Get Involed!

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

One of the core principles of Ignite Magazine and indeed the inspiration for the name was to ignite debate discussion and interest around key issues of politics and culture. As a part of this we invite you dear reader to submit articles of your own. Be they about films, music or riots erupting in Missouri we want to know what you think.

If you would like to submit a piece then please send it along with any images and the name you wish to be credited under to ignitethemag1@gmail.com

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Nick Griffin has been removed from his position as leader of the British National Party, following the party’s disastrous electoral performance earlier this year. The former leader was ousted at a meeting of the party’s national executive on Saturday, after the party lost all of their MEP’s and all but two of their councillors in this year’s local elections. Griffin’s role as party chairman will now be filled by disgraced teacher Adam Walker.

Walker, who had only recently taken on the position deputy chairman, was given a lifetime ban from teaching following an incident that saw him drive his Land Rover across a village green in pursuit of three boys aged between ten and twelve, before slashing the tyres of their bicycles with a knife.

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This wasn’t Walker’s first brush with the authorities; he had previously come to their attention after using a school computer to send hate filled messages describing immigrants as “savage animals”. Astonishingly, the teaching council rapped his knuckles for misuse of equipment – but cleared him of racism. It would seem that such problems run in Walker’s family as his brother Mark is also a BNP activist, as well as a disgraced teacher. Mark was struck off for using school computers – this time to send sleazy emails with lines like “I124Q” to a 16 year old former pupil.

The change in leadership, which sees Griffin now take on the role of party president, was announced in a statement on the BNP website. The statement read: “Recently appointed deputy chairman, Adam Walker, has accepted the role of acting chairman of the British National Party after Nick Griffin stepped aside at a meeting of the BNP national executive… The full national executive are united in their support for Adam in this role.”

Whilst Griffin was at the helm for the BNP’s boost in 2009 (the party took 6% of the vote in the European elections and saw the election of a number of local and county councillors) he was unable to hold the party firm against the rise of UKIP on the anti-European right. In this year’s European elections the BNP managed only 1% of the vote, and lost the majority of its council seats including Griffin’s own in Strasbourg. This led to severe decline for the BNP as internal fights raged around the party’s finances, though Steven Squire – the London organiser of the BNP – said on Monday that although there had been some “bickering” within the party in the past “that is all over now and unlike other political parties, we are not in debt”. In response to the successes of UKIP, Griffin said that BNP supporters who wanted to “send them all home” would end up disappointed if they had voted for UKIP as an alternative.

These clear and openly far right views will remain, if not intensify, with Walker as party leader. In a speech to a party audience last November, Mr Walker claimed that white Britons were facing a process of “ethnic cleansing” and suggested further killings like that of off-duty soldier Lee Rigby were likely. He accused the leaders of the three main political parties of turning Britain into a “multicultural shithole”.

When considering recent leavers of the BNP this shift to a harder far right position can be better understood. Two prominent cases are that of former chair and MEP Andrew Brons and former councillor Paul Golding. Brons parted ways with the BNP in October 2012 and four months later launched the British Democratic Party with former BNP organiser Kevin Scott. The two had previously accused the BNP of ongoing corruption and the watering down of its politics. The BDP is expected to re-focus efforts on promoting scientific racism, calling for the compulsory repatriation of non-whites and heavily pushing the notion that the Holocaust is a hoax – core policies that Nick Griffin tried to either disguise or entirely extinguish after taking over the BNP in 1999.

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Golding, formerly a BNP councillor for Sevenoaks and communications officer for the party, now sits as director of Britain First – the nationalist outfit founded by the BNP’s former chief fundraiser Jim Dowson, who sensationally quit the party after being accused of groping a party activist. Golding describes his party as a “street defence organisation” opposed to radical extremists. The group is probably best known for their ‘Christian Patrols’ and mosque invasions. Britain First members have driven around in military jeeps while handing out Christian literature to Muslims around Tower Hamlets and invaded the East London Mosque in Whitechapel to hand out Army issued bibles and Christian leaflets, while asking to speak to the Imam. They have also staged protests by drinking alcohol outside mosques. Despite using Snatch Land Rovers during the patrols and dressing in matching green uniforms, described as ‘activist jackets’ by the party, Britain First deny that they intended to intimidate people with their actions.

The emergence of a number of, whilst smaller, more militant far-right organisations is indicative of a more general rightward shift in British politics, and how Walker adapts with this shift will no doubt be the indicator for his success within the BNP as well as that of the party itself.

A Community United

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Campaigns, Housing, UK

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You often hear it said how things aren’t the way they used to be, back when communities really were communities, where you knew everyone on your street by their first name and you had no qualms about leaving your door unlocked when you went to the shop. For residents in the area of Easton in Bristol it’s time to reclaim that sense of community.

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Easton has recently become the location of the latest chapter of Acorn International, an organisation that builds grassroots community unions that seek to bring communities together in solidarity as they campaign in their local areas around issues that matter to them. Armed with a will for change a group of local residents hit the streets of Easton going from door to door talking to the people they met about their experiences and concerns and asking one simple question: If 100 of their neighbours would agree to the same, would they commit to attending a local forum hosted by Acorn? And they said yes!

On Friday 16th May 70 residents gathered in a local social centre where they spoke of their concerns around local schools to properties left as junkyards by absentee landlords, and from rip off tenancy fees to zero hours contracts. Through this discussion the first campaign was launched. The campaign has three clear goals:

1. Eliminate tenancy fees
2. Stop monthly rolling contracts for renters
3. Have letting agents and landlords give tenants the option for 3/5 year tenancies

Since that meeting ACORN member have been back out on the streets canvassing resident for support for their campaign to fight exploitative tenancy fees in the BS5 area. These fees, which are already illegal in Scotland, are used to fleece those already most vulnerable to the present housing crisis for work that would have to be provided anyway. Elsewhere in Europe the cost of paperwork is covered by the landlords who are able to make the money out of the transactions, but increasingly agencies are using gaps in the legislation to squeeze tenants for everything they can get.

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Letting agents are key to this problem. Over 60% of tenancies involve a letting agent and 1-in-4 people in England feel they have been charged an unfair fee. In Easton fees are often £250-400 and some agents charge new fees of around £30 every 6 months. Not only that, but some letting agents encourage landlords to only sign contracts for 6 months to make it easier to evict tenants or hike-up rent at the drop of a hat. It also means that the agencies are able to charge a new batch of fees whenever a contract needs signing or renewing. Only having housing security for 6 months is not a decent way to live. Across Europe standard tenancies are 5 years long! Shorter tenancies lead to people moving house often and not being able to put down roots in their community.

The timing for this campaign couldn’t be better. The issues it raises are currently all over the national media. The Labour Party are putting an abolition of tenancy fees and 3 year fixed-term tenancy agreements in their manifesto. The current government have drafted a tenants’ charter aimed at increasing the rights of all renters. Shelter are running national, high publicity campaigns on exactly the same issues and Bristol Mayor George Ferguson has publicly backed them saying “Bristol City Council is serious about tackling poor standards of accommodation and poorly managed properties in Bristol’s private rented sector.”

Things are already looking positive in Easton too, one local agent already does not charge fees and another has suggested that they are receptive to it. As part of the campaign to fight exploitative tenancy fees a petition has been launched which campaigners hope will reach 1000 signatures. This petition will be presented to local agencies inviting them to scrap fees and drop the exploitative 6 month contracts. They will also be invited to explain themselves to residents at a public meeting. ACORN members and other residents will also be invited to give testimonies explaining how they have been exploited by agencies in the past. Campaigners are confident that the meeting will lead to a deal that works for the community not for private profits, but are committed to continuing to apply community pressure on those agencies that refuse to work with them.

Yesterday the New York Police Department launched a campaign on Twitter which invited people to tweet pictures of themselves with “New York’s finest” using the hashtag #mynypd to promote a supposed good relationship with the community.

The tweet that started it all.

The tweet that started it all.

The campaign however didn’t work out too well for the NYPD as thousands of users sent in pictures of brutality at the hands of NYPD. Commissioner William Bratton pledged to make the use of social media one of the cornerstones of the NYPD’s effort to engage with the community, appointing Zachary Tumin as deputy commissioner of strategic initiatives to oversee the effort. However when asked about the negative depiction of the NYPD Bratton responded saying that he welcomed both types of photos. He said the department welcomed “the extra attention.”

“Was that particular reaction from some of the police adversaries anticipated?” Mr. Bratton said. “To be quite frank, it was not, but at the same time it’s not going to cause us to change any of our efforts to be very active on social media”

By midnight on Tuesday, more than 70,000 people had tweeted about police brutality, ridiculing the NYPD for a social media disaster and recalling the names of people shot dead by police.

 

mynypd1mynypd2

 

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mynypd5                                mynypd7

 

mynypd8              mynypd9

 

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Fashion for Fascists

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Anti-Fascism, Fashion, UK

20140423-112401.jpgA controversial clothing brand strongly associated with the extreme right in Europe has opened a high street store in London.

Thor Steinar, the fashion label popular with hardline right wingers in Germany, has opened a shop in north London called the Viking Thor Shop – but locals may be unaware of its right-wing roots. The shop has been operating from Ballards Lane in North Finchley since late last month, bringing clothing heavily associated with European far-right street movements to the UK.

Whilst the stores owner claims not to have any links with the far right the arrival of the shop was welcomed by the white power website Stormfront, where users posted boasting that “London gets its first white nationalist clothing shop”. A number of users also pledged to visit the store.

The Thor Steinar brand has faced bans in the German Bundestag, in several football stadium and members of the far-right German National Democratic Party have been expelled from parliament for wearing the brand. Its clothes were banned outright in Germany in 2004 because of the logo’s similarity to symbols worn by the Nazi SS – but the company has rebranded since then.

In March 2012 the label drew global controversy when the company opened a shop called Brevik in Saxony. It was accused of naming the store after far-right mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. The brand claimed it was named in honour of the Norwegian town of Brevik in Oslo but later changed the name and removed the sign. The Norwegian government also filed a complaint against the retailer over use of it’s national flag in February 2008.

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Above the door at the north London Viking store, an ambiguous Wolfsangel-style Nordic rune is proudly displayed.

The company was launched in October 2002 and was initially based in Königs Wusterhausen, German. In 2009 it moved to Dubai – provoking outrage from some of its extreme right customers who threatened a boycott. The clothes regularly feature Vikings and Nordic themes – mythology which plays a central role in the extreme right’s racial purist views.

Thor Steinar shops in Germany have been repeatedly targeted by anti-fascist protests and repeatedly vandalised. Earlier this month in Hanover 350 protesters gathered outside a Thor Steinar store to protest against what they see as a “right wing lifestyle store”.

High street fashion giant Topman is once again making 
headlines for it's callous approach to design. This time 
instead of misogynistic t-shirts the retailer has been 
selling clothing emblazoned with Nazi insignia. 

The jacket in question, the £205 “grunge look” Horace hooded
denim jacket featured an emblem worn by Second World War SS 
troops.
 topnazi
The ancient Norse odal rune, a symbol which like the 
swastika, was appropriated Adolf Hitler to symbolise 
his belief in a pure Aryan race. The symbol was worn by 
ethnic Germans of the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division 
in Croatia. It has also been adopted by neo-Nazi skinheads 
and right wing fascist groups. 

The men's clothing retailer, a part of Sir Philip Green's tax-
dodging Arcadia group, apologised for the blunder after it
was pointed out by an online shopper. 

The shopper, from Hove, East Sussex, posted a review pointing out the fashion faux pas on the
Topman website. Talking to The Mirror he said: “A friend of mine who wears punk-style clothing 
shared the link with me on Facebook. When I looked more closely I saw the Nazi insignia.” 

ss collatrAdding: “When I checked to see if Topman had published my review
I noticed they had withdrawn the jacket from sale." 

The jacket, part of the Horace fashion range made by an outside supplier,
was only available online at Topman. A store spokesman said: 
“The jacket was not designed by Topman. We apologise for any offence 
caused.”

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April 5th marked this year’s White Pride Day, an annual event where white separatists, ultranationalists and neo-Nazis come together to drink, shout and promote their racist bigotry. For the past few years the UK location for this event has been the Welsh city of Swansea with this area becoming a stronghold for the re-emerging National Front (NF).

The days leading up to this year’s event, running under the White Pride Worldwide banner, were marred by misinformation. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) an organisation which has been at the centre of broad left anti-fascism for the past ten years, were not only not to be seen on the day, but even cancelled their counter-demonstration under the mistaken belief that since the NF had refused either of the rallying points offered to them by the police, the Nazi demonstration would not go ahead. The cancellation came despite warnings from anti-fascist activists posting on the Swansea UAF Facebook page urging people to still come out as they rightly foresaw that the NF demonstration would still take place. The danger of cancelling the demo and declaring “victory” proved to be real – people who would have been out on the streets of Swansea chose to stay at home believing the demo was off.

Luckily not all had taken the day so lightly. Around 100 anti-fascists from groups ranging from the Socialist Party to Antifa as well as unaffiliated members of the local community came down to Castle Square to make clear that fascists are not welcome in Swansea. This view however was not one shared by the local constabulary, nor by several local watering holes. For the NF and their friends, the day started in Yates’s bar on the corner of Castle Square as they knocked back the lager and jeered at the assembling counter-demo. Before long the excitement got too much for one bonehead, who began proudly waving his white power flag before being told by police to put it away. Once drinks had been downed, the 40-50 fascists out to protest were escorted up to near the old castle for their demonstration, where they listened to a mixture of speeches about how proud they were to be white and how hard it is with all the oppression white people apparently suffer on the basis of their skin colour. The Nazis punctuated the tedium by singing racist songs and hurling abuse at the ‘commie scum’ that made up the counter-protest.

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Amongst the crowd were a number of white power flags, a Scottish flag, a Yorkshire flag, the flag of the National Bolshevik Group and a flag bearing the symbol of Greek fascist party Golden Dawn. As the NF began to leave the demo zone a scuffle broke out during which one of the white power flags was liberated from its bonehead owner, an incident that saw its captor spend the next four hours in a cell, but luckily leave with a simple caution. During this incident a second arrest was made after an anti-fascist made contact with one of the bonehead demonstrators only to be told “You can’t hit me, I’m an undercover police officer!” Although one NF member found himself in handcuffs, this was only a temporary measure while they waited for calm (during which time he stood laughing with the police) before being let go. From here the fascists returned to drinking; heading for Ice Bar on Swansea’s main bar crawl, the aptly named Wine Street.

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Despite refusing to accept either protest location offered by South Wales Police, the NF had full facilitation from the police the entire day. When fascists receive this help from the state it only serves to build their confidence. “I personally witnessed them shouting at a Muslim couple, who had joined the anti-fascist demonstration,” Al Brown of South Wales Anti-Fascist Action (SWAFA) told radical news website SchNEWS, “They called the man a “paki” as police officers looked on. The cops did nothing to try to stop the abuse, and wouldn’t listen to the man’s wife when she tried to complain about it.”

In a similar incident a BME man was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by an NF member outside Ice Bar and was told by police that should calm down. Across the road in the Adelphi I witnessed another NF member give a Nazi salute as he and four other went to join their fellow boneheads. After Ice Bar, the NF were escorted up to another bar – Static on Kingsway, where anti-fascists kept watch behind a police cordon. A phone blockade was organised and the bar’s management in Bristol responded by travelling to Swansea in order to have the racist crowd removed. The NF were then quickly marched by police to the station and made to get on a train.
“South Wales Anti-Fascist Action had a 30-strong bloc and we opposed them every step of the way. It seemed like some kind of pathetic racist pub crawl facilitated by the police, who seemed content to turn a blind eye to all the harassment the NF were causing to Swansea residents. Officers could even be seen exchanging handshakes with NF supporters outside Static. It’s really troubling that they would fraternise in this way with people who were shouting racist insults and threats of violence during the day,” said Al Brown,

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“I don’t think Unite Against Fascism can take any credit at all for the counter-demonstration on Saturday. They took the fascists’ bait and called off their demo, then ignored other groups who had assurances it was still happening. But SWAFA, Swansea Trades Council and a lot of interested local residents went ahead without them. We want to thank everyone who took part, whatever their background, because we know that true strength lies in diversity.”

Unite Against Fascism have since put out a statement telling of their disgust at the state facilitating the Nazis’ demo, congratulating those who did turn out to see them off and interestingly, despite not being present, still feeling the need to cook the numbers. The statement also finished by promising that regardless of what is said by police or council next year they shall hold a march through Swansea. Let’s support that call and make sure UAF keeps its promise.