Thursday, 26 February 2015

Exposure: How does the Steadfast Trust's response stand up?

In my previous post I summarised how the Steadfast Trust had been presented by the recent Exposure documentary. Just to recap, here is the charity's response to the programme and its accusations:

"Tim Hawke has been suspended pending an internal investigation, and Darren Clarke suspended from our supporters' list.
The Trust does not share or support the offensive views expressed, some by people unknown to the charity. We cannot be held responsible for the views, actions or political affiliations of our supporters. 
We always work within charity law and all donations are used to further our registered objectives.  The Steadfast Trust is not and never has been political in its aims and we are perplexed by the suggestion it has become the focal pint for the far right. 
Tim Hawke attended the event to identify whether it could benefit from a grant, he disliked what he saw and told trustees he would not attend in future. 
We have criteria that English Community Groups must follow. Only a fraction of groups are sanctioned by us. Tim Hawke says 'burn the mosques' was a comment on the page of one group, and he decided the trust could not be associated with it. Mark Taylor's comments on skinheads were made in jest and the event referred to did not happen."

There are two points I will give to the Steadfast Trust here.

One, the documentary was misleading in making its allegation that the Steadfast Trust is "a new focal point for the fascist far right", implying that all the old members of the BNP, the NF and the rest are now rallying around Steadfast. While the organisation has certainly picked up supporters from such groups, and it is definitely the focal point for a specific subset of the far-right (the subset which I have termed "Englisc" nationalism), it is not a major focal point for the British far-right as a whole. That is a worthwhile distinction.

Two, the documentary's presentation of Tim Hawke's "burn the mosques" discussion is suspect. It begins halfway through the conversation, with the narrator summarising what came before; we are left to take his word for it. So, it is quite plausible that Hawke's words were twisted by the documentary.

Beyond these two concerns, however, the word which I would use to describe Exposure's segment on the Steadfast Trust is "unsurprising." I have written multiple posts on this blog analysing the Steadfast Trust and its satellite groups, and time and time again I have provided evidence that the charity (former charity, now - it has been re-registered) is knowingly associating itself with racist groups. I will recap some of my findings in this post.

Mark Taylor: the man behind the Steadfast Trust?

The documentary portrays trustees Tim Hawke and Mark Taylor as the two joint leaders of the Steadfast Trust; my own research suggests that this is the case.

If so, it would be reasonable to assume that - now Hawke is suspended "pending an internal  investigation" - Mark Taylor is in charge of Steadfast. Perhaps it was Taylor who drafted the above statement, Taylor who is currently manning the Steadfast Facebook page, and possibly even Taylor who will be investigating Hawke.

Mark Taylor

So, just who is Mark Taylor and what does he stand for? Well, RationalWiki has an article on Taylor which argues that he was the owner of a now-defunct YouTube account called "Seaxwielder"; I added my own thoughts to the evidence here.

To summarise: Taylor and "Seaxwielder" are both Steadfast activists; have both lived in Kent; have both used the pseudonym "Scyld"; and are both artists. Capping it off, "Seaxwielder" linked to Taylor's website on his profile:

The likelihood that Taylor was the man behind this account is definitely worth our attention when we consider the racist material posted by "Seaxwielder":

This is far stronger than the prejudice shown by Hawke in the documentary. Taylor would appear to be the more overtly racist of the two men, which makes the charity's suspension of Hawke hard to take seriously. From my point of view the suspension appears to be a case of Hawke falling on his sword so as to save the charity's reputation.

The extremist connections of the Steadfast Trust

The charity's official claim is that it did not endorse the Maldon event, and finds the fascist presence "abhorrent":

I think it is true that the Maldon meet-up was never endorsed by the Steadfast Trust - certainly, I can find no mention of it on the Steadfast website. But this is irrelevant when we consider that the charity had, on multiple other occasions, knowingly aligned itself with racists.

Consider this posting, in which it openly invites members of the ASF and Woden's Folk to a Battle Abbey event:

I've written about Woden's Folk and its founder Wulf Ingessunu at length here. It is hard to say where to start when summarising the views of this neo-Nazi cult: the more you scratch the surface, the more absurdities you find.

Briefly, they believe that Hitler was a divine avatar who fought a "holy war" against "dark forces"; that the 1980s TV series Robin of Sherwood was a divinely inspired work of prophecy; that white people did not evolve from apes, but rather have a "vegetative basis"; and that the two world wars were caused by Loki. At least one member also believes that Mars was once inhabited by an intelligent lifeform which is currently worshipped by Zionists.

The ASF (Anglo-Saxon Foundation) is rather more straightforward: it is a racist forum filled with white supremacists. Here are some typical postings by three of the forum's regular members:

Supporters of this movement will tell me that it is unfair (nay, positively anglophobic) to dismiss the entire forum because of a few objectionable posters. But a cursory glance over the board will demonstrate that these objectionable posters comprise the entire membership: even the forum's owner, Seaxan, thinks that Jews should be expelled from England.

As I demonstrated here, both Tim Hawke and Mark Taylor are members of the Anglo-Saxon Foundation - in fact, Taylor used to be one of its moderators. They are therefore well aware of the levels of racism to be found at the forum; despite this, they are perfectly willing to invite the ASF members to their events.

Darren Clarke, one of the activists spotlighted in Exposure, posts at the ASF under the name "Edmundy". The Steadfast Trust suspended him from its list of supporters in the wake of the documentary. As with the suspension of Hawke, this smacks of damage control: the Steadfast Trust openly invited members of a racist forum to its event, so it can hardly be surprised that one of those members turned out to be racist.

We can find more evidence of Steadfast colluding with the ASF in the documentary itself, although the makers did not pick up on it. Remember the sequence showing a Steadfast stall manned by Taylor and Hawke...?

Notice that one of the t-shirt designs on sale features the URL This is the address of the Anglo-Saxon Foundation. The charity was deliberately promoting Seaxan's racist forum.

Another hate group with which Steadfast has aligned itself is the Northants English Welfare Society. I examined this organisation in depth here, demonstrating that its frontman Walter Greenway is a Nazi sympathiser and rabid anti-semite. This is just one of his pro-Nazi postings:

The charity once named the Northants English Welfare Society as an organisation which "can benefit from help in the form of financial grants and advice / assistance from the Steadfast Trust". For an idea of how close Steadfast is to Greenway's racist group, just look at this joint stall:

As we can see, the racism and fascism demonstrated at the Maldon event were not some isolated occurrence. The Steadfast Trust has a proven history of knowingly aligning itself with racist groups, including outright pro-Nazi organisations.

The supporters respond

The Exposure documentary provoked the ire of Steadfast supporters even before it aired. One anonymous blogger hailed the documentary as "desperately pathetic", even though it wasn't due to be screened for another four days. A number of news websites summarised the documentary prior to its broadcast, resulting in comments such as these:

After the documentary was aired, heated discussions broke out on the Steadfast Trust's Faebook page; most of the comments have now been deleted.

At least one supporter lost faith in the charity after seeing its seedy underbelly:

Others, however, began defending the Steadfast Trust, sometimes with conspiracy theories. These two decided that the racists seen in the documentary were probably actors hired to discredit the charity:

"Æthelflæd Seaxmaiden", however, took a different tact and declared that trustee Tim Hawke is actually a plant who was deliberately sabotaging the charity. She also smugly dismissed the undercover cameraman as a "red", although quite how she can have deduced his views on economics is unclear:

The aforementioned Northants Enbglish Welfare Society chimed in with support. Ironically, this posting from a neo-Nazi group was followed by a comment from Lee Ingram arguing that the Steadfast Trust should issue a statement clarifying that Nazis aren't welcome:

Poor, naive Lee. He seems genuinely unaware that the Steadfast Trust has been deliberately inviting neo-Nazis to its events: if it took a principled stand against racists, it would lose most of its support base.

Speaking of Lee Ingram, his "English Advocates" Facebook page expressed its outrage at the affair, pleading that the Steadfast Trust is "a tiny charity... with no Government funding" - as though this means that it is somehow beyond criticism:

Note the implication that Nazi sympathisers within the English nationalist movement are part of a conspiracy. This is a curious sentiment coming from English Advocates, a page that has previously linked with approval to the openly neo-Nazi website Metapedia:

Finally, possibly the most interesting post comes from the Stormfront member Atrociter. I've written about this man before - he once claimed to have spent the day with a Steadfast trustee, indicating that he is pretty close to the charity.

He was apparently in the Maldon group shown in the documentary, and complains that Exposure never showed them joking about a white man wobbling on his bicycle being a "human sacrifice" (this, apparently, is meant to justify their hostility towards a passing mixed-race family). He also makes the reasonable point that the Islamic extremism seen in the same documentary was a graver concern than the Steadfast Trust, before unexpectedly showing his support for the fundamentalist Hindu group:

He also shows some familiarity with the undercover reporter:

Ironic that a Steadfast Trust supporter can object to the charity being associated with white supremacy... while posting at Stormfront.

In conclusion, Exposure may have represented the Steadfast Trust unfairly in some cases. In other cases, however, it was much less harsh than was deserved - think of how much mileage it could have got out of the Steadfast/Woden's Folk connection, for starters.

I'd say that while certain aspects of the documentary are questionable, it was broadly accurate as a whole. The Steadfast Trust has a history of knowingly aligning itself with neo-Nazis and similar extremists, and has now paid the price. I won't shed a tear.

In the next post in this series, I will talk about the second charity examined in the Exposure documentary: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Exposure on the Steadfast Trust

This Wednesday night, ITV aired a docmentary entitled Exposure: Charities Behaving Badly. The documentary covered three registered charities that had been involved with extremism.

The programme initially caught my attention because one of the charities featured was the Steadfast Trust, an English nationalist outfit which I have written about multiple times on this blog; the other two charities are ones which I was previously unfamiliar with. I have decided to run aseries of posts summarising the documentary's findings and adding my own observations where appropriate.

Let us start with the first of the charities featured on Exposure: the Steadfast Trust.

The documentary begins at the Stone Cross St. George's parade, which is sponsored by the Steadfast Trust. Narrator Mark Austin introduces the charity, quoting from its website, and reveals that an undercover reporter named Jamie had been researching the Steadfast Trust for Exposure.

If you are curious about the books on sale, see my posts on Athelney Press here and here.

"At the St. George's day event, the Steadfast Trust has a stall selling books and t-shirts", says the narrator. The documentary then cuts to undercover footage as Jamie chats with Tim Hawke, charity trustee, who is attending the stall.

Tim Hawke, as seen on the Steadfast Trust website.

After this, Jamie and Hawke are shown heading to an event to commemorate the Battle of Maldon:

Narrator: "It's not a Steadfast event, but some of the charity's supporters will be there."

Jamie: "How many people are going to be here?"

Hawke: "Probably several. They're a nice enough bunch, don't do a great deal, but they turn up to events. Some of them been in the old NF in the past and all that sort of thing."

As the narrator explains, the NF is the National Front, a notorious far-right party.

Jamie and Hawke head to a pub where they meet a Steadfast Trust supporter named Steve. Hope not Hate claims that this is Steve Sargent, founder of the National Socialist Movement, but I have not confirmed this.

Tim Hawke and Steve.

Steve: "Remember at the Waltham Abbey last year? There was a geezer who came up with the fucking nigger wife with the nigger kid and they had the white dragon flag, do you remember his name?"

Another man (Hawke?) replies that he "can't recall him."

Jamie then meets a man identified by the documentary simply as Darren. This is Darren Clarke, also known as "Edmundy", who I wrote about here; he is the secretary of the Ipswich English Community Group, chaired by Tim Hawke.

Darren Clarke (left)

Darren then begins talking about his nationalist graffiti.

Darren: "My mate is talking about, 'look at the graffiti.' I bloody did the graffiti!"

Jamie: "Did you?"

Darren: "Yeah, I sprayed it up."

Jamie: "Where was it?"

Darren: "Down at Battle Abbey."

Jamie: "What was it?"

Darren: "Oh, just like a... I've got a picture in my car."

This graffiti made it into local news.

The documentary cuts, and Darren Clarke begins talking about a separate act of vandalism; this is picked up again later in the programme:

Jamie: "Where was that?"

Darren: "Norwich Castle. Why they should illustrate an Anglo-Saxon gallery with a picture of an Indian woman I don't know. Had to be done."

Darren Clarke then tries to get Jamie involved:

Darren: "I 've got loads of stickers which you can just go in and chuck on to offensive displays. If there's anything around your way, we can get some stickers to you."

The discussion moves on:

Darren: "If you do something one week, and then the next week, and then the next week, they'll take notice of you. Demos, petitions, angry letters... [shakes head] You know it's just wasting their time, aren't they, so you do have to have the right people, people you can trust, trust with your liberty, trust with your life even. You're risking going away for 25-30 years or being sectioned or something because that's what they're trying to do to you."

Jamie and Darren then head to the event itself. The following sequence has been uploaded as a clip to the Telegraph website.

Narrator: "Jamie discovers that many of the men at this gathering have extreme political views."

Jamie meets a bald man in sunglasses who introduces himself as Piers and says that "I was a member of the BNP for years, I've been a member of the BM [British Movement], the NF..." I believe that this man is Piers Mellor; more information on him can be found with a quick search.

The documentary then cuts to a different, unnamed man who says that

"I was a candidate for the National Front in 1980 something. When the Ku Klux Klan started up over here I got involved in that. A lot of us here took it to the extreme, where we was actually going out and mob up and attack them. That’s because all we had. We didn’t have the Steadfast charity years ago. I suppose you want to do it a bit differently, so the Steadfast charity comes into play."

The Telegraph article incorrectly attributes these statements to Piers. A passer-by tells them that the battle's over (referring, presumably, to a battle re-enactment); the nationalist replies that "no, the battle's just about to begin."

Narrator: "So, according to this supporter of the Steadfast Trust, the registered charity has become a new focal point for the fascist far right movement."

The nationalists rally around a white dragon flag. The documentary shows a clip of one man waving his arm about; the narrator identifies this as a Nazi salute, although it strikes me as a very odd-looking Nazi salute. We could give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he got a cramp and needed to stretch his arm.

The documentary then presents clips of various slogans being yelled: "white power", "victory to the Aryan race", "14 words", "race and nation". As a personal observation, the man saying "victory to the Aryan race" sounds like Wulf Ingessunu, founder of Woden's Folk - listen to one of his speeches here for comparison.

Eventually, the gatherers' attention is caught by something occurring off-camera.

Narrator: "A mixed-race family is passing. Within earshot of the family, the group makes threatening comments and racially insults the young boy, who looks around five years old.

"There's a human sacrifice there," remarks one man. "Get the fucking axe ready, we're on."
"Hail the glorious dead" growls another, raising a drinking horn, to a round of laughter.
"I think he's been doing that mud racing," says another of the nationalists.

The documentary then shows Tim Hawke raising a toast with a drinking horn, possibly the same one used by the man who made the "glorious dead" comment.

The documentary host Mark Austin is then shown screening Jamie's footage for two commentators: charity expert Francesca Quint and extremism expert Chetan Bhatt.

Bhatt: "This isn't just casual racism, this is a systematic ideology of white supremacy and race hatred, and it emerges from neo-Nazism, so you can see that very clearly from the kinds of symbols, slogans... the 14 words emerged from a neo-Nazi organisation in America - a terrorist organisation in America." [He is referring to the terrorist activities of David Lane]

Quint: "Of course, they weren't acting in their capacity as representatives of the charity when they were doing that, but it's clearly the sort of thing they're proud of and their association with the charity doesn't make them want to hide it - rather, the opposite. That is something which brings the whole charity into disrepute, and thereby brings charities into disrepute."

The documentary then returns to undercover filming. It shows Tim Hawke and Mark Taylor apparently taking turns to man a stall.

Narrator: "Tim Hawke and Mark Taylor took over the running of the charity in 2014. It seems these new trustees are happy to have support from the far right."

Mark Taylor: "There's a whole big bunch of them going down with Darren, skinheads and everything. We need some people like that, we need a bit of enthusiasm, you know?"

The documentary then moves to Hawke's house.

Narrator: "To find out the charity's plans for the future, Jamie's been invited to Tim Hawke's house."

Hawke: "I mean, I got involved in a couple of things with him [it is implied by the documentary that "him" refers to Darren Clarke]. Went to Norwich, at the Anglo-Saxon centre they had. They said 'you know, there's lots of parts of culture in Britain, Anglo-Saxon was part of it.'  And then they had a picture of Indian women and stuff like this, and we thought 'what?' So we put some little sticker things over it."

Norwich Castle display before and after vandalism (latter image from here)

The narrator then begins talking about English Community Groups, which the Steadfast Trust aims to set up.

Narrator: "Tim mentions an English Community Group in Chelmsford. Tim refers to the group as 'Burn the Mosques'."

Hawke: "...'Burn the Mosques'. I said, 'there's not a chance the charity is going to give you any money'. Can you imagine the charity providing funding for that?"

Narrator: "But it seems he isn't ruling out, mosques may be burnt down in the future."

Hawke: "They're not going to burn the mosques down. Maybe if there was a strong nationalist English focus, more militancy, that might happen. It's not going to happen for the next few years. Maybe it'll happen in the future, but not now."

The documentary then moves on to a charity-endorsed event.

Narrator: "Steadfast have a stall in Waltham Abbey at the annual memorial ceremony to honour King Harold, who died in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. For many people here, this is a taste of the enjoyable pageantry of the Middle Ages. But last year, at the same event, Steadfast supporter Steve spotted a mixed-race family he did not approve of."

The documentary then replays the clip from earlier on, of Steve making racist comments about "that geezer with his nigger wife."

Narrator: "Steve spots the same family attending this event, and he's not too pleased to see them."

Steve: "There's that one with the African wife and the white dragon flag. What goes through their fucking mind, though? 'Oh yeah, my African wife, drape yourself in this white dragon flag."

Steve then goes to take a photo of the family.

Steve: "An African tart holding a white dragon flag! Fucking unbelievable!"

Narrator: "Steve arrives at the charity's stall. He says he's going to put his photo of the family online."

Tim Hawke: "Did you see that white dragon flag walking along?"

Steve: "Yeah, got the photos of it mate. That may be on Redwatch tonight."

This gets a big laugh from Tim Hawke. The narrator then explains to us that Redwatch is a far-right website containing photographs and personal information of "reds". As this incident demonstrates, having a spouse of a different race is apparently enough to make someone a "red".

The documentary then cuts to Chetan Bhatt being shown Hawke's comments on mosque-burning.

Bhatt: "For a charity, that would be quite shocking to see a charity make these claims, but it's not surprising for a far-right organisation. You are never far from political violence, you are never far from incitement to hatred. I'm shocked that it's still being allowed to function as a charity. It's clearly got a political agenda which is driven by neo-Nazi/white nationalist ideas."

The narrator then quotes the charity's response to such concerns:

"Tim Hawke has been suspended pending an internal investigation, and Darren Clarke suspended from our supporters' list.
The Trust does not share or support the offensive views expressed, some by people unknown to the charity. We cannot be held responsible for the views, actions or political affiliations of our supporters. 
We always work within charity law and all donations are used to further our registered objectives.  The Steadfast Trust is not and never has been political in its aims and we are perplexed by the suggestion it has become the focal pint for the far right. 
Tim Hawke attended the event to identify whether it could benefit from a grant, he disliked what he saw and told trustees he would not attend in future. 
We have criteria that English Community Groups must follow. Only a fraction of groups are sanctioned by us. Tim Hawke says 'burn the mosques' was a comment on the page of one group, and he decided the trust could not be associated with it. Mark Taylor's comments on skinheads were made in jest and the event referred to did not happen."

Finally, the charity claimed that it had no knowledge of Steve and could not trace him for a response.

How does the Steadfast Trust's defence stand up? That is something I will examine in my next post.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Englisc nationalism's attempts to hijack Holocaust Memorial Day

On January 27 1945, the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. For this reason, January 27 is recognised as Holocaust Memorial Day.

Here is how the Englisc nationalists of the Anglo-Saxon Foundation decided to mark the occasion:

So, it should not come as a surprise to learn that the Englisc nationalist movement is attempting to hijack Holocaust Memorial Day and use it for a different purpose: commemorating the Norman conquest.

Stormfront poster Atrociter talks about how he attended a demonstration at the Tower of London on 27th January 2014:

Later on, he expressed an interest in relocating the demonstration to Nottinghamshire's National Holocaust Centre and Museum for 2015:

One of the attendants (identifying themsevles simply as "S") forwarded a shot from the 2014 demonstration to this antisemitic blog, stating that "We held this demo on holocaust day at the Tower of London":

The Gumtree page for the recently-formed Ipswich English Community Group contains a photograph which appears to be from the same event:

In December, Darren "Edmundy" Clarke (secretary of the Ipswich English Community Group) announced that some kind of event would take place "on the 27th of Jan,in the lost city":

"Lost city" is a term these people sometimes use to identify Leicester, but I can't find any evidence of a nationalist event taking place there (or anywhere else) on this year's Holocaust Memorial Day.

Now, it's worth noting that Holocaust Memorial Day is also used to commemorate genocidal atrocities that were carried out after the Nazi Holocaust, such as those that took place in Rwanda, Darfur, Srebrenica and Cambodia. But stretching it to cover the Norman conquest is patently absurd.

The Nazi Holocaust, and comparable atrocities that followed, occurred within living memory, while the Norman Conquest occurred a thousand years ago. Plus, William the Conqueror's biggest atrocity was murdering 100,000 civilians in the Harrying of the North. Let's face it, compared to twentieth-century despots such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao, William was an amateur!

Atrociter declares that the Norman Conquest is, from an English point of view, the "only relevant holocaust". Apparently these Englisc nationalists consider geographical location to trump both scale and proximity in time.

UPDATE: It would appear that the "lost city" was in fact London, judging by this posting from the Englisc Resistance Facebook page:

Crikey. The 2015 demonstration looks even more pitiful than last year's. And scrolling down below this posting, I was entirely unsurprised to find that the same page saw fit to republish an antisemitic cartoon from Der Sturmer:

It is reasonable to ask how much of this campaign is motivated by desire to shed light on English history, and how much is motivated by contempt for Jews.