A senior UKIP official has been forced to delete racist Facebook posts after claiming he accidentally shared them to his followers.
Gordon Parkin, who is assistant to North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott and who has himself stood for Parliament, shared a series of images by the far-right groups Britain First and The New Daily Patriot on Facebook.
One post depicts Enoch Powell – the politician who made the notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in 1968 – next to the House of Commons alongside the words “I told you so…”.
He also shared an image of women wearing the niqab which said “share if you find this offensive”.
Another from Britain First, a group which opposes what it calls the “Islamification of the UK” and was founded by a member of the BNP, claims schools who choose to stock halal meat are “wrong”.
Mr Parkin, who is a powerful official in the regional party and sits on panels that assess UKIP’s potential General Election candidates, claims he accidentally shared them on the social networking site and has now deleted them.
An 11 year-old “kind hearted” schoolgirl has slammed David Cameron for “making the poor poorer”, it has been reported.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and Tory leader, Halle Carnall, who attends the Accrington Academy, says her school friends are often left hungry and that she is worried about “what state this country will be in when I’m older”.
Her letter has been shared on Facebook over 40,000 times, after proud mum Joanne, 31, uploaded it to the social network to share with family members.
Joanne told the Accrington Observer:
“After school, Halle was sat in her bedroom, I thought she was doing her homework when she came down and asked me to read her letter.
“When I read the first line ‘Dear Mr Prime Minister’, I almost laughed as I thought it was a joke but as I carried on reading I realised it was a very serious letter that she had put a lot of thought into.
“I uploaded a copy of the letter to Facebook, only to show it to my family, as they live in Liverpool.
“I didn’t expect anything further than a couple of likes and maybe a few comments from friends and family.
“We were in total shock to see that the letter had been re-shared almost 40,000 times, as far as China and New Zealand.”
In her letter to David Cameron, Halle congratulates the PM for winning the general election but warns against “selling the NHS and making the poor poorer whilst looking after you and your firiends”.
“I am worried you are making a poor choice that will impact on my future”, she says.
“I am very lucky that both of my parents have good jobs and I will have a warm meal tonight. However lots of my school friends and millions of others in your country are not so lucky and will be hungry today, tomorrow and for the next five years at least.”
In a call to unite the whole of society, Halle writes:
“Whether rich or poor we are all the same. We all have the right to a good standard of education, healthcare if we are poorly and job opportunities.
“It scares me to imagine what state this country will be in when I’m older.”
She ends the letter by urging David Cameron to:
“Please consider me and million of children of just like me who deserve the best chance in life”.
Commenting on the huge response the letter has received on Facebook, Halle’s mum Joanne said:
“The response has been amazing.
“To us, Halle has always been a kind hearted and gifted child, but for total strangers to agree is just crazy.
“People have been commenting on how well written the letter is, and how Halle is so bright, caring and such a brilliant young lady.
“People have said they are looking at a future electorate and that she would make a fantastic MP.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 19 May 2015
A headteacher has praised four pupils who were photographed buying food for a homeless man on their way home from school.
Jack McGill, Cameron Turner-Neill, Charlie Hirst and 11-year-old Sam pooled their money to buy chocolate biscuits, water and cereal bars for the man after noticing he looked upset and unwell.
The boys, who attend Woodham Academy in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, spotted the man, aged about 50, sitting on a bench in the town centre and were concerned about him.
A passer-by photographed their act of kindness and posted it on Facebook, prompting widespread praise for the boys.
Cameron, 12, said:
“Jack went over to see if he was okay and sat down next to him. The man asked if he had had a nice day at school and they started chatting. He said he was from London and had been homeless for nine years.
“He was very nice and you could tell he was well educated.
“He used to be a joiner and a carpenter and lived in a flat but it got rented out. He has been walking around the country and had just walked from Stockton.”
The boys said the man had refused to take money from a pensioner who also tried to help and was reluctant to accept the food they bought.
“It’s important to help other people.”
Charlie, 11, said:
“I was upset when I saw him. It made me think I should be more grateful for the things I’ve got when I saw how grateful he was for those small things.”
“It has made me want to help my mum more and be more grateful because he doesn’t have a mum.”
Christine Forsyth, headteacher at Woodham Academy, said:
“At Woodham Academy we teach pupils to respect other people and this is a wonderful example of our children showing unconditional respect for another human being. We are really proud of them.”
On Facebook, one woman wrote: “Lovely to see. What lovely young lads to do such a good thing .”
Another posted: “And there it is to all you people out there that think all teenagers are all anti-social. Here are some fantastic boys. They are a credit to their parents.
Source – Northern Echo, 16 May 2015
Guerilla gardeners who risked prosecution in order to tidy up eyesore sites have staged a protest.
A group of people who live at Morpeth last year trespassed onto the grounds of Northumberland County Council’s derelict 19th century Willows and Beechfield properties to carry out an impromptu clean up.
They have now staged a protest at the sites to call for the cherished buildings not to be bulldozed as part of new development planned, and for more consultation with local people.
The buildings, which are on the same site on Gas House Lane, date from before 1860. They were bought by the county council in 1930 with Willows subsequently used as a centre for the unemployed.
During the Second World War, Beechfield housed a first aid centre and air raid precautions headquarters while Willows was used by the Red Cross.
After the war the buildings were used by the employment committee and school grounds department, and in 1952 became the County Library headquarters.
Willows is a former care home.
However, both sites are said to have stood derelict for more than 10 years, with their grounds becoming overgrown.
Residents led by David E. Clark, of Morpeth Town Council, and friend Garry Featherstone, a building surveyor and Master Builder with a special interest in historic buildings, decided to take matters into their own hands in September last year.
They sought legal advice on the laws of trespass and gained access to the grounds to carry out a clean up.
Since then, the county council has unveiled plans for a riverside development at the sites, as part of a blueprint for the town and Northumberland as a whole.
The gardeners arranged a protest on Tuesday afternoon through Facebook group Morpeth Matters. Thirty people turned out at just 24 hours notice.
Coun Clark said protestors were motivated by desire to retain the cherished buildings in some form and a lack of involvement of local people in what is to happen at the sites.
“Thirty people turned up just to demonstrate their anger and frustration at the fact the county council have not even consulted with the general public, they just seem to take these decisions without any kind of consultation and they are here just to knock down our heritage.
“Morpeth has lost lots of old buildings. Once they are erased, they are gone forever. These buildings should be retained in some shape or form.”
The protestors have been backed by county councillor for Morpeth David Bawn.
“I am sure I am not the only person in Morpeth with some disquiet about the masterplan released by Northumberland County Council regarding the re-siting of various facilities in Morpeth, which to my mind goes against the spirit of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
“With specific reference to the attractive Victorian Willows building, I agree that this area of the riverside and corner of the town desperately needs to be redeveloped, but we must do all we can to protect our town’s historic built environment.
“It is self evident that any redevelopment must incorporate the existing historic buildings rather than demolish them.”
A county council spokesman said:
“The council believes that the existing library site and adjoining buildings at The Willows and Beechfield could form a site to be used for a landmark riverside development for the benefit of the town.
“These proposals are obviously at an early stage and are subject to a number of factors.
“We will be working with the town council and the neighbourhood plan group as we develop future proposals.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 May 2015
Right-wing graffiti daubed on a shop wall has been turned into peaceful paintings by a Middlesbrough family.
Members of the Amanat family were shocked to discover the letters BNP daubed in yellow paint on the side of the shop they’ve run for about 15 years, Leinster News in Leinster Road, Gresham.
But with a few brush strokes of their own, the family has transformed the crude scrawl into a flower and a butterfly.
And while the British National Party slogan went ignored, shoppers and passers-by have given the new version the thumbs-up.
Student Shaz Amanat and her brother Nav decided to take the artistic stand.
Shaz, 19, said she first saw the graffiti as she headed for Middlesbrough’s Macmillan Sixth Form, where she is studying pyschology, biology, georgraphy and IT.
“It’s difficult to say how I felt, really – disheartened, I suppose. It was such a shock to see it
.“It was up for a couple of days because we didn’t have time to clear it off but then when I was on the Saturday shift with my brother, we decided to do something creative with it.”
Grabbing a pot of white paint, Shaz and Nav, 25, got to work.
Shaz said: “We just wanted to make a statement to show it’s not acceptable. Someone told me it’s happened on another building too, which is sad to hear.”
Shaz’s mum Zoe said:
“They are all really nice around here, we all know each other.
“I was shocked when I saw the latters – I just thought ‘which idiot did that?’ But people like it now – they say we should leave it as it is.”
Nav, an IT analyst, admits he originally just wanted to cover it up so his girlfriend didn’t have to see it.
“I found a tin of white paint we’ve probably had for years, but I didn’t put too much thought into it. I think Shaz was more hurt by it and it was her idea to paint a flower.
“No-one mentioned anything when it just said BNP but since we’ve changed it, we’ve had people taking photos and coming into the shop, even if they’re not buying anything, to say they love it. Facebook has been going crazy too.
“I don’t want people to think it’s a bad area around here because it isn’t – we’ve never had any trouble.
“And it’s my dad’s shop at the end of the day, so it’s his decision what do do with it. But if it’s sending out a good message, maybe we can leave it in place for a while.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 13 May 2015
A church minister has written a stirring and emotional letter to David Cameron, urging the Prime Minister to meet with victims of austerity and consider the “social and human cost” of Tory policies.
In a letter posted on the social network Facebook, which has been shared over 100,000 times and sent to Downing Street, Reverend Mike Walsh says he agrees with the PM that the best route out of poverty is by moving into work. But says David Cameron doesn’t seem to understand that people are scared about “what your policies will do to our communities and families”.
“Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.”
Reverend Walsh, from The United Reformed Church, says Tory policies are “couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books”, and pleaded with Mr Cameron “to govern for everyone and unite the country”.
“The country isn’t a business, it’s its people. All its people. And you are everyone’s Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.”
David Cameron may better understand the human cost of austerity measures if he spent “a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank”, says Reverend Walsh.
“Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can’t afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry.”
He added: “If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don’t believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.”
Foodbank charity Trussell Trust gave out more than one million food parcels in 2014/15, with benefit delays cited as the primary cause of rising food poverty in the UK.
The full letter reads:
Dear Prime Minister,
I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I have some things I wish to say to you.
You have won the General Election and command a majority in the House of Commons, and as such will feel you have a legitimate mandate to govern. However, you must also know that you don’t command a majority of the British people.
Although our political views are very much at odds on many issues, I’m willing to believe that you are a good man, as sure of your ideals as I am of mine, and believe your plan is what’s best for us all. You said today that you will govern for the whole country and bring back together that which has clearly fractured. I hope you will.
But Prime Minister, though you can obviously see your party did not win the confidence of Scotland and huge swathes of the north of England, I’m not sure your party quite understands why. It’s not because we’re all ‘loony-left’ or extremists and nationalists, it’s because so many of us are scared. Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.
I don’t disagree with you that the best way out of poverty is to work, nor do I think that people should get something for nothing and expect the tax-payer to support people indefinitely if they are able to work. Who would think that that was ok and fair?
But your party’s policies on these issues, couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books, don’t seem to take into account the social and human cost of such actions. The country isn’t a business, it’s its people. All its people. And you are everyone’s Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.
You said today you will govern for everyone and unite the country. I hope you do. But to be able to do so you need to make it a priority in your first 100 days, to spend time in Scotland visiting people on zero hours contracts. Come to Manchester and talk with those who have been sanctioned for having a spare room, but have nowhere else to go. Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can’t afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry. Spend a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank for a whole day.
Then Prime Minister you might begin to understand the cost of your policies from the other side, to see people as more than their net contribution to the economy, or as deliberate drains on the system. If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don’t believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.
So please Prime Minister, leave Westminster for a few hours a week and truly strive to govern for all of us.
Rev’d Mike Walsh
The United Reformed Church
Source – Welfare Weekly, 13 May 2015
A UKIP candidate has spoke of his deep shame after making sexually explicit comments about well-known female columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
John Leathley, 23, who hopes to represent Sedgefield , and who is also standing for Stockton Borough Council in the Hardwick area, was communicating with other young Ukip members on Facebook last November when he made sexually explicit remarks about the centre-left journalist.
Mr Leathley apologised in a statement issued through Ukip, saying:
“I would like to apologise unreservedly to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
“I read what I wrote now, I am shocked by them and am appalled and deeply ashamed of my words.
“The comments were made during a private conversation in the evening clearly were never meant to be publicly released, and they should never have been said.
“I am very sorry and regret deeply being so coarse, it is out of character but no more excusable for that.”
The Durham University student had previously declined to apologise in the university’s student newspaper, stating:
“I have no comment to make other than this is the work of an individual who is taking comments from a private conversation between a group of friends dated months ago in a malicious attempt to tarnish my name and reputation.”
“If this is what people who go into public life are going to be like then God help us. I saw the apology and of course I’m not going to give any credence to it at all.
“You don’t apologise because you are found out. Was he drunk? If he wasn’t, then what he said was absolutely appalling. It’s sexist, it’s racist, it’s violent.”
Source – Durham Times, 06 May 2015
Vote swapping was credited with taking seats from the Tories in the 2001 general election, so should claimants be doing it now?
This election is on a knife edge.
The Conservatives are pouring huge amounts of money into identifying and contacting a tiny number of undecided voters – perhaps 40,000 – in key marginals. If they succeed in persuading them to vote Tory, the election may well be theirs.
This is a tactic that won’t even show up in the polls.
So, should claimants – who have the most to lose if the Tories get in – also be resorting to ‘under the radar’ tactics, such as vote swapping and tactical voting?
Vote swapping is a kind of DIY proportional representation, allowing your vote to be placed somewhere where it might count, rather than being pointless.
So, for example, if you are a Labour supporter in a safe Conservative seat then your vote is wasted.
But there may be a Green supporter in a Labour/Conservative marginal with a very small Labour lead. Their heart says vote Green, but their head says that doing so increases the chances of the Tories getting in.
So, you swap votes.
The Labour supporter in a safe Tory seat votes Green. It won’t get the Greens a seat, but it will increase their national vote share. The Green supporter votes Labour, knowing that they’ve helped reduce the chances of a Tory success and also added an extra vote to the Green’s total.
The same could be true if you’re a Labour supporter in a very safe Labour rather than Conservative seat. You may feel that your vote could be put to better use elsewhere and look to do a vote swap.
If swapping votes with a Green or labour supporter appeals to you, there’s the Vote Swap website devoted solely to Labour/Green swaps which you might want to check out.
When we visited, the site claimed to have arranged almost 10,000 swaps already.
Lib Dem/Labour swaps
Labour and Green supporters are likely to be fairly equal in their antipathy towards the Conservatives. So there’s a good chance your vote swap partner will honour their side of the bargain?
But what if you are in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal?
Perhaps you can’t stand either party, but one of them is going to get the seat anyway.
However, every seat the Lib Dems take from the Tories reduces the Conservative’s chances of being the largest party. And the Lib Dems have said they wouldn’t support the full £12 billion in benefits cuts.
So you might be prepared to vote Lib Dem if a Lib Dem supporter in a Labour/Conservative marginal will vote Labour for you.
But could you trust a person claiming to be a Lib Dem supporter to vote Labour, when the party clearly favours another coalition with the Tories?
Well, perhaps. There are undoubtedly still some left-leaning Lib Dems and the Swap My Vote site gives you a chance to make contact and check out their political opinions, because you can only register using your Facebook or Twitter login.
But, even if they don’t keep their end of the bargain, you’re probably no worse off. Your vote will not have helped the Tories and their vote in their own constituency will make no difference.
Does vote swapping work?
Vote swapping is not new.
According to a 2005 article in the New Scientist:
“In the 2001 election, the Lib Dems captured Cheadle in Cheshire from the Conservatives with a majority of 33. Online vote trading had seen 47 Labour supporters in Cheadle agree to vote Lib Dem. Assuming they kept their bargain, these vote-traders turned the tide on the Conservatives. There was a similar result in South Dorset, where a Labour majority of 153 followed 185 internet vote-trade pledges.”
So, it’s legal and it quite possibly does make a difference.
The tactical voting alternative
In some circumstances, an alternative to vote swapping is traditional tactical voting. If you’re in a Lib Dem/Conservative marginal you could vote Lib Dem simply to try to deprive the Tories of a seat.
Clearly, whichever way the seat goes it’s still going to be part of any Tory/Lib Dem coalition. But, as noted above, the Lib Dems have said they will oppose the Conservative’s £12 billion benefits cuts plan, aiming to move it closer to their £3 billion cuts. Whether you believe them is another matter.
But voting Lib Dem will also reduce the chances of the Tories being the largest party, making it harder to argue that a Labour minority government lacks legitimacy.
Is it worth it?
Even if vote swapping is effective, could you bring yourself to trust a stranger with your vote?
Likewise, tactical voting definitely works, but could you put your cross next to a Lib Dem candidate?
Is it better to vote as your beliefs dictate and take the consequences, whatever they might be?
Only you can answer those questions for yourself, but many of our readers would be interested to hear your opinion.
So, please leave a comment below or complete our Vote Swapping and Tactical Voting Survey. It’s anonymous, there’s only 4 questions and the results are posted online as they come in.
Source – Benefits & Work, 27 Apr 2015
A furious row broke out last weekend when UKIP Darlington falsely claimed their candidate David Hodgson had not received invites to two recent hustings events.
A post on the group’s Facebook page says:
“It may be of considerable interest to our supporters that David Hodgson did not receive any official invitation or notification to attend the two previous hustings despite the fact that his personal contact details are widely publicised.”
Mr Hodgson later admitted receiving an invite to the environmental hustings but maintained he was not invited to the LGBT event – despite organisers insisting he was.
He claimed he did not write the contentious Facebook post and said he would ask for it to be amended to reflect the true circumstances.
Peter Plant, secretary of Darlington’s Friends of the Earth group and organiser of their recent hustings, accused UKIP of openly lying and suggested Mr Hodgson was “swerving” issues he had no political stance on.
Mr Hodgson said a previous engagement prevented him from attending the environmental hustings and claimed he would have welcomed an invite to the LGBT event.
However, Mr Hodgson pledged support for the LGBT community and said he would be interested in organising a gay pride event in Darlington.
He said: “Gay and lesbian people have my support and sympathy as I have gay friends myself and go through to Blackpool for gay pride events there.”
Mr Plant said: “I think he was frightened to turn up as UKIP don’t have the policies – they have one, blame foreigners.
“I’d respect them if they turned up and put their case, even if I don’t agree but by doing this, they’re showing they have no respect whatsoever.”
“The hustings was an opportunity to speak face-to-face with them about these issues and I’m not going to turn that down.”
Mr Hodgson’s agent, David Williams, added:
“Following negative comments an assertions regarding Mr Hodgson regarding his non-attendance at two recent hustings meetings, it must be made clear that no official invitation was received using the accepted official protocols.”