Monday, April 07, 2008 

The Race Debate 2008 - In Memory of Gilly Mundy

Newham Monitoring Project presents
The Race Debate 2008
Racism and the State of Britain

Wednesday April 23rd
from 7pm to 9pm

The Brunei Gallery
School for Oriental & African Studies
Thornhaugh St,
Russell Square
London WC1N 0XG

£5 (free for SOAS students and staff)

A panel discussion with panellists including:
Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission Nick Hardwick, civil liberties lawyer Gareth Peirce, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg

Chaired by Asad Rehman, Newham Monitoring Project

Institutional racism, community cohesion, culture, segregation, terrorism, Britishness... the debate over the state of Britain in 2008 is increasingly focused on race.

One of the country's leading community anti-racist organisations, Newham Monitoring Project (NMP), has therefore brought together a distinguished panel to debate the issue of racism in Britain in the first Gilly Mundy Memorial Debate. The event is named in honour of Gilly Mundy, the anti-racist and custody-deaths campaigner who was a management committee member and former worker for NMP and who supported bereaved families as senior caseworker for the campaigning charity INQUEST. Gilly died suddenly in March 2007 aged only 36.

To reserve tickets, call NEWHAM BOOKSHOP on 020 8552 9993

Supported by INQUEST and hosted by SOAS UNISON

Download the flyer from and please circulate as widely as possible.


McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers

Newham Bookshop presents
Misha Glenny discussing

McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers
Friday 11 April
Wanstead Library at 7 pm.

For the final event in its March/April season, Newham Bookshop is pleased to welcome Misha Glenny, former BBC central Europe correspondent, talking about his latest book McMafia: Crime Without Frontiers.

In this powerful and groundbreaking book, Misha Glenny takes us on a journey through the new world of international organised crime. For three years, he has been recording the stories of gun runners in Ukraine, money launderers in Dubai, drug syndicates in Canada, cyber criminals in Brazil, racketeers in Japan and many more.

During his investigation of the dark side, he has spoken to countless gangsters, policemen and victims of organised crime while also exploring the ferocious consumer demand for drugs, trafficked women, illegal labour and arms across five continents. The journey begins with an appalling and inexplicable murder in England's stockbroker belt and continues with stories that are often horrifying, sometimes inspiring, usually bizarre and occasionally funny. But together they build a breathtaking picture of the shadow economy that may now account for up to 20% of the world's GDP.

Usually the preserve of sensationalist reporting in the tabloid press, organised crime has seeped into our lives in so many ways and often without our knowledge. This consistently riveting account unveils the nature of crime in today's world but it also offers profound insights into the pitfalls of a globalisation where the rules dividing the legal from the illegal are often far from clear. It also argues that conventional policing methods are no longer appropriate to deal with a problem whose roots lie in global poverty and the ever widening divisions between rich and poor.

Buy a ticket for £5, get one free.

020 8552 9993
to reserve a ticket. Free drinks and nibbles as usual.

Thursday, April 03, 2008 

Newham's Mayor Buys Himself A Group of Charities

Newham's executive Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, today completed a process that we first described back in November 2006. At a meeting at the Town Hall, he addressed a select group of local charities who have been awarded contracts to deliver public services on behalf of the council. Wales told them that they represented the 'best of the voluntary sector', the opposite of those he described as 'corrupt and venal', and that they alone would have access to his office and the opportunity to bring him their ideas- ones that the Mayor said he would fund if he liked them. But, warned the Mayor, if the contracts they are undertaking appear to be failing, they can expect to have their money taken away.

All this was presented as some kind of partnership with the borough's voluntary sector. The reality, however, is that it represents its division, for the lifetime of the council's new contracts, into the favoured few and the excluded majority, most of whom are neither 'corrupt' or 'venal' but quietly making an enormous impact on the local community through their underfunded work with local people. The very idea of a new 'inner circle' of charities with special access makes a mockery of the idea of openness and accountability, of Newham council's pledges to ensure equal access to funding and consultation.

And even for the inner circle, it's hardly a genuine partnership when they have so little power and will have to spend the next three years trying to second-guess the whims of Newham's increasingly messianic Mayor. Once part of the inner circle, how many will risk banishment by speaking their minds, even if it means falling from the favours of the Mayor and his courtiers? Furthermore, it's not even as if most of the most-favoured are getting a particularly fair deal. They had originally been promised that they would be able to recover their full costs on becoming Newham council's subcontractors, but that promise has been quietly dropped. There is no way that private sector businesses would ever agree to the demands that the charities have been asked to meet. No wonder they have been given the promise of 'jam tomorrow' - its a very effective way of buying privatisation on the cheap.

And that is where the Mayor's use of the word 'venal' is so troubling. The dictionary defines it as "capable of being obtained for a price", or "acting for reward", or "capable of betraying honour, duty or scruples."

The excluded majority of Newham's voluntary and community organisations might ask, with some justification, why they are the ones who have been painted as mercenary?