by HOPE not hate, Norfolk activist, Michael Walker:
The recent outstanding success of Hope not hate (Hnh) in the Euro elections shows that there is wide spread support for an anti-racist organisation in the UK. Indeed, I believe that it could become the organisation that many people hoped for when the original Anti Nazi League was formed in 1977.
This potential will cause as many challenges for Hope not hate as it does present opportunities. I believe that for Hnh to become the mainstream anti racist organisation in the UK, Searchlight will have to give up control of Hnh and let it float off to have a separate identity and structure. If handled adroitly, Hnh could become the most significant anti-racist organisation in Britain and could attract significant funding and resources. It could counter racism in all aspects of British society and Hnh could become the principal reference organisation to counter racist organisations; organisations with some racist policies and racist individuals.
It could sponsor research and work to establish positive stereotypes instead of having to be a primarily defensive and reactive organisation. There is also the potential for Hnh to establish international sections that can take the template of Hnh Britain and help to set up ant-racist organisations throughout the world.
The new organisation would act as a central resource, research and advocacy unit leaving local groups to decide upon strategy and tactics. What is most appropriate in Norfolk is not what is most appropriate in Leeds. The only requirement for local groups is to sign up to the Hnh charter that sets out its golden principles with regards to its mission and also the way that Hnh would like groups to operate – for example to be non-violent.
I know that this approach is highly contentious, but the greatest single achievement that Searchlight could bequeath Britain as a legacy would be to have created the largest, strongest and most effective anti racist organisation in British political history.
To become this organisation, Hnh will have to establish itself within the main stream of British politics and adopt principles of strict non-violent and passive resistance to racist actions, as well as reconsidering the "no platform" principle.
If Hnh has confidence in its message then perhaps it should be prepared to take on racists publicly to show that we are right and they are wrong?
Pertinently, if UKIP continue to fight elections in the same racist way that they fought Norwich North, then Hnh needs to be prepared to say that UKIP’s policies are as racist as the BNP’s. In which instance, where is the logic to argue that we will not debate publicly with the BNP but we will do so with UKIP, even though their policies are almost identical in intent?
OVERARCHING OBJECTIVES OF Hnh - to become the most effective and respected organisation in ant- racist activities in the UK. Hope not hate should aim to occupy the centre ground of British political & community action to counter racist policies and parties, leaving the extremes to either racist groups such as the BNP, or extreme left-wing groups who advocate violent solutions to tackling racists.
To occupy this central position, Hnh will need to achieve widespread understanding that it is a non-party political organisation that is not "left-wing" or "communist", but that is supported by the overwhelming majority of the community.
Hope not hate needs to create a new perception that you do not have to be left-wing to oppose racism and racist actions and policies. At the moment in Britain, the principal problem for anti-racists is that they are often perceived as the reflection of racist groups.
CHARTER & GOLDEN PRINCIPLES - It is suggested that Hnh devises a series of principles (say approximately 10) that are the fundamental purpose of Hnh and that form its central policy. These become the "golden principles" of the organisation and are a statement of what Hnh believes in – opposition to racist parties and policies; advocating positive messages about the benefits of immigration; a commitment to non-violent protest; passive resistance to far right demonstrations, and a recognition that where possible HnH will work with the Police to tackle racial violence and to overcome the violence of racists and other far rightists.
STRUCTURE – Hnh should stand alone from Searchlight as an independent, voluntary organisation with its own management committee; staffing and resources. In its initial period, it could still be housed by Searchlight, but its intention should be to be a stand alone organisation as soon as resources permit.
Hnh’s appeal to the community should be as a diverse membership organisation dedicated to countering racism, negative campaigning on immigration and countering the myths that immigration causes.
MEMBERSHIP - Hnh should have classes of membership – from individuals, trade unions, community groups, as well as companies and other organisations such as racial equality councils etc. Membership fees should be low enough to encourage membership (less than £10 per year), and membership should entitle you to receive a newsletter and full voting rights on all matters of policy.
RESOURCES – Hnh should be able to attract significant additional resources as well as membership fees and research income. Donations from other charities and trade unions should be a substantial part of annual income, and if the organisation develops an international profile, funding from the UN and other agencies becomes possible.
FINANCIAL PLANNING – it is important that Hnh has a long-term viable future and the management committee should aim for it to be self-sustaining from sales of products and membership income and donations. Hnh needs to become a permanent organisation with a realistic budget and work programme.
MEMBERSHIP EXCLUSION - HnH should be explicit in its charter and objectives regarding the problems that factionalism has caused the anti racist movement in the past, especially those caused by Trotskyite groups. It would be fair to make membership of some organisations incompatible with membership of HnH.
It is also arguable that HnH could preclude membership of HnH to SWP members because they do not subscribe to the ideas and methodology of HnH.
– to tackle all racist organisations and individuals, whether racism is via religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation.
- to become the leading resource with regards to statistics and information to be able to expose the lies and deceit of those organisations that use race to pursue political or social objectives.
- to enable local community groups to campaign against racist organisations and individuals by providing training and advice.
- to commission research to counter the myths of "Migration Watch" et al.
HnH should never become affiliated to any political party or perspective, but it could campaign independently for a series of positive policies that could be adopted by the Government and hopefully gain cross party support. It could act as a monitor of Government policies and campaign to overcome those that are either racist or likely to cause an increase in racist sentiment.
Michael Walker July 2009