Responding to the BNP’s claims in Peckham


9:00 am - April 9th 2010

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contribution by Tom Chance

A new BNP presence mobilised local anti-fascists in Bermondsey recently by delivering a spiteful leaflet.

It warned that immigration might lead Bermondsey to “end up like Peckham and Camberwell”.

A picture showed a west African shop front. Having surveyed nearly a thousand households in Peckham in the past six months, I can see the power of this appeal because the character of Peckham town centre was by far the most frequently raised issue.

But how to respond to the BNP whipping up racial explanations?

Southwark Green Party have recently published our action plan for Peckham, detailing 17 ways that we could improve the town centre.

I hope that this positive and practical response to peoples varied and valid concerns, very few of which seemed motivated by racist or xenophobic views, is exactly the kind of thing that can help counter the BNP.

Like it or not, a lot of people are unhappy with the way that Peckham has developed in the past decade, and the most visible change is the growth in West African churches, nail bars, hairdressers and food shops.

Just labelling “concerned of Peckham” as disgusting racists (which the BNP hardcore are, of course), or laughing them off, won’t convince those hundreds of people who feel that they have lost their town centre to traffic, litter, shops that don’t serve their needs and unwelcoming roads, in a city where housing and public transport is becoming ever less affordable.

We need more anti-fascists to come forward with local proposals and action plans to respond to local concerns.

They should put, at their heart, the idea that a supported local community can revitalise and take control of their local area.

This surely must be the best way to win people back to positive politics, and away from the politics of hate.

———-
Tom Chance is the Green Party candidate for The Lane (Peckham) and OpenStreetMapper in Southwark.

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Reader comments


1. Matt Munro

Peckham has always been a dump, I can’t see how recent changes have made it any better or worse

2. the a&e charge nurse

“Just labelling “concerned of Peckham” as disgusting racists” – is virtually guaranteed on LC, I mean how often does this accusation get bandied about here (usually at the drop of a hat)?

Perhaps LC should introduce a little counter in the sidebar to tote up the number of times this perennial phrase is actually dished up?

Well there are a lot of disgusting racists. There are also a lot of people who are unhappy about how we live today. The BNP’s opportunistic populism isn’t the solution, the conservative consensus of the main parties has allowed it to happen and I agree with Tom, the progressive-left need to take on this problem and propose alternative solutions. Could Peckham join Brixton in joining the Transition Towns movement and try to take control back?

Yurrzem, there is indeed a Transition Town Peckham, I’ve been a bit involved with it. There’s also an energy social enterprise (Peckham Power), a food growing project I’ve helped with on a Peckham estate (Growing Southwark) and lots of other interesting things going on.

But of course, like in Brixton, it’s hard to get these out of the bubble of easy converts, and hard to get the council to work *with* local people rather than (supposedly) for them.

Where is Peckham?

@ Tom, 4

Good luck! Rolling out something like Transition Town changes somewhere like Peckham will be a challenge, but if you make it work it would be groundbreaking.

Peckham Town Centre is, indeed a bit of a dump. But to suggest that this is because of the west African owned businesses is daft. Not all the businesses on Rye Lane are immaculately kept but none of them are empty. When Woolies closed down, it became an indoor market in weeks. There’s plenty of entrepreneurial spirit about.

The town centre has suffered from two things – about a century and a half of bad planning starting with the way that the railway viaducts carve up the Nunhead side of Rye Lane, creating a dead zone between the residential areas and the high street – and the failure of landlords to keep their properties up.

Your proposals make sense in principle – I hope they make enough financial sense to come to fruition.

Like it or not, a lot of people are unhappy with the way that Peckham has developed in the past decade, and the most visible change is the growth in West African churches, nail bars, hairdressers and food shops.

Blimey. That’s a turn up on a site like LC.
I thought it was not permissible to talk like that.
Deptford has also become like Peckham somewhat.
So why should Bermondsey be any different?

I don’t think anything the Green Party say is going to do anything at all.
So just embrace modernity and enjoy it is my outlook.

In Ireland at the moment, they are about 30 years behind England in this regard.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0409/1224267967713.html

The BNPs stated policies on immigration and citizenship when viewed in a global context are common place.

Those who call for the mobilisation of “anti fascists” to counter the BNP in SE London are naive. Why don’t they mobilise a militia of UAF nuts to attack the Japanese embassy since their policies on immigration and citizenship have a common purpose in resisting multiculturalism.

The more people travel the more people will realise that it is the multiculture project and promotion of mass immigration which is the exception to the norm not the BNP.

10. Matt Munro

@ 8 “So just embrace modernity and enjoy it is my outlook.”

That’s a lame argument. Everything was “modern” once. I’m sure the Nazis said something similar to anyone who objected to their outlook.

11. diane green

I wish someone knew the meaning of fascist.Tony Blair and his ilk are the real fascists,anyone looking at the Civil Contingencies act( a direct copy of Hitler’s enabling act)placed on our statute books in 2004 should send the uaf thugs in the right direction.But,I suppose they wouldn’t be paid by their Labour masters if they exposed them!

@11

“the” UAF? Grammar fail.

Oh and also @11, you forgot to provide sources for your claims! How silly, but an easy mistake.
Anyone wishing to see how identicle the CCA and the Enabling Act 1933 are can compare and contrast here:

Civil Contingencies Act 2004, UK

Enabling Act 1933, Nazi Germany

Hope that clarifies things for those less worldly types than yourself.

@10

That’s a lame argument. Everything was “modern” once. I’m sure the Nazis said something similar to anyone who objected to their outlook.

It may be. But do you have a better idea?

I’m still somewhat gobsmacked about someone from the Green Party saying something like that in the origional post.

What next? Saying that some people don’t like the way that East Ham or Southall developed in recent years?

And replacing the words ‘and the most visible change is the growth in West African churches, nail bars, hairdressers and food shops’, with; ”mosques, temples, sari shops, Asian DVD and halal everything food shops”.

Could be the start of an interesting discussion.

I had a look at Rye Lane on street view – I’m not sure I’ll be popping down there – and I think many areas would kill for a street like that – chock full of independent businesses, hardly any empty shops, at least two fishmongers…!

“But how to respond to the BNP whipping up racial explanations?”

Depends who’s responding. From my recollection of the constituency, the local Lib Dems may have a copyright infringement claim.

@14, damon

I think you’ve missed my point. If you went to East Ham you probably would hear people listing those things, and an objective history would describe those changes. IT would be quite amazing to completely ignore the way Peckham has changed because of liberal sensitivities. The question is: what do you say in response?

A common anti-fascist response is to just attack racists and xenophobes. Fine, but that won’t do much to persuade the people who have noticed the changes, are pretty disempowered in the area and feel like the local amenities don’t serve all their needs any more. That’s just how the feel – it’s important that we can address those feelings and argue that simple positive changes can bring them back from hate to hope.

@15, cjcjc

Yes indeed, it’s a fantastic town centre, which is pretty much what our proposals document kicks off by saying. Our proposals are to improve it, and deal with specific problems that lead to a lot of unhappiness amongst local residents.

Whatever the answer, it clearly isn’t Government. No other town centre in the WHOLE of the UK has received MORE millions and millions and millions than Peckham. No where. No one.

And the result? The people who live there still treat it like a dump. They are still aggressive on the streets making it an intimidating place. They have nearly destroyed the public buildings that cost millions and where hailed as innovative structures.

We can keep on painting over it year on year, but the cracks keep coming through.

The question is: what do you say in response?

That’s the $64,000 question I think Tom Chance.

I want to agree with your second paragraph, but I’m just wondering and thinking about how things actually work themselves out on the ground.
Elephant and Castle. Walworth Road, Camberwell?
The change is what it is, and talking about it on a liberal lefty internet forum won’t change the reality of tomorow there.

I do agree with this bit of your 2nd paragraph though.

A common anti-fascist response is to just attack racists and xenophobes.

If people don’t know Peckham, it’s worth a visit.
Deptford High Street too is great on a saturday.

When I was last in Deptford High Street on a saturday morning last year, I was amazed at the intra cultural mix, with a mix up of ”white cockney” type people being close up against and living amongst African people – particularly
African women running stalls who were calling out to potential customers in a simillar way that the London stallholders have always done.
Then there are the stalls and shops run by the Chinese and Vietnamese people.
Wet fish shops for example.

I don’t know what some zoning and council like edicts will do to actually make any difference on the ground. That’s why I was a bit negative.

That’s why I just prefer to try to embrace any changes and not look backwards.

I used to live in Peckham and Camberwell and saw a lot of positive in those neighbourhoods in the 16 months I was there and when I go back to see mates, it seems to get better each and every time, small steps maybe but I feel safer there than Bermondsey.

That’s great Daniel Hoffmann-Gill. Do we judge everone on ‘left wing’ standards though?

I’m in Dundalk Ireland writing this, and not having been here for ten years, to see African and Asian people in the town was slightly surprising at first.
I hope it’s all well and harmonious with the ‘new Irish’ fitting in- but I’d say not many people in the town would want it to become like Peckham or Camberwell.

Most people are not that radical …. when they come from small county towns in Ireland, or even traditional working class people in places like London.

I don’t know Damon I’ll just have to check my left-wing standards handbook so I can correlate my thought with that…

Good grief man, pull yourself together, Peckham and Camberwell are fine places, with plenty of problems of course but plenty of wonder too.

I don’t disagree with you Daniel Hoffmann-Gill.

It’s that we were talking about the BNP here, and about the people in that part of society that the BNP pitch to. And how we judge them.

You know, Rod Liddle’s mates at ”Millwall Online”.

Are they a ”constituency” that should be given the time of day.

Looking up old footage of Bermondsey in the 1960’s on youtube brings up some powerful images.

That’s all.

@ 20

I have lived in both Peckham and Bermondsey and I would be curious as to what ‘positive changes’ and ‘small steps’ there have been in Peckham in the past 16 months you enthuse over and exactly what parts of Bermondsey you are scared of and why.

damon:

Well, pitching to idiots is an easy thing to do is it not? Pitching to ignorance is also easy, playing on fears both real and unreal (all parties do this of course).

There is an argument to be made that some people are beyond the pail, unreachable and no doubt some are but I believe that many are reachable and open and willing.

The only analogy I can use is one from teaching, when working with really hard to help young people we imagined them as a pyramid, the very hardest to help were at the very top of the pyramid and made a far smaller percentage but above them was the flagpole, the 2% that were, due to many complex factors, unreachable and as painful as it was, we had to turn away from them.

There is a similar part of the electorate as far as I am concerned.

“The Lions”

Oh here we go…projects include: Area 10, Hourbank, Refugees Forum, all the old housing knocked down, better housing in its place, new sports centre, new leisure centre, new library, the PVSF, urban regeneration money, improved transport links.

In the time I was there the place was changing, things were being build, renewal and regeneration and this progressed even further since I moved out.

As for Bermondsey, it’s not about being scared, I used to live on Southampton Way where yellow signs advertising a new crime were common place, I never had a single bit of bother in my time there but Bermondsey, in my opinion, lacked the sense of life that Peckham had.

My call and not a basis for debate “Four Lions”.

26. the a&e charge nurse

[24] perhaps your enquiry should be addressed to Harriet Harman? – despite a heavy Police presence the deputy Labour leader still prefers to wear a stab vest whenever she goes walk about in Peckers.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/apr/02/harrietharman

The same report claims, “many of Harman’s constituents told the Guardian that Peckham was so crime-ridden that wearing a kevlar-reinforced jacket was only sensible these days”

As they say one picture can say more than a thousand words?

27. Another censored comment: Honesty and truth not welcome on this propaganda site

Another censored comment: Honesty and truth not welcome on this propaganda site:

I know all of the money that has been poured in and the bits and pieces put up and taken down, that aint what I was asking, those are just things mate, I was asking what positive changes you claim have occurred in Peckham. What has all of this spent money achieved?

And if you feel safer in Peckham then Bermondsey it is all in your head mate as you cant name one problem you have had here and as the rate of violence against the person in Peckham is almost double that of Bermondsey, and as a matter of fact Bermondsey is lower in all areas of crime then Peckham bar one and significantly so in several areas.

And it’s quite easy to prove that Peckham regeneration got £290m here

Whereas and that Bermondsey gets £30m through gross revenue here

Just as it was quite as to prove that despite that the violence rate against people in Peckham is nearly twice that of Bermondsey and that all crime areas bar one are higher, some significantly:

Here

and

here

Check out this report of the ‘progress’ made after a cool £290m spent:

The dilapidated flats might be gone, but the criminals who lurked have not – they just got younger.

Seven years after the death of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor in a stairwell in the North Peckham estate in south-east London, violence still plagues the area.

Replacing rows of rundown high-rise flats and maisonettes are 2,000 new homes, a new sports centre, a new leisure centre and award-winning library, thanks to a £290m regeneration investment…

According to Lucy Cope, a resident of Peckham and head of the campaign group Mothers Against Guns, the gunmen never went away and they are getting younger…

“The whole feeling in the area is one of fear,” Mrs Cope told the BBC News website.

“Children are scared to go to school, parents are scared to let them go out or leave them home alone. You’re not even secure in your own home now.
“This is what happens in the Bronx. Peckham has become England’s Bronx.”

Here

And that unique to anywhere else in this country, this is how their MP has to dress up in a stab proof vest surrounded by protection to skulk around her own Peckham constituency

Here

And then we have this Damon character above posting from Ireland, probably never set foot in Bermondsey but based upon its white working class Millwall supporting majority claims “It’s that we were talking about the BNP here, and about the people in that part of society that the BNP pitch to. And how we judge them…You know, Rod Liddle’s mates at ”Millwall Online”…Are they a ”constituency” that should be given the time of day” which is pretty much as offensive and racist as it gets as well being completely wrong as Bermondsey has never had any NF or BNP councilors elected and they don’t get a good a vote here either and our MP of choice for nearly 30 years has been a gay Liberal Democrat

You further this prejudicial racist crap with your enthusiastic and equally racist comments in reference to that remark about Bermondsey “Well, pitching to idiots is an easy thing to do is it not?.. There is an argument to be made that some people are beyond the pail… due to many complex factors, unreachable and as painful as it was, we had to turn away from them… There is a similar part of the electorate as far as I am concerned.”

All based on nothing but stereotypical racist attitudes that have no truth to them whatsoever.

And that’s not up for debate.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Responding to the BNP's claims in Peckham http://bit.ly/cYSldP

  2. Ryan Bestford

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  3. darryl1974

    RT @tom_chance My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  4. The Green Party

    RT @tom_chance My piece on Liberal Conspiracy – beating the BNP in Bermondsey/Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  5. Richard St Ruth

    RT @TheGreenParty: @tom_chance piece on Liberal Conspiracy – beating BNP in Bermondsey/Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  6. liliana dmitrovic

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  7. Clare Cochrane

    Greens to BNP threat in S. London RT: @libcon: Responding to the BNP's claims in Peckham http://bit.ly/cYSldP

  8. Ryan Bestford

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  9. Tom Chance

    My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  10. Tim Cowlishaw

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  11. London SE15

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on @LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  12. uberVU - social comments

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Responding to the BNP’s claims in Peckham http://bit.ly/cYSldP

  13. Southwark Greens

    RT @tom_chance: My piece on LibCon – beating the BNP in Bermondsey and Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  14. Faran Cowling

    RT @TheGreenParty: RT My piece on Liberal Conspiracy – beating the BNP in Bermondsey/Peckham with positive politics – http://bit.ly/apoKyV

  15. Southwark Greens

    Candidate for The Lane, Tom Chance, on fighting the BNP with positive politics for Peckham town centre – http://bit.ly/apoKyV





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