Monday, 1 July 2013

The respectful desecrators and a history of HnH and UAF disinformation

On our Facebook page this morning we covered the South Wales Argus' story about a racist attack on
Hate slogans carefully daubed while flowers and borders
remain undamaged and unmolested?
A strange sort of hate crime.
Muslim graves in Newport's Christchurch Cemetery overnight on Saturday. Graves in an area set aside for Islamic burials were daubed with 'Lee Rigby Murder', 'BNP', 'NF', 'UKIP', 'Kill the Muslim Pakis' and swastikas.

Our first thought was what a disgraceful thing it was to do.

Our second - who was responsible? - got us to thinking.

The picture shows that while the graves were daubed with paint, flowers, plants and solar lights mounted on the graves were all intact and unmolested, and in the image shown (above) the graffiti artists appear to have painted around the flowers on the headstone rather than apply a hefty kick to free up space. It is a pretty remarkable hate crime indeed where the perpetrators daub violent slogans and yet appear to have set out to do as little damage as possible: surely if you're desecrating a grave and you really mean it, you'd kick it to pieces as well? Nice, well brought up middle class vandals, perhaps? At least - unlike most 'far right' graffiti - it is all spelt correctly.

Then there are the omissions. The graffiti mentions the BNP, NF and UKIP and yet fails to mention either the EDL or its Welsh equivalent, the WDL. Coming just hours after the high profile arrest of Robinson/Yaxley-Lennon and Carroll in London, it struck us as strange that only political parties were mentioned rather than the rather more high profile groups who had been making news headlines all that day. An extension of these thoughts is that UKIP bars anyone associated with the other two groups - or any other far-right group - from membership, while the BNP & NF have a mutual loathing for each other which far outweighs their loathing for Islam. The idea that someone would paint the names of the three organisations as a gesture of support is absurd, given that the BNP and NF regards UKIP as 'race traitors'. A much more likely scenario is that it is an outrage designed to link UKIP and the far-right, which makes it unlikely to have been carried out by anyone on the far-right.

 Richard Purssell (l)
and Dan Cole (r) - both
allegedly UAF activists
There is also the location of the cemetery. Christchurch cemetery is relatively remote, separated from the nearest houses by the M4 motorway and in a relatively rural and difficult to reach location. This was not some midnight drunken prank: carting paint and brushes to such a location required some thought and advance planning rather than a spur of the moment decision, otherwise how would the correct graves be found in the middle of the night out of the many thousands there? How would the slogans be daubed so carefully without torches, and if it was done by torchlight, how come there is no sign of accidental trampling of flowers or other ornaments unless great care was taken?

This brought us back to thinking of several other recent events. On Saturday, we had two UAF supporters dressed as EDL members attacking the EDL leaders on their publicity stunt. Initial reports and tweets from UAF and Hope not Hate indicated that the 'far right were fighting amongst themselves': there has been little reporting of the assailants since. If reports on far-right websites are true the assailants were UAF activists Richard Purssell and Dan Cole dressed in what has become the unofficial uniform of the EDL.

Wood was cleared by a police investigation of making these
statements - they were either made on a duplicate account
or were photoshopped.
This in turn lead us to think about the story of Alex Wood, the UKIP candidate who was splashed across the front page of the Daily Mirror allegedly giving a Nazi salute. With his left hand. He was also alleged to have made comments about Africans living in mud huts, and to have admitted that the picture was of him making a Nazi salute. Hope not Hate devoted considerable time to attacking his claim that his account was hacked, and yet a police investigation subsequently discovered that Wood had not in fact made either statement, and that alleged screenshots in his name appeared to have been created either on a duplicate account created by somebody using his name, or to have been photoshopped. While the original discussion that took place on-line on the Hope not Hate Facebook page appear to have been removed, it is interesting to note that what remains of HnH's participation is hedged by 'allegedly' and 'apparently':

Note the use of the word 'apparently'

We have been unable to find another example where Hope not Hate while condemning the web postings of someone they claim to be far-right hedged their libel bets in such a way. The suggestion must be that 'Simon Cressy' - a pseudonym for HnH staffer Carl Morphett - had some idea that the quotes were not genuine, and yet was prepared to use them anyway. Wood may well prove to be guilty of other offences through his association with failed Tory candidate Joshua Bonehill, but on these, he appears to be innocent, the victim of a 'frame up' which Hope not Hate appeared aware of and yet chose to ignore.

If those who at first glance appear responsible for these actions were not behind them, the question must be 'Cui bono', or who benefits?

It is not difficult to imagine that the pictures of 'UKIP' scrawled on an Islamic grave alongside a swastika will appear in Labour Party election literature, and quite possibly in Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru as well, and even the Tories wouldn't surprise us.

Alex Wood was used by the Daily Mirror (who part fund Hope not Hate along with a number of trades unions) and Hope not Hate just before polling day in the local elections once it became clear that Labour were also suffering badly at the hands of UKIP.

It would appear that the 'beneficiary' of these actions though is primarily Labour. There are undoubtedly ties between senior Labour Party figures and the 'hard left' anti-fascist groups, including HnH and UAF. And as HnH features the Newport story on their webpage, we see the first of the 'dog-whistle' political comments appear:

From Hope not Hate's facebook page
Sarah Evans also operates a blog, just in case you thought this was a random comment from a concerned member of the public - Sarah Evans Labour - and was the Labour Party candidate for North West Hampshire in the 2010 general election. She frequently features Hope not Hate on her blog.

So who is responsible? We suspect we'll never know. There are unlikely to be any arrests, but already we see Labour Party activists using the attack to make political capital. It is not difficult to imagine that whoever was behind the desecration has some ties to the anti-fascist movement. Such fascist tactics are increasingly a part of their repertoire.

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