Britain’s Most Hated Man Isn’t All That Hateful
Which sums up how I really feel before assembly the book’s writer, Tommy Robinson. What if he seems to be not nearly as dangerous as his repute as ‘Britain’s most hated man’ What if, as some aware of him have warned, I end up to love him and need to plead his cause, and find yourself being tainted as a far-right thug by association
We meet in a gastropub in a fairly Georgian market town. It’s solely ten minutes from the ‘shithole’ of a dump where Robinson has all the time lived — Luton — and far more congenial for lunch because we’re less prone to be interrupted by any of the numerous Muslims who’ve put him on their dying record. Robinson, 34, is sporting Stone Island, the popular expensive attire (about £800 for a jacket) of violent soccer hooligans like the one he used to be himself.
Robinson is frank about his misspent youth: his first stint in jail for assaulting a plainclothes policeman; his second one for mortgage fraud; his brawls with rival teams as a member of Luton City’s Men In Gear soccer crew (he thinks Millwall’s bad-boy fame is overrated; Tottenham has the most effective agency). He is frank about the whole lot he’s completed, good and dangerous. It’s a part of the natural charm which, just over two years in the past, gained the hearts of an at first spittingly hostile viewers at the Oxford Union.
And yes, I do like him. So would you in case you spent a couple of hours in his firm. He’s intelligent, quick, articulate, nicely-informed, good-mannered — and surprisingly meek in his politics for a man so usually branded a fascist. Lots of his dwelling associates are black, some are Muslims; he’s not obviously racist or anti-Semitic. He only got into activism and road demos because he happened to be a white working-class English lad in precisely the flawed place at precisely the unsuitable time. It was Luton, sadly, that Islamist proselytiser Anjem Choudary chose as the bottom for his various proscribed organisations.
In consequence the character of the city modified endlessly; and so did Robinson’s life. The trigger was a neighborhood Islamist recruitment drive for the Taleban and a subsequent protest against a parade by Royal Anglian Regiment troops returning from a tour in Afghanistan.
As he once instructed another interviewer: ‘I was like, they can’t try this! In working-class communities we all know anyone in the Armed Forces. I’ve bought a mate who lost his legs. And these lot were sending folks to stone island long sleeve polo white kill our boys.’ So Robinson founded the protest organisation that would make him infamous — the English Defence League (he subsequently quit it in 2013).
You know the way hateful the EDL is: each-one does. What’s curious, though, is how a lot worse it is by repute than in deed. It’s almost as if the chattering lessons needed some type of bogeyman whose identify they could brandish in outrage sometimes with a view to demonstrate that, whereas after all they condemn fundamentalist Islam, they really feel just as appalled, if no more so, by the ugly spectre of far-right nationalism.
It’s the same with Tommy Robinson. If you happen to looked at social media within the immediate aftermath of the current terrorist murders on Westminster Bridge, you might have been surprised by the extent to which the righteous rage of the bien-pensant Twitterati was directed not at the killer, Khalid Masood, and the culture that radicalised him, but slightly at that culture’s most vocal critic, Tommy Robinson. According to Robinson, this is not any accident.
It’s a reflection of the Establishment’s intense reluctance to admit the size of the issue with fundamentalist Islam in Britain. Robinson’s latest experiences have made him deeply suspicious of the authorities. Forcing him to share a prison wing with Islamists suggests, to him, that his personal welfare just isn’t exactly their high priority.
Whereas he was in prison, he refused to eat any regular food (he believed it can be poisoned or otherwise contaminated, so he stuck to tinned tuna), and made sure to trigger adequate bother so he wound up in solitary where no one might stab him. His entrance teeth are all pretend, the actual ones having been knocked out when he got trapped in a room with eight Islamists. The only motive he didn’t die, he says, is because they didn’t have any ‘shivs’ (bladed weapons).
He’s a powerful advocate of separate prisons for Muslims and non-Muslims: the dimensions of bullying (no one dare be caught cooking bacon, for instance) and the extent of radicalisation, he argues, makes it culturally suicidal to proceed as we are.
After quite a few beatings and makes an attempt on his life, Robinson is below no illusions about his prospects of reaching a ripe outdated age. ‘I’m a lifeless man strolling,’ he advised me. It’s not for his personal sake that he minds: only for that of his wife and three younger kids. Though his kids are as yet unaware of his notoriety (Tommy Robinson is a pseudonym), he’s finding it tougher and harder to protect them. Final August, police in Cambridge ejected the whole household from a pub on what Robinson claims was a bogus pretext of possible public disorder between rival football fans.
You could argue that Tommy Robinson doesn’t exactly assist himself the way he goes looking for hassle half the time. However then, I don’t suppose that many of us are ready to pass judgment. Not unless we’ve personally shared his worm’s-eye view of Islamic encroachment on our internal cities, which only a few of us ever will. We merely wouldn’t be brave enough.