Founded in 2004, Hope not Hate offers positive and strategic ways to combat fascism and racism in the UK. Working with local people to carry out targeted campaigns, it has become one of the largest and most recognized action groups in the country. Its annual State of Hate report is in its own words ‘the most comprehensive guide to what the far right has been up to and what to expect from them’.
In this interview, we speak to with Nick Spooner, Organizer at Hope not Hate, to learn more about his and his organisation’s work.
How do you work?
We inspire and encourage collaboration between organisations and individuals within the movement for racial equality through our training and educational programmes. Outside of the classroom, we partner with other campaign groups and trade unions on big issues and around certain events, such as the recent anti-Trump demonstrations.
How do you produce and share knowledge?
Research plays a substantial role in the functioning of Hope not Hate. The research manifests itself in many ways, from weekly summaries to long-form pieces such as our report into the International Alt-Right published in 2017. Most of this material is freely available online in the form of blogs or articles, but necessarily we do charge a small fee for some of the larger reports. We also have a bi-monthly magazine publication and we recently launched our podcast too!
What are your campaign strategies?
Broadly our main strategy is to expose and undermine the far right in the community and at the ballot box. As the far right are finding new ways to stir up division and hatred – especially online – this means antifascists have to be able to adapt to meet the new challenges that are emerging. We also work to up-skill our activists and supporters in the fields of community organising and campaigning, and we run schools-based education courses. On top of this, we also run voter registration campaigns to limit the scale of the democratic deficit in this country.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
There are some significant challenges facing us at the moment. Although the actual fascist groups have been obliterated at the ballot box, a good chunk of their rhetoric has simply been subsumed into the mainstream. The window of discourse on a number of issues pertaining to immigration, and especially to Islam and Muslims, has been dragged further towards the right.
Furthermore, 15,000 people marched in London a couple of months ago in support of the convicted felon and thug, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”), after he was locked up for nearly caused a mistrial of alleged sex-offenders. His is a movement that is very well-funded by anti-Islam groups and individuals from the United States and if you couple that with Lennon’s seemingly insatiable desire for self-promotion and publicity as well as his playing fast-and-loose with the truth, then it would appear that that movement will not be disappearing any time soon.
On top of all of this, we are now in a “post-organisational” far-right state, where traditional local far-right structures have broken down, and adherents are now concerning themselves with radically shifting culture through online platforms, hoping to see a change in the political landscape follow. As a movement, we have to be better at dealing with this, and Hope not Hate is making some exciting steps to tackle this head-on.
This interview was taken on 24 August 2018 and updated on 3 May 2019.