The ever-readable Mike Stuchbery has put together a Twitter thread on the modus operandi of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, and those around him (read it HERE). He tells “Having pretty closely tracked the Far Right in the UK this year, the sooner we think about 'Tommy Robinson' and those orbiting him, structurally, as a kind of criminal gang, the more their behaviour makes sense”.
In detailing his arguments, Stuchbery considers all the elements that make up the Lennon package: the origins in football hooliganism, the claim that he has now left all of that behind, his being the central “charismatic figure” of this gang, the use of social media, the rewarding of hangers-on, the partisan media outlets bringing a veneer of credibility, the imitators, and of course the threats and intimidation.
But what even he could not have foreseen is the lengths to which Lennon’s followers will go in order to burnish his image. That now involves going beyond having a mere figurehead, to the point where it becomes a cult. An absolute and complete cult.
You think I jest? Lennon himself has endorsed a Facebook post by someone calling himself Jack Dawkins - the name of Dickens’ Artful Dodger character - which simpers “They've tried to break him, physically, psychologically, they've tried to buy him, scare him, they've locked him away, threatened him, his family”. Yes? yes yes? Yes yes yes?
“The law, the establishment, even ISIS, he's received more osman warnings than one has ever heard of, he battles on … For over a decade he's spilt blood, sweat and tears to expose the horrors of an ideology that was hidden by the very people who are paid to protect, from a small group of locals, to a worldwide awakening”. Do go on.
“Once he had the following and backing of the people, he used that power for only good things, helping charities and individual sufferings along the way, he continues to do so in an awe inspiring way … In Tommy we trust”. Pass the sick bucket.
The reasoning is, of course, utterly untrue. Had the “ideology” been “hidden”, then Lennon, with his next to negligible investigative skills, would not have exposed it. There has been no awakening, merely propagandising. The power Lennon has can hardly have been used for good when he has spent so much time intimidating and threatening his critics, which is somewhat less than awe-inspiring. And it’s still all about Himself Personally Now.
That, though, is the easy bit. The harder part, and the far more disturbing one, is the way in which social media is being used in order to advance the pretence that Lennon is not merely a figurehead, not just, like Top Cat, the leader of the gang, but some kind of pseudo-deity in whom all those who follow him can readily put their trust.
This cultism, reproduced on Lennon’s Facebook page, has garnered thousands of shares, yet more thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments as the faithful rush to voice their approval. Belief has morphed into unthinking obedience. Reality has been suspended.
It’s an impressive journey for a career criminal. Especially as it hasn’t actually happened.
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