The most significant events in social history tend to arrive unexpectedly, and only in retrospect do we see their inevitability: the storming of the Bastille, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Who would have thought last week that the whole world would be talking about the founder of the English Defence League and the demise of British justice?
Tommy Robinson was standing outside a court streaming video with his phone of its comings and goings, something he was forbidden to do by a judge at a previous trial. He was pounced upon by police officers, taken before a judge and jailed for 13 months – immediately; three months for the reactivation of previous contempt (suspended) and 10 months for the present contempt. This summary trial was suddenly redacted by court order, but some courageous writers and websites refused to kowtow to the sinister force of state censorship.
Who had a good blackout? Raheem Kassam’s Breitbart London was one of few sites to publish the official notice of the reporting ban. A number of major news outlets and commentators in America and several lesser-known YouTubers took up the cause, while lips were sealed on more popular figures such as Sargon of Akkad. The Salisbury Review mentioned the recent case of three boys mown down in London, which Tommy Robinson was pursuing as a police cover-up. Paul Weston, banned from Twitter for the usual reason, incisively described the persecution of a brave man who is exposing collusion of the authorities in the euphemistically named ‘grooming gangs’ scandal.
I won’t waste words on the pathetic mainstream media, but what about the self-proclaimed libertarian Guido Fawkes? For years this website has been a running sore for the venal Westminster class. But a callous, mocking cartoon of Tommy Robinson was all it contributed to a disturbing abuse of state power. Not surprisingly the ‘knuckle-dragging far-right’, as Guido Fawkes called anyone defending a wronged man, are abandoning the site in droves.
I’d like to focus on an important factor that may be lost in the post-blackout discussion of the rights and wrongs of the case. Tommy Robinson has been imprisoned before. Not for inflaming racial tensions, but for ‘misrepresenting’ himself on a mortgage application. So, as well as a ‘far-right thug’ he is labelled as a fraudster. Meanwhile in the House of Lords sit numerous rogues whose shadowy financial dealings were no bar to ermine-cloaked eminence. It really is one rule for toffs and another for the commoner. And this brings me to the underlying motives of the establishment: Tommy Robinson is being punished for stirring the downtrodden class from apathy.
The social class divide, dramatically exposed by the EU referendum, is now returning to the forefront in British society. The privileged middle class, described by David Goodhart as ‘Anywheres’, looks with disdain on the ordinary folk – the ‘Somewheres’ who value traditional norms and community bonds. To the urban intelligentsia, the latter are stupid bigots. Tommy Robinson, as depicted by the Guardian and BBC, is a symbol of everything to be despised in politically-correct spheres.
Contrast the reaction to Tommy Robinson and Douglas Murray. They present similar messages about the threat of Islam, but while Murray is a highly articulate speaker regularly invited to television and university debates, Robinson is a working-class chap who doesn’t mince his words. He is a convenient target for polite society’s displacement: denounce the uncouth truth-teller rather than the rapists, while the thousands of victims in Rotherham and countless other towns are effectively dismissed as ‘white trash’.
As a rabble-rouser, Tommy Robinson has a historical equivalent. In the 19th century the Lancashire weaver and working-class wordsmith Samuel Bamford fought the oppressive Corn Law. Born in 1788 to a Methodist parents, his Passages in the Life of a Radical eloquently described conditions in the mill towns. Imprisoned for treason after organising protests against the government, but later released, in 1819 Bamford led a peaceful meeting in Manchester. In his words, this is how the establishment responded: –
A noise and strange murmur arose towards the church, and a party of cavalry in blue and white uniform came trotting, sword in hand, round the corner of the garden wall, and to the forefront of a row of new houses, where they reined up in a line. On the cavalry drawing up they were received with a shout of goodwill….Waving their sabres over their heads, and striking spur into their steeds, they dashed forwards…’Stand fast!’ I said, ‘they are riding upon us, stand fast’….The cavalry were in confusion; they could not, with all the weight of man and horse, penetrate that compact mass of human beings; their sabres were plied to hew a way through naked held-up hands and defenceless heads; and then chopped limbs, and wound-gaping skulls were seen, and groans and cries were mingled with the din of that horrid confusion. ‘For shame! For shame!’ was shouted…White-vested maids and tender youths were indiscriminately sabred or trampled…In ten minutes from the commencement of the havoc the field was an open and almost deserted space.
That was St Peter’s Field, and the incident went down in history as the Peterloo massacre (a pun on the battle of Waterloo). Almost two hundred years to this day. Once more we have a mounting momentum against the establishment. The man of the moment, his successful free speech rally in London, the crowdfunding, the danger he presented to the Orwellian ‘hate crime’ project. Almost certainly his incarceration would have been approved at the highest level.
On a thunderstruck May bank holiday weekend, the tide began to turn against a corrupt and contemptuous establishment. The energy is with the people now, and the protests will grow for as long as it takes to free the political prisoner.
This article was first published on Rebel Priest