Searchlight Magazine

Fact and fiction

I have expressed before my disappointment that accuracy seems to be unfashionable and unappreciated these days. My view is that fighting fascism with lies is counter-productive. If an antifascist organisation supplies wrong information, sooner or later people will stop listening.

And it serves no purpose. Why, for example, maintain, that Andrew Brons MEP, formerly of the BNP, has formed a new party called True Brits with Peter Phillips as the chairman, when in fact it has been clear since early November that it is called the British Democratic Party, its chairman is Kevin Scott and Phillips is not involved? You need to identify the fascist enemy to fight it effectively.

Granted there might sometimes be a tactical reason to plant disinformation. But such a ploy needs to be used with care, for a defined purpose, and only for as long as it serves that purpose. And then corrected. Otherwise you lose your reputation for reliability.

I can’t think of any good reason to report that a fascist meeting has been attacked when it hasn’t. The British Democratic Party has embarked on a series of regional meetings to build up for its national launch, which may now be delayed until after Christmas. The first of these meetings took place in Newcastle upon Tyne on 24 November. It was not attacked by antifascists, and the local antifascists who didn’t attack the meeting were not tipped off by the British National Party about where the meeting was being held. Brons’s supporters have used the venue before and the only “attack” on it was a bit of antifascist graffiti on an outside wall several months ago.

Whether anyone claimed on Facebook that the attack – the one that didn’t happen – was “the work of Hope Not Hate’s office staff”, I wouldn’t know, but if such gossip appeared on Facebook, it only goes to show that Facebook “intelligence” should always be viewed with a healthy dose of scepticism and checked before use.

Hope Not Hate still has a section on its website all about a fascist party called “True Brits” led by Phillips. The report about the non-attack in Newcastle claimed the British Democratic Party was “formerly known as True Brits”. It wasn’t. Both have existed as registered political parties, albeit dormant ones, since last year – check the Electoral Commission website if you want to verify this. Brons’s steering group first wanted to use the True Brits registration; then when Phillips changed his mind they took up Adrian Davies’s offer of the BDP. There was no name change.

What HNH did correct is the biographical information it posted about Davies. Force of necessity perhaps: Davies is a barrister, the original text was probably libellous. Perhaps Davies himself, or one of HNH’s less slapdash office staff, noticed. Unfortunately the original libellous version is also in the printed Hope Not Hate magazine (issue 5, page 41), not so easily amended.

Update 28.11.2012 at 11:40 We are pleased to see that HNH have corrected their website section on Brons's new party, at least partly at this moment. To our detractors we say this article has achieved a result for antifascists who look to HNH for information. 

© 2013 Searchlight Magazine Ltd, PO Box 1576, Ilford IG5 0NG

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