I know that it might sound to some like a utopian policy concoction straight out of the Green Party, but I see no reason for the ongoing battle between UKIP and Hope Not Hate (plus affiliated groups). Why can't we all just get along?
At the conference in September 2013 UKIP voted to proscribe Hope Not Hate, the flashpoint in a feud stretching back months. I was one of the delegates in Methodist Hall to vote against the motion. This was a decision not taken because I am a member of or sympathiser towards HNH, indeed their opposition to UKIP baffles and angers me in about equal measure, but for other reasons.
The primary amongst these is that I felt that if UKIP publically opposed HNH, a step previously reserved for the likes of the BNP, that it would cause arguably valid anger within HNH. From that the organisation would likely lash out at UKIP and oppose our campaigns. This, I thought would be less than desirable in a year culminating with the European Elections. Despite some delegates muttering similar feelings to my own the motion passed and our fears have been vindicated. HNH and their affiliated groups have led a full anti-UKIP campaign.
From appearing on television to producing anti-UKIP leaflets that, incidentally, bordered on lies, the campaign was relentless. Obviously the result of the election left the UK looking decidedly purple but is my opinion that without HNH the win could have been even greater. They even set up a 'Purple Rain Blog' to catalogue UKIP activities which they disagreed with! Protests followed Nigel Farage's tour of the UK and even saw him physically assaulted by one participant brandishing a 'Nasty Little Nigel' placard. This could have been avoided though better management of HNH.
If actual violence, reminiscent perhaps of groups who they claim to oppose, did not surprise onlookers enough, then the anti-hate organisation being openly hateful about David Coburn MEP surely did. Coburn was continually lambasted throughout the campaign. One picture in particular had been edited to depict him as a clown. Thankfully this picture met with much criticism from those who came across it on Twitter. If I were more of a conspiracy theorist I would perhaps suppose that HNH had an ulterior motive in their opposition to Coburn. Through being homosexual he disproves HNH's claims of UKIP homophobia and as such, I might presume, they did not approve of his successes in becoming a Scottish MEP.
UKIP of course do not have clean hands in all of this. In addition to proscribing HNH there came many attacks from senior spokesmen, including slandering them as 'far left'. The party also continued on the (non hateful) immigration campaign that had attracted the attentions of HNH in the first place.
I doubt that many in UKIP would disagree that the core aim of HNH, opposing truly extremist parties and policies is a valuable and noble one. That said though, some might like to highlight that one of the first places to look for extremism would be the Labour Party's Councillors who of course contain ex-BNP members. Equally the vast majority of HNH members would likely accept that UKIP are not one of the parties who meet those criteria. The disagreements are hurting UKIP electorally and wasting valuable HNH funds better spent quashing the BNP and EDL, amongst others.
So in answer to the title question, is there a way of ending the nonsensical dispute? In a word, yes. The way for this situation to progress is for UKIP's NEC to revoke the action taken in September and hold talks, publically or in private, with HNH. Ideally a public platform would spread the message quicker. I again may seem overly optimistic, but I think that the two sides can come to an agreement of sorts. It would certainly be in their mutual interests to do so.
By David Poole (Young Independence member)