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Piece on Unite Against Fascism in Evening News

Following the article in today?s (22.10.05) Evening News, I thought you might like to see their editor?s very lengthy and slightly hysterical e-mail to one of the signatories, Tom Woodcock. First of all here?s our letter, calling on him to stop their ?Action On Travellers? campaign, which despite its apparently benign principles, seems to be being used to scapegoat and attack travellers:

Dear Murray Morse,

We are writing to express our deepest concerns at the ongoing 'campaign' that you are running against the Travelling Community in Cambridgeshire.
The fact that your campaign is entitled 'Action on Travellers' frames the travelling communities as the problem in many of your stories. Although we appreciate that some of your coverage of Traveller Issues has been well balanced you often highlight negative aspects or inflammatory points of view in your headlines and strap lines. The large number of articles that you print under this campaign banner paints an unwelcoming and counter inclusive image of the whole Travelling community. Further to this you often report unrelated or complex issues as 'Action on Travellers'. Recent examples of this are traffic and access issues on Fen Road and the particularly inflammatory story about taxis to schools. Neither of these stories are Traveller issues, they relate to much wider concerns about public planning, funding, education and infrastructure; in short, issues which involve the whole community and which deserve a wider and more critical debate.
Our concern is that, through your persistence in reporting stories under the same campaign, you run the risk of seriously alienating one section of our community.
We are requesting that you cease to publish stories under the 'Action on Travellers' campaign and that you favour a more inclusive and responsible approach to the issues you raise in our local newspaper.
Yours
Richard Rose, Co-ordinator, Cambridge Unite Against Fascism
Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith, on behalf of Cambridge City Council Liberal
Democrat Group
Councillor Ben Bradnack, on behalf of Labour Group on city council
Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator, Cambridge Green Party
Tom Woodcock, Cambridge Respect
Sylvia Carter, Chair Cambridge Trades Council
Stan Croookes, Secretary Cambridge Trades Council
Chris Grant, Secretary Cambridgeshire NUT
Matt Kelly, President Cambridgeshire NUT
Unison City Branch
Nick Savage. Secretary cambridge AUT in a personal capacity
Paul Turnbull, Branch Chair of the CWU in a personal capacity
Matt Wells, Cambridge PCS Defre in a personal capacity
Steve Sweeney, Cambridge Unison Health representative in a personal capacity
Mike Todd-Jones, On behalf of Arbury Labour Party
Edwina Wood
Salman Shaheen
Sarah Woodall
Seymour Glass, Miss Black America

And here?s Mr Morse?s reply, which came under the heading of ?You are the real Fascist?. Got a comfy chair and a stiff drink? Well here we go:

Dear Mr Woodcock,

Thank you for your email of October 20th
concerning the Cambridge Evening News' hard-hitting campaign to get action
on and behalf of the travelling community of Cambridgeshire and, indeed,
throughout the region served by this newspaper.

I have never read such an amazing load of poppy cock and misinformed drivel
in all my 27 years in journalism.

I am, frankly, also stunned that people such as respected leaders of the
city council and prominent political parties, as well as trade unions and
other people of influence in the community have nothing better to do with
their time than put their names to a letter trying to gag a worthwhile
campaign that aims to make a change for the good of all people living in our
community.

Surely Councillors Ian Nimmo-Smith and Ben Bradnack could be giving
ratepayers better service by getting out and picking up some of the 600 used
needles that drug addicts have left in our good city's parks, rather than by
spending time signing up to this rubbish?

And I didn't see the likes of Richard Rose, Chris Grant, Sylvia Carter,
Sarah Woodall, Edwina Wood, Martin Lucas-Smith or Salman Shaheen putting pen
to paper in support of the Evening News' recent articles backing the fight
against racism in football.

And how can I really be expected to take seriously pressure from the likes
of the guitarist in Miss Black America (Seymour Class), Stan Crooke, Nick
Savage or Mike Todd Jones when they clearly haven't read or understood the
aims of our travellers campaign?

The very same aims - that I would suggest to Paul Turnbull and Matt Kelly -
primary school children are able to understand. So why is it, when my own
children aged 9 and 11 can understand what I'm trying to achieve on behalf
of travellers and the local community, can't they?

If I were a teacher within the NUT, I'd be seriously worried about having a
union secretary and a president that couldn't understand the basis of the
News' campaign and would sign such a misguided letter.

If you, Mr Woodcock, and your group, Cambridge United Against Fascism, spent
less time whipping up trouble where there is none, and more time on tackling
the real issues that dog our community, such as real racism in our schools
and work places, the world would really be a better place.

But, as it is, you haven't got the basic intelligence, wit or savvy among
you to actually recognise a campaign that is for the good of everyone.

The Evening News has been campaigning to resolve the issues and conflict
surrounding illegal travellers and gypsy camps throughout the region and
Great Britain for almost 11 months now - having launched its campaign on
November 30th 2005.

The campaign has won the support of hundreds of readers and prominent
figures - including MPs, and the influential Gypsy Council itself.

We've had support from both local residents who feel their lives are being
made a misery by the lack of will to tackle illegal camp sites near their
homes, and by travellers who feel local authorities have turned their backs
on them and treat them like pariahs by refusing to find the money to set up
legal camps with proper and decent facilities.

So, as all of this suggests, the Evening News can more than demonstrate its
campaign has backing and support from all sides - travellers included.

For your information Mr Woodcock, and for the ill-informed and misdirected
signatories to your letter, I will (again) explain the whole point of the
campaign and its main aims.

Our targets - if there are any - are not the travellers or gypsies as you
wrongly suggest, but the a government that dithers or refuses to get
anything done on behalf of BOTH the travelling communities and local
residents who are fed up with these illegal camps and the conflict they
engender.

We're not saying "get the gypsies out". What we're fighting for is a plan
to create proper laws and proper funding to stop illegal camping. The
travellers, themselves, have a responsibility and a role to play here as
well.

We want the government to stop prevaricating and allow local authorities to
create somewhere legal for travellers to live, with decent conditions and
proper facilities.

Hence the reason for our campaign being called Action on Travellers (and NOT
"Action AGAINST Travellers") - which is what Cambridge Unite Against Fascism
is reading into the campaign slogan.

Instead of making false and malicious claims that this paper is "campaigning
against the travelling community in Cambridgeshire", you should sign up to
the campaign to pressure the Government, local MPs and political figures
both nationally and locally into taking action.

You should be supporting this right and wholly proper campaign so that local
authorities have the money and laws they need to set up well-funded, legal
camps, with decent facilities for travellers on sites where they won't come
into conflict with local residents or be breaking the law.

Or, is Cambridge Unite Against Fascism saying that it is right that we turn
a blind eye to illegal gypsy and traveller camps and allow people to squat
wherever they like, no matter whose land it is, completely ignoring current
laws? That, in my view and the view of most right-thinking people, is a
completely ridiculous approach to a proper democracy.

In answer to your request, I can tell you that I'm not going to drop a
perfectly good campaign slogan or the campaign - certainly not after it has
been running for 11 months without any complaint - just because members of
CUAF are ignorant to its sincere aims.

As for your remarks about "other recent examples" of the paper carrying
"negative, inflammatory" or "counter inclusive" stories about travellers, I
totally refute this accusation.

The fact is, if rate payers are paying hundreds of pounds every week on
taxis to send traveller children to school, and their parents are constantly
failing to ensure their children attend despite the taxi turning up every
day, then that is a matter of public interest that deserves to be reported.

The fact is, there is enormous pressure on their local school in Cottenham
because there is such a large illegal encampment close to this small
village. The children are driven to school at the next village precisely
because resources in Cottenham are at breaking point. The aims of our
campaign are to ensure that all children have properly planned access to
schools and other community facilities.

Frankly, Mr Woodcock, your letter is an utter disgrace and I intend to
investigate the understanding - or total lack of understanding - among the
notable people that have signed it, and to carry a story that exposes this
nonsense for what it is among the so-called "Cambridge chattering classes".

When the Cambridge Unite Against Fascism Group achieves anything of note,
please do not hesitate to contact me again and I will be happy to highlight
the good work you are doing in the community. Until then, please do not
waste my time with any more nonsense.

As I have neither the time, nor the inclination, to forward this to the
signatories of your ridiculous email, I'd appreciate it if you could do the
honours.

Yours sincerely,

Murray Morse

Editor

Cambridge Evening News.
----------------------------------

I think we?ve got him rattled?

Published by Rosey Repeat at 7:25pm on Sat 22nd October 2005. Viewed 9,374 times.

Deleted Post

Published by Green Mind (not active) at 11:59am on Sun 23rd October 2005.

Deleted Post

Published by Green Mind (not active) at 12:24pm on Sun 23rd October 2005.

I think we should interpret this bit:

I can tell you that I'm not going to drop a perfectly good campaign slogan or the campaign - certainly not after it has been running for 11 months without any complaint

as an invitation to start writing more of these letters. In fact a campaign to inundate them with complaints would be a very good idea. Their hate campaign is pretty sickening and is not only condoning the bulldozing of people's homes but actively encoraging it.

Published by Moll Flounders at 9:11pm on Sun 23rd October 2005.

Interesting because I am sure I heard that Terry Brownbill, the driving force behind the so-called Cottenham Residents Assosiation who is leading the campaign to evict the travellers from thier own land, also used to work at the Sun.

Murray's vision to transform the CEN into a regional version of a national
tabloid comes from his time at the Sun.

Published by Moll Flounders at 10:01pm on Sat 29th October 2005.

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