Ever ready to rile up his followers, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, has once more garnered himself significant self-publicity, got his fans suitably outraged, and by doing so has caused trouble for a group of young men who will soon find themselves repenting at leisure. The latest stunt involves the Army.
Lennon, it seems, encountered a group of what look to have been Army cadets at a motorway service area. He later posted a video with the comment “A moment like this makes it all worth while. Today I met real British heroes”. The group chanted his name. This caused concern to some, and Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain was one of them. He notified the Army and then posted their response.
It was not good news for Lennon’s fans. “An Army spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of a photograph and video of a group of Army personnel on social media and are investigating the circumstances surrounding this. Anyone who is in breach of the Army's values and standards will face administrative action’”. Another statement followed.
This time, the question of political ideology was addressed directly. “Far right ideology is completely at odds with the values and ethos of the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces have robust measures in place to ensure those exhibiting extremist views are neither tolerated nor permitted to serve”. Lennon and his pals weren’t having that.
Typical of his fans’ response was this disturbing threat from Daniel Hood: “Tommy Robinson has more support in the @BritishArmy than @theresa_may. Be warned, if you start to persecute soldiers for their support of him, you'll see something happen you cannot control. As a former British Paratrooper I'm telling you straight. We underwrite you”.
Hood manages to miss that the ones doing the underwriting are the taxpayers - of all faiths and none - whose taxes keep the armed forces going. But then, someone whose Twitter feed includes Richard Kemp and Ann Coulter may not readily grasp such realities.
In the meantime, Lennon has decided to whip up the mob yet further. After snapping “Watch the backlash if the army attempt to discipline these young recruits for expressing the very freedoms they are expected to fight & die for”, he has now started a petition. “They cannot be allowed to remove the freedoms of our armed forces for political correctness. Please sign the petition”. It’s called “Stand With Our Lads”.
So let me put Lennon and his pals straight. One, the armed forces have one loyalty, and one alone. That loyalty is to the Crown. It is not to any politician, and certainly not to a career criminal with a reputation for intimidation and violence. Two, Army regulations expressly forbid any expression of political partiality (you can see the relevant Defence Instructions and Notices setting that out in this post).
Lest we forget
And Three, as we’re marking the centenary of The Great War at present, perhaps Stephen Lennon and his Muslim-bashing pals might do well to remember that around 400,000 Muslims fought for this country in that conflict. Many made the ultimate sacrifice. The total number of Muslim participants in The Great War was around two and a half million.
Screwing around with the loyalties of our armed forces is bang out of order. End of story.
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