URGENT: Community Action Needed To Stop The BNP

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 12/04/2008 - 14:58.

You may have heard the outrage caused by a number of London local papers (including the prestigious Ham & High) carrying election adverts from the BNP.

The papers are all owned by the Archant newspaper group, who also own the Hackney Gazette.

According to sources, the editor of the Hackney Gazette (who has previously voiced his contempt for the BNP) refused to run the advert in this week’s paper but has been instructed by the parent group to run the advert this week.

The presence of a BNP advert (which will also be a recruitment tool) in a Hackney paper will be an insult to the people of Hackney who have a strong tradition of resisting the BNP and their ilk. It will be an insult to black people, to Jews, to people with disabilities, to trade unionists, to gays and lesbians, to faith leaders, to women and to anyone who opposes their politics of hatred. In fact, there can be hardly anyone in Hackney who will not be repulsed by the thought of the BNP seeking to establish a visible presence in Hackney.

Hackney already has it’s fair share of problems, we must mobilise now to ensure that the BNP is not able to use the GLA elections to form a cell of racist activists in the borough.

The paper goes to press on Wednesday morning we have less than 100 hours to convince Archant to pull the advert.

We are advocating the following campaign plan

1) We want to approach every newsagent in Hackney and ask them to send a fax to Archant protesting at the plan to give advertising space to the BNP and cancelling their order for this week’s paper unless Archant drops the BNP advert. To do this, we need everyone (and I mean everyone) to get out to dozens of newsagents in their part of the borough and explain our concerns. We will, this afternoon, draft a standard letter for shops, which also explains the campaigns objections.

2) We need to approach the regular advertisers (principally estate agents) and ask them to use their economic influence with the Gazette to pressurise for the adverts to be dropped. We need a volunteer to co-ordinate this, it will involve collating the email addresses from the adverts in this week’s paper and sending an email. It will then need to be followed up with phone calls/personal visits.

3) We need some volunteer ‘community leaders’ to seek to meet with Archant on Monday or Tuesday to put our case. This could include representatives of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities as well as groups representing particular ethnic and other groups.

4) Please send email’s of (polite) protest to Archant’s Chair: richard.jewson@archant.co.uk and Chief Executive: john.fry@archant.co.uk, copying in both our campaign co-ordinator, John Page (John.page45@btinternet.com) and the Hackney Gazette editor Mick Ferris (Michael.ferris@archant.co.uk)

While this is a threat, it is also a real opportunity to get our main message across that the BNP are a real threat and that the people of Hackney should vote on May 1st so as to lessen the prospect of the BNP gaining assembly seats in the forthcoming election.

Just 5% of the total vote will gain the BNP a vote and a ‘respectable platform’ for their racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, Islamaphobic, misogynist, politics of hatred.

To prevent the BNP gaining one seat we have to beat them 20–1. It takes a lot of votes to keep the BNP out. Let’s get that message across. We have put out messages to both Searchlight and Unite Against Fascism, seeking to obtain posters and other materials that we can ask newsagents and estate agents to display.

We have the power to keep Hackney BNP free. Let’s not waste the opportunity.

Please reply to this email immediately stating what you can do to help in the next four days.

Please make any other suggestions you believe will help get our message across

Please cascade this information on and ask friends, neighbours and colleagues to get involved.

Many thanks for your support.

John Page
Campaign Co-ordinator


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Submitted by Janine on Sun, 13/04/2008 - 06:52.

Dear Sirs,

I represent a union branch with 6,000 members, around 1,500 of them in east London. I am also member of a committee representing workers from across the whole of London and the South East of England.

I am active in the Hackney Keep Our NHS Public campaign, which has many supporters in the borough, not least among local GPs.

I was deeply shocked to learn that the Archant group is putting pressure on the editor of the Hackney Gazette (my local paper) to carry an election ad from the British National Party.

The BNP, as you know, is a backward, vicious, profoundly racist and sexist organisation, preaching hatred against faith and ethnic groups.

Hackney is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith borough -- its citizens will not accept electioneering from this abhorrent organisation.

If the Gazette carries this ad, I will be circulating my members, and my contacts from the Hackney Keep our NHS Public campaign, telling them to never buy your paper again.

Bronwen Handyside
TGWU Regional Committee (London and South East), TGWU Central London Voluntary Sector, Hackney Keep Our NHS Public campaign

=====

Mr Jewson I understand that the next issue of the Hackney Gazette is intending to carry an advert for the BNP. As an elected representative of the residents if Haggerston I would like to express to you my dismay that you are intending to do this. You must know full well the record of the BNP in raising tensions in various parts in Britain. This has not happened so far in Hackney. And that's the way we want to keep it. However if you go ahead with their advert you will be giving them respectability.

Once they find out I am sure that many of Hackney's newsagents (most of whom are non white) will not be happy to stock the Gazette that carries the advert.

Please let me have an assurance that you will not be carrying any such advert.

I am sure my fellow Councillors (of all parties) will be expressing their unease on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Barry Buitekant
Councillor Haggerston Ward
London Borough of Hackney

=====

Dear Mr Jewson and Mr Fry,

I am writing to express my outrage that you are attempting to force the editor of the Hackney Gazette to publish election advertisements from the BNP.

I am a Jew who has lived in Hackney for 20 years, and my family history in Hackney goes back to the 1930s, when my mother and grandfather were involved in the struggle against the fascists of that time, led by Oswald Mosely. They did not take part in the battle of Cable Street, using the slogan, 'They Shall Not Pass', for you, 70 years later to force the people of Hackney to read fascist rubbish.

It is not an intellectually or humanly viable position to pretend to be neutral when facing fascism. As many political and spiritual leaders have noted, those who try to sit on the fence between the oppressors and the oppressed are simply siding with the oppressor. This only becomes worse if your motivation for wanting to carry the BNP ad is simply wanting to get the advertising revenue.

Although, (or perhaps, because) Hackney is one of the most multicultural boroughs in the country, it has an excellent record of community and race relations. The people of Hackney do not want this spoilt by the BNP, and they have the right not to have fascist propaganda circulated in their communities.

I hope you will reconsider your position and allow the Hackney Gazette to maintain its support and readership in Hackney by reflecting the views of the people of Hackney.

Yours sincerely,
David King


Submitted by Janine on Sun, 13/04/2008 - 14:12.

Dear John

I'm really disappointed to hear that you have this week forced the Hackney Gazette to carry an advert for the BNP. As you probably know, Hackney is a very diverse borough racially, we have an excellent culture of peaceful coexistence and this advert is an insult to all of us.

Please understand how this makes us all feel about the Gazette, the damage it does to your reputation and how you are helping to encourage the BNP's message of hate. Please, please reconsider.

Yours

Peter Jones

=====

Dear Sirs

I write to express my complete alarm at the thought that the Hackney Gazette will be printing an ad trying to recruit people to the BNP. I understand that this ad has already been printed in some of Archant's other newspapers - which is disgusting and whoever took that decision
should be seriously having a rethink about why they went into journalism - to give a voice to racists who peddle hatred and social unrest????? Is that really what local newspapers should be used for???

Anyway, back to Hackney, I have lived here for 20 years, I have read the Hackney Gazette pretty much weekly for all of my adult life, I have written letters to it and contributed to articles in it about local community events. It is a paper which is very much reflective of one of the great positives of Hackney - our multiculturalism. To have an ad from the BNP contained within it is an absolute insult to the people of Hackney, black and white, the majority of whom live with each other within an atmosphere of complete tolerance and often celebration of each other's cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Some facts about the BNP:

1. Nick Griffin was convicted in 1998 for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust.

2. Nick Griffin said in a recent speech: "I'd rather die today with my pride intact, fighting for what I believe in, than live the rest of my life as a sniffling pathetic slave to a multicultural society,"

3. Griffin has also held staunchly homophobic views throughout his time at the BNP. Following the bombing of a gay pub in Soho, in which three people died, Griffin wrote, "The TV footage of dozens of 'gay' demonstrators flaunting their perversion in front of the world's journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive".

4. And finally another quote from Nick Griffin - "I am well aware that the orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated or turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the earth is flat… I have reached the conclusion that the 'extermination' tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie, and latter-day witch-hysteria."

It is so very wrong that this kind of organisation are being given a platform in our local newspaper. We as a community should be coming together in every possible way to stop them getting anywhere, and stop them disturbing us with their vile racism.

I hope you will withdraw the advert and any other BNP publicity you had planned to put in the Hackney Gazette or any other Archant newspaper.

I would be very grateful for a reply.

Yours alarmedly

Molly Mulready-Jones


Submitted by Janine on Sun, 13/04/2008 - 14:12.

Dear Mr Jewson and Mr Fry

I have heard that Archant intends to force the Hackney Gazette to publish an advert from the loathsome British National Party in the run-up to the forthcoming Greater London Assembly. I hope that this is not true - if it is, I strongly urge you to reconsider.

Perhaps you feel that the BNP has a right to free speech and that therefore you must publish its advert. I, too, believe very strongly in free speech. However, the BNP is well able to produce its own propaganda: its right to free speech does not oblige your company to publish its material. I would also ask you to consider what respect for free speech the BNP extends to its political opponents and those (many) groups of people that it despises. How much editorial freedom do you think your newspapers would enjoy in a society governed by the BNP?

The BNP's election advert may or may not be explicitly racist. If it is, I would like to think it would be obvious to you that you should not publish it. If it is not, though, I still believe that you should not, because doing so would assist the BNP in its manipulative, deceitful project of presenting itself as 'reasonable'. Behind that 'reasonable' facade is a fascist organisation determined to achieve its aims through scapegoating, violence and repression of democracy, a party that poses a direct physcial threat to many people, and to a big majority of Hackney residents.

The BNP has built support over recent years by presenting itself as the champion of white working-class people. Sadly, the fact that government policy has cut and privatised many NHS services, and has neglected housing estates, has given the BNP the political space to do this, lying to people that it is ethnic minorities, rather than government policy, that have caused the inadequacies in our public services. Do not assist the BNP in perpetrating these racist, anti-working-class lies. Where the BNP succeeds in doing so, communities become divided and physical attacks increase.

The purpose of the BNP's advert is not harmless electioneering, but as a platform to organise a physcial threat to our communities. We have a right to defend ourselves against this threat, including to demand that our local newspaper does not assist those who threaten us.

Yours

Janine Booth
President, Hackney Trades Union Council


Submitted by Janine on Thu, 17/04/2008 - 09:52.

Dear Mr Fry,

I am writing to you to express my extreme disgust at having heard that Archant have allowed the British National Party to place advertisements in some of their London newspapers. I have now seen the advertisement placed in the Ham & High and must say that I am amazed that you would give such a platform to the group.

In case you have not been exposed to the policies of the BNP it is useful to know that one of their key policies, should they be elected to power, is to encourage the return of non-white populations to their “homeland”. I am sure you can imagine how insulting this policy is to the ancestors of slaves. The BNP also openly opposes mixed-race marriages, including mixed-race children; homosexual relationships; and denies that non-white residents of this country (no matter how long they have lived here, how far back their family goes in this country) are British.

These are not just views that are disagreeable, they are policies that espouse hatred and segregation of different groups. I am not just concerned for the fact that readers will find the placement of BNP advertisements offensive but that by default Archant is legitimising these views.

You may also be aware that I write a regular column in the Hackney Gazette. I am not comfortable with the publication of my articles in a newspaper that contains an advertisement for the BNP. I am therefore requesting that you a) do not place any BNP advertisements in the Hackney Gazette and b) abstain from placing any more such advertisements in your other newspapers. As one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country, there is a strong anti-racist movement in Hackney. Hackney and Stoke Newington residents would be appalled were they to open their weekly Gazette and find an advert for a racist organisation. It is thus also in your commercial interests to rethink your decision.

Yours sincerely
Diane Abbott MP


Submitted by Janine on Thu, 17/04/2008 - 09:54.

Dear Sirs,

I was deeply shocked to learn that the Archant group is putting pressure on the editor of the Hackney Gazette (my local paper) to carry an election advert from the British National Party.

The BNP, as you know, is a backward, vicious, profoundly racist and sexist organisation, preaching hatred against faith and ethnic groups.
Hackney is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith borough - its citizens will not accept electioneering from this abhorrent organisation. There is no place for the politics of hatred in Hackney.

If the Gazette carries this ad, I will be circulating my members telling them to never buy your paper again.

Kind Regards,
Denise McGuire
President of Connect – the union for professionals in communications


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