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Tommy Robinson: His Arrest and Freedom of Speech

Thomas William Dowling

On the 29th May 2018, Tommy Robinson (pseudonym to Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), self-dubbed 'the enemy of the state' was arrested outside the Leeds Crown Court for 'breach of the peace' in the middle of covering a rape trial featuring four Muslim men to 250,000 viewers on Facebook and sentenced on the same day to thirteen months in prison for different charges, 'contempt of court'. Reporting restrictions were said to have been imposed for the duration of his trial to conceal the event and any principled dissenters, as Tommy proclaims himself to be, would have fallen victim to the same terms. To many free speech advocates across Europe and America, the event stands as only the most recent above a series of others, (including Lauren Southern, Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone who were all refused entry due their presence alone being considered by the Home Office as a threat to national security) to have confirmed the United Kingdom as a despotic police state perilously salvaging what it can of its counterfeit utopia. 


His thirteen-month sentence however, was not devised within the hours that his trial took place unlike some sources have claimed, but through a revision of the broken conditions of a three-month suspended sentence received for committing the same offence at another restricted trial at Canterbury Crown Court in May last year. It was understood that the 35-year old had been filming the defendants (also Muslim men) en route to the court which, the judge concluded, denied them the right to a 'fair trial' and risked collapsing it altogether. Mostly conservative and quasi-nationalistic commentators came out in large numbers to call this out as a scandal, unbeknown that the UK justice system has in fact upheld its power to conduct censorship since the Contempt of Court Act passed in 1981 for the purpose of protecting the integrity of the legal process from outside influence. The reporting restrictions imposed on the trials at Canterbury, Leeds and then on the event itself of his arrest, were all therefore conducted lawfully and to Tommy's knowledge on the second occasion (which he did declare to his viewers during the stream) to prevent any miscarriages of justice. One could argue that the arrest may have been a part of a propagandistic intention, but this would be stretched in consideration of what he would gain from becoming ineffectual as an activist in addition to the risk that would be posed to him in arenas, some of which are as good as certified as hotbeds for Islamic radicalisation as Tommy has outlined in the past. It may therefore, simply be a case of him pushing his luck too far on this occasion, but this does not spare those implementing the law itself, of the disingenuousness of doing so in pursuit of alternative objectives.  Regardless of one's opinions of the aforementioned provocateurs, it is difficult to dispute the reality that privacy has been vastly coming at a cost to the government's counter-terrorism strategies for a number of years.

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The Justice and Security Act 2014, passed under Theresa May as Home Secretary, enables governments to prevent individuals from speaking publicly on a loose suspicion that they may precipitate a retaliation and if necessary, sentence them in 'secret courts' without access to their own courtroom, legal representation or even the knowledge of the charges imposed.

The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, devised in the fallout of the November Islamic State attacks in Paris, extends this by obligating educational institutions to take on statutory duties to identify 'extreme' beliefs through closely monitoring the behaviour and academic output of their students. Amber Rudd in 2017, then somehow succeeded in making it possible to jail internet users for viewing material certified, by the Office's standards, as 'terrorist propaganda' for as long as fifteen years. Most disconcertingly however, concerns the part these legal alterations play in the unusually yearning lengths to which the government and left leaning media outlets in particular, appear to be going to conceal where the threat of terrorism and other forms of organised criminality may actually be brewing. 


Such observations have already been made by Douglas Murray to a considerable backlash. But if this were not the case, then there would simply nothing to be made of the BBC's iniquitous refusal to broadcast what has been reported elsewhere as potentially the worst grooming scandal the UK has ever faced in Telford as a consequence of sheer negligence. It directly mirrors the case of the pedophile ring in Rotherham where 1400 girls were raped and sexually abused to the awareness of the local authorities, including the head of Rotherham's child services, Joyce Thatcher, who was allowed to walk away with £40,000 on being relieved of her duties. This was despite her confessing to standing by as the crimes occurred; doing so on the basis that herself, alongside the local police, were afraid of accusations of racial prejudice upon what would have been the mass arrests of entirely Pakistani and/or Muslim men, which is being revealed to be the case with the perpetrators in another grooming trial in Oxford. Tommy by contrast, having been calling out similar cultural problems in his own town Luton for over ten years, has in return been ardently branded by most mainstream outlets as a 'racist', assaulted on the streets as well as on national television and allegedly continues to absorb heaps of death threats aimed at himself and his family for bringing such information to light. He has also been met with hostility from Antifa and Unite Against Fascism who have both made an antagonising presence at some of his public appearances, but in spite of both finding the time to purport the Me Too campaign which has now become merged with the misconstrued issue of gender pay, not once did either of the two groups forge any form of unification against the corrupt authorities, the rapists nor offer any form of consolation to the rape victims nearly all of whom were underage girls. 


One of these events was in his address at the Oxford Debating Society in 2014. In addition to describing how churches were being firebombed, windows of resident's homes smashed and how Jewish citizens as well as interracial couples were being spat at as they passed in the streets of his own town in his speech, Tommy talks at length about Islamic group Al- Muhajiroun (endorsed and addressed by notorious Egyptian militant radical Abu Hamza in 2003) who were organising terrorist training camps in their facilities, attempting to radicalise unaccompanied boys in town centres across the UK whilst they were unaccompanied by their parents and even handing out propagandistic anti-Christian leaflets outside schools. He proceeds to explain how issues such as these, including the infamous soldier's homecoming in 2009 where members of the group were chanting 'British troops go to hell' to the soldiers throughout the parade, had given rise to the creation of the English Defence League before its fascistic turn. He sought to show the posters which emerged in the fall of 9/11 of the terrorists hailed as 'the magnificent nineteen' and even claims from a source he trusts, that a local Sixth Form College (mainly populated by Muslims) could be heard celebrating the event as it was replayed on national television. Al-Queda's links with Al- Mahajiroun, as with the former's affiliations with Islamic State are now renowned, but no credit has been attributed to Tommy for these contributions.

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Considering this along with the manner in which he presents himself at this address, it appears puzzling regarding how he has not been universally hailed for standing up to what is, without question, unpalatable negligence on the part of the authorities. The truth as to why he is not however, is likely to be due to how he continues to allow the ghost of the EDL, in the prejudicial and hooliganistic form that gave rise to his resignation, to distort what should now be the inherent purpose behind his activism. The 'free Tommy' protest at Whitehall on the 9th June along with the free speech event on the 6th May to a lesser extent, regrettably serve as clear examples of how oppositionists of the 'regressive left' are starting to fall more frequently into the same trap in conflating and taking on ideas within their movement that are otherwise conflicted and therefore become meaningless through false hypostatisation. It is irrational to suggest that a refutation can be upheld on asserting the contradictions of both radical feminists and Islamist apologists making synchronised as victims of the same force of oppression when champions of transcendental reason with nationalists by their side forge claims for the same cause. Had the flags of St George, the emblem of UKIP and the Union Jack (the last of which actually symbolically indicates an endorsement of the flawed justice system they are protesting against) been replaced by those of Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart-Mill and John Locke, then free speech, individual sovereignty and truth (which his supporters claim to champion) would be celebrated as the rational and universal principles which they are.


It is difficult to dispute that quintessentially left-leaning bourgeois publications do appear to be inordinately eager to attach the phrase 'far right' to anything bringing to light the harrowing truths about the UK's pursuit of multiculturalism and are in some cases strangely silent to outline genuine prejudice when it is inflicted by the ethnic communities themselves. It is also true that the government in many ways seems strangely determined to sustain this narrative. Tommy deserves credit for praxially showcasing how this process appears to have infiltrated government counter terrorism policy and practice, hence its assault on freedom of speech, but his endorsement of having fixed national principles disinterested from race fails to sustain itself at the first hurdle when he continues to liaise with Martin Sellner, whose Identitarian movement is as much motivated about racial preservation as it is about the genuine concerns regarding the fermenting of Islamic fundamentalism across Europe. This relegates the praxis to conforming to the game of identity politics itself; any argument about freedom of speech becomes figuratively defunct by this point.  


'Free Tommy' therefore, in addition to being founded on a somewhat misleading premise, fails to mount any authentic resistance; reducing Tommy to serving as merely another contradictory component in culture's peripheral discourse until he breaks out of this position.

Thomas William Dowling