Tommy Robinson’s announcement on April 25 of his candidacy for the European Parliament met with precisely the kind of media response you would expect. In the Guardian, Josh Halliday gave the term “far-right” a workout. He described the For Britain party, whose founder Anne Marie Waters introduced Tommy at his campaign kickoff event in Wythenshawe, a largely working-class Manchester neighborhood, as “far-right.” Halliday made sure to point out that Tommy had “founded the far-right English Defence League” – but omitted to mention that Tommy had left the EDL precisely because it had become “far-right.” And Halliday noted that local MP Mike Kane had “signed a joint letter with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders saying Tommy’s ‘far-right political views are not welcome in our town.’”
In the same letter, Kane, a Labourite who serves as Shadow Minister for Education, and the “faith leaders” – a Baptist preacher, a Roman Catholic priest, an Anglican rector, a Muslim imam, and a Jewish rabbi – explained that they would not welcome Tommy because Wythenshawe is a “welcoming” place. Neither the signatories nor Halliday seemed to be aware of the blatant self-contradiction. The letter further noted that Wythenshawe contains “thriving Chagossian and Keralan communities, among others, living and working here. If we were to welcome this man we’d be dismissing the valued contribution these people have made to the area.” In fact Chagossians, an Indian Ocean people, are Christians, and most people from Kerala, a state in the south of India, are Hindus. Tommy’s problem, of course, is with the ideology of Islam, in accordance with which jihadists have murdered countless Christians and Hindus.
There was more. The letter condemned Tommy as a figure of “division and hate,” while a separate statement by local politicians condemned him as a figure of “hate and division.” Of course the widespread image of Tommy as a figure of hate, like the widespread image of Islam as a religion of peace, is a product of systematic disinformation by media organs such as the Guardian. Halliday spoke to a local Methodist minister who “led a prayer walk,” apparently seeking divine protection from the diabolical visitor from Luton, and “said he had also bought supplies of pasta, bread and chocolate cake to provide food and a safe place ‘for those who don’t feel safe in their homes this evening.‘” You would think that Tommy and his supporters were in the habit of breaking into people’s homes.
Among the “faith leaders” who signed the letter opposing Tommy’s visit was Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky, a reform Jewish rabbi who heads the Menorah Synagogue and belongs to something called the European Union for Progressive Judaism. In recent years, Sborovsky has protested the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians, urged Britain to admit more refugees, and called for a hike in Britain’s minimum wage. A Google search shows that he has been quite active in public affairs, speaking out on various issues and signing petitions aplenty; but I could not find any record of him criticizing Palestinians or any other Muslims for their treatment of Jews, something that Tommy Robinson has done regularly and forcefully.
Another signatory was Imam Salim Astewani of the Cheadle Mosque, where in 2015 a speaker criticized a well-known Muslim group for associating with Jews and gays – a story covered at the time in, of all places, the Guardian. It is interesting that Sborovsky is willing to align himself with such an institution against Tommy Robinson, who knows, even if Sborovsky does not, that the Koran itself calls for death to Jews and homosexuals, and who has ardently criticized Islam on that account.
In his Guardian article, Halliday repeated the charge that Tommy is a racist and emphasized the claim that his candidacy had “been met with near-universal condemnation in Manchester.” Yet videos posted after Tommy’s arrival in Wythenshawe showed him being approached by several non-caucasian locals who were eager to shake his hand or take selfies with him. Apparently these deplorables did not get the message from their betters that Tommy is bigoted against them and therefore persona non grata in their community.
At the Independent, the Tommy-bashing was done by one Mike Stuchbery, who was last seen in the Guardian on February 5 describing Turning Point USA’s “Professor Watchlist” – a website where college students can report ideological discrimination by their leftist professors – as authoritarian, rather than as what is it: a response to authoritarianism. In his piece about Tommy’s campaign event in Wythenshawe, Stuchbery described Tommy, too, as an authoritarian: “Turning up to a ‘forgotten’ neighbourhood, bringing food [Tommy handed out burgers] and promising to tackle supposed threats, is a classic tactic of wannabe authoritarians.” In fact Tommy is a champion of individual freedom who has dedicated his life to opposing a genuinely authoritarian – no, totalitarian – religious ideology and who is running for MEP only because he opposes the increasingly authoritarian nature of EU rule.
Tommy-smearing was also the order of the day at the Daily Mail, which also quoted remarks made by Mike Kane in the House of Commons (which also can be viewed on YouTube): “I want to make it clear, and I'm sure the whole House would agree,” he said, “this individual is not welcome to spread his xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, racist vitriol in my community or in any other community.” The Mail reported that “MPs from both sides of the House murmured in agreement when Mr Kane finished his remarks….Schools minister Nick Gibb said he shared the sentiments expressed his opposite number, adding: 'I'm sure it's a sentiment shared right across this House.'”
How many of those House members, one wonders, are so ignorant of Tommy Robinson’s actual views, which he has expressed in hours and hours of interviews that can be readily viewed online, that they actually believe him to be xenophobic, homophobic, and racist? How many, by contrast, are fully aware that these charges are absolute lies but are willing and eager to spread them as part of the effort by both the Tory and Labour establishment to stifle honest criticism of Islam? Then there is the most important question of all: how long will the British electorate continue to return these pusillanimous snobs to office? If Tommy can actually get himself elected to the European Parliament, it will be a real sign that the Westminster elite’s days are numbers.