searchlight.org.uk


Is The Writing on the Wall?

To what extent are political activists (or even the media) becoming wise to Searchlight, in the light of the above despicable record of lies, incitement, targeting anti-fascists, multiple fabrication and supine subordination to the secret state? There are positive signs: Anti-Fascist Action no longer advertise Searchlight and AFA's most militant component street-wise, Red Action, launched a savage attack in Summer 1995, declaring that "for Searchlight... there can be no way back. One way or another, their number is surely up." [66] Greenleaf Bookshop in Bristol took the brave step of banning Searchlight of their own volition in 1995, for which they are to be commended. Aware of in just what contempt clued-up anti-fascists hold them, the fact that AFA were no longer prepared to tolerate the practice of selectively omitting certain branches, Searchlight were forced as from the March 1996 issue to announce they were no longer listing contact points for anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations (p. 2). Even more positively, it is my belief that certain 'team' members are so ashamed of their association with the organisation that they write articles elsewhere under false names: Steven Silver may well write using the pseudonym Peter Brighton for a reason he probably thought clever, once. Sometimes the name-changes are only slight: Rob [Page 29] Lowell formerly a supposed Trotskyist [67] is very shy indeed: no articles have appeared under his actual name in Searchlight, although maybe in another publication. [68] Given that Searchlight have always thought it perfectly acceptable to target anti-fascists and publicise their personal details, it is high time more Searchlight personnel stepped forward from the shadows. Why shouldn't the readers know full details concerning the younger and expanded team they boasted of in September 1996? [69]

On the other hand, Searchlight's monopolisation of media coverage of fascism shows no signs of being weakened. Very recently, they have sought to launch a 'Trade Union Friends of Searchlight' front-organisation, to gather intelligence on, and money from, the working class. A recent series of connected libel cases brought against them/their printers (good) and radical bookshops stocking Searchlight (bad), that have arisen in part because of ridiculous (and characteristic) lies by the magazine, have had an unfortunate effect. Media coverage of the proceedings thus far has completely left out the fact that not only did Searchlight partly cause the problems in the first place by its scurrilous content, they gave no help whatsoever to the bookshops initially targeted (Housmans and Centerprise in London). [70] Therefore, these bookshops felt compelled to settle the first couple of libel claims, creating a precedent that will do them no good in court when related claims are discussed, and encouraging the litigants to pursue the further claims that have led to the current situation where bankruptcy is possible. Even more appalling for a magazine that habitually prints lies and libels about virtually everyone it mentions, Searchlight have refused to provide bookshops with a 'libel indemnity' covering legal action. This would have been equitable, because Searchlight themselves, as a shadow company with virtually no share capital and which doesn't submit proper accounts, can easily escape legal liability for their own contents, an escape route not available to small bookshops. Yet not only has no criticism come their way, Searchlight are obscenely seeking to make political capital and no doubt real money from the whole thing. In this regard it is essential for them to give the impression that it is only sections of the far right who have it in for them. The above text shows that isn't the whole story, and Searchlight's attempts to use the episode to enhance their ability to spy on Leftists by getting closer to them should be strenuously resisted. The weekly newspaper of the largest far left group here in the UK, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in covering the case described Searchlight as "respected": this from an organisation whose members MI5/Searchlight asset Tim Hepple boasted of beating up with enjoyment. [71] Furthermore, any 'respect' the SWP have for Searchlight certainly isn't reciprocated: the team have spoken contemptuously [Page 30] of "the SWP's odious track record of stirring up anti-semitism in the student world... armed with propaganda material that rivalled that of the nazis." [72]

It is vital to distinguish between support for radical bookshops (including that run by the SWP, now also targeted) and the question of what Searchlight is, and who it really represents. The SWP 'model resolution' circulated in the bookshop's defence signally fails to do this, again describing Searchlight as "respected." Not only have the media and much of the Left not broken with Searchlight, the only potential competitor in terms of analysing racism/fascism, the bi-monthly CARF, in its most recent issue, had this to say. Referring to the BNSP they routinely report, without criticism, that "Searchlight has suggested that the security services may have had some involvement." [73] Needless to say, CARF, despite being a split from Searchlight (that I even used to write for) have never informed their readers of my own analyses concerning state/far right connections, and in citing Searchlight as an opinion source without qualification thereby show just how analytically dependent they are. This is bad both for CARF and the anti-fascist movement/Greens generally, for the hydra that is the Searchlight organisation (the magazine being merely the public face of such) cannot be reformed or reasoned with, it must be destroyed and replaced, as soon as possible. It is not for me personally to replace it, that is for anti-fascists as a whole to do.



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