Searchlight Origins / Editorial Staff

[Page 1] People attending leftist demonstrations and meetings (as well as this year's [1996] Trade Union Congress) might have seen a brightly-coloured A4 magazine, Searchlight on sale. Along with tabloid-style slogans and accompanying photographs, Searchlight's cover modestly bills itself as 'The International Anti-Fascist Monthly'. The magazine itself despite world-wide distribution has a maximum declared circulation of 7,000. Searchlight appears to break UK company law, by not submitting accounts: but that is the least of their infractions. Closely related bodies are the 'Searchlight Educational Trust' (a supposedly charitable body) and 'Searchlight Information Services', which sells stories to the media. The Searchlight team have never admitted to more than a dozen staff members, and present themselves as specialists in the relatively narrow area of racism/fascism. However in their chosen field Searchlight are very influential, in fact virtually monopolistic: barely a story on fascists printed in the UK newspapers has not got their paw-print on it, and the same (even more so) goes for TV documentaries on fascism. They have established links with nearly every anti-fascist intelligence publication in Europe (East and West), with dire consequences for the independence and integrity of the latter. Searchlight's political influence is also immense: they were rapporteurs, providing official and exclusive research back-up for the two European Parliament reports into racism and fascism in Europe.

Searchlight started life as an irregularly produced news sheet in 1965, involving among others two left-leaning Labour MPs (Reg Freeson and Joan Lestor). The first really interesting development however was the publication of an anonymous well-distributed and highly-libellous document 'The Monday Club – A Danger to Democracy' in 1972 (the Monday Club is a racist right-wing pressure group in the Conservative Party). No one has ever admitted to writing this, but the content and style is highly redolent of themes that were to be staple Searchlight stories throughout the 1970's and later. In 1974, Searchlight resurfaced in the shape of a one-off (quite good) pamphlet entitled 'A Well-Oiled Nazi Machine', devoted to exposing then premier fascist group, the National Front, who had just obtained 3.2% in the February General Election and were to get 3.1% in October. Spurred on by this, Searchlight magazine was started in February 1975 and has continued to the present day. The first editor was sometime sports journalist (and member of the Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain, hereafter CPGB) Maurice Ludmer. Ludmer died in 1981 and after a short inter regnum in which a female academic (Veronica Ware) was in charge there have only been two editors since. For most of the time Gerry Gable (former CPGB member) has been at the helm, only stepping aside for a short time to allow TV journalist Andrew Bell to take temporary charge. [1]