Wednesday, 26 June 2013

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.

1 comment:

  1. HnH are still able to take funds under the name of "Anti Racism" to use against UKIP, but as we have seen the public do not connect racism with UKIP. So it will be harder for HnH to try to give, being now funded for the sole purpose of stopping UKIP to the benefit of the Labour party. A name which they can hide behind.