Tommy Robinson

June 7, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , UK

Reuters photo



Tom Arms



The global alt-right has a new hero–Tommy Robinson. Really? Can’t you do better than that?


Tommy Robinson (real name Christopher Yaxley-Lennon) has just been jailed for 10 months for contempt of court plus a further three months for a previous contempt.


His worldwide supporters say that Robinson was exercising his right to freedom of speech. They include Roseanne Barr, Donald Trump Jr, Breitbart News and Geert Wilders.


Unfortunately for Robinson, the judge failed to agree with his backers. Not surprising given that the law is very clear: You may not take photographs inside a court or pre-judge the outcome of a trial by declaring defendants guilty, which is exactly what Robinson did. Things like that lead to mistrials costing oodles of cash and possibly even resulting in dangerous criminals being set free. That is why it is against the law.


Tommy Robinson is founder of the English Defence League (EDL) which can best be described as a cross between the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party. They march through immigrant neighbourhoods shouting racial abuse and break up political meetings opposed to their racist ideology.


Three times Robinson has been convicted of football hooliganism. His assumed name is that of another football hooligan. He has served prison time for mortgage fraud and for travelling to the US using another person’s passport. He is banned from the US.


About five years ago it appeared as if Robinson had an epiphany. He became involved with Maajid Nawaz, a talk show host with the London Broadcasting Corporation and founder of the Quilliam Foundation. Quilliam is devoted to opposing both Islamic extremism and Islamophobia.


Robinson left the EDL, claiming that it had been taken over by Neo-Nazis with whom he had no sympathy. Then Robinson was convicted of mortgage fraud and spent nearly a year in jail. His short-lived epiphany ended. He emerged from his cell as much of an Islamophobe as he had been before.


This time, however, he stayed out of the EDL and instead set about establishing a British-based version of the German Islamophobic organisation Pegida, which is the German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. He also took on a job as correspondent of the alt-right Canadian news website Rebel Media.


Robinson is an able and charismatic campaigner who has learned how to exploit social media to his advantage. Almost everything he’s involved with is reported worldwide, which is quite an achievement. He left Rebel Media early this year and set up on his own website. He claims that his videos had 5.9 million YouTube views in the first six weeks.


His Facebook page, where he regularly streams videos of himself confronting individuals, now has more than 780,000 followers, while his personal website thanks supporters for “fighting to save the UK and Europe”.


Last year, he crowdfunded $60,000 for a recording studio in Luton. On his YouTube page and his website, buttons ask for donations or for supporters to buy him cameras and kit.


Robinson’s rise reflects the growth of a global far-right who exist in an echo chamber in which the only truth is what the members say to one another. Tommy Robinson is anyone’s wrong hero, but his supporters won’t listen.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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