The most significant events in social history tend to arrive unexpectedly. Only in retrospect do we see their inevitability – the storming of the Bastille, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Who would have thought last week that the world would be talking about the founder of the English Defence League and the demise of British justice?
Tommy Robinson was standing on the street outside Leeds Crown Court streaming video with his media device for a reason we are not allowed to write about. He was pounced upon by police officers, taken before a judge without his lawyer and jailed for 13 months – with lightening swiftness. Technically, he was in contempt of court, although the vigour in which he was put down is remarkable. His summary trial was suddenly redacted by court order, but some courageous writers and websites refused to kowtow to the sinister force of state censorship.
Breitbart London was one of few sites to publish the official notice of the reporting ban. On the major news story of the day, people relied on Youtube-based Infowars and Rebel Media. Gatestone Institute wrote of the ‘swift injustice’ meted out to Robinson. Canadian critic Mark Steyn described how the police functioned ‘as the Old Bill of attainder: Get Robinson – on anything’.
I won’t waste words on the pathetic mainstream media (does anyone watch the MSM anymore for real news?), but what about self-proclaimed libertarian Guido Fawkes? For years, this website has been a sore for the venal Westminster class. But a callous cartoon of Tommy Robinson was all it contributed to a disturbing abuse of state power. Not surprisingly, the ‘knuckle-dragging far-right’, as Guido Fawkes called anyone defending a wronged man, are apparently abandoning the site in droves.
Canadian Mark Steyn described how the police functioned ‘as the Old Bill of attainder: Get Robinson – on anything’.
I’d like to focus on an important factor that may be lost in the post-blackout discussion of the rights and wrongs of the case. Tommy Robinson has been imprisoned before. Not for inflaming racial tensions, but for ‘misrepresenting’ himself on a mortgage application. As well as a ‘far-right thug’ he is labelled as a fraudster. Meanwhile, in the House of Lords sit rogues whose shadowy financial dealings were no bar to ermine-cloaked eminence.
It really is one rule for toffs and another for peasants. And this brings me to the underlying motive of the establishment: Tommy Robinson is being punished for stirring the downtrodden class from apathy.
The social class divide, dramatically exposed by the EU referendum, is now returning to the forefront in Britain. The pampered middle class described by David Goodhart as ‘Anywheres’, look with disdain on commoners – the ‘Somewheres’, who value traditional norms and community bonds. To the urban pseudo-intelligentsia, the plebs are vulgar and stupid bigots. The elitist Guardian and BBC depict Tommy Robinson as a symbol of everything to be despised by those living in the la la land of political correctness.
Contrast the reaction to Tommy Robinson and Douglas Murray. They present similar messages about the threat of Islam. But while Murray is a highly articulate speaker with a clipped accent regularly invited on television, Robinson is a working class bloke who doesn’t mince his words. He is a convenient target for effete society’s displacement: denounce the uncouth truth-teller rather than the rapists, while the thousands of victims in Rotherham and countless other towns are effectively dismissed as ‘white trash’. Robinson is a placatory sacrifice on the altar of appeasement to Muslim ‘community leaders’.
It really is one rule for toffs and another for peasants.
As a rabble-rouser, Tommy Robinson has a historical equivalent. In the 19th century, the Lancashire weaver and working class wordsmith Samuel Bamford fought the oppressive Corn Law. Born in 1788 to Methodist parents, his Passages in the Life of a Radical eloquently described conditions in the mill towns. Imprisoned for treason after organising protests against the government, but later released, Bamford led a peaceful meeting in Manchester in 1819. In his words, this is how the establishment responded:
‘A noise and strange murmur arose towards the church, and a party of cavalry in blue and white uniform came trotting, sword in hand, round the corner of the gardenwall, and to the forefront of a row of new houses, where they reined up in a line…. Waving their sabres over their heads, and striking spur into their steeds, they dashed forwards… “Stand fast!” I said, “they are riding upon us, stand fast”…. The cavalry were in confusion; they could not, with all the weight of man and horse, penetrate that compact mass of human beings; their sabres were plied to hew a way through naked held-up hands and defenceless heads; and then chopped limbs, and wound-gaping skulls were seen, and groans and cries were mingled with the din of that horrid confusion. “For shame! For shame!” was shouted…. White-vested maids and tender youths were indiscriminately sabred or trampled…. In ten minutes from the commencement of the havoc the field was an open and almost deserted space.’
That was St Peter’s Field almost 200 years to this day. The incident went down in history as the Peterloo Massacre (a pun on the Battle of Waterloo). Once more we have a mounting momentum against the establishment. The man of the moment, who refused to be silenced on the issue of the Muslim rape gangs who prey on white schoolgirls up and down the country, was becoming a thorn in the side of the elite.
His free speech rally in London was hugely successful as was his crowd funding and the danger he presented to the ‘hate crime’ project.
On a thunderstruck May bank holiday weekend, the tide began to turn against a corrupt and contemptuous establishment. The energy is with the people now and the protests will grow for as long as it takes to free the political prisoner.
(Dr Niall McCrae is a lecturer in mental health, and a writer on social and political affairs. He contributes regularly to The Salisbury Review, The Conservative Woman and Bruges Group website, and has written two books: The Moon and Madness, and Echoes from the Corridors: The Story of Nursing in British Mental Hospitals).