Britain’s Most Hated Man Isn’t All That Hateful
Which sums up how I feel before meeting the book’s author, Tommy Robinson. What if he seems to be not almost as bad as his reputation as ‘Britain’s most hated man’ What if, as some acquainted with him have warned, I turn out to love him and wish to plead his trigger, and end up being tainted as a far-right thug by affiliation
We meet in a gastropub in a fairly Georgian market city. It’s only ten minutes from the ‘shithole’ of a dump the place Robinson has always lived — Luton — and far more congenial for lunch as a result of we’re much less more likely to be interrupted by any of the numerous Muslims who have put him on their loss of life checklist. Robinson, 34, is wearing Stone Island, the preferred expensive attire (about £800 for a jacket) of violent football hooligans just like the one he used to be himself.
Robinson is frank about his misspent youth: his first stint in jail for assaulting a plainclothes policeman; his second one for mortgage fraud; his brawls with rival teams as a member of Luton City’s Males In Gear football crew (he thinks Millwall’s unhealthy-boy fame is overrated; Tottenham has the most effective agency). He’s frank about the whole lot he’s achieved, good and unhealthy. It’s a part of the pure charm which, simply over two years in the past, received the hearts of an at first spittingly hostile viewers at the Oxford Union.
And yes, I do like him. So would you for those who spent a few hours in his company. He’s intelligent, fast, articulate, well-knowledgeable, good-mannered — and surprisingly meek in his politics for a man so often branded a fascist. A lot of his dwelling buddies are black, some are Muslims; he’s not clearly racist or anti-Semitic. He only obtained into activism and avenue demos because he happened to be a white working-class English lad in precisely the fallacious place at precisely the incorrect time. It was Luton, unfortunately, that Islamist proselytiser Anjem Choudary chose as the bottom for his varied proscribed organisations.
As a result the character of the city modified endlessly; and so did Robinson’s life. The set off was a local Islamist recruitment drive for the Taleban and a subsequent protest in opposition to a parade by Royal Anglian Regiment troops returning from a tour in Afghanistan.
As he as soon as advised one other interviewer: ‘I was like, they can’t do this! In working-class communities everyone knows somebody within the Armed Forces. I’ve got a mate who misplaced his legs. And these lot have been sending folks to kill our boys.’ So Robinson founded the protest organisation that might make him infamous — the English Defence League (he subsequently stop it in 2013).
You know the way hateful the EDL is: every-one does. What’s curious, although, is how much worse it is by status than in deed. It’s nearly as if the chattering courses needed some type of bogeyman whose name they might brandish in outrage once in a while with a view to show that, while after all they condemn fundamentalist Islam, they really feel just as appalled, if no more so, by the ugly spectre of far-right nationalism.
It’s the same with Tommy Robinson. When you checked out social media in the rapid aftermath of the current terrorist murders on Westminster Bridge, you may need been surprised by the extent to which the righteous rage of the bien-pensant Twitterati was directed not at the killer, Khalid Masood, and the tradition that radicalised him, but somewhat at that culture’s most vocal critic, Tommy Robinson. According to Robinson, this isn’t any accident.
It’s a reflection of the Establishment’s intense reluctance to admit the size of the issue with fundamentalist Islam in Britain. Robinson’s current experiences have made him deeply suspicious of the authorities. Forcing him to share a prison wing with Islamists suggests, to him, that his private welfare shouldn’t be precisely their top priority.
Whereas he was in prison, he refused to eat any common meals (he believed it would be poisoned or in any other case contaminated, so he caught to tinned tuna), and made sure to cause ample bother so he wound up in solitary the place no one could stab him. His front teeth are all fake, the true ones having been knocked out when he acquired trapped in a room with eight Islamists. The one motive he didn’t die, he says, is as a result of they didn’t have any ‘shivs’ (bladed weapons).
He’s a robust advocate of separate prisons for Muslims and non-Muslims: the scale of bullying (no one dare be caught cooking bacon, for instance) and the extent of radicalisation, he argues, makes it culturally suicidal to proceed as we are.
After quite a few beatings and attempts on his life, Robinson is beneath no illusions about his prospects of reaching a ripe previous age. ‘I’m a dead man walking,’ he advised me. It’s not for his personal sake that he minds: just for that of his spouse and three younger children. Though his kids are as but unaware of his notoriety (Tommy Robinson is a pseudonym), he’s discovering it tougher and tougher to protect them. Final August, police in Cambridge ejected your entire family from a pub on what Robinson claims was a bogus pretext of potential public disorder between rival soccer followers.
You could possibly argue that Tommy Robinson doesn’t precisely help himself the way in which he goes searching for trouble half the time. However then, I don’t think that many of us are able to cross judgment. Not except we’ve personally shared his worm’s-eye view of Islamic encroachment on our inside cities, which only a few of us ever will. We merely wouldn’t be brave enough.