INTRODUCTION (Larry O'Hara)
As is often the case with NFB, those we criticise have calculated that their best course of action is to say nothing publicly, but privately has been a different matter. There have been a couple of on-line spats that we will refer to in due course, but regarding the internet as a trivial and ephemeral medium by and large, we are in no rush (sorry kebab-man).
Critics are usually so desperate to deny us the oxygen of publicity that we are rarely named, even when criticised. A classic example is the tendentious article by journalist Martin Bright in the Jewish Chronicle 10/8/12 p.5 (also on-line). Inasmuch as it purports to deal with the HNH: Searchlight split, it is worth mentioning. And the Jewish Chronicle is an importyant news outlet. We have previous with Bright of course, not least when he wasted hours of my time a few years ago pumping me for information on matters of interest to the security services, with whom he has long had an intimate connection. Below, in green, are Bright's words: mine follow in red.
Over the years, Searchlight has provided an invaluable service to those investigating British fascist organisations, whether it was the street-fighting thugs of the National Front in the 1970s, or their slicker, be-suited successors in the British National Party.
If by this he means the atrocious BBC 'Secret Agent' documentary, analysed in NFB issue 6, the only organisation to find this "invaluable" was the BNP--it even inspired Nick Griffin to stand for election in Bradford.
This is a nasty, dangerous job, often involving the infiltration of the violent world of neo-Nazi groups and Searchlight did it brilliantly, sometimes by "turning" far-right activists to work for the anti-fascist cause.
As we have chronicled on numerous occasions, with the likes of Tim Hepple, Ray Hill and such like, those involved have often worked against the anti-fascist cause.
In recent years, a new generation of activists, led by Mr Gable's heir apparent Nick Lowles and Labour Party rising star Ruth Smeeth,
As we outline in detail in NFB 10, Smeeth is hardly a 'rising star', more of a US Embassy 'protected source'. But of course Bright wouldn't know the difference--thankfully voters in Labour's recent NEC elections do, and she failed to win a seat.
have transformed the organisation with the creation of the Hope Not Hate movement. With particular attention to tackling the electoral threat of the BNP and the rise of the English Defence League, Hope Not Hate has worked to unite communities in the face of Islamophobia and racism.
There is a strong case for arguing HNH have exaggerated the significance of the EDL, and the related British Freedom Party, to justify their £60,000 (or more precisely we now hear £66,000) DCLG grant.
I am proud to say I helped provide support through my charity, New Deal of the Mind, for young unemployed people to work on the oral history of the anti-fascist movement at the Searchlight Educational Trust.
Bright here shows his alignment to Hope Not Hate: and is this history available? Will it include testimony from anti-fascists fitted up by Searchlight? We doubt it.
There could not be a better tribute to the anti-fascist work of Gerry Gable than Hope Not Hate. Which is why it so saddening to report that the two have split in an increasingly bitter dispute over the direction of this most honourable of causes.
To use the word honourable to describe either side in this squalid squabble is a misnomer. But then, what would Samurai sword fantasist Bright know of honour? Nothing.
The word "tragic" is overused in politics, but there is something genuinely Oedipal about the way the Lowles-Gable narrative has played out. The Byzantine detail of the dispute is the subject of frenzied debate by various obsessives and conspiracy theorists on the web.
Here Bright excels even himself at dishonesty. The full dispute is outlined in NFB issue 10, and there is so little conspiracy theorising in the article, rather a wealth of internal documentation/verified fact, neither side (and Bright himself) have dared refute one thing we have said. There is no "frenzied debate"--NFB has explained in a wealth of substantiated detail twelve serious issues over which the two sides differ, and both sets of gutless cowards haven't dared refute one word. Precisely because NFB is a serious organ of record, we believe in a hard copy magazine--that Bright should omit to mention this is characteristic casuistry from him. The problem for Bright and others like is him is the fact that we are not conspiracy theorists. Which makes it more difficult to mention us, as JC readers might find out for themselves were we to be named.
But, at its simplest, Mr Gable has retained control of Searchlight magazine and its website, while Mr Lowles has effectively spun off Hope Not Hate as a separate organisation.
At best, this is a description of who has control over what: not why they are fighting.
There is no need to take sides. It is quite possible to pay tribute to the contribution made by Searchlight and Gerry Gable, while recognising the need for the more modern approach of Hope Not Hate.
What exactly is modern? Being run by a right-wing Labour clique? Or conning money out of unions like Unison opposed to public spending cuts, while acting as Coalition/DCLG stooges trying to prevent resistance to cuts?
Bright himself we should perhaps dismiss, as a conspiracy crank in league with the security services, as he has admitted in the past. But, sadly, Bright has influence, hence the reply.