How Gerry Gable ended up defending racism in the name of anti-fascism
|Regan's racist rhetoric about 'Mad Dogs' appealed to Searchlight||Editor||and Police informant Gerry Gable|
|The centre of the new Nazi Axis consisted of an obscure British fascist, two third world leaders and a Black Separatist.|
|Another Searchlight prediction gone wrong - the BNP's greatest successes were to come with the winning of more than 50 council seats, including 2 Euro seats and a set on the Greater London Authority.|
|A pensive Morris Ludmer|
|Ludmer opposing US imperialism - not something Gable chose to do|
|Geoff Marsh of the Casuals, on the way to Brighton & back, having taken refuge with the Police|
|Searchlight's crazy guide to the far-right in Britain (1988)|
|Searchlight's equally absurd guide to fascists in Britain in 1989. 'Arab Terrorists' have become 'Abu Nidal' terrorists. No mention of Israeli terrorists though And Moslem Fundamentalists have become 'right wing' ones!|
So it’s not surprising that the split in the bourgeois anti-fascist movement between Searchlight Magazine, under Gerry Gable and his wife, Sonia Gable and the Hope not Hate campaign which they spawned under ex-Searchlight Editor Nick Lowes.
The seeds of Searchlight Magazine’s self-destruction are as old as the paper itself. Searchlight originally began in the 1960s as a paper associated with the Tribune group, the soft left of the Labour Party. Its first editors were Joan Lestor, MP for Eton & Slough and Reg Freeson, MP for Brent East (before he was deselected in favour of Ken Livingstone. Both Freeson and Lestor were supporters of Zionism and both became government ministers – housing and overseas development respectively.
Searchlight’s origins lay in bourgeois anti-fascism, a belief that the best guarantor against the rise of fascism was the capitalist state. As the years passed by, the contradictions between Searchlight’s anti-fascism, state racism and imperialism became ever more stark. The anti-war movement left it in a dilemma, since 'Islamic fundamentalism' is one of its chief (Zionist) bogeys.
In 1975 Searchlight was relaunched by Gerry Gable and Maurice Ludmer. Ludmer was someone whose roots were in the labour movement, being the Left’s successful candidate for President of Birmingham Trades Council. ‘Feeling that the CP was paying insufficient attention to the problem of white racism, he resigned from the Party (in 1968), and threw himself into anti-racist work with increased energy.’ (Obituary, Searchlight July 1981). The contrast between Gable and Ludmer could not be clearer. Gable explained that he left the CP in 1961 “because the party had begun to adopt an anti-Israeli line.” (Jewish Chronicle 23.10.87
Maurice Ludmer died an early death in 1981. After a brief interlude with Vron Ware, Gable took over at the helm. It was literally a case of the lunatic taking over the asylum. Whereas Ludmer had been a stabilising force, who understood the need not to get involved in questions such as Israel and Palestine, Gable had no doubts. Israel represented all that was good in the struggle against fascism and the Arabs were just fascists and neo-Nazis in disguise.
In quite remarkable diagrams entitled ‘The State of Britain’s Right 12 January 1988’ we have a whole box allocated to ‘Arab terrorists’ and another to ‘Muslim Fundamentalists’ as well as one allocated to the National Front’s non-existent ‘Campaign for Palestinian Rights’. Another was allocated to Iran/Libya and Louis Farrakhan, the US Black Separatist also had a box of his own. And if that wasn’t enough another box was allocated to the ‘Green Movement’. If you’re scratching your head wondering who the ‘Green Movement’ is, bear in mind that subtlety is not what the forces of the State indulge in. To the Special Branch and MI5, lumping all environmentalists together is par for the course.
In another State of Britain’s Right diagram for 1989 there are a few amendments. ‘Arab Terrorists’ have been replaced by ‘Abu Nidal Terrorists’ (the renegade ex-Fatah leader and plaything of different Arab regimes, whose attempted assassination of Israel’s British Ambassador Shlomo Argov provided Ariel Sharon with the pretext to invade Lebanon in 1982). Moslem Fundamentalists have now become ‘Right-wing Moslem Fundamentalists’ as if religious fundamentalism, almost by its very nature isn’t right-wing. The ‘Orange Movement’ [is there such a thing? There’s an Orange Order which Gable once tried to persuade me wasn’t racist] has been replaced by ‘dissident Republicans’. Louis Farrakhan has been relegated to representing the US as Black British Nationalists (note Jewish nationalism i.e. Zionism doesn’t seem to make an appearance!). One might have thought that the Apartheid regime of Israel, since South African Apartheid was on its way out, might be mentioned, in view of its practices and alliances.
What is significant about these absurd diagrams is that ‘terrorism’ has apparently become an anti-fascist concern and the regimes targeted are all, without exception, perceived as anti-Western. US backed dictatorships, even when they indulged in terrorism, such as Chile and Argentina, are not mentioned. Nor, of course, is the United States itself, surely the biggest supporter of terrorism world-wide? 'The war on terrorism' is an excuse for robbery, plunder and political imposition - it has nothing to do with the fight against fascism.
The result was that the magazine became Janus faced. It condemned Apartheid in South Africa, yet it had nothing to say about Zionist practices in Israel which are today playing themselves out as African refugees are the object of pogroms and lynch mobs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Whereas having two sets of laws - one for Whites and the other for Blacks in South Africa was wrong, having two sets of laws for Israeli settlers and Palestinians on the West Bank is fine. South African attacks on the townships was wrong. Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip, killing 6 times as many as in Soweto in 1977, is perfectly ok since Israel is dealing with ‘Arab terrorists’, even if 400 of those killed were children. South Africa too was fighting ANC and Communist terrorists. The war on terrorism was South African Apartheid’s unofficial anthem. That Israel has adopted it is unsurprising. That Searchlight conflated, without a peep from people like Graeme Atkinson or Nick Lowles, fascism and terrorism suggests that whatever the differences between Searchlight and Hope not Hate they are not primarily political.
Banning Blacks from buying or renting flats or living in White areas was wrong. Issuing religious edicts banning Arabs from renting flats in Safed or the activities of the Jewish National Fund, which administers 93% of Israeli land on behalf of Jews only, is fine.
The conflict between Gable’s Zionist and anti-fascist politics meant support for US imperialism in the Middle East, since Israel relies on the US to fund its wars of aggression and indirectly its settlements. Unsurpringly this came into conflict with the struggles of third world peoples. If there is one thing that the rise of the EDL and Islamaphobia, and before them the BNP, should have taught us it is that you cannot divorce domestic racism from the racism that is consequent upon our colonial and imperial adventures. Those who see ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ as the main problem, whilst ignoring Jewish and Christian fundamentalism (for example the Church of England’s opposition to gay marriage) are playing the racist card. And that is the game that Gable has knowingly played for the last 30 years.
Instead of understanding that the intervention and operation of imperialism in the third world produced many unsavoury leaders and movements, such as the American created Al Quaeda, who are a distorted reaction to the barbarism of US imperialism – Searchlight focussed on the reaction to imperialism whilst ignoring imperialism itself. In Iraq alone the USA is responsible for at least one million deaths, to say nothing of Afghanistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc. Searchlight began to believe that just as the British state represented a force for good in the fight against fascism, so internationally imperialism was likewise a force for good and democracy.
How else to explain the absurd Searchlight front covers of January 1989 showing Patrick Harrington and Nick Griffin standing under a poster of Col Ghadaffi in Tripoli, entitled ‘1988 – Year of the Mad Dogs’ a phrase used by that other lover of democracy and supporter and funder of the Contras, Ronald Reagan.
Even more absurd and fantastic was Searchlight’s very own fascist conspiracy theory, as represented in 'The New Axis' (September 1987) front cover featuring the four godfathers at the centre of the fascist web: Patrick Harrington (a minor fascist figure), Khomeini, Ghaddaffi and Farrakhan. I once asked Gable when he came down to speak at a union conference in Brighton (I was responsible for having him and Ray Hill accommodated and the meeting protected) how he could support Israel’s behaviour in Central and South America – which included support for the Contras in Nicaragua, the death squads in El Salvador to say nothing of the genocidal regime in Guatemala, under Protestant fundamentalist Rios Montt. Israel armed and trained most of these reactionary forces. Gable's response was that it was all due to opposition to Israel and Israel having no friends! If only the Palestinians hadn’t protested their dispossession and other Arab countries had accepted Israel’s domination then all would have been alright.
Gable’s anti-fascism seemed to stop at the door of South America. Israel was in a close military relationship with Argentina, supplying it with the Kfir jet in the Malvinas war with Britain, despite the neo-Nazi nature of the Argentinian junta which murdered and tortured Jewish detainees in particular (up to 10% of the disappeared were Jewish despite Jews comprising less than 1% of Argentina’s population). [for more details see]
A more detailed history of Searchlight can be found on Wikipedia, though it is out of date and still lists Nick Lowles as editor.
Looking at the latest issue of Searchlight on-line I was struck by how empty and barren it was. No exposes, exclusives or even fascist gossip, merely run of the mill articles, nearly all of which were composed by GG and his wife, Sonia . A badly written notice about the death of fascist printer Anthony Hancock is the only enlightening item on its blog. I know it’s contrary to received wisdom, not least that of Larry O’Hara, but my suspicion is that time (and friends) are running out for Searchlight. It has spent so long double-crossing and deceiving people that there is no one left who trusts it, bar office dogsbody Tony Robson.
Searchlight and the Defeat of the EDL in Brighton
In Brighton on April 22nd the EDL suffered a historic defeat as a city turned out to say no to the fascists. In my long experience of fascist marches I can only remember one occasion, at Lewisham in 1977, when a fascist march has been forced to a halt and its march curtailed. Ironically I was describing to a packed student audience at Sussex University, in the week leading up to the EDL/March 4 England demonstration, what happened at Lewisham when the NF march was pelted with bricks and bottles by the local Black youth, as thousands of counter-demonstrators forced the Police to call a halt after just one-third of the march had been completed. As the demonstration was at its height, a young female student who had been in the audience came up to me and said ‘Well, didn’t we do as well you did?’ to which I could only reply, ‘yes and more so’.
On April 22nd in Brighton the Police tactic of kettling protestors came unstuck. We decided to line the route and hundreds turned up to do exactly that. Repeated incursions into the road, fierce fighting, attempts by the Police using horses, batons and pepper spray were to no avail. The EDL were sent down a backstreet before having even entered Brighton. Ordinary people, seeing how the bigots were being humiliated, also began throwing their rubbish at them (often from a height – the EDL complained about being doused with unsavoury liquids!). The establishment of a militant Anti-fascist Network had taken the lead out of the UAF’s hands and entrusted it to those who wanted to do something and not merely talk about it.
Since the EDL was forced by the Police to reroute their march, shortening it by two-thirds and avoiding the city centre, because of the ferocity of the anti-fascist opposition, one would have thought that a practical illustration of 'no pasaran' would have merited some comment from Searchlight. Obviously not.
Yet there was virtually nothing on the Searchlight site concerning what happened in Brighton on April 22nd apart from a reprint of a leaflet ‘Stop the March for England.’ This is surprising because Brighton used to be a place where Searchlight had some contacts, at least whilst ex-43 Group member David Spector was alive. But since they relied on the local Jewish community and Zionist activists, who have no involvement in anti-fascist activity, for their information it isn’t surprising that they have no local contacts anymore.
When the EDL threatened to return for a rematch, given their humiliation, on June 2nd, Searchlight was content to post a Brighton Anti-fascist Network leaflet which included opposition to the war in Iran! Not something that will go down well with GG’s Zionist supporters. Needless to say the EDL & the Casuals were chased from pillar to post.
Hope not Hate on the other hand, although they didn’t cover the original anti-fascist counter-demonstration on April 22nd published a very useful article detailing the plans of the EDL/Casuals to return to Brighton over the Jubilee weekend. Thanks to which we knew where they were staying. At a previous Brighton Anti-Fascist Network meeting the previous week, we had wondered how they were going to afford to stay in Brighton. The answer was that they were going to Worthing! We were also sceptical about their publicly stated plan to drink in Yates bar in West Street, something else that HnH confirmed.
But what of the political differences which led Nick Lowles, the previous editor of Searchlight and main figure in Hope not Hate to jump ship in November? Gerry Gable has resumed his previous role as editor of Searchlight and together with his wife Sonia seem to be the only ones left in Searchlight’s boat as people like their former European correspondent, Graeme Atkinson and former editor Steve Silver, have deserted for pastures anew. It would seem that the rats have abandoned the good ship Searchlight!
There is little if anything politically between the two groups. A good example is Sonia Gable claiming to be opposed to state bans on EDL Marches. A more opportunist attempt to reclaim ground ‘on the left’ is difficult to imagine, but the posture is so obviously self-serving that one wonders why she made the effort. For years Searchlight’s strategy has always been to use the State to defeat fascism.
But in order to create the illusion of a political difference Sonia writes (18.5.12.) in Why a ban is not the way to fight the EDL
‘I do not agree with calls for an official ban on English Defence League marches, contrary to Searchlight’s position under its previous editor…. [i.e. Nick Lowles – TG]
Instead of stating what its political differences are with HnH, openly and honestly, there are sly insertions into articles purportedly about other matters. Sonia writes that her ‘real misgivings come from a fundamental philosophical belief. No matter how much we might disagree with what a certain group stands for we must protect their right to exist and say what they feel is true. ….’
This confirms that in her journey from fascism, Sonia Gable (formerly Hochfelder) has learnt virtually nothing politically. The above statement is truly amazing for an anti-fascist magazine. It has always been axiomatic that fascist and racist groups have no right to exist. Fascism is the grave digger of the Left and the Labour Movement. It represents a mortal threat to those it targets, be it Jews yesterday or Muslims today. Their whole purpose is the physical destruction of the workers' movement and the physical elimination of their opponents and racial minorities in certain circumstances.
The fact that we are opposed to state bans for the EDL and BNP has nothing whatsoever to do with fascist parties ‘right to exist’ but somewhat more mundane matters such as the fact that if you give the State powers it will use it against the Left and anti-fascists. That was the history of the Public Order Act passed in the wake of the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 against Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and the experience of Police bans since then.
Yet Sonia asks ‘If we have set a precedent of banning one far right group where do we draw the line? Do we stop the far left from marching? Do we ban the next most offensive group – … freedom of expression and of protest is a human right and it must be defended.’
This is the kind of angst-ridden liberalism that the anti-fascist movement fought against in the 1970’s when No Platform for Fascists and Racists became the policy of the overwhelming majority of activists and, despite the opposition of the Communist Party, the position of the National Union of Students. We opposed state bans because we wanted to ban the fascists through mass mobilisations. We didn’t support an abstract notion of ‘human rights’ for those who have no humanity, for those who denied the holocaust which they wished to repeat. Fascists have no ‘human rights’ when it comes to their political activities. There is nothing human in wanting to see the mass expulsion of Black from Britain. Repatriation we should not forget, not extermination, was also the stated goal of the Nazi Party before it came to power and even after then until 1941.
In Brighton on 22.4.12. we successfully stopped a fascist march. As a result people felt elated, the fascists were seen to be defeated and the atmosphere of triumph spread far and wide in the City. Would the same be true if Sussex Police had banned the EDL? Of course not, Relying on the State would have demobilised the movement.
As an increasingly enfeebled Gable hands the reigns of power to his wife, who gives every impression of being clueless about the nature of fascism, Sonia tells us in A cause for embarrassment? (Tuesday, 13 March 2012) that she ‘was a bit surprised to see an article on the Hope Not Hate website today expressing concern at a Christian campaign against the Government’s plans to allow same-sex marriage. The article by Nick Lowles draws attention to a petition by the Coalition 4 Marriage and censures (justifiably) Church leaders for “handing over their data to support the broader campaigns” of what he describes as the “evangelical” radical campaigning Christian groups behind the Coalition.'
Except Sonia doesn’t explain the basis of her concern. Are not attacks by right-wing church organisations on gay groups and the very right to be gay, something that might interest an anti-fascist group? Sonia doesn’t tell us before making or rather insinuating an attack on a Tehmina Kazi, a fellow trustees of Lowles at the Searchlight Educational Trust (which is now nothing to do with Searchlight!). Kazi is founder of Muslims for a Secular Democracy but apparently keeps company with a ‘dodgy’ Charlie Flowers and that is the apparent basis for the attack on her – guilt by association at two stages removed!
I have no knowledge of Charlie Flowers and why, or if, he is dodgy. But as the Open Letter I sent to Searchlight in June 1993 made clear, Gable has had a habit of libelling anti-fascists as fascists. He did this to the Chief Steward of Anti-Fascist Action's Northern Network, Malcolm Astells.
For those who want a greater background to Searchlight’s Zionist background and also its role, and Gerry Gable’s in particular, as an informant for the State on the Left and the anti-fascist movment, you should read my article Undermining Anti-Fascists, Defending Zionism which was printed in the magazine of Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a by a number of different groups. Little has changed, except for the worse, as far as Searchlight is concerned.
Although I had been aware of it beforehand, I only examined the details of the Searchlight-Hope not Hate split in the course of writing an article The Idiots and Fools of Neturei Karta on Rabbi Aharon Cohen of the Neturei Karta sect, who addressed a meeting of the New Right group of Troy Southgate (ex-NF) and Far Right maverick Alexander Baron. When asked by the Jewish Chronicle for a quote, Gable expressed the view that ‘the Nazis are welcome to this quisling’. Strictly Orthodox Neturei Karta's new alliance with extreme right. This is a somewhat curious formulation. Jews in Britain aren’t a nation or even a distinct ethnicity. How then can Cohen be a quisling? This is another example of Gable’s morbid attraction to Zionism. If Cohen is a quisling, what is the holding of joint demonstrations with the EDL under the aegis of the Zionist Federation’s Co-Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman? Or the turning of a blind eye by the Zionist Community Security Trust to an EDL presence on a demonstration in 2010 outside the Israeli Embassy which supported the murder of 9 activists on the Mavi Marmara? Or is ‘quisling’ reserved only for anti-Zionists?
I make a small confession at this point. Gable once attacked me as a ‘Jewish self-hater’ in an Obituary for David Spector, a Zionist who was a member of Brighton Hove Anti-fascist Committee in the 1970’s. He allegedly represented the Jewish community. In reality, as my book The Fight Against Fascism in Brighton and on the South Coast shows, in his own correspondence with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Spector was quite candid about the fact that the Jewish community was not interested in the fight against fascism. Zionism had taken the place of Jewish radicalism. Rather than a political critique of NK, Gable used the anti-Semitic term ‘self-hater’ [the Nazis considered German anti-fascists as ‘self haters’ too – literally haters of their own race and nation and today the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon speaks of ‘proud self-haters such as myself; (The Wandering Who? p.70)
Aharon Cohen is many things, but a quisling or self-hater he is not. Politically he is a reactionary, a right-wing religious opponent of Zionism. But Gable, who has never uttered a peep about the growing alliance between major sections of the European far-right and the Zionist movement e.g. Lieberman’s recent welcome to the pro-Nazi Lithuanian Foreign Minister (see Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Welcomes Lithuania's pro-Nazi Foreign Minister - Audronius Azubalis - to Israel has no hesitation in condemning the religious nut, Aharon Cohen.
Hope not Hate’s main advantage is not who has their hands on the funds and mailing lists, important though these practical matters are, but who politically is in the driving seat. I would venture that the primary difference is that Gerry Gable is considered a political dinosaurs. He hasn’t realised that the world around him has changed. It was possible, when the Left was more pro-Israeli than the Right in the Labour Party, to use the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ effectively against Israel’s critics. Those days have gone now. Searchlight’s stubborn pro-Zionism is now a distinct disadvantage. The Zionists aren’t interested in anti-fascism. The Zionist Community Security Trust hoovers up most of the money in those circles. The trade unions, which have provided significant financial support to Searchlight, now have pro-Palestinian policies. One suspects Hope Not Hate are also aware of these changes and have adapted accordingly. So we have had a number of tantalising remarks, not least from Nick Lowles, though underneath the jury is out.
For example in GILAD ATZMON: Supporting Holocaust Deniers and spreading hatred of Jews, responding to critics who say that his attack on Atzmon is because he is pro-Palestinian, Lowles says the following:
‘Let’s put aside the Israel/Palestine question (after all I have never once vocalised my opinion on this subject though my detractors are quick to accuse me of being part of a co-ordinated Zionist conspiracy) and let’s look at what Gilad Atzmon actually says:’
Now this is only a half-truth. Lowles has been a long-standing editor of Searchlight, a time when its coverage has been wholly pro-Zionist. The article itself quotes (without acknowledgment!) from my own research and writings, not least e-mails a furious Atzmon sent me in response to my cross-examining him as to where he actually stood on the holocaust denial views of his friends. And in another HnH post Dean of Bradford calls for Atzmon's invite to be withdrawn a comment of mine is allowed, which would have been unthinkable for Searchlight.
Yet on the other hand, on the Socialist Unity website ‘Jellytot’, almost certainly someone involved in HnH, writes, that:
Admittedly it's the first time I can recall that anyone in the Searchlight-HnH stable has expressed sympathy for the Palestinians but there have been no recent occasions when anti-fascists have fought alongside Zionists against the fascists. On the contrary Zionists have always made plain that anti-Zionism is their main concern not anti-fascism. As an abstract statement of principle, I agree, but in practice it is a theoretical irrelevance given both the Zionist Federation itself and the CST have turned a blind eye and worse to the presence of the EDL on Zionist demonstrations.
I have enormous sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people but I am not going to refuse to fight alongside Zionists against a common enemy and am not going to put preconditions on anybody, unlike some on here.
Posted by Jellytot 9 December, 2011 at 3:05 pm
Other articles of interest include one on the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty site (a left Zionist grouping).
“No monopoly on anti-fascism” … yes, but we need working class anti-fascism”
But perhaps the last word on the fatal errors of Gerry Gable over the years should be that of Maurice Ludmer who warned, shortly before his death that:
‘If every organisation in Britain that can be defined as fascist were to go out of existence tomorrow, we would still have a profound and deep-rooted problem of racism in our society. The truth of the matter is that there is no need to import racist ideas via pro-Nazi organisations; racialism in Britain is based on our own history of 350 years of colonialism. National Front activists have not introduced racialism but rather used and exploited what already exists in abundance.'Gable’s turn towards cold-war Regan rhetoric about ‘terrorism’ and the pillorying of the reactionary representatives of the oppressed as a new Nazi Axis, demonstrated the absurdity today of a Zionist anti-fascism. It simply isn’t possible for Zionists to oppose the EDL and BNP and keep a straight face because they are committed to support what has become an openly and nakedly racist movement. Pogroms against African refugees in Israel and the deliberate inciting of mobs by members of the Israeli government such as Eli Yishai, Israel’s Interior Minister, who complained that Africans won’t accept the white man as boss. Like oil and water, Zionism and anti-racism simply won’t mix.
Below is the famous Gable memo that was definitive proof that Gable was engaged in 2-way trade with MI5 to supply information on the Left. as well as a reprint from Indymedia of an article by Larry O’Hara on his take on the split, with which I have many disagreements. For example I think that money, although it has played a part (HnH reported Gable to the Police for stealing over £18,000 of its funds but given Gable’s relationship with the police, they were, unsurprisingly, not interested).
I also have to confess a certain personal interest too. During the 1980's and early 1990's I regularly sold Searchlight magazine. I considered it was a very useful paper for those involved in anti-fascist activities. I had contact with 3 Searchlight editors - Maurice Ludmer, Vron Ware and Gable himself. In the course of one such conversation, about some fascist topic or other, we got on to the Middle East and during what was a private conversation I was quite frank about the fact that I had had to go through Syria in order to travel to Lebanon, because their London office was controlled by the Phalangists who had denied me and others a visa. We had been invited by the PLO as part of a delegation. In time this conversation was cited by Gable as my having gone to Syria to give support to the Hafez al-Assad regime, which had harboured the notorious Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner.
This of course was totally absurd. By the same argument, anyone visiting Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina supported all the Nazi war criminals - including Bormann and Mengele - they had harboured. People travel to all sorts of countries even though they know nothing of, still less support, the regime in power.
The second example of Gable's dishonesty was that despite having made no criticism of me to my face, when he spoke at a Union of Jewish Students meeting at NUS in Blackpool he politically attacked me. UJS at the time were trying to ban me on the grounds of 'anti-Semitism' from speaking on campuses (a campaign which merely ensured my meetings were well attended!). Although I wasn't at the meeting, other members of AFA were and they were suitably appalled. When I rang Searchlight and sought to speak to Gable he was 'unavailable'. To me this was another example of his rank political dishonesty. But in retrospect one could expect nothing else from him.
The Gable Memorandum
From: Gerry Gable
Date: 2 May 1977
To: Julian/Mike Braham/Barry Cox (Please keep these reports secure)
Phil Kelly was a member of the Young Liberals who in the sixties joined what was known as 'the Red Guard'. Young Liberals like Peter Hain and Peter Hellyer went against the traditional Liberal line and started campaigning along lines more akin to the Radical left. They stood out against the Vietnam War/Apartheid and for the Palestinians against the Israelis. At home they were for direct action on housing and other evils in our society.
In the first place, as I understand it, Kelly was an odd fish in the rather middle class Young Lib circles, he had a strictly working class background. He was up to his neck in various campaigns in 1967. The Biafra aid set up was one of them. He was also seen frequently during that year at the offices of the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. It was suggested that in either late '67 or early '68 he travelled to Cuba and was trained as was 'Carlos' during the same period. Certainly Cuba held a Tri-Continental conference at that time involving many third world and Latin American states where Cuba was active in spreading their own brand of revolution. It is suggested that parallel to the conference, an extensive course of training in Guerilla warfare and Espionage took place. If the latter is true, then certainly Cuba's own Secret Service would have been aided by the KGB on the espionage side of the courses. In the early part of 1969 Kelly was seen at the Soviet Trade Mission in London.
I think that around this time he worked on the Hornsey Journal or another paper in that area, then he moved to work in the new radical press -- being a familiar face at Black Dwarf/Seven Days and later Time Out. Hellyer and some other Young Liberals got very involved with the Palestinians around this time and in the summer of 1969 Kelly went to Jordan, not, as he told people, to see the refugee camps, schools and medical aid groups, but to a proper Fatah training camp. Members of the Baader Meinhof group also attended these camps and learnt their bombing and killing skills in them. Kelly was taught firearms/explosives and went out on some treks to the Israeli border with Fatah patrols.
Around this time, after returning to London, Kelly acted as a cheer leader on several Arab demonstrations in London and during fighting in one of them he was seen to kick a policeman.
But although he seemed firmly in the left camp, a number of odd things about his attitude towards a person he knew to be hostile to the left are rather strange, on several occasions he could have blown the cover of a man who had infiltrated the Palestinians and some left groups. This man ran into him time and time again, including once at a function organised by the Cuban embassy in London. Kelly was seen on Irish Rights marches the night the Ulster office was attacked, medical aid for Vietnam, Portugese meetings and even a demo over Anguilla.
Wherever he worked on left journals he always seem to get into a position [section illegible, but probably 'had access to the'] names and address of subscribers. Reports from left watchers state that he has been to Cuba, America, East Germany, Jordan and Sofia in Bulgaria for a Peace Conference. In the early seventies he went to work in West Germany and was away for around two years, I understand that he worked as a sports reporter (he was there at the time of the Munich massacre). He also had a German girl friend whose name is either Gerde Jager, or Jaegar, the daughter of a rich lawyer. She is said to be close to SWAPO operations in Western Europe and tied up with something named 'Informist'?
Back in Britain Kelly worked at Time Out and was instrumental in introducing Mark Hosenball to stories that are part or even all of the reason for his deportation order. Around Time Out a group of Americans, Kelly, Duncan Campbell (the technology freak), plus Crispin Aubrey and John Berry (not just a former Army signals clerk, but a former member of British Military Intelligence) began to operate.
More than a year ago Kelly started to work for Interpress Services, a press agency of which he appears to be the sole employee in this country.
Even some of the left watchers here thought that this agency was set up at the time of a Third World Conference held in Colombo in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago and that in some way it is connected with the Yugoslav State Press Agency. However our checks reveal that it was set up in Italy in 1968 as a press co-operative and the directors are South Americans an Italians, one of the original people before Kelly at this end was John Rettie -- a man I still have to check out but was in some KGB scandal in Moscow some years ago.
The last return made by the co-op shows an annual turn-over of a quarter of a million pounds sterling, although it precedes Kelly's joining them (at least officially) salaries are shown as only two thousand per annum.
Hosenball, who to my knowledge was always keen to meet any new contacts, told me that he had refused to meet Kelly's contacts in Germany but would say no more. He was also prepared to tell me that the co-op was, as he understood it, set up by some Chilean Christian Democrats who in more recent times dropped out to be replaced by the Iraquis, although no signs of this appear on the company house records. Hosenball is frightened to tell me more about Kelly and it is almost certain that Kelly could blackmail Hosenball to keep silent. Since the Agee/Hosenball expulsion notices were issued, Kelly is often being seen more and more running round organising things. When Hosenball made it clear that he did not wish to be used as political cannon fodder, Kelly wrote an attack on him that appeared in the 'Leveller', a radical magazine.
This is not all that Kelly has done for the 'Leveller', he has also produced material on West Germany for them about the trials of the Terrorist groups.
The arrest of Campbell/Berry and Aubrey has caused a civil rights row, but according to my top level security service sources, they inform me in the strictest confidence that for about four years Campbell, Berry and Kelly and others have been systematically gathering top level security material. Campbell, who claims to have only an interest in technological matters in as far as the state is involved, had done four years detailed research into the whole structure of the other side of not only our Intelligence services but those of other NATO countries. He has also gone to people who work on top security contracts and started off by asking them about open commercial work their companies do and then gradually asked them for information on top secret work, including that on under-water detection hardware, which he clearly knows is beyond the pale.
Politically it appears that the group have no one political guiding light or line, but Kelly is suspected of being the KGB man who reaps the goodies gathered by people who are possibly as disapproving of the KGB as they are of the CIA. [Two words illegible but probably 'Other teams'] like this have been operating in France and Sweden. (Agee has been in contact with the Swedish set up.) The security services feel that once the real nature of this case begins to emerge they expect people like Jonathan Aitken will fade away fast. The security service accepts that a number of decent people have been signed up to support these people on civil rights grounds and they also unofficially accept all the short-comings of the act that they have been held under, but they say they are sure this has gone well beyond the bounds of Press Investigation.
Hosenball, although supposedly having his differences with Kelly, was party to a strange chat between Kelly and Steve Weisman at Granada's Christmas party. They were going through a list of contacts and what Hosenball's reaction would be be if he were asked about them. I could not catch the names but when one name came up all three of them seemed very keen to keep it out of the hearing.
Hosenball got extremely angry with Malcolm Southam of World In Action when asked about a man named Karl Von Metre, thought to be an American living in Paris, and would not talk about him Hosenball's Paris trips are a mystery.
He told me two years ago that the reasons for his Paris visits were to go through files taken from a Portugese office of an extreme right wing group that used a press agency as a cover. At the time of the army take over in Portugal they had been seized and taken to Paris. However, my own investigation showed that the files were not in Paris at all had had never been taken out of Portugal, so why lie? His contact in Paris is Frederick Laurent, a young man who works for the left wing paper 'Liberation' and who lives in very grand style in a huge Paris apartment.
When Hosenball and Kelly had hold of the Crozier material they were very keen not to check out right wing connections but to trace phone numbers they felt belonged to Secret Service establishments etc. Hosenball also went to Spain, I think to track down one of the people mentioned in the Robert Moss letters, but despite all this research most of what they got was not appearing in print anyway. Kelly was not happy about Searchlight using the documents and I think Hosenball, who had done work for Searchlight on various occasions, felt embarassed by his attitude.
Kelly's current girl friend is Dorothy Jones who works for the People's Press Service or News Service, a sort of Agitprop outfit. Kelly moved into a house in Hemmingford Road, Islington, some time last winter. He shares it with Richard Fletcher who is on the London Co-op Education Committee, (strong links with East Germany) this is at 104 Hemmingford Road, N7.
I went to the house one dark winter night just after they had moved in. I was with Mark Hosenball and the reason for our visit was to get some more photocopies of the Moss letters.
When we arrived, a man who I thought must Fletcher came to the door. The building is a shop, basement and upper part, it was in a bad state of disrepair and the man was plastering or something like that. He said to Mark 'there is a caucus meeting, Phil's up top'. Mark told me to hang on and ran upstairs to the top floor. Being a nosey bugger I followed and in the top floor front room were about seven or eight men, no women, all seated on cushions on the floor with no centre light.
They were a mixed age group. I didn't recognise any of them and they did not seem to know me. Kelly looked at me staring in over Hosenball's shoulder and leapt up and pushed us out of the room. He said to Mark in a low voice 'Why did you bring him here?' and Mark waffled on about not being able to contact him in advance and I needed the letters that very night as Searchlight was going to press on the next day. Kelly took us to the basement and produced the papers and then ushered us out as quickly as possible.
I have now given the names I have acquired to be checked out by British/French security services, especially the French and German connections and the South American stuff is being checked by Geoffrey Stewart-Smith's institute. He has strong CIA links. I may try somebody in the Israeli Foreign Office that I know for some checks on Kelly. It is now a time of waiting for feed-back and also further checks here.
I have attached a number of documents including a transcript of Kelly's interview with World in Action. It goes without saying that I would like this kept strictly secret.
NO HOPE, LOTS OF HATE: CIVIL WAR BREAKS OUT IN THE SEARCHLIGHT GANG
by Larry O'Hara 4/11/11
What delicious irony! After a concerted campaign accusing the British National Party (rightly) of financial shady practice, inside sources inform us Hope Not Hate, Searchlight's dummy front campaign (headed by Nick Lowles), is in the process of declaring organisational UDI from the overall organisation, headed by Gerry Gable (proprietor). Reports coming in are sketchy (if amusing: like the one about Fitzpatrick heard in a Victoria Park pub!) and to safeguard sources what follows is not as detailed as it could be, but the need for this may well change.
The main cause for the split seems to be money: the HNH franchise has been very successful raking in money from gullible punters under increasingly tenuous pretexts. A recent classic was the call by Lowles for people to email in protest about BNP financial chicanery. Shortly thereafter, he boasted on the HNH blog (14/10/11) how after he emailed petitioners they donated £250 "within minutes". The problem for Nick Lowles has not so much been raising cash, but getting access to it. We have already drawn attention (NFB issue 9, also on this web-site) to the totally undemocratic nature of HNH, including the fact that money is (or rather was until the split) still payable to Searchlight, sent to the Ilford PO Box directly under the control of Gerry Gable and his tax-scheming wife, the charming Sonia, who still hasn't answered my questions of 15 years ago about setting up Irish Left Republicans for assassination (never too late S, how about it?). In alliance with Blue State Digital, HNH has been bringing in large amounts of money, but as donations began an (inevitable) drop off after the General Election last year, this declined. Or maybe not: one point of contention seems to be Lowles complaint he has not had access to all financial records. The suspicion was that the Gables have been creaming it off, and at best diverting it into funding a glossy full-colour Searchlight which Lowles edited until he downed tools following a furious expletive-filled argument in September. Another sub-text is differential attitudes towards Islamist militancy: more on this later.
We should be clear about one thing--neither side give a fig about the supporters, or lack of democratic participation in HNH. Both are fully in bed with the political police: Gable with his 'Lone Wolf' project, and Lowles with his increasingly shrill calls for police to ban ever-more demonstrations. Following the row, it seems, recognising where the (fresh) money is, most of the vaunted Searchlight 'team' have jumped ship with Lowles: Graeme Atkinson & Matthew Collins to name but two. After all Gable has done, safeguarding Collins and refuting nasty rumours about his connections to Loyalist paramilitaries in London (although not those about MI6), for Matty to betray Gable so brings tears to the eyes. Tears of laughter that is...
The people I feel sorry for (genuinely!) are those who see Searchlight as the anti-fascist movement's journal of record. Rather less sorry, but still slightly, for those subscribers who in September 2011 received a magazine titling itself 'International magazine of the Hope Not Hate Campaign', complete with 4 pages of HNH news and the invitation (p.35) that to "learn about the HNH campaign around the country you should subscribe to Searchlight...the essential magazine for Hope Not Hate organisers". By October's issue, in true Stalinist fashion, with a few exceptions reference to HNH had vanished, the logo certainly had. It is as if, like that erased photo of Trotsky next to Lenin on the podium, HNH had never existed. Two references to HNH were in the editorial though. First was Gable's admission Lowles "creator of the very successful Hope Not Hate campaign, decided to stand down as editor". A hint, if very slight, money was involved, came when Gable stated "the editor of Searchlight has never been a paid position but one held on a voluntary basis" (p.4). The second reference followed the announcement Searchlight was no longer going to be produced in full colour, and was very plaintive. "When the call goes out from Hope Not Hate to take part in campaigns against the BNP, EDL or other far-right threats, do respond, but please also talk to your friends colleagues and families about raising regular support to keep Searchlight in print" (p.5). Still, Gable has maintained Searchlight's reputation for accuracy: in an astonishing feat of post-mortem magic that Himmler would have revelled in, "John Tyndall, who died in July 1975, founded the British National Party and led it until Nick Griffin became chairman until 1999" (p.6).
Aside from the problems posed for Searchlight's continuation, there is a dilemma for HNH. If the BNP is currently in the doldrums (which it is, though this may not be permanent: see my article in forthcoming NFB issue 10), then the EDL is the main 'far right' threat. However, Lowles and company are very clear that it is the state who should ban the EDL, thus there is little actual activity for HNH supporters to engage in other than tedious 'e-petitions' and clicking the 'donate' button. All very exciting, not.
In any acrimonious split, the first question is who has control of the assets. In the case of Searchlight these are
1) Subscriber lists: Gable has them, but so does Lowles, precipitating Gable to switch postal distributors for the October edition. The far bigger number of HNH contact email addresses Lowles has, Gable hasn't. So, in tennis parlance 30-15 Lowles
2) Assets inside groups/internal documents spanning decades: Gable has access to these, indeed it is noteworthy HNH had no report from inside the BNP's AGM 29/10/11. Regarding internal documents, my source commented "everybody knows the area round Gants Hill tube station". 30-all
3) Control of the Hope Not Hate web domain, and PO Box 67476 London NW3 9RF through which HNH are now soliciting direct donations, resides with Gerry Gable. Despite HNH having a cable London telephone number under their control, (02076818660 if you want to commiserate) , they are further hampered, by Hope Not Hate being "the campaigning name of Searchlight Information Services Ltd". Would be an interesting court case..True, HNH now have a direct Pay-pal account, but regarding infrastructure the initiative lies with Gable: 30-40 in Gable's favour.
4) Media links: Gable has hitherto sought to keep these very much under his thumb, but quite frankly in public he comes across as an increasingly sad shambolic meandering figure. Lowles has contacts of his own at the BBC and on the Daily Mirror. So, a difficult one to call: we'll replay that point. Still 30-40.
5) International contacts: previously, a Gable trump card, but Lowles & Atkinson have just returned from a successful visit to Sweden, where they sought to build a future collaboration (not involving Searchlight) with EXPO, the magazine set up by police ally & sometime fiction writer Stieg Larsson. Cheekily, patently directed at Gable, Lowles on his blog (4/11/11) praises EXPO as "clearly the most professional anti-fascist magazine in Europe". Given there have been two periods when it hasn't even published, it only comes out four times a year (to Searchlight's 12) and it is any case heavily state-subsidised, that's a bit rich, but still...Until this move, I'd have said Searchlight held the balance, by a whisker, but this evens thing up: 40-40, deuce. All still to play for.
In the current situation, might I be forgiven a little schadenfreude, as both factions are reprehensible, especially from my personal point of view. Gable has printed lies about me being involved in Loyalist/Nazi drug-dealing etc, but so has Atkinson (see Searchlight Fiction Pulped on this web-site). Lowles was the coward who took my photo for later publication in Searchlight. Putting personal issues to one side, if a genuinely democratic anti-fascist campaign comes out of all this (which HNH patently isn't) like a revived Anti-Fascist Action/Antifa, that would be good. Equally, if Searchlight's death-grip monopoly on anti-fascism was broken, that would be too. There will be further regroupment, and alreaqdy Searchlight are scraping the barrel. Gable is pursing his cow's lip and even thinking of giving Tony Robson unheard of responsibilities, for example. It is difficult not to reflect that after nearly 50 years in this business, Gable has been rewarded with all the loyalty his behaviour deserves. Atkinson, for example, first became involved with Searchlight in the mid-70's, at the precise time Gable was wheedling his way into radical journalist circles (the Aubrey/Berry/Campbell defence campaign) pretending to support them against state persecution yet in reality spying on them for MI5 (as revealed in the infamous Gable Memorandum). In the years since, Gable and Searchlight have lied constantly about anti-fascists of every stripe, it is little surprise then, that he has gathered around him such a bunch of shysters, turncoats and weasels devoid of no principle but self-aggrandisement.
It may, or may not, take a little time for festering internal conflict to break out into open war, but if and when it does, NFB will be, as always, on the case. Lowles, contacted by NFB, was non-committal. Considering the even distribution of assets, it is in the objective interest of both factions (especially HNH) to keep a lid on things as long as possible and establish a modus vivendi lucrative for both sides. Outraged feelings, especially on Gable's part, might hinder that. We shall see. The expected response from Searchlight to our revealing their problems will be denial, and hurling abuse/evading the arguments. Yet some things cannot be gainsaid: Lowles no longer edits Searchlight, in October Searchlight dropped presenting themselves as the magazine of HNH, Lowles has taunted Gable by elevating EXPO to leading status magazine-wise, and HNH now have their own conduit for processing donations. All this, apologists hope you haven't noticed. Yet the facts are clear to see.
- e-mail: email@example.com www.borderland.co.uk
Open Letter to Searchlight from Brighton Anti-Fascist Action
Brighton ANTI-FASCIST ACTION
6 Tilbury Place, Brighton BN2 2GY
24 June 1993Dear Comrade,
In the June 1993 issue of Searchlight, under the title 'Security Alert', allegations are made that a prominent member of Midlands AFA, Malcolm Astells, is a Nazi infiltrator: "Anti-fascists are waking up to the fact that every time he takes charge something goes wrong: either people get arrested or are led away from confronting the nazis on wild goose chases." This is an extremely serious allegation and if Searchlight was seriously concerned about a Nazi attempt to infiltrate AFA then they would have made an attempt to contact us directly concerning these matters. I do not know Mr Astells, but I am reliably informed that the allegations are without foundation.
Those of us with slightly longer memories will recall that when AFA was first founded similar, almost identically worded allegations were levelled at Class War: "People are becoming well aware that trouble often started by Class War leads to the arrest of non Class War people but very rarely Class War organisers themselves." (Gerry Gable 27.1.86) On that occasion, in view of the reputation that Searchlight then had, Class War were suspended from membership pending an inquiry. Despite repeated reminders Searchlight proved unable to provide any information whatsoever to back up their allegations. The AFA Report of the Enquiry into Class War noted: "Despite the leading role of Searchlight magazine in the affair, and despite many approaches to the magazine for evidence, the sum total of material from Searchlight to the enquiry was nil. We are bemused by Searchlight's role in this affair."
As regards the other allegations in 'Security Alert' it would seem, on the basis of what is contained in Larry O'Hara's pamphlet A Lie Too Far, that Tim Scargill of Class War has been set up with dummy C18 lists by Searchlight. Certainly none of the allegations contained in the above pamphlet have been denied. I can however testify, on the basis of personal knowledge, that Larry O'Hara is neither a neo-Nazi spy/infiltrator/fellow-traveller or errand boy for fascists but a serious bona-fide researcher into the far-right. Having said that I nonetheless disagree with much of his analysis but that doesn't make him a fascist. Nor do I believe that Searchlight believes that O'Hara is a neo-Nazi but is rather repaying old scores.
Quite clearly Searchlight does, sometimes, publish extremely useful information on the fascists. However it is also clear that Searchlight has its own, hidden agenda and it does, by its own admission obtain information from the Secret State ie. MI5/Special Branch, as well as foreign intelligence agencies. It beggars belief that this flow of information is only one way, hence the continuing obsession with various shades of anarchist and what would seem like a determined effort to wreck AFA.
Maybe none of this would matter very much, except that in Fighting Talk 4, issued around April 1993, Searchlight is advertised for the first time. Without any political discussion or decision, AFA has become associated officially with Searchlight. Previously it had merely been Searchlight that had associated with AFA, at least officially. If that didn't matter too much in April then it certainly matters now.
When accusations are knowingly and falsely made that individuals active in the anti-fascist movement, whatever one may think of their opinions or analysis, are in fact fascists and neo-Nazis, then the result can only be to sow confusion and suspicion in our ranks. It is a classic tactic of the secret state, the purpose of which is to destabilise and demoralise its enemies. It also means, and this is perhaps even more serious, that it is that much easier for genuine fascists to infiltrate our ranks and when accused point to Searchlight and cry Gable. Indeed this may already be happening.
It is clear from the last few editions of Searchlight that an attempt is being made to snuggle up to the Anti-Nazi League. Having run out of any group to associate with, Gable & Co. are having to turn to those who, until recently they were accusing of being '5th Columnists' (fascist infiltrators and saboteurs in the Spanish Republic). That is their right, but it is also our right to protect ourselves by severing any connection between AFA and Searchlight. If the latter wishes to continue to advertise us that's fine, but for our part we should take a decision to have nothing more to do with Searchlight as and until it returns to the role it used to perform under the late Maurice Ludmer, ie. one of providing information to those engaged in fighting fascism, without attempting to intervene in or destabilise the anti-fascist movement.
Having a federal structure can be both a weakness as well as a strength. At the moment it means there is no effective national control over AFA and its publication 'Fighting Talk'. In the last issue there was a thinly veiled, sectarian attack on the Troops Out Movement, as a result of the fascist attack on the TOM march. If the fascists are now strong enough to put in jeopardy the right of TOM to march, then that is as much our responsibility as anybody elses and I would suggest that one of our major priorities for the next 6 months is building to ensure a maximum anti-fascist turnout for the next Bloody Sunday march.
The fascists are growing stronger nationally, and yet AFA is beset by rumours and innuendo, attacked by those who profess to be our friends. I wish to propose that a national conference of Anti-Fascist Action be called, open to all supporters, which should debate all these and other issues out in the open, elect a national steering committee, decide priorities and how to spend the £2 000 the Levellers raised in Brighton, analyze the fascists' strengths and weaknesses, relations with other groups and set the organisation on the road to recovery. We need to be able to make a clear and honest assessment nationally as to what is happening and also break out of our increasing political isolation. In many ways there is a need to relaunch AFA.
Finally, although I have shown this letter to as many members in Brighton as possible, I take full personal responsibility for what is contained within.
Secretary - Brighton AFA