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.