"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for April, 2010

Election Day, Thursday May 6th 2010, Free Speech At A New ‘Speaker’s Corner’!

Too many Question Times and not enough answers?

Come and voice your anger!

Open Mic.

Voting or not voting, all welcome.


Bring banners…


As we get closer May 6th the political rhetoric and cross-party slagging match which has been increasing will no doubt put more and more people off voting. Hardly surprising, when the hypocrisy of our ‘parliamentarians’ is so blatantly obvious.

Norfolk Community Action Group will neither be encouraging people to vote for a specific party or be giving a patronising lecture on why anyone should vote. Neither will we be campaigning for an all out boycott.
What we will do however is to put out an appeal, and that appeal is this.

Firstly, if you spoil your ballot paper, all it does is register you as having turned out to vote. You are making no significant political statement. What is really needed is a ‘Non Of The Above’ box on the ballot but this will only come about when the turn out to elections is negligible. Why legitimize the election by being part of the over-all ’statistics’? Some might argue we do that by voting anyway!

Secondly, if you are not going to vote, irrespective of your own personal political allegiances, rather than stay at home feeling powerless why not show your frustration or antagonism at this ‘democratic farce’ and make your feelings known outside your local town or city hall at 12 o’clock on Election Day.

Norfolk Community Action Group will be assembling outside Norwich City Hall to show just how WE feel about the lack of choice, lack of democracy, and the pointlessness of voting for any of the idiots on the political landscape today.

Why not come along and express how YOU feel.

Norwich City Hall, Election Day, May 6th, 12 o’clock.

Look out for banners…


Norfolk Euro MP in donor scandal

A Norfolk Euro MP is facing calls for his conduct to be investigated amid claims he spelled out ways that potential supporters could bypass election rules and keep details of large donations secret.

The Sunday Times claimed Stuart Agnew and Ukip party leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch suggested ways to flout Electoral Commission rules to give cash to its general election campaign fund.

Mr Agnew, a farmer from Helhoughton, near Fakenham, who was elected to Brussels last year, reportedly told an undercover reporter a person could remain anonymous by channelling funds through an unincorporated association called Global Britain, which was set up by Lord Pearson in 1997.

Electoral Commission rules state unincorporated associations, which do not have to file accounts, can make donations to political parties but the money must not be channelled from an individual who is seeking to remain anonymous.

In the Sunday Times, Mr Agnew was recorded as saying: “I’ve spoken to Nigel Farage (Ukip MEP and former party leader) and he says at the moment you can put £25,000 into Global Britain and you will remain anonymous.”

Mr Agnew suggested that other ways of keeping a potential donor’s identity secret included giving money as a gift to another person who then donated it.

He went on: “Your mother can make you a loan of £100,000 to buy a house … and you would then become a donor to the party for £100,000 and your name would go up on the Electoral Commission website.”

When the real donor died, she could state in her will the loan was now a gift. “You are seen to be the donor rather than her,” he added.

Another undercover reporter spoke to Lord Pearson who said the money given to Global Britain would be passed “straight on” to Ukip.

Asked if he could guarantee the donor’s name would not come out he said: “Yes, we did it in the European elections (in 2009). We passed on £80,000 from one person in effect … and that caused no difficulty at all.”

When confronted later Lord Pearson reportedly told the paper he would have given the donor’s name to the Electoral Commission.

Mr Agnew, who is standing as a general election candidate for Ukip in the Broadland constituency, could not be contacted by the EDP yesterday.

But Labour MEP Richard Howitt, last night called for a full investigation in to the issue.

“I will be raising it with the Electoral Commission first thing on Tuesday,” Mr Howitt said. “It’s always been true that of all the British parties in the European Parliament, Ukip has been the least open and transparent.

“I’m extremely concerned because Ukip has two seats in the East of England, which may have been based on donations which may in fact have been illegal.”

Lord Pearson also branded some Ukip members “Neanderthals” and said Mr Agnew, 60, was “one of our only really sane MEPs”.

It is not the first time that a Ukip MEP in the region has hit the headlines over financial matters.

Last year former Ukip MEP Tom Wise was jailed for two years for fraudulently claiming £39,000 of EU parliamentary expenses.


Pensioners Protest Against Day Centre Closure Plans

Pensioners fighting plans to save two day centres from the axe staged a protest in Norwich city centre yesterday.

The clock is ticking on a crunch decision, which could see the Essex and Silver Rooms in Norwich closed, but the elderly people who use them are not prepared to give up without a fight.

They demonstrated on the steps of City Hall yesterday to show Norfolk County Council how vital the centres are to their lives – and to gather more signatures to add to a petition already signed by thousands of supporters.

Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council revealed last year that it wanted to close the county council-run centres because of a massive shake-up in the way care is provided.

The county council says within 15 years there will be a 62pc increase in the number of people in Norfolk with dementia, rising from 12,714 in 2008 to 20,621 by 2025.

They say that means they have to change their focus on tackling the surge in dementia and the care homes and day services it runs will change as a result.

Council bosses say the Essex and Silver Rooms are not suitable to be converted to that use so have proposed their closure – to the fury of pensioners who use them.

One of the protesting pensioners at yesterday’s demonstration was Greta Holmes, 79, from Magdalen Road, who first started attending the Silver Rooms with her husband Leslie about eight years ago.

She said: “I took my husband there and he had Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. He loved it there. After he died I didn’t think I could face going back, but the first thing they said when I got there was that if I needed to cry that was okay.

“The staff there were wonderful to me and I have such good memories of how my husband enjoyed it there. It is a place which has become like a memorial to him for me. It means so much to me. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful father.”

The pensioners were at City Hall because the county council was holding a drop-in session there about the development of a housing and community support strategy.

Although that strategy is not part of the planned shake-up which could see the day centres closed, the pensioners wanted to send a message to the county council’s cabinet, which will make a decision in June.

Harold Bodmer, director of Norfolk Adult Social Services, said: “Now that our consultation has finished, the feedback we have received will be analysed by an independent marketing and research company.

“We will take careful account of what’s been said and feed people’s views into our detailed proposals, which will go to Cabinet for a final decision in June.”