Oh man this is just one awesome week! Things are happening at such a rate it would probably be foolish of me to attempt to analyse things to any great depth, however as someone who enjoys mischievous chaos I’m finding current events to be highly amusing. Everything’s so confusing, no-one seems to know what’s going on and right in the middle is the instigator of events Stephen Lennon, AKA Tommy Robinson. If he intended to play a practical joke on everyone he’s done a bloody good job of it: good on yer! He’s sided with what appears to be the moderate anti-Islamist Muslims of Quilliam, which obviously has upset the hardcore Muslim-haters of the EDL and the far-Right in general.
He’s managed to enrage his former sponsors on t’other side of the Pond, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.
Geller now considers him to be some sort of Islamist traitor engaged in “stealth jihad”. Then again Geller thinks that about many people she doesn’t like. She’s a bit funny like that.
"It is clear what is happening. Now he is the poster boy for the stealth jihad. It seems they have taught Tommy well. His deception to friends and colleagues mirrors the Islamic teachings of kitman (lie by omission) and taqiyya."
Hmm, OK Pammy, whatever you say….
He claims that prison meant that he reassessed his life a bit, so he’s apologised for intimidating Muslims and puts it down to often being drunk and the thrill of being the leader of an angry mob. That’s nice….oh yes and he’s going to help the police catch racist criminals within the EDL, of which one imagines there are many. That won’t go down well!
Muslims who previously didn’t like him are praising his decision to quit the EDL, whilst other people took offence to him when he was filming a documentary and beat him up (which isn’t funny, but the whole thing is farcical).
His new Twitter feed is a mixture of praise from both Muslims and EDL, but at the same time some people aren’t very happy.
He’s been replaced by an EDLer so obscure, Tim Ablitt, that he’s probably very little known outside of Dorset. What is known of him is that his company was used as a front for the EDL on PayPal, who wouldn’t allow the EDL to use their services. He’s the hapless individual who is also known for being stripped to his underwear by the police, having the contents of his house removed and the windows of his Land Rover shot out, because him and his Dorset EDL associates were suspected of plotting to bomb a Bournemouth mosque. His accomplishments include saying public sector workers are all “left wing parasites” and stating that three prominent antifascists who were in fact not within 100 miles of a particular EDL demo, were in fact in the midst of it and not only that but he’d photographed them!
OK, so when it comes to him giving a speech at Bradford he may give a speech appealing to the EDL’s sense of unity in a manner so fine and inspiring that it is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Henry V, as adapted by Ernest Hemmingway, read aloud by Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Winston Churchill, and directed by Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. Or indeed it may in fact be reminiscent of Mr. Bean reading aloud the contents of a cornflake packet. Tim Ablitt isn’t known for giving speeches at EDL demos, so electing him as leader when giving speeches at demos is the main part of the job probably wasn’t a sound idea. Oh well.
The trouble is the political situation is akin to what was happening to the leadership in Germany in April/May 1945. I must stress that this is strictly a comparison between the difficulties in political succession, NOT a cheap shot at comparing ideologies and political figures. Anyway Hitler had snuffed it and appointed Doenitz as his successor. Now with Hitler’s obvious successors either dead (Goebbels, Bormann) or fled (Himmler, Goering), Doenitz sort of ended up as a caretaker chancellor winding up the Third Reich in a transitional period that spanned a few weeks from Hitler’s death to the point where the Allies could take over the running of Germany (they allowed Doenitz to carry on being chancellor up to that point). Ablitt’s in a similar position from a party point of view: all the senior leaders have gone and he’s the unlikely successor chosen to keep things going as best he can, despite lacking the strong personality, oratory skills and popular support of his predecessor. Ablitt’s the chairman not because he’s a good leader, but because the EDL need a leader and what remains of the leadership wants a
fall guy chairman.
And then the people who’ve opposed him for the last 4.5 years, myself included, really don’t know what to make of all this. We scratch our heads and wonder what he’s up to. Has he genuinely changed? If he has how come it’s been so dramatic? What’s his relationship with Quilliam? Is Quilliam a good or a bad thing? Is Tommy leaving the EDL a good or a bad thing? Now we don’t know what to do with this possibly reformed and even penitent man who has rejected the EDL. Oh how things were so much simpler when he was bad old Tommy Robinson, leader of the fascist EDL! He does however appear to view things in that ever-so-simple triangle of EDL-Muslims-antifascists, with antifascists being composed of either communists or anarchists. Well you didn’t exactly expect him to become vastly more knowledgeable in the last three days did you? Anyhow, he’s decided that he has rejected the EDL and antifascist corners of the triangle and feels happiest sat on the Muslim corner getting chummy with Quilliam.
And you know what? Personally I don’t care if he does. There are concerns that in working with Quilliam he’ll get legitimacy and will be able to use that to further his evil plans (mwahahahahaha!). Other people say that in removing him from the EDL the EDL is finished. In my opinion the EDL was based around Tommy Robinson and removing him alone would’ve been bad enough, but taking a dozen of the senior members of the leadership too will be catastrophic.
The EDL made him famous for one reason: the media wanted to talk to the leader of the mob of far-Right extremists who were going round smashing towns and fighting the police. Think about it; if the media were going to interview anyone would they prefer to interview Abdullah the crazed, fanatical Taliban fighter or Muhammad the thoughtful, peace loving moderate Muslim? So if Tommy Robinson starts being all nice the media will find him boring and he’ll fade from view I reckon. That’s not to say that if he is being honest about his intentions that he won’t do good things, but that we just won’t hear about them because he won’t be the leader of the violent, and therefore newsworthy, EDL any more.
If he’s on the level, good for him and best of luck. He’ll have estranged himself from his former support base and will carve out a new career in anti-extremism.
If this is some elaborate ruse, then he’s already made enemies of most of the far-Right and if he tries to go back to his old ways he’ll be totally discredited to moderate anti-Islamists. In short he’ll be a total outcast both politically and socially; a double traitor.
The objective as I see it is to end the EDL and its ability to cause harm, not end Tommy Robinson as a political figure. Separate the two into distinct entities. Sort out the EDL first and see what Robinson does, as to criticise him when he may be genuine would be unfair. That’s not to say all is forgiven overnight, but I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt until I see him living up to his promises.
But for now I’ll ride the wave of confusion he is creating and enjoy this delicious slice of chaos in the week that Tommy Robinson actually did something totally fresh and unpredictable.