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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Irish punk rocker Feargal Sharkey spoke at the annual Hope, Not Hate rally

A Cabinet minister and a punk have visited the region to join forces against racism.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Irish punk rocker Feargal Sharkey spoke at the annual Hope, Not Hate rally at Trimdon Labour Club, in County Durham, on Saturday.
The group campaigns against far right parties such as the BNP and National Front, which have targeted the region with renewed vigour since Labour’s slide in the polls.
Mr Sharkey, who found fame with Seventies punk outfit The Undertones, said he did not back any political party, but supported multiculturalism.

The Teenage Kicks singer and chief executive of UK Music said: “What makes up the whole fabric of this wonderful place we live in is the extraordinary mixture, that we have – different ideas, cultures, colours and religions.

“We have had people coming to this country for the last By Rachel Wearmouth rachel.wearmouth@nne.co.uk 4,000 years and if it wasn’t for that, we would not be what we are today.”

Councillors, trade union members and residents turned out in force to air their views and discuss ways of counteracting far right politics and racism.
Mr Johnson said far right parties offered simple solutions to complicated problems such as immigration and that Labour was working to deal with the issue.
He said: “The trouble with the immigration debate at the moment is we do not have a soundbite.”
He arrived at noon at the club, famous for being where former Prime Minister and MP for Sedgefield Tony Blair celebrated his party’s landslide victory in 1997.
Mr Johnson commended Hope, Not Hate for its work and said: “In this country, people have consistently refused to pick up the message of hatred and intolerance.
“I think the BNP is popular across the country at a time when unemployment is high, and their message is to say it is the fault of people with brown faces or this person.
“We need to spread the message of Hope, Not Hate and face up to them in a united way.”
Clare Williams, chairwoman of the Northern TUC Race Advisory Group, said the economic climate was also a problem.
She said: “The current recession and the burdens felt by ordinary working people are being used by these parties to try and persuade us that (the BNP’s) solutions are the best answer.”
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said campaigners against far right parties needed to do more work.
He said: “We may not have the sense of community that we used to have, but it is still there and there are community groups that we need to support.”

written by Rachel Wearmouth thenorthernecho