Monday, 3 March 2014

Dan Hodges - 1 cheque from the Telegraph, 1 cheque from Hope not Hate

Dan Hodges - paid by the Telegraph, paid by
Hope not Hate: nice work if you can get it
It was hardly a surprise to see Nick Lowles triumphantly echoing the words of Dan Hodges - "UKIP
is a racist Party" - and using this as a justification for continuing political action against UKIP not because it is racist, but because it threatens the Labour Party.

Hodges reached his conclusion because, amongst other heinous crimes, UKIP members were caught laughing at a racist joke at conference in Torquay, and used a slogan once used by the BNP. Hodges also complains that "there has been a steady stream of outrageous and disgustingly racist comments by UKIP councillors and officials" which he claims have gone unpunished. In fact, most have been punished, unlike the many Labour Party councillors who have featured on our Facebook page over the last year.

Lowles has of course been looking for an excuse to drag the dwindling band of Hope not Hate supporters along on his quest to attack UKIP, a party he was once happy to work with in fighting the far-right - as, in fact, was Dan Hodges who met with a senior UKIP official on a number of occasions. That was before UKIP looked like thumping the Labour Party in the European elections, and before UKIP started taking huge chunks out of the Labour vote in previously safe Labour seats in the Labour heartlands of the north.

Lowles has long faced a problem within Hope not Hate. Huge numbers of his own supporters were decidedly lukewarm about HnH turning its guns on UKIP, as we discussed about this time last year when he was doing a speaking tour in an attempt to drum up anti-UKIP feeling. Speaking mostly to empty chairs or hand-selected audiences of UAF and SWP activists who thought Lenin was a bit right wing and Mao was a fascist, he still lacked anything approaching a mandate to fight a battle with UKIP.

And now, out of the woodwork, crawls Hodges with his thoroughly dishonest diatribe. Hodges and Lowles are hardly unknown to each other - in the 2010 General Election campaign, HnH paid Hodges over £4,500 for a raft of services ranging from fundraising to writing press releases - the invoices are attached below. Hodges himself is a defender of Peter Mandelson, on the pages of Labour Uncut and even in the Progress Online website, while Mandelson's group are suspected of funding Hope not Hate. And yet, as Left Futures says, "Dan Hodges is not the most reliable of soothsayers."

No-one however has ever accused him of not knowing which side of the bread the butter is on. His latest column will inevitably raise the question about whether he is being paid by two masters for the same article: in 2010 he was already hard at work for Hope not Hate by this time of the year, although we'll have to wait for HnH's Electoral Commission returns later in the year to find out for sure. It's nice work if you can get it though - being paid to promote the views of one organisation in the columns of a national newspaper which is also paying you for the same thing.

And with Hodges mother - Labour MP Glenda Jackson - standing down at the next General Election, having Peter Mandelson's influence on your side shouldn't hurt when the selection battle starts. It just goes to show, it's never too early to get your nose in the trough.

So, what's in it for Lowles? He can trumpet a national newspaper - albeit one he is hardly likely to read - labelling UKIP as racist, and flaunt the article before his dwindling band of supporters. It helps drag out the death throes of Hope not Hate - an organisation which since UKIP saw off the remnants of the BNP has no purpose - for another election campaign, and all the money that involves. The bleaker long-term reality for Lowles is that Hope not Hate is becoming an increasingly unwieldy alliance of hard left and Blairite Labour funding, with the trades unions on one side, and Mandelson's Progress on the other. The public meetings mentioned earlier showed that HnH has no true grass roots support - this is why in 2010 it was reduced to paying private companies to carry out its leafleting as it simply no longer has the ability to put feet on the ground.

How long can he continue to pull off this balancing act? The smart money is that his organisation will be gone by the end of the year.

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