Middlesex Anti Racist Action

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Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:13 pm

maraLOGO31495_1491593055375_1400473058_31319295_1161233_n.jpg

This group was formed in the summer of 2009. It covers the boroughs of Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon.

Ms Manria Kaur is Chairperson and Robin Taylor is Organising Secretary. (Never met him myself but I hear he's quite a guy). Both are well loved household names to users of CW4.

We decided to set up this self-styled organisation primarily to highlight the failure of Tory controlled local authorities in West London to pursue equal opportunities policies. We were also concerned about the influence of far left and anti semitic elements on some anti fascist groups.

There is no subscription to join because we do not have a formal membership... BUT... you can show your support by joining MARA's Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=112768848742330

Whilst we do have a registered address in Southall, we rarely get the time to pick up any post from there. For this reason, the easiest way to contact us is via our email address:

mara.2009@hotmail.co.uk

Among our campaigns so far:-

* Organised petition against Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time. (This was signed by three West London MPs and 19 Labour councillors, and was presented to Jack Straw by the then Health Minister Ann Keen);
* Publicly challenged Hounslow's previous Tory-led council about the lack of diversity among members of its decision-making cabinet;
* Publicly challenged Hounslow's Labour group of councillors about its lack of gender balance. (At the time, it was only 25% female);
* Lobbied Labour MP Alan Keen in Parliament against so-called 'Honour Killing';
* Publicly criticised Hillingdon's Tory council over its refusal to recognise 'Black history Month';
* Organised leaflet drop against BNP candidates in Mandeville ward (Ealing borough) and Feltham West ward (Hounslow borough);
* Conducted voter registration drive in diverse areas of Hounslow Central & Heath wards;
* Persuaded Feltham Asian Women's Group to apply for council grant and successfully lobbied for this on their behalf. (They were awarded £3,000);
* Highlighted Tory Party anti-diversity policies in literature distributed to households in Hounslow Central, Hounslow Heath, Hounslow South and Heston East wards in the run-up to the May 2010 elections;
* Wrote to Ealing's forty Labour and five Lib Dem councillors asking them to consider changing the name of a road and school in Southall. (They are currently named after General Havelock, who put down the Indian rebellion of 1857).
* Successfully fought edit wars against far right apologists on the "Wikipedia" on-line encylopedia.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Pixie » Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:22 am

School in Southall named after some general who did a bit of fighting over a hundred and fifty years ago and you want to waste public funds in a change of name? Get over it!

Perhaps the users of the school can see the irony of being educated, for free, at a school named after someone who had previously run amok in their ancestors homeland? Personally, if I were in that position I'd find it amusing.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:53 pm

Pixie wrote:... and you want to waste public funds in a change of name?


Errr... public funds that are paid for in large part by the Indian community themselves?

After all, they are arguably the most successful wealth creators in west London.

If they do not agree with such a name change, they would be able to make their voices heard in any public consultation.

The name changing ceremony could be a chance for a big street party where Southall people could celebrate their own identity rather than that of some odious inbred gin-swilling Tory toff Colonel who was thankfully laid to rest some 154 years ago.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:04 pm

HAVELOCK ROAD

One of the replies we've had to our letter about this issue is from Lib Dem Councillor Harvey Rose.

He represents the Bedford Park area of Chiswick on Ealing Council.

He says:

Thank you for writing to me about this subject. The naming of streets is usually regarded as a matter for ward councillors only. If you wished the names of the schools to be altered, this might involve more widespread consultation. I would support a consultation with local residents, initially limited to the street only, for which an alternative name has been suggested. It is however a matter for ward councillors.
Yours sincerely,
Councillor Harvey Rose,
Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrat Group.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:57 pm

HAVELOCK ROAD

Just to annoy Pixie, here's the full text of the letter...


Dear Councillor

Is it really right for Southall's Havelock Road to be named after a colonial butcher?

We are asking you and Ealing's other Labour & Lib Dem councillors to look again at the issue of Havelock Road in Southall.

Major General Sir Henry Havelock used the utmost brutality to put down the Indian rebellion of 1857.

Not only is the road named after Havelock but, as a consequence, so is the cemetery, family centre and one of the two schools that line the street. (In fact, for much of its history the majority of the pupils who attend 'Havelock Primary' have their origin in the Indian sub-continent).

In 2002, shortly before a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) was about to open on the street, an attempt was made by local resident Dilmoham Singh Basin to change the name to 'Singh Sabba Road'.

The initiative failed because as well as upsetting some members of Southall's white English population it was also opposed by many non-Sikh members of the local Asian community.

This illustrates that changes to street names are often controversial. However, we believe that if it is handled sensitively the issue can be resolved to the satisfaction of most of the local population.

Ordnance Survey maps show that until around 1870, the street was called 'Feeder Lane'. MARA proposes that councillors should consult with local residents with a view to having it changed back to its original English name.

During Victorian times, it may have been acceptable to name landmarks after the likes of General Havelock, but we would like to think the world has moved on.

Havelock typified the brutality of the British aristocracy against the poor they exploited at home and the natives of the countries they ruled abroad.

He saw his mission to defeat the Indian rebellion as "a contest between the barbarism and fanaticism of Asiatic hordes and civilised authority of Christian rulers."

This, sadly, is the way that the so-called Indian Mutiny of 1857 (more accurately referred to as the 'First War of Indian Independence') has traditionally been taught in schools - as a battle between savage Indians and benevolent Europeans.

In fact, many history books continue to propagate a distorted and factually inaccurate account of what really happened in the conflict. The truth is that the brutality of Havelock's forces was unrestrained: they shot, bayoneted, hanged and disembowelled tens of thousands of Indians (many of them civilians).

The Chartist Ernest Jones observed, "They (Havelock's troops) have hit on the refined expedient of tying living Indians to the mouths of cannon and then firing them off, blowing them to atoms..."

Havelock himself boasted: "The unfortunate who fell into the hands of our troops were made short work of - Indian soldiers and villagers, it mattered not - no questions were asked. His skin was black and did not that suffice?"

"A piece of rope and the branch of a tree or rifle bullet through his brain soon terminated his existence", continued Havelock, "and for a righteous cause, the cause of justice, humanity, truth and good government in India."

Surely we should not just accept a situation whereby a road and a primary school are named after such a repulsive person?

In the century after General Havelock lived, India became Britain's staunchest and most consistent ally. A total of 1.25m Indians fought for Britain in the First World War, of whom 160,000 lost their lives.

In the Second World War, 2.5m Indians fought for the allies, of whom 36,000 were killed. The Indian Treasury donated £1bn to Britain's war effort (this despite widespread famine in the sub-continent). Indian soldiers received 4,000 awards for gallantry and 31 Victoria Crosses.

The name of 'Havelock Road' is an insult to their memory and is offensive not just to the local Indian community but to many of Southall's white English citizens too.

If we really do need a throw back to our distant past then let's turn the clock back all the way - and reinstate the name of 'Feeder Lane'.

Yours Truly,
Manria Kaur
(MARA Chairperson).
Robin Taylor
(MARA Organising Secretary).


This issue ties in with the remarks made on the 'Political Correctness' thread about how we on the left should redefine this term to suit our own agenda of affording politeness to minorities, as well as respecting difference, appreciating diversity and understanding history.
Last edited by Captain Darling on Tue May 01, 2012 7:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:43 pm

WEBSITE

Middlesex Anti Racist Action (MARA) did have its own website, but it sadly crashed when we tried to update it. No techos us!

Mat and the rest of the gang here on ChiswickChat will therefore be delighted to know that we intend to update this thread periodically with news of our thoughts and activities. CC alone is to be blessed by our presence.

If you google Middlesex Anti Racist Action you should now get this forum (as well as, among other things, our Facebook page).

My commentary on behalf of MARA will, as always, be thoughtful, incisive, occasionally provocative but always entertaining - as my many fans have come to expect.


RESPECT PARTY ANTI-SEMITISM

For obvious reasons we at MARA were delighted at the meltdown of the BNP in Barking in last year's local elections (the boneheads lost every single seat) but we were also pleased to see the decimation of the Respect Party in Newham and also in Tower Hamlets (where, by pure coincidence, Respect's George Galloway had decided to target the mixed race black and Jewish MP Oona King in the 2005 general election).

One of Respect's foremost candidates in the European Parliament elections, Anas al-Tikriti, attacked 'Holocaust Memorial Day', claiming it "glorifies the state of Israel, turning a blind eye to the immeasurable suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israel every single day".

Actually, the memorial day has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Isreal. MARA fails to see how the millions of Jews who perished under the Nazi regime are somehow responsible for the current situation on the West Bank.

To top it all, film maker Ken Loach - himself a Respect Party activist - has said that anti-semitism is "understandable". What a shameful thing to say.

No wonder Respect leader Salma Yaqoob recently had to take the step of suspending one of her party's activists for making anti-semitic remarks. The question she needs to ponder is why her party attracts such elements in the first place.
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:11 pm

MARA INCEPTION

Back in 2009, the launch of Middlesex Anti Racist Action provoked a public row with Conservative right winger Mark Bowen.

Councillor Bowen, who was parliamentary candidate for the Feltham & Heston constituency (and who is currently leader of Hounslow's Tory group of councillors) said we are "distasteful" and accused us of "making an issue out of the skin colour of Conservative councillors."

This was in response to our first press release, which highlighted the lack of minority ethnic representation on Hounslow Council's decision-making cabinet.

The Hounslow Chronicle article about our group's launch can be accessed by clicking on this link:

http://www.hounslowchronicle.co.uk/west ... -24708704/

Within a few days of this news story appearing, MARA had been featured on two white supremacist websites - 'Stormfront' and 'Britain's Got Issues' - and our Chairperson Manria Kaur had received a racially abusive telephone call. This was from someone using a private number who demanded to know where she was back in the 1970s when, apparently, "Asians were lining up to become mayor of Hounslow". (Manria was not even born at the time).

The following week, Manria had a letter published in the Chronicle. This clarified our group's aims and took issue with an assertion made by Cllr Bowen to the effect that his party select people on merit. You can read her letter here:

http://www.hounslowchronicle.co.uk/west ... -24807569/

In our opinion, Cllr Bowen's reaction to our launch statement betrayed a considerable degree of naivety on issues relating to equal opportunities and representative democracy.

The fact is that not one of the 23 Conservative Councillors who were elected in the 2006 Hounslow borough elections was black or Asian. (Currently, only one out of 25 is). The same was true of their coalition partners, the six-strong Independent Community Group (led by a former member of the far right National Front).

It is also worthy of note that according to his blog, Cllr Bowen had been closely allied to the late Ray Ferguson. It is only fair to point out that Mr Ferguson, who passed away last summer, was widely recognised as being a public-spirited person - giving much of his time to the 'Rotary Club of Feltham' - but he was also someone who freely expressed controversial views on race.

These included his belief that white people were under-represented among staff at the Hounslow Racial Equality Council. In fact, Mr Ferguson used his capacity as Chairman of the right wing Hounslow Residents Group to write to the now defunct Brentford, Chiswick & Isleworth Times demanding the right of his members to inspect the ethnicity of those working at HREC.

Strange that Cllr Bowen did not seem to mind being allied to someone who, by his own definition, was being "distasteful" by "making an issue out of skin colour".
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:33 pm

FOX HUNTING

Over the years, fascist groups have made various attempts to infiltrate animal welfare organisations and use them for their own malevolent purposes.

This certainly cannot be said of the excellent League Against Cruel Sports, who actively supported Searchlight's "Hope Not Hate" campaign during last year's elections.

We at MARA would like to promote their fundraising and other efforts to any interested members of the ChiswickChat forum.

The immediate task facing the league is to safeguard the 2004 Hunting Act. This legislation has had a mainly bad press because the hunting fraternity claim that it does not work, and are now campaigning for its repeal.

If it doesn't work then why on earth do hunts want to scrap it? Perhaps it is because no fewer than 150 people have been successfully prosecuted under the terms of the act.

The truth is that although the Hunting Act is far from perfect, the experts at LACS regard it as "a good and workable piece of legislation which protects wild mammals" - and are gearing up to defend it as soon as a parliamentary vote is called for its repeal.

For this purpose, LACS are aiming to raise £1.5m in order to mount a campaign to protect the legislation from those super rich individuals in the hunting lobby who think they're above the law.

LACS staff and volunteers are extremely brave people who have in many case been harassed, threatened and assaulted by the bloodthirsty bullies who think they have the right to chase wild animals across farmland and even through people's back gardens.

Another fact: racist abuse has very often been sent to those MPs who have dared to support the outlawing of so-called 'country pursuits' - and that's why we at MARA are taking an interest in this issue.

To see how you can help the LACS campaign to safeguard the Hunting Act, here's the link:

http://www.league.org.uk
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:10 pm

FASCIST ACTIVITY IN HOUNSLOW

Exclusive to ChiswickChat, we at Middlesex Anti Racist Action will be publishing a series of essays about race relations in west London. (Isn't CC truly honoured?)

To kick off, here's an insight into the activities of the local far right fifteen odd years ago...



The night Lampton Village exploded in violence

The Hounslow borough had an active BNP branch in the mid-1990s. The fascists conducted regular newspaper sales in Feltham High Street and were responsible for disrupting an anti-Nazi public meeting at the Montague Hall in central Hounslow. Here, Middlesex Anti Racist Action looks back at what happened when the BNP and their colleagues from Combat 18 targeted an anti racist picket in Lampton Village.

The evening of Thursday August 31 1995 will be forever etched on the memories of many Hounslow people. It was the night that a marauding gang of eighty BNP thugs made a pre-planned march up Lampton Road and then descended on the grounds of Hounslow Civic Centre.

They came from around the country to confront the Anti Nazi League (ANL). A low-key ANL demo had been called in protest at the BNP's involvement in that day's Hanworth council by-election.

From 9pm, as the ballot boxes began arriving at the civic centre for the counting of votes, groups of BNP youths started to congregate down various side streets off Lampton Road. When a signal was given, the ones from the furthest streets began to march up Lampton Road, joined by others on route.

Upon reaching the civic centre grounds, they charged the ANL demonstrators. A small number broke through on either side of the police, resulting in scuffles on the bank overlooking the entrance.

They also hurled rocks at the demo (which included women and children) leaving a number of people with blood streaming down their heads. However, some of the rocks fell short - hitting the police officers in between the two groups - and a number of PCs were hospitalised.

As Labour candidate Les Bawn emerged from his car, a gaggle of BNP members shouted "get him", hurling a brick in his direction. He and his tearful wife fled for their lives.

Armoured police reinforcements then arrived, followed by BNP candidate Warren Glass. On entering the civic centre, he ceremoniously tore an ANL placard while one of his colleagues did a sieg heil salute.

When the election result was announced, however, he finished bottom of the poll. Regardless, the BNP were determined that they would at least control the streets that night: they re-grouped and walked back down Lampton Road, scrawling Nazi graffiti along the way.

They then descended on the crowded Bulstrode pub where they picked on a lone Asian person, hurling him to the floor to vacate his seat. Their thuggish chanting reverberated down nearby streets.

All impartial observers - including police and reporters - agreed that the night's violence had been orchestrated by the BNP. Further more, the only person who would be convicted of violent disorder was a BNP member from Dorking.

Yet, incredibly, Osterley Tory councillor Barbara Reid tore into the BNP's opponents, saying "The ANL were asking for trouble and looking for a fight." It was left to the victorious Labour candidate to comment "The BNP spit in the face of democracy."

A subsequent ANL press statement declared: "The assault which took place on this newly elected Labour Councillor was not just an attack on him. It was an attack on the entire working class population of Hanworth - both black and white - who had elected him as their representative."
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Re: Middlesex Anti Racist Action

Postby Captain Darling » Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:18 am

BUSSING

Back in 1994, the governing body of Southall's Hayes Bridge School (now Blair Peach School) co-opted me as a member to help them prepare for their renaming ceremony.

We decided to issue a commemorative booklet, and I asked a very dear friend of mine - Parbinder Sadhra - to write a story for it about her experiences of growing up in Southall and to use the simplest possible language (as George Orwell did in his book 'Animal Farm') so that everyone, even a young child, could understand her story.

Parbinder's essay is reprinted below. It concentrates mostly on her early experiences of bussing, a policy we perhaps more readily associate with American cities rather than with an English town like Southall.

However, whereas in the States bussing was intended as a tool to help with integration, in Ealing it was the highly malevolent whites-only 'Southall Residents Association' which demanded it because they did not want their offspring to mix with children from the sub-continent...



Growing up in Southall: Parbinder’s story

Parbinder and her family left India for England in 1975. They moved into a house overlooking the Great Western Railway when she was four and unable to speak English. While her father began work in a factory, Parbinder embarked upon nineteen years of state education which began with bussing and ended with university. Here are some of her memories of growing up in Southall.

"My first day at school was traumatic. Shortly before my fifth birthday I was taken by my tearful mother to a coach stop. I saw a large group of other Indian children waiting there. I did not know any of them and just stood on my own playing with my plaits.

I could not understand why we had to go by coach to a school far away. It was not until I was older that I learnt we were bussed out of the area because no school was allowed to have more than one third Asian pupils.

After a while, a lady escorted us onto a coach and we were on our way to 'Northfields First School' in Ealing. The journey seemed to go on forever. Everything was unfamiliar and I was so afraid of getting lost that I tried to memorise landmarks.

After my first day at school, I thought the coach would drop me off at the place my mother had left me that morning. It was not to be. The coach made various stops in Southall and at each one I saw children getting off and being re-united with their parents.

Eventually, I was the only child left on the coach. Later I learnt that my mother had been waiting at the wrong place. We had been driving for what seemed like hours and it was getting darker. Where were the driver and coach lady taking me? Because they spoke English I could not understand them and did not know how to direct them to my home.

I was sure they were going to take me to some unknown place and leave me there on my own. I began to think I would never see my family again. This, I thought, was my punishment for being a naughty girl. I cried a little and the coach lady tried to comfort me.

Eventually, I arrived home (I do not remember how) and was reunited with my parents. I clung to my mother for dear life. She and my sister had shed a few tears for me in anguish. My father had visited the police station earlier to enquire of my possible whereabouts. He said a number of children from other schools had been lost also.

A few years later, when I was eight, I heard about some local disturbances. An organisation called the National Front had come into the area and held a rally at Southall Town Hall. As a child I would often see graffiti on walls telling Indian people to go home. I knew from this that there were some people who did not like us, but I did not know why.

Shortly after the troubles, my parents took me to the Dominion Cinema. We entered a large room with lots of bustling people. As we neared an oblong box, my father picked me up and told me to look away. He did not want me to see what was in the box, but I could not help peeping. I saw a man lying there and asked my parents why he was sleeping. I was shocked when they told me he was dead.

What I had seen was the body of Blair Peach (who had been killed during the protest against the National Front) but it was years later before I learnt who he was and why we had paid him our last respects."
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