Tuesday, 29 September 2009
From Liberal Conspiracy:
Well, it’s happened. The BBC has announced that British National Party leader Nick Griffin MEP will appear on political discussion show Question Time on 22 October. Facing him (among others) will be Justice Secretary Jack Straw, a man believed by frequenters of far-right web forums to be a key part of the International Jewish Conspiracy.
I mention this partly because it will be interesting to see if Nick Griffin manages not to mention it when he faces Straw. Griffin, of course, is the author of the 1995 pamphlet Who Are The Mindbenders, which catalogues in some detail how Jewish (and in many cases “Jew-ish”) people control the media.
While the BNP is now more noted for its anti-Muslim outpourings, it retains a root in classic far-right conspiracy theories on pernicious Judaism.
Anti-fascist website Hope Not Hate just last week claimed to uncover an audio file of Griffin and party comrade Simon Darby alleging that “anti-Islamisation” group the English Defence League is in fact a “Zionist false flag operation”.
But does any of this count in the matter of whether the party should be represented on Question Time? Only in the sense that it would be nice if others on the panel mentioned it. Apart from that, one would have to say no.
I have argued previously that the right to free speech is not the same as the right to a platform: and I stand by this assertion. However, the BBC’s status as a publicly-funded, public service broadcaster complicates this point. The BBC is not in a position now to grant the BNP legitimacy in the political process: it is the people who voted for them who have done this.
As long as we operate as a representative democracy, then voters must be represented in the public sphere, whether in the council chamber, parliament or on the state broadcaster.
And of course, the BNP has already been represented on the BBC many times. It is sufficiently “legitimate” already to be allowed party political broadcasts: Griffin has appeared on Newsnight, albeit on his own after others interviewees refused to speak with him, and BNP member Lee Barnes has appeared on BBC Radio 4 ethics programme the Moral Maze (alongside Index on Censorship editor Jo Glanville).
The argument about whether the BNP should appear on Question Time, then, is moot. The issue now is arguing with the BNP on Question Time.
By *Padraig Reidy
Also posted at Index on Censorship Free Speech Blog
*About the author: Padraig Reidy is an occasional contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is news editor of Index on Censorship and former deputy editor of New Humanist. His work has also featured in the Guardian, the Independent, Tribune, the Irish Examiner and the Irish Post.
Nick Griffin is engaging in contortions and sleight of hand to keep his members happy and ensure they keep on giving him their money. Sonia Gable investigates
The British National Party “has almost righted itself financially after the massive outlay incurred in winning seats in the Euro elections,” according to Eddy Butler, the party’s national organiser.
The announcement on 9 September followed three months of desperate begging letters and emails from Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader, claiming his party was “cash strapped” after the European election campaign.
However it was not donations that had brought about the claimed change in the party’s fortunes but “a few short hard months of financial stringency”, said Butler. And “Chairman Nick Griffin has given up his party salary as he is now paid as an MEP”.
It is unclear why Butler is making announcements about the BNP’s finances as he is not the party’s treasurer. Perhaps that explains why he goes on to contradict himself. “It should be clear from what I have said that the party is urgently in need of extra funding in the aftermath of the European election,” his statement continued. Referring to the legal action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over the BNP’s “whites only” membership criterion, he added: “In these difficult times the party needs the understanding and loyal support of its army of members and donors”.
The EHRC court case means Griffin has to tread very carefully. He does not want to fight the case because he is not confident the party can win and losing in court is very expensive. “For us to take this case to the next hearing would mean raising and risking at least £80,000,” Griffin wrote in an appeal headed “Emergency update. Adapt or die!” And “to take it all the way to the House of Lords would swallow up well over a million pounds”.
But Griffin is clearly having trouble taking his members with him. That the BNP should not admit non-whites is at the core of their ideology. In their minds to let black people and Asians join would be a betrayal of everything their party stands for.
Cleverly Griffin throws the decision back to his members, while ensuring he will have the outcome he needs. By letting the case go to a first hearing in court, at which the party obtained an adjournment but was ordered to pay the EHRC’s costs, which Griffin puts at “thousands of pounds”, he can argue that the party does not have a choice but to change its membership policy.
Griffin also contends that the hearing shows that “traditional British justice … is dead [his emphasis], murdered as part of New Labour’s creeping coup d’état”. In other words the BNP doesn’t have a chance against the EHRC (which Griffin persistently calls the CEHR) with its “70 top lawyers and £70 million to burn”, because the system is unfair and everyone is ganged up against the BNP.
Having fed to bursting his members’ vision of themselves as martyrs, Griffin concedes that “we could still fight it all the way on a point of stubborn principle”. But it is up to the members to decide. “If the party collectively wants to fight, then we have to raise £80,000 extra in the next four weeks.”
But in a sleight of hand, that money would not even go towards fighting the court case but to “buy in more top lawyers’ time to triple check and hone to perfection the changes we would have to make to our constitution and organisation”.
So if the party doesn’t raise the money Griffin won’t fight the case and if it does raise the money, he won’t fight it either.
A cynic might even suggest that Griffin deliberately delayed instructing lawyers to represent the party until the day before the court hearing, not only as a means of buying time by making it impossible for the court to refuse an adjournment, but also to ensure an award of costs against the BNP so proving to his members how expensive fighting the case would be.
Griffin’s chosen means of raising the money – the life membership offer – will guarantee failure in any case. Members are being asked to stump up a full £395 to become a BNP member for life. This is supposedly a discount from the full £500 that life membership will cost in future.
Few BNP members have £395 to spare, especially after the BNP’s numerous calls on their generosity over the past two years. And with the high membership turnover in the party, even those who could afford it are unlikely be sufficiently committed. Of the BNP’s claimed 10,000 or so members, only around 250 are dedicated activists and many of those are unemployed or in low-paid jobs. The BNP’s membership is greatly slanted towards socio-economic groups C, D and E.
It would take 200 life memberships to raise the necessary funds, provided all the money goes towards hiring the top lawyers. That may not happen. Simon Darby, the BNP treasurer and press officer, told a journalist last month that one of the aims of the life membership drive was to raise funds for the 2010 election campaign. He also stated that the party was short of funds – one day after Butler’s more optimistic assessment.
Darby also revealed that the continued absence of the BNP’s 2008 accounts was the result of extenuating circumstances and blamed an unnamed third party. In last month’s Searchlight we recalled that when the 2006 accounts were greatly delayed, Griffin blamed Kenny Smith, one of the leaders of the internal rebellion that broke out in December 2007. We believed that this year he had no such excuse.
We underestimated Griffin’s ability to wriggle out of any difficulty by finding a scapegoat. We do not yet know who will have to carry the can for the 2008 accounts but two candidates spring to mind.
One is Michaela Mackenzie, who earlier this year was quietly dropped as the BNP’s administration officer and national nominating officer, in charge of ensuring all election paperwork is in order. In January the BNP Advisory Council tasked her with investigating the implications of data protection legislation for the BNP. Perhaps she did not like what she found.
The other is Jennie Noble, appointed the BNP’s treasurer in summer 2008, only to be replaced a year later. When Griffin announced the formation of a “full Treasury Department” headed by a “chartered accountant” last April, he thanked Noble for using her “extensive financial experience in pension fund management” to get the BNP accounts into shape and said the party owed her “a big debt of gratitude”.
It would not be the first time Griffin has lavished praise on someone before putting the boot in.
Noble would “switch duties to take on running the Trafalgar Club”, said Griffin. The club, whose members have to pay at least £15 a month, would be “undergoing a major revamp and expansion later this year in order to raise its profile as the flagship of the Party”.
That was in April. In August Trafalgar Club members received their first newsletter for some time, apologising for the “poor service over the last year” and claiming that the ten-year-old club was “working hard to sort out the administrative weaknesses … since Jean stepped down as Secretary”.
“Jean” is Jean Griffin, the BNP leader’s mother. The newsletter was signed by his wife, Jackie, “Acting Trafalgar Club Secretary”. Noble appeared to have disappeared without trace.
The administrative weaknesses encompassed postal subscription records, outstanding gifts, standing orders and cheques – just about everything really. The club’s spring lunch had not taken place this year because Adam Champneys, one of the BNP’s few large donors, who hosted the event in 2008 on his Kent farm, had been ill. However Jackie Griffin did have “a lovely hotel booked in Herefordshire” for the club’s main annual event, the Trafalgar Day black tie dinner on 24 October. They were also still working on plans to “re-launch the Club later this year, including an advertising campaign to raise its profile and prestige”.
The club’s sole purpose is to raise money for the BNP. Whatever Butler says, the BNP desperately needs money after spending up to £600,000 on the European election campaign and with a general election at most nine months away. Butler’s claim that the BNP has nearly pulled itself out of the financial trough may be motivated more by a need to stem the disillusionment among party members. They dug deep into their pockets for the European campaign in the hope that the election of MEPs would secure millions of euros, only to be told that none of the European Parliament funding can be used for the party so they would have to carry on giving. And now the party wants £395 for life membership. Members could be forgiven for saying “you’ve got to be joking”.
by Sonia Gable
I’m surprised that I’ve never seen the above clip before. I’m equally surprised that it’s been viewed less than 9,000 times. This is the kind of evidence that needs to be spread far and wide. Nick Griffin openly declares that the BNP hide behind a soft lexis of propaganda in order to gain popularity. Perhaps more shockingly, he happily reveals his true agenda — a whites-only Britain.
In the video, Griffin imparts BNP spin-tactics. He says:
There’s a difference between selling out your ideas and selling your ideas. The British National Party isn’t about selling out its ideas — which are your ideas too — but we are determined now to sell them. That means to use saleable words.Basically, Griffin has told an audience consisting of David Duke supporters, i.e. racists, that the BNP holds the same views. He categorically says that the BNP has not changed at its core. It’s still the same fascist National Front that it used to be. Yet it is gaining popularity. Some people are starting believe that they aren’t racist, just realist. They’re falling for the softly-softly BNP spin and being lured in by the buzz-words. Griffin sheds light on their new propaganda tactic:
[selling our ideas] basically means using saleable words… freedom, security, identity, democracy. Nobody can criticise them. Nobody can come at you and attack you on those ideas. They are saleable.Griffin clearly identifies areas that the BNP can manipulate and distort in order to gain support for the party. The idea that your freedom is at risk from foreign invaders, you should feel insecure because of the risk of terrorism, misrepresenting perceptions of political correctness as erosion of identity and heritage. I could go on. Hyperbole, fear-mongering, and scapegoats are the BNP’s most powerful weapons.
The man showed that he is intent on duping the public into thinking the BNP holds legitimate views when he said if the BNP is “subtle enough” then they may find themselves in control of the media, and subsequently in a position to brainwash the electorate into wanting the removal of all non-whites from Britain. This is abhorrent, scary, and once again highlights that the BNP are not fit to be listed as a political party.
The evidence just comes through thick and fast. The BNP do not want non-whites in Britain, no matter what they say in the press or on their website. They will use the public’s desperation at our current ruling elite to gain popularity and pursue their hidden motives. The truth lies under the surface as has been proven time and time and time again.
If you hold that [fascist policy] out as your sole aim to start with, you’re going to get nowhere. So, instead of talking about racial purity we talk about identity.
Nick Griffin once said:
Without the white race nothing matters. [Other right-wing parties] believe that the answer to the race question is integration and a futile attempt to create “Black Britons”, while we affirm that non-whites have no place here at all and will not rest until every last one has left our land.There’s no room for the BNP in Britain.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Richard Barnbrook - the BNP's third highest elected official - has been exposed fabricating three murders in a high profile BNP campaign. He has been found guilty of bringing both the Greater London Authority and the Barking and Dagenham Council into disrepute - his lies show the depths the BNP are willing to stoop to in their vile propaganda war.
Over the last four years the BNP has made substantial gains in East London by whipping up fears and telling lies.
Now they have been caught out and we must make them pay. We have raised an appeal to raise £5,000 to print 150,000 leaflets to distribute around London. We want every household in Barking & Dagenham to know the truth about the lying BNP. We also want to warn the voters in other key areas of London exactly how low the BNP will go in order to win votes and stoke up fears within commnunities.
With the London elections now only just over seven months away there is really no time to lose. Please help us produce the leaflets we need:
by Nick Lowles
Richard Barnbrook, the BNP’s London Assembly member who is facing a possible six-month suspension, will not be assisted by his legal representative at his hearing this afternoon (September 24).
Lee Barnes, who says he has been “voluntarily assisting Richard with this case” stated yesterday that he cannot attend City Hall because he is “not physically well enough”.
In a long and rambling post on his blog, he condemns the procedure against Barnbrook as “partial, biased and bent”.
Barnbrook, who was elected to the London Assembly in May 2008, faces a penalty, after he was found to have brought both the London Assembly, and Barking and Dagenham Council, the east London authority to which he was elected in 2006, into disrepute for fabricating murder stories to increase fear of knife crime.
An independent investigation found that Mr Barnbrook’s comments on YouTube about non-existent murders had showed “wilful disregard for the truth”. He said that he had got his words “jumbled up”.
Barnbrook is claiming discrimination on grounds of disability, citing his dyslexia. His attitude contrasts with that of the BNP’s central London organiser Jeff Marshall, who believes there is no point keeping disabled people alive.
Writing earlier this year about the tragic death of David Cameron’s son Ivan aged six, who had cerebral palsy, he went on: “We live in a country today which is unhealthily dominated by an excess of sentimentality towards the weak and unproductive. No good will come of it.”
A former leading national officer in the BNP, had even stronger views. Tony Lecomber, a convicted terrorist bomber, advocated a “racially purer” Britain through the sterilisation of the poor, the sick and the disabled.
Barnes, who many believe has been mentally unwell for a long time, has been bombarding the Standards Committee, of which two of its three members are independent of any political party or the Assembly, with “legal submissions” and has attacked the impartiality of the Greater London Authority’s legal officer.
He has posted all these on his blog, in between his usual semi-literate rants about Jews and Muslims and his cringe-making, cliché-ridden “Aryan” poetry. Earlier this month he posted seven sick verses extolling the idea of executing criminals by burning them inside a Wicker Man in some sort of weird pagan sacrifice ceremony, at the same time as a BNP community councillor in Wales was advocating hanging drug dealers on live television. He also claimed that schools were “willing to teach 5 year olds about homosexuality, abortion, anal sex and masturbation but not even teach them about patriotism let alone nationalism”.
Barnbrook’s video was not the first time he tried to exploit knife crime to whip up racism and division between communities, by claiming, falsely, that blacks commit all the crimes and whites are the victims. He also hijacked the name of a genuine organisation called Mothers against Knives, which he was later forced to call London Mothers against Knives when the two Middlesbrough mothers who formed it complained. Barnbrook’s one-man organisation is not known to have any actual mothers involved.
It seems that Barnbrook and Barnes well deserve each other.
by Sonia Gable for HOPE not hate / Searchlight on: Thursday, 24 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
The fight against racism and fascism was firmly on the agenda as the TUC kicked off its annual conference in Liverpool yesterday. A debate on the BNP was followed by a Not in our name vigil involving all delegates.
The conference was also addressed by Gee Walker, mother of murdered Liverpool teenager Anthony Walker. In a deeply moving speech, she told the conference:
My son and what happened to him is the result of extreme racism. I know that if he was white he would still be alive today. When hate destroyed my son's dream, our community in Liverpool, in the UK and indeed the world was outraged and shocked. We were left devastated and we still are. The positives are that, at that time, we all embraced cohesion and diversity in all its forms. It was a time when race, religion and class and even our own football teams, Everton and Liverpool, sat side by side comforting each other at Anthony's funeral. Unfortunately, that was short-lived and already a lot seems to have forgotten my Anthony already and they have resorted back to their own comfort zones.Gee's speech should be a timely reminder of the pressing need to combat racism and fascism wherever it raises its head. And with the election of two BNP MEPs the trade union movement gave its committment to do everything in its power to challenge hatred and racism in the workplace and wider community.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Union leaders called today for a ban on BNP members working in public services and called for a huge campaign to counter the threat of fascism.
The TUC Congress said urgent talks should be held with the Government about extending the current ban on BNP members working in the police and prison service.
BNP membership was "incompatible" with jobs in teaching, the NHS and other parts of the public sector, said the TUC.
Delegates at the TUC Congress in Liverpool lined up to attack the BNP before holding a silent vigil outside the conference centre to press home their message.
Janice Godrich, of the Public and Commercial Services union, said the election of two BNP MEPs and local councillors was partly explained by a "collapse" in votes for Labour.
It is not acceptable that you can be a fascist at weekends, yet work between Monday and Friday accessing confidential information of members of the public.Tim Wilson, of the National Association of Probation Officers, said it was wrong that BNP members could work in the profession, while Nick Kusak, of the Professional Footballers Association, said:
We cannot allow the extremists and the right to seize the initiative and take us back to the Dark Ages."Julian Chapman, president of the teachers' union NASUWT told delegates:
Colin Moses, president of the Prison Officers Association, attacked the BBC for considering inviting BNP leader Nick Griffin on to its Question Time programme.
The policies of the BNP run completely counter to the values and ethos of public services which are about tolerance, inclusion, social justice and community cohesion.
The role we must play is to expose the BNP's cynical use of the democratic process, whether in local, national or European elections, or when seeking election to school governing bodies.
Lilian Macer, of Unison, agreed, saying:
Delegates also backed any public sector staff who said they did not want to come into contact with BNP members.
What kind of world are we living in when Question Time is going to offer a seat to Nick Griffin?
We should all protest to the BBC.
by Jon Land
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Yesterday we launched a campaign to stop the racist football hooligans of the English Defence League from marching in Leeds city centre on 31 October. We sent out emails to 10,000 people in Yorkshire and within 18 hours over 2,150 letters have gone in to West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council calling on them to apply to the Home Secretary for a ban.
This is a fantastic start and shows the strength of feeling about this issue. However, we need more signatures.
If you would like to add your voice to the campaign please visit: http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/leeds
by Nick Lowles
Saturday, 12 September 2009
From The Guardian:
Minister warns of 1930s-style fascists on Britain's streets
'Parallels' between rightwing groups planning protests in Muslim neighbourhoods and Oswald Mosley's incendiary marches
A cabinet minister last night raised the spectre of a return to 1930s fascism, warning of "parallels" bertween rightwing groups planning protests in Muslim neighbourhoods and Oswald Mosley's incendiary marches through Jewish areas of east London in the 1930s.
Announcing a government drive to address issues alienating white, working-class people at risk of being "exploited" by the far-right, John Denham, the secretary of state for communities and local government, singled out protests being organised by the English Defence League.
The group, has organised a number of protests in recent months which have turned violent. It is to hold events in Manchester, Leeds, London and Bristol in the coming weeks. Yesterday small groups of EDL supporters gathered for a protest outside a mosque in Harrow, north-west London. They were confronted by at least 1,000 anti-fascist protesters. Police arrested 10 people after clashes, nine of them for allegedly possessing weapons. No injuries were reported.
"I think the English Defence League and other organisations are not actually large numbers of people," Denham said. "They clearly though have among them people who know exactly what they're doing. If you look at the types of demonstrations they've organised … it looks pretty clear that it's a tactic designed to provoke and get a response, and hopefully create violence."
He pointed to historical "parallels" with Mosley's events. "You could go back to the 1930s if you wanted to – Cable Street and all of those types of things. The tactic of trying to provoke a response in the hope of causing wider violence and mayhem is long established on the far-right and among extremist groups."
The so-called Battle of Cable Street occurred in October 1936, when Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, attempted to lead his supporters through a Jewish area of the East End of London, leading to violent clashes.
EDL's supporters include known far-right activists and football hooligans, filmed at recent protests chanting racist slogans and making Nazi salutes. Next week senior police officers from across the country will meet to share intelligence on the EDL, amid fears that a volatile mix of extreme rightwing activists, and counter-protests from leftwing groups and locals, could result in serious disorder.
The National Public Order Intelligence Unit monitors extremists, and is producing an intelligence briefing on the group's activities ahead of the meeting, to be chaired by West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe. She policed the EDL's last two protests in Birmingham, which resulted in pitched battles with local youths and 125 arrests, and which were marked by an "escalation in criminality".
"If the EDL come back to this city in future I've got more of an evidence case, and intelligence to arrest them a lot earlier, to prevent a breach of the peace," she said.
Today the EDL gathered outside the Harrow mosque to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
In the past month, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, has twice used public order legislation to restrict far-right marches. On one occasion, in Luton, his "banning order" resulted in a three-month prohibition of all marches in the town.
Denham praised the home secretary's action, but said there was a need for a broader strategy from government to "undercut issues that racists try to exploit". Ministers would in the coming weeks unveil a government-funded programme targeted at mainly white, working-class communities, he said.
"You need to be prepared to let people's real underlying fears and concerns come out, but address them frankly and openly," he said. He gave the example of perceptions of unfair allocation of council housing and new jobs, and said there could be changes at street level to allow local people to "influence and shape" how resources are distributed in their area.
by Paul Lewis, Matthew Taylor and Robert Booth
Anti-fascists, whilst remaining implacable foes of the far right, should not tarnish that message by engaging in physical confrontation, especially in the context of street violence.
HOPE not hate is dedicated to countering the hateful and divisive politics of the BNP and other far right groups through patient and peaceful means.
So the fascists arrange a street rally through the pages of Facebook, so what? Let them march and let the police do their job.
Arrange a counter demonstration elsewhere, prepare press releases, denounce the far right by all means, but what is the point of calling anti-fascists into a confrontation situation?
The fight against fascism must be an intellectual, media and political fight, with a commitment to local political activism.
A descent into fisticuffs beside the ruffians of extreme Muslim groups, as we have seen in Birmingham, Luton and Harrow recently, does not do the cause of anti-fascism any good whatsoever, and that's not only my opinion:
From Pickled Politics:
These fights do no one any good
So the Stop Islamisation of Europe and EDL people didn’t really show up in the numbers they promised in Harrow yesterday. But this isn’t a victory for anyone. Does anyone really think the video clips of huge numbers of Muslim youths throwing things at the police does their cause any good?
Let’s rewind a bit here. The recent events require a few points to be made.
1. For many BNP & EDL types, the enemy are Muslims, not Asians or even all ethnic minorities. Muslims are easier to bait, easier to target and easier to demonise. I’ve said this repeatedly in the past: any examination of BNP / EDL activities that ignores their shift in focus to Muslims, is highly naive.
2. The SIOE and EDL people haven’t sprang up as a direct result of terrorism, otherwise they’d have started in July 2005. They’ve become more prominent recently because the rhetoric around Muslims taking over, the “demographic problem of Muslims”, the growing number of mosques etc has become fever-pitch, especially in the mainstream media. The kind of people who now daily scream about how many kids have Muslim names or how their babies are swelling in numbers are to blame for this hysteria.
3. These large confrontations make it even more difficult to challenge Islamists and racists on either side for obvious reasons. Muslims will become less tolerant of internal and external criticism given they feel under attack; while the xenophobes who peddle the scary demographics will point to the TV reports and say: ‘see, told you the Muslims were taking over, we can’t even stop them from building mosques now!‘
4. This is why I’ve increasingly shifted my focus on attacking these mainstream xenophobes, because they play very nicely into the polarising atmosphere that religious extremists want.
5. I’m not euphoric over what happened (recently) in Harrow. I said earlier that sooner or later these brawls will get out of hand and a rogue gang of youths will beat up someone so badly the entire anti-racist movement will be smeared by association. This thing is getting out of control, and the UAF and associated anti-fascists need to think harder about how to control the crowds.
by Sunny Hundal
Sunny is mostly a commentator and writer who runs Liberal Conspiracy, Asians in Media magazine and Pickled Politics. He also writes regularly for the Guardian blog Comment is free.
He’s also written in the past for the Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Metro and the Financial Times. He is also sometimes invited to commentate on television and radio with his frequently ‘controversial’ (meaning unashamedly liberal) views.
Friday, 11 September 2009
Turing was made to suffer by the British government after WWII after it became evident that he was homosexual. Eventually Turing committed suicide.
Finally he has an apology from the British government.
From the Spectator:
In early August this year, John Graham-Cumming, a computer programmer, presented a petition to the government asking to give the war time hero and scientific genius, Alan Turing, a posthumous apology for his prosecution in 1952. So far it has gained over 29,000 signatories (it only needed 500 to gain a response). Another petition was set up allowing people resident outside the UK to show their support, and there’s another 10,000 signatories on that one. I couldn’t urge you more strongly to add your own name to the list.
Turing was one of the most important and innovative scientists of the 20th century- a genius and a national hero. Situated at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, he designed a machine – the bombe - that could decipher Nazi enigma messages much faster than any other machine before it. It is quite probable that we would have lost the war without him.
Other than his vital effort at Bletchley Park he has come to be known as the father of modern computing science. He lade the foundations for the computer age with his paper, “On Computable Numbers” that led to the creation of the “Turing machine,” a thought process experiment that simulated the logic of a computer algorithm. As Time Magazine put it: "The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine."
Unfortunately, Turing’s life came to a premature and tragic end. In 1952 he was tried and convicted for gross indecency after his homosexual relationship with a 19-year-old Mancunian. His punishment was a choice between jail and probation on the condition of chemical castration via oestrogen. He chose the latter but it ruined his life. He suffered severe side effects and the consensus is that his conviction led to his suicide a year later. The treatment he received from a government he did so much for is despicable; an apology seems not just appropriate but long overdue.
The Spectator has a connection with Alan Turing. Donald Michie was one of Alan Turing’s closest colleagues at Bletchley Park, and his brother; James Michie (the famous poet) wrote for us in his later years as the setter of literary competitions. Under the pseudonym Jaspistos (Donald’s nickname for him) James entertained readers for thirty years with his inexhaustible wit and imagination until his death in 2007. He too would have urged you to sign the petition for Alan Turing -
by Harry Weskin
This glitch seems to have been worked out somehow or another after experimenting with a variety of options.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
The British National Party is poised to give up its whites-only membership policy after a legal challenge accusing it of racial discrimination.
Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right party, indicated yesterday that the BNP would accept members of different ethnicities for the first time, blaming Britain’s “undemocratic Orwellian equality laws”.
In a statement published on the BNP’s website, Mr Griffin said that the party would have to adapt or die, even though amending its constitution would “stick in the craw of all dedicated nationalists”. The party is considering the change in light of an injunction being sought by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which claims that the BNP’s membership rules breach the Race Relations Act.
Any alteration to policy would mark a significant moment for the party, which since it was founded in 1982 has only accepted white members.
Mr Griffin, elected as a North West MEP in June, has a criminal conviction for distributing material likely to incite racial hatred.
His push to open up membership is likely to cause factional rows within the BNP, with the party’s most conservative elements resisting such change.
The BNP currently restricts its membership to “indigenous Caucasians”, which it defines broadly as Celts and Anglo-Saxons. The commission says that this is in breach of the Act as it discriminates on the basis of ethnicity. It issued proceedings against the party last month, seeking an injunction to ban such criteria.
The case was due to begin at Central London County Court on Wednesday but was adjourned after the BNP changed solicitors at the last minute.
In his statement, Mr Griffin said that to continue fighting the commission would bleed the party dry. He claimed that it would cost more than £1million to appeal and said would strip the party of the ability to fight the next general election. He appeared resigned to losing the case, saying that it was a matter of “evolving and living to fight another day or going down in a blaze of glory”.
He wrote: “I have no doubt that it is possible to redraft our constitution so as to ensure we comply with the new law while at the same time holding true to our core principles and most importantly of all, to our purpose — which is to secure a future for the true children of our islands.”
He implied that contesting the case would be pointless, adding that the Government’s forthcoming Equality Bill expected to be passed by Parliament in coming months, would ban any party from discriminating on grounds of ethnicity.
On right-wing blogs yesterday, some members said that they would “prefer the blaze of glory”. Another wrote on the party’s website: “I don’t see a problem with being able to invite members from all ethnic groups. I mean, how many would want to join the BNP anyway?”
A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: “The fact that Griffin has been forced into this cosmetic change will fool no one. The BNP remains a viciously racist organisation. We do not expect to see legions of members of Britain’s black and Asian community queuing to join Nick Griffin and his agenda of hate.”
The party will hold a series of debates over the coming weeks to discuss the matter. Members will then vote at a meeting that will require a two-thirds majority to rewrite the constitution.
A spokesman for the commission said that it had received no formal indication from the BNP that it intended to comply with its requirements. Until it did, the commission would pursue the court case.
A hearing is scheduled for October 15.
by Fiona Hamilton
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
A legal action against the British National Party about ethnic restrictions on its membership is due in court.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued county court proceedings against the far-right party on August 24 after voicing concerns in June about its constitution and membership criteria.
The party's membership criteria appeared to be restricted to those within certain ethnic groups and to white people, according to the EHRC.
The BNP responded by saying that it intended to clarify the word "white" on its website, but the Commission said it believed the party will continue to discriminate against potential or actual members on racial grounds.
"The BNP's membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular "ethnic groups" and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act.
"The Commission believes the BNP's constitution and membership criteria are discriminatory and, further, that the continued publication of them on the BNP website is unlawful. It has therefore issued county court proceedings against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials," said the Commission in a statement.
John Wadham, legal director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: "The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful.
"The Commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP. However, the party still has an opportunity to resolve this quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the Commission requires."
The case will be heard at Central London County Court.
From Politics.co.uk by Ian Dunt:
The BNP are off to court to defend their white-only membership. They should be ashamed. (Any problems caused by immigration cannot be a reason for) how despicable the BNP's membership criteria is. Anyone supporting it is to be held in disgrace. They need to go home and come back when they're intelligent and humane enough to debate with adults. Politics is not about the rule of one race over others. It is about the distribution of resources and freedoms. The BNP can't even be granted the credit of being political yet. They're just children struggling with ideas too big for them to comprehend. Those of us who really care about the working class, and about Britain, will do the hard work.Related articles
BNP frustrated in East Lancashire office bid Lancashire Telegraph - 3 hours ago
Comment: BNP membership is a disgrace Politics.co.uk - 13 hours ago
BNP forced to pay legal costs in white membership case Politics.co.uk - 13 hours ago
BNP leader Nick Griffin went on air last month to distance the BNP from the hooligan protests. As usual what he did not admit was that many of the leading figures in the Luton protest are BNP supporters. Just like Oldham in 2001, Griffin denied responsibility while his own followers were inciting hatred and violence.
When the English Defence League announced its intention to hold a protest in Luton we were faced with two options. We could have called a counter-protest and mobilised the local community and anti-fascists to occupy the streets or we could call on the authorities to ban the march.
In normal circumstances we would have preferred the first option. Mobilising communities can be an empowering process but these are not ordinary times and the stakes are too high. There was a very serious risk of major disorder in Luton if the march had gone ahead – be it from the hooligans and fascists or the local community, which quite understandably wanted to defend its neighbourhoods.
We decided that any disorder would have been a disaster. It would have driven a firm wedge between communities in Luton and also had national ramifications. With the strength of the BNP and Islamophobia it is trouble we could least afford.
Anti-fascists must accept that we too have a responsibility to the people we claim to represent. Yes the fascists must be challenged wherever they raise their heads but it is also important that we are sensitive to the consequences of our actions. Stopping the fascists holding a meeting is pointless if we then have to endure three days of adverse publicity which leaves local people – the very people we want to keep away from the BNP – feeling sympathy for them. Likewise, burning the Union Jack in a city centre is hardly likely to win over ordinary shoppers.
It was precisely because of our concerns over the consequences of a march that we called for the protest to be banned. However, the manner in which we did it mobilised and empowered people. The Home Office banned the march because of the actions of thousands of people who got involved in our campaign.
Over the coming months the hooligans and BNP will again try to whip up hatred and division. They need to be opposed but in a responsible manner which gives thought to the consequences and empowers people along the way.
A lot of the activism and support in Luton was due to the group of friends known as the MIGs. When Nick Griffin made a visit to our area in February 2007 the MIGs were not invited. Subsequently they discovered that they had been excluded from the guest list and were very disappointed. This was a very disrespectful way to treat our allies. The ‘loss of face’ that this caused for their leaders caused them to stop attending meetings and also prevented their campaigning on our behalf in Luton. These men had previously represented about 50% of the available workforce for Luton.
One of these MIG activists was Davy Cooling, who lived in Luton at the time although he has since moved to Daventry, where he works as a council driver. A fully-fledged BNP member, Cooling is now a key activist in the EDL Luton “division”. This is demonstrated by his status as administrator of the Luton division’s Facebook group. Cooling still shows interest in the party, as shown by his posting on the Facebook site of the BNP’s 2009 Red, White and Blue Festival, which said: “I may attend, it will be my first one – what’s the score?”
The positioning of a BNP member at the helm of the EDL’s core division runs contrary to the League’s strenuous attempts to distance itself from far-right political parties. As far as Luton is concerned this was compromised very early on when a man arrested twice for using foul and abusive language during EDL demonstrations was revealed to be David Tull, a well known former National Front member.
Promotion of violence
The EDL makes great play of being innocent bystanders when violence kicks off at its demonstrations. Indeed, it put much of the blame for the disturbances at its Birmingham event of 8 August on the presence of Unite Against Fascism. However, the UAF has not been visibly present during the two disturbances in Luton, particularly the May event when 300 EDL activists went on the rampage overturning cars, smashing windows and attacking passers-by.
Sean Walsh, a Luton EDL activist, uses the EDL Luton division Facebook page to suggest some particularly dangerous tactics to use against the police when being hemmed-in. Walsh suggests:
if the police make a square surrounding you the protesters should all be in organised groups specializing in their strengths and weaknesses there should be a core of strong people (heavy infantry) with the ability to penetrate a weak point in polices defences with a wedge attack and create a opening and be able to hold the opening for the other protesters to break through the opening. Adaptability is the key.
Matt Unsworth, a 19 year-old EDL member, made strenuous attempts to introduce a “cultural” dimension to the demonstration in Luton that was scheduled for 19 September before it was banned. He sought to secure the Leeds-based singer Anglo-Saxon to play a gig in Luton that evening, with a Facebook message that read:
Respect to you for sticking to what you believe in and I admire your work. You are a credit to soceity! [sic]. Also I might get you to come down to Luton for a show in September on the day of the protest if you are interested?
Is this the land you want to leave to your children They bleed the state and ask for more …They took the passport, they took the pound And now they’ve bombed the underground.
Unsworth attracted the attention of the national EDL leadership through his attempts to book Anglo-Saxon, in particular a shadowy character called EDL South, who clearly has a key role in the organisation. Soon after his encounter with EDL South, Unsworth created a new Facebook persona by the name of Luton English, separating his feverish political postings from the social chit-chat. No doubt he is following instructions from his new political masters.
A tragic pair
Peter Fehr, the BNP’s Luton organiser, often moans about the lack of activists and so, as for those who have gone before him, it is easy to see how attractive the MIGs must appear as a readymade street army. Like a moth drawn to the flame, Fehr retains a fascination for the rough and tumble of marches, banners and “well-directed boots and fists” that Griffin claims to have left behind.
If you sign up to the MIGs though, you inherit all the baggage that comes with them and boundaries between the two organisations are becoming increasingly blurred. The EDL has the destructive street muscle but ill-defined politics. Luton BNP has the hate-inspired ideology but a handful of activists.
It is our job to ensure that on the streets and through the ballot box we defeat both sides of the same coin.
An attempted protest by rightwing football hooligans, BNP supporters and other Islamophobes in Luton has been banned by the Home Secretary after an online campaign initiated by HOPE not hate.
The English Defence League had hoped to rally in the town on 19 September to coincide with a Luton home game against York City. The last time the EDL organised a march, violence followed. There were 35 arrests as hooligans and racists rampaged through a predominately Muslim area of the town.
With that area being very close to Luton’s football ground, further violence was likely.
The HOPE not hate campaign sent out an email calling on its supporters to write to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, and Gillian Parker, the Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, asking for the rightwing event to be banned. A simple link allowed our supporters to dispatch emails to the pair.
Within five minutes of our call, over 1,000 letters had been sent. Within an hour this had increased to 5,000. By the end of the day our supporters had sent over 12,500 letters.
The email campaign took hold, especially in Luton itself. Over 5,000 invitations to join the campaign were sent out by our existing supporters and a third responded by sending on letters themselves.
It was a phenomenal success. Just over 40,000 of our supporters opened the email and in the end almost 15,000 actions were taken. On the back of its success, over £1,500 was raised to help us fight key council by-elections over the coming months.
By the evening we had learnt that the Home Office not only had banned the EDL march but had ordered no political demonstrations or rallies in the town for three months. It turned out that the local council and police were also not keen on the EDL protest for fear of violence.
The online campaign was a victory for the people of Luton and for common sense. Allowing extremists hell bent on confrontation to be allowed to whip up hatred and violence has no place in a democratic society.
It also sends out a clear message to the hooligans and rightwing extremists that their actions will not be tolerated. This time it was Luton, but we will act swiftly to prevent them taking their hate to other towns if needed.
The victory is also a further demonstration of the power of our online campaigning. That thousands of people will respond to a call within minutes shows what is possible when we get motivated and organised.
Over the past few months there have been a growing number of football hooligan-led mobilisations around the country. Luton might have captured the most headlines in recent weeks but there have been protests in Birmingham and East London, with future actions planned in west London and Manchester.
Some commentators have dismissed these gatherings as fascist events. This is inaccurate and misunderstands the relationship between football hooligans, nationalism and fascism.
As reported in last month’s Searchlight there are a number of organisations currently active that derive from the hooligan world. The English Defence League (which was originally the English and Welsh Defence League), Casuals United, March for England and the SIOE.
While there are undoubtedly fascists involved in these protests they owe more to the racist and nationalist mentality of hooligans than to any real fascist undertones.
The British fascist right had its strongest influence on the hooligan scene during the mid-to-late 1970s. Racism was rife on the terraces and the revival of skinhead fashion and the birth of racist Oi music gave young violent working-class men a racist and political identity.
By the early 1980s, this was on the wane, certainly within many of the gangs associated with larger city clubs. Changing football culture, the emergence of black players and probably most significantly the growing prominence of black football hooligans pushed the hardcore fascists out.
Most gangs linked to London clubs, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester City and United, Leicester, Derby and the Sheffield clubs saw sizeable numbers of black hooligans emerge during the 1980s.
There were of course exceptions. Leeds and Newcastle both had strong National Front influence within their mobs, as did many of the gangs linked to smaller clubs, where either there was little non-white population or there were deeply segregated communities and little Asian interest in professional football.
Chelsea was an enigma. No club has had such a long link to the far right – from the NF and British Movement of the 1970s to Combat 18 in the 1990s. And yet, despite this, they also had black hooligans and they were generally accepted. In fact, the one falling out that the Chelsea Headhunters had with Combat 18 was when the nazi activist Mark Atkinson left a threatening message on the windscreen of Big Willy, a leading black hooligan.
The relationship between hooligans and fascists was even more fraught at Millwall, which will surprise many given that this was where the British National party had its first electoral breakthrough in a council by-election in 1993. Millwall has always had black hooligans. Even back in 1977 when Panorama documented the infamous Millwall “F-troop”, one of the central characters was a huge black hooligan called “Tiny”.
In 1993, shortly after Derek Beackon’s election victory, Combat 18 went round some of the Millwall pubs trying to recruit. They were given short shrift by the Millwall hooligans. To Millwall Combat 18 was too associated with Chelsea and they were also willing to accept anyone within their ranks as long as their loyalty was to southeast London and the club.
A bigger clash between hooligans and fascists occurred in April 1994 when England was set to play a “friendly” in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on the anniversary of Hitler’s birth. British and German fascists hoped to join together to attack a Turkish demonstration in the city the day before. Tony Covelle, the leader of the Chelsea Headhunters and seen by many as the most important hooligan on the England scene at the time, would not consider the idea. He was English and the Germans were their key enemy.
Fortunately, the game was eventually cancelled after a campaign led by Searchlight and our German friends.
Loyalism has always been a bigger unifier for British football hooligans. During the late 1980s and more importantly during the early 1990s loyalism became central to hooligan nationalist identity. The IRA was bringing its campaign to the British mainland and English hooligans heavily adopted the loyalist cause.
In January 1993 over 600 people, including hooligans drawn from 22 gangs around Britain, met to disrupt the annual Bloody Sunday march in central London. Their intention was later to travel to Kilburn, an area with a large Irish community, in an attempt to kick off trouble with local people. Only the intervention of police and the arrest of 396 hooligans and loyalists prevented this from occurring.
The far right has never enjoyed this level of support. Hooligan gangs linked with Aston Villa, Oldham, Charlton, Swansea and Mansfield all had rightwing connections but they were easily the exception than the rule.
In more recent years the rise of the BNP has been mirrored by a growth in political hooliganism.
The Oldham riots stemmed from weeks of hooligan incursions into the predominantly Asian areas of the town. The first was when 450 Stoke City hooligans rampaged through Westwood a few days after the pensioner Walter Chamberlain had been attacked by four youths.
Over the following few weeks Oldham hooligans, one of the most rightwing gangs in the country, were joined by small groups from Stockport, Shrewsbury and Huddersfield in a bid to whip up trouble. Eventually, on 26 May 2001, the hooligans succeeded. After a day when 80 hooligans and nazis had been frustrated by police a group of ten hooligans ran down a predominantly Asian street attacking people and property in what a judge later said was the “trigger” for the Oldham riots.
A week later the rightwing hooligans attempted to do it again, though this time they were stopped by Searchlight intelligence and police intervention.
A week after that Oldham and Everton hooligans tried to link up with Combat 18 in an attempt to disrupt the England v Pakistan cricket match at Old Trafford. The plan had been for an Oldham hooligan to run onto the pitch during play and place a Combat 18 flag in the middle of the wicket. The hope, according to Combat 18, was for maximum media attention and a violent reaction from the Pakistani supporters in the crowd. Once again the 40 thugs failed because of Searchlight intelligence.
However, these incidents have been the exception. There is certainly a growing anti-Islamist feeling among many hooligans but this is probably just a reflection of attitudes in wider society. More hooligans are undoubtedly supporting the BNP but again this should not be of any great surprise given the growth of the fascist party in many parts of the country and the profile of the typical BNP voter. But this does not mean we are likely to witness an explosion of hooligan-based racial disorder.
The appalling turnout of hooligans in Birmingham in early August is testament to this. In smallish towns such as Oldham and Luton a local incident can quite easily incite a violent response from thugs and racists. However, there is no sign that hooligans will properly mix together for a political cause.
Football rivalry means that Watford hooligans, who might live only a few miles away, will never mix with their Luton counterparts and the return of the football season will refocus some hooligans on their traditional pastimes. In addition, heavy policing and the threat of arrest, football bans and possible prison will keep many away. It was interesting to witness the robust police response to an anti-Islam protest in East London in summer. Having been kettled for several hours and generally given a rough time, many of the hooligans who attended are hardly likely to come out again.
Finally, there is the very nature of hooligans themselves. They are a generally undisciplined, lazy group who prefer drinking and talking a good fight to involving themselves in a political battle. And those who do will be nervous about the role of the BNP and other fascist groups. Even at Luton, where the heart of the current hooligan mobilisation has emerged, there are growing voices of discontent about the presence of the BNP.
The organisers of the English Defence League and Casuals United have announced their intention to hold several more protests across the country, including in Manchester, Dewsbury and Bradford. Whether these go ahead remains to be seen but the dangers lie less in the big cities than in the smaller conurbations where tensions already exist.
Hooligans will not travel in large numbers across the country and they will be even more put off by the threat of arrest and football bans. However, in places like Luton, Oldham and West Yorkshire there are more than enough people to cause trouble without the need for outsiders. With the prospect of violence and communities tearing each other apart very real, HOPE not hate will be campaigning to get these events banned.
You may also be interested to read
A hot August? Gerry Gable, Simon Cressy and Tom Woodson look at the Islamophobic groups that are trying to provoke racist violence Searchlight Magazine August 2009
BNP supporters triggered Oldham riots In an exclusive investigation, Nick Lowles reveals how the BNP supporters triggered the Oldham riots
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
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A good argument for independent local sites if ever there was one!
A former member of the British National Party has been fined £200 after admitting publishing the details of some 10,000 party members online.
Matthew Single, 27, formerly of Church Lane, Brinsley, Notts, was fined by Nottingham magistrates after admitting disclosing data without consent. The names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of some party supporters were leaked in November.
Judge John Stobart said the fine was "low" because Single was on benefits. District Judge John Stobart also ordered Single to pay £100 towards the cost of the prosecution.
The judge told Single: "Anything that is posted on the internet has the effect of opening a Pandora's box. What you put on the internet can never be taken from it and while there may be some members in this organisation who do not deserve to be protected by the law, they should be able to expect that officers within the organisation will not abuse the information provided to them. The law exists to save people from such revenge attacks."
Judge Stobart added: "It came as a surprise to me, as it will to many members of the party, that to do something as foolish and as criminally dangerous as you did will only incur a financial penalty. It comes as no surprise to me that somebody to do with an organisation that prides itself on Britishness is in fact living off the British people on Job Seeker's Allowance and that is why the fine is so low as to be ridiculous."
The charges were dropped against Single's wife, Sadie Graham-Single. The 30-year-old was not at the court
For years the BNP was successfully stalled by the 'no platform' policy of refusing the party any publicity of media. But times have changed. The BNP gained two MEP seats in the last European elections, and are already gearing up for the forthcoming General Election.
The 'no platform' stance has been overtaken by events. Nick Griffin, the chairman of the BNP, has a platform and is using it at every opportunity to preach the negative BNP view of life in modern Britain, a view that aggravates suspicion and division between communities, a view that causes serious problems instead of offering viable solutions.
The 'no platform' position has gone, but this means more people can find out about BNP arguments, and can see for themselves how the BNP arguments are so flawed. The more people who see this, the better.
So by all means visit the BNP site, and examine the BNP manifesto, starting with its exclusive and racist criteria for membership and continuing through its immoral and unworkable policies such as the repatriation of non-whites and bringing all troops home to police our borders and streets against any signs of dissent.
Recoil at the cruelty that underlines so much of what passes for BNP policy. The BNP revels in self-serving theories of race that claim the superiority of BNP members to many other British citizens.
Surely Freud would be interested in the fundamental anxiety that must lie behind such claims.
So by all means have a critical look at what the leadership of the BNP has to say in their 'blogs'.
Follow the inanities, the attempts to ingratiate, the sense of grievance, the rage, and most of all the flaccid flip-flopping of policy adjustment, as the BNP struggles to conceal its fundamental fascism under the veneer of respectability.
No wonder the Chairman devotes so much time and energy on his 'column'.