm Lecture

VENUE: Marriott Manchester
Victoria & Albert Hotel
Water Street
M3 4JQ

Tel: 0161 720 8721

Please ensure you reply as entry will be as per the guest list only.

November 28, 2007

Crime down in Welwyn Hatfield - misleading BNP claims rebutted

3 Comment (s)
Claims by the British National Party (BNP) that crime is on the increase in Welwyn Hatfield have been rebutted by Hertfordshire Police.

Latest figures show that crime in the region is down by 12 per cent compared with the previous year. The figures, measured between April 1 and November 25, 2007, found that violent crime has decreased by 22.4 percent compared with the same period in 2006. Residential burglary is down by 14.2 per cent and motor vehicle crime by 5.3 percent. Robbery has also dropped by 8.8 per cent, serious violent crime by 26 per cent and serious sexual offences have reduced by 22.2 per cent.

Area commander Alison Roome-Gifford said: "The results are in direct contradiction to a leaflet published by the BNP which was brought to our attention by a member of the public who received it through her door in Welham Green. We would like to reassure the community that the claims that robberies, burglaries and sexual assaults are on the increase, are factually incorrect as confirmed by the figures."

"The figures demonstrate that we have had at least 721 fewer victims in terms of all crime this year across the Welwyn Hatfield district. That is something to be proud of. Aside from the hard work our officers, Police Community Support Officers, police staff and partner agencies put into keeping crime down, we also have to give huge thanks to the general public - who are our eyes and ears in the community.

"As well as Neighbourhood Watch and other groups and organisations who work closely with us, it's the information that comes in from members of the public who answer our witness appeals and who let us know what's going on and where. We all work together to let offenders know their criminal behaviour is unacceptable in our communities and it won't be tolerated."

St Albans and Harpenden Review

Exeter University student ban on extremists

1 Comment (s)
Exeter University students have voted to ban extremist groups from their campus. The "no platform" policy includes the extreme right wing British National Party and will last for three years.

Members of Exeter University's Students' Guild voted for the policy at their general meeting.

John Cox, welfare and equal opportunities officer, said: "As a union, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all of our members and provide a safe space for them to study. A student recently came to me in tears. They thought their institution was a safe space where the possible threat of fascism and racism didn't exist. This student wasn't the first with grave concerns, and most definitely was not the last.

"So the motion got written with an idea in mind: Union means unity, diversity shouldn't mean division. After the meeting, students came up to me expressing their relief that the motion had passed, and were all saying the same thing: we're glad we're safe. We're glad our friends are safe. We wouldn't invite them into our home and neither would we do it here."

Exeter students previously had a "balanced" platform policy, which meant those invited to meetings classed as unacceptable by the National Union of Students had to be given permission in an extraordinary general meeting.

There are more than 1,400 international students at Exeter and 100 members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual society.

Exeter Express and Echo

GMP cleared of BNP association

0 Comment (s)
Claims that a Greater Manchester police (GMP) officer and another member of staff wore British National party (BNP) badges have been rejected by the police watchdog.

Media reports earlier this year said that the two people had been spotted wearing the badges and associating with BNP supporters at a bar in central Manchester on St George's Day. The Guardian, citing a GMP officer who brought his concerns to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said that the GMP officer and member of staff had joined in racist chanting and the abuse of other people at the bar on April 23rd 2007.

But following an investigation the IPCC said the two individuals had been "innocently celebrating" St George's Day at Sinclair's Oyster Bar.

Police had been called to attend an incident at the bar to investigate reports of unruly customers.

"It is clear from the interviews and CCTV footage that there was an unsavoury element in the crowd, and this element exhibited racist behaviour by abusing passers-by and singing inflammatory songs," an IPCC statement said.

Naseem Malik, IPCC commissioner for the north-west, added: "Investigators have trawled through hours of CCTV footage and interviewed more than 50 people present on that day.

"As a result of this I can say with some degree of certainty that there is no evidence to support the legitimate concerns expressed in the report made by the officer or the allegation made in the Guardian newspaper. In fact there is sufficient evidence to reach the conclusion that the concerns and allegations were incorrect."

He added: "There is no evidence that off-duty officers or staff were involved with the group of people who prompted police attendance. The investigation identified two friends – one an off-duty police officer and one an off-duty police staff member - who were innocently enjoying a drink together in the pubs and bars around Exchange Square. At no point did they have any association with the unsavoury element in the crowd."

View London

November 27, 2007

The uprising against facism: Students storm Oxford Union debate

46 Comment (s)
The principle that everyone is entitled to their say, however obnoxious their opinions might be, was put to the test at the Oxford Union last night as hundreds of protesters gathered to voice their disapproval of the two men from the extreme right whom the illustrious debating chamber had invited there to speak.

One of the guests, the BNP leader Nick Griffin, heads an organisation that wants to see millions of people deported from the UK because they do not regard them as truly British.

He was due to share a platform with the historian David Irving, who has courted notoriety for decades by claiming that Hitler did not give the order to commit genocide, that there were no gas chambers and that six million Jews were not killed by the Nazis.

Scuffles broke out as anti-fascist groups yelled "Shame on you" at members filing into the union building, and the police shut the gates with the chamber only half full. While a handful of students crushed against the main gate to create a diversion, 30 others scaled the wall and barged past the tight security, occupying the area around the debating table until they were persuaded to leave.

"I hope we're not giving Griffin further publicity by doing this," said Peter Simpson, a student at Essex University who stormed the chamber, "but history has shown that you need to draw the line with fascists. I think a lot of people are here because they know what happened in the Second World War and they don't want it to happen again."

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat MP due to join the debate, criticised Thames Valley Police for "failing to put a cordon around the Union", allowing the protestors to barge through.

"The failure of the police is outrageous," he said as he told students in the chamber of plans to split the speakers after the university authorities decided it was too dangerous to walk Mr Griffin and Mr Irving across the quadrangle to the debating hall. The police have failed to provide for the safety of this event; failed to provide for the safety of this going ahead as planned. I'm very disappointed. The police imply that they don't have enough resources to move people away from the perimeter or that it is not their job."

In order to get the debate under way, the speakers were split into two groups, with Mr Irving, jailed last year in Austria after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial, speaking in the main chamber, and Mr Griffin, convicted of incitement to racial hatred over material denying the Holocaust in 1998, in a cramped room in the main university building.

Warned to expect a maelstrom of abuse, they had avoided the main demonstration by arriving in separate black cabs, 10 minutes apart and 90 minutes early. The debate – on how far the freedom of speech should extend – finally started more than an hour late at 10pm.

Mr Irving defended accusations that his publications and speeces denied the existence of the Holocaust. "I still refuse to be bowed. I am not going to write what they want me to write. I'm going to write what I find in the archives," he said.

Across the yard, Mr Griffin went head-to-head with two student debaters. "The majority of racist attacks are on white people by members of ethnic minority communities," he said. "Those people outside are a mob and they could kill. Had they grown up in Nazi Germany they would have made splendid Nazis. Any restriction on free speech is dangerous. You start by saying people should not speak and you end up with burning people at the stake. Free speech is an absolute, it is universal."

Mr Irving, reported to have left at 10.45pm to a chorus of jeers from waiting demonstrators, said that disagreeing with some elements of the "whole package" did not make him a Holocaust denier. He had been invited to speak at the Oxford Union seven times, he said, but security fears had put paid to any chance of appearing. Speaking at the Union was something he cherished, he added, saying that the most important thing that any student listening to him could do was to think for themselves.

The president of the Oxford Union, Luke Tryl, was unconvinced. "I think David Irving came out of that looking pathetic," he said "I said in my introduction that I found his view repugnant and abhorrent because I wanted that on record."

Outside, some protesters chanted "Kill Tryl", to which the Union president said: "I don't think they do their cause any favours by inciting violence. That is my only regret."

Last night's meeting breached an unwritten agreement observed for years by the mainstream political parties – not to give the far right a public platform. Instead, it fell back on a much older principle, summed up in a maxim attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Mr Tryl, who has been under intense pressure to cancel the event, defended the decision to go ahead. He said: "David Irving and Nick Griffin have awful and abhorrent views but the best way to defeat those views is through debate.

"I remain committed to the principle that free speech has to prevail. I really worry about how the far right has been able to portray themselves as free-speech martyrs and I hope that this sort of debate will help dispel that myth – to show that the liberal mainstream are prepared to take them on and beat them in debate."

A minority of the students gathered outside the building agreed with Mr Tryl. Kudzh Ranga, a black law graduate living in the city, said he supported the right of Mr Griffin and Mr Irving to speak. "Though I don't agree with [Mr Irving's] stance on racism and the Holocaust I think it is only proper to let him come and address the general public," he said.

But most students and protesters in the street vehemently disagreed. They included Jean Kaigamba, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. He said: "I'm flabbergasted that people who claim to be intellectuals invite extremists in the name of free speech to give them a platform and let them air their perverted view."

David Green, a former committee member of the Oxford Union, said he had resigned from the organisation in protest. "What the union is doing today is extremely irresponsible – namely giving prominence to Holocaust deniers, people who are completely discredited," he said.


November 26, 2007

Protesters force way into debate

27 Comment (s)
Protesters have forced their way into the Oxford Union where BNP leader Nick Griffin and controversial historian David Irving are due to speak.

The group of 30 pushed their way into the hall where they are staging a sit-down protest at the debating table. Earlier, a crowd staged a sit-down protest outside the gates of the building, preventing around half the students due to attend from getting in. About 500 people chanted anti-fascist slogans and jeered "shame on you".

Anti-racism campaigners say the two men should not be given a platform to speak at the debate in St Michael's Street, Oxford. Police on horseback are patrolling the area.

Martin Mcluskey, from the Oxford University Students' Union, said: "What we are doing here tonight at the Oxford Union is putting them on a platform that will give them legitimacy and credibility. It is as if we are saying that we agree with what they are saying and that we think it is valid."

Novelist Anne Atkins, who is participating in the debate, said controversial views should not be silenced but exposed. "When you say that the majority view is always right I think that is a deeply dangerous and disturbing thing to say. I am not for a moment saying that I agree with David Irving or Nick Griffin but I am saying that once you start having truth by democracy you risk silencing some of the most important prophets we have ever had."

Mr Griffin and Mr Irving arrived hours before the 2000 GMT start of the debate and were escorted into the building.

MP Dr Julian Lewis has also resigned his membership of the Oxford debating union in protest describing the two men as "a couple of scoundrels" in his resignation letter.

Mr Griffin has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group. He was convicted in 1998 for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust. Mr Irving was imprisoned for three years after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial in Austria.


November 25, 2007

A call from Searchlight - No nazi-lovers in Oxford!

16 Comment (s)
Searchlight calls on all anti-fascists to join the mass picket of the Oxford Union in the event that BNP leader Nick Griffin and the convicted criminal and liar David Irving are allowed to speak.

The demo will start at 7pm on Monday 26 November outside the Oxford Union, St Michael Street, Oxford.

It is supported by Oxford University Student Union, Oxford Unite Against Fascism, Oxford Trades Council, Oxford University Labour Club, Oxford Unison Health, the National Union of Students, the Union of Jewish Students and Searchlight.

The latest news is that Irving is claiming a prior engagement in Liverpool that evening. Griffin has been keeping very quiet about putting in an appearance.

Either way it is important for everybody to show their defiance against the attempts of the extreme right to spread their message of hate in universities.

Oxford braced for protest over BNP

20 Comment (s)
Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather at Oxford University after students yesterday voted to allow BNP leader Nick Griffin to speak at their union. Controversial historian David Irving, who was jailed for Holocaust denial, has also been invited to the free speech event tomorrow.

Their presence on the list of speakers had already prompted a series of high-profile withdrawals from the platform, including Defence Secretary Des Browne.

Despite opposition, the Oxford Union Debating Society members voted by a margin of two-to-one to extend an invite to Griffin. Martin McCluskey, president of the Oxford Student Union, said it was "disgraceful" the pair were being given the same platform as past speakers who included Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.

Anti-fascist leaders, who were organising a demonstration at tomorrow's event, have claimed that some union members were excluded from the vote. Sabby Dhalu, secretary of campaign group Unite Against Fascism, said: "If the event goes ahead as it stands, it does not even have the appearance of a 'debate'. Oxford Union will have to hold itself responsible for any subsequent repercussions on the threats to the safety of students if it proceeds with this decision."

Lee Jasper, secretary of the National Assembly Against Racism, added: "Oxford Union is jeopardising the safety of the students by continuing with this event. It is not too late to rescind these invites. Oxford Union gathers growing condemnation with every moment it continues being complicit with facilitating a meeting promoting fascism and Holocaust denial."

The move was also opposed by the university's Muslim and Jewish societies.

Defending its decision, the Oxford Union Debating Society said it was important to give people of all views a platform. Luke Tryl, president of the society, said: "They will be speaking in the context of a forum in which there will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views in a head-to-head manner."

The university's newspaper, Cherwell, has quoted Duncan Money, a second-year student, as saying he received death threats after criticising fascist groups in an internet blog. He said: "My family has been threatened, my friends have been threatened and I've been threatened. Someone rang in the middle of the night and said they would cut my throat."

The Scotsman

November 24, 2007

BNP to speak to Oxford students

7 Comment (s)
An Oxford union has voted to let the British National Party (BNP) leader and a controversial historian speak at a free speech event on Monday.

Despite opposition, the Oxford Union Debating Society members voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to continue to extend an invite to the BNP's Nick Griffin. David Irving, who was jailed for Holocaust denial, will also be invited.

The move was opposed by the Oxford Student Union and the university's Muslim and Jewish societies.

The Oxford Union Debating Society said it was important to give people of all views a platform. Luke Tryl, president of the society, said: "The men were not being given a platform to extol their views, but were coming to talk about the limits for free speech. They will be speaking in the context of a forum in which there will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views in a head to head manner."


Mr Griffin, the leader of the far-right party, has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group. He was convicted in 1998 for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust.

Mr Irving was imprisoned for three years after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial in Austria. But he denied being a Holocaust denier as he said he had no alternative but to plead guilty to the charge.

The union said all tickets for the event, which were only available to its members - who are mainly students - had gone.

A rally in protest at the invitation was held on Tuesday and among those speaking there were Holocaust survivors.

Stephen Altmann-Richer, co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, said that while freedom of speech was important it was "overshadowed in this instance".

"I don't think these people should be invited to the Oxford Union, by having them speak, it legitimises their views," he said.


November 23, 2007

Rhiw by-election pain for BNP

17 Comment (s)
Conwy County Borough Council is, by any measure, the sort of political arena commentators like to call "interesting".

Sitting on the North Wales coastal belt, Conwy CBC was formed in 1996 with the merger of Aberconwy and Colwyn district councils. It serves a diverse population of indigenous Welsh and English incomers, and some of the most spectacular scenery in the British Isles falls within its borders (35% of its area comes within Snowdonia National Park).

Over 80% of the population live in the coastal strip, with nearly half of those classified as "British" being born outside Wales (mostly English). There are also a substantial number of East European (mostly Polish) migrant workers. About a third of the total population claim to be Welsh speakers, an incidence well above the national average of 20%.

Since its inception Conwy CBC has never fallen under the control of a single political party. There are 59 councillors elected from 38 wards, the majority of these wards squeezed into the narrow coastal strip from Bryn in the west to Kinmel Bay in the east. The full council is elected every four years, the next election being in May 2008.

The May 2000 local elections returned a council composed as follows:

Labour 19
Independents 15
LibDem 13
Plaid Cymru 7
Conservative 5

The current council (ignoring by-elections) is composed as follows:

Independents 17
Conservative 14
Labour 12
Plaid Cymru 11
LibDems 4
Vacancy 1 (Conservative).

Bearing in mind that the last full council election took place in 2004, the decline of Labour and the descent into near-irrelevance of the Liberal Democrats as a result of growth by the Tories and Plaid is striking. There have been seven by-elections for Conwy CBC since 2004, three being won by the Conservatives, two by Plaid, and one by Labour, which regained its own seat in Mochdre in September.

The Mochdre by-election saw the first attempt by the BNP to make an impact with Conwy CBC voters. It was a dismal failure. The racist party scraped together 35 votes, or less than 5.3%, in a low-turnout four-cornered (Lab/Con/PC/BNP) contest.

Next door to Mochdre is Rhiw ward, a well-to-do part of Colwyn Bay where the most pressing recent issues affecting the community were drug dealing on The Heights, followed closely by complaints of football-playing youths damaging plants in a local park and speeding traffic.

Rhiw ward also owns the distinction of having had two Conservative councillors removed from their seats for non-attendance in the last six years. In early October Councillor Steven Woolfe was forced to resign by fellow Tories, having failed to attend council business since March while continuing to claim thousands of pounds in allowances.

Woolfe's enforced resignation has caused a by-election which has attracted the attentions of the BNP.

In May 2004 Rhiw voted as follows (percentages in brackets):

Con 1003 (22.61) Elected
Con 751 (16.93) Elected
Con 739 (16.66)
Ind 502 (11.32)
Ind 337 (7.60)
PC 760 (17.13) Elected
Lab 344 (7.75)

Total 4436

Untangling those results is something of a nightmare we don't propose to enter into, but clearly Rhiw is comfortably Conservative.

And, like Conwy CBC elections generally, interesting.

In March 2006 a by-election attracted only two candidates. Perversely, Plaid Cymru, which had won a Rhiw seat in 2004 did not stand, while the Liberal Democrats, absent in 2004, did. The result was:

Con 716 (59.92)
LibDem 479 (40.08)

Total 1195

The winning Conservative was the disgraced Councillor Woolfe.

The line-up for yesterday's by-election saw the return of an Independent candidate and the intervention of the Greens and the BNP - but again Plaid Cymru and Labour failed to contest.

(To digress, the stay-at-home blinkered BNP blogger, full-time idiot, fame-seeker and Griffin sycophant we know and ridicule as Green Arrow has suggested that Conspiracy Central - the Tri-Axis Parties of Evil to him - arranged matters so that Labour did not stand as a ploy to keep the BNP out. So that solves that little conundrum. No doubt Plaid were in on it too...)

The BNP's candidate is John Oddy. As we've been noticing in our by-election reports, Oddy's campaign is a direct appeal to middle-Wales, calling for increased policing, a halt to the closure of sub-post offices and other harmless gestures that carefully avoid mentioning the BNP's more notorious policies.

Whatever the BNP's expectations are, no hint of them has slipped out, but we believe they will call anything better than Mochdre's 5.3% a "success", and may come in above the Greens.

The eclectic electoral history of Rhiw ward, the disarray of the local Conservatives - and the fact that the behaviour of a disgraced Tory brought about the by-election - should see a more open contest, especially as the Liberal Democrats, desperate to arrest their decline, have been fighting a determined campaign with former Rhiw councillor Trevor Stott as their candidate.

Conwy CBC Rhiw ward by-election result:

LibDem 548 (44.26)
Con 513 (41.44)
Ind 80 (6.46)
BNP 61 (4.93)
Green 36 (2.91)

Total 1238

An unsurprising - if narrow - victory for the Liberal Democrats, then. The only (very) cold crumb of comfort the BNP can take from their abysmal performance is that they came in ahead of the Greens. Perhaps this is what Nick Griffin and his acolytes mean when they chant their mantra about the BNP's "unstoppable" electoral progress.

To anybody else it looks like a complete standstill.


For reasons best known to himself, the man who keeps Nick Griffin alive through the power of prayer, Green Arrow, jumped the gun by a considerable distance in his eagerness to be the first to publish and comment on the BNP's Rhiw performance, making a complete fool of himself in the process.

It seems that some little devil fed the hapless Green Arrow a fake set of results, which he promptly posted on Stormfront and his own blog, with the following comments:

So more new BNP members have been blooded and gained experience in fighting a by-election and I for one think they done rather well. Better than well. Bloody excellent in fact.

Rhiw, has always been a firm Conservative stronghold but the Liberal Democrats had come second last time out and have spend vast sums of both time and money in fighting this campaign and bussed in activists from all over the Country. So determined were they this time to put up more than a good show and there hard work paid off. But boy, did our lads give them a run for their money. Next time. Next time.

Full Results were as follows:-

Lib Democrats 635
Conservative 620
BNP 599
Ind 104
Green 47

Good work was done on the ground by the BNP activists led by their Candidate John Oddy and much information was gained at street level of those who currently support the BNP and those who might consider voting BNP and notes made of those who would never vote for a True British patriotic party like the British National Party.

A special mention to young Joe Llwelyn Griffiths who stood for the Green Party and his vegan friends who swamped this site with posts earlier today on why eating meat was wrong. Get some bacon butties into you boys. You need energy in this game, not just dreams.

Well done also to all the voters who put their trust in John. You at least have awoken to the dangers facing Our Country. Now please wake up just a few more of your friends. With your continued support the BNP will prevail.

Not being electorally savvy, the Green Arrow failed to smell a rat, the rat being that it was vanishingly unlikely that the BNP would score 5.3% in Mochdre ward in September, yet suddenly leap to nearly 30% on a first outing in next-door Rhiw just two months later.

An embarrassed Green Arrow was forced to admit on Stormfront, "Looks like I was well stiched up."

According to him: "Around about 01:00 I posted on here [Stormfront] that I was only staying up waiting for the RHIW results. At around 01:30 I received a comment on GA, from a person using an identity that I believed to be a true comrade giving me the results."

Which just goes to show, Green Arrow, that you really shouldn't believe everything you read on a blog.

Especially your own.

Disbelief as BNP enters by-election

6 Comment (s)
Residents of a diverse North London borough were shocked this week as a British National Party candidate stood in a local by-election.

The BNP’s Howard Studley is running for the position of councillor against four other candidates — including two Jews and a Muslim — in Canons ward, Harrow, on December 13. According to the 2001 census, Canons is 36 per cent Jewish and 23 per cent Asian and black. The election is being held after the death of Jewish Conservative councillor and former mayor Janet Cowan.

Gulab Gandhi of Canons Park Newsagent, said: “On this street there are businesses owned by Turkish, Irish, Armenian, Indian, Bangladeshi and Jewish people. I don’t think the BNP would win.”

His colleague Douglas Oxley added: “The BNP must be suicidal to stand here. Finding an ‘English’ person like me is very unusual. I think people will react with disbelief. I definitely won’t vote BNP.”

Local businessman Sailesh Solanki said: “I don’t think the BNP would win, but voter apathy allows them to get in more than anything else.”

Labour candidate and Belmont Synagogue member Richard Harrod told the JC: “What I fear is that not many people will vote, and BNP support will seem bigger than it really is. I want people to get out there and vote, it doesn’t matter for whom, as long as it’s not the BNP.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Anne Diamond — also a Belmont member — said: “I think if we had to place deposits, as with general elections, they [the BNP] would have second thoughts about fielding candidates. Perhaps they are trying to encourage those without political leanings to vote: there have been Jewish BNP candidates in the past. Perhaps they are trying to encourage Jews to become members.”

Conservative candidate Husain Akhtar said: “I think the BNP is just trying to demonstrate its presence. I am sure they won’t win. People in Harrow, especially in Canons ward, are very sensible and fair-minded people. I have confidence in people’s judgment to see what is in the best interest of Harrow.”

BNP press officer Simon Darby said: “Many Jewish people are not supporters of multiculturalism. We have at least one Jewish councillor and dozens of Jewish members, Sikh and Hindu, even one or two Muslim supporters. We are trying to contest as many elections as we can. Just because there are many Jews and Hindus in an area is no reason not to contest it. We are a mainstream phenomenon.”

Jewish Chronicle

November 22, 2007

British myths about Eastern Europeans

8 Comment (s)
They come over here, take our jobs, eat our carp and lose all our £50 notes. They even steal our unwanted clothes. But can all that is written about eastern Europeans really be true?

Since the first immigrants from the new European Union member states of the old Eastern bloc arrived in 2000 (actually, from before that, when they were known collectively to the tabloids as "bogus asylum seekers"), eastern Europeans - Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Slovakians, et al - have been blamed for virtually every crisis that has beset this nation, and a good few that haven't.

Many of these problems have been proven not to be their fault, some have proven not to be problems, but a lot of the myths and rumours still persist. Here, then, are just a few of the things the tabloids have blamed eastern Europeans for recently.

Catching all our carp

This is becoming a bit of an annual story, largely because carp is a traditional Christmas dish in Poland. Eastern Europeans are treating our British carp as a food source rather than a bit of harmless sport. Just as one sometimes hears that greedy immigrants are denuding our forests of wild mushrooms, there are claims that organised gangs armed with spear guns are filling bin liners with carp.

These stories are always long on outraged anecdote and short on fact: a recent survey claimed that 34 out of 60 fishery owners thought theft by eastern Europeans was a bigger threat to their stocks than global warming or disease.

This year, in anticipation of a yuletide rash of eastern European carp poaching, the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust has produced a sign which explains Britain's catch-and-release tradition in three bold graphics: Don't Spear the Carp, Don't Cook the Carp and Don't Date the Carp.

Taking all our benefits

Yesterday's Daily Mail announced that benefit claims by eastern Europeans had doubled in the past year, resulting in an annual payout of £145m. A closer look however, reveals that well over half of this amount is child benefit, which can be claimed by anyone with a child. In fact, just over 4,000 eastern European immigrants (out of the Mail's preferred scary estimate of 743,000 in total) claimed either income support or jobseeker's allowance), 893 are on housing support and 82 claim pension credit. And the Mail has added all the claimants together (wouldn't some of the 78,850 claiming child benefit and the 1,189 on income support be the same people?) to get an inflated total of 128,592.

Stealing our unwanted clothes

Recent reports have told of "Lithuanian gangs" who distribute fake charity leaflets door-to-door asking householders for old clothes, implying that they will be shipped to the third world and sold to poor people, when in reality they are shipped to eastern Europe and sold to poor people.

Some of the gangs are so ruthless that they steal clothes left out for legitimate charities, leading one, Clothes Aid, to place tracking devices in the bags. And some say they even take clothes out of recycling bins. Stealing our recycling? What next?

Eating our swans

Well, they're the Queen's swans really, though she has yet to make an official complaint. In August, however, according to a report in the Daily Mail, the Luton Angling Club felt moved to produce a sign which communicated the message, "The swans are not for eating" in pictographic form.

There is no evidence that an eastern European has ever eaten a British swan, or indeed that these signs were ever posted anywhere. The Sun was roundly criticised in 2003 for a story about eastern European "asylum seekers" eating swans, which proved to be a curiously factless evocation of a weary urban myth.

Dodging taxes

The recent increase in corporation tax for small businesses When the then-chancellor Gordon Brown faced the Treasury select committee last March, they asked him why he had chosen to increase tax on small firms from 19p to 20p (rising to 22p by 2009) when he had seen fit to lower the tax on larger businesses from 30p to 28p. In his defence Brown cited a rash of "schemes that have been marketed right across eastern Europe" which encouraged individuals from those countries to set up as companies before they came to Britain in order to avoid paying income tax. In other words, foreigners were being apprised of an existing legal loophole which previously only British people knew about. They've come over here and spoiled it for everyone.

A shortage of £50 notes

Apparently, Poles working in Britain sent almost £1bn home to their families - instead of spending it here! - in the first quarter of 2007. A good deal of this was said to be in cash, and a good deal of that cash is assumed to be in the form of £50 notes, hence the shortage. That is why you never see them anymore. And you thought it was because bank machines didn't issue them and cab drivers didn't take them.

Increase in racist attacks

A sharp rise in hate crimes in Scotland. Polish bar workers have been blamed for a two-fold increase in the number of racist incidents in Scotland, largely by being victims of them. Eastern European bar staff and doormen are now among the most common victims of racial abuse and assault in Edinburgh.

Increased unemployment

Last August, the Daily Express blamed the "flood of workers from eastern Europe" for unemployment figures that had reached their highest level for six years, after a rise of 92,000 over the previous quarter brought the jobless total to 1.68 million. A year on, and still they are flooding in, and unemployment has, erm, fallen back to 1.67 million.

Bad service in restaurants

This one comes from chef Antony Worrall Thompson, who claimed that immigration had resulted in "appalling" service in British restaurants. "Lots of people from eastern Europe and elsewhere come here and work in restaurants," he said, "without having the level of English or the skills they should have."

Drink driving

In March, the Daily Mail reported that "in some areas" of Scotland, "more than half" of motorists stopped during police crackdowns were eastern European, without saying in which area, or how many people were stopped, or whether they were actually drunk.

It did, however, list three examples of Poles arrested for drink driving, including one who was four times the legal limit. Eastern Europeans are sometimes accused of behaving as they would at home on the roads, but Poland has the strictest drink-driving laws in Europe, so perhaps they were just trying to adapt to Scottish custom.

Car crashes

The sharp increase in cross-border driving since EU expansion has led to a corresponding rise in foreign vehicles being involved in accidents on British roads - an alarming 47% rise over five years.

The number of crashes involving Polish drivers has risen from 361 in 2001 to 3,132 in 2006, but it is hard to tell how much of this increase is due to the increase in the number of Polish drivers. Lithuanians have had a 745-fold increase in accidents over five years - from 1 to 745.

Driving down wages

According to Professor David Blanchflower, of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, "fear of unemployment" (measured by asking how they expect the number of unemployed to change), which has increased over the past year (although unemployment hasn't), has a "downward impact on pay" equivalent to a reduction in annual pay rise of £210 for someone earning £30,000.

He appears to be saying that workers are willing to accept less money because they are afraid they are going to be replaced by migrants. What about robots? What happened to being replaced by robots?

The rise of the far right

Hostility to eastern European immigration has been seized upon by the BNP, which has made it a campaign issue, particularly in rural areas. Meanwhile, cells of racist Polish migrants in London are being supported by "British nationalist and Nazi groups", according to one Warsaw academic. There seems to be some sort of communication problem. Can the racists not make up their minds?

Groping women

Last November, a Polish immigrant named Thomasz Stepniowski was arrested for groping nine women. In his defence he claimed that he hadn't realised that he had done anything wrong, because such behaviour was normal in his country.

During his police interview, his female interpreter backed him up, pointing out that in Poland such behaviour wasn't strictly illegal. An epidemic of eastern European public-fondling failed to materialise, however, and Stepniowski gave up his weird defence in favour of admitting four counts of sexual assault.

Cheap guns, cheaper heroin and counterfeit money

We were promised all three would arrive in bulk as soon as Bulgaria entered the EU and vicious gangsters poured over the border. It would be like living in an airport novel.

It was also alleged that thousands of pregnant women would be smuggled into the UK to give birth in NHS hospitals before selling their babies. It's almost time for the year-end tally. How many smuggled Bulgarian babies have been sold so far? Should the NHS get a cut?

International News

Two years of BNP support

7 Comment (s)
Tamworth's only independent councillor has been defending the far-right wing British National Party's policies for at least two years, the Tamworth Times has learned.

In an interview with the Times on Tuesday, Councillor Cooke said voting for the BNP was 'an option' for him that he would not be ashamed of. And, despite a call to arms in the defence of free speech, he said the organisation Unite Against Fascism should be banned from distributing anti-BNP literature in the run up to elections.

"I would like to see a law against it," He said.

As reported exclusively in the Times last week, Councillor Chris Cooke assisted the BNP's candidate at the Castle ward byelection, by printing and hand-delivering campaign material in the run-up to the poll. Now the Times can reveal that Coun Cooke has been posting pro-BNP comments on websites since at least 2006.

And, in an open letter to his constituents, Coun Cooke launched an attack on the pressure group Unite Against Fascism - branding them as Nazis.

Coun Cooke, who was until 2001 a high-ranking member of the anti-European United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and previously a member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), told the Tamworth Times this week that he had not voted BNP in the past. Nor had he ever been a member of any party other than the SDP or UKIP. He said UKIP was the last party to which he had a political affiliation, and he left because he felt its members behaved in a way that made it more difficult for Britain to get out of Europe.

Coun Cooke added: "My position now is that I would vote for the person, not necessarily for the BNP as a party. It is certainly an option for me to vote for the BNP, and I would not be ashamed to do so. Neither would I be ashamed to vote for the United Kingdom Independence Party or, at the moment, the Liberal Democrats. I would not vote for either

In one of his internet messages, posted on the BNP's own message board in September 2005, Coun Cooke wrote of NHS salaries: "I hope when the BNP come to power (note - 'when'!) that they allow themselves to dig a bit deeper into such things as the NHS than just the pay of the top guys. The whole edificial empire needs an overhaul."

In response to threats by anti-fascists to disrupt a ballet performance by BNP member Simone Clarke in January this year, Coun Cooke said the campaigners were simply out to wreck the dancer's career. He described them as 'evil fascist bullies'. In September this year, he posted a staunch defence of the BNP in response to criticisms on another website - in which he described party members as 'sincere, brave and intelligent'.

Following a raid on shops selling hardcore pornography in Swindon in March this year, Coun Cooke posted: "I shall be voting BNP too. Not because their policy says boot them all out - it doesn't (bad news for those who want the BNP to kick all immigrants out perhaps?). And I've no wish to hurt innocent people. But it's only the BNP that will be tough on the criminal vermin who deal in this sort of **** and drugs. And if they are not our home grown vermin then - quite right - they should be booted out of the country - and their dependents they must take away with them."

In his letter to constituents, Coun Cooke described the UAF as: "A motley crew of --shall we say - alternative lifestylers and Marxists. It is by their own threatening behaviour and actions that these 'anti-fascists' show themselves to be the much truer Nazis."

Coun Cooke posted a response on the Tamworth Times website following last week's story, denying that he was defending the BNP in his letter. He said: "It was instead rubbishing a bullying leaflet that an obscure United Against Fascism (UAF) group had got delivered in this ward to pervert this by-election result."

He added: "My letter also makes very clear that I don't like bullies, and will always defend people's rights to take part in the democratic process - anybody! I would do the same for any party or individual."


Oxford Union is no place for Irving

0 Comment (s)
By Jonathan Hoffman

As a former JCR Vice-President and JSoc member at Oxford, I have taken a keen interest in the invitation to David Irving and Nick Griffin to speak at a Union forum on ‘Free Speech’ on Monday.

I spoke out against the invitation at the Union’s Middle East debate on 23 October and soon after I placed a petition on the Prime Minister’s website. The strength of opposition to the invitation can be seen from the popularity of the petition: In less than three weeks nearly 1400 signed, making it one of the fastest growing petitions ever. We now await Gordon Brown’s response.

We have been accused of opposing free speech, but that is a gross misrepresentation. David Irving is a Holocaust Denier and Nick Griffin is the Chairman of the BNP which incites race hatred. Let’s take each in turn. In German and Austria, Holocaust denial is a crime. Because the UK’s history is very different, it would be a mistake to make denial illegal. But that does not mean that Irving should have a platform at the Union - which remains one of the most sought after debating societies in the world. Since his release from an Austrian prison nearly a year ago, Irving’s public appearances have been rare and confined to fringe events – a bizarre World War Two re-enactment in a field in Kent, for example. That is where a deliberately fraudulent academic - whose purpose was to rehabilitate the Nazis – belongs - not at Oxford, a place of careful scholarship. For Irving to speak at the Union is insulting to the ethos of the University and to those who strive to uphold it. It also sets a dreadful precedent. There is no doubt that Irving would try to use his appearance to give respectability to his obscene cause and to gain other platforms. Similarly for the BNP, for which Griffin has strived to gain respectability, particularly in the fertile climate of growing opposition to Islamism. Racists have no place in an institution which prizes scholarship, regardless of the race of the scholar.

Furthermore, the pair are entirely the wrong speakers at a forum on ‘Free Speech’. What the ‘free speech’ advocates at the Union miss is that the right cannot exist without legal and other constraints. Presumably one purpose of such a forum is to explore how those constraints might change over time and space. But using the analogy of a football game, the appropriate people to do this are the referees, not the players. That points to speakers such as Trevor Phillips or Chris Smith (the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority) – not Irving or Griffin.

Indeed the law surrounds the right of free speech with constraints. The Human Rights Act (1988) says that it is conditional on security and public safety and the rights of others. Wherever racist speakers have a platform, the incidence of racist attacks tends to rise. The trophy of the invitation to these two has been held aloft on Far Right websites which have also published the names of the Presidents of the JSoc. How can it now be responsible – or indeed legal – for the University Proctors not to step in?

Finally if these invitations stand, the Union would be wide open to the charge of inconsistency. Just a month ago, Norman Finkelstein – who has tried to devalue the Holocaust – was disinvited from the Middle East debate. So much for ‘free speech’ at the Oxford Union.

Jonathan Hoffman is the founder of Dayenu

Totally Jewish

Brawl after BNP meeting

4 Comment (s)
Two Carlisle men have been given suspended prison sentences at the city’s crown court after violence flared in a pub following a meeting of the British National Party.

They were among a group of drunken local men caught in a confrontation with members of the BNP from the north east, who met in the city’s Griffin pub on the afternoon of Saturday June 9 this year.

Desmond Young, 36, of Balfour Road, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work. Alan Crilley, 27, of Shadygrove Road, who also pleaded guilty to two charges of criminal damage, got a nine month sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours of work. Both men had more than 50 previous convictions, including several for violence. A warrant was issued for the arrest of 34-year-old Jason Foster, of Flower Street, who was also scheduled to be sentenced for affray but did not turn up in court.

None of the people from the north-east was arrested.

Prosecuting counsel Paul Murphy told the court there were about 100 people in the pub when the “large fight” broke out, with both sides throwing chairs and glasses in what one witness described as five minutes of “absolute chaos”. At least one woman customer took refuge in a disabled toilet as the drunken men set about each other, he said.

In mitigation defence barrister Greg Hoare said that despite his bad record Crilley was “heading in the right direction”.

He said the trouble involved a group of people from Newcastle who had been using the pub for a BNP meeting.

Barrister Rod Halligan, for Young, said he had managed to stay out of trouble for six years and had only got involved in this fight after someone threw a chair at him.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Peter Hughes QC described them as “hardly the best ambassadors for this city”. He told them: “To be involved in affray right in the heart of the city centre, in broad daylight, in front of anybody passing by or coming out of the railway station, is deeply unattractive behaviour and it is the sort of behaviour residents of this city don’t feel they should tolerate.”

Carlisle News and Star

November 21, 2007

Fury at new BBC ‘race battle’ Bradford drama

6 Comment (s)
The BBC was today accused of deliberately provoking controversy as it announced two new programmes portraying Bradford as the front-line of a race war.

Unveiling details of its new season of dramas and documentaries entitled "White", the corporation described it as a "series of films that shine the spotlight on the white working class in Britain today "It examines why some feel increasingly marginalised and explores possible reasons behind the rise in popularity of far-right politics in some sections of this community".

But MPs and community leaders hit back and said that the publicly-funded BBC was stereotyping Bradford and that the programmes weren't helpful to social cohesion in the district.

Bradford West MP Marsha Singh said: "I am disappointed with all the negative programmes being set in Bradford and it is about time other areas are looked at as it seems to be us that are being singled out all the time."

Bary Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Bradford, said: "I'm not very happy it is set in Bradford once again. Why don't they go to other multi-cultural cities? Why is it always Bradford?"

Councillor Ian Greenwood, leader of Bradford Council's Labour Group, said: "I'm speechless, over and over and over again the same stereotypes which are entirely unhelpful for the district. Over the years you grow sick to death of seeing things which stereotype people who are all full of prejudice. We want all people living together and that is what should be portrayed."

The season, to air on BBC2 this winter, includes a drama called White Girl, written by Bafta-award winning screenwriter Abi Morgan, who this year adapted the novel Brick Lane for the big screen. The one-off film is about an 11-year-old girl who moves with her family to "an entirely Muslim community in Bradford and ends up wearing the hijab".

At first, says the BBC's press material, the girl and her siblings feel isolated because they are the "only white children in their school". The announcement continues: "But she finds a refuge of calm and safety in the Muslim faith which is lacking at home.

"She is befriended by a young Asian neighbour and shocks her family by adopting Muslim dress."

The storyline is very similar to a documentary screened by Channel 4 in 2003 entitled The Last White Kids, which focused on teenager Ashleene Gallagher who lived in Manningham and began to attend her local mosque.

In the Abi Morgan film, the girl, Leah, is played by newcomer Holly Kenny, with Bleak House star Anna Maxwell Martin as her mother and Bread actress Melanie Hill as her grandmother. Jade Islam plays the young neighbour.

The other programme is a documentary called Last Orders, about the Wibsey Working Men's Club, which the BBC describe as "embattled".

The corporation says: "With high unemployment and a perception that recent Asian immigrants receive the lion's share of Government benefits, members feel that their very community is under threat and that racial tensions could erupt at any time."

Coun Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council's Liberal Democrat Group, said: "In my experience as a councillor I find there is more to a community feeling under siege than skin colour. There are many sophisticated people in our district getting on with life who come under pressure from people who just behave badly and it will be interesting to see if the BBC explore that."

Keighley Labour MP Ann Cryer said: "It may be that Bradford is the best example of the problem. I do not think there is a problem concentrating on Bradford and I would not mind if they centred on Keighley. When I raise these issues I am called a racist or Islamaphobic. We do not achieve anything by ignoring the issue. We live in an apartheid city with the Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities living separate lives, along with the Muslims and white people. I am not happy with this and therefore anything that raises difficult questions that get answers is a good thing."

Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said: "I do not have a problem with the BBC doing the programmes on Bradford as it is blindingly obvious there are issues in the area. As long as they are not going out of their way to portray inaccuracies then I think it is fine."

Councillor Michael Ellis (Con, Bingley Rural), who is a member of the Council's safer and stronger communities improvement committee, said: "I think it's things like this that fuels support for the more extreme political groups. I feel that the documentary could raise serious racial tensions and feeds into the more extreme - people are often afraid of the unknown."

But BBC2 controller Roly Keating defended the season, saying: "It is BBC2's role to reflect contemporary society and this is a timely moment for us to examine the roots of this debate. The White season is a complex look at how life has changed for the white working class in Britain."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus

November 20, 2007

Irving causes Oxford forum collapse

1 Comment (s)
British legislators canceled speeches at Oxford University after David Irving was invited to speak there.

Irving, a Briton convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria last year, is scheduled to speak Nov. 26 at the renowned Oxford Union debating society's Free Speech Forum. Also causing controversy is the scheduled speech of Nick Griffin, head of the extreme-right British National Party, which has been accused of encouraging racism.

Defense Secretary Des Browne and other British officials were scheduled to speak on other days. Brown and three Parliament members have canceled their speaking engagements. Denis MacShane, a Labor Party lawmaker, canceled his speaking engagement at the union last week.

"Inviting two notorious Jew-haters ... to the most prestigious debating student forum in the world will validate today's anti-Semitism which is a poisonous ideology emanating from the extreme right as well as the Israel-hating left and Islamist ideologues," MacShane said in an e-mailed statement to The Associated Press. "The British National Party mixes anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia in equal measure. David Irving is the Holocaust Denier-in-Chief."

Irving, an amateur historian, presented two speeches in Austria in 1989 during which he questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Holocaust denial is a crime in Austria.

Irving was jailed in Austria last February, then had his sentence reduced from three years to 13 months. He repeatedly has questioned established facts about the Holocaust since his release and return to Britain.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Union to vote on BNP debate

2 Comment (s)
A controversial Oxford Union debate involving the BNP's leader and a Holocaust denier could be cancelled.

Historian David Irving, jailed in Austria for denying the Nazi execution of millions of Jews and British National Party leader Nick Griffin have both been invited to the Union's Free Speech Forum on Monday.

The invitation of the two men to speak at the Union has caused such a storm of protest that a rally has been planned in Oxford tonight and Defence Secretary Des Browne will boycott another debate he was invited to.

But last night Union president Luke Tryl said it would be put to members of the Union to vote on the issue on Friday A spokesman for the BNP said it was disappointed to hear the event might be cancelled. Mr Irving was unavailable for comment.

Mr Tryl said: "I want the final decision to be with the members of the society, and if they decide that we shouldn't invite Nick Griffin and David Irving, then I will cancel the whole event."

Mr Irving was arrested in 2005 by Austrian police for glorifying and identifying with the Nazis, and denying the Holocaust in a speech he made in Austria in 1989. He admitted the crime of holocaust denial and was imprisoned from February to December 2006, but released after an appeal.

Mr Griffin became the leader of the BNP in 1999.

Campaigners will be at Oxford's Town Hall, in St Aldate's, tonight, calling on the Oxford Union to retract the invitations. Unite Against Fascism has organised the rally in conjunction with Oxford University Students' Union.

Martin McCluskey, president of Oxford University Students' Union, said: "First and foremost, Oxford University Students' Union has been concerned about the safety of students and local residents of Oxford.

"We have made it clear we support freedom of speech and any genuine debate on it. Where the BNP and Holocaust deniers go, violence follows."

However, Raghib Ali, one of the founders of the Oxford Islam and Muslim Awareness Project, said there were dangers in depriving the two men of a platform.

Dr Ali, who is attending the rally tonight, said: "The views these men hold are dangerous and lead to further prejudice. But by not giving them a platform you push them underground and make them more dangerous."

Various speakers who were due to take part in debates at the Union are boycotting speaking engagements. These include television presenter June Sarpong, Labour MP Austin Mitchell and the Defence Secretary, Des Browne.

Oxford Mail

BNP conference video report

21 Comment (s)

Another gem from our mate Irish Tony!

BNP 'extremists will fail in resort'

1 Comment (s)
Blackpool's political leaders have hit back at the BNP leader's claims his party will "succeed" in Blackpool.

Nick Griffin, leader of the controversial right-wing party, told The Gazette he believed the town was a prime target for a BNP campaign. He cited the influx of foreign workers as a divisive factor and said people were fed up with the resort losing out on much-needed investment while other towns, with a greater ethnic diversity, received regeneration cash. But the resort's councillors say they do not fear the BNP, which gained three per cent of the vote in the May elections, getting a foot in the door.

Council leader Peter Callow said foreign workers were welcome in Blackpool.

He said: "Many are doing valuable work and I don't think the Blackpool electorate thinks that way. Mr Griffin may think the BNP are making inroads in Blackpool but the only party to come out of the May elections well was the Conservative party with our stunning victory. I can't say I noticed the BNP. I would rather they didn't come to Blackpool with their conference as they are controversial and court trouble. But if they do choose to stand I would hope the electorate would treat them with contempt for the extreme views they hold."

The town's Labour leader Ivan Taylor believes the electorate should be given more credit than to vote for extremism.

He said: "I don't see the BNP as a major force in Blackpool. I think the people of this town are too sensible to be taken in by extremist views. The BNP and National Front have in the past made attempts in Blackpool but fortunately have not had any success. That is partly because we have put to the electorate just how odious their policies really are. Blackpool may have missed out on some recent funding but we have been well supported by the Government on various initiatives over the years."

Doug Green, leader of the town's Liberal Democrats, was even more scathing.

He said: "The BNP is consideredto be the direct descendants of Mosley's Blackshirts
and the natural successor to the National Front. I would like to think the main parties would be able to spot the seats they intended to fight and would be galvanised and denounce them for what they are. They do not have constructive policies, their rhetoric is simply negative with an unsaid agenda of racial hatred. I believe many of their votes come as a protest from people who are disillusioned with mainstream politics not who believe in their extreme views."

He added: "Blackpool has always had seasonal workers and I don't believe they take local jobs or drive down wages. Wages are comparatively low because Blackpool is in competition with resorts abroad, not because of out-of-town workers, whether they are from Poland or Preston."

The BNP's seven candidates won 2,371 vote in Blackpool Council elections in May.

Blackpool Gazette

Debate condemnation sparks a hostile reaction from BNP

0 Comment (s)
YUSU has chosen to support the NUS in its condemnation of the Oxford Union Debating Society’s invitations to British National Party leader Nick Griffin and discredited historian David Irving. The decision was met with strong criticism from the BNP, who described the affair as “farcical”.

The Oxford Union Debating Society, famed for its controversial speakers such as disgraced former US President Richard Nixon and political activist Malcolm X, has invited Griffin and Irving to its ‘Freedom of Speech’ debate on November 26. The NUS swiftly condemned the announcement and encouraged affiliated unions to follow suit.

BNP Press Officer Simon Darby said: “Who do these small unrepresentative student unions think they are to tell other students who they can and cannot listen to? It’s ridiculous. To accuse us of being fascist and then prevent a political party from speaking is pretty ironic. In a free country you can’t stop somebody’s opinion.”

YUSU Racial Equality Officer Michael Batula defended the decision to write to Oxford Union denouncing its choice of speakers. He said: “I have nothing against freedom of speech”. Their letter describes the BNP as “a scourge on the contemporary, progressive, multicultural British society”, and claims that they “openly voice anachronistic and racist ideology.” It also calls Irving, who was recently imprisoned in Austria for Holocaust denial, and Griffin “obsolescent, bigoted, racist fascists.”

Batula and co-officer Ishmael Norris were initially asked by the NUS to sign a petition against the invitations. The letter, says Batula, “was purely our idea. Then we sought backing from YUSU Senate to get the support of the whole University. It is signed by the two of us, and was sent on behalf of YUSU, but we would have written it on our own behalf anyway. It was good to have the backing of the Union; it’s strength in numbers.”

The NUS also issued their own statement: “Freedom of speech is often cited as a reason to afford a platform to racists and fascists.” It also states that: “Our primary concern is the safety of our members” and claims “whenever the BNP is active in an area the number of racist attacks increases.”

Darby dimissed the accusation, and said that the NUS has an inherent problem with the party. “It’s like a Pavlovian response from the NUS – as soon as they hear BNP, they react. It’s a psychological illness,” he said.

According to Batula, around 25 students’ unions have written to criticise the Oxford Union. The society’s President, Luke Tryl, issued a letter in response to press coverage of the controversy. He reiterates that the debate is to “challenge and attack their views in a head to head manner.”

The coverage and criticism has, as yet, had no impact on Oxford Union’s decision to invite the speakers. Darby said Griffin still plans to attend the debate. He said: “We’re still unaware of whether the invitation is still open. If it is, then Nick will certainly go.”


November 19, 2007

Poor old David Irving: a response to the lies

5 Comment (s)
Just a few days we printed a Searchlight article written by Gerry Gable about David Irving, entitled 'Poor Old Soul: The return of David Irving'. Irving, who seems convinced for some reason that I am Gerry Gable, has responded to some of the comments in the article.

Just for the hell of it, and because it's always interesting to keep tabs on the lies and misleading statements of the far-right and its apologists, we thought we'd invite Gerry to respond to Irving's counter-claims.

The original article (with additions) is below:

Poor Old Soul: The return of David Irving

Posted by "Antifascist" (Gerry Gable, according to Irving)

The late comedian Frankie Howerd was well known for saying, "it's wicked to mock the afflicted".

It has long been tempting not only to call the rightwing quasi-historian David Irving a liar, in the words of the judgment in his failed libel action against Dr Deborah Lipstadt, but also to question his grasp on reality, particularly about his past and present political associations.

I admit I have a personal axe to grind. In 1964 I pleaded guilty with a colleague [arsonist and burglar Manny Carpel] at Middlesex Sessions of entering Irving's north London flat "by artifice" (not burglary as the far right insist). I also admitted stealing by finding a GPO telephone engineer's pass. Charges against a third defendant, David Freedman, were dismissed, but for the past 44 years Irving has insisted that Freedman was also guilty. Well let's not let the facts get in the way of Irving's warped thinking.

Around ten years ago Irving said [Irving: No he didn't] I had made his life a Holocaust for the previous 30 years, an accusation I happily accept. Now in his dotage Irving appears to be making a late bid to gain fame in place of his infamy -- which brings to mind another Frankie Howerd phrase, from Up Pompeii!: "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me". Too right.

David, you were certainly quoted in the press as saying that.

Some years ago Irving threatened [Irving: No he didn't] to sue me and the publisher Pearson Longman over a chapter I had written in a book on the far right in Europe. I was able to provide documentary evidence of the truth of each of the points he claimed were defamatory of him, and demonstrate that he was associated with the extreme right in Britain. [Irving: Gable is confusing Mr Irving with somebody else]

You really have lost the plot, David. Have a look at your own web site archives, Don't forget lawyers never throw threatening letters away, unless they are empty threats.

What puzzled our libel lawyer was another reference to something Irving claimed I had written. It was at this point we wondered whether he was suffering from early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, as the passage complained of did not exist.

Irving is keen to distance himself from the BNP and claims on his website that he has "no point of contact whatever" with Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, or the BNP itself. Yet when he last tried to take the country by storm with a speaking tour in the early 1990s it was the BNP that made the arrangements for his meetings in London and Brighton. [Irving: No it wasn't]

Yes, you did David, unless somebody is writing up your web site for you. I have a copy of the Thames film made about you at the time of one of your German Tours and the failed Leuchter fiasco.

One of Irving's rallies was to be at Chelsea Old Town Hall. He had invited the US Holocaust denier and all-purpose fruitcake Fred Leuchter despite a ban on him entering the country. Leuchter claimed to have proved there were no gas chambers in the Nazi death camps in Poland. The meeting was packed with leading nazis from around the world, including John Tyndall, then the leader of the BNP. It broke up after a few minutes when Home Office officials and several police officers entered to remove Leuchter. He was deported a few days later.

Video evidence shows Griffin with Chris Marchant, a former Balkans War mercenary, telling Thames TV's This Week that Irving had hired their new security firm to protect the meeting. [Irving: No he didn't, this is totally untrue; security outside was provided by the Metropolitan Police, and inside by Mr Irving's colleagues]

Not what the Thames film shows, by the way the Police and Home Office officials stopped the meeting and removed the illegal entrant Leuchter and deported him a couple of days later. The police threatened to arrest Tyndall and other British and foreign nazis who were obstructing them in their lawful duty. This is also on film.

Irving's failed attempt to hold a meeting at the Royal Warwicks Club in Coventry on 21 September in the wake of a small meeting in Rugby shows that he still has dealings with far-right extremists. [Irving: The Coventry meeting went ahead at its proper location. The RWC was the decoy for which Gable's thugs fell] The Rugby meeting was organised by Steve Kerr, a long-time nazi, as was the Coventry meeting booked under the guise of the "Military History Book Club". [Irving: No he didn't]

Who did then; the local BNP organiser?

Irving's speaking tour was set to continue with a meeting in Birmingham on 26 October followed by a second attempt in Coventry on 14 November, Liverpool on 26 November and Halifax. His website does not advertise that he has been invited to take part in a "free speech forum" at the Oxford Union on 27 November, to which an invitation to Griffin has already been withdrawn. [Irving: No it hasn't]

We now understand that he and Griffin are likely to show up at Oxford on the 26th November despite Irving advertising a meeting in Liverpool on the same date.

Irving recently moved into a ten-bedroom house in large grounds in Windsor, where he has already held a meeting and garden party for the rich suckers who continue to support this liar.

Irving's position on the Holocaust has become a movable feast. He has threatened to sue The Jewish Chronicle if it calls him a Holocaust denier, though he reproduces on his website without comment a recent Guardian article that does just that. He now says he is not sure of the numbers killed. Our view is that to minimise the Holocaust by claiming that "only" two million died, or whatever number he plucks out of the air, is just another version of Holocaust revisionism. And two million in a planned genocide would still be two million too many.

Well David I think the Jewish Press and the rest of the media can't wait to see the colour of your writ.

I am sure all decent people will oppose this apologist for Hitler wherever he goes. Watch the Searchlight websites for news of his movements.

Keep it up David your so much funnier than most of your nazi chums.

Gerry Gable