HOPE not hate was founded on the very principle that if we are to counter narratives of hate, we must offer hope. We have long understood hate to often be a response to loss and an articulation of despair. But when given an alternative, especially one that understands and addresses their anger, most people will choose HOPE.
Since 2011, we have tracked public attitudes to race, faith and belonging in our Fear and HOPE reports. While the debate often gets split into identity issues versus standard of living, our research, recommissioned four times over the last seven years, finds that drivers of hate are often more complex and identity issues are dialled up or down depending on how the economy is doing.
Fear, Hope and Loss is an exploration of what drives hate, and what offers resilience to these narratives; what offers hope. While individual factors are important in framing how we see the world, these factors sit within a broader context of how people experience daily life.
It is no coincidence that our fight against the far right has taken us to Oldham, Grimsby and Thurrock, but not Oxford, Hampstead or Guildford. Our report finds that it is communities which have lost out most to globalisation, isolated coastal towns, post-industrial towns once reliant on single industry which have seen rapid decline. We find that a sense of hopelessness that the most hostile attitudes to migrants and minorities are concentrated.
There is no need to pander to prejudice in addressing the strong tide of anti-migrant sentiment. Given that the areas with the most hostile attitudes are those with some of the lowest levels of immigration in this country, reducing numbers of immigrants alone will have little impact of the attitudes of these people.
It is in communities which feel the greatest sense of loss where our fight against hate continues. It is about rebuilding these communities, equipping their young people with the skills that will enable them to compete more effectively in the modern global world and – fundamentally – giving them a sense of hope in the future.
To fight fascism, we understand the need to take the economic link seriously. We can run all the community events in the world to bring people together, we can try to rationalise the immigration debate with facts, we can fight the media and online platforms to pull hateful content. But none of this will be enough unless we can also offer real hope.
Fear, HOPE and loss sets the stage for us to move forward. In the coming months and years, we will focus on addressing the drivers of hate, and to ensure everyone can hope; from our research and data work, through to how we engage with communities on the ground.