Far-left activist group HOPE Not Hate (HNH) has been campaigning in Britain’s local elections in support of the Labour party, using sponsored social media posts and leaflet drops in actions that may beg questions about the interference of foreign money in British politics.
The group – which has taken cash off billionaire banker and open-borders activist George Soros and had an income of nearly a million pounds in 2016 – has released leaflets promoting the policies of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and Green party nationally, whilst appearing to mock UKIP and even the Tories.
And in the West Midlands town of Dudley, they had promised a “big” and “targeted” campaign, working directly with Labour Party activists and former politicians to target a UKIP candidate and “do whatever it takes to unseat” him.
– Vote 🗳
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) May 1, 2018
They have deployed activists in the town to distribute their glossy, professional literature as well as funding a targeted Facebook advertising campaign against UKIP MEP and councillor for the Sedgely borough of Dudley, Bill Etheridge.
“We’re going to have a big campaign going on around Bill Etheridge. We’ve got some belting leaflets that are really funny but are also very true,” announced Joe Mulhall, a senior researcher at HNH, on the group’s podcast on the 27th of April.
“HOPE Not Hate is running a very targeting local campaign to oust him from Dudley Council… we don’t think that someone with his sort of values belongs on a local council,” he added.
Those pictured out campaigning in Dudly with HNH literature in-had include Gurinder Singh Josan, a Labour activist and former politician who recently stood for the party’s NEC. He has also been pictured distributing Labour leaflets in the town ahead of this week’s vote.
“I was pleased to be able to join a HOPE not Hate campaign session in Dudley this morning with Tom and Arun. All part of the campaign to remove hate from Dudley!” he wrote on Facebook on the 29th of April.
“I’ve been a Labour member since I was 16 years old. I’m a Trustee and Director of anti-racism/fascism campaign HOPE not Hate… a Board member of West Midlands Strategic Police & Crime Board appointed by the Labour PCC,” and a former local councillor, he added in a post on the 19th of March.
— Gurinder Singh Josan (@gsjosan) April 29, 2018
HNH appears to be acting as a “third party” or “non-party campaigner” in the local elections, as covered by the Representation of the People Act 1983. They deny working directly for Labour, but UKIP has previously accused them of being “attack dogs” for the party, allowing Labour to “cheat” and effectively exceed spending limits.
The group has been campaigning against UKIP since 2013, and most recently attacked them in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election last year, campaigning on issues such as the environment and animal rights. The local Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, was a former secretary of HNH and remained a director during the campaign.
They also campaigned in Dagenham last year, with leaked emails suggesting they were effectively backing Labour with 16,000 anti-UKIP leaflets aimed at “black and Asian voters” and 3,100 “get out the vote” leaflets for “socially liberal households”.
The Electoral Commission later slammed them for “bad practice” in Stoke, after they improperly failed to include their address on campaign literature.
Speaking about the Dagenham case, a HNH spokesman said they do “not support or endorse any single political party”, claiming: “All our political campaigning is regulated by the Electoral Commission and we fully comply with all election rules.”
In the group’s recent podcast discussing their tactics for the coming elections, a HNH staffer describes “why we don’t like [Mr. Etheridge]”, claiming he is on the “anti-Muslim end of the UKIP spectrum” and has “supported banning Muslim clothing and halal foods”.
Mr. Etheridge has previously described himself as on the “libertarian” side of UKIP and threatened last year to leave the party if it elected an anti-Muslim leader. He also supports Muslim schools and gay marriage.
Yet, according to HNH, he is also “a big fan of” groups who are “full of the classic anti-Semitic tropes” and should be condemned for speaking approvingly of elements of Enoch Powell’s 1968 Birmingham ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. Mr. Etheridge insists he condemns racism, including anti-Semitism.
His “most shocking recent action”, HNH says, was to invite someone from the “far right” German AfD party to a UKIP meeting in his area. The AfD is the third largest political party in Germany with more than 90 seats in the legislature.
The claims Mr. Etheridge is associated with anti-Semitic groups comes just days after HNH was itself forced to distance itself from a supporter who became embroiled in Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism scandal.
Soros-Funded HOPE Not Hate Forced to Distance Themselves from Supporter’s ‘Anti-Semitic Rants’ https://t.co/faQb1m4iMz
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 23, 2018
Former Momentum and HNH activist Ian Love was accused of writing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, labelling former prime minister Tony Blair “Jewish to the core,” and claiming he was under the “protection” of the Rothschild banking family.
HNH has previously been described as “Orwellian bigots” by leading Muslim reformer Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, and they were exposed by the Economist for grossly exaggerating statistics in one of their reports into the tragic death of Jo Cox MP, which they used to fundraise.
Since then, they have rebranded, redesigned their website, and promised to expand their anti-UKIP activities. In May, they claimed to have “the capacity to put out up to 30,000 direct mails a day” and to possess “the most unbelievable data which profiles our key constituencies street by street”.
The group’s founders were linked to a far-left Trotskyist magazine and one of their most senior activists once described their work as intentionally “dirty, underhand, low down, unscrupulous”.
Hope Not Hate promises a massive, targeted campaign to ‘stop UKIP’ in the general election. https://t.co/roRoAiZbvA
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 12, 2017