Nigel Farage knows all too well that smears and lies take hold if repeated enough times.
After the Berlin Christmas market terror atrocity in December, he launched an attack on the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox for backing “extremism” with his support for HOPE not hate. He then went on to accuse us of pursuing “violent and undemocratic means”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. HOPE not hate is an avowedly peaceful and anti-violent organisation that fights the politics of extremism by bringing communities together.
Our mission statement sets out clearly what we are about – ‘Challenging Hate, Building Communities’.
We immediately asked Farage to retract and apologise for his smears and lies. We warned him we would sue if he did not. All we asked him to do was say ‘sorry’.
Farage did not even have the courtesy to respond. Instead, his supporters waded in. Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who bankrolled UKIP and the Leave.EU campaign, took to Twitter to call us a “vile organisation”. He outrageously claimed we had “organised a mass confrontation” against Farage.
Raheem Kassam, the British editor of the US far-right website Breitbart, and Farage’s former chief strategist, began crowdfunding to finance research on us. We have also received thousands of abusive and threatening tweets, Facebook posts, emails and phone calls.
This is how these people operate. They attempt to vilify, abuse and bully their opponents into silence. Whether it is Farage in the UK or Donald Trump in the US, they think they can demonise their opponents without any thought for the damage it causes or the anger and hatred it incites in their supporters.
So this is why we have decided to start legal action against Nigel Farage – funded by 14,000 donations already.
We know that losing this case won’t hurt Farage financially. After all, he is a millionaire former City stockbroker with a personal backer worth £100m and a billionaire cheerleader in the White House.
But we believe it’s time to take a stand against liars who bully and attempt to shout down those who peacefully disagree with them.
This case is not about money for HOPE not hate, it is quite simply about telling the truth. It’s about saying No More to Farage’s fake news.
The truth is that Farage dislikes us because we have shone the spotlight on UKIP and played a part in stopping him getting elected in Thanet. He and other UKIP elected officials and party members responded by calling us names and abusing us.
We began targeting UKIP in 2013 as it started adopting a more anti-immigrant stance, specifically whipping up scare stories with claims that 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians would come to the UK. Events since have proved we were right to do so.
When we tried to meet the party leaders to discuss the issue of its growing extremism, they failed to turn up to their own meeting. Not only that, the party’s conference then passed a motion banning any UKIP member from supporting HOPE not hate.
Over the next few years we exposed their racist and homophobic councillors, the strongly anti-Muslim views of some of its MEPs, as well as links to European far-right parties, and highlighted the lies and exaggerations in its election leaflets.
Farage’s false slurs threaten to undermine the reputation of HOPE not hate and the vital work we do in communities across Britain helping bridge cultural and religious divides, working extensively with local authorities, schools, the probation and prison services on issues surrounding the tackling of extremism.
And as we are entering a general election campaign, HOPE not hate is putting Nigel Farage, his supporters and UKIP on notice that we will not tolerate anyone trying to smear us with the violence tag any longer.
It is completely false and we will not allow Farage and his cronies to peddle this lie to the people of Britain.
This issue is far bigger than just the words Farage used against us. It is about the politics of hope and hate. As Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”