It strikes me that people who have spent time in discussions with Tommy Robinson seem to like, understand and largely approve of him. It is those who don’t know him, and often possess little balanced, factual information about him, who appear far more ready to accept and repeat the distortions and calumnies relentlessly peddled by our disgraceful media and elsewhere.
For example, in his speech to the UKIP Conference, Lord Pearson, who was interviewed by Tommy in the House of Lords, referred to “my friend Tommy”, and stated clearly that “he is not the Tommy Robinson you read about in the mainstream media”. He asserted his belief that Tommy’s “reach, particularly with our white working class, is second to none”. He praised “his deep understanding of Islam” and predicted that he would be “a huge asset to UKIP” and indeed “a great asset on Brexit”.
But Nigel Farage, whom I believe has not benefitted from similar meetings and communication, has made it clear that it ‘really upsets’ him that a debate on Tommy’s possible membership is even taking place. “There’s no debate with me” he has asserted.
I’m reminded of an exchange from Tommy’s Newsnight interview with Jeremy Paxman back in 2011. Tommy recognised Jeremy’s scepticism about gangs in Luton as being the understandable result of Jeremy’s lack of direct experience with any of the problems. Like Nigel, Jeremy didn’t grow up in Luton.
Tommy asked Jeremy whether he knew anyone:
- Addicted to heroin that has been peddled to them by Muslim gangs?
- Anyone who’d been murdered by Muslim gangs?
- Any young girls or family relatives who had been sexually abused or raped by Muslim gangs?
Like most of us, Jeremy’s didn’t. But Tommy, of course, can answer ‘yes’ to all three of those questions. I believe his individual, first-hand knowledge and experience in these matters to be unique.
Gerard Batten who, like Lord Pearson, has had discussions with, and been interviewed by Tommy, has put on record his view that he would like Tommy to be a UKIP member. He sees the obvious parallels between Tommy’s major campaigns on the establishment, patriotism, free speech, immigration, Islamification and the need to confront the dangers of extremist Islamic ideology within our country, as fundamentally similar to key messages within Gerard’s UKIP.
But Nigel Farage, who is of course entitled to his opinion, however ill-informed, has, in a speech recently, referred to Tommy as a ‘bit of a lout’.
In contrast, the journalist James Delingpole who recorded two podcasts with Tommy wrote:
‘In the flesh, he’s very different from the ‘far right’ thug you see portrayed in the mainstream media. He’s easy, friendly, intelligent company; he’s apparently devoid of racist sentiment; and he’s better informed on the Qur’an and the Hadith than some Muslims, and probably as well informed on Muslim extremism as the police and the intelligence services.’
Raheem Kassam, UKIP member and a high profile supporter of Tommy, remarked in an interview that he originally believed the ‘fake news’ about Tommy. That was before, by arrangement, he met him, talked with him, and then conducted a lengthy interview with him. That meeting and subsequent discussions changed Raheem’s opinion of Tommy dramatically. He says now “I’m proud to call him my friend”.
He described Tommy’s demeanour at the interview: “He was well spoken. He was softly spoken. And it showed, that he actually cared about the issues. He didn’t care whether someone was black, white, Muslim, Christian or whatever. He cared that there were thousands of young girls all around the United Kingdom being systematically groomed and raped”.
However, in June 2018, on his LBC show, Nigel suggested that Tommy was outside Leeds Crown Court “for reasons of self-publicity” and was “out there asking for trouble”. He also thought ‘his imprisonment is not heroic in any way at all”.
Those who agree with Nigel regarding Tommy’s membership seem to argue from three main standpoints:
1) Tommy’s label as ‘far right’ will tarnish UKIP as racist and extremist.
There is a considerable irony in that Nigel and UKIP, themselves unfairly labelled for so long as ‘far right’, should now make the same unfair accusation against Tommy. Perhaps they’ve started to believe the BBC?
2) Tommy’s opposition to fundamental, literalist Islam is anti-religion and will repel voters.
In my view, Gerard Batten has correctly identified fundamental, Islamic extremism as a ‘Dark Age Arabian ideology’. It’s notable that in the ‘Henry Bolton’ leadership election, 60% of the votes cast appeared to align with Gerard’s view. They went to three Islam aware candidates.
3) Tommy’s rap sheet makes him unsuitable to be a UKIP member.
I can see how easy it is to make simple assumptions when considering Tommy’s record. But I would advise caution. There are two sides to many of these events. Tommy is the first to admit he’s done a few daft things in his time but, in my opinion, it’s noteworthy that most of his significant problems with the law have occurred after 2009; after he formed the EDL, and after he became ‘an enemy of the state’.
For many years now Tommy has risked his freedom, his life, and indeed the well-being of the people he loves, to fight bravely against some of the great outrages staining this country. Any possible risks to UKIP from his membership seem trifling by comparison to the risks he bears.
When so many have turned a blind eye, he has fought constantly to publicise and save children from rape gangs and drugs gangs; to defend free speech; to highlight and battle the political manipulation of our police forces and judicial system; to preserve our historic culture and heritage; to protect our homecoming soldiers from abuse; and to counter the growing Islamification of our nation.
That, I suspect, is a major reason why he’s now facing jail again. And I believe we in UKIP should be honoured to have him as a member.
Raheem Kassam has urged people to find out about ‘the real Tommy Robinson’. I echo his words.