At the end of July, HOPE not hate (HNH Ltd) will be releasing its dramatic, new undercover documentary which follows one of its researchers as he descends further and further inside clandestine far right networks both here in the UK, and in the US. However, as a treat for our supporters in north London, back in April a sneak preview screening was held at the terrific Art House Cinema in Crouch End. Roughly 60 HNH supporters braved the appalling weather that night in order to view the film and hear short speeches by HNH’s Senior Researcher Dr. Joe Mulhall, and Catherine West MP. From this event, the green shoots of a new HOPE not hate group have begun to burst through the soil in north London.

a picture of Patrik Hermansson

Haringey is a borough of juxtapositions. On the one hand there are the areas of Crouch End, Highgate and Muswell Hill, some of the most affluent in the country. Then there are wards in the east of the borough which, according to the ONS, are among the top 10% most economically deprived in the whole country, with the impact of cuts an added source of worry, anger and frustration. Residents speak of this divide being emphasised, physically, by a railway line which runs vertically through Haringey exaggerating a sense that residents are occupying two different worlds. 

The physical geography of the borough also has distinct contrasts; from the high ground of Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace in the west to the low-lying Tottenham Marshes in the east. Additionally, and in connection with the economic and physical divides which are present in the borough, there is the presence of serious youth violence, the severity of which has destroyed the lives of numerous people across Haringey, and which has spawned resident-led projects with a view to tackling it.

It was against this backdrop, as well as a broader anger at the direction of political conversation and action in the UK, that members of the borough came together for the first ‘Hornsey & Wood Green HNH’ group meeting. As 7pm ticked round and things kicked off with customary introductions, there were a range of people and perspectives in the room: those previously involved Rock Against Racism, Labour, ex-Labour, Green and Lib Dem party members were all in attendance, as well as those with no political home. Despite this, a common theme emerged: that Britain was sleepwalking into an extremely dangerous situation from which they were unsure how it would emerge.

There were some clear objectives for the meeting: begin to build a common purpose within the group, establish clear group roles, identify key areas and opportunities for activity, assess where support in the borough would come from and, since an HNH staff member was kindly invited to the meeting, hear about what HOPE not hate’s current priorities are and what help and support new groups receive and are entitled to.

As the meeting progressed, it became apparent that the group had several opportunities and directions open to it and, with some careful planning and making the most of its skills, local knowledge and connections, it could be a thriving and active presence in north London. We look forward to working alongside our new friends in Haringey.


- Nick Spooner is a Community Organiser at HOPE not hate Charitable Trust.