NO HOPE, LOTS OF HATE: CIVIL WAR BREAKS OUT IN THE SEARCHLIGHT GANG
by Larry O'Hara 4/11/11
What delicious irony! After a concerted campaign accusing the British National Party (rightly) of financial shady practice, inside sources inform us Hope Not Hate, Searchlight's dummy front campaign (headed by Nick Lowles), is in the process of declaring organisational UDI from the overall organisation, headed by Gerry Gable (proprietor). Reports coming in are sketchy (if amusing: like the one about Fitzpatrick heard in a Victoria Park pub!) and to safeguard sources what follows is not as detailed as it could be, but the need for this may well change.
The main cause for the split seems to be money: the HNH franchise has been very successful raking in money from gullible punters under increasingly tenuous pretexts. A recent classic was the call by Lowles for people to email in protest about BNP financial chicanery. Shortly thereafter, he boasted on the HNH blog (14/10/11) how after he emailed petitioners they donated £250 "within minutes". The problem for Nick Lowles has not so much been raising cash, but getting access to it. We have already drawn attention (NFB issue 9, also on this web-site) to the totally undemocratic nature of HNH, including the fact that money is (or rather was until the split) still payable to Searchlight, sent to the Ilford PO Box directly under the control of Gerry Gable and his tax-scheming wife, the charming Sonia, who still hasn't answered my questions of 15 years ago about setting up Irish Left Republicans for assassination (never too late S, how about it?). In alliance with Blue State Digital, HNH has been bringing in large amounts of money, but as donations began an (inevitable) drop off after the General Election last year, this declined. Or maybe not: one point of contention seems to be Lowles complaint he has not had access to all financial records. The suspicion was that the Gables have been creaming it off, and at best diverting it into funding a glossy full-colour Searchlight which Lowles edited until he downed tools following a furious expletive-filled argument in September. Another sub-text is differential attitudes towards Islamist militancy: more on this later.
We should be clear about one thing--neither side give a fig about the supporters, or lack of democratic participation in HNH. Both are fully in bed with the political police: Gable with his 'Lone Wolf' project, and Lowles with his increasingly shrill calls for police to ban ever-more demonstrations. Following the row, it seems, recognising where the (fresh) money is, most of the vaunted Searchlight 'team' have jumped ship with Lowles: Graeme Atkinson & Matthew Collins to name but two. After all Gable has done, safeguarding Collins and refuting nasty rumours about his connections to Loyalist paramilitaries in London (although not those about MI6), for Matty to betray Gable so brings tears to the eyes. Tears of laughter that is...
The people I feel sorry for (genuinely!) are those who see Searchlight as the anti-fascist movement's journal of record. Rather less sorry, but still slightly, for those subscribers who in September 2011 received a magazine titling itself 'International magazine of the Hope Not Hate Campaign', complete with 4 pages of HNH news and the invitation (p.35) that to "learn about the HNH campaign around the country you should subscribe to Searchlight...the essential magazine for Hope Not Hate organisers". By October's issue, in true Stalinist fashion, with a few exceptions reference to HNH had vanished, the logo certainly had. It is as if, like that erased photo of Trotsky next to Lenin on the podium, HNH had never existed. Two references to HNH were in the editorial though. First was Gable's admission Lowles "creator of the very successful Hope Not Hate campaign, decided to stand down as editor". A hint, if very slight, money was involved, came when Gable stated "the editor of Searchlight has never been a paid position but one held on a voluntary basis" (p.4). The second reference followed the announcement Searchlight was no longer going to be produced in full colour, and was very plaintive. "When the call goes out from Hope Not Hate to take part in campaigns against the BNP, EDL or other far-right threats, do respond, but please also talk to your friends colleagues and families about raising regular support to keep Searchlight in print" (p.5). Still, Gable has maintained Searchlight's reputation for accuracy: in an astonishing feat of post-mortem magic that Himmler would have revelled in, "John Tyndall, who died in July 1975, founded the British National Party and led it until Nick Griffin became chairman until 1999" (p.6).
Aside from the problems posed for Searchlight's continuation, there is a dilemma for HNH. If the BNP is currently in the doldrums (which it is, though this may not be permanent: see my article in forthcoming NFB issue 10), then the EDL is the main 'far right' threat. However, Lowles and company are very clear that it is the state who should ban the EDL, thus there is little actual activity for HNH supporters to engage in other than tedious 'e-petitions' and clicking the 'donate' button. All very exciting, not.
In any acrimonious split, the first question is who has control of the assets. In the case of Searchlight these are
1) Subscriber lists: Gable has them, but so does Lowles, precipitating Gable to switch postal distributors for the October edition. The far bigger number of HNH contact email addresses Lowles has, Gable hasn't. So, in tennis parlance 30-15 Lowles
2) Assets inside groups/internal documents spanning decades: Gable has access to these, indeed it is noteworthy HNH had no report from inside the BNP's AGM 29/10/11. Regarding internal documents, my source commented "everybody knows the area round Gants Hill tube station". 30-all
3) Control of the Hope Not Hate web domain, and PO Box 67476 London NW3 9RF through which HNH are now soliciting direct donations, resides with Gerry Gable. Despite HNH having a cable London telephone number under their control, (02076818660 if you want to commiserate) , they are further hampered, by Hope Not Hate being "the campaigning name of Searchlight Information Services Ltd". Would be an interesting court case..True, HNH now have a direct Pay-pal account, but regarding infrastructure the initiative lies with Gable: 30-40 in Gable's favour.
4) Media links: Gable has hitherto sought to keep these very much under his thumb, but quite frankly in public he comes across as an increasingly sad shambolic meandering figure. Lowles has contacts of his own at the BBC and on the Daily Mirror. So, a difficult one to call: we'll replay that point. Still 30-40.
5) International contacts: previously, a Gable trump card, but Lowles & Atkinson have just returned from a successful visit to Sweden, where they sought to build a future collaboration (not involving Searchlight) with EXPO, the magazine set up by police ally & sometime fiction writer Stieg Larsson. Cheekily, patently directed at Gable, Lowles on his blog (4/11/11) praises EXPO as "clearly the most professional anti-fascist magazine in Europe". Given there have been two periods when it hasn't even published, it only comes out four times a year (to Searchlight's 12) and it is any case heavily state-subsidised, that's a bit rich, but still...Until this move, I'd have said Searchlight held the balance, by a whisker, but this evens thing up: 40-40, deuce. All still to play for.
In the current situation, might I be forgiven a little schadenfreude, as both factions are reprehensible, especially from my personal point of view. Gable has printed lies about me being involved in Loyalist/Nazi drug-dealing etc, but so has Atkinson (see Searchlight Fiction Pulped on this web-site). Lowles was the coward who took my photo for later publication in Searchlight. Putting personal issues to one side, if a genuinely democratic anti-fascist campaign comes out of all this (which HNH patently isn't) like a revived Anti-Fascist Action/Antifa, that would be good. Equally, if Searchlight's death-grip monopoly on anti-fascism was broken, that would be too. There will be further regroupment, and already Searchlight are scraping the barrel. Gable is pursing his cow's lip and even thinking of giving Tony Robson unheard of responsibilities, for example. It is difficult not to reflect that after nearly 50 years in this business, Gable has been rewarded with all the loyalty his behaviour deserves. Atkinson, for example, first became involved with Searchlight in the mid-70's, at the precise time Gable was wheedling his way into radical journalist circles (the Aubrey/Berry/Campbell defence campaign) pretending to support them against state persecution yet in reality spying on them for MI5 (as revealed in the infamous Gable Memorandum). In the years since, Gable and Searchlight have lied constantly about anti-fascists of every stripe. Llittle surprise then, that he has gathered around him such a bunch of shysters, turncoats and weasels devoid of no principle but self-aggrandisement.
It may, or may not, take a little time for festering internal conflict to break out into open war, but if and when it does, NFB will be, as always, on the case. Lowles, contacted by NFB, was non-committal. Considering the even distribution of assets, it is in the objective interest of both factions (especially HNH) to keep a lid on things as long as possible and establish a modus vivendi lucrative for both sides. Outraged feelings, especially on Gable's part, might hinder that. We shall see. The expected response from Searchlight to our revealing their problems will be denial, and hurling abuse/evading the arguments. Yet some things cannot be gainsaid: Lowles no longer edits Searchlight, in October Searchlight dropped presenting themselves as the magazine of HNH, Lowles has taunted Gable by elevating EXPO to leading status magazine-wise, and HNH now have their own conduit for processing donations. All this, apologists hope you haven't noticed. Yet the facts are clear to see.
As for our sources, well done, keep the information coming!!
PS (dated 7/12/11) The above piece mistakenly implies it was the idea of Gable, not Lowles, to print all Searchlight in full colour (not just a few pages). We happily correct this (albeit minor) error. A full colour Searchlight on glossy paper was never feasible financially. Hence dropping this policy was inevitable as soon as Lowles retired hurt. We await with interest the HNH publication planned for the New Year. It will be fascinating to see whether it is glossy and in full colour throughout, not just front & back....