Archive for the ‘UK News’ Category

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Times of London: BNP still racist, membership list closed

March 12, 2010
Times Online Logo 222 x 25

From Times Online
March 12, 2010

Revised BNP membership rules ‘still racist’

A BNP badge

Nico Hines

The British National Party faced a serious set back in its bid for legitimacy today when a judge ruled that its new membership rules were still likely to discriminate against non-white people.

The far-right party will be forced to close its membership list until it complies with race discrimination legislation.

BNP officials voted to abolish its whites-only policy at a heated meeting last month after the threat of a possible court injunction from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

But today at Central London County Court, Judge Paul Collins ruled that the party was still likely to discriminate on racial grounds.

“I hold that the BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within section 1b Race Relations Act 1976 in the terms on which they are prepared to admit persons to membership under the 12th addition of their constitution,” he said. “The membership list will have to be closed.”

Nick Griffin, the party leader, was confronted by a small group of protesters outside the court. They chanted “Nazi scum” as he entered the building.

Speaking before the ruling, Mr Griffin said: “The constitution was always legal.”

Last month, the group scrapped its whites only policy following the threat of a possible court injunction from the EHRC.

The BNP said it had a “waiting list” of black and Asian people. Millionaire Asian businessman Mo Chaudry said he would apply to join the party to “fight them from the inside”.

But he was told his application would be blocked. Speaking earlier, Mr Chaudry, 49, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, said: “I’m hoping the court will take a robust approach and question the real intent of the change in the constitution.

“They have no real intention of allowing people like me into the fold. It is just a camouflage to appease the system.”

Pakistan-born Mr Chaudry, who is worth £60 million, runs a string of businesses around Stoke-on-Trent, which has eight BNP members on the city council.

The decision to change the BNP constitution came after the far-right party held an extraordinary general meeting in Essex on February 14.

A reporter for The Times, Dominic Kennedy, was violently ejected from the meeting despite having been invited to attend.

Following the meeting, Mr Griffin said he soon expected to welcome the party’s first non-white member, Sikh Rajinder Singh.

Lawyers from the EHRC were considering the precise wording of the new rules to decide whether they believed the constitution was still discriminatory.

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Labour’s ‘Victory’ over Racism: A Premature Pat on the Back?

January 14, 2010

Today, in an unusually proud statement by Communities Secretary John Denham, Labour proclaimed its near victory over racism, making the point that the United Kingdom not enjoys the most culturally-aware and accepting population ever seen on the island. The statement, coupled with the release of a report entitled “Tackling race inequality: A statement on race” was intended to not only highlight the multitude of efforts by Labour MPs over the years to recognised these problems” and “legislate against racism” but also as a way to erode away the racist platform upon which UK’s nationalist parties stand, particularly the BNP.

However, this pat on the back might be a little premature. Although the UK is more exposed on a wider-scale to some Caribbean, African, and South Asian cultures, incidents of ethnic violence grew in the 1990s – between 1994 and 1998 there were around 5000 reported racist incidents in the Metropolitan police area. Compare that to over 23,000 between 1999 and 2000 (Institute of Race Relations). Additionally, racist terms continue to be employed by youth as well as adults in the cities, to refer to those of immigrant backgrounds especially South Asian and East Asian descent. Take into account as well that less than 2% of the population in London is of East Asian descent (UK ethnicity cards denote either ‘Chinese’ or ‘other’ for East Asians) and NOT a new immigrant, which means exposure to East Asian cultures and peoples is extremely low.

Mr. Denham was making the case that in the UK today, class is the first impediment to education, job acquisition or housing, not race. The steps that Labour have encouraged to bring the UK system to this place are good steps, but they are only preliminary. Additionally, attitudes towards different cultures in the cities centers are in stark contrast to those in the countryside (as is true of most countries). More needs to be done and the small steps over the past few years cannot create a sense of complacency in the issue. But if Labour is going to the lengths it is in to push the publication of this new paper to the detriment of the BNP, it seems action is on the minds of the government, and hopefully it stays there.

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POST: Compassion for Lockerbie Bomber: Landmark or Lamentable?

August 24, 2009

I wanted to write something about last week’s release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi when the story was first aired, but I felt that I needed to get a better understanding  of the history of the situation before making any judgments – plus, I wanted to see how people reacted.

The array of emotions attached to this case are staggering – everything from despair at his release to disbelief over his initial sentence. My main questions have remained, Was his release out of the ordinary and how will this affect US/UK, US/Libyan relations?

What I do not think many people realize is that freeing terminally ill prisoners on compassionate grounds is a key feature of Scottish law – it has been done 9 out of the last 13 cases, and had only been refused in last 4 because medical evidence did not the substantiate terminally ill status of the prisoners. Since the 9 releases had not taken into account the crime which the prisoner was convicted in the decision, this new release of al-Megrahi fits perfectly into Scottish precedent – prisoner is terminally ill, prisoner is released. The hype of the crime or the circumstance do not play a role.

On a further note, the low amount of media attention given to the continued questioning surrounding his conviction has surprised me. I do not agree or disagree with the aforementioned, very well-written, BBC article, but it does make one think. Of course, al-Megrahi could very well have had a hand in the bombing, but the evidence seems to point to the fact that the true perpetrators, the masterminds, have as of yet gone free. Is the conviction of one seemingly connected man, a “convenient scapegoat”, enough? Was he senior enough in the plan to be the sole representative of the perpetrators of this horrible crime?

Today, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill “doggedly” defended his decision to free al-Megrahi. He stood by “his and only his” decision and only lamented the heroes welcome given to the freed prisoner upon his return home to Libya on Thursday.  However, a senior State Department official said today that short of praising the Libyans, at least he could say that the “Thursday demonstrations could have been a lot worse.” But the official further stated that they were still “disgusting” and represented only the “minorly pathetic” responsiveness of Libyan officials.

Now there are new claims that oil diplomacy has played a part in the al-Megrahi release which is difficult to deny (although British officials have) considering the BusinessWeek article issued today of increased trade between Britain and Libya in coming months.  Between the US and UK, although tourists have threatened a UK boycott and all senior Obama administration officials balked at al-Megrahi’s release, they still stick by their claim that nothing will change in the relations between the two countries and that they “have great faith in the British democracy to air these things in a very thorough” manner.  In the end, it comes down to the indisputable fact that this decision was wholly up to the Scottish Authorities and, following their own precedent, no distinct changes in any bilateral relations seem to be forthcoming. However, if an under-the-table deal was struck between the UK and Libya, there really is no excuse.

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POST: It’s Not Only Harry Potter Who Lives in ‘Little Whingeing’

August 12, 2009

Alan Duncan can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. First, while Shadow Business Secretary, Duncan was caught skiving an important Tory nationwide tour “to help families and business in the economic slump”…as Business Secretary. Later, after his demotion, he came under fire during the (ongoing) expenses scandal for having refused to pay £4,000 over four years for gardening expenses. One prominent video activist and apparent garden lover even sneaked onto his garden dug him pound shaped flowerbed.

A Masterpiece

A Masterpiece

But the gaffs certainly don’t end there. In April of this year, the openly gay Conservative party member joked about murdering a Miss Teen California contestant for her statement that she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman. Specifically, he said, “If you read that Miss California has been murdered, you will know it was me won’t you?”

Embarrassed enough that the contestant is from my home state, I most likely wouldn’t joke about murdering her (I said most likely…). Who knows, maybe Duncan”ll get lucky and she’ll simply come before one of Obama’s death panels.

But, today Duncan had a nice long whinge that probably felt very satisfying to get out…until he realized it was being recorded on a buttonhole camera by a local videographer. In the wake of the expenses scandal, Duncan today stated, that being an MP is like “being nationalised, you have to live on rations and are treated like s***.” Hmmm…I’m sure an important component of Duncan’s daily rations include the Hanging Gardens of Babylon…

Now don’t get me wrong – I love a good rant by a politician. I (nearly) applauded Hillary’s outburst this week at a town hall meeting in the Congo. Everyone needs a good rant now and then. But Duncan’s tendency to rant, and its content moreover, are the more pervasive problem. Along with Lord Mandelson, another British politician that we don’t need around.

Oops!

Oops!

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POST: Poolside Prince of Darkness: Why Does Labour Keep Lord Mandelson Around??

August 7, 2009

For the past two days, no one has been running the UK.

Thing I’m joking? Here’s the scoop.  Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown left 10 Downing Street for his summer vaca, leaving Labour MP from Camberwell/Peckham (next door to my old house in East Dulwich!) Harriet Harman in charge.  She was overwhelmingly omniscient in her two weeks at Number 10. No joke.  She proceeded to create a veritable layer cake of Harman-osity: beginning with a five layers of public appearances, then adding a quite superfluous I’m “not going to become a shrinking violet,” and finishing it all off with a healthy dollop of  “financial collapse would have been averted if women had been in charge.” Scrumptious.

But Mandelson seems nearly unperturbed with his stint in the office. So much so that he’s doing the first four days of it ALSO on vacation (if all that one needs to run the British government is a BlackBerry and a pool to sit by, I can be on the job in a few hours…). Yes, Lord Mandelson is in Corfu, after having accepted an invitation to return to the villa at which he spent last year.

Well, maybe Mandelson simply doesn’t want to be rude. I mean, if you RSVP to the villa, you mustn’t break your plans for the simple matter of helping to run a country.

Lord Mandelson Slimed

My favorite picture of Lord Mandelson - "The only thing green about the Prince of Darkness" - after he got slimed by that G20 protester. Plus it's right outside of my old workplace!

The only reason I find this so frustrating is because it’s added to my previous incredulity over why Labour keeps Mandelson around.  More than that – why they insist on bringing him back into the fold over and over again. Has everyone forgot his first (yes, there has been more than one…) resignation after he received a tax free ‘loan’ of 373,000 GBP from the Paymaster General? And not to mention his second resignation after attempting to push through the naturalization of a wealthy Indian businessman after contributing heavily to the Faith Section in the Millenium Dome. THEN, after these scandals, they thought it appropriate to make him a life peer, allowing him to join the House of Lords and thus have permanent access to British politics.

What FURTHER frustrates me is that it makes me agree even further with the Conservative Party (something I don’t want to do…) and with their Chairman, Eric Pickles, when he said “Lord Mandelson’s vice-like grip on power means he’s untouchable and can do whatever he wants.” But, I am forced to.

Why, oh why, do they keep him around? Thoughts?