The remaining hacks at the appallingly downmarket Daily Star must have been collectively gutted last night: the English Defence League (EDL), that bastion of collective and apparently terminal stupidity which they had championed for so long, was at last called out, by the charity Help For Heroes, which declared it would not accept money raised by EDL Obergruppenführer Tommy Robinson.
Someone's brain hurts. If it's plugged in
Robinson appears to have been genuinely taken aback by the rejection, the decision having been made on the grounds that the EDL was judged to be a political organisation. He has blamed the news on “political correctness”, but it was not so long ago that he was openly talking up fielding candidates at elections and challenging the major parties.
Indeed, the Daily Star ran an all too sympathetic article “EDL To Go Political” in February 2011, where its leader said of its party political ambitions “We aren’t ruling it out. I think this country needs a party that’s not afraid to say things some would consider unpopular”. His party would outlaw the Qur’an: “They have got a responsibility to sort out their religion. They have to reform their religion so it fits in”.
The article then riffed on the idea that Robinson should participate in a future broadcast of BBC Question Time, which, it was suggested, would enjoy popular support. The piece signed off with the now infamous line “In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98% of readers said they agreed with the EDL’s policies”, whatever those were. Robinson has no room for protest at his exclusion.
And if anyone needs to “reform” so they “fit in”, it is not followers of The Prophet, but the EDL: the organisation has been caught in the past week attempting entryism and indulging in neo-Nazi behaviour, and both are bang out of order. What was billed as a walk through Bristol in aid of Help For Heroes was apparently hijacked by the organisation and later stopped by riot Police on Saturday.
Then a so-called “demonstration” in London featured a number of EDL supporters giving unambiguous straight-arm salutes, this following a gathering in Newcastle-on-Tyne where Robinson welcomed on stage a speaker who opined that someone should “send the black c***s home”, which was enthusiastically applauded. The “non-racist” veneer has well and truly peeled off.
That Help For Heroes has whipped the rug from under the EDL is welcome, but it is disturbing that it took so long for someone to call them out. Worse, this convocation of intolerance, racism and idiocy has been indulged by too many at the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate in their desperate scrabbling for sales. Richard “Dirty” Desmond, for one, should hang his head in shame.
Because what the Daily Star did was certainly not a Benchmark Of Excellence.