February 28, 2009

Jo Brand in clear over BNP joke

0 Comment (s)
Comedienne Jo Brand will not be prosecuted over her remarks about the British National Party during a BBC comedy programme.

The comments - about the leaking of the BNP's membership on to the internet - were made during the Live At The Apollo show, broadcast on January 16. Miss Brand, 51, told the Hammersmith Apollo: 'Hurrah. Now we know who to send the poo to.'

Following complaints from the BNP, Miss Brand was investigated for allegedly committing an act of incitement to cause racial harassment but the Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday: 'We have advised the police to take no further action.'

Mail Online

Spot the difference: the NPD and the BNP

6 Comment (s)
A big-mouthed nazi (left) and another one (right)
The revelations of a former senior member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) as reported in Spiegel a day or two ago, make fascinating reading, not least for the startling similarities between the NPD and this country's own far-right British National Party.

In fact, before the interview had even started, the similarities were evident. In the introduction to the article, Spiegel says;
'...he describes the NPD as a deeply radical party where Hitler salutes and financial irregularities are common'
The parallels go beyond that however, and one wonders if the current BNP is based on the NPD or vice versa. Whichever it is, it's clear that the far-right across Europe has had a makeover that is and always has been purely cosmetic.

Although the interview is short, connections can be made between the two groups in a number of interesting ways, the British version containing Arthur Kemp's ideological training, the Red, White and Blue event and of course, the perennial financial shenanigans, while the German version contains one Thomas Salomon doing a similar job to Kemp, the Festival of Peoples and familiar financial shenanigans. In fact, the two parties appear to be largely interchangable. Read on...

Hitler Salutes, Nazi Songs and Dreams of a New Reich

Uwe Luthardt was a senior member of the right-extremist NPD. But he quit after three months. In an interview, he describes the NPD as a deeply radical party where Hitler salutes and financial irregularities are common -- and which is bent on restoring the German Reich.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You recently quit the right extremist party NPD. Aren't you afraid?

Luthardt: The local party leader threatened me. He said a board member doesn't quit the party, he's either thrown out or disappears. I replied that I know more about him than he does about me. Since then it's been quiet. Someone who just quits usually gets a lot of problems, and can find himself waking up in intensive care.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So people who leave are threatened?

Luthardt: It happens. Otherwise the party would have even fewer members. The mood isn't good at the moment. It's easy to see that the party is short of money.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What didn't you like about your fellow party members?

Luthardt: It wasn't really my world. When you went along to evening meetings, you saw all the shaven heads -- and a black sun or other Nazi symbols tattooed on arms. They usually just boozed or were abusive. If there's no opponent around, they just fight among themselves.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The grassroots aren't especially intellectual, in other words?

Luthardt: Many in the JN (Young National Socialists) and in the Kameradschaften (eds. note: loosely organized far-right groups) have an IQ close to my shoe size. Most of them are simply failures: failed pupils, people who dropped out of school or their apprenticeships, alcoholics that can't find a foothold anywhere else, thugs. But every local organization has three to five men who don't have criminal records. They're the ones sent to face the press or man information stands.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What did you hope to get from the party when you joined?

Luthardt: I wanted to do something for Germany, I wasn't interest in a Greater Germany. And suddenly everyone was saying we'll take back Silesia and then we'll give the communists a thrashing.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How does the party finance itself?

Luthardt: Through music events among other things, they get money from ticket sales. And then of course through the Festival of Peoples, that generated just under €17,000 in 2007.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But you have to subtract the money the bands get from that amount.

Luthardt: No. Usually one tells the authorities that the bands get paid. But in reality they just get their expenses back and a receipt for a supposedly paid fee. But that is donated back to the party. And the party can write the donation off their taxes.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do the bands forego the money they are due?

Luthardt: Out of conviction. It happens in the party too. Whenever I went to Berlin on a training course, we got our transport costs paid but then handed the money back to the party in the form of donations. It's the same pattern.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How are the donations laundered -- apart from the falsified receipts?

Luthardt: Take the donations from South America…

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Donations from South America?

Luthardt: Yes, payments from nationalist Germans who haven't been living in Germany for a while. They make donations to small companies, for example, which in turn redirect the money to the party. Voigt's (eds. note: NPD chairman Udo Voigt) power base partly consists of money men from South America -- and Jürgen Rieger (eds. note: Voigt's deputy) has excellent contacts there.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In the media, NPD officials portray themselves as right-wing democrats and try to avoid unconstitutional statements. How radical is the party really?

Luthardt: The aim is the restoration of the Reich in which a new SA (eds. note: the paramilitary arm of the Nazi party) takes revenge on anyone who disagrees with them.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Does that also apply to the moderate wing?

Luthardt: There is no moderate wing. The few isolated moderates there are have no say. The media training courses at party headquarters are very effective. The members know how they must sell themselves. It starts with the instruction that any meeting with outsiders must be held in innocuous offices. That applies to everyone apart from the chairman. He deliberately poses behind a massive desk with party flags in the party headquarters. The Jena party headquarters deserves its name "Brown House." No journalist has ever been in there.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What would they see?

Luthardt: A load of SS pictures in the cellar. And there's a room with weapons.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the claim that the NPD isn't interested in the "Third Reich" is just for self-protection.

Luthardt: It's pure tactics. The idea is to atttract those who haven't yet understood that the party isn't right-wing radical, it's much more radical than that. It's about showing a respectable image in public. That's why the party leadership prefers members who have totally normal haircuts and clothes. They can be sent to man the information stands.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Isn't there a danger that the neo-Nazi activists will be put off if the party presents too harmless an image?

Luthardt: No, because everyone knows it's just tactics. The leaflets, the placards, the opposition to Hartz IV (eds. note: unpopular low unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed) -- there's no substance behind that. No one knows what alternative there could be to Hartz IV. Let's kick out all the foreigners, then the Germans will have jobs again, that's the basic concept the NPD talks about. They only refer to freight trains when no one from outside is listening.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The freight trains of the Third Reich?

Luthardt: The ones in which they want to put political opponents, the Jews and the foreigners once they've taken over the country again. Internally there's very plain speaking. And the singing of the Horst Wessel song (eds. note: the anthem of the Nazi party) is also very popular. No wonder that the Kameradschaften groups are willing to bite their tongues in public.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But relations with the Kameradschaften aren't always easy.

Luthardt: Absolutely not. The Free Nationalists don't like to be dictated to and are skeptical about parties. But most of them still let themselves be used by the NPD. They're the useful idiots of the party, comparable to the role the SA had for the Nazis. I always tell them: just look at the history of the SA, that's just what will happen to you when they're in power.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: When did you notice that the internal communications of the party are so different from the way it shows itself to the outside world?

Luthardt: Very soon after I joined the board. It's not hard if you see how people greet each other with their arm outstretched.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How come the activists refrain from such unconstitutional activities in public?

Luthardt: The foot soldiers are under strict instructions never to talk to the press. And it's pretty rare that any of them opens their mouths. If it does happens, they're quickly summoned for a talking to. The officials have all been trained to deal with that.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: They get taught how to behave in public?

Luthardt: That's one of the focuses. There are internal documents which clearly state how everyone should behave. Anything to do with the Third Reich is especially sensitive. So people are taught how to respond to questions such as 'What do you say about the Holocaust?' The first sentence has to suffice, otherwise there's a danger of contradicting oneself if follow-up questions are asked.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did you find the training courses convincing?

Luthardt: If you're on the moderate side of the party, it's a shock. It does make you think about whether you're in the right party.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Who runs these courses?

Luthardt: Thomas Salomon. And he's 100 percent convinced about what he says. He's one of the leading thinkers, together with Jürgen Gansel and Holger Apfel from Saxony.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What kind of politics do these gentlemen dream of?

Luthardt: Of the German Reich. They're totally convinced that they'll win an election one day and that things will really get going. Everyone can imagine what would happen then.

Interview conducted by Christoph Ruf, author of a recently published book on the NPD

Spiegel Online

February 27, 2009

Leafleting against the BNP in Witham on Saturday 28th February

0 Comment (s)
We will meet at Newlands Precinct in Witham on Saturday 28th February at10am until 1pm and set up a table to urge people to use their votes to stop BNP and raise awareness of the BNP's fascist nature.

Come along and help, we are a very broad church and hope to encourage people from all the political parties, local residents and trade unionists. In fact people of different political backgrounds. We are intending to make the fascist BNP see they are not welcome in Witham.

Please come along and join the anti-BNP Leafleting

Colchester and District Trade Union Council

Coventry’s Champagne Charlies

2 Comment (s)
With the European election fast approaching we can reveal the BNP's latest attempt at fundraising with a series of Champagne dinners based on a Battle of Britain theme.

The BNP hopes to have several of these dinners around the country, designed by Nick Griffin to persuade the party's wealthier donors to part with their cash. This Saturday 28 February sees the charade turn up in Coventry.

The regular meeting place for the BNP in Coventry, the Royal Warwickshire Club is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2007 it was revealed that the club intended to host a meeting by none other than the Holocaust denier and false historian David Irving. However the meeting failed to take place after Searchlight revealed to the local media that Irving intended to speak in their proud city.

The Royal Warwickshire Club pleaded ignorance claiming that Irving had booked the meeting under a false name, The Military History Book Club. Whether a false name was used or not, the club has continued as a regular venue for the BNP's meetings and fundraisers.

For those not familiar with the Coventry area the Royal Warwickshire Club can be found on Tower Street, Coventry CV1 1JS. Alternatively you can phone the club on 02476 220425.

HOPE not hate

Minister tells unions to stop boosting the BNP

1 Comment (s)
Caroline Flint, minister for Europe, fears 'feeding a climate of intolerance'
Labour officials fear rise of far-right in North-west, Yorkshire and Humber regions

A minister has warned Labour MPs and trade unions they will play into the hands of the British National Party if they continue their campaign against companies they claim recruit "foreign workers" to undercut pay levels.

Caroline Flint, the minister for Europe, has told parliamentarians and unions that they risk giving an "unintentional boost" to the BNP's prospects at the European Parliament elections in June. Labour officials fear the far-right party could land seats in the North-west and Yorkshire and Humber under the proportional voting system.

Unions and many Labour MPs are convinced that engineering contracts are being handed to firms which hire foreign workers because they can be paid less than under industry-wide agreements covering British employees. A strike over the issue at Total's refinery at Lindsey, Lincolnshire, last month was followed by walkouts around Britain.

Ms Flint said: "After the debate in recent weeks about foreign workers and EU law, the danger is that it will be misused at every opportunity by those who don't share our progressive values. And no amount of campaigning by anti-fascist groups, however important, will undo the damage if we unintentionally boost the BNP's campaign in Labour heartlands by feeding a climate of intolerance."

Writing in the Labour modernisers' journal Progress, she said: "If in Britain we make EU workers into scapegoats, or open the door to the BNP to stir up that feeling, what message does it send to the other EU member states where thousands of British people work?"

The issue is highly sensitive in Labour circles because the unions are demanding that Gordon Brown honours his 2007 pledge to create "British jobs for British workers." He insists he meant ensuring these workers had the skills to land the jobs available – not curbing "foreign" job-hunters.

In an attempt to head off further protests from unions, ministers are launching a campaign to stress the benefits of working abroad. "Europe's open market – freedom to live and work anywhere in the EU – is not a one-way street to our constant advantage," Ms Flint said.

Some 10 per cent of all the 3.5 million jobs in the UK were as a result of trade with the EU, she said. Non-British EU citizens made up less than one in 20 of the workforce in Britain, while 1.6 million Britons lived in other EU countries – more than 200,000 of them in work. "The difference is that EU residents in Britain are younger and have higher skills," she said.

Ms Flint added: "EU membership, including free movement of workers, has been good for British families and companies and we must vocally support it."


Time to unite, act and stop the BNP before Euro poll in June

2 Comment (s)
The fight against the far right in Britain has never been harder – or more important. That is the message that came over loud and clear at the Unite Against Fascism national conference at Congress House in London on Saturday.

More than 400 politicians, trade union activists, members of Muslim, Jewish, black and Asian groups, and lesbian and gay organisations got together to sound the alarm about the rise of the British National Party.

The BNP has been winning council seats and polling record votes for a neo-fascist party in Britain and the fear is it could gain seats in the European Parliament unless a vigorous campaign is mounted this spring.

Ken Livingstone, chair of Unite Against Fascism said: “The BNP’s and fascists’ targets change. First it was the Jews, then the Irish, then the African, Caribbean and Asian communities. Today the prime targets are Muslims. The Muslim community is one of the most integrated communities in Britain. Opinion polling showed more Muslims in London felt patriotic towards England than the average Londoner. There is no Islamic enemy within.

“We must unite together against the BNP and forms of bigotry. Just like the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism fought the National Front in the 1970s, Unite Against Fascism is bringing together a movement to stop the BNP.”

Peter Hain, Labour MP for Neath, said: “The most important lesson of history is of unity against the BNP. Today’s fight is harder than the movement in the 1970s, with fascists polling high votes and attempting to present themselves as a legitimate, normal political party. I campaigned against apartheid in South Africa, and now I campaign against fascism, racism and Islamophobia.”

Glyn Ford, Labour MEP for South West England, said: “The BNP is emulating France’s Front National strategy. By June 1984 the Front National made a breakthrough and France has since then never been able to get rid of them. If the BNP get elected here it will be the start of a permanent presence. Our job is to stop the BNP. We must get out there, organise and mobilise the vote. People not voting will give fascists an electoral breakthrough.”

Those calls came in the wake of the shock BNP victory in a by-election for Sevenoaks council in Kent. The BNP won Swanley St Mary’s with 408 votes pushing Labour, which had held the seat, into second place with 332. The Tories came third with 247.

Paul Golding, the BNP candidate, called it “an outstanding result” and “a historic day for the BNP”. He said: “It has implications far beyond Sevenoaks and bodes well for the entire south east and the upcoming Euro elections.”

Swanley St Mary’s has, traditionally, been a safe Labour seat on a Conservative-controlled council. Swanley has a lot of social housing and little in common with the leafy lanes and commuter belt wealth of its near neighbour Sevenoaks.

It is the second council seat the BNP has taken in the south east of England outside London – Emma Colgate was elected to Thurrock council in Essex in May last year.

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, said: “With UKIP faltering and the economy hurtling into recession we need everyone who opposes the BNP’s message of hate to play a part because a BNP victory will change the political landscape in Britain.”


February 26, 2009

Swanley: Supporters gather for anti-BNP rally

4 Comment (s)
An anti-British National Party rally is set to take place in Swanley this weekend after the far-right party won a Sevenoaks District Council by-election.

The meeting has been organised by Julian Wilson, who is a member of the The Tonbridge and Hastings Socialist Party. Various political groups have been invited including the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

Alan Bullion, who is from the Liberal Democrats, is attending the rally. He said it is to show to people the dangers of voting for the BNP. Mr Bullion said: “It is going to be a rally raising awareness of what is going on and the dangers of voting for the BNP.”

He added that he does not believe the BNP offer any long-term protection from the economic crisis.

The protest has been organised following the BNP's shock win in Swanley St Mary's ward last Thursday. (February 19). Paul Golding won by 76 votes, after standing for the first time in the Sevenoaks area. Supporters will be meeting at 11am on Saturday (February 28) at The Mall in Swanley town centre.

News Shopper has approached Mr Golding for a comment but has yet been unable to get a reply.

News Shopper Online

February 25, 2009

Another one bites the dust

1 Comment (s)
The BNP are not having it their own way in the North West. After the humiliating climbdown in Liverpool it now appears that a planned meeting in Manchester has also been disrupted. This afternoon the BNP announced that it was holding a meeting in Manchester Town Hall on Saturday.

However, the meeting had already been cancelled!

We have learnt that a BNP member had indeed made a booking for a committee room on Monday but this was quickly spotted by eagle-eyed council staff.

The very fact that the BNP advertised the venue suggested that this was more a publicity stunt than anything else and by the time the story was posted on the website an alternative venue had been found. However, just to be on the safe side council staff will once again be looking at the booking forms tomorrow morning.

HOPE not hate

Holocaust-denying bishop lands in UK after expulsion from Argentina

3 Comment (s)
Richard Williamson forced to leave South American
country over views on concentration camps and number of Jews killed

A Roman Catholic bishop who questioned the truth of the Holocaust arrived in Britain today after being asked to leave Argentina.

Richard Williamson, who left Buenos Aires wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses yesterday, arrived at Heathrow airport dressed all in black and wearing a dog collar. Several police officers escorted him through a media scrum, and a photographer was manhandled by police during the jostling. The British-born bishop did not comment and was whisked away in a silver Land Rover.

Williamson had been at the St Pius X seminary in Buenos Aires for five years, but last week the Argentinian government gave him 10 days to leave the country.

Williamson caused outrage with his remarks, which surfaced shortly after the Vatican's recent decision to welcome him back into the Catholic church. He is reported to have claimed in a television interview last month that historical evidence suggested there "were no gas chambers" and that only 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps.

He has since declared himself ready to think again, and in a recent interview with Spiegel magazine, the bishop reiterated that he was prepared to "review the historical evidence". Most historians agree around 6 million Jews were killed under Hitler's regime.

"Historical evidence is at issue, not emotions. And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time," the disgraced bishop said.

He added that he would test his views not by travelling to Auschwitz but by reading a book on the camp by Jean-Claude Pressac, a former Holocaust denier who revised his views after a visit.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have already condemned Bishop Williamson's views on the Holocaust as "totally unacceptable" and have stressed that the lifting of his excommunication was for unrelated matters. A spokesman for the Catholic bishops conference of England and Wales said he had "absolutely no idea" where Bishop Williamson was going after his arrival in Britain.

He said: "He does not fall into the jurisdiction of any of the England and Wales bishops because he is not in full communion with the Catholic church. He will have to make his own arrangements, whether that is with a Catholic priest or with somebody else. From the hierarchy's perspective, he has got nothing to do with the bishops of this country."

Williamson did have one supporter at Heathrow; Michele Renouf, a socialite turned documentary-maker, said she wanted to represent and support him in getting his views across to the public.

She blamed Germany - which has a Holocaust-denial law - for causing the "scrum of Jewish protests" and said it was a "disgrace" that there could be no debate on the issue. Renouf, who came to Heathrow with her legal team, has become increasingly known in recent years for associating with those who deny the Holocaust. She supported the historian, David Irving, during his trial in Vienna for Holocaust denial. Last year, she helped put together a legal team for an Australian academic, Frederick Toben, after he was arrested at Heathrow airport.

Williamson, who describes himself on his personal blog as a dinosaur, belongs to an ultra-traditionalist religious order that opposes recent reforms by Rome.

The decision to remove the cleric from the seminary was an attempt to smooth over frayed relations with the Vatican, said a spokesman for Williamson's religious order, the Society of Saint Pius X, adding that Williamson's views in no way reflected those of the order.

Williamson is believed to be at the London headquarters of the Society of Saint Pius in Wimbledon, south London, where the Land Rover that took him from Heathrow was parked outside. Two priests who answered the door refused to comment.

Williamson's opinions sparked outrage among Jews and embarrassed the Vatican, which ordered the bishop to publicly recant. The Vatican, along with Williamson's order, claims to have had no prior knowledge of his beliefs about the Holocaust before lifting his excommunication.

The excommunication in 1988 was lifted along with those of three other bishops ordained without Vatican permission by the renegade French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre.

Pope Benedict had made healing the breach between the Society of Saint Pius X and mainstream Catholics one of the chief aims of his papacy. The British bishop had welcomed his entry back into the church as a "great step forward", although he continued to denounce the Vatican as liberal.

"There is still a long way to go before the neo-modernists in Rome, conscious or unconscious, realise – if ever! – how they mistake the faith," Williamson said.

The bishop has sought to prevent his original television interview from being broadcast on the internet, but a German court has rejected his argument.

Lord Janner, the president of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "It would be much better if he was not here, but as a British citizen it cannot be prevented."


February 24, 2009

Everton-Stoke match switched back to original date after BNP scraps rally

4 Comment (s)
• Premier League fixture reverts to 14 March
• Saturday timing 'appropriate' say club

Everton have confirmed their Premier League match against Stoke City has move back to its original date of 14 March after the British National Party scrapped a rally it was planning to hold in Liverpool on the same day.

The Saturday 3pm kick-off had originally been put back 24 hours after club officials were told by Merseyside police to move it because of the BNP demonstration scheduled to take place in the city centre. The police had claimed "operational reasons" meant the two events could not take place at the same time and Everton made efforts to move the game with Stoke.

However, the BNP have decided not to stage the demonstration, leaving the way clear for Everton to play Stoke on the original date of the fixture. Merseyside police have now granted permission for the Everton to host the game on the Saturday.

Everton manager David Moyes has also stated his preference to play the game on the original date because of an FA Cup quarter-final and a visit to Portsmouth being due either side of the Stoke match.

Everton's head of public relations, Ian Ross, said: "Since the game was moved from Saturday to Sunday we have received numerous calls and emails from our supporters disappointed with the decision. We do understand their frustrations and when the police indicated they would permit the game to be played on the Saturday, we felt it was wholly appropriate to return the fixture to its original date.

"This is, of course, not without its problems and there will be some supporters who will be inconvenienced by the changes. We will work with those fans to find suitable solutions and this will include potential reimbursement for travel and accommodation."


February 23, 2009

They’re taking our Spitfires!

27 Comment (s)
The BNP have been setting out their stall for this summer’s European Election campaign. Just as they’ve systematically looted chunks of British history, symbolism and legend for their own cynical purposes before, they’re at it again. This time they’re campaigning under the slogan “Battle for Britain” and accessorising their usual ranting with Second World War RAF nostalgia and imagery.

This has already seen the threat of legal action from Dame Vera Lynn, as the BNP are marketing an album of Second World War classic songs, including “White Cliffs of Dover”. Much of the national press has covered this story, and a little more research has revealed the album also includes contributions from the once famous black singer “Hutch”, Leslie Hutchinson, plus the composer Irving Berlin, bandleaders Bert Ambrose and Joe Loss and comedian Bud Flanagan, who were all Jewish. A rather more multicultural mix than Mr Griffin and his chums might have realised.

Something a bit closer to us in R J Mitchell’s old home town is their use of a Second World War Spitfire as the main image for the campaign. I’m sure that a lot of us, even people who aren’t usually given to having a go at the BNP, might think that this was overstepping the mark, hijacking such an iconic image for party political purposes.

The Spitfire picture – “Romeo Foxtrot Delta” – is the one on the BNP website.

It’s identifiable from its “RF” marking as belonging to 303 Squadron. And guess what? 303 was a Polish squadron!

It seems that none of the “patriots” at the BNP obviously know or care enough about the history of the Battle of Britain, despite all their enthusiastic flag waving, to get this detail right. Whereas I, a female of the left-wing political tradition, spotted it as soon as I got hold of a colour version of the picture.

We even know which Polish pilot flew this plane: Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach. Here he is in 1942.

Now I don’t know about you, but that seems to be an odd choice for the party currently circulating local election materials damning the present Government for opening “the doors of Britain to the hudled (sic) masses of Eastern Europe”.

Still, it’s an easy mistake to make. After all, if they just picked a random photo of a Battle of Britain plane, they would have had about a 1 in 5 chance of picking a “non-Brit”.

During the Battle of Britain the Poles shot down 203 Luftwaffe aircraft which stood for 12% of total German losses in this battle, punching well above their weight in numbers, though credit where it’s due – the highest scoring individual “ace” was a Czech, Sgt Josef František!

According to the website of the Battle of Britain Historical society, aircrew came from the following countries:

Great Britain - 2,340, Australia - 32 , Barbados – 1, Belgium – 28, Canada – 112, Czechoslovakia – 89, France – 13, Ireland – 10, Jamaica – 1, Newfoundland – 1, New Zealand – 127, Poland – 145, Rhodesia – 3, South Africa – 25, United States – 9.

So it’s probably just as well that when the Nazis invaded their home countries, those guys from France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Poland didn’t take the BNP’s advice to refugees and asylum-seekers and just go to the nearest safe country, which could well have been neutral Switzerland or Sweden.

And that was just the situation in 1940 – before the end of the war “our” planes were piloted by airmen from many other nations, including India (including modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh) and Sierra Leone.

But though we might laugh at this gaff, this is a serious matter. Let’s remember what this image is being used to promote – the BNP’s European election campaign, and specifically a series of “black tie” dinner events with BNP leader Nick Griffin as the speaker.

That’s the same Nick Griffin who in 1998 was found guilty of inciting race hatred at Harrow Crown Court for denying that the Holocaust ever took place.

Remember that, when you see the BNP daring to try and bask in the glory of “the Few”.

Plane Jane


Fascist firebomber out on parole

10 Comment (s)
On Friday I was visited by Julian Corbett, from the Public Protection Department of Wiltshire Police.

He came to ask me what my relationship was with wannabe Nazi terrorist, Mark Bullman (pictured, left), and to warn me that Bullman is now out of prison, and is looking for me - I have moved address since he went to prison. Bullman had been sentenced to 5 years for racially aggravated arson, but has now been released after two and a half years. (Bullman also goes by the name Mark Bullock)

As I have reported before, in August 2006, BNP supporter, Bullman attempted to burn down the Broad Street mosque in Swindon using a petrol bomb. Mark was the registered fund holder for Wiltshire BNP, and actively campaigned for the party in the 2006 local council elections, just four months before the arson attack. Strangely Mark used to write to me while he was on remand, and even telephoned me from prison - not in a threatening way, but for a friendly chat.

He had left the BNP shortly before the fire bomb attack to form what he called the “1290 sect”, named after the year the Jews were expelled from England, and he wrote to me: “I only attacked the mosque because there is no synagogue in Swindon, and it was close enough for public consumption”. The fuse used for the fire bomb was a rolled up BNP leaflet.

It since transpires that Danny Lake, (former leader of the YBNP and also from Swindon, and who has since been expelled from the BNP), had raised concerns about Bullman with Nick Griffin, but the BNP did not consider Mark Bulman’s mental instablity, propensity to violence and gross anti-Semitism to be a problem. Bullman was supported by Wiltshire organiser, Mike Howson, and Danny Lake claims that Howson encouraged Bullmans’ extremism. Ironically, the main plank of Mike Howson’s campaigning in his native Corsham is “law and order”.

Mark’s letters to me, which I passed on to Searchlight, were filled with a virulent hatred of Jews, mixing up three themes. i) racialised anti-semitism; ii) Christian anti-judaic traditions; and iii) opposition to Israel’s War in the Lebanon, and the occupation of Palestine.

Bullman started [to] ring me regularly late at night sometime during 2005. I decided when Bullman contacted me that it was simply safer to talk to him than snub him, and establish a human relationship, and impress upon him that I was a real person with young children, not just an objectified “enemy”.

I knew that it was him who had fire bombed the mosque as soon as I saw the pictures, because the Swastika daubed on the outside wall was identical to the rather idiosyncratic style that Bullman had used in letters to me. But before I could go to the police I heard that Bullman had already been arrested, indeed he had turned himself in and confessed.

The police decided to contact me after Bullman told his probation officer last week that he had visited my old address, in Avenue Road, where in Bullman’s own words “a communist lived” and Bullman told the probation officer he wanted to apologise to me.

Fair enough, I actually take that at face value. For all his weaknesses Bullman is a troubled and actually quite likable lad. He seems to have always been a bit of a misfit, and found a group of friends who accepted him through football hooliganism and far right politics. It was quite spooky having the police do an audit of the security of my house, and checking out the approaches to it in case they decided I was in serious danger and they had to put me on a rapid response list.

I was actually quite encouraged that they were also assessing the risk to Bullman himself. The bewildered lad has been playing games in his head with his Nazi fantasies, irresponsibly encouraged by BNP activists who exploited him. And his attempts to contact me suggest that he is drawn back to revisiting the same haunts and habits that he was in before his arrest.

Bullman fire bombed a mosque and daubed it with Swastikas. I am prepared to be understanding to Bullman only because I have had personal contact with him, and I have some partial insight into what a troubled and unhappy young man he is; who really needs help and not to be further ostracised and isolated from society. But other people might be less understanding and charitable about what he did than I am.

What really is scandalous is the way the BNP used this young man. They had no problem with exploiting his obvious mental distress, they had no problem with his open support for genocide against the Jews, instead they encouraged him, they used him up and spat him out.

Socialist Unity

February 22, 2009

BNP cancels event after match row

25 Comment (s)
Another propaganda disaster for the BNP
The British National Party (BNP) has cancelled an event in Liverpool which police said forced them to postpone Everton's match against Stoke.

The Premier League fixture was due to take place at Goodison on Saturday, 14 March, but was switched to Sunday. The Merseyside force feared it did not have enough officers to police the match and a city centre election leafleting event by the party. But the BNP told the BBC its event was being cancelled for the sake of fans.

Deputy leader Simon Darby said: "It's the right thing to do. It's an unholy political row and football is going to be the loser here, so I don't see why Everton and Stoke fans should be inconvenienced. And if the police can cancel these fixtures as they seem to do at the drop of a hat, then they can rearrange it now."

Merseyside Police and Everton Football Club are yet to comment on the latest development.

The match is still scheduled to take place at 1500 GMT on Sunday, 15 March, following a police request to the Premier League. The force apologised to fans for the rearrangement, but said "public safety was paramount".


Don't play BNP's game, warns peer

0 Comment (s)
Government told it must defend foreign workers

Politicians must start defending foreign workers to prevent extremist parties gaining sway during the recession, Britain's new European commissioner says today, in what will be seen as a veiled warning to the British government not to whip up nationalist sentiment.

Lady Ashton, who was until last autumn leader of the Lords under Gordon Brown, acknowledged in an interview with the Observer that there was a risk of significant advances in this spring's European elections for extremists in the present economic climate. She said mainstream politicians must be careful not to fan the flames: "In any kind of economic downturn, it is incumbent on us all to be putting across exactly the same message about the value and importance of having... diversity in communities; about the value and benefit of people from different countries coming and creating wealth.

"There are reasons we have to support that and not to get trapped into what the extremists would like, which would be to take their simplistic approach and fit it into a very complicated situation. So I hope that people will just reject as nonsense the idea that the solution lies in some kind of xenophobic attitude to people who live, work, study or travel in our country, because they bring the economy far more than they take out. The extremists have always relied on economic downturns ... as a way of recruiting people to what can be seen as a simple message, but actually is just hatred."

Her intervention comes amid warnings that the British National party could snatch a seat in the European parliament in June's elections, when Labour MEPs are privately predicting losses of up to three or four seats as voters respond angrily to job losses. The BNP took a council seat in Swanley, Kent, last week from Labour in a shock victory, suggesting it has begun to penetrate the southern English counties. It could profit in June both from a collapsing Labour vote in working-class areas hit by unemployment and the implosion of the hard-right Ukip, which took 16% of the vote at the last EU election.

Brown has been accused of fanning tensions by talking of "British jobs for British workers", a slogan promptly adopted by the BNP, despite the UK's obligation as an EU member to allow EU citizens free access to Britain to work.

The home secretary is expected to announce next week a reduction in permits for non-EU citizens to work in the UK. Brown's approach has caused private distaste in Brussels, but Ashton insisted it had been taken out of context and her former boss had been misunderstood. But in a warning to leaders tempted to pull up the drawbridge in a bid to protect jobs, she said Britain had traditionally benefited from bringing in workers to fill skill shortages, from Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s to Polish plumbers in the last decade.

Governing parties across Europe are braced for a backlash in June because of the economic crisis, and Labour MPs are concerned that in the UK the campaign for the local and European elections - being overseen by Harriet Harman, the deputy leader - needs a tougher strategy to combat attempts by the BNP to capitalise on the new nationalistic sentiment.

Yesterday the former cabinet minister Peter Hain warned that rising unemployment was a "heaven-made" scenario for extremists.


February 21, 2009

Golding: ‘I’m not racist, but you have to start looking after your own’

16 Comment (s)
The arrival of black and Asian families from London has made Swanley fertile territory for the BNP, says Jerome Taylor

Paul Golding was in a sunny mood yesterday. The 27-year-old unemployed lorry driver got dressed in his sharpest suit, donned an astonishingly bright British National Party rosette and took a tour around the streets of Swanley that he now represents as a councillor. Walking through the ward of St Mary’s, the town’s newest representative was relishing the limelight brought by his surprise victory in Thursday’s council by-election.

Not even a passing motorist rolling down his window to shout the word “wanker” put him off his stride. “You know why we won this area?” he said. “Because people round here are sick to death of the mainstream parties. Labour have held this area for 40 years but they treat the people like second-class citizens. This is not about racism – we never campaigned on race issues here – it is just about putting British people first.”

Gary Hillier, 56, was one of several locals in Swanley’s high street who took the time to congratulate their new councillor on his victory. “I swear on my life this is the first time I’ve ever voted,” he said. “I’m not racist by a long shot, but we’ve got to start looking out for our own. People wait for years on the housing list round here, but as soon as a foreigner comes along they get sent straight to the front of the queue.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, both Mr Golding and the BNP leadership were keen to portray their victory in Swanley this week as proof that their party can offer an alternative to mainstream politics without having to resort to race.

Andy McBride, the BNP’s regional director for the South-east, said he believed voters in in Swanley were drawn to the party because of the economic situation. “We have been predicting this recession for years and people called us scaremongers,” he added. “Now they are starting to see we were right and they trust us.”

But regardless of the official line, it was all too clear that race, and fear of immigrants, played a key part in ensuring that the predominantly white, working-class voters of Swanley backed a party that, to its critics, is a byword for racism. The suburb of St Mary’s lies on the western edge of Swanley, a former rail town of traditionally Labour voters, just across the M25 from the Tory-leaning commutercopia of Sevenoaks.

Swanley’s estates are formed of rows of 1930s semi-detached houses, populated by families who either hail from the area or moved out of the bomb-damaged East End of London after the Second World War. The area even has a large community of settled traveller families, who clearly feel they have been there long enough to vote for a party which, in other areas of Britain, often campaigns on an anti-traveller platform.

But in recent years the predominantly white ethnic make-up of the town has begun to change as black and Asian Londoners also move out of the city towards the suburbs.

“Two years ago there were very few black faces in the congregation,” said a church official yesterday, speaking on condition on anonymity. “Now there is a much more ethnically mixed crowd. Personally I think that’s a fantastic thing but it’s no secret that some people are upset about that.” For Lesley Dyall, the former Labour councillor whose resignation last November sparked this election, that underlying current of racial tension was all too clear to see when locals headed to the heavily policed polling booth just off St Mary’s Road.

The 52-year-old said she was dismayed to see a group of voters chanting racist slogans as they went into and out of the polling station. “It was dreadful,” she said. “They were chanting ‘blacks out’ as they came out of the community centre. I saw them coming out – it was very distressing to witness something like that in a local election. I just feel sorry for any black people who might have heard or seen that – it was shocking and disgusting.”

Lynn Taylor, who was out shopping in Aldi with her two children, made no attempt to hide the fact that the Government’s apparently “soft” treatment of immigrants was what made her vote for Mr Golding. “I was on the list for six years before I got a house and yet the council round here will happily give accommodation to foreigners all the time,” she said.

“They look at people like us as something on the sole of their shoes. People like Mr Golding will stick up for people like me.” Voter apathy might also have played a large part in securing the BNP their first victory in the South. Turnout for the elections was just under 31 per cent, allowing the BNP to concentrate on winning over those who might be more easily attracted to the party’s policies without having to worry about a mass mobilisation against them. Many locals said BNP volunteers began canvassing the area long before the Labour and Tory flyers came through their doors.

If the same thing happens later this year during the European elections, which the BNP are mobilising heavily for because proportional representation favours parties that benefit from a low turnout, then many fear there will almost certainly be a BNP MEP come the summer.

All of which is little consolation for people like 53-year-old John Leon, one of Swanley’s black residents that many BNP voters appeared to show a dislike for. He spent most of his life in Greenwich but moved out to Swanley because he wanted to get away from the higher crime rates in the capital. Yesterday he woke up in a town that had voted BNP. “I’m absolutely shocked and very unhappy about it,” he said. “This town is a really welcoming place, I never even thought there were any racial tensions and I’ve never had any problems. It make you wonder where else they might win.”

The turning tide: Recent results

Sevenoaks District – Swanley St Mary’s:
BNP 408
Lab 332
Con 247
(May 2007 – Two seats Lab 462, 420, C 208, 197, Ukip 165)

North West Leicestershire District – Thringstone:
Con 520
BNP 465
Lib Dem 76
Lab 59 (May 2007 – Two seats Lab 634, 564, C 501, 376, Lib Dem 355, 331).

Lewisham London Borough – Downham: (Two seats)
Lib Dem 1,067
Lab 635
Con 632
BNP 287
Green 63
(May 2006 – 3 seats Lib Dem 1,130, 1,117, 1,106, Lab 590, 586, 554, C 403, 330, 326, Green 153, 149, 137).

Harrogate Borough – Bilton:
Lib Dem 902
Con 673
BNP 164
Lab 51 (May 2007 – Lib Dem 974, C 877, BNP 122).

The Independent

America unmasked. New President, old problem - the Ku Klux Klan

0 Comment (s)
America unmasked: The images the reveal the Ku Klux Klan is alive and kicking in 2009. The photographer Anthony Karen gained unprecedented access to the ‘Invisible Empire’.

The USA has a new president but an old problem - and nothing typifies it like today’s Ku Klux Klan.

These images show members of the Ku Klux Klan as they want to be seen, scary and secretive and waiting in the wings for Barack and his colour-blind vision for America to fail. Anthony Karen, a former Marine and self-taught photojournalist was granted access to the innermost sanctum of the Klan. He doesn’t tell us how he did it but he was considered trustworthy enough to be invited into their homes and allowed to photograph their most secretive ceremonies, such as the infamous cross burnings.

When he talks about the Klan members he has encountered he tends not to dwell on the fate of their victims. Karen’s feat is that he takes us to places few photojournalists have been before, into the belly of the beast. The scenes he presents portray a kinder, gentler Klan. The mute photographs present an organisation that is far less threatening than the hate group of our popular imagination. Consciously or otherwise, his photographs hold our imagination in their grip while doing double duty as propaganda for the extremist right, much as Leni Riefenstahl’s work did for the Nazis.

Today the Klan is a mere shadow of what it used to be and there are at least 34 differently named Klan groups. “They are a fairly low-rent bunch of people, many of whom use their local organisations as a way of raising money for themselves,” says Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.

Photographs of the Klan folk in their hooded regalia aren’t all that rare. The archives of America’s newspapers contain plenty of front-page photographs of lynchings throughout the past century. Three years ago, James Cameron, the last survivor of an attempted lynching died, thankfully of natural causes.

The older generation of Black Americans grew up hearing about Klan lynchings whispered over the dinner table but never mentioned outside the home. At the Klan’s height, around the turn of the 20th century, some 30 to 40 lynchings a year were being recorded. It is believed that there were in fact many more unrecorded deaths, especially in the cotton-growing south where the deaths of black field-hands were often not recorded.

Karen’s photographs show an entirely different side of the far right. He presents a 58-year-old, fifth-generation seamstress he calls “Ms Ruth” and he has photographed her running up an outfit for the “Exalted Cyclops” or head of a local KKK chapter. She gets paid about $140 for her trouble. Karen tells us that she uses the earnings to help care for her 40-year-old quadriplegic daughter, who was injured in a car accident 10 years ago.

Karen’s images of the Klan and its supporters regularly appear on the recruiting websites of the far right. Out of context, the images of hooded Klansmen and their families tell us little of the real story – the inexorable rise in the number of extremist organisations in America.

The number of hate-crime victims in the US is also rising and as America’s middle and working class gets thrown out of work, the hate groups behind the crimes are flourishing. As people lose their homes to foreclosure and, without the benefit of a safety net, find themselves slipping into poverty, there is already a search for scapegoats underway. Immigrants from central and South America have become particular targets as the grim economic times take hold.

Anyone who doubts the capacity of the modern KKK for violence need look no further than the recent case of 43-year-old Cynthia Lynch of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She had never been out of her home state before she travelled to Louisiana to be initiated into the Klan. She was met off the bus by two members of a group that calls itself the Sons of Dixie and taken to a campsite in the woods 60 miles north of New Orleans.

There, Lynch’s head was shaven and after 24 hours of Klan boot camp, including chanting and running with torches, she had had enough and asked to be taken to town. After an argument, the group’s “Grand Lordship”, Chuck Foster, is alleged to have shot her to death. He was charged with second-degree murder and is awaiting trial. Just as shocking is that the event happened in Bogalusa, a backwoods Louisiana town that was once known as the Klan capital of the US.

In the 1960s the Klan operated with impunity in Bogalusa and once held a public meeting to decide which black church to burn down next. Local Klan members were suspected of ambushing two black policemen in 1965, killing one and wounding the other. No one was ever tried for the crimes.

Despite all its notoriety the Klan has been a spent force for decades with nothing like the clout it once wielded. At its peak the KKK boasted four million members and controlled the governor’s mansions and legislatures of several states. Since the 1930s the KKK has been in a state of disorganisation and today it probably has 6,000 members. But the economic crisis is swelling their ranks and already, a month after the inauguration of the first black president, the tidal wave of interracial harmony that greeted Obama’s election is starting to recede.

“Things are certain to get worse,” says Potok. “The ingredients are all there: a dire economy that is certain to get worse; high levels of immigration; the white majority that is soon to turn into a minority and a black man in the White House.”

More than 400 hate-related incidents, from cross-burnings to effigies of President Obama hanging from nooses have been reported, according to law-enforcement authorities and Potok’s organisation, which files lawsuits against hate groups aimed at making them bankrupt.

Late last year, two suspected skinheads who had links to a violent Klan chapter in Kentucky were charged with plotting to kill 88 black students. They were then going to assassinate President Obama by blasting him from a speeding car while wearing white tuxedos and top hats. They were never going to succeed, given the huge security net around Obama, but the fact that they had planned such an outlandish attack may be a harbinger of things to come.

“There is a tremendous backlash to Obama’s election,” says Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, another white supremacist group. “Many people look at the flag of the Republic of New Africa that was hoisted over the White House as an act of war.


More pictures here.

February 20, 2009

Don't pander to the BNP

21 Comment (s)
It’s bad enough that the BNP will be on the streets of Liverpool spouting their bile next month [though click here for one way it could be stopped]. What makes it doubly hard to stomach is the fact that ordinary, decent Merseysiders are being inconvenienced to accommodate them.

The British National Party will be leafleting in the city centre on March 14 – the day Everton are scheduled to take on Stoke City at Goodison Park. Merseyside Police are unwilling to attempt to police both events at once, so the Premiership clash has been hastily rescheduled for the following day.

It’s simply unfair.

Football fans get heartily sick of fixture changes to suit the TV money moguls who essentially own the game. The TV firms pay the big bucks that pay the big wage bills and, like it or not, they demand the matches are played when it suits them and their armchair audience.

They often switch at short notice and can have a real impact on family life and work shifts. Season ticket holders, in particular, get a raw deal.

It is testimony to the liberal nature of this country’s lawmakers that the BNP are allowed to peddle their dubious politics, almost at will. Especially as their presence usually attracts the hard-line anti-Nazi brigade whose own tactics can create sickening violence when the two groups collide.

Sadly we appear to pander to the negative forces and we just cannot see why that should be the case.

Everton’s game has been set in the fixture list since last summer. Plans have been made. The BNP announced their intentions in January. They are the latecomers to this particular and potentially unpleasant party.

Surely Liverpool’s police and civic leaders should have told the leafleters straight: Another day ... or, better still, another city.

Liverpool Echo

BNP gains first council seat in south-east England

9 Comment (s)
Win in Sevenoaks is far-right party's first victory in south east outside London

The British National party has gained its first council seat in south-east England outside London, taking a traditional Labour seat in Sevenoaks, Kent. The surprising win saw BNP candidate Paul Golding beat Labour's Mike Hogg in Swanley St Mary's, the first time the far-right party has campaigned in that ward.

Swanley St Mary's has been a traditional Labour seat in a Conservative-controlled district. The BNP gained 408 votes to Labour's 332, while the Tories earned 247.

Speaking to the BNP website, Golding said the win was "outstanding" and had "implications" for the rest of the south east and the upcoming European elections.

The BNP made advances in local government byelections across the UK yesterday. Although they failed to win in Thringstone, North West Leicestershire, the party polled more than 28% in third place. Labour successfully defended the seat.

They also failed to win at Bilton, Harrogate Borough, North Yorkshire, where Liberal Democrats held onto the seat, but did come third with 9% of the votes. Labour polled just 3% of votes, taking fourth place.

In Downham, Lewisham, south London, a double contest saw the Lib Dems hold both seats, while Labour came second with 24% of the votes. The BNP polled 11% in fourth place.

Last night's results follow a near miss for the far-right party in January. The BNP were just nine votes short of taking a Tory ward in a Bexley council byelection. However, Welling, where the byelection was held, is where the party used to have their headquarters.

Labour MP Jon Cruddas, who campaigns against the BNP in his London constituency, says the far-right party does pose a threat in the EU elections. Writing in the Guardian last month, he said: "The BNP poses a threat in six Euro regions, with as little as 7.5% required in the North West, where the party leader, Nick Griffin, is standing. With Ukip faltering, few local elections and the economy hurtling into recession, we will need everyone who opposes the BNP's message of hate to play a part. A BNP victory will change the political landscape in Britain."


Argentina expels Catholic bishop who questions Holocaust

0 Comment (s)
  • Briton told to leave for 'concealing true activity'
  • Jewish groups welcome interior ministry's order
Argentina ordered a British bishop who has questioned the truth of the Holocaust to leave the country last night or face expulsion, reigniting a controversy which has dogged the Vatican. The interior ministry said Richard Williamson, a conservative Catholic who headed a seminary near Buenos Aires, had 10 days to leave.

The unexpected decision cited the bishop's Holocaust denial as well as his alleged failure to reveal "his true activity" in Argentina. He had apparently registered as an employee of a non-governmental group.

"The interior minister ... orders Richard Nelson Williamson to leave the country within 10 days or be expelled," the statement said. Jewish groups welcomed the move. Julio Schlosser, general secretary of the Jewish social welfare organisation Amia, said Williamson's views "affects the civic harmony and the social peace that this country needs so much".

The British-born cleric has been at the centre of a storm since last month when the Pope lifted his excommunication to try to heal a rift between the Vatican and rebels in the breakaway Society of St Pius X (SSPX). The decision provoked anger because Williamson had recently repeated claims there were no Nazi gas chambers and that the number of Jews killed in the second world war was 300,000 rather than 6 million.

"I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," he said.

Protests by Jewish groups and the German government rattled the Vatican and imperilled a papal trip to Israel. To try to repair the damage the pope hosted Jewish leaders in Rome and said the Nazis' attempt to wipe out European Jewry was a "crime against God".

He said he had been unaware of Williamson's views and had ordered him to recant.

Williamson, who describes himself on his personal blog as a dinosaur, offered to reconsider his views with fresh reading about the Nazi genocide. "And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time," he said. Argentina's decision means that research is likely to take place elsewhere.


February 19, 2009

Hertfordshire MEP backs Vera Lynn's fight against BNP

3 Comment (s)
Richard Howitt - sticking up for Dame Vera against the BNP
One of St Albans' MEPs is calling for the law to be changed to stop the far right British National Party (BNP) using DameVera Lynn's famous wartime songs.

Labour's Richard Howitt said: ““It’s shocking that the BNP can use iconic songs like The White Cliffs of Dover without the artist’s permission and against her wishes. I am saddened that a song popular with a generation who fought Nazi ideology is now being used to raise money for people who share their politics. Dame Vera is right to seek action against the BNP and Labour MEPs will do our best to support her

He and his colleagues will try in the spring to persuade the European Parliament to extend copyright to last for a performer's lifetime.

The BNP is raising funds for its European election campaign by selling a CD including Dame Vera's hits such as All Alone In Vienna and The White Cliffs Of Dover.

St Albans and Harpenden Review

February 18, 2009

Paul Gambaccini: sack Chris Moyles over Auschwitz comments

0 Comment (s)
Paul Gambaccini has called for Radio 1 breakfast show host Chris Moyles to be sacked following his recent comments about Auschwitz.

Gambaccini, who hosts a two-hour show on Radio 2 on Saturday evenings, last night told an audience at Oxford University – which included the BBC's director of audio and music, Tim Davie – that Moyles should go following a series of controversial statements on his breakfast show.

"I find his continual presence on Radio 1 unacceptable. Chris Moyles should be gone," Gambaccini said in a lecture. "His recent comments about Auschwitz involved real people and their ancestors. That is no joking matter for them. To encourage this or sit by whilst it happens is unprofessional. He has done it so many times. He has no sense of responsibility."

Moyles caused controversy last month when he told listeners about his adventures filming the BBC1 genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?.

"Unlike a lot of the Who Do You Think You Are? shows I didn't go to Auschwitz," he said. "Pretty much everyone goes there whether or not they're Jewish. They just seem to pass through there on their way to Florida."

The BBC said it regretted Moyles's comments, which "were misjudged and we are speaking to Chris".

Gambaccini also condemned Moyles – who had audience of 7.3 million weekly listeners on average in the last three months of 2008 for his breakfast show – for his apparent homophobia towards the likes of singer Will Young, which he said merely reinforced negative stereotypes.

Giving the last of his quartet of lectures as Oxford's News International professor of broadcast media, Gambaccini also condemned those at Radio 1 who defended Moyles.

"I am nauseated by the Radio 1 press office constantly rationalising his behaviour," he said. "If we do not get our own house in order, then sooner or later somebody else will and they might break the furniture in the process."

Davie, who had to deliver the vote of thanks for Gambaccini following his lecture, praised the veteran DJ and said of Moyles that "picking on people because of their sexuality was not appropriate to broadcasting".

The BBC director of audio and music added that he had made his views on taste clear to Moyles in a face-to-face interview.

In October last year Gambaccini strongly criticised Russell Brand and Lesley Douglas, the former Radio 2 controller who hired him, over the "Sachsgate" affair.


Stop the march of Hate

25 Comment (s)
Stop the marchers of hate
Today the HOPE not hate campaign launched a petition that calls on Merseyside police to ban the BNP from marching through Liverpool City Centre on 14 March.

The BNP's march of hate is designed to whip up racial hatred. Pure and simple. Liverpool is a multiracial society and does not deserve the hatemongers.

Please sign the petition and encourage your friends to do likewise

HOPE not hate

Sussex songstress distances herself from right wing political group

19 Comment (s)
Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn said she had “no idea” her White Cliffs of Dover would be included on a BNP-backed CD.

The controversial right wing party have put the track on a nationalistic album named after the iconic song, which they are currently selling through their trading arm Excalibur. The collection of songs include the Second World War classic and another Dame Vera Lynn hit All Alone in Vienna - both of which have been apparently included without permission. The album is selling for £4.95, with a portion of the cash going towards the BNP’s party funds.

Dame Vera Lynn, who lives in Ditchling, is said to be in talks with her legal team over the song’s appearance on the album. Her solicitor Nigel Angel said: "Her position is that the song was included without her approval. She does not align with any political party. I will be discussing it with her further."

The 91-year-old, who is reknowned for her relentless fundraising, donates proceeds from songs she has sung to British troops to charity.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, said: "The BNP will try to imply they have the support of individuals by this kind of action when they clearly don't have their support – it's extremely regrettable."

In November the BNP came under fire in Sussex when it claimed it had received an official invitation to lay a wreath at a war memorial on Remembrance Sunday by Horsham District Council – the claim was found to be untrue. This week the Church of England announced a ban on clergy joining the BNP as it was classed by them as a 'racist' party.

The BNP which describes itself as “the foremost patriotic political party in Great Britain” has supported campaigns for white supremacy and the reintroduction of corporal punishment.

A book about Dame Vera's life called One Sunny Day is due to be published by Harper Collins in June.

The Argus

February 17, 2009

France responsible for sending Jews to concentration camps, says court

0 Comment (s)
Jews arriving at Pithiviers, one of the French
camps from which they were deported, in 1941.

First legal admission of country's collaboration in Nazi atrocities

France's highest court put an end to decades of legal timidity and moral taboo yesterday when it issued a ruling recognising the state's responsibility in the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews during the second world war.

Citing "mistakes" made by the collaborationist Vichy regime, the council of state said the government's share of blame was clear in acts which had not been forced on it by the occupiers and which "allowed or facilitated the deportation from France of victims of antisemitism".

The ruling, which will be recorded in the official state legislative journal, marks the first time any French judicial body has acknowledged in such stark terms the government's role in Nazi-era atrocities.

Calling for a "formal admission of the state's responsibility and of the prejudice collectively suffered", the court said it had concluded that acts such as the arrest, internment and dispatching of Jews to transit camps were clear indicators of the government's guilt. "As they led to the deportation of people considered Jewish by the Vichy regime, the acts and activities of the state ... became its responsibility," it added.

The move was welcomed by historians and Jewish groups, many of whom have expressed disbelief at France's unwillingness to face up to its actions. From 1942 to 1944 a stream of Jews were rounded up by Vichy authorities, and by the end of the war some 76,000 had been deported to Nazi concentration camps. Although under the overall control of the SS, the main transit camp of Drancy, from which 63,000 people were sent to their deaths, was run by Paris's police force.

"It is a decision with which I am content," Serge Klarsfeld, the leading French historian of the Holocaust, told Le Figaro. "France is showing now that she is at the forefront of countries which are confronting their past, which was not the case even in the 1990s."

For decades after the war, the suffering of French Jews at the hands of their countrymen was buried, along with the shame of collaboration, at the back of national consciousness. François Mitterand, president from 1981 until 1995, insisted France "was never involved" in ill-treatment of its Jewish population, and it was not until Jacques Chirac in 1995 that a head of state admitted France's "inescapable guilt".

Yesterday's ruling, issued in connection with the individual case of a deportee's daughter requesting damages, did however find that the current French state had largely made up for the sins of its past. Apparently ruling out any reparations for victims or their families, the court said the acts had been "compensated for" through various means since 1945.

Klarsfeld, whose postwar research was the first to reveal the extent of France's complicity in the deportations, agreed that enough had been done in recent years. "The people asking now for other forms of compensation have often already got something with the measures in place," he said.


February 16, 2009

BNP man fined over racist abuse

18 Comment (s)
A BNP candidate was fined after he admitted racially abusing his German-born next door neighbour in a row over a Union Jack flag. Roy Kevin West, 44, directed a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse at Bernd Kugow during the dispute at his home in Glenmore Grove, Dukinfield.

The court heard West, who had three St George's flags and a Cornish flag in his back garden, attempted to put up a Union Jack by attaching it to Mr Kugow's shed. And when Mr Kugow objected, West flew into a rage, calling his neighbour a 'Kraut *******' and telling him to '**** off back to Krautland' before adding 'kill some more Jews'. West also told his neighbour to 'remember Dunkirk' during the 10-minute tirade.

Unemployed West originally pleaded not guilty to racial abuse but shortly before he was due to take the witness stand for his trial at Tameside Magistrates' Court, he dramatically changed his mind and admitted the charge. His solicitor said West felt under pressure to deny the charge because of his position in the party.

West stood as a BNP candidate in last May's local elections in Dukinfield, polling 734 votes and finishing in second place.

After his arrest last October, the BNP leadership complained that he was the victim of a 'malicious prosecution' and tried to organise a demonstration to protest against the arrest. But the protest was called off when West said he wanted the case to remain a private matter.

The court heard that the dispute with Mr Kugow broke out in August as West was putting flags up in his garden. Mr Kugow, 47, who lives with his British-born partner Susan Holt, said he warned his neighbour that he would remove any flags West put on his shed.

Mr Kugow, a personal assistant, said: "He said if I tried to come in his garden he will kill me. He then tried to attach it to the side of his house and it wouldn't stay up and he lost his cool - then an incredible torrent of the most vile abuse I've ever heard came my way. It made me feel terrible. Nobody should be allowed to get away with something like that in a civilised society."

Susan Holt was sitting on the patio out of sight of West when the incident happened. She said: "I was gobsmacked. I was shocked because you don't expect your neighbour to come out with those sorts of comments. Normal people don't do that and I've never experienced it before and never want to again."

The couple said West's flags were never an issue and the problem only arose when he wanted to attach the new one to their shed. Mr Kugow said his neighbour later apologised over the incident and came to his house with a box of chocolates and a handwritten letter.

He said West sat crying in his kitchen as he admitted his guilt. Kevin Nicholas, defending West, said his client deeply regretted his behaviour and found it hard to face up to his actions which happened at a time when he was under stress and not sleeping very well. Mr Nicholas said: "He felt under pressure because of his position in the BNP party and he has let the party down. He has also let himself down."

Judge Berg told West: "Your behaviour for whatever reason was wholly unacceptable, vile, offensive and distasteful. Behaviour which civilised society cannot be expected to tolerate."

West was fined £125 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 victim's surcharge. He was also ordered to pay Mr Kugow £50 compensation. Speaking after the case, Mr Kugow said he was 'glad it was all over' but declined to comment further.

Manchester Evening News

February 15, 2009

Anne Frank guardian reaches 100

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The last surviving member of the group who helped hide the Jewish girl Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis in Amsterdam has turned 100 years old.

Miep Gies was planning a quiet celebration of her birthday with friends and relatives. She said she was not deserving of the attention, and others had done far more to protect Jews in the Netherlands. She paid tribute to "unnamed heroes", picking out her husband Jan for his courageous defiance of the Nazis.

"He was a resistance man who said nothing but did a lot. During the war he refused to say anything about his work, only that he might not come back one night. People like him existed in thousands but were never heard," Miep Gies said in an email to the Associated Press this week.

Mrs Gies was an employee of Anne Frank's father, Otto, who kept them and six others supplied during their two years in hiding in an attic in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. But the family were found by the authorities, and deported. Anne Frank died of typhus in the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen later.

It was Mrs Gies who collected up Anne Frank's papers, and locked them away, hoping that one day she would be able to give them back to the girl. In the event, she returned them to Otto Frank, and helped him compile them into a diary that was published in 1947. It went on to sell tens of millions of copies in dozens of languages.

She became a kind of ambassador for the diary, travelling to talk about Anne Frank and her experiences, campaigning against Holocaust denial and refuting allegations that the diary was a forgery.

For her efforts to protect the Franks and to preserve their memory, Mrs Gies won many accolades.

"This is very unfair," she told the Associated Press. "So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work."


February 14, 2009

On Dresden Anniversary, Massive Protest Against Neo-Nazi March

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Thousands turned out in central Dresden to protest a march by far-right supporters on the 64th anniversary of the Allied firebombing of the city. Police clashed with left-wing protestors, who threw stones and bottles.

Organizers of the alliance that formed as a counterweight to the neo-Nazi march through the eastern German city said around 11,000 people participated at several demonstrations. Police put that number at just under 10,000.

They were protesting a "mourning march" held by members of the extreme-right in the capital of the state of Saxony. For a decade, anti-immigrant and skinhead groups have marked the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden by Allied air raids, which took place Feb. 13-15, 1945, at the end of World War Two.

Many of the groups marching were affiliated with the National Democratic Party (NPD), a far-right political party which entered the Saxony state assembly in 2004.

This year’s event was organized by a group known as the Junge Landsmannschaft Ostdeutschland, supported by the NPD. The far-right marchers totaled around 6,000, according to police, about a thousand more than gathered in 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the bombing.

Many in the far-right scene call the widespread destruction in Dresden a "Holocaust," and attempt to paint Germany as a victim of the war. The firebombing killed an estimated 25,000 people, mostly civilians, and wiped out the city center.

Eyewitnesses on Saturday said several hundred leftists who objected to the far-right procession tried to attack neo-Nazi participants, hurling bottles at the police cordon and damaging parked cars. Witnesses said several people were injured, although police have not confirmed this.

Clashes between left-wing and far-right groups are common on the anniversary. This year, police forces numbered around 4,000, some brought in from neighboring states.


Separately, thousands of pacifists took part in processions to both denounce the neo-Nazi threat and remember the city's dead.

On Saturday morning, peace services were held in churches and a synagogue. Afterwards, thousands of Dresden residents went to a central square, the site where numerous victims of the bombing were burned to death. Also participating in the commemorations were politicians from Dresden and Saxony as well as representatives from the United States and Great Britain.

Many mainstream Germans say that the huge loss of life must be remembered as a warning against war.

On Friday, the bell of the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, rang out in their memory. The church, one of the symbols of Dresden, collapsed two days after the raids. It remained a pile of rubble for decades until US and British donors helped pay to rebuild it in a gesture of reconciliation. It reopened in 2006.

Deutsche Welle

February 13, 2009

Racist bounty offer earns slap on the wrist

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The bounty offer posted by Pete Barker
Regular readers with good memories may recall the post we made about the lunatic Pete Barker and his highly illegal public offer, through the North West Nationalist site (which he then administered), of a £1000 bounty for the 'beating of a nigger'.

His target was one Calvin Robert Johnson, who Barker believed to have been responsible for the death of his brother, Chris Barker, a former National Front local election candidate and National Front steward prior to joining the Army. Back in October 2007 we wrote;
'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'.'
Immediately following the publication of this article, I reported Barker to the police (log no: 134nq22102007 at Lancaster nick if you feel the need to check) and expected some swift action to be taken. After all, while racism is a criminal offence, incitement to violence is one that tends to be treated even more harshly and if the incitement has racist overtones, one expects the law to get a tad tetchy and speedily grab the person concerned.

Not so. Despite a number of enquiries from myself and others, nothing seems to have happened for seventeen long months. Today though, we read that Barker has finally been done for his crime. Before we tell you what he received though, there's a little background to be taken account of. Barker himself responded to our article thus;
'Many thanks for the fairly unbiased story. It wouldn't have made an hap'orth of difference if the killers of my late brother had been white or even martian. I have an hatred for them. What does one do when Police Officers fail in their duty ?'
While I have a lot of sympathy for someone who has lost a family member and can even make a lot of excuses for their moments of apparent madness as a result of such a loss, Barker's statement that 'it wouldn't have made an hap'orth of difference if the killers of my late brother had been white or even martian' simply doesn't ring true. Nor, frankly, that he made the post when he was drunk.

Simply put, Barker is a long-time nazi, formerly in the NF and BNP, and when the police raided his home, was in possession of 'nationalist' books and magazines, British National Party and National Front election manifestos, images and books of far right ideology and photographs showing men holding up Union Jacks with Rochdale National Front written along the front of them. Barker at one point ran Rochdale BNP (or at least said he did) and claimed to have been close to the BNP's nazi founder, the late John Tyndall.

He is said to have been involved in the far-right for well over thirty years, bragging about having been in the National Front during its heyday in the 70s, though he does little now. But here we see a long-time and active member of the far-right inciting violence against someone he describes variously as a 'nigger', a 'gorilla' and 'a savage negro beast. Like it or not, Barker is clearly a racist.

Given his history and given the pretty extreme nature of the incitement, one would have expected a term of imprisonment. But no. Barker admitted a charge of stirring up racial hatred and was given a 12-month jail sentence suspended for two years. He will also be electronically tagged for six months and was ordered to complete a two-year supervision requirement.

A suspension and two-month tagging? And that's it? Just for a change, I am lost for words...