PANDORA’S POX: HOW FAR RIGHT LABOUR HIJACKED THE HOPE NOT HATE CAMPAIGN
Larry O’Hara and Heidi Svenson
Observers of the UK anti-fascist scene have noticed the major fall-out between Searchlight magazine, published by Gerry Gable, and front campaign ‘Hope Not Hate’ headed by former Searchlight editor Nick Lowles. NFB readers are uniquely placed to understand this dispute because of prior research. Into Searchlight generally (‘Searchlight For Beginners’) Hope Not Hate (hereafter HNH) itself (see NFB issue 9 p.8-11) and this very split: which we were the first to break in detail: see ‘No Hope Lots of Hate’ 4/11/11 www.borderland.co.uk. The article below goes much further, fruit of an extensive anti-fascist intelligence operation launched some time ago, overseen by Agents Q & Z. As Comrade Machiavelli said “no enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution”. We could not ignore what we found inside HNH: a coup mounted by rich finance capitalists, political associates of Tony Blair, his disciple David Miliband and even Gordon Brown, PR gobbledygook merchants, a US Embassy ‘protected source’ married to an executive member of the spook-friendly ‘British American Project’ and various other failed Labour Party candidates. Nobody, least of all naive Last Century Leftists supporting HNH, should, after reading it, doubt HNH is being used as a template/springboard to take the Labour Party even further to the right, along the way junking even the pretence of a specific anti-fascist project. In case you’re wondering about the title: for reasons best known to themselves HNH deem ‘Pandora’s Box’ an important symbol of their campaign . We think pox a far more apposite metaphor than box...Another analogy you might ponder is cuckoos: those involved entered a nest and turfed out the original occupants.
Right from the start we should make something clear: as Leftist anti-fascists we abhor both sides in this dispute. If the bulk of (new) evidence raises questions about HNH and their backers, this should not be misconstrued as endorsing their opponents. One co-author (Larry) has been relentlessly harassed over the years by both sides . This history does not negate our research, but testifies to the accuracy of previous critiques: a tradition we hope to continue. Glaringly obvious, but worth emphasising, the Labour Right could easily hijack HNH precisely because it was never democratic, and always a front/hollow shell. A shell which Gerry Gable had no problem with when under control and ‘on message’. This structural democratic deficit, to which NFB has previously drawn attention, is the problem, and neither side welcomes participation by independent-minded anti-fascists. In one sense, therefore, the Gable clique has been hoist by their own petard. Unfortunately, the implications go far deeper than which set of shysters gets the Searchlight/Hope Not Hate franchises.
As usual, many have helped, we will not betray their trust . Our task was made easier by internal discontent about HNH’s current/future direction, concerns that cannot be articulated within a rigidly-controlled structure. We have no quarrel with grassroots HNH activists, but think the vast bulk need politically educating: this article is a start. If, having read it, you still want to be a dispensable stage-army for the serial funding applicants who run HNH, while imagining you are changing the world, don’t say you weren’t told
AIMS/SCOPE OF THIS ARTICLE
1) As background, explaining the organisational/political relationship between the three parts of Searchlight: the magazine, Searchlight Educational Trust & Searchlight Information Services, which has come spectacularly unstuck
2) Breaking the news blackout by outlining what has actually happened, on which see the timeline opposite.
3) Paying particular attention to the roles played by individuals, some of whom even those familiar with Searchlight won’t have heard of. To that end, key biographical data is contained in text boxes scattered throughout the article, using a different footnote numbering. Inevitably, our focus is more on HNH than Searchlight, not least because previous research has exhaustively examined the career and characters of Gerry and Sonia Gable especially. Matthew Collins and Nick Lowles we have mentioned before: but their recent activities break new ground. Hence the coverage.
4) Outlining the political programme those running HNH have been/are pursuing.
5) Drawing out the implications for both anti-fascism and progressive politics generally. You do not have to vote Labour or even support them to note with trepidation how the Labour Right have muscled in on HNH for their own purposes.
6) Including enough information to substantiate assertions, strangling at birth any preposterous claim the article is ‘invention’. We will not stoop to the Searchlight/HNH tactic of giving out home addresses, or even SET’s office location. Some assets unearthed in our investigations (such as the ‘Captain’) we will keep quiet about. Should either faction harass us, that will change. You have been warned.
7) Elucidating what we think might/will happen, and how anti-fascists should respond. One anticipated consequence is furious abuse/character assassination of NFB magazine. Rather than waste space here on lies (some about photographs/ghost-writing etc have already reached us) we have set up a specific rebuttal page in the Searchlight/Hope Not Hate section of borderland.co.uk, entitled ‘Against the Lie Machine: Answering Pandora’s Pox critics’. Anybody interested can check there: and if you come across new lies not mentioned, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
CIVIL WAR TIMELINE
May 2010 General Election: BNP did not break through, and lost all elected councillors in Barking and those up for election in Stoke. Seen as triumph for HNH.
July 24th 2010: Smeeth becomes SIS Secretary, Tuttle elected to Management Committee
Summer 2010: rumoured meetings between Nick Lowles, Cormac Hollingsworth, Ruth Smeeth, Simon Tuttle and Anthony Painter, at which game-plan is worked out. Lowles states around this time Gerry Gable told him he would ‘step aside’ in 2011. Gable vehemently denies this.
September 2010: Labour-supporting financier Richard Brindle moves into HNH orbit, entrancing Lowles
September 2010: Ruth Smeeth joins Searchlight Educational Trust
December 2010: Lowles proposes management committee of 5: him (‘Overview’), Ruth Smeeth (‘Office Manager’), Gerry Gable (‘Head of Research’), Sonia Gable (‘Finance Director’), Matthew Collins (‘Operations Director’). Collins claims privately he was going to replace Gable as ‘Head of Intelligence’.
December 2010: Cathy Pound, office worker, resigns (conflicts with Smeeth)
January 7th 2011: Painter & Hollingsworth join SET Trustees, the latter becoming Chair on 1/2
February 2011: publication of ‘Fear & Hope’, co-written by Painter and Lowles
March 28th 2011: Lowles & Hollingsworth meet Gerry & Sonia Gable, asking for the Searchlight magazine shares from Sonia, & Gerry to resign from SIS and SET by end of June 2011. Gable offered ‘honorary’ Presidency of SIS and nomination for a royal honour. Arise Lord Gable of Sheepshead!
April 2011: both sides canvas support from the Community Security Trust’s Richard Benson & Gerald Ronson.
April 14th 2011: Gerry Gable’s ‘Lone Wolves’ report published: to deafening silence on the HNH blog.
May 2011: Lowles demands access to all Searchlight bank accounts including those on-line (until then controlled by Sonia Gable)
June 1st 2011: Hollingsworth accuses Sonia Gable of leaking SET information: he should look closer to home...
June 2011: exchange of letters/emails between Lowles and Gerry Gable. Lowles criticises his competence and suggests immediate resignation. Gable disputes this and refuses to hand over the extensive Searchlight research archive. David Middleburgh of Gallant McMillan lawyers starts advising Lowles.
June 2011: Lowles writes to SET Trustees informing them Gable has to leave in 2011, leaving in 2014 is “unacceptable to me and Cormac”
July 5th 2011: SET Trustee Peter Adams & ex-Trustee Paul Hammond offer mediation to both sides. No takers.
July 2011: CST also offer to mediate; again no interest from either party.
July 27th 2011: Sonia Gable registers name ‘Hope Not Hate Ltd’, a clear pre-positioning for war.
August 2011: disagreement between Gerry Gable & Nick Lowles over September Searchlight content. Articles disputed concern Eva Gabrielsson (Stieg Larsson’s partner) and Matthew Collins’ book ‘Hate’.
August 12th 2011: HNH begin process of getting Hope Not Hate registered as a trademark
September 23rd 2011: Lowles resigns as Searchlight editor
September 24th 2011: that month’s Searchlight had still not been mailed out by SET staff-- “can’t be fucked, let it die” according to one source
September 24-25th 2011: both Gables, and ‘persons unknown’ visit SET offices to collect the magazines and ‘liberate’ (their term) ‘steal’ (HNH term) 20 filing cabinets plus numerous other materials/archives.
September 26th 2011: Sam Tarry (HNH) visits SET offices and finds the cupboard stripped bare: immediately informs Hollingsworth/Lowles who are junketing at Labour Party Conference in sunny Liverpool
September 27th 2011: emergency SET Trustees meeting called by Hollingsworth, following which both Gables immediately sacked, and police contacted about the archive removal. Smeeth appointed Secretary .
October 2011: that month’s Searchlight reports Lowles resigning as editor, but not why.
November 4th 2011: article ‘No Hope Lots of Hate: Civil War breaks out in the Searchlight Gang’ published on NFB web-site, causing consternation on both sides.
December 1st 2011: Gable writes letter to select circle announcing his & Sonia’s resignation from SIS in order to focus on other projects and wishes HNH “every success” (really?)
December 2011: HNH lobby CST to ensure all funds to Searchlight cut off and transferred to them.
December 2011: that month’s Searchlight criticises “poorly written” and plagiarised account of a New Right meeting on HNH web-site. Renewed appeal for funds.
December 4th 2011: Simon Tuttle replaces Gerry Gable as Director of Searchlight Information Services Ltd, Ruth Smeeth replaces Sonia Gable as Secretary.
December 2011-present: ongoing intemperate exchanges involving threatened legal action between both sides, mostly conducted through solicitors. Gallant McMillan (now Gallant Maxwell) act for HNH, Steel & Shamash for Searchlight.
January 20th 2012: Searchlight re-establish Nominet control of HNH & associated web-sites.
February 22nd 2012: Searchlight email European anti-fascists with their version of events, including a draft article naming a HNH/SET employee: HNH legal threats result in the February magazine getting pulped.
February 25th 2012: European anti-fa network votes to confirm HNH as their sole UK representative.
March 2012: Searchlight magazine publicly mention the split, and attacks SET board member Tehmina Kazi, .
March 2012: first issue of Hope Not Hate magazine
April 2012: Searchlight issue joint election leaflet with UAF (Goresbrook)
April 2012: HNH get £60,000 and future free Conference Stall from Unison the Union. Searchlight don’t.