HOPE not hate

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Imams To ‘Reclaim Internet’ From Extremists

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 27 March 2015, 12:00


I’m really pleased to see that our friends over at Imams Online, one of our partners on the See It, Report It website, have launched a new online magazine to “reclaim the internet” from extremists.

Over 100 imams gathered in London for the launch of Haqiqah – or "the reality" – which has been created by British Muslim scholars as a direct response to the threat of radicalisation from groups such as Islamic State (IS).

Experts writing in the magazine will offer a counter-narrative to the radical rhetoric of IS and other groups. They will provide clear explanations of verses of the Qu’ran that have been used by extremists to urge youngsters from across Europe and the Islamic world to leave their homes to fight.

"We're turning the tide," said Shaukat Warraich, the chief editor of Imams Online.

"Though we still have a way to go, we know that by taking efforts to support and mobilise the huge online Muslim population, we will eventually drown out the violent voices.".

Along with initiatives like #NotInMyName from the Active Change Foundation and Inspire’s #MakingAStand, it’s heartening to see British Muslims coming forwards and leading the online fight against the so-called Islamic State’s recruitment drive.

No-one should estimate how hard this fight will be: there are as many as 70,000 pro-IS Twitter accounts, while the group also uses other social media networks such as the open-source site Diaspora, and has its own magazine.

Social media, not just mosques or places of worship, is the new battleground and we must do everything we can to support the voices of the Muslim community in standing up to the pedlars of hate.

 Posted: 27 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Which side of history will Britain be on slavery?

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Wednesday, 25 March 2015, 11:58


Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Events across the world will honour the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade.

While many will see it as an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice and the plight of the 36 million people across the world who live in modern slavery, the 13,000 people living in slavery in the UK are putting all their HOPE in the Modern Slavery Bill going through parliament.

But while on the world platform Britain is keen to portray itself as a champion of putting slavery to an end, at home the government cannot hold its head high given their track record.

On 17 March, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members of the House of Commons voted out the Lords amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill, which had included important protections for migrant domestic workers – principally the right to change employers, which have allowed them both to negotiate with employers and given them a realistic option to escape abuse.

Furthermore, it is this same government who in June 2011 refused to sign the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and instead introduced a system by which they chained migrant domestic workers to their employers. Last week, the minister responsible for modern slavery and organised crime, Karen Bradley, again rejected the suggestion made by Member of the Opposition that the UK government do the decent thing and finally ratify the ILO convention.

On 16 June 2014, HOPE not hate, Justice 4 Domestic Workers, KALAYAAN and UNITE the Union handed in a petition and postcards with 10,000 signatures asking David Cameron to end slavery for Domestic Migrant Workers in the UK. 16,000 people are now asking for justice to be done and for parliament to bring back HOPE for domestic workers turned modern day slaves in the UK.

Today, the Modern Slavery Bill bounces back to the Lords for consideration of Commons' unforgivable changes. If not today, on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery, then when will this government decide to be on the right side of history and put their deeds where their words are?

Please take to social media and remind Conservative and Liberal Democrat members of both houses that you would not want to be #ChainedToYourBoss and thus help migrant domestic workers in the UK regain their freedom and HOPE.

 Posted: 25 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 15 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Mother's Day in Newcastle

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 16 March 2015, 09:16


The #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour has come to an end. The final stop - Newcastle, on a sunny, even if fairly chilly, Mother's Day Sunday.

We proudly offered 200 carnations to all the mums who registered to vote. A small gesture of gratitude to all the mothers in the city, and symbolically in the country, who keep us safe and on a sound path of HOPE.

Charlie Hardwick, Emmerdale's Val Pollard, who already landed her support to the campaign, could not stay away and joined us in thanking current mothers for their contribution and inspiring future ones to stand up and make their voice heard for Our Britain.

Thus culminates a journey of democratic engagement that was a logistical nightmare, but a privilege to be part of. And the strap line of the #NoVoteNoVoice mobilisation trip reads:

  • 15 days across England and Wales engaging vulnerable groups and marginalised communities
  • hundreds of individuals who will not be silenced thanks to the decision to take voter registration to the road, to town centers, to campuses, to workplaces, to places of worship, to the door steps
  • more than 3,000 pledges to register and double the number of pledges to make sure Our Voices, Our HOPEs get heard on 7 May
  • the biggest civil society coalition in the history of Voter Registration thanks to Daily Mirror, Unite the Union, HOPE not hate, Operation Disabled Vote, Operation Black Vote, Vote Booster, Bite the Ballot, NUT and NUS joining forces.
But the journey does not end here. HOPE not hate will continue to engage communities up and down the country until the 20th April voter registration deadline and beyond.

Find out how you can get involved at http://www.ourvoiceourhope.co.uk/get-involved/

 Posted: 16 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 14 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Leeds

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Sunday, 15 March 2015, 08:34


The #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour is almost coming to an end.

On one of its final stops, it came to Leeds, more precisely to Headingly, where almost 4,000 students have dropped of the register. This is on top of the estimated 8,000 adults living in the ward who were not on the register even before the changes to voter registration.

HOPE not hate volunteers engaged and registered the most vulnerable and those most likely to be left voiceless - students and members of this diverse community.

Makkah Masjid Mosque, which serves the Muslim communities of Headingley, Hyde Park, Universities and surrounding areas, hosted us for a VR drive after the prayers.

Imam Qari Asim, the first Imam ever, who leads daily prayers in a mosque, to be awarded an MBE, is a great supporter of HOPE not hate and a campaigner for grass roots empowerment and democratic engagement.

All in all a great day, from which I take the words of Holly March, a 19 year old Chemistry student who told me: "I love the diverse community I live in. And if I am not quite sure whom I am going to end up voting for, I had to make sure I register to vote because I know who I do not want to represent me, to talk or act on my behalf".

 Posted: 15 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 13 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Emmerdale

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Saturday, 14 March 2015, 08:16


A huge thank you to the cast of Emmerdale who support the #NoVoteNoVoice campaign, but especially to Fiona Wade, John Bowe, Anthony Quinlan, Charlie Hardwick, Joe Gill and John Middleton.

They met the #NoVoteNoVoice bus today and spoke to us about the need to register and vote to ensure you get heard, to ensure you hold to account the few who represent the many.

They want to send an appeal especially to young people that this election is going to be the biggest test in a generation, so every vote, every voice counts.

So remember, register to vote before 20th April and make sure to vote on 7th May.

And do watch Emmerdale :)

 Posted: 14 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A massive thank you

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 14 March 2015, 05:15


Yesterday I blogged about HOPE not hate needing another £1,826 to reach our £8,000 target we needed to print the 250,000 12pp booklets for women voters in our key constituencies.

I'm really pleased to say that thanks to the superb generosity of our supporters we have not only reached our total but sailed way past it.

In fact, yesterday alone, we raised over £9,000!

That means, in total, we have raised £15,639 – from 872 people.

We can now print our booklets and stuff them into individually addressed envelopes for our target voters.

The scale of the response from our supporters has been heartwarming but also reflects the growing concern about The Real UKIP, with Farage’s most recent intervention about abolishing our laws concerning racial discrimination testament to their underlying extremism.

 Posted: 14 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Last call

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Friday, 13 March 2015, 11:39


Last Sunday we launched an appeal to raise £8,000 to print 250,000 copies of a 12-page booklet for women voters in the 15 constituencies most at risk to UKIP.

The great news is we've raised £6,174 - but that still leaves us £1,826 short.

Sorry to ask you for money again but this is our most important appeal of the campaign. By raising the £8,000 we can personally address this booklet to 15,000 voters in each of the 15 seats UKIP could win. It will go to those women voters who are unlikely to support UKIP - in a bid to persuade them to get out and vote - and to those who are attracted to UKIP but who could be won over.

Can you chip in before our midnight deadline?

We are producing this because all the research shows that women are much less likely to vote UKIP than men, so the more women who vote the harder it will be for UKIP to win MPs.

This is the last call for us to reach our target

https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/page/contribute/women-can-make-the-difference

A similar booklet we produced in 2010 proved to be our most successful piece of literature against the BNP. With your help we can turn the tide in the very constituencies most at risk to UKIP.

This will be our last fundraising email for a while so please help us raise the £1,826 we need by midnight.

https://donate.hopenothate.org.uk/page/contribute/women-can-make-the-difference

 Posted: 13 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 12 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Sheffield

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Friday, 13 March 2015, 08:37


Just in one ward in Sheffield, Central ward, 4,000 students have vanished of the electoral roll.

This is despite the fact that Sheffield University is the first big UK university to convince the Electoral Services in the local council to use student ID numbers, which are so much easy to have on you than the National Insurance number, when doing Voter Registrations drives. As 1 million young people dropped of the register in December last year, Electoral Registration Officer's were given the discretion to allow the usage of student ID numbers for VR, but very few of the ones we approached even knew they had such power. Now, thanks to HOPE not hate organisers on ground Cardiff, Brent, Southampton, Lancaster, Brighton, Nottingham, Manchester and others have allowed students to find their voice more easily.

So Day 12 on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour had to be spent making sure the other students, those studying at Sheffield Hallam, have a voice too.

During two drives, one at the Hubs and another one at the Collegiate Crescent Campus, we registered dozens of students.

Among them was Louise, a 20 year old Psychology student, who told me "This is my last year of university. After this I am going to look for a job to make a career out of. But I am worried there are not enough jobs out there, and I am particularly concerned about equality in the workplace. I would have eventually remembered to register to vote, but having seen the bus I told myself better sooner rather than later".

Tim also registered on the day. The issue of jobs is important for him too, "but not because I might not find one, but because it might not pay enough to pay off my debt, my student loan. I made my mind about whom to vote for, but I just did not have the time to register. I am happy so many registered today, I mean, who will say no when a VR bus come to you?"

 Posted: 13 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Days 11/ 12 - Harry Leslie Smith urges young people to take stand for our HOPEs and dreams

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Thursday, 12 March 2015, 20:04


Days 11 and 12 on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour were spent in Manchester. The city that will forever remain in my memory as the place where I heard one of the most inspirational talks in my life. Here I had the honour to listen to and talk to WWII veteran and campaigner Harry Leslie Smith who urged young people at the University of Manchester to seize their destiny and register to vote.

Harry, on top of being a child labourer at the age of seven and having lived on the brink of starvation for 10 years, found himself on the front line in the most defining moment in British and European history. He is one of the most passionate campaigners for social equality and the preservation of the NHS.

Below is an extract from his impassioned plea to the young people of this country:

"I am not going to lecture you about the war dead from my generation who sacrificed their lives for democracy and freedom. I know every generation has a responsibility to their ancestors, their contemporaries and their decedents.

I know you have that same gumption and that same thirst for social justice as my generation did.

I only came here to tell you a simple truth, if you don’t register to vote your society will die along with your HOPEs and dreams for a decent life for yourselves and for your offspring.

My generation was much like yours today because we were cynical about politicians and distrusted elections as they only seemed to maintain our misery.

[But] many from my generation resolved to vote in that 1945 General Election because we wanted to create a more equal Britain.

So when I voted for the first time I, like most everyone else of my generation, I voted for the future. I voted for justice, I voted for democracy, I voted for the right of everyone to a decent standard of living and the creation of the NHS.

I am not saying that voting will cure all of our problems whether they are economic or social. But... it would be a great misfortune for your future, and Britain’s future to not participate in something that will make a difference for good or ill to your lives.

Regardless of your political beliefs your personal beliefs or convictions you must register to vote. Then you must go on Election Day and vote with your head, your heart for a new tomorrow.

Some have called my generation the greatest but I think your generation will be the greatest because you will finish the job my generation started. I wish all of you a long and happy life, seize your destiny by voting and being engaged with your society.

Please remember for everyone's sake No Vote, No Voice!"

And many of the students who came to the talk and other students we met at Manchester SU acted on his call to register to vote and get their voice heard. Given that 56,000 voters have dropped of the register in Greater Manchester, many of them students, this is just the start.

Among them Stephanie O'Brien who told me: "I made sure all my friends and family registered to vote and will go out and vote on 7 may because you cannot moan from the sidelines that no one listens to us, if we ourselves are not willing to keep them in check. Like Harry said - "if power is held by the few, the many will suffer a lifetime of misery."

 Posted: 12 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 10 - #NoVoteNoVoice VR bus tour - Liverpool

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Wednesday, 11 March 2015, 07:54


I thought quite a bit about what I should write in today's blog.

For a while I set my mind on writing about the Voter Registration drive at The Casa, the bar on HOPE Street in Liverpool that is steeped in the history of the trade union movement, in the struggle for equality and justice. And the great women and men I met there, who over a pint of beer and ham sandwiches, reminder me that the people united will never be defeated.

But I decided to focus on the story of a homeless person who approached us as we were about to set off on another day on board the #NoVoteNoVoice bus. He had been trying for a while to find out if he can vote, given that he has no fix address. He had no idea how to register to vote, the fact that he needed to get a correspondence address and also ask the Electoral Services in his local council for a form called a ‘Declaration of local connection’.

The joy on his face, when we told him that he too has a right to vote like everyone else and how he can go about making sure his voice gets heard, will stay will me for a very long time.

So, today I would like to share with you all why I think it is important to register and vote:

  • Fewer people on the electoral register, means further cuts to local services.
  • Use Your Power, have your Voice Heard and send politicians a clear message - They Work for You and for Our Britain!
  • If YOU don’t vote, others will make the decisions for YOU or you will be ignored all together.
  • 8 million people in the UK with the right to vote are already unregistered. Don't be one of the voiceless.
  • Voting gives you an opportunity to BE PART of the decision-making that will affect your life and the future of those you love -- instead of watching powerless from the sidelines.
  • Remember - It is Your youth club, Your pavement, Your park, Your school, Your NHS, Your Member of Parliament, Your Voice, Your Power.

You can make a difference!

 Posted: 11 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 9 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Chester and the Wirral

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Tuesday, 10 March 2015, 22:54


Even if the bad weather has finally caught up with us, the spirits on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour are still high. Especially as today we ran Voter Registration drives in two workplaces.

The first stop was the Lloyds Banking Group support offices in Chester. We were met by Lisa Ashley, Senior Unite Rep, who made sure those she represents got a change to register to vote and have their say in the fast approaching general election. I spoke to Lisa and she told me "voting is important, very important because we do not have the chance very often to remind those who are supposed to represent us, to speak for us, that we actually have the power, the people have the power. They should work for us". And when asked what is the number one issue that made her coordinate this VR drive in her workplace, "the lack of housing, especially social housing" came the answer, without hesitation.

The second stop was the Ty-phoo Tea factory in Moreton, Wirral. I had the pleasure to meet some warm, modest and hard working people, and among them Regina (team leader) and Sherley (line operator) stood out. These two ladies registered to vote after many years in which they had given up on politics. They told me "we need more women in politics and more women to vote. We are so good at taking care of our families, so it is now time to take care of our country, and the direction it is heading in. It is very important to get our voice heard as working people, and hopefully soon we will have more people from working class background to represent us in Parliament". This joint answer made me proudly share with them that I too come from a working class background and that I too believe we should do more to empower women and get their voices for HOPE heard.

A tour of the plant and a box of Ty-phoo Tea was a treat for the senses and a gratefully appreciated comfort for the long days we've got left on the second week of the bus tour. But more importantly a reminder, in case anyone still needed one, that it is thanks to workers who registered to vote and made their voice heard that we now take for granted the National Minimum Wage, the annual leave entitlement, the right to maternity leave, the legal minimum of a Statutory Sick Pay, the Work and Safety regulations and the automatically enrolled in a basic occupational pension.

 Posted: 10 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 8 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - International Women's Day and Dudley

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 9 March 2015, 09:09


Harriet, the #NoVoteNoVoice bus, has had a memorable day - on International Women's Day and the 8th day of this Voter Registration tour - by meeting some amazing ladies at the South Bank march in solidarity with women and girls worldwide who continue to face inequality and injustice

She met Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline, and her daughter Laura, Annie Lennox, Gemma Arterton, Sandi Toksvig, Gemma Cairney, No More Page Three founder Lucy-Anne Holmes, Radio 4’s Jane Garvey and Radio 5’s Emma Barnett. But also a group of feminists dressed in Edwardian suffragette costumes who had their picture taken with Harriet.

We could not miss this opportunity and thus send a reminder to all the special women in this country - they have constantly shown they are at least twice less likely to choose fear and hate. We really need to make sure their voices of HOPE get heard on 7 May!

And then, because she is a heroine, Harriet made the five hours journey to Dudley, for a community event and VR drive in the Wren's Nest Community Centre. A community that few years ago was still legitimised with its vote and actions the politics of fear and hate, has been transformed through bringing together various groups in the community. Only a month ago, 200 people made their way up the hill through the previous night’s snow to Rise Up balloons for St Thomas’s, an event which celebrated multiculturalism in Dudley. And a week later it completely turned its back to the third EDL march in five years.

On this day, their vision of HOPE has materialised in the action of those community members who registered to vote and pledged to actually go out and vote in two months time, in the form of the Faith and Spirit of Djembe drumming group performance and in the message of interfaith peace and collaboration personified by the Rt. Revd Graham Usher - the Bishop of Dudley.

 Posted: 9 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 7 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Cardiff

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Sunday, 8 March 2015, 22:52


Day 7 on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour saw us reach sunny Cardiff, more precisely the Cathays ward where 5,500 students have dropped off the register. The warm weather however pales in comparison to the welcome we got. Almost 70 volunteers from HOPE not hate, Citizens, Unite Wales, Dar Ul-Isra mosque and the church of St. Andrew and St. Teilo came together for a ward-wide VR drive.

Among them was Mariam who thinks voting is extremely important. Here's why...

"In Egypt, thousands of people have been murdered just for their voice to be heard. People face the bullet to reach the ballot. People as young as Asmaa el-Beltagi, just 17 years old, were ready to stand up for their basic rights, but it cost them their lives.Tens of thousands of student activists loom in Egyptian dungeons, facing torture and brutality.

So, I find it frustrating that people don’t realise how lucky they are to have a voice. In Cardiff, 23,000 people who have the right to vote have dropped off the electoral register. We must fight for our right to a democratic voice in our country, and take advantage of the freedoms that we have, freedoms that so many around the world are dying for."

And Fadhila, a 23 year old student who told us: "In my country, if you stand up to speak and make a change, you will be asked, "Do you want to go behind the sun ?". In other words, do you want to be imprisoned or to be taken somewhere nobody knows where? Or do you want to be killed? Citizens in many countries are struggling to get their voices heard.

On the contrary, here in the UK, people have dropped off the electoral register, and no-one is talking about it! 60% of people in Cathays have not even been registered. The consequences are devastating to locals.
Well we should not be silent, because if you don't vote today, you will pay the price tomorrow. It is in your hands to make it or break it. If you can vote then don't let it go. Make the rules yourself and register to vote, now!"

A beautiful day, an incredible action and a clear message - If YOU don't do POLITICS, politics will do you!

There are some amazing people in Cardiff willing to stand up and make sure they get heard. They started the journey by registering to vote themselves and their community on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour.

 Posted: 8 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 6 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Bristol

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Saturday, 7 March 2015, 22:50


The #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour has one mission - to engage and register vulnerable groups and marginalised communities.

And the Bristol event was all about making sure that the less able members of our communities have a voice because they are as important as everyone else, if not more There are millions of disabled voters in the UK, but, as many of the ones I spoke to today said, many feel that the current political system is penalising them for being less able. Even so, every single individual I had the privilege of meeting today told me they have the passion and drive to make sure they go to the ballot box and no disability or democratic barriers will stop them from having a voice.

And there are plenty barriers. A report by the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee into voter engagement ­highlighted that a major factor in low election turnout is poor accessibility of registration and voting for a large number of people with specific needs resulting from a disability. And even a Mencap study revealed 60% of people with a learning disability said they found registering to vote just too hard.

Well on the #NoVoteNoVoice we had Easy Read VR forms and United Response "How politics affects your life" packs.

Lisa Ponting, 40, who teaches at Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol told us: "I might have learning difficulties, but I want to make sure I have a vote. I heard from Bristol Disability Equality Forum that the bus is coming to us. I was one of the lucky. But many will not get help to register. I think this is so wrong. Things need to change, we deserve to be treated equally".

On this note, of anger at the current system, but commitment to make sure we engage and register the voiceless, we now head to Cardiff. Wales, here we come!

 Posted: 7 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 5 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Southampton

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Friday, 6 March 2015, 22:49


Day 5 and we arrive in Southampton where 23,000 people have dropped of the register. In Bargate ward alone 4,500 people have become voiceless.

So there is no surprise that the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour had to stop there, and who else to organise the door-to-door VR drive than the local HOPE not hate organiser, Nick. Having been working in the community for months to make sure the city comes together under the “We Are Southampton” banner, Nick feels that Bargate is a typical example of the democratic crisis the country is going through. The most vulnerable groups - those likely to be unregistered - live here: Southampton Solent university students, BME voters and families who cannot afford to get on the property ladder so have to rent.

I met some angry, frustrated and disillusioned people today, but two stories will stick with me for a long while. Unsurprisingly you might say, given that they are stories of HOPE.

Oscar Kally, an economics and politics student, is in no doubt about how important it is to register to vote “but like me, there are many young people who are frustrated with the voting system, we need to make it more representative. I am passionate about making Britain more equal and genuinely helping the disadvantaged in our society. They get a hard time, for instance in the media who say all the time that people are dependent on the welfare state. That’s complete rubbish. How can you be dependent on 100 quid a week? That’s plain simple scaremongering!”

And Beau Townshend, a special effects student, for whom this is his very first election. He registered to vote and will vote on 7 May because “we need more policies that work for the many. And as the son of a Native American mother and an English father, I want to use my voice against extremism and xenophobia.” I asked him what he thinks of Russell Brand’s appeal not to vote and he told me “it’s rubbish. Of course we should vote, especially young people, otherwise this country will be taken over by fear and hate. We deserve better, but we need to speak up, we need to vote!”.

 Posted: 6 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 4 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Brighton

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Thursday, 5 March 2015, 10:15


Students have a Voice and they shall be heard! This was the message coming out today at the #NoVoteNoVoice VR drive on Sussex University Campus in Falmer.

12,000 students have dropped of the electoral roll in Brighton since December 2014. But after today, 80 have made sure they are not silenced and many more have agreed to ensure that their friends on campus and outside do the same. They sent a strong message: they will not be refused a vote!

Asal Kargarnovin, a medical neuroscience student, registered on the bus and told us: "Others take decisions on behalf of young people all the time. So now is the chance, no matter how hard they make it for us to register, to actually show them that we care about the taxes we pay, whether we will have a job or not, and so on".

The feeling was shared by Michael James, an economics student, who said he does not believe that students are apathetic, it's about "not being told that the law has changed, and about there not being enough education around why it is so important to vote. I believe we have to hold politicians to account, and we can only do that if we show them every vote counts. Together we can make a difference!".

All in all the fourth day on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour was a great success and the attitude and energy of the Sussex Uni students is a reminder that the work HOPE not hate is doing to start a new suffrage movement for students is crucial.

 Posted: 5 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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A murder which shouldn't be ignored

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 12:29


Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy

The shocking murder of Avijit Roy in Bangladesh is a sad reminder that intolerance and hatred is found in all communities, religions and nations.

The US-based blogger was a social activist and avowed atheist and, sadly, this attracted the attention and animosity of religious extremists. He was well aware of the threats against him but continued to speak his mind nonetheless. Only last year, an Islamist activist posted a message on the internet: “Avijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. He will be murdered when he comes back.”

He was murdered last week in Bangladesh after he and his wife were attacked by a gang wielding machetes. His wife is now fighting for her life.

This disgusting murder should not be ignored and is unfortunately just the latest incident of a growing number of attacks on free speech and against religious extremism. In Saudi Arabia there is the on-going persecution of Raif Badawi, a blogger who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam. While the authorities suspended his beatings after the first 50 were administered, his family are now concerned that he will be retried on the basis of renouncing his religion, which is punishable by death.

We have a duty to speak out against religious intolerance, just as we would speak out against racism.

To read more about the Avijit Roy case http://www.pen.org/blog/where-assassins-are-emboldened-and-thoughts-are-imprisoned

 Posted: 4 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 3 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Hastings

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 10:10


After engaging faith and ethnic minorities on the first two days of the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour, day 3 saw us start with a Voter Registration drive at the Stagecoach Depot in St Leonards-on-Sea. The women and men we met felt strongly about the need to make sure they, their family and friends are registered to vote. And this is only the first workplace VR drive on our two weeks bus tour.

We then headed over to Warrior Square, by the promenade, where we engaged with members of the community. After the first few conversations, one thing became apparent - few people knew that that general election is in two months time, and none of them have heard of the charges to the way we register to vote.

My colleague Joelle recalls talking to a few young people, some of them students, who were not registered. All it took to convince them was just to say that she cared about the fact that they were voiceless, and thus did not count in political terms - we all know that politicians aim to please those who actually vote, those who hold them to account and remind them they work for us, the many.

It's amazing to see that all it takes to convince people to engage with the democratic progress is just to reach out and remind them that their voice matters, instead of letting them drift under the radar of apathy and disfranchisement. But at the same time sad and terrible, because it is so easy to educate, galvanise and energise, but, as the electoral services in local councils up and down the country would tell you, it is so hard to get funding to hire enough canvassers. Yet another example in which charities and campaigning organisations are stepping in to make sure that civil society is represented and to save this democracy of ours that is already in crisis.

 Posted: 4 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 2 - #NoVoteNoVoice Bus tour - London

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 10:11


The sun is smiling on us for a second day in a row on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour. It might be because of the iconic HOPE not hate yellow sun or because of the energy and determination of the lovely people we met today.

Lovely people such as the community at the Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Wembley who were our host for the day. 72 people who call the mandir their spiritual home registered today. Among them Pandiji (priest) Bhavikkumar Pandya who said he has to lead by example and engage in the democratic process.

We were also joined by the Brent Punjabi Association under the leadership of Mrs. Kundhi who praised our North London organiser, Manpreet, for making the event possible because "very few Indians know that as Commonwealth nationals they can vote in the general election. You made sure they have a voice", she said.

Mr Manubhai Makwana from the Hindu Council (Brent) who has been working in the community to raise awareness about the introduction of Individual Voter Registration and the fact that you cannot register without your National Insurance Number also came to meet the bus.

But the day would not have been the same without the energy and commitment to have a loud voice and be heard of the Asian People Disability Alliance. They know better than everyone that 1 in 3 people in Brent are not registered and that ethnic and faith minorities and disabled members of the community are the most vulnerable.

And the ladies from the Wembley Central Masjid, who registered themselves on the day but also invited HOPE not hate to do a big VR drive in their mosque this coming Friday.

All in all a great day. And it can only get better. Looking forward to Hastings tomorrow.

 Posted: 3 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Day 1 - #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour - Thurrock

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Monday, 2 March 2015, 22:48


A few months ago, when I was first told that I will be able to organise the #NoVoteNoVoice Voter Registration bus tour, I thought this will be a once in a life time experience. The chance to meet all those people who support the work HOPE not hate does in communities up and down the country for a modern, inclusive Britain. But also, the chance to work with organisation who care as much as we do about the dreams and aspirations of the many and the need to get them registered - Daily Mirror, Unite the union, Operation Disabled Vote and others.

But it soon become clear that this privilege will also be a very daunting mission to ensure that 8 million people have a voice when very few know that the way we register to vote has changed and that they, their family and friends might have been made voiceless.

So how fitting that the journey to engage and register vulnerable and marginalised communities started on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Chafford Hundred, Thurrock.

We were overwhelmed to be greeted by gospel music, as a 500 strong congregation were making their way out of Harris Academy. They were lead by David Bareham, Lead Elder at Chafford Hundred Community Church, who told me "We are one family made on 30 ethnic communities. I am honoured to pastor this diverse community and to host the voter registration bus, because we must ensure that every voice counts".

Among the first to come and ask me to help him register was Michael, a British Nigerian as he describes himself, "but also Essex through and through", he was kin to stress. He also told me he was doing it as an example to his children, as a reminder that we need to engage in our democracy.

Karen felt exactly the same:"It's about the country we leave behind, for the little ones". And she would know, as Karen is a NUT rep and a big HOPE not hate supporter.

David, Michael and Karen are just some of the great people we met today.

And as we left Essex behind, to head into London, I thought to myself - no matter how tiring, how cold or how daunting the two weeks on the #NoVoteNoVoice bus tour will be, these stories of people who want to ensure that their vision of HOPE for Britain comes true by making sure they hold politicians to account, these stories will make it all worth it!

 Posted: 2 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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National weekend of action

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Monday, 2 March 2015, 18:13


HOPE not hate is calling a national weekend of action for 21/22 March and I’d love you to be involved and we are inviting our supporters to put on an event in their area.

We have produced a range of leaflets, so that you can pick the one that you think is most appropriate. Just sign up to get involved for our campaign weekend and we will link you up with other HOPE not hate supporters in your area.

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/choose-your-leaflet

With just 65 days to go until the General Election, we need to step up our campaign. UKIP boast that it will win several seats and, more worryingly, could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. UKIP also poses a real threat in 410 council wards.

Let’s stop them

Our message is slowly getting through. An opinion poll last week found that 44% of Britons think UKIP is a racist party – up 12% on last year – and 37% associate the party with the word “nasty”. This is good but we have a lot more work to do.

So, if you are appalled by Farage whipping up hatred and are worried about UKIP holding the balance of power, then please sign up to get involved.

 Posted: 2 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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#NoVoteNoVoice Bus tour launch

posted by: Elisabeth Pop | on: Sunday, 1 March 2015, 07:54


With just two months to go until the biggest test in a generation - the 2015 general election - the campaign to register UK's vulnerable groups and marginalised communities will get underway today.

Across the UK as a whole, some 1 million people have already dropped of the electoral roll following the introduction of Individual Voter Registration. They fill the ranks of the already existing 7 million who have a right to vote, but are not registered.

To drive up awareness and ensure that the voiceless take part in the democratic process on 7 May, a voter registration roadshow is starting its journey across the country.

The #NoVoteNoVoice double decker - powered by a HOPE note hate, Daily Mirror, Operation Disabled Vote, Operation Black Vote, and Unite the union coalition - will engage with the millions the Electoral Commission has already identified as been at grave risk - young people and students, the poor, those living in rented housing and minority communities.

Speaking ahead of the bus's journey across the country, Nick Lowles - HOPE not hate Director said: “Elections are the life-blood of any democracy, so it is a scandal that so many people cannot vote. The government's own figures show that almost 17 per cent of all eligible voters are not registered to vote.

“Giving people the chance to vote is absolutely essential and I would urge everyone to support the No Vote, No Voice campaign and start talking to their friends, families and neighbours about the importance of voting.

Please follow our daily blog from the journey of engaging and registering the voiceless, as we make sure they get heard at http://www.ourvoiceourhope.co.uk/blog/

 Posted: 1 Mar 2015 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments