Hope not Hate

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Hope not Hate
Hope not hate.svg
Founded2004; 15 years ago (2004)
FounderNick Lowles
TypeCivil rights campaign group
Anti-hate organisation
FocusHate groups
Racism
Civil rights
Location
Area served
United Kingdom
Productcampaigning, lobbying, media, research
Key people
Nick Lowles (Chief executive)
Jenny Levene (Deputy Director)
Ruth Smeeth (a director)
Websitehopenothate.org.uk

Hope not Hate (stylized as HOPE not hate) is an advocacy group based in the United Kingdom. It campaigns against racism and fascism, and asserts that it seeks to "combine first class research with community organising and grassroots actions to defeat hate groups at elections and to build community resilience against extremism".[1][2] It is a self-described non-partisan, non-sectarian third party organisation.[3]

The group was founded in 2004 by Nick Lowles, a former editor of anti-fascist magazine Searchlight (from which it split in late 2011).[4][5] It is backed by various politicians and celebrities,[6] and has been backed by several trade unions.[7]

History and personnel[edit]

Hope not Hate was founded in 2004 by Nick Lowles, former editor of the anti-fascist Searchlight magazine. Having experienced street racism as a child, Lowles got involved with the anti-fascist movement as a student volunteer at Sheffield University.[8][9] Before he became editor, he was an freelance investigative journalist, working in television, including on BBC Panorama, World in Action, Channel Four Dispatches and MacIntyre Undercover. Between 1999 and 2011 Lowles was co-editor, and then editor, of ‘Searchlight’ magazine. He was awarded an MBE in 2016 for his services in tackling extremism. The Deputy Director is Jemma Levene,[10] who previously worked as Head of Campaigns at Jewish cultural education charity SEED, and at the Orthodox Union in New York.[11]

Hope not Hate functioned as part of Searchlight until 2011, when the organisations split.[12] As a standalone organisation, Hope not Hate took with it two of the three units of Searchlight: Searchlight Educational Trust (SET), a charity; and Searchlight Information Services (SIS), its research and investigative function. The organisation now consists of Hope not Hate Educational Ltd (a charitable wing) and Hope not Hate Ltd (focused on campaigning and investigative work).[13] From 2010 to 2015,[14] the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Ruth Smeeth, worked as Deputy Director, since when she has been a director.[15]

Funding[edit]

HNH is funded by parochial money, charitable trusts, trade union funding and individual donations. HNH receives no government or EU funding.[16]

During late 2012 and early 2013, the Searchlight Educational Trust (SET), which later renamed itself to Hope not Hate Educational (HNH Ed: the charitable wing of Hope not Hate),[17]) received three separate payments totaling £66,000 thanks to a funding agreement signed by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Conditions in the funding agreement prohibited the funds to be spent on anything other than "educational work", which also included a prohibition on political campaigning. The focus of the allocated funds was to establish community partnerships in four key areas which were prone to EDL activity, including sharing positive local stories and strengthening community bonds.[18]

Activities[edit]

The campaign "mobilises communities by providing an alternative to the politics of hate".[19]

Far right and Islamophobia[edit]

The organisation encourages voters to support alternatives to far-right extremist movements; it also publishes allegations of violent activities by anti-Muslim organisations[20][21] such as the English Defence League. It presented a 90,000-person petition to the European Parliament protesting against the election of Nick Griffin as an MEP.[22]

Following the murder of Jo Cox, Hope not Hate launched a nationwide #MoreInCommon campaign, with the blessing of the MP's family, hosting meetings across the UK to focus on healing divisions caused by the EU Referendum, culminating in 85+ events on the weekend of 3/4 September 2016.[23] In December 2016 The Guardian newspaper joined a Hope not Hate training workshop, revealing the work undertaken by its community workers on the doorsteps in south Wales.[24]

The organisation has increasingly focused upon community-based campaigning, particularly building what it calls "community resilience"[25] and focusing more on women voters.[26] It has launched initiatives in support of British foods, Hate Crime Awareness Week, and reported extensively on the activities of the anti-Muslim counterjihad movement of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and bloggers such as "Fjordman".[27][28] It said a small number of extremists online expressed ideology shared by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian responsible for the 2011 Norway attacks.[29]

In 2012 the group published original research looking at the attitudes of voters towards far-right political parties in the UK, which concluded that nearly half of those polled by a Populus Ltd survey supported the creation of an English nationalist, anti-Muslim political party.[30][31] Nick Lowles claimed in 2012 that politicians, including the Labour Party, need to address the way they talk about immigration and move away from encouraging "hate speech".[32] Liz Fekete, of the Institute for Race Relations (IRR), has said that Lowles has not taken a hard enough line against racial narratives on the grooming issue.[33]

The organisation updated its research in February 2016, noting: "Respondents to the new Fear and HOPE 2016 survey were much more positive about personal and national progress, more economically secure, and less anxious about identity change." A further poll, one week after the Brexit vote, revealed that nearly two-thirds (63%) of those polled believed Britain was "more divided as a result of the Referendum vote and more people think there are more tensions between communities than when asked the same question in February".

Following a 26,000 signature petition handed in by Hope not Hate to the UK Home Secretary, on 26 June 2013 the US anti-Muslim bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller were banned from entering the UK.[34] Geller and Spencer had been due to speak at an English Defence League march in Woolwich, south London, where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered. Home Secretary Theresa May informed Spencer and Geller that their presence in the UK would "not be conducive to the public good".[35] The decision, which they cannot appeal, may be reviewed in between three and five years.[36] Similarly, Hope Not Hate condemned an EDL solidarity demonstration outside the Israeli embassy to which they had invited an American rabbi, with Lowles writing "While many in the Jewish community have understandable concerns about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, it is important to remember that the EDL are not our friends".[37]

Hope not Hate was, in 2013, one of the founding organisations of an anti-child sexual exploitation initiative called CAASE (Community Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation), featuring many Muslim and Christian organisations, victim support groups, survivors organisations, and local community networks. The network was a response to multiple "grooming" cases reported in the British press.[38]

Islamic extremism[edit]

More recently, it has also focused on Islamist extremists and issues of communal division, such as grooming.[39][40][41]

In November 2013 the organisation unveiled research into the al-Muhajiroun Islamic extremist network: in a 60-page report, Gateway to Terror, authored by Nick Lowles and Joe Mulhall, it alleged that with its partner networks al-Muhajiroun had sent up to 300 fighters to Syria, linked a further seventy individuals to terrorism offences or suicide bombings, plus proof of what it said was links to the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya, connections to al-Shabaab and a plot by French security services to kill Abu Hamza in the late 1990s.[42][43][44]

On 16 October 2014 the organisation launched a new blog, Generation Jihad, which it said would "be a forum to monitor, expose and understand militant jihadism and extreme Islamism".[45]

Once Anjem Choudary was found guilty of inviting support for the Islamic State in August 2016, Hope not Hate updated its research and revealed that Choudary and his extremist groups had motivated at least a hundred people from Britain to pursue terrorism.[46]

Brexit[edit]

In 2013 the organisation initiated a nationwide consultation among its supporters about the UK Independence Party (UKIP).[47] The move attracted considerable criticism from some on the right.[48] It went on to campaign vociferously against UKIP during the run-up to the 2014 European elections.[49]

On 20 March 2019, Catherine Blaiklock, founder of the Brexit Party, resigned from the party after The Guardian enquired about deleted anti-Muslim messages from her Twitter account from before she took on the role.[50] Blaiklock's deleted tweets were recovered by Hope not Hate and passed to The Guardian.[50]

In November 2019, Hope not Hate said "An election has just been called for the 12th December 2019 and our priority is clear – we're going to be taking on Nigel Farage and his Brexit party, to make sure they don't win any seats."[51] The organisation funded research, along with Best for Britain, used to encourage pro-Remain tactical voting.[52]

Allegations of antisemitism[edit]

Hope not Hate have commented regularly on antisemitism allegations in the Labour Party. In July 2019, Lowles said that there had been “an appalling lack of understanding of the hurt and fear felt by Jewish party members and the Jewish community”.[53] He also said that "the leadership should start listening to people like the Jewish Labour Movement and bringing forward substantial organisational and cultural change.”[54] In November 2019, Lowles was reported to have written to every member of Labour's National Executive Committee, urging them to bar suspended MP Chris Williamson from defending his seat at the following month's general election and to expel him from the party.[55]

Criticism[edit]

In November 2016, Hope not Hate published an incorrect press release about a report on the extent of abusive social media following the murder of Jo Cox MP by a right-wing extremist. According to an investigation by The Economist, "The report itself gave a confusing impression of the number of tweets that celebrated Ms Cox’s murder" and that "Hope Not Hate’s mistake is to take xenophobic Brexit-related tweets (which are plentiful, though a tiny fraction of the whole) and add them to tweets celebrating the murder of an MP (which as far as we can establish were very rare) to make a single tally of hatred. It then compounds the error by focusing on Ms Cox in the report’s headline and the initial press release."[56] A corrected version of the release was subsequently sent to all other media for the report's official launch, and the original article was withdrawn.[57]

In December 2016 the British politician Nigel Farage accused the group of being "extremists" who "...masquerade as being lovely and peaceful but actually pursue violent and very undemocratic means", after Jo Cox's widower husband Brendan Cox had chosen Hope not Hate as one of three beneficiaries of her memorial fund.[58] The group responded by setting up a crowdfunded appeal for a legal fund to sue Farage over the remarks.[58] Hope Not Hate proceeded to issue a claim against Farage for libel. In November 2017, shortly before the libel case came to court, it was settled as Farage agreed to withdraw his comments.[59]

In February 2016 Nick Lowles was "de-platformed" from a National Union of Students event by NUS Black Students, which said that he was Islamophobic.[60]

Publications[edit]

Hope not Hate magazine.
Hope not Hate magazine (September 2012)

The campaign publishes an eponymous bi-monthly magazine; in 2011 it commissioned an opinion poll on electoral attitudes towards English identity, faith and race, published as the Fear and Hope survey.[61][62] In 2012 it issued a report on the counterjihad movement, the Counter-Jihad Report;[27][28] and in the same year produced a 75th anniversary guide to the Battle of Cable Street.[63] In 2011 Matthew Collins, a former National Front and British National Party member and part of the group's investigative team, published Hate: My Life in the British Far Right (ISBN 978-1-84954-327-9). In June 2014 Collins and Hope not Hate published original research into what they termed a far-right, Christian fundamentalist organisation, Britain First, revealing its links to Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland and preparation for conflict, after the group held controversial "Christian Patrols" and "mosque invasions" in various cities in the UK.[64][65][66] In response, Britain First issued a press release threatening "direct action" against any journalist repeating "any inaccuracies or lies peddled by Hope Not Hate”.[67]

Notable supporters[edit]

Prominent supporters of Hope not Hate have included businessman Lord Sugar, boxer Amir Khan, singer Beverly Knight, actress and screenwriter Meera Syal, TV presenter Fiona Phillips, MP and former Anti-Fascist Organiser Ruth Smeeth, chef Simon Rimmer, songwriter Billy Bragg, entrepreneur Levi Roots, singer Speech Debelle, actress and singer Paloma Faith, presenter Dermot O'Leary, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, comedian Eddie Izzard, murdered MP Jo Cox [68][69][70] and Swedish Tetra Pak heiress Sigrid Rausing.[71]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "HOPE not hate - our goal". hopenothate.org.uk. HOPE not hate. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  3. ^ Anonymous (6 December 2016). "HOPE not hate". Migration and Home Affairs - European Commission. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  4. ^ Bright, Martin (9 August 2012). "Tragedy of a serious split between anti-fascists". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
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  71. ^ "HOPE Not Hate - Grantees - Welcome To SRT". www.sigrid-rausing-trust.org. Retrieved 1 April 2019.

External links[edit]