Thursday, 1 May 2014

A big thank you to Hope not Hate

A vote of thanks is due to Hope not Hate today, who are delivering 50,000 of their anti-UKIP leaflets each in Liverpool and Manchester.

Of course, they are paying for their distribution, because they have been unable to find enough of their own 'activists' to help, largely because today is giro day, the one day a week they get out of bed early to be sure of getting to the Post Office ahead of the crowd.

Hope not Hate director Nick Lowles was boasting yesterday of the lengths to which his organisation
HnH's 1m newspapers - might as well load them
straight into a skip.
is going to oppose UKIP, having long ago given up any pretence that they were fighting racism. In his blog post yesterday, he talks of the 1,000,000 anti-UKIP newspapers being delivered, and mentions the 300,000 anti-UKIP leaflets they already have.

So why is a vote of thanks due? We discussed in an article last year how areas which Hope not Hate had leafleted heavily with anti-BNP literature actually saw the largest percentage rises in the BNP vote, and in the North West they materially contributed to preventing UKIP taking a second seat. BNP leader Nick Griffin owes them a large debt for his five years on the gravy train.

This year, as we have seen the anti-UKIP hysteria reach a fever pitch amongst Hope not Hate's allies, we have seen a corresponding rise in UKIPs performance in opinion polls ahead of the 22nd May vote. Yesterday saw UKIP with clear blue water in two polls with 38% in one and 37% in the other, well ahead of Labour in second place on 27% in both and with the Conservatives a distant third below 20%. The Liberal Democrats - the party of 'in' - were heading for electoral oblivion. In at least two regions, UKIP was recording over 50% of the vote.

All of this is before Hope not Hate begin delivering the bulk of their literature. And before the launch of the cross-party 'Migration Matters' campaign headed by former Labour immigration minister Barbara Roache, the woman responsible for opening the door to Eastern Europe.

Over the past 3 weeks, we have had a number of interesting conversations reported to us which I am sure are mirrored by what many readers have heard themselves.

The first was with a hard-left wing friend, who said "I'm concerned about immigration just the same as you are, but of course I'm not racist because I'm left-wing. I shall be voting UKIP because I'm sick of it".

The other was reported by a friend of mine who was at a function last week talking with two former schoolfriends he had not seen for many years. One is a senior lawyer with a commercial bank, and the other an accountant with an investment bank - exactly the sort of people the media insist will not vote UKIP. The general consensus was that the establishment was 'shitting itself', 'picking on the smallest boy in the playground' and 'confirming to the public that they would do or say anything to hold on to power'. Both declared an intention to vote UKIP, although neither were regular voters, and neither held any particularly strong political beliefs.

What is interesting is how the stronger the attacks against UKIP by the establishment, the stronger UKIP support becomes. In an article on the 'Media Intelligence Partners' website, Alastair Thompson writes:

Did we not learn from ‘bigotgate’ in 2010”, she (Jacqui Smith -Ed) said “…that there are many potential and actual Labour voters who feel all the frustrations and insecurities expressed by the Ukip poster campaign? Telling them they are wrong – and worse, closet racists – is unlikely to win their support.”

The second problem is that these ill-judged attacks only confirms Nigel Farage’s status as a Westminster outsider, the underdog that the political establishment fear and do not want to let into their cozy old boys club.

Finally, and in pure campaign terms, this group has fallen into the old elephant trap of trying to fight UKIP on UKIP’s terms. They are responding to the agenda that Nigel Farage has brilliantly set. They are following not leading the debate."

Which is as good an analysis as we have read, and long may it continue.

As for Hope not Hate, this campaign could see their ultimate collapse. Ongoing campaigns which trumpet dodgy interpretation of polling - "30% see UKIP as racist" - neatly obscures the corollary, which is that 70% do not. Even then, the poll to which they refer did not phrase the question the way they have phrased the answer, but honesty was never a strong point with HnH, was it?

More to the point, in 2009/2010, only a small percentage of Hope not Hate's funding came from private individuals - we reported previously that 83% came from trades unions. With huge numbers of Labour supporters and trades unionists now turning to UKIP, this year's European Election will mark the end of any pretence that Hope not Hate is the 'grassroots' campaign it pretends to be. We look forward to seeing their donations report to the Electoral Commission.

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