Hope Not Hate is an organisation with a fine campaigning record which has done a lot of good in tackling extremism. But this week, they tweeted that ‘the far-right and the climate crisis are linked. They spread disinformation, fear-monger about climate-driven immigration and engage in denialism to spark culture wars.’
I’m not entirely convinced by the assertion. For one thing, it seems unlikely that the primary reason for someone joining the English Defence League would be their stance on climate change, nor would I expect the BNP to focus on climate denialism in its manifesto.
Yet in shifting its attention to a cause which seems to be outside of its remit, Hope Not Hate is far from alone. By merely stating that the two domains are related, they grant themselves licence to pronounce on another policy area. In recent years, taking leaps across to other notionally proximate causes has become common among charities and other businesses.
Oxfam, for instance, has evolved over the years from famine-relief to overt political activism, including publishing wildly misleading claims about wealth distribution. The Body Shop was founded with a view to sell products with ethically-sourced, cruelty-free and natural ingredients; it is hard to see how that naturally extends into challenging JK Rowling on transgender rights. Similarly, Lush was founded to make and sell vegetarian and vegan products but oddly launched a prominent campaign in 2018 against abuses by undercover policemen.
Another case is the charity Stonewall, formed in 1989 to focus on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual rights.