Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Tommy Robinson and the nauseating snobbery of the British commentariat

As someone who is almost entirely ignorant of the so-called Far Right in Britain (which is actually that segment of the Far Left which hates immigrants and Jews rather than the bourgeoisie), I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson.

Since he first entered national consciousness in 2009, he’s always made it clear that he believes Islamists rather than Muslims to be the problem, and while he wants immigration to be halted, has never struck me as particularly racist; Tommy seems to be a young white working-class bloke who got sick of our political leaders’ seeming determination to ignore the desires and worries of young white working-class blokes, and decided to do something about it.

In the old days, Robinson would have been a Labour loyalist, but as that party has become the main supporter of the mass immigration and multiculturalism which have left a large segment of the white working class feeling marginalised and despised, it’s not difficult to see why he feels the “comrades” in their £2 million Islington mansions might no longer have his back. Obviously, a Tory Party led by Lord Snooty and his pals – especially one in bed with Lib-Dem multiculti appeasers – was a non-starter. One presumes the double-breasted blazer, lower-middle class heartiness of UKIP may not have been massively appealing to a rather dodgy young geezer who's had his collar felt on several occasions. And as Robinson would genuinely appear not to be a racist, the BNP would have been a turn-off (he was a member for one year). So, he decided there was nothing for it but to start his own movement – and a wildly popular one it turned out to be (anywhere between 35,000 and 100,000 supporters – there aren’t any membership fees or cards, so it's hard to tell how many of them there are).

Unfortunately, it all got out of hand, and the EDL - inevitably - turned into a magnet for thugs who hate immigrants (well, they hate almost everybody) and love ultraviolence. As Robinson  seems unconvinced that street-violence or a blanket condemnation of all immigrants is the answer (he is, after all, the son of Irish immigrants) he decided to jump ship and team up with Quilliam, an organisation trying to combat Islamist extremism.

How does our privileged commentariat react to this move? Congratulate the  chap for seeing the light and for distancing himself from thuggery? Of course not. Because, you see, what Robinson has refused to do is renounce the two beliefs that led him to form the EDL in the first place – that allowing Islamism to flourish in this country is a very bad idea, and that mass immigration should be halted until we’ve done something about integrating the immigrants who are already here. Although both these views strike me as perfectly sensible, for the sort of twit who writes for the New Statesman they simply won’t do:

By publishing Robinsons's statement and hailing his conversion to "democracy", Quilliam has lent legitimacy to a dangerous demagogue who has concluded that the ballot box, rather than the boot, offers greater chances of success.
New Statesman

And the kind of twit who writes for the Spectator these days treats the whole thing with the sort of lordly condescension that simply cries out for a slapping:

So, I suppose some credit is due Tommy Robinson, erstwhile leader of the English Defence League, for leaving the organisation…Doubtless someone will soon claim this makes Robinson more, not less, dangerous. So be it. I have no idea whether Robinson’s catholicism has prompted this, er, Come to Jesus moment but we can all welcome a sinner’s repentance nonetheless.
Alex Massie, Spectator

Gosh, I bet a frightful oik like Tommy Robinson wouldn’t even know what “erstwhile” means. How frightfully amusing!

Ghaffar Hussain, who works for Quillliam, has summed up the commentariat’s reaction accurately:

Those most upset were not members of the EDL or his previous sympathisers as one may have expected. Rather it was the usual coterie of trendy wine bar types who just weren’t buying it and, somehow, knew better.
Ghaffar Hussain, Left Foot Forward

It was nice to see that master of lordly condescension, Jeremy Paxman, treating Tommy Robinson with respect by the end of their Newsnight interview yesterday. Robinson had earned it.

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