Sunday, 30 June 2013

EDL arrests, Purcell/Purssell and the Palestinian bulldozer death of Rachel Corrie in 2003

Richard Purssell - from the 2009
Guardian article
After the fairly pointless assault on Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and Kevin Carroll during the pair's tawdry publicity stunt yesterday, there is speculation across many blogs and on several far right website as to the identity of the assailants.  Several websites name one of the assailants as Richard Purcell (sic), who runs a left wing collective social club - the Cowley Club - in Brighton.

If it was Mr Purcell - which is properly spelled  Purssell - then his history is interesting, although having seen the limited photographic evidence, we remain unconvinced that they are the same people, and the police do not appear to have released their names.

Allegedly Richard Purssell - from the
Brighton anti fascist march in April
Still, if it is him, he does have some previous. Speaking in a Guardian article in 2009 he complains of
police surveillance and speaks of his attendance at the DSEI arms fair in 2005 where he was allegedly followed and harassed by police. The article features a picture of Purssell which is reproduced here.

The Casuals United blog - something which should be read with gritted teeth and which makes you want to donate a spell check program - features a picture which matches the image in the Guardian article, but which they state was taken during an anti-fascist demo in Brighton in April. 

The assailant from yesterdays fiasco
Are these two pictures the same person as the one caught on video attacking Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon and Carroll yesterday? You decide. There is certainly a superficial resemblance.

If it is - and others will have to decide - then he has an interesting history. The Guardian article linked above lists his occupation as 'landscape gardener', while the spelling of his surname is unusual, and explains the mis-spellings on several far right websites.

The only other Richard Purssell who has appeared in the news in recent years was also a landscape gardener from Brighton. This Richard Purssell was in Gaza, Israel and was present at the death of British activist Rachel Corrie when she was run over by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier. Both Corrie and Purssell were members of the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM has been accused of having close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and have been accused of deliberately sacrificing the lives of young western activists in order to gain press coverage for their cause. According to another Guardian article:

"Purssell, a Briton, now working as a landscape gardener, said he volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to witness events in the occupied Palestinian territories for himself. In Rafah he had been hoping to prevent the Israeli military from demolishing Palestinian homes. The organisation was strictly non violent, he said. "Our role was to support Palestinian non-violent resistance.""

Is this the same man - this time at the
UKIP Hove meeting?
In the documentation surrounding several of the legal actions to which this incident gave rise, Purssell is described as being from Brighton. What is the significance of this? There isn't any really, other than a wider understanding of who the people involved in the UAF and their allies are. There is also the possibility that Purssell was present at the demonstration outside a recent UKIP meeting in Hove, where self-proclaimed anti-fascists heckled blood donors, mistaking them for attendees at the UKIP meeting. Once again, the available images are not clear, and you must decide for yourselves.

None of this indicates support for either side - the EDL, Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon, Carroll, UAF, the International Solidarity Movement or Purssell. Our view on yesterdays events have always been clear - the EDLs efforts were a tawdry attempt to hijack publicity on Armed Forces Day, while the anti-fascists opposing them were no better than the thugs they claimed to be protesting against and helped the EDL gain unwarranted publicity, particularly through the actions of Purssell and his as yet un-named colleague. 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Political Correctness before Patient Safety, say Hope not Hate

A busy day for Hope not Hate as apart from doing their best to cause maximum violence between EDL and UAF supporters they also took the time to attack UKIPs Nigel Farage for suggesting some foreign doctors weren't up to scratch in an article posted by 'Jack Blanchard' on Nick Lowles personal blog.

Hope not Hate seem remarkably keen to put political correctness ahead of the facts. According to a Daily Telegraph article from December last year, Freedom of Information Act requests have shown that over 60% of the doctors struck off by the GMC in the past five years were trained abroad. Their report also showed:
  • 3/4 of doctors struck off in the past year were trained abroad
  • Doctors trained overseas are five times more likely to be struck off than those trained in the UK
  • 669 doctors were struck off or suspended in the past 5 years. Of those, 420 (63%) were trained abroad
The situation appears to be getting worse. In 2009, 41 out of 67 doctors struck off were trained overseas (61%), while by last year 29 out of 39 struck off were trained overseas (75%).

Hope not Hate undoubtedly think that anything which mentions the word 'foreign' in a negative sense is bad, but the consequence of their absurd, unthinking political correctness could well put the lives of British NHS patients at risk.

We would recommend that before putting their mouths in gear, Hope not Hate engage their brain and do some basic research. Thankfully they are not the government, or they would be explaining why their knee-jerk reaction without bothering to check facts could lead to situations such as those listed at the bottom of this article. We've never heard of anybody dying from Political Correctness, but if Hope not Hate had their way, it could soon feature amongst the leading causes of death in the UK.

Dr Vladan Visnjevac, 59
Bosnia and Hercegovina
Obstetrics registrar at St Peter’s Hospital, in Chertsey, Surrey
Struck off in April 2008 after using three times the proper force on forceps to deliver a baby in 2002. The girl died of a fractured skull and brain injuries.

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, 55
Consultant paediatrician at St Ann’s Hospital, in Haringey, north London
Granted 'voluntary erasure’ from the medical register on health grounds in February 2011 after failing to diagnose the broken back of Peter Connelly – the 17-month-old, known as Baby P, who died as a result of abuse. It meant she avoided a misconduct hearing.

Dr Navin Shankar, 62
GP at Wigmore Lane Health Centre in Luton, Beds
Relinquished his registration with the GMC in February 2011 after failing to diagnose “persistent” cancer symptoms in a young woman over a six-year period. The woman died aged 26 in August 2007.

Dr Benjamin Obukofe, 44
Doctor at Spire Leicester Hospital, a private hospital in Leicestershire
Suspended by the GMC in September this year after being found guilty by a court of sexually assaulting two colleagues at the hospital. Given a suspended prison sentence and put on the sex offenders register for seven years.

Dr Oluwaseyi Farombi, 43
Mental health doctor across the South East
Struck off in January this year after the GMC discovered he was a criminal with a record of deceit that spanned more than a decade. He has been on the run from police for three and a half years after failing to show up at his trial for fraud in 2009.

Only one surprise in an entirely predictable day

There has been an air of predictability about today.

EDL leaders Kevin Carroll and Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon were arrested for attempting to deviate from the route set by the police for their 'charity walk'. This was after a pair of UAF activists assaulted Carroll - there is no indication as to whether the UAF pair were also arrested. Carroll and Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon both protested their innocence despite having set out to be arrested in the first place. They then bizarrely claimed that the police were enforcing 'Sharia law'.

Elsewhere, EDL activists laid a wreath at the place where Lee Rigby was murdered before predictably decamping to the local pub.

While all this was happening, Hope not Hate kept up a running commentary. Not just any old running commentary, but one designed to lead UAF activists directly to the EDL, as can be seen from the following messages from their Facebook feed.

Predictably, the whole thing has been a farce. The EDL's poorly organised attempt to hijack Armed Forces Day has distracted attention from what should be a day celebrating the military. The presence of UAF, and their assault on Carroll and Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon served to give their attempts publicity it didn't deserve. Between the two organisations, they managed to tie up a huge number of police resources to achieve precisely nothing.

Meanwhile, Hope not Hate were busy stirring the pot for all they were worth, with such detailed information - which added nothing to the news value of what they were supposed to be 'reporting' - clearly designed to lead to a violent confrontation.

The saddest thing about it all is that we are sure all three organisations are sat back feeling quite proud of what they have 'achieved' today.

Possibly the only unexpected thing to happen today came from a Hope not Hate posting in the
discussion following the last screen capture above. It would appear that Hope not Hate are just as much in favour of bombing Muslims in the Middle East as sections of the EDL are of beating them up in the UK. We are informed that Matthew Collins - the ex far right thug now employed by HnH - was in charge of their Facebook postings today. Perhaps old habits die hard?


Friday, 28 June 2013

Will anyone remember the Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day?

Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day. Our focus as a nation should be on the armed forces, and particularly on recent events in Woolwich.

Instead, we have an EDL march which couldn't have descended further into farce if it had been organised by a bunch of 5 year olds. We have UAF on the prowl with counter demonstrations, and their activists in SE London sending e-mails about organised fights. We have Hope not Hate stirring the pot while using Lee Rigby's name to raise funds for what is essentially a private company owned by Nick Lowles. We have speakers denied entry to the UK, charities refusing donations, instructions to anti-fascists about face masks and HnH gloating over it all. It's shaping up nicely to be a day of civil unrest.

Was it too much to hope that the focus could be on the Armed Forces for Armed Forces Day?

UKIP by-election results - which ones will HnH's 'Purple Rain' magnifying glass focus on?

UKIP lost the Stourport on Severn seat, although the vote share held up
well given the circumstances of the by-election
With a handful of local election results from last night, it is not going to be difficult to guess which one Hope not Hate's faulty magnifying glass will settle on. We are sure that their 'Purple Rain' campaign will focus on one in particular - UKIPs loss of the Stourport on Severn seat on Worcestershire County Council. This was the seat vacated almost immediately after he was elected following the disclosure that he had posted racist material on his Facebook feed. While we are sure that HnH will be calling this a huge triumph, the result - although a loss - was not too bad: the UKIP vote share decreased by only 1.5%, while it is clear that the 'Health Concern' candidate won due to tactical voting by former Labour supporters.

In the Primrose ward on South Tyneside MBC, UKIP took a huge chunk of
the Labour vote
Elsewhere, we are willing to bet that Hope not Hate will not bother to mention other results. There were two by-elections on South Tyneside MBC. In the Primrose ward - which UKIP had never contested previously - UKIP came second with over 34%, while Labour held the seat, but with their
The Cleadon & East Boldon result
vote down 25%. The other South Tyneside ward - Cleadon & East Boldon - was a Labour gain from Conservative, but UKIP polled over 26%, in this instance eating into the Tory vote by almost 20% and Labours vote by over 7%. The Primrose ward may get a slight mention by HnH as the BNP vote dropped by 3.6%.

The Ketton ward result from Rutland County Council
On Rutland County Council, UKIP contested the Ketton ward for the first time - previously it had returned 2 Conservative councillors unopposed. The Conservatives held the seat, but UKIP polled a respectable 17.5% in a first run at the seat.

UKIPs vote increased in Plymouth Southway as they overtook Labour
In a by-election for the Southway ward on Plymouth City Council, UKIP overtook the Conservatives
to come second behind Labour, who held the seat although with a much reduced majority. In the face of a strong challenge from an independent candidate UKIPs vote still increased by almost 5% over last years result.

Fighting Dartford Newtown for the first time since 2007, UKIP polled almost
a quarter of the votes
In Dartford, UKIP contested the Newtown ward on Dartford Borough Council. Fighting the ward for the first time since 2007, UKIP polled 22.7% as Labour gained the seat from the Conservatives.

In the final result from last night which included UKIP candidates, UKIP nearly doubled its vote
The Billericay East result, including the 3 votes gained by the NF
compared to last year to take just short of 30% of the vote in the Billericay East ward of Basildon District Council. Drawing support almost equally from Lib/Lab/Con voters, what is memorable is not UKIPs continued advance but the 3 votes - yes, 3 - gained by the National Front. This is the only other result which Hope not Hate are likely to feature as they mock the fact that as many people voted NF as turned up for HnH's 'Stand up for HOPE' meeting in Hackney.

Congratulations to all the UKIP candidates around the country who put themselves forwards - Terry Gandy, Ivan Burch, Peter Berrow, Liam Powell, Colin Campbell, John Clarke and John Holden. You can all be proud of your results, and we thank you for your efforts!

Graphics from English Elections

Thursday, 27 June 2013

With 7 Oxford men sentenced for grooming, why is HnH silent on Imam Karmani's initiative?

News broke today of the sentencing of 7 men in Oxford for a string of sex offences against young girls. Now, I may just be scaremongering, but something about their names - Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Kamar Jamil, Assad Hussain, Mohammed Karrar, Bassam Karrar and Zeeshan Ahmed - suggests that these men may have something in common beyond living in the Oxford area.

I don't intend to spend hours examining links between grooming gangs and Islam - it is sufficient to
Imam Alyas Karmani - his initiative
to tackle sexual grooming through an
Islamic 'Khutba' to be read in mosques
is being ignored by HnH
say that there is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that this is an increasing problem, particularly with men from the Indian sub-continent. Whether there is a direct connection to Islam or whether their religion is incidental makes little difference to the victims.

As I have blogged previously, there is action being taken within the Islamic community to combat such crimes. Imam Alyas Karmani in Bradford has prepared a Khutba to be read in mosques during Friday prayers tomorrow. In it, he sets out beyond any doubt how such crimes are against the true teachings of Islam, and he aims to have it read in 500 mosques around the UK.

The Imam is also a Respect Party councillor in Bradford. Regardless of personal feelings or political preferences, this is an initiative which deserves respect, as Karmani - like many within the British Muslim community - recognise that it is their community which has the best chance of tackling such issues successfully, and I have said before that I feel he should be applauded for taking a stand which will not be universally popular.

What is particularly surprising then is the continued silence of Hope not Hate, both on the issue of grooming, and on Imam Karmani's initiative.

It seems to me that this represents little more than a betrayal of everything they are supposed to stand for. Sections of the far-right are already near-hysterical, painting all Muslims with the same brush and undoubtedly using the recent spate of convictions of groups of Islamic men as a powerful recruiting tool. Hope not Hate have the opportunity to use their e-mail database - the largest in the country, if their own words are to be believed - to spread far and wide information on Karmani's initiative, and to show that the actions of these men are not representative of the wider Muslim community.

Instead, we have a self-imposed silence on the whole issue.

I do not know whether this is because Imam Karmani is a Respect Party councillor in an area where Respect are making huge inroads in the Labour vote, or whether it is because by admitting that a problem such as this may exist, Hope not Hate will find themselves saying some of the things that those they condemn also say.

Whatever the reason, it is a further demonstration that there is much more Hate than Hope going on in their organisation. If it can not use its influence to promote an initiative which will blunt the advance of the far right, then we have to ask once again what is Hope not Hate for?

Democratic engagement vs Encouraging censorship: what a meeting with no empty chairs looks like, Nick!

Hope not Hate continue to post articles poking fun at the low attendance at assorted rallies and meetings which they deem to be 'far right'. Some of them even are. Low attendances are not a problem for UKIP though, so instead they send along their UAF bully boys, even though officially both HnH and UAF have declared UKIP to be non-racist and non-fascist.

Several rows of empty chairs turned up to hear Nick Lowles
speak in Basildon. They were devastated when he ran away
rather than face democratic argument.
Meanwhile, Hope not Hate's own meetings continue to go from strength to strength. After kicking off with attendances of 5 (Warrington), 20 in Shrewsbury and 70 in Leicester (from a population of almost half a million), the meeting in Basildon was cancelled after the organisers ran away. This was followed by attendances of 9 in Harrow, and then the meeting in Woolwich - the events there being what they are trying to cash in on - was cancelled, apparently through lack of interest. We now hear from another source - although it is unconfirmed - that other Hope not Hate meetings in Ipswich and Hackney drew record attendances of 7 and 3 respectively. No news has reached us yet regarding their meeting in Wimbledon earlier this week, but we can be sure that had there been a decent turnout, it would have been all over their website by now.

Now, we understand how depressing it must be for poor old Nick Lowles to spend hours addressing row upon row of empty chairs. One of the problems is that at a public meeting, people will disagree with the speaker: Nick has attempted to overcome this by holding secret public meetings, with the venues publicised only at the very last minute. And who said there was nothing he could learn from the BNP?

Here at Nope, not Hope, we are concerned that Nick might forget what a roomful of people looks like and so as a public service, we have attached below the video of UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall addressing the Stourbridge branch of UKIP a couple of nights ago. Not only did people buy their own meals, but at the end of the evening, the collection raised more than the scrapings of peoples Giros and some shirt buttons. This is what happens when like UKIP you engage in the democratic process and rely on the power of your ideas rather than encouraging the censorship of the state, Nick.

Islamic Emergency Defence slips beneath Hope not Hate's radar

While Hope not Hate were running their campaign to ban Pam Geller and Robert Spencer from the UK, their old friend Anjem Choudhary - whose Al Muhajiroun group was supposed to be one of the hate groups they opposed - was launching a fresh group to circumvent government controls.

As reported in 'The Sun', Choudhary's new group - which he was pushing through his Twitter feed
Choudhary's Twitter feed, showing his support for
'Islamic Emergency Defence' (IED)
(pictured) - aims to set up 'task forces' and mete out 'instant justice'. Choudhary admits to having an 'advisory role' with the group, but does not run it.

The selection of the name Islamic Emergency Defence and its initials IED were, according to a spokesman, 'completely coincidental' to any similarity with the initials for Improvised Explosive Device.

Over on Hope not Hate's website, Director Nick Lowles wrote only a week ago that "While many people look just at the extremism on the right wing, it is important to also monitor those who deliberately stoke sectarian tensions within the Muslim communities too."

It may be that Lowles and his colleagues simply missed the story: they are after all nice, middle class kids who probably don't read the 'Sun', which is reserved for the working class in their view. Far better to read the 'Guardian'. Even so, as Al Muhajiroun is one of the groups they supposedly monitor, it is not unreasonable to expect them to have spotted it. Perhaps they could launch a front page campaign demanding that the Home Secretary ban the group, similar to the campaign they launched against Geller and Spencer?

That won't happen, of course. There are few Labour votes to be gained in opposing Islamic extremism with the same fervour they apply to opposing right-wing extremism whatever Lowles may state publicly. Of 51 news links on their websites news feed, only one deals with Islamic extremism. Of 15 front page stories on 'Nick's Blog', only one deals with Islamic extremism - regarding Mohammed al Arefe, while of 28 posts on the 'Insider' blog, none deal with Islamic extremism.

Elsewhere, on our Facebook page this morning we posted of an initiative in Bristol - an inter-faith prayer group dedicated to the memory of Lee Rigby - which was held in a mosque, and which was organised by a Muslim woman.

It seems to us that as every day goes by Hope not Hate is more about Hate and less about Hope. Where was their mention of the Bristol event as a symbol of hope? Where are the mentions of Imam Alvas Karmani's initiative against sexual grooming in Bradford? Where is their condemnation of Choudhary's latest group of extremists?

Nick Lowles, Ruth Smeeth and their colleagues at Hope not Hate should hang their heads in shame. Their hypocrisy is not advancing Hope, it is only interested in their own Hate and advancing the Labour vote for their own political and financial gain.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Geller & Spencer banned - al-Arefe & al-Habib are fine by HnH though

In what Hope not Hate will undoubtedly see as a victory, news reaches us this afternoon that Home Secretary Theresa May has banned US anti-Islamic campaigners Pam Geller and Robert Spencer from entering the UK - read more >here< - on the grounds that their presence is not conducive to the public good.

On the whole this is consistent with government policy, and the list of people banned on the same grounds includes significant numbers of what might be broadly termed 'Islamic hate preachers'. We disagree with the notion of banning people because they express views which are not widely shared, but that is not really the point of this article.

More interesting is the response to Hope not Hate's triumphalism on their Facebook page. While Lowles and Co celebrate the halting of free speech by foreigners - it's not as if there aren't already a multitude of people in the UK who express the same views - the views of those commenting are far from wholly supportive. Several comments regarding censorship have been removed from the comment string, but as Hope not Hate feel that too much democracy is not a good thing, this is not surprising.

For all the 'hurrah's on their post, they still resolutely refuse to address one burning issue: how can they justify running a campaign against the two Americans, while failing to address the issue of Mohammed al-Arefe or Yasser al-Habib mentioned earlier today? Their views are just as reprehensible in a democracy, so where is the petition campaign? Or would that be just too much democracy?

Al-Arefe & al-Habib vs Geller & Spencer: more Hope not Hate hypocrisy

Hope not Hate are currently running a campaign to deny entry to the UK to a pair of anti-Islam activists from the US, and are urging their supporters to write to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding that the couple - Pam Geller and Robert Spencer - be denied a visa.
Pam Geller and Robert Spencer:
HnH seek to deny them a visa

In addition to this front page campaign, there are 7 postings outlining the words and deeds of the pair, and all demanding that they not be permitted to enter the UK, allegedly to address an EDL rally.

Meanwhile, on the 20th June, HnH featured a single paragraph article on Saudi preacher Mohammed Al Arefe. The article, posted by Nick Lowles, paraphrases an Huffington Post article on Al Arefe described by Lowles as 'a really good piece'. Al Arefe's arrival in the UK follows that of another Islamic militant, Sheikh Yasser al-Habib, who was imprisoned in 2003 for inciting sectarianism. Al Habib has not even been mentioned by Hope not Hate.

We make no defence of Geller and Spencer: their views seem to us to be inflammatory and alarmist, sprinkled with absurd conspiracy theories and based on the worst possible misreading of Islam. They are true right wing nutcases in the American style. However, Al-Arefe and Al-Habib are simply the other side of the coin, doing their best to spread the worst of Islam, bringing sectarian strife wherever they appear and trying hard to fit the stereotype that Geller and Spencer seek to create.

Mohammed Al-Arefe - seeks to stir
up sectarian strife but HnH don't care
Our interest is solely this. Why do Geller & Spencer warrant a front page banner campaign and 7 news articles rehashing their past statements and actions and launching a petition to deny them visas to enter the UK, while Al-Habib doesn't feature at all, and Al-Arefe gets a single paragraph?

It seems to us that we either have freedom of speech in this country or we don't. If we do, then the answer to all of these visits is to take on what they say not by the use of violence and the UAF - which appears to be HnH's answer to most things - but by logical argument and reasoned thought. If - as Hope not Hate clearly wish - we do not, then the answer is to deny entry visas to all of these people on the grounds that they are divisive and not conducive to the public good.

Sheikh Yasser al-Habib - imprisoned
for stirring up sectarian strife, but no trouble for
Hope not Hate
What is truly hypocritical is to go after Geller & Spencer with a full-blown campaign, while ignoring Al-Habib and barely mentioning Al-Arefe - a man who even Lowles concedes as one whose presence will "negatively impact the peaceful co-existance (sic) amongst the Muslim community".

At least the Huffington post attempted to answer this conundrum, quoting Labour MP Khalid These preachers are purely here to promote themselves and create divisions where none need to exist. Neither Al Arefe or Al Habib should be allowed to do this, and the Home Office must take action on this issue. This is just another branch of hatred."

Why then does Hope not Hate stick to such a hypocritical line? We can only assume that their opposition to certain types of hate is superficial at best: while Geller and Spencer's approach is decidedly right wing Republican and opposed to the Democrats and therefore Labour, Al Arefe and Al Habib's visits are likely to have no political dimension which is electorally significant. Is there a better indication that Hope not Hate are betraying the very principles they are supposed to uphold?

Lowles in his brief article on al-Arefe says, "While many people look just at the extremism on the right wing, it is important to also monitor those who deliberately stoke sectarian tensions within the Muslim communities too". Let's just not look too hard, eh, Nick? After all, Labour votes and your position are at stake.

HnH triumphalism over failed far right meetings hides failure of 'Stand up for HOPE' tour

There was much triumphalism (although now rather toned down) on the Hope not Hate website over the 'Brighton & Hove Strong' march on Saturday. Despite being advertised to hundreds of followers, only 6 people turned up: 5 children and an old man. None had any connection to the far right or the EDL, prompting much disappointment amongst Brighton Anti Fascists and Hope not Hate supporters who were looking forward to a fight. Even they drew the line at attacking such a small gathering.

What started out as a long article full of mockery on HnH seems overnight to have shrunk to a mere paragraph mention linked to the local newspaper, the Brighton Argus.

Empty chairs at the HnH
Basildon meeting which
descended into farce.

Those with memories longer than the average goldfish might recall the wildly successful Hope not Hate meetings in Warrington (attendance 5), Basildon (attendance 6, organisers scarpered in fear despite a police presence and no danger) and Harrow (attendance 9). Meanwhile, last nights meeting in Woolwich appears to have been cancelled due to overwhelming public apathy after details disappeared without explanation from the HnH website, although tonight's anti-UKIP meeting in Wimbledon seems to still be on.

Readers may recall that originally HnHs events were billed as public meetings, although now due to low attendance and the fear that members of the public may actually attend the venues are now concealed to enable organisers to hand pick their audience.

Elsewhere on HnH, the 'Insider' blog pokes fun at a rather more obviously far-right march in Burnley where former members of the NF and BNP were among 144 people attending the 'North West Front Line Firm' march. With a population of 73,500, this represents 0.2% of the population. The article, written by former far-right thug and Hope not Hate employee Matthew Collins, neglects to mention this was rather more than the 0.04% of Shrewsbury's population or 0.01% of Leicester's population which bothered to turn out for HnH meetings there within the past few weeks.

What these low attendances on both sides show is that HnH is facing a real problem. Apart from their own failure to draw people to public meetings, what they class as the far right is also struggling. Where a few years ago EDL inspired marches would draw thousands, they now struggle to draw hundreds. It is the marked decline in the far-right which keeps HnH director Nick Lowles awake at nights - he needs them to keep the money flowing in, and if the far right have disappeared, what is the point of his organisation?

This of course explains his shift towards attacking UKIP, a party which he and other anti-racists and anti-fascists have previously declared non-racist and non-fascist. As UKIP begin to eat heavily into the Labour vote - as can be seen by various by-elections in the Labour heartlands recently - Lowles and his colleagues in the Labour dominated executive have seen a means of continuing an organisation which has largely outlived its original purpose: holding back the purple tide in formerly Labour red areas.

Ruth Smeeth - HnH
general secretary and
failed Labour candidate
At stake is not just his job, but the influence and power which go with being the sole shareholder of an organisation which turns over around £1m per year. That Hope not Hate has proved a failure since Lowles wrested control from the Gables and Searchlight is immaterial: the far right has been defeated not by HnH, but by the rise of UKIP with its moderate, small 'n' nationalism and libertarian stance. All of this has left Lowles and his organisation looking for a purpose, and the rise of UKIP appears to have provided it with one. With an executive dominated by people from the Labour Party, the trades unions, or both, UKIP provides a natural target - all that is required are some minor tweaks to HnH's standard operating procedures, and a focus on the small number of UKIP personnel who say stupid or racist things while ignoring any from Labour, Lib Dems or the Tories who do the same.

But this is a plan which is not going smoothly. Beyond Lowles and HnH general secretary, the perpetually second placed Labour candidate Ruth Smeeth, HnH's activist base remains unconvinced, and this is reflected in the poor attendance at HnH's meetings which are designed to whip the masses into an anti-UKIP fervour. Activists are staying away in their droves, a reflection that they simply do not believe that a party which polled 24% in recent local elections is what the HnH leadership now claim as they attempt to save their positions.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Yet another UKIP advance missed by Hope not Hate's defective 'Purple Rain' magnifying glass

Yesterday saw a by election in the Weaste and Seedley ward of Salford council. Hope not Hate posted a Facebook comment on the election in the small hours of this morning - wrongly labelling the TUSC candidate as an independent to save their blushes - but here are the full details of the result.

Normally, they'd be crowing over a halving of the BNP vote but they're desperate not to highlight the extent to which Labours support is leaking to UKIP, who gained over 22% despite not having stood in the ward previously. All of the UKIP support came from Labour and the Lib Dems as can be seen from the results:

The previous results were:
Congratulations to UKIP candidate Glyn Wright for a job well done.
Elsewhere in the UK, congratulations to Otto Inglis in the Aberdeen Donside by-election where despite intimidation by Hope not Hate's bully boy friends in the Anti-Fascist Alliance and UAF, he came close to saving his deposit, and finished just behind the Conservative Party with 4.83% of the vote.
Very well done also to Vince Peddle, the UKIP candidate in the Bletchley and Fenny Stratford by election yesterday, where he came second to Labour with 25.2%, a swing of over 5% Labour to UKIP while the Conservative vote dropped by over 12%.

HnH website data collection breaches European Data Protection Directive

Troubles continue to beset Hope not Hate Ltd as it was revealed that the Hope not Hate website is in
breach of the European Data Protection Directive, which requires users to give 'informed consent' before tracking cookies are installed by a website on their computer.

Its not these cookies we should worry
about. Have HnH been illegally
harvesting personal data?
The legislation, which was introduced to counter fears over the security of personal data and the danger to privacy, requires websites to seek consent before 'cookies' are stored on users computers. Regular internet users will be aware that since last summer, reputable websites have included a privacy disclaimer warning that cookies will be used and stating what use will be made of the data collected.

Hope not Hate's website contains no statement regarding data security on the use of cookies, although visitors to the site who check their computers afterwards will discover a number of cookies have been installed.

In the worst cases, cookies can be used to harvest sensitive personal data and to keep track of web browsing history. We call on Hope not Hate and their expensive (£5600/month) US based internet consultants at Blue State Digital to do two things.

The first is to ensure that their website complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the European Data Protection Directive - we don't agree with the latter, but it is the law, and HnH have to abide by it the same as everybody else.

The second is to disclose exactly what sort of data they have been harvesting from visitors to their internet site. Nick Lowles should give a categorical statement about why they have been breaking the law, what personal information they have gathered if any, and how it has been used.

A statement of data handling and cookie policy is normal practise on the websites of most reputable organisations: will Hope not Hate join their ranks?

Anybody who thinks that Lowles is unlikely to obey they law and make a public disclosure can complain to their local police force, or to the Data Protection Commissioner.

Want to know why you've got a BNP MEP? Thank Nick Lowles.

Michael McManus -
But for Hope not Hate, he
would be the NWs 2nd UKIP
MEP, and the BNP would not
have gained a seat.
Michael McManus MEP (UKIP). Not a name that's familiar to you? I thought not. That's because he didn't quite become an MEP. He was the second name on the UKIP list for the North West in 2009, and was beaten to the prize by Nick Griffin of the BNP. UKIP missed out on the second seat by fewer than 1,200 votes.

During the campaign, Hope not Hate delivered almost 4m leaflets. The vast majority were in five regions - London (300k), the East & West Midlands (150k each), Yorkshire & Humberside (880k) and the North West (1.6m). They also say "Our eve of poll email was sent out to almost 600,000 addresses, making it the largest single political email in British domestic political history".

But now look at how the BNP polled. The average BNP increase across the country was 1.3%. In the five regions targeted by Hope not Hate, only two showed increases below that average - London and the West Midlands, with increases of 0.9% and 1.1% respectively. In both of these regions, the overall HnH effort was by their own admission a small one, while London as a whole has never been particularly fertile territory for the BNP. The West Midlands, despite the below average increase still gave the BNP their 4th largest vote share - 8.6% - suggesting they were close to their vote ceiling.

In the three regions where Hope not Hate directed most of their resources, the BNP vote increased by more than the national average. These were:

Region                         Share    Increase
East Midlands              8.7%     2.1%
North West                   8%        1.6%
Yorks & Hum              9.8%      1.8%

Hope not Hate also claim that thanks to their intervention, the Labour vote held up in the regions they targeted - especially the North West. While they may claim this, it is not a claim which is borne out by the statistics. The Labour vote across the country fell by 6.9%. In the North West, the Labour vote fell by 6.9% - in other words, by exactly the national average, while the BNP vote was up on its average national increase by almost 25%.

So if Hope not Hate's claims about helping to shore up the Labour vote are not true, how about their claims to have limited the BNP's vote? Did they limit the increase in their vote? As was mentioned above, that is a claim which does not bear close scrutiny. 6 of the 10 largest increases in the BNPs share of the vote - according to HnH's figures - were in areas they targeted: Copeland (+6.7%), Knowsley (+5%), St Helens (+4.2%), Barnsley (+8.8%), Rotherham (+6.2%) and Nuneaton & Bedworth (+5.6%). 7 of the BNPs 10 highest votes by local authority area were also HnH targets - Barking & Dagenham, Stoke on Trent, Barnsley, Rotherham, Burnley, NW Leicestershire, Bolsover and Ashfield.

If this is a success, we'd love to know how they would define failure.

The reality was that, faced with a general disenchantment with politicians - particularly amongst the least well off - Hope not Hate's campaign simply made the BNP seem more like the voters. There was a lack of originality, a lack of thought and a feeling of tedious repetition about Lowles' campaign that failed to catch the imagination of anyone. For all the triumphalism of Hope not Hate, their 4 million leaflets only served to highlight in the most deprived areas of the country that while Westminster politicians were stealing £10's of thousands with impunity, their local BNP activist once stole a car 20 years ago. There was little if any attempt to take the BNP on politically in their campaign, while their commitment to a 'no platform for the BNP' policy ensured the other parties largely failed to as well. The intensity of the campaign only served to highlight to a disenchanted electorate that voting BNP was a sure way to give the political establishment a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. If the BNP vote was held back, it was done so not by Hope not Hate, but by the strong showing for UKIP, which offered a moderate alternative.

So what then did Hope not Hate really achieve? Their expensive advertising campaign failed to maintain the Labour vote - which it was so transparently designed to do - while drawing to the attention of the poorest sections of society that the BNP was a party of people more like them than anyone in the three largest parties.

The end result is a matter of historical record. BNP leader Nick Griffin took the final NW MEP seat by a mere 1200 votes from UKIPs Mick McManus, who would have made an absolutely first rate MEP for the North West. Hope not Hate's misguided, tedious and scare-mongering campaign ensured voters were landed with Nick Griffin for 5 years. 1201 fewer HnH leaflets, and UKIP would kept out the BNP. That is why you have never heard of Michael McManus.

A Farage non-story, and Nick Lowles Companies House records

Hope not Hate are today pushing the story which features on the front page of the Daily Mirror - 'Nigel Farage set up offshore fund to avoid tax' - even though few other papers take much notice of it. This is probably because although the headline is technically correct, Farage took no money from it, no longer has any interest in it, did not avoid any tax with it, and was not in any case a beneficiary as was confirmed by his accountant. It was also perfectly legal, and when it was dissolved by his brother, UK tax was paid on
Nick Lowles
Occupation - MI5 Agent!
The original document from Companies House.
the money. Rather a non-story.

What interests us is the tone of the article. Using a mistake by Companies House - they already had documentation showing Farage's shares had been transferred to the trust - they attempt to make Farage look evasive.

As we all know - particularly Nick Lowles - Companies House records are always completely accurate. This is why in the Companies House records for Hope not Hate (Services) Ltd Nick Lowles occupation is given as 'MI5 Agent'.

While Farage was perfectly happy to talk about the trust with reporters from the Daily Mirror, Lowles has remained rather more tight lipped about his alleged occupation. His allies have been busy dismissing it as a 'smear', even though - to quote his own associates over UKIP related stories - 'it can't be a smear if it is true'.

We do not believe Lowles to be an MI5 Agent. That is however what is listed as his occupation with Companies House, so we find his reliance on their records to prove debatable points rather contrived.

On the tax front, please stay tuned to find some interesting news which strikes rather closer to home for Lowles and HnH which will be coming in the next week or so!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

HnH meetings statement 'simply not true'

News reaches us that Hope not Hate have put out a statement regarding their cancelled and rescheduled meetings, including the one in Basildon which Nick Lowles scarpered from. It reads:

Nick Lowles -
HnH statement is a lie
"Some news : Hope Not Hate meetings are not being rescheduled or cancelled they are taking place at venues known to the people that actually want to participate in democratic discussion. The people like EDL/SEA/NWI etc have been given false information and sent on wild goose chases"

Once again, this is not just stretching the truth, spinning the story a bit or exaggerating the facts. It is an absolute, outright lie.

At the Basildon meeting, a handful of HnH supporters were simply abandoned when HnH called the venue shortly before the meeting was due to start and cancelled it. The police who were present - who had been called by HnH - also confirmed that that was the only meeting, and they knew of no other venue. Even the few HnH supporters there knew of no other venue, and simply went home.

The simple truth is that Lowles does not want democratic discussion. He wants his consultation exercise to deliver the verdict he has already decided on - to attack UKIP - with no dissent, and has realised the best way to achieve this is to have public meetings whose sole attendees are carefully selected representatives of the Labour Party and the large trades unions who also happen to fund his organisation.

If he wants to see how to hold a proper democratic meeting, UKIP Basildon and Thurrock have a public meeting this evening, and you can be certain that the local committee won't up and scarper if people who disagree with them turn up. They'd even welcome Mr Lowles, and give him an opportunity to have his say even if they disagreed with him. That's democracy, not his gerrymandered meetings which are designed to exclude the working class.

Hope not Hate hide meeting locations to avoid democratic debate

We notice this morning that Hope not Hate have removed location details from their meetings webpage in an attempt to ensure that they get the correct democratic response to director Nick Lowles 'consultation' meeting.

After Lowles fled from the Basildon meeting rather than engage in political debate there has been disagreement over how to deal with the threat of members of the public actually turning up at a public meeting. The answer - as with so much in Hope not Hate - has been to take a leaf out of the BNPs book and conceal the location of their public meetings, only revealing them if people actively sign up to attend.

Nick Lowles, HnH director, who fights racism
wherever he finds it except in the Labour Party
There is a certain irony in seeing Hope not Hate cower away from public debate in what is supposed to be a consultation exercise about their future stance regarding UKIP, even though that stance is already decided by Lowles, as Hope not Hate's owner. For years, Hope not Hate has actively encouraged its supporters to engage in a campaign of intimidation against political meetings of which it did not approve. Now that it finds itself the target not of a campaign of intimidation and violence, but of political engagement, it runs and hides itself away, although I suppose it is as an organisation only following the example of its leader, Mr Lowles.

Tonights meeting - despite the location being removed - is scheduled for 6:30pm at the Civic Centre in Harrow.

Former Harrow council leader
Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar, who was expelled
from the Labour Party for complaining
about institutional racism
This should be a particularly interesting meeting, as the Harrow Labour group has split over recent weeks. 9 councillors have left and established an Independent Labour Group because of what they claim is institutional racism within the Constituency Labour Party. The councillors - lead by former council leader Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar - were subsequently expelled from the Labour Party for going public with their concerns.

All of which should make for an interesting meeting, as despite being a 'Stand up for HOPE' meeting, there is little prospect of Hope not Hate dealing with the institutional racism within the local Labour Party. As we mentioned in a blog posting last week:

"One wonders whether Lowles will address the issue there in a way Hope not Hate have failed to do on their website, where mentions of Labour racism are studiously avoided. It is more likely that - should any of the independent Labour group attend - they will be asked to leave the premises if they raise their concerns and rock the Labour boat. I look forward to the irony of seeing 9 Asian independent Labour councillors being removed from a Hope not Hate meeting because they raised the issue of racism".

If you can get along to the meeting it should prove to be an entertaining spectacle as Hope not Hate brings its party political message to an area it clearly knows little about. If you do attend, as always please be calm, polite and respectful: however much we may disagree with Lowles and his shabby excuse for a consultation exercise, he has as much right to freedom of speech without fear or intimidation as anybody else does even if he tries to deny that right to others. One thing we can be sure of - the meeting in Harrow will offer a banquet of hypocrisy as they attempt to hold a public consultation meeting on what to do about UKIP while excluding the general public, and while not mentioning that the local branch of their Labour paymasters appears to be stuffed full of racists who have driven out 9 Asian councillors. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Lowles flees and abandons HnH supporters, then lies to save face

News reaches us from one of those opposed to Hope not Hate's attempt to drum up support for its attacks on UKIP that would seem to prove HnH Chief Executive Nick Lowles to be a liar.

Lowles claimed via twitter earlier today that the Basildon meeting had not been cancelled, but had in fact been moved to Thurrock. At the time, we were under the impression that no members of the general public beyond the dozen opponents had turned up at the Basildon venue.

One person who was there has stated several things of interest.

Firstly, the police who were present confirmed that they had been called by Lowles, that the meeting was there, and that they were there to 'prevent trouble'. Perhaps Lowles had expected a number of fascist thugs to turn up, possibly from UAF.
Not a distortion. Not an evasion. An outright lie.
Lowles ran away and abandoned his supporters at the Basildon venue.

Secondly, a small number of HnH supporters apparently did turn up. They were spoken to by those there to oppose Lowles absurd 'consultation', and they confirmed that as far as they knew, that was the venue. It was clear that nobody knew of any alternative venue.

Lowles and his HnH organisers of course failed to turn up, and simply abandoned his supporters and any members of the general public who were interested in what he had to say.

We hesitate to say that Lowles simply ran away but we are at a loss to guess why else he failed to turn up - with a police presence on hand, there was unlikely to be any violent confrontation, and supporters and opponents appear to have chatted amicably enough in the absence of the meeting organiser. Perhaps the thought of real democracy was just too much for him to bear, not least because his plan to use Hope not Hate for partisan political purposes was likely to be voted down.

Some things we can be almost 100% sure of. Lowles abandoned his supporters. Lowles appeared to run away when he realised his 'consultation' meeting would be more than just a rubber stamping exercise. Lowles had no alternate plans for a different venue, and this was confirmed by the small number of HnH members who did turn up. And finally, Lowles tweet from earlier today was not a distortion of the truth, and nor was it spin. It was an outright lie, told to try and save face because he was too scared to argue his point.

Hope not Hate laughably claim Basildon meeting was switched to Thurrock

A supporter on Facebook has just brought to our attention the claim by Nick Lowles that last nights anti-UKIP meeting in Basildon was switched to Thurrock, with Lowles claiming that they were 'smarter than the average bear'.

That might be true for the hand-picked little clique he surrounded himself with to ensure that he got the answer he wanted as part of his 'consultation' exercise.

Luckily, apart from the dozen people who were opposed to Lowles plans, no other members of the general public turned up in Basildon. Like his opponents, they would not have heard of the change of venue either, but had any of the public been interested, Lowles was clearly quite happy to abandon them there while he and the other three people that constitute the 'general public' for the purposes of his farcical exercise in democracy decamped to somewhere safer. With a nice restaurant, some good wine and no ghastly working class people about.

We can't help but feel that nothing demonstrates better the contempt Lowles has for the general public, and what a farce his 'consultation' exercise really is. In fact, it works much better when the working class is excluded, because they only muddy the water by insisting that being worried about immigration is not racist, something which doesn't chime with Lowles and his determinedly middle class gang.

Ban on 'fascist street thuggery' should include UAF and AntiFA

Hope not hate today published the comments of Colin Inglis, former head of the Humberside Police Authority.

Inglis called the EDL 'fascist street thugs', and called for a ban following an event in Hull which saw 10 people arrested. All ten were protesting the event, and none were associated with the EDL.

The worst of the EDL........
We make no secret of our views of sections of the EDL. While the vast majority of people who support them are decent, law abiding folk there is undeniably an element who are exactly what Inglis calls them. Fascist street thugs. We have no time for them.

At the same time, Inglis seems to have lost sight of the fact that all 10 arrested in Hull were from UAF or another of Hope not Hate's allies. At a recent EDL march in London, the majority of those arrested were also UAF.

...are no worse than the leaders of UAF. Just shabby
street thugs and fascists. The difference is that Hope not Hate
approve of UAF violence. Pictured here (centre) is
Martin Smith, SWP rapist and UAF organiser.
If Hope not Hate are going to call for a ban on 'fascist street thugs', they could do worse than looking much closer to home than the EDL. Their own associates and fellow travellers are no less fascist street thugs than the worst elements of the BNP and EDL.

The question is whether Lowles will also condemn his allies in the UAF, SWP and Anti-Fascist Alliance? Do Hope not Hate believe that violence on the streets is fine as long as those committing the acts of violence are their allies? Do Hope not Hate - and Inglis - advocate the advancement of political aims by the use of violence and intimidation so long as they agree with the cause?

We already know the answer, of course. Just yesterday, when UKIP leader Nigel Farage accused the Anti Fascist Alliance in Scotland of being 'as bad as the EDL', there were howls of rage from Lowles and his mates, who feel they should have an exclusive right to bring violence to the streets of our nation. With that sort of attitude, it is easy to confuse two particular people called 'Nick' - they are beginning to sound the same, and they are both hypocrites of the first order.

HnH cancel meeting to avoid democratic opposition

Hope not Hate's public meeting in Basildon yesterday evening descended into farce when they failed to turn up for their own party. In fact, such was the willingness of Hope not Hate to indulge in democratic debate that before cancelling they called the police who sent a van along. This is hardly what could be called 'Standing up for HOPE'.

The George Hurd Centre, Basildon
Roughly a dozen people opposed to Lowles views turned up to take part in his public 'consultation' meeting about how to deal with UKIP only to hear from staff at the George Hurd Centre that the meeting had been cancelled. They waited for 30 minutes or so after the meeting was due to start, but no other members of the public turned up. As with the Warrington meeting last week, apathy for Lowles party political stance seemed to be the order of the day amongst the residents of Essex, who stayed away in their droves.

To our knowledge, there was no threat of violence to Lowles or his associates at the meeting. The problem was not the threat of violence, but the threat of opposition to the pre-determined outcome of Lowles consultation exercise which brought about the cancellation.

Just so we are crystal clear on this, we believe that Nick Lowles and Hope not Hate have every right to hold public meetings. They have every right to exercise their right to freedom of speech, without fear for their safety or that of anybody attending, and we have always urged that anyone attending to oppose his organisation should be polite, respectful and calm. Perhaps Lowles could take a lesson from our stance and ask the same of his 'anti-fascist' allies? If there were threats, then we deplore them, just as we deplore the threats of his allies in the UAF and Anti-Fascist Alliance.
The cancellation of the meeting saved Lowles from having to
justify his anti-democratic position in front of a
disapproving audience. So much for having the courage of
his convictions.

With that said, we would also remind Lowles and Hope not Hate that democracy means that people will disagree with you. We would remind them that if they want to involve themselves not in fighting fascism and racism but in playing at party politics at the behest of their Labour paymasters, they can not expect a free ride. They can not expect their usual hand picked audiences who agree politely (but with true revolutionary fervour) to what has already been decided by Lowles, who after all owns Hope not Hate Ltd.

In case the contrast should be missed, Nigel Farage returned to Scotland yesterday ahead of the Aberdeen Donside by-election. There, Hope not Hate allies the 'Anti-Fascist Alliance' ensured the cancellation of UKIP events by telephoned threats of violent protest to police and venues. Despite this, Farage was keen to proceed with his scheduled events, and was more than happy to take on protesters in debate. One protester was arrested for assault on a UKIP official after losing a debate with Farage. Such is the power of their arguments and their belief in democracy.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Breivik and Adebolajo, and Hope not Hate's hypocritical stance

In 2009, a group calling itself 'Stop Islamification of Europe' announced a protest at the then new Harrow Central Mosque in Harrow, Middlesex. The protest was subsequently announced on the EDL's Facebook pages, although it was never clear whether the EDL intended to take part themselves. As soon as the protest was announced, UAF announced a counter-protest to take place at the same time.

In all the fuss over who and how many were attending, one important voice was lost. Haroon Sheikh, the Mosque chairman - speaking of both demonstration and counter-demonstration - said, "We would request that the local authority and the police try to put a stop to it. The concern we have is with a large congregation. It's very difficult to control what people would want to do on the day. We would have 200 to 300 people coming here for prayers on a Friday. Emotions will be high if it's provoked, but we will have the police and we will have stewards here."

As it turned out, not many people on either side bothered to listen. The 20 SIOE protesters who turned up were outnumbered by up to 1,000 UAF protesters who repeatedly charged police lines and threw bottles and stones. So far, it was just another UAF gathering, but what made this one different - if only in retrospect - was the presence of Al-Muhijaroun activist Michael Adebolajo, who was captured on video telling a group of UAF protesters that what they did, they did 'for Allah'. Adebolajo was one of the two men arrested recently for the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

It is not so much the presence of Adebolajo which is the problem: at the time, he had done nothing illegal, and was as entitled as anyone to be there, even if the local Mosque had asked for people to not attend. No, the thing which is striking about it is the response of UAF since the murder occurred. Weyman Bennett, the UAF leader, has batted away implied criticism with a statement that Adebolajo was 'not on the platform, and was not an official speaker'. While Adebolajo was speaking, a procession of UAF and trades union flags passed within yards, so his words were hardly a surprise to Bennett and his SWP colleague Martin Smith, who passed just feet away.

UAF and Trades Union banners passed within feet of
Michael Adebolajo at the Harrow protest....
 One can just imagine the outcry from UAF if it came to light that Anders Breivik had attended a UKIP meeting in 2009 and had been allowed to hold his own impromptu rally. It stretches credibility to imagine that Nigel Farage could get away with the notion that Breivik 'not being on the platform and not being an official speaker' would be a satisfactory dismissal of concerns. he was spewing his message of Hate, not Hope

There is no love lost between Hope not Hate and the UAF, although there does seem to be a thawing of relations since HnH was taken over by Nick Lowles. Under the Gables' stewardship, HnH recognised that far from being part of the solution, UAF were a part of the problem: the other side of the racist violence coin. Lowles seems to take a more relaxed view, as reports on EDL marches over the past few years demonstrate on HnH's twitter and Facebook feed: the reporters seemed to glory in the violence of running battles between the EDL and UAF, although as most of Hope not Hate's 'feet on the street' were previously BNP activists who a decade earlier would have been in there with fists and boots flying, this is perhaps not surprising.

As Andrew Gilligan discusses in his Telegraph article, the actions of the UAF do not detract from the rise in tensions, they add to it, a point then Harrow Council leader David Ashton made back in 2009: "We are saddened and dismayed that groups from outside the borough have come here and caused unrest. Harrow has an excellent record in community relations and we condemn those who came to our borough from elsewhere to either foist extreme political opinions on us or use religion as a cover for causing trouble."

All of this leaves Hope not Hate's core purpose - fighting racism and fascism - looking rather neglected. Where is the condemnation of Bennett and UAFs pitiful excuses for Adebolajo's presence at the Harrow protest? Back in 2009, nobody knew what Adebolajo would go on to do, but with the benefit of hindsight it is clear that he was an extremist with a future no less notorious than Anders Breivik, even if the number he left dead was smaller. Speaking against Breivik in an article in the Guardian last September, Lowles said, "Sadly, there are many others at large who share his warped ideology. Seventeen people in the UK....have been imprisoned in recent years for terrorist-related offences": the words I have removed and replaced with '....' were 'with far right views'. With those four words removed, it applies as much to UAF as it does to the EDL and the BNP.

But if Hope not Hate can launch an investigation into links between the far right and Anders Breivik and display its results as symptomatic of the approval of the former for the latter, why does the far left not also warrant a similar investigation? With Al Muhajiroun ostensibly a target for Hope not Hate, where is the investigation into the links between the boot boys of the UAF and Anjem Choudhary and Michael Adebojalo?

I will not win many friends in the EDL and BNP by suggesting that such sloppy thinking would not have been a part of Hope not Hate's approach under the Gables' stewardship, but it remains true. Lowles very much takes the view that 'if God is with us, who can be against us', and feels that however fascist the far left becomes, and whatever terrorist organisations it mixes with, the righteousness of his cause outweighs any concerns.

This may have been true were he not simultaneously attempting to make Hope not Hate less a tool to be used against racism, and more a tool to be used against what he perceives to be the political right.
Part of the problem for Lowles is the continued presence at the top of the UAF of such noted Labour Party activists as Ken Livingstone, Diane Abbott and Glyn Ford. Despite UAF being effectively an SWP front organisation, such high profile Labour politicians at its top table - even if they are without meaningful power - makes an attack or even an investigation into UAF politically unpalatable for Lowles. To brand the UAF as fascist would be to brand sections of the Labour Party fascist as well, and that is counter to Lowles purpose as he seeks to align Hope not Hate ever more closely with the Labour Party.

Whether such hypocritical evasions are tenable remains to be seen. Certainly the poor attendance to date at his anti-UKIP meetings have lead to the rebranding discussed yesterday: better to climb on the Woolwich bandwagon and hope nobody notices the tolerance shown by the hard left to Al Mujahiroun in the past. We can not believe that the majority of Hope not Hate support will put up with such hypocrisy for long.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hope not Hate meeting schedule ties UKIP to Woolwich murder

Hope not Hate have finally published a list of upcoming meetings which readers may find of interest. Although originally billed as 'Stand up for HOPE' to discuss 'what to do about UKIP', many are now billed under the generic 'We are the many' or 'Where now for HOPE?' banner as the original billing failed to attract support.

It is clear from their information that these meetings will attempt to throw UKIP into the same pot as the BNP and the EDL and prominently features the Woolwich murder as can be seen by this advertisement for the meeting in Oxford:

To us this rather smacks of desperation; to complain about the 'EDL's attempts to exploit the Woolwich murder' and then doing the same thing in a weak attempt to garner support for a campaign against UKIP - whose only official statement on the matter was a call for calm - is clearly the pot calling the kettle black.
Note also how although they claim their campaign is about offering 'HOPE', there is still no mention on the Hope not Hate website of the excellent initiative on sexual grooming being lead by Respect councillor and Bradford Imam Alyas Karmani for the reasons discussed yesterday: Hope not Hate are only interested in 'HOPE' when it is themselves or Labour offering it.
A full list of meetings is available on their website, and you can find your local meeting at the Hope not Hate meeting locator. While we will attend as many as possible, we would be interested in receiving reports from those we are unable to attend. I know it goes without saying, but if you attend, please be polite, respectful and calm as they run through their list of distortions and half-truths about UKIP. Remember, it doesn't matter how many people at the meetings say they should leave UKIP alone and focus on racism and fascism, the decision has already been made by Nick Lowles - who is the sole owner of Hope not Hate Ltd - so even unanimous decisions against the proposal can not change that.
If you attend the meetings in Brighton, Oxford and several other locations, please be careful. There are large UAF branches in these areas, we have already seen how they use bully boy tactics, and they are likely to attend these meetings to push their own SWP agenda. There is little love lost between HnH and the UAF, who fight like cats in a sack in the absence of alternative opposition.
Most meetings are likely to see Nick Lowles addressing rows of empty chairs, although after the fiasco in Warrington it is likely that even as I write HnH are on the phone to local branches of trades unions and constituency Labour Partys to ensure the embarrassment of only 5 members of the public attending is not repeated.

Friday, 14 June 2013

HnH climb the Woolwich bandwagon as anti-UKIP meetings fail

The failure of Hope not Hate's 'Stand up for HOPE' series of meetings has seen them being changed into something else. Originally planned as a nationwide 'consultation' exercise to decide what to do about UKIP, the failure of the meeting in Warrington to draw more than 5 members of the general public has seen them morph into something else.

With the death of Drummer Lee Rigby still fresh in people's minds, never let it be said that Hope not Hate doesn't know how to cash in on a good murder. After a series of posts attacking the EDL and BNP - deservedly so - for attempting to make political capital out of the murder, Hope not Hate has clearly decided that 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em', and has announced that the rest of the 'Stand up for HOPE' tour will not focus on UKIP. Instead, Nick Lowles writes, "The meetings were initially set up to talk about the rise of UKIP and if, and how, we should respond. However, given recent events there has obviously been a lot of interest in the re-emergence of the EDL following the Woolwich murder and our views about Islamist hate preachers."
Nick Lowles - tacit admission that
attempt at gaining public support for
anti-UKIP stance has failed

And so now we see 'Stand up for HOPE' being transformed due to public apathy into nothing more than a publicity bandwagon riding on the back of a dead man. The temporary re-emergence of the EDL - although in numbers far smaller than seen a few years back - has given Hope not Hate a justification for its own existence, and a means of drawing crowds which their 'consultation' on UKIP could never manage. Of course, this means that HnH will continue to attack UKIP - there was never any intention to do otherwise. The original purpose of the 'consultation' exercise was to provide a fig leaf of popular support to their refocusing on a legitimate, non-racist political party after spending months misrepresenting both UKIP and its members. After embarrassingly low turnouts at meetings, it became clear that this would never work, as most genuine HnH members - those who were fighting against racism, and not for the Labour Party, that is - refused to back this repositioning.

So where does this leave Hope not Hate? Lowles' blog proclaims as a triumph a turnout of 26 people for a HnH meeting in Shrewsbury (population 67,126) and talks of the biggest meeting of the week being attended by 70 people in Leicester (population 441,213). Allowing for organisers, security, speakers and their aides, that would give adjusted attendance figures of 20 and 60 respectively.
Will Cllr Thya Idaikkadar be removed from the
HnH Harrow meeting if he mentions Labour racism?

Lowles goes on to talk about meetings scheduled for next week. Interestingly, one is in Harrow, where the local Labour Party has been shattered by allegations of institutional racism with 9 councillors leaving to form an independent Labour group. One wonders whether Lowles will address the issue there in a way Hope not Hate have failed to do on their website, where mentions of Labour racism are studiously avoided. It is more likely that - should any of the independent Labour group attend - they will be asked to leave the premises if they raise their concerns and rock the Labour boat. I look forward to the irony of seeing 9 Asian independent Labour councillors being removed from a Hope not Hate meeting because they raised the issue of racism. As Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail is fond of saying, "you couldn't make it up".