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Saturday 2 June 2018

Tommy Robinson Fans Free Speech ISN’T

The central conceit of those following and supporting former EDL head man Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, is that his campaign is all about freedom of speech. His May Day bank holiday event in central London was, supposedly, all about free speech. And those taking exception to his jailing on a contempt of court charge maintain that he is a free speech campaigner.
In pursuit of making their views heard, Lennon’s supporters organised a gathering and march yesterday in Leeds, the scene of his arrest the previous week. The way in which the Wall of Gammon (tm) deported themselves gave an excellent opportunity to test the assertion that it was all about free speech, but sadly, that test was failed after the commitment to free speech turned out, as so often, not to extend to others.

As for the idea of peaceful protest, the Murdoch Sun found thatOne supporter hurled a red flare on top of the court building and a Dr Pepper bottle was thrown at a police officer as chaos ensued”. Leeds Live concurred on the latter point: “A bottle of Dr Pepper was thrown at a police officer, which missed and hit the wall of Leeds Crown Court”.

And then came that much-vaunted commitment to free speech. Leeds Live again: “LeedsLive followed the crowds with some supporters becoming aggressive towards the police, the press and members of the public … Some of the crowd gathered around photographers and tried to stop them from taking photos … After the group left Oxford Row heading into the city centre, members of the public lined the Headrow to watch.
Some onlookers expressed their distaste at the protest and were verbally abused”.

So much for free speech. And tolerance was in equally short supply: “Some people shouted xenophobic remarks, which LeedsLive has chosen not to repeat … Police intervened to stop a few potential physical altercations”. The Sun added “When approached by a reporter, one bald-headed supporter of Mr Robinson shouted: ‘Journalist? F**k off. You're all scum.’” Peace loving free speech campaigners.
A selection of Islamophobic chants was also alleged to have been used. But despite all the paranoid claims of free speech repression and state intervention against Lennon, none of the protesters was arrested or prevented from marching, chanting, or indeed casually abusing passers-by and attempting to curtail the free speech of others (like reporters).

Worst of all for the Wall of Gammon (tm), it had no effect whatever on Lennon’s incarceration. He was handed a 13 month sentence, was serving a 13 month sentence before the protest, and will still be serving a 13 month sentence after it, as he will be after another protest which has been scheduled for next Friday in London. But it will waste scarce Police resources and disrupt the lives of those who don’t care Lennon is in jail.

And it still won’t be about free speech. It will be an exhibition of the easily led, demonstrating that they don’t understand the law - or, indeed, that Stephen Yaxley Lennon is taking them for mugs. It’s not about free speech. It’s about him promoting himself.

What happens when this dawns on his fans will be a most interesting spectacle.


Burlington Bertie from Bow said...

Be fair, Tim. 'Fuck off, you're all scum' is surely the kind of thing Douglas Murray was alluding to when he said that 'the EDL’s members sought to highlight issues'. Not the way you might have sought to highlight them, Tim, but you've got to allow for differences of personal style, haven't you?

Richard Bartholomew said...

Not enough has been made of the fact that ahead of his Canterbury trial last year Robinson asked for funds so that he could present a "free speech" defence.

After the trial, he made a video in which he declared "victory" and a "court win", but claimed that he was not allowed to go into the details. This was handy, as it meant that he did not have to explain that he had received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty and asking for clemency. I don't know if the restriction here was genuine or not, but if so he did not consider his inability to confirm his own guilt to be an imposition on his free speech.

He did confirm the sentence a few days later, claiming it had been imposed because he was "trying to warn the public", but this was only because the truth had been reported by Kent Live.

Those who sent money on the understanding that they would be helping to establish a "free speech" legal precedent were ripped off and misled.

Anonymous said...

You got to admit – that bald-headed supporter of ‘Mr’ Robinson was on the ball when talking to, sorry ranting at the Sun. Chances are, though, that the target was just a local jobbing freelancer selling his words to whoever would buy them.

Just waiting for Hatey Katie or some other right wing loon (insert the name of your favourite) to imply that Trump imposed tariffs on the UK to force Robinson’s release.

Anonymous said...

As we write, "Robinson" is enjoying his dollop of porridge.

Enjoy, "Tommy", enjoy.