The dangerous and divisive Brexit Party will be our focus in this campaign, writes Nick Lowles, but we will call out hate wherever it shows itself.

The election officially starts after Parliament is dissolved tonight. While I will never lose my sense of hope for what the future can hold, I have to admit that this election also fills me with dread. This is likely to be a bitterly fought, high stakes contest over Brexit and the very nature of the country we want to be. 

Whoever wins this election will have the difficult task of slowly rebuilding trust and understanding, not just between Westminster and the voters but across our whole society. 

As the election gets underway, I wanted to share with you all about HOPE not hate’s focus in this campaign. While the dangerous and divisive Brexit party will rightly get much attention from those of us who seek to stem the tide of hate, a challenge for voters is that even the Conservatives and Labour themselves have failed to tackle poisonous elements within their own parties. During this election HOPE not hate will be campaigning vigorously against the Brexit party, but also against the threats to unity and tolerance within our multicultural and pluralistic society – anti-Semitism in the Labour party, anti-Muslim prejudice in the Conservative party.

It is imperative that the British electorate reject the ever-present threat of Nigel Farage and his politics of blame. Although he is back with a slicker branding, voters shouldn’t be fooled by his Brexit party operation — underneath the surface it’s the same discredited brand of blame-game politics and nastiness. Farage is desperate to pretend that the Brexit Party is only about one thing – a reckless, dangerous no-deal Brexit, whereas in reality, it will prove a vehicle to smuggle privatisation, American-style libertarianism and divisive populism into Parliament. He would like voters to forget his greasing up to Donald Trump, his endorsing of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and of course all the Brexit party members that they had to drop like hot potatoes when their unsavoury views and prejudices were brought to the public’s attention. It’s imperative that Farage and his Brexit party, and the politics he represents, aren’t allowed to flourish or cunningly present itself as a solution to the genuine hardships in often-ignored communities across the country. We will be hitting the ground in seats where our polling shows the Brexit Party is strong, working to persuade people to turn away from their dangerous and divisive politics, and to encourage the majority of people who don’t like Farage to actually make sure they register, and turn out, to vote.

Labour goes into this election still bowed down by its failure to tackle the anti-Semitism that has damaged its reputation as an anti-racist party. Adding to the list of well-respected Jewish MPs who have quit the party in recent times, Dame Louise Ellman, a Labour stalwart for decades, stepped down last month saying that anti-Semitism had become “mainstream” in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. It is imperative in this election that Labour take a zero-tolerance approach to any sign of hate speech towards the Jewish community, and implement that zero-tolerance approach relentlessly, without favour. 

At the same time, the Conservative party has miserably failed to tackle the anti-Muslim prejudice within its own ranks. Former Conservative co-chair Baroness Warsi has said that Islamophobia in the Conservative Party goes “right from the grassroots, all the way up to the top” but it was downplayed by the leadership for electoral reasons. 

If either party stands any candidates who have engaged in a pattern of racism, we will call them out, and we will campaign against their election. We’ll be on the lookout for any candidate, and if you come across any we want you to get in touch with us (best thing to do is email [email protected] and our team will follow up.)

As unpromising as the timing of this election is, it’s important that those of us committed to a politics of unity, co-operation and tolerance seize this opportunity to try and contribute to ending to the bitterness of the last few years. The public deserves Parliamentarians who will work hard for everyone in society, without favour or prejudice, and a government that represents the country that it serves – because although we cannot know what challenges lay beyond the election, we do know that whatever the country has to face, we have to face it together.