Strike ball

Searchlight Magazine June2011 by Nick Lowles | Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Another successful year for the HOPE not hate campaign

Another successful year for the HOPE not hate campaign

The HOPE not hate campaign can once again be proud of what it achieved in the 2011 elections. Across the country hundreds of activists played an important contribution in the defeat of the BNP.

Against the backdrop of deep public spending cuts, a new coalition government and the AV referendum, to say nothing of the BNP’s own decline over the past year, it was always going to be hard to generate the same interest and involvement as in 2010. Then, with the BNP pushing hard to win control of Barking and Dagenham council and gain its first MPs, literally thousands got involved.

This year’s campaign was always going to be focused on those 25 wards where the BNP posed a serious threat. Obviously our activists and local groups were encouraged to distribute material anywhere the BNP stood, but our priority was always to defeat the sitting BNP councillors and preventing the party from winning any more.

With the BNP holding just two of the 11 seats it was defending and its failure to win any new ones, we can happily say it was job done.

Just some of the HOPE not hate election material produced and delivered

In collaboration with the National Union of Teachers and the Daily Mirror, we produced locally customised tabloid newspapers for each of our key risk areas. Five of the eight pages were common to each edition leaving us three pages to address local issues and concerns. These were often given over to positive local stories.

Understandably, the BNP reacted with fury to these effective newspapers. BNP and English Defence League thugs intimidated and threatened our activists in Thurrock, while in Luton the BNP responded by issuing a leaflet that depicted Lenin reading our HOPE not hate newspaper and some bizarrely photoshopped images of myself and Colonel Gaddafi together.

In addition to the local versions of the newspaper, we also produced customised editions for the PCS union and Unison. Addressing the economic concerns of trade union members, as highlighted in our Fear and HOPE survey, is a growing element of our election strategy. In addition to the newspapers, we produced a leaflet aimed specifically at union members, which highlighted why the BNP did not have the answers for today’s economic problems.

For the second year running we teamed up with Unison to produce material that reached out to women voters in our target wards. The tone and content of these leaflets was soft, family-orientated and spoke of the division and trouble the BNP could bring to an area.

Over 100,000 of these leaflets were distributed to women in our key 25 wards, many hand-delivered with individually addressed covering letters. It was the most labour-intensive and organisationally most challenging part of our campaign, as it required buying in electoral data, separating the women from the men, mail-merging letters and making sure our activists delivered them to the correct houses, but we believed it was one of the most effective tools in our electoral armoury.

In several areas we also produced election day knock-up cards. These went only to identified anti-BNP households, so as not to remind BNP voters to turn out. In some cases they were followed up with a second card and a knock-up later in the day. In Thurrock we specifically targeted BAME voters to ensure they voted.

The 2011 campaign was smaller than last year’s but it was just as sophisticated and targeted. As the BNP struggles to survive, HOPE not hate can be proud of our role in its undoing. No single leaflet or action beats the BNP; rather it is the culmination of years of campaigning in the very communities targeted by the fascists.

  • You may also wish to read >> On the brink For the second consecutive year the British National Party suffered a humiliation at the hands of the voters with its impact reaching far beyond the immediate council elections.

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