It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the 'Find the Facts' intervention by Hope Not Hate, a charity which seems to spend most of its time involved in political campaigning.
With an air of neutrality and a supposed desire for facts, HnH has today launched a new service entitled 'Find the Facts', following up on its highly selective voter registration drive for the EU elections.
HnH have some work to do if they are to convince anyone they are capable of providing a rounded introduction to the referendum debate. Indeed a series of key HnH leaders and activists are prominent Remain campaigners, most noticeably Eddie Izzard (he of the disastrous Question Time performance of 9th June) and Ruth Smeeth, a Labour MP associated with the Europhile Progress wing of the party. She was Hope Not Hate's Deputy Director, and now leads Labour Friends of Hope Not Hate.
More sinisterly, some in HnH have a track record of seeking to manipulate public and press opinion against those campaigning to leave the European Union. Back in 1996, HnH's Nick Lowles, then working for its predecessor organisation Searchlight, wrote to the European Movement offering to provide propaganda for its campaign against critics of Brussels:
“this research will be a unique insight into the anti-European network in Britain. Utilising sources inside these organisations, the European Movement will be furnished with information not otherwise easily accessible. The report and the drip flow of information will provide your organisation with invaluable ammunition to add to your cause”.
Who those sources 'inside' anti-EU organisations were, and whether they are still in place, is unclear. What we do know is given the groups lineage, any 'facts' produced by HnH in the run up to June 23rd should be taken with a pinch, nay a crate, of salt.
For a more detailed examination of HnH and Searchlight interference with anti-EU groups, do see this 2013 article from the Notes from the Borderland website. A fuller examination of their dirty tricks may be found in issues 4, 5 and 10 of Notes from the Borderland, in particular the 2001 article "This Cursed Plot: How the Secret State and Fascists Disrupt the Anti-EU Movement" by Larry O'Hara and David Pegg, which was in issue 4. Given the closeness of the referendum, it is extremely likely we will see some very dirty tricks from the Remain camp in the next two weeks. If so, this needs to be seen in terms of the historical attempts to derail, disrupt and denigrate those seeking political independence from Brussels.