By Larry O’Hara (with assistance from David Pegg & Heidi Svenson) 20/3/13
With wry amusement Notes From the Borderland (hereafter NFB) has watched closely recent public posturing by Hope Not Hate (hereafter HNH), purportedly triggered by ‘concern’ at racist trends within the UK Independence Party (hereafter UKIP), set in motion on their blog 14/3/13 and issue 7 of HNH magazine. There is far more to this story than meets the eye, and NFB are happy to provide context, albeit partial, in that much detailed proof of our assertions lies in past issues of NFB magazine, namely: issue 4 (highlighting the secret state plot to undermine UKIP in 2000), issue 5 (reproducing in full the strategy document Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate wrote for the European Movement), and issue 10 (detailing exactly how much HNH are in the pay of the current government, specifically the Department for Communities and Local Government). To obtain these magazines, visit our sister-site www.borderlandmagazine.co.uk or alternatively click on the top-right of this site where it says 'How To Buy NFB By Post/On-line'. Nonetheless hopefully enough evidence is cited here to substantiate our argument that HNH are in no position to comment with either accuracy or good faith regarding any UKIP matter, and anti-racists within UKIP should give these shysters a wide berth. A timely intervention, given HNH are to meet the UKIP leadership imminently.
After briefly looking at HNH’s stated motivation, we discuss HNH’s ‘dialogue’ with supporters, pointing to the absurdity of any pretence this is a genuine grass-roots organisation. Next we probe HNH’s tendentious ‘History of UKIP’, and misrepresentation of what UKIP supporters actually believe. Then, we look at two explanations for HNH dishonesty: first, the political past/ideology of head honcho Nick Lowles, and second, HNH’s position as hirelings of the DCLG, and therefore servants of the political establishment rocked by UKIP. Finally, a few comments on what anti-racists in UKIP and elsewhere should, and should not, do.
(1) WHY ARE HNH CONCERNED?
The cat was let out of the bag right from the start: to quote HNH’s initial blog post “UKIP is surging in the polls and could well come first in next year’s European Elections. How should HNH respond? Should we begin to oppose them or should we stick to extremist groups like the BNP?”[i]. In other words, it is UKIP’s electoral threat to the old order that bothers HNH, not their essential nature. They claim “UKIP is increasingly taking an anti-immigrant tone and as anti-racists we cannot ignore that”[ii]. Yet twelve years ago Lowles said virtually the same thing “UKIP has swung to the right in the last two years…UKIP now represents a nationalist rump”[iii]. If this was true, or he really believed it to be so, HNH and the Searchlight organisation from which they sprang would have opposed UKIP consistently. Yet they haven’t. We are not talking about principles here: Lowles wouldn’t know what one was The real motives for HNH’s opposition to UKIP I will return to, but suffice to say, anti-racism isn’t chief among them.
(2) A PSEUDO-CAMPAIGN?
HNH has no democratic structures whatsoever, and the mugs who give them money, even assuming the incessant online polls aren’t rigged, are ignored anyway. This 'consultation' was meaningless like other fund-raising gimmicks that HNH presents as such. Firstly, the question asked was skewed: with only two options, counterposing “campainging” (i.e. something active even if mis-spelt) to the negative phrase “just ignore them”. There is no option for supporting UKIP in any form, therefore from the outset anti-racist UKIP sympathisers are excluded from participating as themselves. Second, not only was the stated turnout/response pitifully low (“over 1200”) the results were discounted anyway. For “67% voted to campaign, while 33% said we should continue to ignore them”[iv], yet apparently HNH are not going to campaign against UKIP, because, according to Lowles, “within the attached comments the position was much more nuanced”, consequently “because of the nuanced comments you made, I don’t believe there is a clear mandate to run a national campaign against UKIP. However we will monitor them more closely”. Yet 67% is a clearer mandate than any elected UK government has received this century, or last! If Lowles had objected on the basis of turnout, fair enough, but this arrogant twerp is objecting ostensibly because of ‘nuances’, thereby discounting the very views he pretended to canvas. Such disdain for the punters is, as we have shown in NFB 10 (p.64) integral to the HNH model of pseudo-participation. Supporters don’t control policy, rather they are the object of endless marketing/fund-raising campaigns dressed up as participation: clicktivism.
(3) FALSIFYING HISTORY: UKIP AS PORTRAYED BY HNH
To encourage supporters to see things their way, HNH got erstwhile photographer Joe Mulhall to cobble together a distorted account, verging on the libellous[v]. He refers to leader Nigel Farage MEP having “admitted meeting Dr Mark Deavin (the BNP’s then head of research who had briefly infiltrated UKIP…at the latter’s request, to discuss his defection from UKIP to the BNP”. Inasmuch as Deavin is described as infiltrator, not ‘defector’, Mulhall seems to imply the defection of Farage himself to the BNP was on the menu: or else he (Mulhall) is an illiterate idiot, the charitable view. Wonder what Nigel makes of this? Equally dishonest, UKIP founder Alan Sked (the real subject of the Farage/Deavin meeting) is given an easy ride, described as “alluding to the damaging revelation that a…close ally of his Mark Deavin, was actually a BNP infiltrator”. This is not the half of it. Firstly, it was Sked himself who introduced Deavin to the higher ranks of UKIP, without him even being a member. Secondly, the whole murky business of Deavin’s involvement in UKIP, and the subsequent Cook Report documentary on the BNP/UKIP was one in which Searchlight themselves were intimately involved from start to finish. While HNH have now split from Searchlight (in a deeply acrimonious dispute fully chronicled in NFB 10) they share both a common past and approach. As argued in detail in NFB 4 (p.18-23), the Deavin affair, and the attempt to set up Nigel Farage by photographing him with both Deavin and Tony Lecomber of the BNP was orchestrated not so much by the BNP (as some believe)[vi] but by Searchlight (who Lowles worked for) themselves. Deavin was in UKIP’s orbit before he was involved with the BNP, for instance. Other fascists Mulhall mentions with past UKIP involvement have a more interesting past than he discloses, such as Trevor Agnew and Matt Single, both featured in NFB as acting in a way entirely consistent with them being in the orbit of both Special Branch and Searchlight[vii]. Is this the standard of research you get for one day a week’s work? Even if it is, Lowles knows Mulhall’s account is poor fiction, yet evidently approves it being on the site.
Aside from rewriting the past, HNH consciously misrepresent the views of UKIP supporters, by exaggerating differences between them and other voters. To that end, research by Rob Ford of Manchester University is cited, along with that of Matthew Goodwin, to show how extreme/racist/supportive of violence UKIP supporters are. These self-styled and lavishly-funded ‘anti-extremism’ experts we will deal with another time, suffice to say racist attitudes are very common in society at large—in 2010 the Citizenship Survey found that of 16,200 adults 76% wanted a reduction in immigration[viii]. An even larger YouGov poll for Channel 4 of 32,000 voters in May-June 2009 found that while 76% of UKIP voters saw immigration and asylum as one of the top 3-4 political issues, 58% of Tory voters and 46% of Labour’s wanted a halt to immigration[ix]. The real problem with racism therefore, is much broader than UKIP (or the BNP) and to single out UKIP supporters is misleading, intentionally so. No more so than when castigating UKIP supporters for being “hostile to multiculturalism more generally”[x]. In a March 2011 Searchlight magazine editorial, Lowles wrote of a David Cameron speech criticising multiculturalism, “by demanding integration, an end to state multiculturalism and an acceptance of a core liberal belief system Cameron is not playing to the far-right gallery, as some have argued, but creating a firewall between the mainstream middle and those totally opposed to immigration”. Thus, UKIP are not allowed to criticise multiculturalism, but Tories are. Furthermore, Lowles and co-author Carl Morphett (for some silly reason persisting with the pseudonym Simon Cressy) wrote that “while UKIP is not a far right or fascist party many of its members and supporters hold views little different from those held by the BNP”[xi].
(4) HNH’s REAL MOTIVES
Anybody who thinks Lowles an honest broker regarding UKIP clearly does not know his political past regarding Europe. In 1996 he wrote an infamous document (while working for Searchlight) offering to provide pro-EU propaganda for the European Movement in the struggle against anti-EU forces. The proposal (which was taken up and is reproduced in NFB issue 5 p.54-55) ends by saying
“this research will be a unique insight into the anti-European network in Britain. Utilising sources inside these organisations, the European Movement will be furnished with information not otherwise easily accessible. The report and the drip flow of information will provide your organisation with invaluable ammunition to add to your cause”.
Note the charming phrase ‘drip-feed’. How can anybody think that a venal pro-EU disinformation-peddler like this should be listened to by anybody genuinely concerned about opposing the EU in an anti-racist way?
In case it be argued, utterly implausibly, that Lowles has changed his pro-EU spots, consider two further things. First, the clique of which he is a part now running Hope Not Hate is largely composed of the pro-EU hard right Labour faction ‘Progress’ (see NFB 10 p.59-60/75), chief among whose patrons is the oleaginous pro-EU Peter Mandelson. It gets even worse. In both February 2012 and (we understand) in February 2013 (see NFB 10 p.61-62), HNH have been in receipt of substantial funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government, brokered by DCLG ‘Integration Division’ boss Andrew Jordan, and HNH speakers are frequent participants at DCLG-sponsored seminars, along with Matthew Goodwin and various spooks. In this respect, whereas originally funding was forthcoming to counter the EDL, it now seems legitimate to argue that here we have government funded HNH turning its sights on a political party, UKIP, that is a major problem for their Tory paymasters. That cannot be right, and is surely questionable legally.
(5) WHAT NEXT?
Hopefully, readers will now understand just why NFB regards HNH’s stance on UKIP with wry amusement, especially this announcement: “following the launch of our consultation last week we have been invited to meet the leadership of UKIP. We immediately agreed and while we are keen to hear what they have to say we will also be outlining our position and the red lines between what we consider to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviour”[xii]. Just why would anybody of good faith listen to what the likes of Lowles, known Europhiliac and DCLG hireling, might have to say by way of ‘advice’ to the anti-EU movement generally/UKIP in particular? Rather we suggest:
UKIP itself acts against racists in the ranks and expels them.
No meeting with HNH, and especially no handing over of membership lists, as Sked did in the past[xiii]
Those on the Left/Greens abandon their shameful acquiescence (by & large) in the racket that is the EU, thereby shifting the anti-EU debate Leftwards and linking it to a transformative political strategy. Unless and until the Left deals with Elephant in the room that is the EU, they will (rightly) remain marginal.
Urgent Freedom of Information Act requests concerning ongoing HNH funding by DCLG and other government departments, as a prelude to legal action to ensure this is not used for tawdry (pro-coalition) political purposes. Opponents should not baulk at taking legal action against HNH: they don’t ‘do’ genuine debate. For example, in the dispute with Searchlight they have threatened legal action/called in lawyers on no less than six occasions (NFB 10 p.73 has details) rather than have genuine public debate over differences. What is really at stake is taxpayers money being used for proxy campaigning on behalf of the coalition.
Further examination of the way political discourse is being polluted by anti-extremism discourse, as bought into by the DCLG/HNH/the Home Office/spooks and various intellectual prostitutes posturing as academics like Ford and Goodwin
If there is to be a meeting between Lowles and others in the HNH orbit with anti-EU forces, a clear red line should be drawn, preferably at the top of some stairs, and the whole rotten lot booted out over it into the gutter where they belong.
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[i] ‘UKIP: We want your views’ 14/3/13, see also HNH magazine issue 7 p.3 Editorial
[iii] Quoted in Searchlight Information Services Press Release ‘UKIP Lurches Right’ 22/5/01
[iv] ‘Hope Not Hate takes a position on UKIP’ 18/3/13
[v] ‘UKIP A Brief History’ hopenothate.org 13/3/13
[vi] Mark Daniel ‘Cranks and Gadflies: The Story of UKIP’ (2005) p.48
[vii] On Agnew see NFB issue 4 p.19-20/NFB 5 p.62, on Single see NFB 9 p.46/49
[viii] Published on communities.gov.uk 14/4/11
[ix] ‘Who Voted BNP & Why’ www.yougov.com 8/6/09
[x] ‘Hope Not Hate Takes a position on UKIP’ 18/3/13 hopenothate.org.uk
[xi] Hope Not Hate magazine 7 March-April 2013 p.13
[xii] ‘Hope Not Hate takes a position on UKIP’ 18/3/13 (Lowles)
[xiii] Publicly referred to in ‘Cranks & Gadflies’ (p.174), though we know this to be true from another source