Is Tommy Robinson a headstrong fool who thoroughly deserves the 13-month prison sentence handed him by a judge in slightly confused and murky circumstances last week?
Or is he the bravest man in Britain, the voice of the people, who has been martyred for the ‘crime’ of saying something the cowardly Establishment still considers to be unsayable about the dangers posed by Islam?
A bit of both, I’d say.
As many of you will know, I’m an admirer of Tommy’s. We bonded over the two podcasts we recorded together here and here. In the flesh, he’s very different from the “far right” thug you see portrayed in the mainstream media. He’s easy, friendly, intelligent company; he’s apparently devoid of racist sentiment; and he’s better informed on the Qu’ran and the Hadith than some Muslims, and probably as well informed on Muslim extremism as the police and the intelligence services.
Also, of course, he’s very, very brave. Though a devoted family man who’d love to see his kids grow up, he has long since reconciled himself to the fact that this may not happen. As Britain’s number one critic of Islam, he knows he’s a target. His response to this has been the same as that of the Spartan King Leonidas when threatened by the Persians before Thermopylae: molon labe.
That doesn’t mean Tommy Robinson is an angel. Apart from his acknowledged history of violence (though hardly abnormal for a white working-class football fan) and his stint in prison for mortgage fraud, he’s an adrenaline junkie who sometimes pushes it that bit too far.
This is why he’s currently behind bars. Not because he’s a bad person; not because there aren’t hundreds of thousands of people out there who’ve committed far worse crimes than Robinson and got away without a custodial sentence; but because he fell into a trap of his own making.
Robinson gave Britain’s criminal justice system just the excuse it needed legally to put him back in prison, exactly where it wanted him.
We can complain all we like that this is unfair, a grotesque overreaction and against what we might consider to be natural justice.
What we cannot complain is that Tommy Robinson is being detained illegally.
For chapter and verse on this — if you can stomach the snark and the hatred and the smugness — read this account by Secret Barrister.
Secret Barrister is the pseudonym of a practising lawyer (or lawyers). His article drips with contempt for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy’s real name — which all his critics prefer to use because “Tommy Robinson” sounds too matey and loveable) and for his fans. But it gives a pretty good representation of where the legal establishment is at on this issue.
Robinson’s apparently draconian sentence was a consequence of an incident in May last year when he had been found guilty of contempt of court while filming defendants outside a Muslim rape gang trial in Canterbury, Kent. The judge was perfectly clear to Robinson as to what would happen if he did this again:
“[Y]ou should be under no illusions that if you commit any further offence of any kind, and that would include, I would have thought, a further contempt of court by similar actions, then that sentence of three months would be activated, and that would be on top of anything else that you were given by any other court.
In short, Mr Yaxley-Lennon, turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists” and so and so forth while trials are ongoing and before there has been a finding by a jury that that is what they are, and you will find yourself inside. Do you understand?”
And what did Tommy Robinson do? He went and did it again.
For a much more sympathetic view of Tommy Robinson’s predicament — indeed, the best summary of the situation — you should read this excellent piece by Douglas Murray.
Murray, too — though with much more regret than Secret Barrister — is forced to concede that Tommy had it coming.
Robinson would not now be in jail if he had not once again accosted defendants in an ongoing trial outside the courthouse. He had been told by a judge last May not to do this and yet he did this again. It isn’t the worst thing in the world (it isn’t child rape, for instance), but it is an offense to which Robinson understandably pleaded guilty. More important, the trial that was coming to a close last Friday is just one part of a trial involving multiple other defendants. It is certainly possible that Robinson’s breaking of reporting restrictions at the Leeds trial could have prejudiced those trials. To have caused the collapse of such a trial would have been more than a blunder; it would have been an additional blow to victims who deserve justice.
At this point, then, should we give up all sympathy with Tommy Robinson?
Of course not!
As Murray goes on to say, the primary issue here has nothing whatsoever with the pettifogging point as to whether or not Tommy Robinson was guilty under law.
The primary issue is that for years the British state allowed gangs of men to rape thousands of young girls across Britain. For years the police, politicians, Crown Prosecution Service, and every other arm of the state ostensibly dedicated to protecting these girls failed them. As a number of government inquires have concluded, they turned their face away from these girls because they were terrified of the accusations of racism that would come their way if they did address them. They decided it wasn’t worth the aggravation.
Precisely. We’re not talking dodgy paperwork here. (That, remember, was how the Establishment got Tommy Robinson first time round: “mortgage fraud”). We’re talking the systematic rape of thousands upon thousands of mostly underage white and Sikh girls, in towns and cities across Britain, by gangs of mostly Muslim men. Many of the victims were tortured; some were even killed; all suffered trauma, misery, and scarred lives.
And it happened on a time scale so extensive (over at least the last 20 years), on a geographical spread so vast (see tweet below) and was perpetrated so flagrantly by so many offenders against so many victims, that it’s quite impossible to dismiss it as a freak event which no one could reasonably have prevented or known about.
Clearly the authorities — including the police, local government, and children’s services; but the rot surely goes higher than that — knew what was going on yet did nothing to stop it. Clearly, someone at some stage needed to speak out against this injustice.
That person was Tommy Robinson.
Steven Yaxley-Lennon didn’t become crusading citizen activist Tommy Robinson for the shits and giggles. He did it because, for a long time, nobody in the media, or the rest of the Establishment, was taking a stand against this outrage being perpetrated mostly against his people: the white working class.
Nor is anyone really doing so today.
Sure, there have been exceptions – for example: Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham; Andrew Norfolk, who broke the Rotherham story in the Times; Alexis Jay, who presided over the first rape gang inquiry — but it’s unfortunately still the case that, even after all those trials, the issue of Islamic integration in general and of Muslim rape gangs, in particular, remains one of those awkward topics which the Establishment prefers resolutely to ignore.
Just shudder, for a moment, at the exquisite contempt, sarcasm, and superiority oozing from every pore of Secret Barrister as he revels in Tommy Robinson’s imprisonment:
“His knuckle-dragging cheerleaders”; “his racists-in-arms across the pond”; “No, ye of little brain”; “We have a quaint tradition in England and Wales that trial by media should be avoided…”; “the toga party they have wandered into is in fact a Klan meeting”; ” If the key to turning up the online volume is a snappy tone and uncompromising beatdown of idiots and liars, then that’s the game I’ll play.”
That’s the authentic voice of the Establishment, that is.
You’ll recognise the tone, I’m sure.
It’s the same tone used by Remainers to dismiss all the ordinary people who voted Brexit; the same one Democrats and Never Trumpers use to express their disgust with all the idiots who didn’t vote for Hillary; the same one used by EU Commissars whenever another country – Poland, Hungary, Austria, Italy, most recently Slovenia – votes for a “populist” government rather than a slavishly pro-EU one.
It’s the contempt of the elite for ordinary people.
And it’s the reason the world is in such political turmoil today.
“Populism”, as the entrenched elites sniffily call it, is on the rise.
It’s on the rise because the political Establishment aren’t keeping their side of the bargain: the one that says if you’ve been given a democratic mandate to rule then you have to do so with a semblance of justice for all.
The Tommy Robinson affair embodies so much of what’s wrong with the current system.
It’s all very well for remote, snooty, epically complacent Establishment flunkies like Secret Barrister to lecture us ignorant oiks as to why it was perfectly proper to throw Tommy Robinson in prison.
But while we understand the narrow, technical, legalistic point, we don’t get the broader moral one.
The broader moral one is this: how can it be right for a brave, principled, fundamentally decent civil rights campaigner like Tommy Robinson to be locked up for over a year — at such risk to his person that it is potentially a death sentence — when people who pose a much greater threat and who have committed far more serious crimes either walk free or get much lesser sentences?
Whatever crime Robinson may have committed on paper, everyone with eyes to see knows that the real crimes for which he is being punished are these: being white working class; speaking home truths about the problems posed to social cohesion in Britain by Islam when the Establishment’s position remains that this is impolite and that we should all bury our heads in the sand and pretend that those problems don’t exist.
So long as this state of affairs continues, the gulf between ordinary people and the political elite is going to grow and grow.
It’s the kind of rift from which revolutions emerge. Tommy Robinson is already the people’s hero. If he becomes the people’s martyr too, then it will be a mistake the Establishment most certainly comes to regret.