You are viewing blog items for February 2016.
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 27 February 2016, 09:17
This week we have been raising money to map the 133 key wards at risk to UKIP in May's local elections. By profiling these wards, using census and ONS data, we can work out the propensity of households to support UKIP and in doing so work out which leaflets will be most appropriate for which households.We set out to raise £7,000 and I'm delighted to say that we are just £366 short of our target. Over 300 people have donated an incredible £6,634, which is brilliant for this stage of the election cycle. But we still need to reach our target, so can you help? https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/page/contribute/2016-ward-profile Please help us raise the £366 we still need
Posted: 27 Feb 2016 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Saturday, 20 February 2016, 09:28
8 March is International Women's Day and we want to mark it by celebrating some of the women who bring HOPE to their communities.
Help us acknowledge the incredible difference that women are making, day in and day out, in our communities by nominating one or a group who are a real force for good in your local area. It could be a local teacher, community worker or someone who runs a local activities club. Every community has these champions, so choose one from yours.
We will be pick our favourites, celebrate their achievements and make sure they are properly recognised on International Women's Day.
We know that we should be celebrating the contribution of all of our supporters every day (and we try to), but given that women are often under-represented in formal positions of leadership and over-represented when it comes to doing the hard work on the ground, we thought it appropriate to publicly recognise their incredible contribution on this day.
So, do you know a woman or group of women who are making our communities better places for everyone? If so why not nominate them for recognition as a HOPE not hate international women's day community champion.
Nomination deadline is Tuesday 1 March
I look forward to reading your inspiring nominations
Posted: 20 Feb 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Thursday, 18 February 2016, 10:35
Earlier today I posted a short piece on my personal Facebook page, revealing that I was being effectively excluded from a conference by a small group at the top of NUS Black Students.
The NUS now has a conference policy to work with HOPE not hate in combating racism, but when it was suggested that I speak at the NUS anti-racism conference there was push back from a few leading figures, alleging that I was an “Islamophobe”.
This charge is obviously quite ridiculous. I am an independent member of the Government's Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group and over the last few years HOPE not hate, as an organisation, has worked closely with Muslim communities throughout Britain to defeat the politics of hate. Only last December, I co-authored the most comprehensive report into organised anti-Muslim hatred.
My crime, it seems, has been to repeatedly call on the anti-racist movement to do more to condemn on-street grooming by gangs and campaigning against Islamist extremist groups in the UK and abroad.
I make no apology for either position. We need to be consistent in our opposition to extremism - from whatever quarter it comes - just as we need to be more vocal in our condemnation of child sex grooming.
The situation is almost amusing in its absurdity, but I want to stress that my beef is with a small group of ultra-leftists within the NUS, not NUS itself, who were, I'm led to believe, unaware of all this.
Posted: 18 Feb 2016 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Rebecca Murray | on: Thursday, 4 February 2016, 17:45
Last summer the headlines were dominated by stories of EU countries not only welcoming refugees, but actively encouraging them to make their borders their last crossing en-route to safety.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s already a very different story. If you believe the headlines, these countries have made a big mistake and new arrivals have brought with them seemingly insurmountable problems.
Sweden has responded to these challenges by closing its borders and a decision to deport at least 60,000 people whose claims for refugee status have been unsuccessful. The new ‘no longer welcome here’ message was reinforced by images of Swedish fascists attacking refugees gathered at Stockholm Central Station.
6 April 2015 was the first time I ever set foot in Sweden. I went with the explicit intention of exploring what the refugee situation looked like in reality, from the Swedish and the refugee perspective. I should add that I was able to take with me 15 years experience of the refugee situation in the UK, which comes in handy for making comparisons.
I chose Sweden because of its commitment to social democracy: a commitment that makes the country stand out not only in Scandinavia, but in Europe and elsewhere around the world.
The refugees I met in Sweden were nearly all granted refugee status in a relatively short period of time (12 months or less): the UK pales into comparison in terms of the long and often torturous process that people seeking asylum endure.
I have not yet met anyone whose asylum claim has been rejected, yet I know that Sweden has a policy and processes in place to remove those refused refugee status. I don’t think the issues revolve around which ‘plane’ to use, but if 90% of people are coming from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, it certainly won’t be easy to remove them to these countries.
What about the appeals process? Have those 60,000 people already exhausted their legal rights in Sweden to appeal against deportation? How do they prove that deportees are citizens of these countries, in order that they can actually be accepted back? And how do you deport people to Syria? Perhaps this is why the deportations are being spread over several years and the Swedish government believes that the situation in Syria is due to radically change.
What happens to those people left in limbo in Sweden waiting to be deported? In my experience people build lives against the odds, even in the most hostile environments. Most seem determined to integrate into Swedish society, using their skills and experience to earn money, pay taxes, support themselves and their families and ultimately live in peace. They’ve fought to get this far, many refugees live in a perpetual fight for their survival, I’d put money on them fighting to stay and don’t envy the tough fight facing the Swedish authorities.
Today the story was about fascists attacking refugees in Stockholm’s central station. Only three months ago I stood there, deeply moved by refugees being welcomed by the Red Cross and the Migration Board, and receiving emergency medical care – all things which sent a powerful message to the new arrivals “you matter and we’re here to help you”.
Far North of Stockholm on the same trip, I was meeting Swedes who were working during the day and spending their nights in soup kitchens to feed newly arrived refugees. Swedish people took their children to the local train station to greet newly arrived children with gifts of toys and warm clothes.
Yet the surge in popularity for the Swedish Democrats cannot be denied and one that causes serious concern for Swedish people and refugees alike. I’ve had detailed discussions about fears for the Swedish welfare state and the country’s ability to sustain the new arrivals – “We can’t pay 100% tax” has been conveyed to me on more than one occasion, along with concerns that there isn’t enough low-skilled, low-paid employment opportunities to meet the needs of the refugees entering Sweden.
The stark reality is that a large number of refugees entering Sweden are not only highly skilled but highly aspirational, too: they want to work, they want to use their skills in Sweden, contribute to the economy by paying tax and paying their way, leave the trauma and horrors they fled behind them to build a new life in safety. The problem in Sweden is bridging the gap between the aspirations and skills of refugees and their access and inclusion in mainstream society.
Refugees are perceived to bring problems and it’s true, some of them do. But what happens if we dig a little deeper and explore what else they bring: education, skills, knowledge, resilience and aspirations. What if these assets were put to good use and refugees were able to fulfil their aspirations in a new society? If it’s possible anywhere, it’s in Sweden. I’m just hope recent stories can be superseded by new headlines focusing on the attributes and achievements of the new population.
Posted: 4 Feb 2016 | There are 2 comments | make a comment/view comments
posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 1 February 2016, 11:19
HOPE not hate can reveal that almost two Parliamentary constituencies of voters have “disappeared” from London, two months after the government rushed through changes to the way we register to vote (against the advice of its own experts).
These figures are based on information we received from 10 out of London’s 33 electoral services.
According to early data we have received from the electoral services across London, 130,000 people have dropped off the electoral register since November last year.
There are now 30% fewer “attainers” (those under 18 but who will be old enough to vote in the next election) in the capital, compared to February 2014, and 20% fewer across the UK as a whole.
In addition, 1 in 5 people are now “missing” from Cambridge’s electoral register (compared with May 2015).
The figures were revealed after we contacted the electoral services in London and across 30+ major towns and cities across the UK, ahead of the Electoral Commission’s own report into the roll out of the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system.
The Commission had advised the Government to wait a further year before the roll-out (which the Government refused).
As we predicted in our September 2015 report the biggest drop-offs took place in large urban areas, often with multiple occupancy housing, regular home movers and a large number of historically under-registered groups (young people, ethnic minorities, poor people, etc).
Out of London’s 33 electoral services, 10 so far have sent us updated information about the state of their December 2015 or January 2016 registers.
Collectively, their electorate is smaller by 127,111 people or, on average, a -6.42% decrease compared to May 2015 (and equivalent to almost two Parliamentary constituencies of electors).
In autumn 2015, the Electoral Commission said 415,000 voters could potentially drop off the registers, on top of the 1.6 million who have a right to vote across London but are not already registered.
With one-third of the London electoral services having shared information with us so far, the actual loss of electors doesn’t seem too far off the predictions.
Unsurprisingly, given our past research and Voter Registration (VR) focus, Cambridge seems the most affected city outside London, having lost almost 20% of its electorate compared to May 2015 (in September we predicted a 17% drop), followed by Brighton which now has a 8.33% smaller register and Southampton with has seen a 7.59% decrease.
For the past two years HOPE not hate has been running VR drives with under-registered groups and wider communities.
Early on, it became apparent to us that young people were most at risk of being voiceless, with attainers (young people who will reach the age of maturity, 18, during the life of that register) at particular risk.
In fact, we wrote in our September 2015 report that one-third of 18-to-24 year olds were not registered to vote and that electoral registers in May 2015 were capturing almost 50% fewer attainers than before the 2014 elections.
Data received so far from 10 London electoral services shows that, on average, there still are 31% fewer attainers on the register in December 2015 than there were in February 2014.
But there are some further disturbing developments, with Bexley’s register seeing a decrease of 62% in attainers; Southwark 60%; and Tower Hamlets almost 52%. The only positive story was Brent which saw a 34% increase – a borough where we’ve worked very hard with the local electoral service and other organisations.
Outside London, attainers numbers continue to remain low: York has 74% fewer attainers on its register than in February 2014, followed by Portsmouth with a 55.4% decrease and Cardiff with a 46% decrease.
HOPE not hate’s mission statement is to ‘Challenge Hate – Build Communities’. Ensuring that people have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process of this country is essential to the way we build communities and increase resilience against the pull of extremism.
With at least seven elections due to take place in 2016, we are more determined than ever to engage with the voiceless, across the UK, but with a particular focus on London.
So watch this space for the HOPE not hate 2016 VR campaign and for some amazing partnerships and events that we are currently planning.
And as always, make sure you, your family, friends and colleagues are registered to vote: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Elisabeth Pop is Voter Registration Campaign Manager & Policy Officer, HOPE not hate @ElisabethPop13
Posted: 1 Feb 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments