“No monopoly on anti-fascism” … yes, but we need working class anti-fascism

When the Hope not Hate campaign split from Searchlight magazine late last year, none of the main players in the split – the Sonia and Gerry Gable on one side, Nick Lowles on the other – offered an ounce of explanation. This was a major problem but no surprise. A problem because HnH has been in receipt of considerable funding from the trade unions. No surprise because despite such large-scale funding and considerable political influence, HnH was – and remains – a completely undemocratic campaign.

Even the Socialist Workers Party feels compelled to 'go through the motions' of having a 'conference' for its Unite Against Fascism front group – with predictable, patently undemocratic results.

Now in the week that HnH launches its own rival magazine, Searchlight's Sonia Gable publishes some clues to the cause of the split.

In 'Strange bedfellows' (published 1 March on www.searchlightmagazine.com) Gable alleges that both HnH and UAF have been 'infiltrated' by someone named Charlie Flowers. Gable describes Flowers as being a member of the English Defence League and an associate of known fascists and racist extremists. The same Charlie Flowers is quoted by Gable as claiming that “recently Hope Not Hate and Searchlight had a parting of the ways, when HnH found out what Sonia and co had done with all the money they'd raised.”

Gable responds as follows: “Whether this lie and the personal insult came from Kazi or HNH is not known. When Searchlight and SET/HNH split last September, SET [Searchlight Educational Trust – HnH fundraising body] made a complaint to the police that I had stolen £18,777. In fact this was money legitimately owed by SET to Searchlight for advertising and magazine sales, and the police quickly closed their file without interviewing me.”

When Gable refers to “Kazi” she means Tehmina Kazi, director of Muslims for Secular Democracy, Searchlight Educational Trust trustee and alleged associate of Flowers. Here and elsewhere in the article, Gable implies that something is very wrong at the heart of HnH. But implication is all we get.

It looks likely that money played a part in the split – to the point of the police being brought in – but undoubted political differences, still unnamed, certainly exist.

We have written extensive critiques of the sort of anti-fascism pushed by Searchlight, HnH and UAF. In a situation where the differences between the Gable's and HnH remain opaque, those who fund and support the organisations of 'official' anti-fascism – trade unions and their members – remain in the dark.

If your union branch or organisation subscribes to Searchlight, write them a letter and demand to know what's going on. If you're considering subscribing to the new HnH journal, do likewise. At the same time, start a debate about what sort of anti-fascism can be most effective against the real threat posed by groups like the English Defence League, the new far-right populists and the remnants of the British National Party.

As Sonia Gable writes in a subsequent article to 'Stange bedfellows', there is “no monopoly on antifascism”. This is true, but the real choice is between a liberal and popular frontist anti-fascism and a working class anti-fascism rooted in the trade unions and labour movement, an anti-fascism that fights racism and fascism with working class politics and working class organisation.

Comments

Searchlight and the NCP

On page 18 of the latest Searchlight, Sonia Gable quotes with approval an editorial from the NCP's 'New Worker.' It describes the Stalin-Roosevelt-Churchill troika as part of 'the most effective ant-fascist alliance in history' and part of the 'alliance [that] saved the world from the Nazi menace.' Be that as it may, do anti-fascists of 2012 really need or want the support of the NCP? The NCP supports the 'socialist' regime of North Korea, and NCP member-cum-DPRK groupie Daphne Liddle doubles as a Searchlight photographer. Is Kim Jong Un a socialist... or a fascist? Anti-fascists can do without the DPRK and the NCP, thank you.

Some clarifications

I did not describe Charlie Flowers as a member of the English Defence League but provided evidence, including the front cover picture, that he had associated with them. I did not say that Flowers had infiltrated UAF, only that he might have targeted that organisation for his mischief-making. I provided evidence that Tehmina Kazi is an associate of Flowers, not merely an alleged associate.

Money played only a minor part in the split between Searchlight and HNH. Differences between me and Nick Lowles over financial management were essentially a reflection of growing political differences. The accusation that I had stolen money was not a cause of the split but followed it.

There are significant political differences between us and HNH, some of which should be apparent from reading our respective magazines and websites. To give just one example, we do not believe that one can fight fascism by organising street parties on the coat tails of the Olympic Games – HNH's current project.

If Charlie Flowers is

If Charlie Flowers is suspicious because he 'associated' with the EDL, isn't Sonia suspicious because she 'associated' with the League of St. George? Perhaps Mr Flowers actually works for the Gables himself...

Flowers

In the report 'Strange bedfellows' Sonia Gable writes:
"Our front cover photo taken at an English Defence League rally in March 2010 shows Charlie Flowers holding the loud-hailer for Alan Ayling" and later that "Flowers claims now to have broken from the EDL."
The article - online and in print - features a picture of Flowers holding a UAF pamphlet.

So although Gable does not explicitly say that Flowers had infiltrated either of these organisations, the implication is there.

This is not the only implication in the article ... there are very many of them. So many, in fact, that unless you know 'what is going on' behind the scenes at Searchlight and Hope Not Hate you could get very confused. Perhaps Jack Yates got muddled by all the cloak and dagger stuff.

At the moment I have no intentions of buying HnH's new publication ... I'd rather give my money to something more politically useful! And it's nice to see the article on pages 16-17 of the Feb/March issue of Searchlight making similar points to Charlie Salmon's most recent analysis of the EDL.

I want to know more of Searchlights thinking

Hi Sonia

I do read searchlight and I can see differences in approach with Nick Lowles and HNH.

However I do whish you will make more explicit your critique of HNH and UAF or even about what you think of our critique of popular front anti-fascism? for instance at the Bradford EDL demo in 2010 HNH organised a fete celebrating multi-cultural Bradford with the council and were opposed to any counter mobilisation aganist the EDL. Do you agree with that sort of approach?

Also what do you think of a islamist linked to Jamaat-e-islami being elected vice chair of UAF.

What I find frustrating is that Searchlight is a good magazine that does some good work (Barking and Dagenham 2010, turning former fascists and your international reports for instance) but this is stymied by a lack of debate or discussion or engagement with other anti-fascists.

Let darkness depart

Nobody need be in the dark any more: all has been revealed in Notes From the Borderland issue 10 (see www.borderlandmagazine.co.uk). For a foretaste, which spells out key moments events and players, see 'Notes From the Borderland: our response to cyber-attack' on Indymedia UK. We will happily send a review copy if it will be reviewed: we sent issue 9 without receiving any acknowledgement