Dec 10 2014

Britain First pitch up in Nottingham

This blog has been quiet for a few months, partly because we’ve been busy with other projects, and partly because there has been very little to report from the far-right in our region.  However, this happy absence of muppets has ended with a day-trip by Britain First to Nottingham last Saturday.

 

Britain First - reclaiming the flat cap for fascism

Britain First in action earlier in the year – reclaiming the flat cap for fascism

 

We hear that about 15-20 of the BNP offshoot were in the city leafletting as part of their”national action”.  Easy to spot in their green knock-off leisurewear, their main focus seemed to be attempting to intimidate an islamic info street stall.  The wannabe “street defence organisation” were apparently taken aback at the refusal of the young muslims to wilt before their verbal onslaught, and a number of passersby also showed their disdain for Britain First and their clumsy attempt at provocation.  After a bit of standing around and scowling, the fascists dispersed.

Having been countered by effective opposition when they declared a “national tour” earlier in the year, and more recently in Rochester, Britain First have obviously decided that turning up unannounced gives them a chance to mobilise with no organised opposition.  It’s a shame that they were able to leaflet unchallenged for a while in Nottingham, but good to hear that they were not well received on the streets.  Despite their clownish incompetence, Britain First are attempting to establish themselves as a provocative fascist street presence, and anti-fascists need to keep an eye out for them and counter them wherever they may crawl into the light.

 


Jun 8 2014

EDL activities (and opposition) in north Notts

We hear reports that the EDL (remember them?) have been active, in a manner of speaking, in north Notts. In March, a group of five held a flash demo outside the Savanna Rags factory in Mansfield, where 30 immigrant workers had recently been arrested for illegal working.  What exactly this has to do with the EDL’s stated purpose of “protesting about islamic extremism” is unclear….

savanna

 

More recently, the EDL latched onto the anniversary of the grim murder of soldier Lee Rigby to hold a “memorial walk” in Sutton-in-Ashfield on May 25th (despite the Rigby family’s opposition to political groups attempting to take advantage of his death).  Around 20 EDL turned up, and were opposed by a similar number of anti-fascists in Sutton.

edlsutton

Despite police attempts to keep the two groups apart, after a brief scuffle the EDL were left minus one of their flags.  This is reminiscent of an occasion four years ago not so far away in Ripley, when the NF lost a flag to anti-fascists, and also echoes successful games of antifa “capture the flag” played at various demos this year….

Mansfield and Ashfield EDL may be small and incompetent, but they seem to be trying to get out on the streets locally, and so anti-fascists will be watching them with interest.


May 28 2014

Euro election results

Last week’s elections for the European parliament were a significant national success story for UKIP, and the East Midlands echoed this unwelcome trend.  UKIP polled first in our region with 32.9% of the vote – one of the highest proportions returned from any region.  There are now two UKIP, two tory and one labour MEPs in the East Midlands.

The results for the small far-right parties were, happily, very poor.  Mirroring their national decline, the BNP polled only 1.64% of the East Midlands vote (down from 8.7% in 2009, the largest percentage downswing of any party).  They got even less votes here than the new and obscure AIFE eurosceptic party, and their disastrous electoral meltdown continues.  Ex-MEP Nick Griffin is vowing to continue as party leader – welcome news for anti-fascists, who applaud the greedy incompetent as he drags the BNP further into the political wilderness.  Keep up the good work, Nick!

The English Democrats polled just over 1%, down from 2.3% in 2009.


May 25 2014

East Midlands local election results

 

Derbyshire BNP freefall continues

As predicted, the BNP’s four candidates in the region polled very poorly in Thursday’s local council elections.

In Amber Valley, Derbyshire, Ken Cooper came in fourth place in Ripley Ward with 80 votes – 3.2% of the poll.  In Codnor & Waingroves ward, Alan Edwards also came fourth with 39 votes, 2.8% of the poll.  However, both BNP candidates narrowly beat the LibDems into fifth place.  These results are even poorer than the 2010 elections, when the BNP polled 7.5% in Ripley and 4.2% in Codnor & Waingroves.

In Derby, Paul Hilliard came last in Chaddesden ward with 4% of the poll (136 votes), whilst Carol Tucker also came last in Derwent ward, with 3.1% (84 votes).  This is a significant drop from their performance in similar elections in 2012, when Hilliard polled 14.7% in Chaddesden and Julie Fuller polled 11.9% in Derwent.  That performance was itself a disappointment for the BNP in 2012 – how much lower can they go?

We have been enjoying Derbyshire BNP’s downhill trajectory for a few years now, and it’s good to see it continue.

 

New UKIP councillors

The most significant feature of the local elections was the dramatic rise in fortunes of UKIP.  They now have increased representation on several local councils in the region, with 8 councillors in North-East Lincolnshire, 3 in Daventry, and 2 in Derby.

Whilst enjoying the increased electoral irrelevance of the BNP and their ilk, the entry into the mainstream of a new brand right-wing nationalism in the guise of UKIP poses significant fresh challenges for antifascists.  We will be monitoring UKIP in the region closely.  This piece from the IWCA, written a year ago, is an interesting contribution to this vital issue.


May 21 2014

Far-right election candidates in the region

There are a number of fascist candidates standing in this week’s Euro Parliament and local council elections :

European parliament

BNP : Cathy Duffy, Robert West, Bob Brindley, Geoffrey Dickens, Paul Hillard.

English Democrats : Kevin Sills, Dave Wickham, John Dowle, Oliver Healey, Terry Spencer.

 

Cathy Duffy...she's not going to be an MEP...

Cathy Duffy…she’s not going to be an MEP

Cathy Duffy from Charnwood is the obvious choice for head of the BNP list, being a rare animal – one of the party’s two local councillors in the whole country.  The inclusion of Paul ‘Aloe Vera’ Hilliard as the last candidate on the list shows how his stock has fallen in the party, with outright fruitcake and twitter twat Bob Brindley selected above him.

 

Kevin Sills - nor is he...

Kevin Sills – nor is he…

The English Democrats are the usual mix of ex-members of other far-right parties, and people who find UKIP a bit liberal.  Veteran party-swopper Kevin Sills is their lead candidate.

 

Councils

Amber Valley : Alan Edward (Codnor & Waingroves), Ken Cooper (Ripley).

Derby : Paul Hilliard (Chaddesden), Carol Tucker (Derwent).

The most interesting feature of the local candidate list is how sparse it is, with only four candidates from the BNP standing in our region, all in Derbyshire.  This reflects the general decline of the party, who are fielding 114 candidates nationwide, compared to 739 in the equivalent elections in 2010.  The party seems extremely unlikely to add to its pitiful national tally of two councillors.

 

Although these elections promise very lean pickings for the BNP and their ilk, it’s likely – and alarming – that UKIP will do well (taking votes from all parties, including the BNP).  They are standing numerous candidates in both Euro and council elections, have a huge campaign budget, and have a high national profile.  Although their politics are vague and vacuous, they are undoubtedly pushing the political discourse to the right and need to be opposed.  The results of Thursday’s elections will make interesting reading.

 


Mar 18 2014

Far-right fantasist admits Leicester pub hoax

The aptly named Joshua Bonehill-Paine has been hauled in front of Yeovil Magistrates Court for instigating an internet hoax about a pub in Leicester banning military personnel.

Far-right fantasist Joshua Bonehill-Paine

Far-right fantasist Joshua Bonehill-Paine

Bonehill-Paine is “the founder” of website The Daily Bale (“a news source which cares about the British people”). The site modestly claims that Bonehill-Paine “is now recognised as one of Britain’s most relentless and fearless names in the fight against left wing political correctness and left wing fascism, racism, intimidation, manipulation and left wing fascist bullying of the British people.”

Bonehill-Paine used the website to claim that The Globe had banned British armed forces, allegedly to avoid offending the immigrant population. This was, of course, a complete fabrication.

Bonehill-Paine’s lie attracted interest from all the usual mouth breathers and there were threats to firebomb the presmises and attack or kill staff. According to Chris Bulaitis, managing director of the pub group, “We had over 1,000 calls on the Saturday of people threatening to firebomb the pub, beat up the staff, who believed, absolutely believed, that we had banned military personnel. The only thing we could do was shut the pub for the safety of the customers and our staff.”

It will come as little surprise to anybody who casts even a cursory glance over the Daily Bale, but this was not Bonehill-Paine’s first hoax. According to the BBC:

Bonehill-Paine and the Daily Bale have been responsible for other false claims published online but he has not been prosecuted over these.

Last year his website created a hoax missing person poster, claiming a six-year-old girl had been “kidnapped by an Asian grooming gang”.

The hoax poster went on to be shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, with many people believing the claim to be true.

Speaking to BBC Asian Network, Bonehill-Paine said he wanted to create “a shocking campaign” that people would “share quickly on social media”.

Another article posted on the website in September falsely claimed an Asian youth had punched a two-month-old baby twice in the face, then thrown the infant against a brick wall in Middlesbrough. It contained a graphic photo of an injured baby.

The 21-year-old, from Yeovil, admitted one charge of malicious communication. The hearing was adjourned and Bonehill-Paine will be sentenced on 4 April.


Feb 21 2014

EDL remnants to protest in Grantham

On Saturday the EDL (or whatever remains of it) will be holding a demonstration in Grantham, in protest against the construction of an Islamic community centre.

Locals, organised as the Grantham Solidarity Network, are planning a peaceful counter-demo. They have also received support from Lincoln Against Racism and Fascism.

Various far-right groups have been active in Lincolnshire in recent years. There have been protests in Skegness against a halal slaughterhouse (in which the EDL, BNP and NF have all pretended to be animal rights activists), in Lincoln against the construction of a mosque and in Boston against migrant workers. This is mirrored by the rise of UKIP in the county.

This is a worrying trend, particularly given how hopelessly ineffective the far-right have been elsewhere in the East Midlands recently. Hopefully with the EDL in something of a rut at the moment, Saturday’s protest will not be one of their better day trips.

 


Jan 18 2014

2013 Fascist Roundup

The fascists are starting 2014 in a grim place. Tommy Robinson’s desertion of the EDL has left the organisation in a shambles which barely managed to get 200 members to the organisation’s latest national demo in Exeter. EDL members are now outnumbered many times over by antifascists at their demos. As if this woeful state of affairs wasn’t enough, 32 EDL activists were recently jailed for a total of more than 55 years for their involvement in violent disorder at the EDL’s Walsall demonstration. Among those sentenced were Kirk Jones (33 months), Mick Thomas (28 months) and Christopher Boyall (24 months) from Leicestershire and Kirk Reeves from Derbyshire (18 months). They will join the vast majority of the North West Infidels who are already serving time for violent disorder and former EDL leader, Guramit Singh, who will be serving 6 1/2 years for the attempted robbery of a Hucknall garden centre.

Kirk Jones of Hinkley EDL: three years inside

Kirk Jones of Hinkley EDL: three years inside

The BNP has lost almost all of its seats and looks likely to lose the rest this year. Amusingly, Nick Griffin was declared (financially) bankrupt this month and has resorted to filming a white supremacist version of Ready, Steady, Cook! to make ends meet. He is not predicted to hold onto his MEP seat in the North West. The BNP has lost out badly to UKIP’s somewhat less amateurish political campaigning on issues such as immigration.

Various half-witted attempts to Unite the (extreme) Right have been made and all of them have failed badly. Derbyshire ex-EDL has-been, Tony “Tone the Moan” Curtis, joined up with the EVF, South East something-or-other, Casuals Divided and some other even less significant names in the English National Resistance but it all fell apart after only a matter of months when it became clear that there were only 12 of them. Curtis masterminded a demonstration at the University of Nottingham but the 6 men and a dog didn’t even make it onto the campus before surrendering and going to the pub instead.

Meanwhile, Derby BNP organiser Paul Hilliard’s attempts at unity descended into farce when all the different Nazi sects fell out with one another and he gave up in despair. Hilliard, once a BNP superactivist, may now have left the party.

Some important victories were made by anti-fascists on the streets. When the combined shambles of Casuals United, the EVF and other far right hangers-on returned to Brighton for their “March for England” they were literally kicked out of town by a large and militant anti-fascist mobilisation. Likewise, the fading EDL were massively outnumbered by anti-fascists when they returned to Tower Hamlets in September. Militant anti-fascists led a breakaway march which got to the EDL’s route before being kettled by hundreds of police. These mobilisations were the results of considerable hard work by local anti-fascist groups and the Anti-Fascist Network.

It wasn’t all good news though. The murder of serving soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamists in the summer led to an irruption of support for the EDL who exploited the event mercilessly. Large “memorial” events were held by Leicester and Nottingham EDL which were not countered effectively by anti-fascists who had been caught off-guard. Then came the Strong movement, giving racist extremists a soft patriotic veneer to cloak their organising. Mansfield Strong, for example, turned out to be run by long-time EDL activist, Stan Green. Racist abuse against people perceived to be Muslims soared in the aftermath of the Rigby murder, which showed what a reserve of reactionary and racist sentiment exists throughout the country. It is only thanks to the utter incompetence of fascist organisations in the UK that not more damage has been done.

The anti-Islam backlash that the Rigby murder generated culminated in the actions of Pavlo Lapshyn, a racist terrorist who carried out a number of unsuccessful bomb attacks on mosques in the West Midlands as well as murdering an elderly Muslim man. His campaign highlighted once again the growing rise of far-right terrorism in the UK, a phenomenon which is very real, even if reporting on it does not sell papers. In illustration, the year also saw the trial of a “neo-Nazi” Loughborough teenager who plotted massacres and stockpiled home made explosives and weapons.

Another parallel manifestation of the growing reactionary sentiment in the UK was the rise in popularity of UKIP. The party, which panders to racism and xenophobia, did extremely well in local elections winning 16 seats on Lincolnshire County Council alone. Many of these new councillors turned out, unsurprisingly, to have far right views on race and immigration as well as former membership of the BNP and EDL. At present, UKIP poses a much greater threat to values of tolerance and working class solidarity than any of the insignificant openly far right organisations, and is much harder to mobilise against due to the party’s “cleaner” image, supported by extremists and soft patriots alike.

So whilst the “traditional” franchises of far right and fascist politics are in terminal decline, reactionary sentiment, cooked up by a political and media establishment to divide and rule the working class, is alive and well. A growing number of racists are acting alone, to plot bombings and murders at one end of the spectrum, or to perpetrate racially and religiously abusive online attacks at the other. Meanwhile, UKIP provides the possibility of political respectability and a chance of power for people who hate foreignness. The fascists haven’t gone away – they’ve just changed their clothing.

In response anti-fascists need to reassess their strategies. Simply continuing to follow the increasingly demoralised EDL and BNP around the country might make us feel good, but it is not going to stop fascism. The anti-fascist movement is going to have to look for new tactics and new arenas of activity if it wants to remain relevant and effective.


Dec 9 2013

Another Lincolnshire UKIP loudmouth

The recent “repatriation” rant by Lincolnshire UKIP councillor Victoria Ayling has once again shone a spotlight on the obnoxious views held by some members of the right-wing party (although it’s worth noting that she was still a Tory councillor when she launched her rant, five years ago!).  Lincolnshire UKIPites aren’t very good at hiding their less palatable opinions – they were in the news earlier in the year for posting racist nonsense on their facebook accounts.  It’s entirely unsurprising that a party which specialises in whipping up resentment about immigration will be a fertile breeding ground for racist views.  Countering the propaganda of the likes of UKIP should be a priority for antifascists in the region.

Two gurning bigots : Farage and Ayling


Oct 29 2013

How many lone wolves do you need before you have a pack?

The conviction of racist terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn has got one murdering scumbag off the streets, but we should not delude ourselves that the problem of racist-inspired acts of terrorism has disappeared.

Lapshyn may have been acting alone, as has been claimed, but it is clear he was fuelled by prejudices and hatreds which have inspired many others to carry out terrorist campaigns. He is not an isolated case.

“Lone wolves”

A teenager from Loughborough, who was associated with the EDL’s Leicester Division, is currently on trial at the Old Bailey accused of “plotting a terrorist attack, having a terrorist manual, and possessing parts for an improvised explosive”. He kept a notebook of potential targets which included Loughborough mosque and had a Nazi flag above his bed.

This not a new development. In 2011, Searchlight Magazine published a report looking at “lone wolf” terrorists in the UK, which included “case studies of nearly 40 individuals holding  far-right political views who have been convicted for violence or terrorist offences” between the 1960s and the date of publication.

Fortunately, most of these wannabe-terrorists suffered from the same incompetence which has traditionally characterised the British far-right, but some managed to carry out their plans, inflicting harm on innocent victims. Perhaps the most famous example is the “Brixton bomber” David Copeland who killed three people, including a pregnant woman, and injured 139, four of whom lost limbs.

International problem

This is not a uniquely British problem. Recent years have seen Anders Breivik’s killing spree in Norway, the discovery of a neo-Nazi terrorist cell in Germany, the murder of two Senegalese street vendors in Italy by a right-wing extremist to name only three high-profile incidents.

Meanwhile, in the US, The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) reported:

Between 1990 and 2010 there were 145 ideologically motivated homicide incidents committed by far-right extremists in the United States.

Including the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed 168 individuals, far-right extremists killed 348 individuals during ideologically motivated homicide events between 1990 and 2010. Excluding that attack, far-right extremists killed 180 individuals between 1990 and 2010.

This isn’t meant to scare you. It isn’t like you’re going to trip over a fascist bomber everytime you leave the house. Nevertheless, it is clear that this is a big deal.

The state

It isn’t just us who think this issue needs to be taken seriously. It is something which is also beginning to be understood by state security forces.

Charles Farr, Director of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, recently warned:

The biggest weapons caches found in this country in the last five years have been connected with people sympathetic to extreme right-wing causes. More than 30 guns and about 50 explosive devices were found in the possession of Terence Gavan. In terms of sheer quantity, there have been no comparable seizures made in connected with militant Islamists.

Elsewhere, a report by the Department of Homeland Security warned about the issue of right-wing extremism in the US in 2009, but was later repudiated by the Department under pressure from American “conservatives”.

Corporate media

Given the reality of the threat, you might think that it was the kind of thing the mainstream/corporate media would be all over. Whatever their views on militant anti-fascism even the most-conservative rag ought to be able to see the danger posed by fascist terrorists. However, long-time fascist-watcher will be familiar with the contrast between the salacious reporting of supposed Islamist terror threats (many of which disappear once the media loses interest after the initial raids) and the limited or non-existent reporting of the arrest of their fascist counterparts.

In part this might be attributable to the demise of court reporting and serious journalism more widely, in some cases editors may be genuinely unaware of the stories. However, it is clear that in other cases a conscious editorial not to cover these stories. This appears to have happened during the Lapshyn case. Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police David Thompson, writing on his blog, was very critical of the reporting of the police’s appeal for information:

Our circulation of the picture of alleged suspects in the Mosque attacks drew very little coverage; that was frustrating at a time we needed public help. I wonder if you picked another faith and said that there would be a series of bombings at places of worship during a major religious period and the police had a picture of the alleged attacker you might think it would get more coverage?

It is hard to imagine any other explanation for the lack of coverage than the racism Thompson implies.

What is to be done?

Many will look to the state to protect us from this threat and it is true that intervention by the Old Bill has curtailed the terroristic aspirations of many wannabe fascist terrorists. However, we’ve written previously about the dangers of anti-fascist relying on the state. In any case, simply nicking those bombers stupid enough to get caught does nothing to deal with the racist milieu from which they emerge.

Even the genuine “lone wolves” do not wake-up one day and decide to go out and bomb a mosque, they will have been indoctrinated in those ideas, either as part of the far-right (eg David Copeland) or through far-right websites (as appears to have happened with Lapshyn). The best way to prevent that indoctrination is to challenge those ideas and the organisation which disseminate them. In short: we need to build a serious, effective, international anti-fascist movement.