For fifteen years, among those who organised to combat the far right, Hope Not Hate was not merely in the vanguard, but at the forefront. The group did exactly what it said on the tin: it stood firm against racism and fascism. It sought successfully to “combine first class research with community organising and grassroots actions to defeat hate groups at elections and to build community resilience against extremism”.
Many who stand against the far right supported HnH; indeed, many donated to it. Then something disturbing happened: HnH began to attack politicians, rather than defend citizens from the violence and intimidation of the fascists. Specifically, as Wikipedia has put it, “In November 2019, [CEO Nick] 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”. Was Williamson a fascist or racist? Well, no he wasn’t.
And nor had he been thus accused. Now, after Labour barred Williamson from defending his Derby North seat as the party’s candidate, has come the Tweet that broke the camel’s back. “HOPE not hate has been calling for Labour to expel Chris Williamson over his trolling of the Jewish community, so we welcome the decision to effectively bar him as a candidate. It is depressing that this was even a possibility, he has no place in the Labour Party whatsoever”. When did HnH become the arbiter of what was OK for Labour to do?
Moreover, what was this “trolling” of which they spoke? Worst of all, the inference of this Tweet is that there is a monolithic “Jewish Community”, which is in itself blatantly anti-Semitic - as defined by the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
This was not lost on Jews Sans Frontières, who responded “Hope not Hate might be anti-fascist (on the other hand they might not be) but they are certainly not anti-racist. Presenting the Jewish community as one politically motivated bloc is the main manifestation of antisemitism today. This is no faux pas. They know what they are saying”.
Other reactions have shown that HnH is losing the support of many, with Mark Baldwin’s response typical: “I have been a long term supporter of Hope not Hate but I really don't understand your take on this. I am no Labour or Williamson supporter but really do not understand what your evidence is”. Quite. And there was more.
Another Tweeter observed “I follow these issues closely. I have not seen any examples of Chris Williamson ‘trolling’ the Jewish community. Labour has not accused him of ‘trolling’ the Jewish community. Do you have ANY evidence for your allegation? If not it may be regarded as a lie by you”. Corry Shaw added “I have been a supporter of Hope not Hate for a long time. I am amazed to see this post. Championing Palestinian human rights is not antisemitic or trolling Jewish people. This is a real shame”.
And Mick Leatherland asked the inevitable question. “Hope not Hate...great sentiment and once upon a time a greatly respected organisation. I’m afraid your comment re CW wouldn’t look out of place in any of the right wing gutter rags! What happened?”
What indeed. HnH has lost its way. Why that may be is for others to explain.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at