Thursday, 30 January 2014

HnH incites violence against immigrants

It was instructive to watch the Hope not Hate Twitter feed earlier on today. With Jobbik set to hold a meeting in London - originally in Holborn, but moved to Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park - Hope not Hate were busy providing a blow by blow account of how many people were present, exactly where they were, what the police presence was like, and how and where they were moving.

It is difficult to guess what the point of this is if it is not to cause - or at least enable - violent opposition. There is a certain irony here given that most of those attending were Hungarian immigrants to the UK: Jobbik leader Gabor Vona's visit is ostensibly to speak to the large Hungarian population in the UK ahead of forthcoming elections in Hungary.

So what else could be the point of this and other such detailed tweets? Hope not Hate are not a rolling news provider, and the precise location of far-right activists on a minute by minute basis is hardly news in any case: these are demonstrations and meetings which would draw a limited audience at best. As we have seen previously in Woolwich and elsewhere, the object of the exercise is solely to draw 'anti-fascist' activists onto those Hope not Hate decides to be far right while being able to decry responsibility for the resulting violence.

In the past, this has not made a huge difference. It is fair to say that a significant proportion of the 'far-right' were nearly identical to their anti-fascist enemies: thugs spoiling for a fight. The question must be at what point does this spill over into mainstream politics?

We have already seen Green Party councillor Ian Driver taking part in a violent protest against UKIP in Margate earlier this month. That Driver has close links to the Socialist Workers Party, Unite Against Fascism and Hope not Hate is indisputable. We also reported on our Facebook page about moves by the SWP, UAF, HnH and the Labour Party to actively campaign against UKIP in this year's European Elections, not under a party banner, but anonymously with placards designed in UKIPs colours. Given the links between these self-proclaimed anti-fascists and their use of fascist tactics, how long will it be before we see a repeat of Margate's violence, but directed specifically against the demographically older UKIP membership and activist base?

That it is coming is almost beyond argument. We have seen situations bordering on violence at several other events, including Hove. These intimidatory actions make a poor substitute for reasoned argument or debate, but Hope not Hate are not without form in this: their own 'director of intelligence' Matthew Collins is a former NF thug with a record by his own admission of beating up elderly ladies.

Hope not Hate's guiding ethos according to their website is their opposition to racism and fascism. With UKIP's membership increasingly comprising settled immigrants to the UK from many former British colonies, their continued targeting of UKIP appears increasingly absurd: how long before their braying band of supporters finds itself chanting 'UKIP scum off our streets' to a primarily Asian or Caribbean UKIP meeting?

As for the fascism, the idea of destroying political meetings with violence is nothing new. It happened in Soviet Russia. It happened in Nazi Germany. It happens around the world now, in Ukraine, in Turkey, in North Africa, in Zimbabwe. The common thread is the fascism not of the meetings, but those who would break them up.

It hardly needs saying that UKIP is not the far right. UKIP is a moderate, democratic party. Do people who belong to UKIP say stupid things from time to time? Yes, of course they do. The difference is that while UKIP removes them immediately, there are plenty of instances of homophobia, mocking of the mentally ill, threats of violence and even racism on Hope not Hate's own Facebook page as detailed on this blog many times. Hope not Hate regularly censor their own page: in a recent debate about Nigel Farage's comments about gun control, they carefully removed comments which pointed out that they had nothing to do with racism or fascism and that Hope not Hate was exceeding its stated remit in attacking on straight political grounds. It left behind multiple comments from people encouraging others to use a gun on Mr Farage.

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