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Tommy Robinson left the EDL

By Brian Reade
October 14 2013




Next month old-timers will bang on about what they were doing 50 years ago when they heard John F Kennedy had been shot.

(In my first school class, being told to stop picking my bogies and pray for an American I’d never heard of, if you must know.)

Somehow I doubt that 50 years on from this week, many people will be recalling their actions on hearing that Tommy Robinson had quit as leader of the English Defence League.

But if you’d switched on Sky TV or tuned into BBC radio on Tuesday teatime you’d have thought a political colossus was exiting the world stage.

Until you heard him explain why.

And ­realised it was just a confused, inarticulate, former jailbird who doesn’t fancy leading a shower of racist (in my words) scum (in his words) any more.

This saturation coverage (Sky went live to a press conference and 5 Live threw over its schedules) was baffling.

“Tommy who?” would be the reaction of 95% of the public, and not just because Robinson is an alias of his real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

He’s a hate-inciting, mask-wearing no-mark, who’s named after a football hooligan and has been jailed for assaulting an off-duty police officer and for passport fraud – the ultimate irony for someone vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.

Can you imagine any English person feeling less safe now they know Robinson no longer defends them?

Does the English Defence League truly resonate with anyone but neo-Nazis and shaven-headed thugs who can’t get their kicks at football matches any more?

Surely the answer to that question is this one – how extreme does a party have to be to become too extreme for someone like Tommy Robinson?

And surely the ­heartening conclusion from the implosion of yet another extreme right-wing party is that the vast majority of British people want nothing to do with them.

We’ve seen them come and go since the 1970s – The National Front, The British Democratic Party, The Constitutional ­Movement, The British ­Movement, The British Freedom Party, the British National Party etc.

Three years ago the BNP claimed to be “Britain’s fourth-largest party.”

But after humiliating defeats in May’s council elections, where for the first time since 2001 its ­stronghold Burnley became BNP-free, Nick Griffin’s party is left with just two councillors in the entire country.

And in the South Shields by-election, its candidate, Lady Dorothy MacBeth Brooke – she of the extreme mahogany fake tan which sat bizarrely with someone not keen on multiculturalism – finished sixth.

In 2009 the BNP’s membership stood at more than 12,000. The last available figures showed it down to 4,872, with fewer than 2,000 of those said to be actively engaged in the party.

And next May I’m convinced vigilant northerners will boot out Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, who sneaked in as MEPs due to mass apathy over the European elections.

It would be naive to think Britain doesn’t have ­problems with race relations, immigration, Islamist fanaticism and the taking for granted of the white working class by ­mainstream parties.

But thankfully this country isn’t France, Holland, Italy or Greece where the far right wins shedloads of votes.

The one good aspect of 5 Live’s coverage of Robinson’s standing down was it went on to the streets of a northern estate to canvas opinion about the EDL and the majority said they had no truck with right-wing extremism.

Which is something we should feel immensely proud of, because it proves that our long-established tradition of tolerance is more than just a feel-good cliche.

Originally published by Hope Not Hate 

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