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A Closer Look: UKIP, the Far Right and the 2016 Local Election Results

posted by: David Emmett | on: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 23:02


By now you may have heard UKIP boasting about the results in the 2016’s “Super Thursday” elections, trumpeted as a “breakthrough” by Farage. It is true that UKIP made gains, including becoming the joint largest party on Thurrock Council and winning seven seats in the Welsh Assembly. However, whilst these successes deserve attention, a closer analysis of the results shows UKIP have far less to celebrate than they claim.

Notably, UKIP remains a fringe player in London, as Mayoral candidate Peter Whittle drew a paltry 3.6% of first preference votes and UKIP gained just two of 25 London Assembly Members through the list system.

Farage’s prediction that UKIP would win seats in Northern Ireland proved woefully optimistic as they failed to secure a single seat with a mean average of 2.06% of the votes.

Likewise, and to the surprise of nobody in particular, UKIP also returned empty handed from Scotland, averaging a dismal 2% of votes. UKIP also failed to secure a single Police and Crime Commissioner.

What UKIP failed to mention while proclaiming their “success” was the noticeable decrease in the gains they achieved when compared to previous years. UKIP won an underwhelming 55 council wards, giving them a net gain of 26. As we can see in the graph below, this is a major decrease from previous years. This is despite the issue agenda dominated by immigration and the EU – the two issues absolutely central to UKIP’s success.

UKIP drew plenty of second place positions in targeted areas such as Dudley and Oldham, missing out on seats they hoped to win. This speaks of a deficit in the organisational ability to capitalise on opportunity and convert votes into seats, which is unfortunate (for them) as they seem to be losing momentum.

Projected National Vote Share

The BBC’s Projected National Share (PNS) of the vote extrapolates the results of local elections to parts of Britain without elections in 2016, taking into account the different ranges of seats up for election each year and therefore offering like-for-like comparison between different years. These figures allow us to see what would likely have happened if the whole of Britain held local elections this May and if the pattern of candidature had been similar to that of a General Election.

  • Labour: 31%
  • Conservative: 30%
  • Liberal Democrat: 15%
  • UKIP: 12%
  • Others: 12%

Not only have UKIP slumped back into fourth position, behind the Liberal Democrats, but the party’s vote share has fallen for a third year in a row. It is now barely over half of their 23% peak of 2013.

That UKIP were able to gain any seats at all is due to the fact that most of the seats available in 2016 were last up for election in 2012, prior to the party’s surge of support in 2013. However, 2017 will see UKIP’s 2013 seats back up for election. If this downward trajectory continues, UKIP may well be deeply embarrassed this time next year, unless the results of the EU Referendum significantly disrupt the usual pattern of politics.

Thurrock

One area of concern is Thurrock in which UKIP had significant successes, gaining six seats. UKIP is now holding equal control over the council with the Tories; they were denied the status of largest party by a single vote in the Little Thurrocks Blackshot ward, which recounted three times.

UKIP’s gains have come at the expense of Labour, who have fallen from 18 to 14 seats. UKIP have snatched three of these from Labour, continuing a trend that saw them seize five in 2015. UKIP have continued to make minor increases to their mean average of votes over the past three years.

Mean average of UKIP local election votes in Thurrock
2012 12.55
2014 35.1
2015 36.16
2016 39.48

Thurrock is a prime example of the communities UKIP target – a traditionally white, working class, post-industrial area in the South East of England, once solidly Labour but has veered sharply to the right in recent years, voting Conservative in the 2010 and 2015 General Elections. It is also worth noting that in 2008 the BNP were polling up to 25% here in local elections.

Thurrock was found to be “Britain’s unhappiest town” in a 2012 government wellbeing survey. It seems unlikely that UKIP’s divisive fear-mongering will cheer the place up anytime soon.

Rotherham

UKIP were disappointed in Rotherham, adding just two councillors to make a total of 14 and losing group leader Caven Vines and his wife and fellow councillor Maureen Vines. In a town still suffering in the aftermath of the child grooming scandal and with its Labour-led council forcefully condemned in the Casey report, Labour still retain 48 of the 63 seats.

Despite the exploitative and sustained campaigning tactics of UKIP, who have sought to mobilise the tragedy, they have failed to maintain the surge in support they gained in the immediate aftermath of the scandal and the mean average vote has dropped significantly from 2014.

Mean average of UKIP local election votes in Rotherham
2012 23.93
2014 44.44
2015 34.22
2016 35.34

Interestingly, some of the wards in which UKIP were most successful were those least effected by immigration. The 2011 census shows 94% of residents of Sitwell ward – where UKIP won all three available seats – were born in the UK. That UKIP are able to successfully blame social problems on immigration in such areas chimes with an established body ofresearch that shows that opposition to immigrants is highest in areas with the lowest levels of immigration.

Whilst support for UKIP is still high in Rotherham the 2016 results has brought UKIP’s giddy pre-election optimism back down to earth. The result can be considered a victory for HOPE not hate, who campaigned tirelessly in Rotherham before the election, and for all those who understand that blanket prejudice is not the solution that Rotherham needs.

Wales

Of course UKIP will draw attention to having secured seven of the 60 seats in the Welsh Assembly after pulling 13% of the regional list vote. This will give them a foothold on domestic policies for the first time, despite numbers being below expectations.

UKIP averaged 12.5% of the constituency votes and managed over 20% in a cluster of Labour constituencies in South East Wales; Merthyr Tyfil and Rhymney, Newport East, Islwyn and Torgaen, where it came second place, and Caerphilly, where it came third.

Again in Wales we can see that the votes UKIP do manage to get were taken from Labour, another reaffirmation of the dissatisfaction some people – especially those in tired, overlooked industrial towns – feel towards the political establishment. In the face of declining standards of living some people have turned to simple solutions to complex problems, but people also crave real alternatives to the out-of-touch and complacent “Westminster elite”.

However, UKIP’s anti-establishment image is hollow. UKIP’s leadership combine their dewy-eyed nostalgia for supposedly fairer times with anti-trade union and pro-privitisation policies – not traditionally popular in neglected industrial areas – and discriminatory immigration policy. The regional vote list system in Wales has seen the return of Neil Hamilton, a disgraced former Tory MP in favour of closing coal mines. UKIP has managed to simultaneously condemn “elites” whilst in many ways embodying the establishment, and have done so by directing attention towards minorities and away from policies it hopes to sneak in via the backdoor. HOPE will build on our victories campaigning against UKIP and continue to expose this facade.

The Extreme Right

While UKIP’s results were mixed the results of the traditional far-right were uniformly bad, further evidence of its continued implosion.

The BNP, who looked so menacing in 2007 with their 744 candidates, fielded just five in 2016, all of whom failed dismally.

One anomaly is the Marsden ward in Pendle where the BNP continue to pose a threat. Their candidate, John Rowe, accrued 36.35% of the vote, meaning he was narrowly beaten into second place by the Tories. Whilst the percentage is high it is satisfying to know that the BNP’s sole councillor, Brian Parker is denied company in his lonely seat in Pendle, which is not up for re-election until 2018.

Further evidence of the extreme right’s political oblivion can be seen in the Havering by-election, in which the BNP managed just 1.96% votes, beaten into last place only by the presence of unintentional comedian Kevin Layzell of the National Front (a whopping 14 votes and 0.38%).

The National Front drew a mean average of 3.48% of the vote across all elections. The English Democrats fared marginally better, with a mean average of 5.72% of the vote in the 16 wards which they contested.

 Posted: 25 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Challenging the politics of fear

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Monday, 23 May 2016, 12:33


There is exactly a month to go until the EU Referendum. It is, predictably, getting nasty.

Whether the UK remains or leaves is outside our remit. Unfortunately, though, this critical vote has been characterised by overblown claims on both sides.

In fact, the politics of fear is being deployed by all: fear of job losses, fears for the NHS, fears for our security and defence.

There are legitimate arguments about economics, employment rights, the environment, security and defence (and many others) that need to be explored. We all need to make an informed choice on 23 June. But the campaigns are both using hyperbole in a way which seems almost designed to confuse rather than inform.

Sadly, and predictably, as the level of the debate has descended, so the issue of racism has arisen.

Boris Johnson has attacked President Obama for his Kenyan ancestry. Michael Gove has suggested that a migrant influx equivalent to the population of Scotland will put "unsustainable" pressure on the NHS if we don’t vote to leave. And the worst elements of the press are falling into line, with The Sunday Express headline yesterday claiming 12 million Turks would come to the UK once an EU deal is signed with the country.

Politics of fear

Unsurprisingly, this is not what the research actually says but it makes a great headline. Coupled with the (false) assertion that Britain does not have a veto on Turkey joining the EU, it is being used to frighten people. The story also claims: “Turkey’s membership in the EU would result in far higher numbers of criminals coming to the UK.”

Meanwhile Conservative MP David Davis warns in the same Express story that Turkish accession to the EU would “unleash a new wave of migration that would push down wages and threaten the country’s security.”

Last weekend’s press was the prelude to today’s launch of a poster campaign by Vote Leave campaign, which states simply: ‘Turkey (population 76 million) is joining the EU’.

So the press prints scare stories about Turkish immigration and the Vote Leave campaign then asserts as fact that Turkey (the newly-fashioned ‘bogeyman of Europe’) will be joining the EU, despite the fact that no serious commentator believes that Turkey will meet the conditions for membership for at least 10 to 15 years (Turkey first applied for membership in 1987, nearly 30 years ago). Given the country’s human rights record, it is likely to be a lot longer. In any case the UK and every other existing member would have a veto on whether or not they were admitted.

All of this misinformation comes so very soon after Conservative Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s attempt to use racism and Islamophobia to win the London Mayoral election.

While there has often been an undercurrent of racism in British politics, overt racism has traditionally been reserved for the likes of the National Front and the British National Party (BNP).

But we have been here before. In 1964 Peter Griffiths won the seat for the Conservative party in the Smethwick constituency after a shockingly racist campaign. His campaign used the slogan: “If you want a [derogatory reference to black people] for a neighbour vote Labour”. This became known as ‘playing the race card’.

What is really disgusting about all this is that people like Boris Johnson, Zac Goldsmith and David Davies are not necessarily, on a personal level, racist. They are however, in some ways, worse than the boneheads of the BNP or English Defence League (EDL), whose supporters are often themselves disadvantaged and looking for someone to blame. The 'boneheads' are often ignorant and simply believe the lies that they have been fed.

Exploiting racism

So why are Boris, Zac, Davis and Gove churning out this vile racism? Is it because whatever their personal views they have recognised the political opportunity presented by a wave of racism, and are prepared to use that wave for the sake of their own political ambitions?

They will have seen Nigel Farage netted four million votes in the last general election, that Donald Trump carried the Republican party nomination on a wave of hatred directed at immigrants and minorities. Are they now thinking of the opportunities that racism provides for their own careers?

They have already crossed a line, though, and whatever the outcome of the EU Referendum they or others within the political mainstream may well be tempted to try and build a political constituency based on fear of the other and hatred of the unknown.

Those who read the lines fed to them by the ‘red-tops’ – those who don’t have Muslim neighbours, have never met a Turk and who believe that England was once great – are all-too-often blaming 'too many immigrants' as the main problem facing our nation (rather than other factors such as the rise of new economic powers or the failure of British industrialists to properly invest).

HOPE not hate will not sit by while our political centre is dragged into this gutter.

That's why we will be launching a new initiative immediately after the EU Referendum.

We will be trying to build strong inclusive communities within areas characterised as ‘Middle England’. We’re determined that those politicians who seek to build their political careers on the basis of mainstreaming racism and bigotry should be challenged by the very communities of 'Middle England' whose fears they are seeking to exploit.

Joe Mulhall is Research Editor at HOPE not hate @JoeMulhall_

 Posted: 23 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Supportive of the EU but not engaged in the debate

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 22 May 2016, 10:43


Our YouGov poll for the EU Referendum reveals some startling facts, writes Nick Lowles

Register to vote now: bit.ly/TurnUpEU

Young people are interested in the EU Referendum but do not find the debate engaging or the politicians and business leaders fronting up the Remain or Leave campaigns inspiring or trustworthy.

These are the findings of a YouGov poll of 1,531 18-30 year olds, exclusively commissioned by HOPE not hate and youth empowerment campaign Bite the Ballot.

By a margin of two-to-one, young people also support staying in the EU, although 20% said that they were undecided.

Just over half of young people aged between 18-30 were closely following the EU Referendum, compared to 39% who were not. Only 10% of young people avoided coverage of the Referendum (“at all costs”).

‘Old men shouting’

Just 36% of those we polled found the contest interesting and nearly half (45%) saw it as two groups of old men shouting at each other, more than twice the number who disagreed.

Almost half of young people, 46%, said that they didn’t know who to believe in the debate, compared to 29% who did.

Interestingly, half (51%) felt they knew a great deal or a fair amount about the EU, compared to 39% who felt they did not know much or knew nothing at all.

Black and minority ethnic young people were slightly more sceptical about the EU than their white counterparts: just under half (47%) said that they would vote to Remain, compared to 53% of white counterparts. 28% said that they didn’t know how they would vote, almost twice the number of white voters.

When asked a series of questions about the powers of the European Union, young people felt that being in the EU made it easier to improve the environment (43%-22%) and gave us greater rights and protection at work (55%-15%).

Young people were more divided on whether there were more UK nationals living in other EU countries than EU citizens living in the UK (30%-30%) and whether more laws affecting Britain were made in the European Parliament than in Westminster (27%-35%).

They were also just as divided over whether leaving the EU would allow Britain to close its borders to immigrants, with 39% generally believing it would, and 35% not.

One of the problems facing both Remain and Leave campaigns is that very few young people had any trust in the type of messenger both are using to front up their campaigns. Only 10% had any trust in politicians (compared to 76% who did not). Only 13% had trust in the media, and just 16% in business leaders.

The three most trusted voices among young people were teachers/academics (72%), other young people (50%) and trade union leaders/officials (31%).

Enthusiasm

18-21 year olds were most enthusiastic about remaining in the EU, with 59% wanting to stay in compared to just 18% wanting to leave. As the ages got older, so the gap between wanting to remain and leave narrowed slightly.

Almost 70% of full-time students want to remain, with just 15% wanting to leave.

The attitudes of young people towards the European Union reflect a greater openness and willingness to accept difference. Two thirds of respondents (67%) said that having a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures is a positive part of modern Britain, with just 19% opposing this view.

Among full-time students, 80% were positive about this diversity, though the picture changed significantly among young people not working.

With 48% of 18-30 year-olds saying that the EU provides an opportunity for the young, compared to just 19% who viewed it as a threat, the Remain campaign clearly has to find a way of engaging and turning out the young. With 20% of young people still undecided, closing the gap among young people will be essential to help the Leave campaign over the line.

However, both campaigns need to change the way they engage with the young; find different and more trusted messengers; and address the slightly different issues that are concerning young people.

#TurnUp campaign: turnup.org.uk

Register to Vote: bit.ly/TurnUpEU

 Posted: 22 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Donald Trump’s Long Standing Links With ‘Counter-Jihad’ Movement Revealed

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Friday, 20 May 2016, 16:48


Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Donald Trump and Frank Gaffney at the launch of The United West in Miami, Florida March 2011

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Donald Trump and Frank Gaffney at the launch of The United West in Miami, Florida March 2011

Donald Trump, now all but certain to be the Republican candidate for President, has continually shocked and appalled many with his anti-Muslim rhetoric in the last year.

However, while some have sought to put his racist comments down to mere electioneering the truth is that he has surrounded himself with highly controversial advisors, many of whom are active in the in the so-called ‘counter-jihad’ movement.

As we showed in a recent blog several of his advisors, including Walid Phares and Joseph Schmitz, are active figures in the American anti-Muslim milieu and both are linked to Frank Gaffney’s Centre For Security Policy (CSP), a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group.

We have also previously noted how Trump’s ludicrous anti-Muslim comments have been influenced by the discredited research of Frank ‘Obama is a Muslim’ Gaffney and his CSP organisation.

We can now reveal that Donald Trump’s links with the ‘counter-jihad’ movement go back further and are more extensive than was first thought.

A picture has been published by the Gates of Vienna blog, a leading outlet of the international counter-jihad movement, which shows Trump at the launch of The United West (TUW) in Miami, Florida in March 2011.

TUW is an American counter-jihad organisation that campaigns against the introduction of Sharia law and the ‘Islamisation’ of North America. It also co-ordinates the activities of ‘counter-jihadist’ organisations in the United States and Europe.

While operating under its former name, the Florida Security Council, it organised a Free Speech Summit in Delray Beach, Florida on 27 April 2009, where Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders (who among other things wants to ban the Qu’ran) was awarded the annual International Freedom of Speech Award. In 2014 TUW launched a new web series called ‘CenterVision’, which also featured Wilders.

In the picture he is posing with Frank Gaffney and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff. Gaffney’s prominent role on the American anti-Muslim scene is well known but Sabaditsch-Wolff is also an important player in the international counter-jihad movement.

Sabaditsch-Wolff leads the Ostösterreich Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, the Austrian arm of the German-based anti-Muslim Citizens’ Movement Pax Europa (CMPE). She was also a key player in the now dormant International Civil Liberties Alliance which was at one point perhaps the leading international counter-jihad organisation.

She also has strong links with ACT! For America, leading its international chapter from Austria. ACT! is one of the most pernicious anti-Muslim groups in the USA and has also been classified as a hate group by the SPLC.

Her anti-Muslim activism has got her in trouble with the law and she was convicted in a Vienna court on 15 February 2011 of hate speech, for comments about Muhammad and Islam delivered at a far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ)-organised seminar in November 2009. She was sentenced to pay a fine of 480 euros.

The revelation of these new links are deeply worrying, revealing as they do that Donald Trump has long mixed in circles with prominent counter-jihadists. It is time to stop writing off or excusing his anti-Muslim comments as mere electioneering and to start seeing them as the result of his long affiliation with active anti-Muslim activists.

For more information on the American anti-Muslim movement see:

Joe Mulhall is HOPE not hate’s Research Editor @joemulhall_

 Posted: 20 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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The breakthrough that wasn’t

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 May 2016, 22:24


UKIP leader Nigel Farage has taken to the airwaves over the last 15 hours to declare that these elections have been a great "breakthrough" for his party. The media, by and large, has accepted and run with this narrative.

The only problem is that the 2016 elections have not been the breakthrough that Farage had confidently announced. Sure, UKIP won seven seats on the Welsh Assembly (out of 60) and became the equal largest party on Thurrock council - but beyond that UKIP's results were underwhelming.

In fact, nationally, UKIP only won 55 council wards and given the fact that it was defending some seats, this meant a net gain of just 26.

This compares with 140 council gains in 2013, 163 in 2014 and 202 in 2015.

UKIP net gains:
2013 140
2014 163
2015 202
2016 26

UKIP did not breakthrough in any new areas and in almost all of the local authorities it won seats, it did far less well than in previous years.

While there is no room for complacency and there is still a huge amount of work to do, let's not allow Farage to talk up UKIP's limited success.

We have produced a map to show UKIP's limited gains.

Even in Wales, where UKIP gained seven seats on the Welsh Assembly, this was below expectations.

And hopefully our own campaign had an impact. In Wales alone, our supporters put out almost 500,000 leaflets, knocked on thousands of doors and had hundreds of conversations with people keen to help.

In Rotherham, we worked intensively in the five highest risk wards in the last couple of weeks. In Oldham, Hyndburn and Bradford we helped ensure that UKIP candidates failed in seats they had been widely expected to win.

While Thurrock was clearly a set-back, our local HOPE not hate teams played their part in ensuring UKIP had its worst election in Essex in since 2012.

Over the next few days we will be analysing the results in more detail and sketching out a plan to continue our work in these communities, but for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the hundreds of people who came out campaigning the 2,136 people whose donations made it all possible.

And thank you to you - our supporters - without whom HOPE not hate would not be what it is.

 Posted: 6 May 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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UKIP council performance down

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 May 2016, 09:33


While UKIP will understandably be crowing about its Welsh Assembly successes, let us not be fooled into thinking that this was a great local election night for the anti-immigrant party.

Because it was not.

If you compare yesterday's results with those of 2014, you find the UKIP has won far fewer councillors. Here are a few examples:

Basildon: 2014 - 11 council gains; 2016 - 2.

Dudley: 2014 - 7 council gains; 2016 - 1

Castle Point: 2014 - 5 council gains; 2016 - 0

Southend: 2014 - 5 council gains; 2016 - 0

Oldham: 2014 - 2 council gains; 2016 - 0

And I could go on...

With 80 councils having declared, UKIP have so far won 28 seats, a net gain of 20. While that is obviously worrying, it is clear that even after the remaining councils count their votes today UKIP will have won far fewer councillors than in recent years.

 Posted: 6 May 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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UKIP lose a seat

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 May 2016, 08:56


While most of the focus will be on UKIP gains, there are many places in the country where the anti-immigrant party is slipping back.

One such place is Cannock Chase. UKIP went into these elections with five councillors in the council and come out of it with just four. UKIP did not have any wins this time round.

 Posted: 6 May 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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4.45am update - UKIP make 20 gains

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 6 May 2016, 05:03


With results in from 80 councils, UKIP have made a net gain of 20 councillors, with its highlight being Thurrock, where it picked up six seats and is now the joint largest group on the council.

UKIP's success has largely been at the expense of Labour. In Thurrock, it gained six seats, taking its total on the council from 11 to 17. Four of these gains were made off Labour, and one each off the Conservatives and an Independent.

In Great Yarmouth, UKIP has replaced Labour as the second party on the council, picking up four seats.

Other UKIP victories include:

Hartlepool 3

Basildon 3

Bolton 2

Tamworth 2

Dudley 1

In total, UKIP has won 28 council seats but 8 of these were seats it had already held. However it failed to make a breakthrough in the Tyne & Wear and there were disappointing results in the Black Country. In Dudley, where a couple of years ago it made seven gains in one year, UKIP only picked up one seat, and it failed to win any in neighbouring Sandwell.

There are many more councils yet to declare, with Rotherham, Sheffield and Bradford among the places where UKIP will hope to pick up seats.

However, attention will really focus on Wales, where an election day YouGov poll puts UKIP on 16% and on course to pick up eight seats on the Welsh Assembly.

 Posted: 6 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Results of ITV Wales poll

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 May 2016, 22:46


  • Labour: 27
  • Con: 11
  • Plaid: 12
  • Lib Dems: 2
  • UKIP: 8

#Wales2016

 Posted: 5 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Polls now closed

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 May 2016, 22:06


The polls have now closed, so it is all over bar the counting.

The word is that turnout is extremely low, though it is too early to know if that's good or bad news in terms of UKIP.

We are expecting Sunderland to declare first at 23.00, though the low turnout could mean this will be earlier.

The results will start coming through thick and fast after midnight, with our group of councils to declare being North East Lincolnshire at 1am and Castle Point, in Essex, and Hartlepool at 1.30am.

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney will be the first Welsh area to declare, so that will tell us a lot about the strength of the UKIP vote in the traditional Labour heartlands.

At 3am we should hear from Great Yarmouth and Thurrock. Will UKIP become the largest party on Thurrock council?

We will be up throughout the night giving you all the latest information, so stay tuned.

 Posted: 5 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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10 Election Races To Watch

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 5 May 2016, 15:17


There are elections taking place today across the UK. Nick Lowles highlights 10 key electoral battles and issues we should look out for:

1. Thurrock – UKIP will be looking to become the largest party on the council. We’ve identified six possible UKIP gains, four from Labour and one each from the Conservatives and an Independent. We have been very active on the ground here, although it’s been tough going. It's certainly been the most difficult area in the country for us to work in.

2. Wales UKIP has been boasting of gaining up to 10 seats in the Welsh Assembly and holding the balance of power. The HOPE not hate campaign here has been huge, with almost 500,000 leaflets delivered across the country.

3. Rotherham – All-out elections following the government's takeover of the council, following the child sexual exploitation (CSE) scandal, gives UKIP a chance to take control (our). A combination of an almost non-existent ground operation coupled with a failure to capitalise on the CSE scandal means UKIP is under-performing, however, and our estimation is that they will fall short of overall control. The party is still likely to emerge as the official opposition and increase on the 12 seats it was already holding.

4. London Mayoral Will Zac Goldsmith's dog-whistle campaign against Labour's Sadiq Khan work or will voters punish him for a campaign laced with anti-Muslim and divisive language? The polls give Sadiq a strong lead, but we feel that the antisemitism row within Labour and the Tories much more sophisticated and targeted campaign will it make a close call.

The BNP and Britain First will be battling it out for the wooden spoon, though neither will make any significant impact.

5. Great Yarmouth – UKIP could make big gains on the council, almost entirely at the expense of Labour. While the Conservatives will probably remain the largest party, UKIP could solidify itself in second place. Six wards already have UKIP councillors.

6. Tyne & Wear – Will UKIP finally break through on Tyne and Wear? Its support is rising but it has never been able to win a council seat. While it is likely to receive big votes, the size of the Labour leads should put victory out of reach.

7. Marsden ward (Pendle) – The only ward in the country where the BNP sill has a councillor, so it will be interesting to see how its candidate gets on. Despite no UKIP candidate standing (coincidentally enough), the BNP is still likely to struggle.

8. Lib Dem v UKIP in London Both parties are neck-and-neck in the polls for the party list: whoever comes out on top will gain a third seat on the London Assembly.

9. Keighley Central – In March, Labour councillor Khadim Hussain was suspended after claiming (among other things) that Israel was behind the Islamic State. He left the Labour Party and is now standing as an Independent in this Bradford seat.

10. Labour's UKIP problem – UKIP's fortunes have dipped since last year's General Election, but this election will show whether this was anything more than a out-of-election ‘blip’ or something more lasting. More interestingly, some have argued that the drop in support for UKIP is because ex-Conservative UKIP voters have returned to their previous home, whereas UKIP’s has retained its support among ex-Labour voters. A strong UKIP showing in these Labour heartlands will only highlight the belief that UKIP is now essentially a problem for the Labour Party.

The HOPE not hate campaign in Wales has been huge, with almost 500,000 leaflets delivered across the country.

The HOPE not hate campaign in Wales has been huge, with almost 500,000 leaflets delivered across the country.

 Posted: 5 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Let's deal with our rotten politics

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Sunday, 1 May 2016, 14:24


From flickr: Steve Snodgrass

From flickr: Steve Snodgrass

This has been a really terrible week for the Labour Party. As if Thursday's local elections weren't going to be difficult (and disappointing?) enough, the party has been embroiled in a row over antisemitic comments by some of its leading figures.

While there are undoubtedly some both inside and outside the Labour Party keen to exploit these issues for their own political reasons, we should not delude ourselves that these Corbyn critics created the latest controversies.

They did not make Bradford West MP Naz Shah make and share comments over social media which she freely now admits were offensive and antisemitic. They did not force Khadim Hussain, the former Lord Mayor of Bradford, from posting comments about the Holocaust on Facebook. And they did not force Ken Livingstone to say that Hitler had supported Zionism “before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews”and attempt to claim antisemitism was not racism.

There are clearly some antisemites inside the Labour Party and these people need to be dealt with as effectively and robustly as we would any other form of racists and racism.

Then there is also a wider and more complex issue of where to draw the line between legitimate criticism of the policies of the Israeli government and antisemitism. People should be free to criticise the policies of any government, just as people should be allowed to criticise any religion. But there have been many examples where anti-Zionist rhetoric has crossed over into antisemitism. Sometimes this has been done out of ignorance, but other times it would appear to be deliberate.

This is wrong and needs stamping out.

To this end, we welcome the announcement of an independent inquiry into antisemitism within the Labour Party. I hope it will be an opportunity to address some of these wider issues intelligently and thoughtfully.

But we should go further. Why should this just be an internal Labour Party issue? Surely if one good thing can come out of this week then it is wider discussion about what is antisemitism and where are those 'red lines' between legitimate criticism of the actions of the Israeli government and antisemitism.

Even before this week, HOPE not hate had decided to initiate such a discussion. Given the events of this last week, we will seek to move forward on this and will be seeking out partners and ideas over its remit.

Let us also not pretend that racism is simply a Labour Party problem. Two weeks ago London Mayor Boris Johnson, a possible future Tory leader, claimed that President Obama's intervention over the EU issue was somehow motivated by an anti-Britishness derived from his Kenyan ancestry.

This was nothing more than racism and Obama dutifully - and quite delightfully - slapped Boris down.

If a Labour politician had questioned the allegiance to this country of a rival because of where his or her parents were born then, they would have been heavily (and rightfully) condemned by all. But Johnson, being Johnson, got nothing more than a couple of days bad headlines.

And in London, Zac Goldsmith, the Tory candidate hoping to replace Johnson, has run a 'dog whistle' campaign to link his Muslim rival Sadiq Khan to extremism. Knowing full well the difficult and sometimes violent history of the Punjab, this has included sending Hindus and Sikhs letters claiming that Sadiq Khan is a dangerous extremist who is out to tax their gold - the possession of which is considered a safe way of saving within these communities.

This is miserable stuff and we should not stay silent on this form of racism and slander either.

These past couple of weeks have highlighted the rotten side of politics, but if any good is to come out of it then let it be a wider - and public - discussion about what constitutes racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia, where the Red Lines are and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Only then can we really root out the rottenness from our politics.

 Posted: 1 May 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments