Category Archives: Far-right politics

UKIP MEPs turn their backs on the EU to face the far-right of European politics

When UKIP MEPs turned their backs in protest to the EU flag they embarked on creating some truly wonderful imagery.

They had hoped to create a powerful visual protest against the EU by turning away from the EU flag. Without realising though they all turned instead to face no other than Marine Le Pen, of Front National (FN) – the far-right French political party resulting in this wonderful image:

UKIP

*Photo New Europe

Of course, in the lead up to the European elections UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the man who orchestrated this parliamentary protest, spoke out about the ‘common ground’ between the FN and UKIP and the potential of working together in the European Parliament as a blocking minority.

Indeed Geert Wilders, the lunatic Eurosceptic leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, told the Guardian that hoped he could get Le Pen and Farage to work together in the parliament.

This overlap between the far-right of European politics and UKIP is seen in Farage’s recruitment of one rogue FN MEP into their political group (something which didn’t please Le Pen herself to much).

They are joined in UKIP’s ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’ (EFD) by two Swedish far right MEPs whose party was founded by white supremacists (I read that they had to write specifically distancing themselves from white-supremacist views to be allowed in) as well as Lithuania’s Order and Justice Party (a party who themselves have had to deny links with Le Pen’s far-right FN).

A charming group huh?

I wonder how many 2014 UKIP voters realized that their vote was going to be used to help grow such a far-right grouping in the European Parliament?

I suspect not many!

european election results

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Why did the police follow up a UKIP complaint about a blogger?

Bm34HPPCcAE3LLX

Last week a good friend of mine (who has previously guest posted on Hynd’s Blog) posted the original of this poster (minus the sources). What ensued was a discussion about the origins of some of the claims.

It is with interest then that I heard this morning about the chap who posted this alternative poster (trying to ascertain which claims were true and which were not) being visited from the police (you can read his whole account here) in relation to the poster.

In his account he says that:

‘they [the 2 police officers] said this was in relation to a complaint that had been made by a certain political party in relation to tweets I had published about them’

This seems bonkers doesn’t it? UKIP, lodging a complaint with the police (as far as I know this guy hasn’t broken any laws) against someone who has tried to reference a poster that was attacking them? And then, either more strangely, the police actually following it up.

Either way, both his local MP (Lib Dem Julian Huppert) and Jenny Jones (Green in the House of Lords) have promised to follow this up on his behalf.

And there are some interesting questions that hopefully one or both of them will ask. Like, why were the police following up a non-legal complaint from a political party?

I am no expert here but surely this cannot be normal procedure can it?

I will look into it some more and post any follow up information below.

UPDATE:

A police statement (quoted by The Guardian) says that he has done nothing wrong but fails to say why the police officers were there to begin with:

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: “A Ukip councillor came across a tweet which he took exception to. The name of the person on the tweet was identified and that individual was spoken to. We looked at this for offences and there was nothing we could actually identify that required police intervention. Clearly, the councillor was unhappy about the tweets. If every political person was unhappy about what somebody else said about their views, we would have no politics.”

As for being told not to tweet about the visit, the spokesman added: “I don’t know if he’d have been told that. It’s certainly not the advice I would have given him. A gentleman has a right to free speech – absolute total right to free speech – we can’t tell people what they can and can’t say on the internet, as long as it’s within the law. We certainly don’t go to people’s houses and say: ‘You can’t tweet about this’. This is not 1930s Germany.”

 

 

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Bizarre BNP accuse Nigel Farage of converting to Islam

Griffin visits Hamilton
Yesterday the increasingly bizarre BNP accused Nigel Farage of having undertaken ‘a recent conversion to Islam’ in a post which was primarily made up of a copied and pasted spam email.

As they face the final steps towards political obliteration (they have now lost all council seats they once held and are on course to lose their two MEPs in May’s elections) they appear to have resorted to trying to win back the particularly islamaphobic UKIP voters by making stuff up about Nigel Farage.

Classy huh!

This latest move is only one step removed from the utterly bizarre plea they sent out before which asked for members to ‘engage in making babies’.

Yep, after last May’s drumming at the local elections the BNP sent out a message calling for nationalists to reproduce more to fight the growing wave of immigration.

Little things like this can lead one to think that things are getting a wee bit desperate in BNP HQ.

If you live in the North West and want to make sure that the BNP see their electoral death, read this tactical analysis on how to best beat the BNP in May’s elections.

 

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Nick Griffin’s twitter account hacked

Griffin visits Hamilton
Chairman of the British Nationalist Party (BNP), Nick Griffin, last night had his twitter account and website hacked.

The hacker using the twitter feed @Anon_OxO3 immediately claimed credit for the hack:

https://twitter.com/nickgriffinmep/status/462348339221397504

Before posting a string of tweets that showed that his feed had been compromised:

https://twitter.com/nickgriffinmep/status/462351946872274944

https://twitter.com/nickgriffinmep/status/462375100424413184

https://twitter.com/nickgriffinmep/status/462378660981665792

The hacker also posted Nick Griffin’s personal information including his mobile number online (at the time of writing it is still up on his twitter feed).

The challenge for this blogger though is trying to work out when the hack started…Did Griffin really tweet about a pie just before he was hacked?

 

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The rather droll UKIP joke…

UKIP (aka the people’s army) have launched their campaign ahead of May’s European elections. The campaign attacks establishment thinking focusing on concerns of ordinary Brits. Who better to head up the campaign (funded by ex-Tory donor and millionaire Paul Sykes) than son of a stockbroker, the privately educated city boy, Mr Nigel Farage? Who says UKIP don’t have a sense of humour?  

Ukip poster campaign
UKIP’s European election campaign was today launched with a bang. Their (racist?) posters have caused controversy, shock and also a fair amount of TV coverage for UKIP.

But there is more than just a touch of irony in this campaign.

The posters nail the core issues that voters keep saying they are most worried about… the economy, immigration, and of course, jobs. But threaded throughout is their ‘core message’ that they are the party of the people standing up for ordinary Brits.

With either a splendid sense of humour or a terrifying sense of self-delusion, UKIP have even started referring to themselves as ‘the people’s army’.

You have to laugh don’t you (or you might cry)? Here is the privately educated stockbroker, Nigel Farage, heading up a campaign that is funded by ex-Tory millionaire Paul Sykes, lamenting the ‘establishment’ and ‘vested interests’.

In a way it is all quite droll.

Worryingly though, against all odds, I am not sure the electorate have spotted the joke.

UKIP are not exactly shy about their vested own interests. Hynd’s Blog is no Private Eye. Just yesterday in that little known publication, The Daily Telegraph, millionaire Mr Sykes wrote quite openly about why he has pumped £1.5 million personal pounds into the latest UKIP poster campaign. In the article he finishes by chillingly saying he will ‘do whatever it takes’.

Can people really not spot the contradiction here? A party stuffed full with disgraced Tories suddenly becoming the voice of the people?

I mean really….do people honestly believe that a party chaired by Neil Hamilton is really the party that is planning to stand up for ‘ordinary Brits’? The same Neil Hamilton whose Conservative career came to an end for accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from Harrods boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, in exchange for asking parliamentary questions…

If I stopped looking at the polls I could be convinced that UKIP was just a rather droll joke, but then I am reminded that this is the party that many tip to win May’s elections.

How very terrifying.

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UKIP & Liberal Democrat MEPs vote against gender pay equality

Antony Hook – the Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for the South East of England this week tweeted this picture.

UKIP

Rightly, he points out that UKIP MEPs were either absent or voted against a European Parliament motion calling for the equal pay of male and female workers. This motion received a massive 87% support from across the political spectrum but not from UKIP.

What Antony Hook might not have realised though is that his Liberal Democrat colleague George Lyon also voted against the motion alongside two other ALDE MEPs.

I look forward to his infographic highlighting this.

Shame on any MEP who voted against this motion…Lib Dem, UKIP or Tory (note no Labour or Green MEPs voted against the motion)!

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UKIP – less popular but here to stay?

423px-Europarl_logo.svg
I have written before about why I thought that UKIP would, like other far-right groups, rise and fall in the polls. I expected the May 2014 elections to represent their high before starting to crumble before the 2015 elections.

However, a new FT/Populus poll today shows that most of those planning to vote UKIP in May are also planning on supporting the party in 2015. This could be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives in key marginal seats. The Lib Dems however would surely gain from a strong UKIP turnout in 2015 as they fight their marginal seats against divided votes.

As Lord Ashcroft pointed out last month, these findings also question the effectiveness of the proposed Tory ‘Vote UKIP get Labour’ messaging planned for the next general election. Most UKIP voters don’t care if they get Cameron or Miliband. It would appear that a ‘they’re as bad as each other’ feeling is permeating UKIP supporters.

However, the FT/Populus poll also shows support for UKIP for the May 2014 elections at a relative low of 25%. Significantly 2 percent behind the Conservatives and 6 percent behind Labour. This is a far cry from UKIP’s aim of topping the polls in May 2014.

The FT/Populus poll also spells bad news for The Green Party giving them just a 3% share of the national vote (about half the lowest vote share they secured anywhere in England and Wales in 2009)!

You can see the detailed results here.

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A vote for UKIP in Stroud is a vote against science

ukip
My local paper, The Stroud News and Journal, this week published a letter from the UKIP perspective parliamentary candidate, Caroline Stephens. In the article Ms Stephens argues ‘that the climate has always been changing’ and that the local Greens should leave poor old Mr Patterson (the current climate change sceptic Tory Environment Minister) alone.

For those of you who are not familiar with the environmentalist epicentre which is Stroud, this move is akin to turning up to the WOMAD music festival to argue why you thought, not that you just didn’t like world music, but that it didn’t actually exist.

The reaction she received in the SNJ was comparable to a very verbal booing off stage. It was a splendid mixture of disbelief, outrage and bewildered humour.

But for every Stroudie who commented on the article, there are probably hundreds more who were taken in by her half-truths.

And so, once again, I feel honour bound, for the sake of anyone who is even considering lending her a vote, to highlight the pure idiocy of what she (and many other UKIPpers) actually thinks:

Point 1 – She writes:

If climate had never changed, the world would still be in say the Jurassic period maybe. If climate didn’t vary from one place to another sun seekers would not likely prefer southern Spain to the north of Scotland for their sun bathing holidays.

The first sentence is about as idiotic axiomatic and a non-sentence as me saying ‘if the Sun wasn’t there then there would be no life on this planet’.

I look forward to her speculation about where we would be without gravity.

Her second sentence shows a misunderstanding (or purposeful confusion?) of the fact that when we talk about global warming, we are talking about the globe, not what the weather is like in Spain.

Up to this point she is slightly odd but nothing too harmful.

Point 2 – She writes:

Currently there has been no statistically significant global warming for around 17 years (depending on which dataset is used).

I love the proviso here… “depending on which data set you use”. Perfect.

I think she is referring to the disparity between surface temperature and ocean temperature. If so, our friends over at Skeptical Science (who have devoted quite a lot of time to myth busting) write:

“Records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon (Figure 1).  More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the surface air temperature.”

So that explains the surface temperature recordings to which I assume she refers (but this is hard to tell when her myths are written with no sources to support them).

You can read more about why the earth has been getting warmer in the last 17 years here.

Point 3 – She then references Prof John Cristy:

Yes, her only real half reference is the same John Cristy profiled here. Lol.

Point 4 – One has to ask how there were so many storms and floods going back to the nineteenth century and before. No one had even thought of blaming humankind for the weather then although the alarmists of the day did blame so called witches for ‘cooking’ the weather? Weather (rain) not climate change has been the cause of floods which have been exacerbated by the European Union’s discouraging dredging of waterways in the name of creating wetland wildlife habitats.

Just wow…of course, it is the EU’s fault!

Right, let’s keep this simple. Rain (weather) is different to climate. But the climate can impact on extreme weather events (this was the very basic point that Green Cllr Sarah Lunnon was making that sparked this bizarre response from Ms Stephens).

If you want to know exactly how climate change might impact on extreme weather events you can read this 2012 IPCC report.

A slightly more credible source than her…oh wait…none existing source.

Point 5 – (I skip a bit here as it all relates to extreme weather and frankly, I’m getting a bit bored). But towards the end she writes:

Thank goodness there are a few climate rationalists left in the Coalition to try to defend our way of life.

Sigh. “Climate rationalist”. She is of course referring to Owen Patterson who I think broke a record a few months back with the most number of climate change myths spouted on national radio.

Read this blog on his (would be comic if it wasn’t so depressing) appearance on the BBC’s Any Questions.

The Greens have my absolute backing when they call for the sacking of this man who seems to be able to ignore basic climate science.

In short, the whole letter consisted of half-truths, misinformation and vague unsupported ideas that I felt needed to be tackled .

But I look forward to Ms Stephen’s (fully referenced with peer reviewed science) response.

Until this happens though I hope the good people of Stroud will back a candidate/party that actually uses science to base their views (and policies on).

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My journey in tackling anti-Semitism

My views on anti-Semitism, until maybe just a few years ago, reflected those of many others in modern Britain. In short I saw it as an incredibly black and white issue. I would have of course condemned any anti-Semitism but I would also have assumed that it was only perpetrated by crackpots in far-right groups.

I would never have connected it with my own very normal friends, family and community.

Growing up in the UK I was surrounded by the idea that being anti-Semitic was a thing of the past, an ultimate evil that dogged the 20th century but played little role in modern Britain. This caricature of anti-Semitism made my young mind think of it as something comparable to that of Nazism…abhorrent but something of times past that only a handful of lunatics still believed.

Perversely, this perception of it being an ‘ultimate evil’ enabled me to develop a slightly flippant attitude about it – to write it off as something which was only found in niche far-right circles. This was perpetuated by my own blinkered experience that failed to spot it in my own life.

It was, for a long time, beyond my comprehension that it might be embedded in the culture that I was growing up in. Only now, looking back, can I see how wrong I was.

Growing up I attended a very reasonable comprehensive school. Thinking back to my school days I can remember all too clearly the flippant use of the word Jew as a playground insult for someone acting in a selfish way. “Come on, don’t be such a Jew, lend me some money”.

In retrospect these sorts of sentences are completely outrageous, but at the time, they were just a turn of phrase.

Thinking back to my childhood, I am not sure I knew anyone who was open about their Jewish identity at school or in the local community.

Now, this might well have been because there are not many Jews living in Gloucester…equally though it could be because of a phenomena a recent poll of 6,000 Jews across 8 European countries found, which was that many Jews feared being open about their identity for fear of discrimination and prejudice.

Have I known someone who was a Jew who just refrained from being open about it for fear of reprisals – very possibly! A fact that in itself is deeply sad and troubling.

The same poll also found that 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish.

At this stage I cannot help but to draw comparisons between gay friends who kept their sexuality a secret for fear of discrimination and abuse whilst also having to endure the daily use of the word gay being used as a playground insult.

The very small part that I played, in using such terminology and perpetuating this climate of fear, is something that as an adult I deeply regret.

And this leads to the crux of what I am saying. Anti-Semitism is not an abstract issue distant to my own community, but an important issue which must be tackled along-side all other forms of prejudice and discrimination. By dismissing it as something abstract and distant to your own life, your own community, you become lazy in tackling it in your every day life. This allows for the climate of fear that many Jews so evidently feel.

It is not just about the inappropriate use of language either. Thinking back to the last 5 years of my life I can draw out a handful of illustrations where I witnessed overt anti-Semitism.

To give one, and perhaps the most shocking,  example: I was visiting White Hart Lane to watch some football and I stood there in disbelief as fans chanted things like ”You’re not in the gas chambers now” and “You’r two nil up but your six million down” to the Spurs fans sat opposite. What shocked me most here was that no-one else seemed shocked!

Equally, upon returning from the West Bank and doing talks on the human rights situation in the West Bank I have heard repeated anti-Semitic slurs. Something which I tried to write about here. I will never forget one activist friend who has done some amazing work on Palestine telling me I needed to keep things in perspective and stop worrying about anti-Semitism.

These are just two examples of draw-dropping anti-Semitism and inappropriate responses from ordinary people. But it is worth remembering hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents occur across the UK every year.

And of course we are not separate to the (by most accounts) much worse anti-Semitism which is occurring across the channel at the moment. These recent videos coming out from Paris over the last couple of days shows a dangerous populism behind these overt forms of anti-Semitism.

I write this blog now as a reflection of the journey that I have taken over the last 5 years.

5 or 6 years ago I was a well intentioned but essentially ignorant, activist. My failure to spot the severity of anti-Semitism damaged my ability to tackle prejudice and discrimination in general.

Now, more than ever, I feel anti-Semitism needs to be tackled along-side all other forms of bigotry, hatred and discrimination. To do this though, we have to remove it from its 20th century caricature and understand how it moves and looks in modern Britain.  

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The BNP and the tactical battle for the North West

In 2009, Nick Griffin won a seat in the European Parliament after his party, the BNP, secured 132,094 votes*. We are now just over 4 months away from kicking him out. But the question is how? And what might come in his place?

Griffin visits Hamilton
The BNP’s political performance is like that of rollercoaster. What goes up must come down. Wherever the BNP saw electoral success they very quickly saw dismal failure. On this rollercoaster we are about to hit the final dip that, rather than swooping them back to dizzying electoral heights, will leave them derailed.

In the North West the BNP won 132,094 votes – enough to elect their racist-in-chief, Nick Griffin, to the European Parliament**.

If opinion polls are to be believed it would be a fair bet to assume that the BNP won’t be retaining their seat in the North West. The BNP are to British politics what Ford Pinto’s were to advancements in automotive safety.

Confident that this could play to their favour, UKIP activists were quoted in today’s Huffington Post saying they expected to win 50-75% of these votes – You know you’re a classy party when you’re celebrating mopping up the aftermath of a fascist party’s demise.

Saying that, we can also expect UKIP to gain in other areas. They are increasingly positioning themselves as the protest vote – it would be a reasonable assumption to say that this will hit those in power in Westminster the hardest. The Tories and Lib Dems picked up 4 seats between them in 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that half at the 2014 elections.

Last but not least there are The Green Party who in 2009 missed winning another seat by a meagre 5,000 votes or, put another way, just 0.3%. With the right campaign there is little reason to think that they won’t secure one seat in the North West***.

It is important, in relation to keeping our fascist friend Mr Griffin out of office, that The Green Party does beat the BNP. It is very hard to imagine the BNP securing a seat in 6th place – but if Labour and UKIP fail to perform as well as expected the BNP could once again slip through the backdoor if they finish 5th.

So my conclusion is this.

  • If you vote Labour you will help them secure a third seat, but in reality your vote will be one of tens of thousands that places them between the benchmarks for gaining 3 or 4 seats.
  • If you vote UKIP you will contribute to both their regional and national rise in these elections. But a warning that I read on twitter today offers some humbling advice. Voting UKIP as a protest vote is like shitting in a hotel bed to protest about the bad service…only to realise you have to sleep in it that night.
  • If you vote Liberal Democrats, you will be fighting for them to keep hold of their one elected representative. Sadly I think this might well turnout to be losing battle.
  • If you vote Conservative you will be, in reality, fighting to put a stopper in the hemorrhage of votes flooding to UKIP. You might just enable them hold onto 2 elected representatives.
  • If you vote Green you will contribute in all likelihood to them securing their first MEP in the North West. I would argue that tactically it is also the most useful party to vote for if your aim is to keep the BNP out.
  • Lastly if you plan to vote BNP…well what can I say?
  • Oh, and if you’re one of those inexplicable 25,000 people who voted for the Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship – can you please get in touch…I’ve never met one before!

The North West will be a fascinating political battle ground over the coming months. We have to wait until May 22nd though to find out who will come out on top.

 

* The 2009 North West election results can be seen here.
** On a side note, one of my personal highlights of my time spent working in Brussels was watching Griffin lost in the, admittedly quite confusing, European Parliament.
*** The lead candidate for The Green Party is less sure about the demise of the BNP and wrote this article in the Huffington Post calling for unity to defeat the BNP…and get him elected. 

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Arrivederci Di Canio, Arrivederci fascism

Sunderland have sacked Di Canio. I am delighted. Let me explain why.

For about 21 months I had on and off discussions with a mate of mine who is a passionate Swindon Town fan and someone I’ve got a lot of respect for. It went something like:

Me: “Paulo Di Canio is a fascist…I think you should boycott Swindon until they get rid of him”.

My mate: “You’re political belief shouldn’t determine your job prospect, anyway – he will be great for the club”.

Me: “It’s like saying that football is more important than opposing fascism – anyway, if he is good for the club it will be a side show to what is good for PDC.”

My mate: “We’ve just been promoted.”

After his 21 months in charge my mate was unchanged about his view that politics and football shouldn’t mix but did concede that he has now:

“lost all respect for Di Canio… (Breaking into the offices, making ultimatums to a Board that did not even have control of the club and airing our dirty washing in public)… but this is due to his actions… as opposed to his views and ideologies”

A year or so later, I wonder how many Swindon fans can honestly say that they miss him?

When he joined Sunderland I reiterated my call for fans to boycott Sunderland.  Inevitably Sunderland fans (already angered by days of hostile media coverage) reacted with anger to what they saw as another anti-Di Canio article. Their fans forum shows I made few friends with that article.

Within this call to boycott Sunderland I once again made the dual argument. 1) It is a fan’s moral imperative to make a stand against fascist beliefs within their club and community. 2) Sunderland’s results would suffer. Di Canio would not bring the salvation SAFC needed and would, in the long term, be as bad for the club on the pitch as he is off.

As you can imagine, both points were swiftly rejected in the aftermath of their 3-0 drumming of Newcastle. A selection of the comments from that article and on the fans forum included:

Jason Reveley’s confessions of love:

“I am in love with Paolo Di Canio. I think he will save Sunderland AFC and turn us into a top 10 club”

Ron’s selected character assesment:

“apart from his sometimes eccentric behaviour on the field, no one has ever flagged up any problems with him off the field” (I add: This was not true at the time of writing and has been shown to be not true this season at Sunderland).

And in addition a wide range of petty insults that are endemic within fan forums (most showing a questionable preoccupation with sexual innuendo).

Since then Di Canio has overseen 1 point from 5 games. His own players have been reported to be central to his dismissal. It was reported that after another defeat Lee Cattermole, the midfielder he stripped of the captaincy, told Di Canio that the squad had lost faith in his “controversial methods”. This then went to the Board who made the final decision.

But as important as Sunderland’s form is, for me it pales into insignificance compared to my deep-rooted belief that fascism has no place in football. This is not to say I support a ban of any sorts but that I have a faith in fans ability to articulate a collective voice that says we want what is best for our club and our community and that this cannot involve employing someone with such fascist views.

At this point it is important to be clear by what I mean when I say fascism (something Di Canio failed to do).

Fascism is an ideology that has been illustrated through a series of brutal historical examples (Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto etc). Dr Lawrence Britt broke down the characteristics of fascism into 14 ideas that ranged from a “Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts” to a “Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights”.

There is nothing within these characteristics that I support and taken collectively you get a cocktail of beliefs that is abhorrent and they are unacceptable. It is this poisonous cocktail that I fight so hard to keep out of my club and my community.

As a result I still stand by my argument that if my club tried to employ someone with fascist beliefs I would boycott them. In light of this I would call on other supporters to do the same. I hope Sunderland fans will join me and get behind this call.

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A letter to Paolo Di Canio

Dear Paolo,

As a man who loves football and has an undoubted passion for success I am sure that Sunderland’s slow start to the season must be difficult for you to take. One point out of a possible 12 and sitting at the bottom of the league…that must be painful for you.

I am sure you don’t need some blogger reminding you of this though. Anyone who watches you on the touchline knows that you feel every moment, every mistake and every result. You’re a divisive character but I don’t think anyone doubts your passion.

I am worried though that your passionate personality, the very thing that drives you forward, the thing that earns you masked respect, might also be acting as a blinker to how you understand life in the Premiership.

You see Paolo, the more I think about it the more I think you might not be suited to life in the Premier League at all.

You seem to hold an attitude that was maybe once true but certainly isn’t anymore – that the individual player is of no importance compared to the team, the collective, the community. Many, especially fans, still hold this to be true but most successful managers don’t.

When you substitute players for not performing minutes into games you stand in contrast to every other manager. When you publically humiliate your players (even your captain isn’t immune) you undermine yourself, your players and yes…also your club.

This trait, although problematic is only amplified with the inconsistency in which you implement it.

You seem to be the one exception to the rule that you so fiercely apply to others. You, whether consciously or sub-consciously, seem to constantly make yourself bigger than any club you enter – this was certainly true for Swindon and I wonder if it is any different now you’re at Sunderland?

Was arguing with the referee and then asking to be sent to the stands the best thing for the team against Arsenal? I suspect not. You did what was right for you…not the team!

When it suits you, the team is secondary to your personality. While you demand near anonymity from your players, you yourself put on a showmanship unmatched by any other over-inflated ego within the Premiership.

Whether you like it or not Paolo, players in other clubs are thriving under the spotlight of the individual. You are, in the words of your own players, risking killing their confidence.

Letting individuals flourish has to be balanced with what is right for the team but simply stomping down players egos to make a pedestal for yourself just isn’t sustainable for you, your players or your club.

Now Paolo, I am really sorry but I have to raise your now denied assertion that you’re a fascist (at some point Paolo I would love you to explain to the world what you understand a fascist to be). I believe you when you say you’re not a racist (I have no reason not to) but I think there is a part of you that does identify with fascism.

Exactly what you mean by being a fascist I don’t know. But a common feature of fascism is the disregard of the individual, the belief in the importance of the collective. As we have already discussed, this is something of a trait in your personality.

Equally, it seemed to be a bit of issue for Mussolini, the man who you have a tribute to tattooed onto your arm and whose face is tattooed onto your back. He said, “Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State”.

Exact definitions vary but most understandings of fascism include this dangerous disregard for the individual.

Is it a coincidence that your “unique” managerial style also overlaps with the ideology you have been so consistently linked with?

Back when you first joined Sunderland I wrote that at best you will stay quiet but at worse you would let your poisonous ideology seep through and let it affect how you managed the football team.

Paolo, I am deeply troubled that I think we are seeing glimpses of your fascist ideology seeping into your managerial style. However much you try to disassociate yourself, your political views are impacting Sunderland. You already have war veterans boycotting your games.

Your presence is casting a dark stain, not just over the Stadium of Light but the whole Premiership.

Paolo, I know you’re not one to give up, to quit, to crumble to the status quo…but have you ever thought that you might not be suited to life in the Premiership? That maybe, the tolerant, individualistic, liberal nature of the modern game might not be conducive to your beliefs and managerial style?

For what it’s worth, my advice is simple. Take to the stands where your passion will be appreciated without leaving lasting damage on the club.

I am sure the ultras at Lazio will welcome you back with open (saluted) arms.

This I believe would be what is best for your players, for your club and even the league in which you currently compete.

Steve Hynd

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Greens look to oust flailing BNP from European Parliament

Green Party announces list of candidates to take on far right in European elections while the BNP appear to struggle to find suitable candidates.

Yorkshire and Humber Green Party have today announced their list of candidates that they hope will kick far-right MEP Andrew Brons (former BNP) out of the European Parliament.

The Green Party’s lead candidate for Yorkshire and Humber seat will be Cllr Andrew Cooper, currently national energy spokesperson and a Kirklees councillor for over 10 years.

The standing MEP, Andrew Brons, last year resigned from the BNP after a public row with the leader and fellow MEP, Nick Griffin.  The BNP’s quest to find an alternative candidate looks increasingly desperate though as they put out one appeal after another for candidate applications – each time extending the deadline.

The BNP picked up some 120,000 votes (9.8%) in the 2009 election while the Green Party narrowly missed out on gaining a third MEP with 104,000 votes (8.5%).

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Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

Channel 4 has announced that it will broadcast a call to prayer every day during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

As you could imagine, the tabloids have jumped on this.

The Sun goes with the headline ‘Ramadan a ding dong’ and goes on to explain:

“Daily broadcast of Muslim call to prayer ‘stunt’ could inflame tension”

The article expands on this point through the ever valuable medium of the UKIP’s spokesman. The Sun writes:

“But UKIP accused Channel 4 of a cynical PR stunt and said it risked further inflaming tension between communities in the wake of the Woolwich killing of soldier Lee Rigby – allegedly linked to Islamic extremists.

A spokesman said: “This is a priceless piece of attention seeking. I cannot believe that the majority of mainstream Muslims want to see this. It will inflame community tension.”

In light of this, I have a few questions for the editor of The Sun:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer will inflame community tension?
  • Would you agree that quoting “Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, accused of encouraging terrorism” and “Abu Zakariyya, of the radical Islamic Emergency Defence Group”  as your two Muslim representatives might be more of a cause of ‘inflaming community tensions’, than the broadcasting of the call to prayer?
  • Did you approach the Muslim Council of Britain for a quote? If yes, why did you not run with it? If no, why not?
  • Why did you use a UKIP quote in this story? What connection do they have to broadcasting, Islam, sociology or any other element to this story?
  • Do you accept that the structure and nature of your article perpetuates the false link between Islam as a religion adhered to by millions and the extremist violent ideology adhered to by a minority and that this link risks ‘inflaming community tensions’?

And of course a few questions for UKIP:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer that will inflame community tension?
  • Do you feel that The Daily Express’ use of the adjective ‘fury’ to describe your party’s reaction to the news is accurate? If so have you considered collective anger management for the party (it could be part of the membership deal)?
  • Can you explain how Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer differs to the BBC’s decision to broadcast a Sunday morning service? If you’re answer is numbers (more people are Christian) can you explain why you think a broadcaster should not show minority interests?
  • Can you really not believe that the majority of Muslim’s would want to see Ramadan highlighted like this?
  • How would you respond to the accusation that your party is a baseless bandwagon jumping parasite?

Lastly, an open question to anyone:

  • Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive….feel free to suggest others.

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UKIP, “the laziest party in Europe” – didn’t we already know this though?

In a rare example of accountability, the Mirror has today branded UKIP the ‘laziest party in Europe’.

The story highlights the far-right party’s voting record, the worse of any political party in Europe. UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage it reports, has the 5th to worst voting record out of all 752 Members of the European Parliament.

Two of the politicians that fared worse than Farage were his UKIP colleagues Godfrey Bloom and UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall. UKIP MEPs missed approximately a third of all votes they were expected to attend.

Quite rightly, Conservative MEP leader Richard Ashworth condemned this voting record saying, “UKIP bank the salary, pocket the expenses, but don’t turn up to do the work. They let their country down.”

The problem though rests in the fact that this article represents an exception to the rule. It represents a rare example of holding our elected representatives in Brussels to account.

Think about, when was the last time you read a story about a vote in the European Parliament compared to a story about a vote in the UK parliament?

The only reason this story has appeared in our national press now, is because of the impact UKIP is currently enjoying on our national UK politics.

Indeed, the almost exact same story was ignored by our press back in 2010 when Labour MEP Mary Honeyball blogged about UKIP’s voting record.

This situation though, of what is happening in Brussels being ignored by the majority of the British media, is nothing new. Let me give you an example.

In 2011 the then Tory (now UKIP) MEP, Roger Helmer, tweeted overtly homophobic comments (and indeed dismissed the whole notion of homophobia as, “a propaganda device designed to denigrate and stigmatise those holding conventional opinions”). These outrageous comments were picked up, but only by online blogs such as Liberal Conspiracy*.

Take though the recent comments by Tory MP David Davies (he commented that parents “wouldn’t want gay children”). On this occasion, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The BBC and Mirror all picked up on these comments.

One comment made by a MP, the other by a MEP.

In the last few years Tory MEPs have voted against opposition to the death penalty, against basic measures to combat climate change and against women’s rights. Where is the public and media outrage?

UKIP embarrassing Britain in Brussels is nothing new, but because of their success in the recent elections, our papers now deem it newsworthy!

*This comment in no way means to belittle online blogs such as Liberal Conspiracy which holds a readership comparable to much of the mainstream media. But the comment aims to highlight the different editorial standards blogs and traditional papers hold. 

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An Englishness that appeals to me

Traditionally I was one who would rather sit on the fence,
take it or leave it I wasn’t concerned to jump to the defence,
of this rather dense idiotic abstract notion of Englishness,
but like a true Brit, against the odds, I defend this underdog.

Like it’s a demi-god I worship that afternoon cup of tea,
the crashing sea that laps up onto our shores for an eternity,
our punctuality, our sense of hospitality and our individuality,
this is what makes pride pulse through me, not the EDL’s idiocy.

You see, when those EDL thugs takes to the streets, to shout,
that those Muslims don’t know what Englishness is about.
What do we see, but those Muslims responding with, cups of tea.
What a fucking beautiful sight to see, an Englishness that appeals to me.

At the same time I listen to the EDL shouts, of ‘get those black cunts out’
and because they are defiantly not racist they clarify it aint the blacks,
they just seem to attract the flak, it’s those immigrants we want to go back,
it’s all those god-damn Pakistanis, corner shop owners, the free-loaders.

Well here’s the low down, and tell me if you need me to slow down,
my understanding of Englishness can be simplified to one question,
this question, asked when your chips are down and you’re nearly out is,
how’d you respond to adversity? With some anger and arrogance or…

a nice cup of tea.

Now that’s an Englishness that appeals to me.

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UKIP’s glass ceiling

As the UKIP media frenzy spirals further out of control, I take a quick look at why UKIP is doomed for political failure. 

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has declared that his party’s recent local election results represent the “first substantial step towards a party that can credibly win seats at Westminster.”

Sadly, for UKIP at least, this seems as far from realty as UKIP’s policies. Let me explain why

UKIP are edging closer and closer to a glass ceiling, a point at which the party in its current form cannot pass. The reasons for this are numerous but let me pick out two, starting with the most obvious –their policies.

UKIP stands alongside a set of policies that are described in the Independent as ‘a wet-dream’ for the far-right. They call for a tax-cut for the wealthiest while suggesting lower earners should pay more income tax (through a flat-rate 31% income tax), they want to abolish national insurance, and of course they think that climate change, well, doesn’t exist!

Liberal Democrat blogger Mark Pack put’s it less favourably summarizing their policy as, “a 1950s-style society of white men at work, white women at home and gays in the closet.”

Not only are these sorts of policies repulsive to protest voters on the centre-left but they are also far beyond what most on the right would call for.

When it comes to the crunch time of 2015, few will actually want UKIP in parliament. In Lab/Con marginals few Tory voters will risk letting Labour in through the back door.

Which leads me to my second point – the electoral system.

Mike Smithson over at Political Betting has today blogged saying, “the harsh fact for Ukip [is] that by having a vote that’s more evenly spread across the country then they would not win any MPs.” His comments are based on the well respected Rallings and Thrasher projection.

We have seen time and time again small parties failing to grasp the political nettle because of our electoral system. The SDP stand as good example who at their peak polled support over 50% and we all know how that ended.

The contemporary Green Party serve as another illustration. Polls suggest that Green policies are more popular than any other party and yet in FPTP elections they have, with only the odd exception that I will come on to,  consistently failed to break-through.

Popularity does not equal success in the broken politics of the UK.

However, the Greens actually serve to illustrate another lesson for UKIP – a lesson that I doubt they will listen to. In 2010 the Greens threw their energy, volunteer base and limited money at Brighton to ensure Caroline Lucas was elected. They succeeded, but at a price. They struggled in all of their other target seats.

What was impressive about the Greens in this sense is that they did what they could within a broken system; they consolidated their efforts into one seat. Will UKIP follow this lead?

As I write, UKIP show no signs taking on such a strategy but instead they semm to be continuing their world domination rhetoric fueled by the media frenzy that is following them.

Even if UKIP do follow the Greens lead, what one seat will they focus on? Unlike the Greens (who have been building their support in Brighton for the last 15 years) UKIP do not have any natural constituency home.

A word of warning to finish on though, UKIP have not yet reached their glass ceiling. In 2014 we have elections for the European Parliament and more local elections. There are many reasons to think that UKIP stands to do very well in these elections.

Equally, this last weekend William Hill was offering odds of 5/1 on UKIP winning a by-election before the general election takes place.

UKIP are a doomed political force destined for the political obscurities of Hamilton after dinner party speeches. The question that concerns us all though is how damage they will reap before they hit their glass ceiling and start their inevitable demise?

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BNP opt for sex over elections in battle for racial purity

The British National Party (BNP) has lost all three seats they were looking to defend in the 2013 local elections. This includes Burnley which was the nearest thing to a safe seat the party had.

In light of this electoral battering the party sent out this bizarre message to members suggesting “that BNP members and nationalists across the schools of nationalism engage in making babies.”

You can’t make this up.

In an effort to “rebuild the ethnic British race” they are calling for a two-fold strategy of increased white European immigration combined with boosting the ‘nationalist’ reproduction rate.

As far as political strategies go – this is extraordinary even by BNP standards.

One thinks that there might be a bit of confusion in BNP HQ at the moment.

 

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Boycotting Sunderland FC is the only appropriate and moral response to their recent installation of a fascist manager

This is the final article in a short series on Social Justice First about the state of modern football.

Paulo Di Canio, a fascist (in all probability), is now sitting at the helm of one of Britain’s most respected football clubs. The only way to remove him from such a prestigious position is for the fans to implement a boycott of the club.

For the last two years I have been calling for a boycott of Swindon Town FC – Di Canio’s former employers.

"I am not political... I do not support the ideology of fascism" - Paulo Di Canio

Few in the midst of the media scrum that followed his appointment to Sunderland commented on his two year reign at Swindon Town. Barney Ronay at the Guardian was the exception to this rule when he wroteDi Canio has been manager of Swindon for two years without complaint…there is an excellent point to be made about the lack of attention paid to events in the lower leagues.”

He was right on one count. The whole Di Canio debacle shows the unhealthy media spotlight that is shined upon the Premiership leaving the lower leagues in its shadow.

Just as the next big things can be spotted playing in the lower leagues, so the next big problem can also often be found there.

Barney was wrong however to assert that Di Canio spent two years at Swindon without complaint.

I was complaining and complaining loud.

Back in 2011 I wrote that Swindon should be embarrassed to employ a man who is a symbol of modern fascism and called for all fans to boycott the club.

I finished that article by appealing to the Swindon fans saying, “The message has to come from the supporters. Sack him for the reputation of the club.”

This message was ignored by most, if not all, Swindon fans. Could it be different for Sunderland?

At the heart of every football fan is passionate burning desire for success. Regardless of Di Canio’s politics he delivered promotion to Swindon. Success on the pitch acted to numb the consciousness of many Swindon fans. Promotion enabled them to look the other way.

Although this isn’t an excuse for their silence, it does at least act as an explanation.

For Sunderland fans there is little chance of this level of success and this might act as the catalyst for his dismissal or at least a de facto boycott (drop in gate sales).

The harder question though sits with all of the non-Swindon and non-Sunderland fans. Di Canio has been a manager in the UK for over two years now; why have they not spoken out until now?

Not my club, not my problem was the most common response from non-Swindon fans that I spoke to over the last few years.

Let’s be clear though: it is our problem. Fascism has no place in a modern tolerant democracy. Fascism, by its nature, invokes a support for authoritarianism coupled with a questionable understanding of culture and national identity. Is this what Sunderland want in a figurehead?

This issue moves beyond just fascism though.

In a macabre game of ‘footballing extremist ideology bingo’ we are now erring towards a full house in modern football. We’ve got racists, we’ve got homophobes, and now, to complete the set, we have a self-declared fascist.

While the footballing establishment has at least started to tackle the first two problems, there remains uncertainty about how, or even if they should, tackle fascism.

Once again this is why the message needs to come from the fans that fascism has no place in the game.

Look either side of you on the terraces and you will see people who not only fought fascism but also know people who died at the hands of fascists. The horrors of the 20th century are not as far away as some think.

It pains me to have to write this, but being a fascist is not just being ‘a bit right wing’ – it is lending your tacit support to a movement that oversaw the mass death of millions.

At best Di Canio will stay quiet. At worst though, the poisonous ideology that this confused Italian extrovert follows will drip into his decisions and affect the players underneath him.

Just as Marcel Desailly would probably choose to never play for a team that Ron Atkinson managed, so I doubt any Italian with immigrant descendants would want to play for Sunderland.

For the good of British football, for the good of Sunderland FC and for all those who spent their lives fighting fascism I call on everyone to boycott the Stadium of Light until Di Canio has either renounced all aspects of fascism or left the club.

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A response to: “May the wicked scum responsible for bombing the Boston marathon rot in hell”

This a guest post by my very good friend, Mike Assenti.

Yesterday someone I have a great deal of respect for posted the following on Facebook not long after the news broke of the Boston Marathon bombing:

“May the wicked scum responsible for bombing the Boston marathon rot in hell.”

This really pissed me off.

Far be it from me to undermine the serious and tragic nature of this horrific act – having run a couple of half marathons I know very well the fantastic and generous atmosphere of these sporting events, and can think of few times when so many people who have worked so hard to raise money for charity are all gathered in one place. At the time of writing, 3 people have died and over 150 have been injured, many terribly, and I feel nothing but compassion and pity for those affected. However, something about the extremity of the hate in this kneejerk reaction has really gotten under my skin, particularly given my affection for the person concerned. Unfortunately, they are far from alone, and so this blogpost is an attempt to counter the attitudes present in this and many other reactions to these and similar events.

There are a number of issues here, one of which is the general response to atrocities that take place in the West compared with the far more everyday occurrences elsewhere in the world. In the run up to elections this weekend in Iraq, a spate of car bombs have killed dozens (http://goo.gl/22imY), and injured hundreds more, but the mundanity of these events demotes the story way below Boston and Thatcher, and I have no reason to think that it won’t continue to do so.

I can’t remember seeing a single Facebook update from my friends or family on these bombings. To be clear, I am not making any sort of judgment on those people who have not erupted in outpourings of sympathy for those victims in Iraq – I am as guilty as anyone else of allowing the whole event to pass by as another unfortunate background event. Lurking somewhere in the back of my head is the Scroobius Pip lyric from ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ (http://goo.gl/JFGV)

“Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries, as to those that occur in English speaking countries”.

Another issue is the condemnation of this attack when considered next to other, ongoing killings, such as continuing US drone strikes. This is summarised, amongst other related issues, far more eloquently by Glenn Greenwald in his first point from this article: http://goo.gl/wKgbK. He writes,

…”it was really hard not to find oneself wishing that just a fraction of that compassion and anger be devoted to attacks that the US perpetrates rather than suffers. These are exactly the kinds of horrific, civilian-slaughtering attacks that the US has been bringing to countries in the Muslim world over and over and over again for the last decade, with very little attention paid.”

There are a number of pretty astonishing statistics when you look at the death tolls from US drone strikes, not least the 174 children killed in drone strikes in Pakistan alone over the last decade (http://goo.gl/QU1qi). The quantities of these attacks have ballooned under Obama’s presidency, no doubt devastating countless lives and families, the vast majority of which are civilians caught in the crossfire. Should President Obama be held accountable for these deaths? There’s certainly a strong argument that he should, but until recently the silence on the issue of the very principle of these drone strikes has been deafening.

I think that the most important part of this is the need to refrain from jumping to conclusions before there is sufficient evidence to form an opinion. Already many in the American media have been unable to resist speculating whether this is an Islamic Jihadi attack (http://goo.gl/tVtz6) in the same vein as 9/11, despite there currently being no evidence to support this. Having said that, the sheer lack of evidence so far in this incident means that most have little choice but to remain open minded at this point. We simply do not know who set off these bombs or why they did so.

In Norway in 2011, Anders Breivik set off a car bomb killing 8 people, and shot a further 69 at a youth camp, most of which were teenagers. In response to his ultra-right wing views and apparent lack of remorse during his fair and open trial, the vast majority of Norwegian people displayed astonishing courage and conviction by maintaining their support for the democracy and tolerance to which Breivik was so opposed (http://goo.gl/ZRF1H). They reacted to a terrible tragedy calmly and sensibly, with compassion for the victims and justice for the perpetrator (true justice, not a mob lynching), and in doing so displayed remarkable strength as a society.

Whatever the investigation into these bombings reveals, it is likely that the reasons behind this attack are complex and multi-faceted. Obama’s drone program takes place for a multitude of reasons, many of which would seem reasonable to those of us in the West, but likely less so to the victims of a drone strike.

In my personal opinion, little is gained from the expression of hate by ANY party, whether verbally or through violence. The attack on Boston last weekend was a despicable, tragic, pointless act, and those responsible must face justice in a fair, transparent way with all of the complex evidence present, whoever they are. Similarly, we must try to look through this same prism when considering these other acts around the world, regardless of their frequency, and regardless of who commits such acts. Better still, the people of Norway have demonstrated that it is possible to do so with courage and magnanimity even in the face of great tragedy and loss.

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