Robinson deserves to be where he is today. He has not been sent down for journalism or free speech. He is not a martyr. He is a criminal. Robinson was put away before for contempt of court and he has done the same again. The law he has broken exists to ensure that people get a fair trial, and Tommy should know this – he has been up before the courts a few times. He’s a convicted criminal and he has plenty of experience of prison life. Looking back over his career, it is fair to say that the ‘big house’ is Tommy Robinson’s natural habitat. I am glad he is where he belongs.
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.
It comes as no surprise that as editor of The Spectator he published James Michie’s 2004 “satirical poem” describing Scotland as a “ghetto” inhabited by “tartan dwarves” – a “verminous race” – worthy of “extermination” for “polluting [England’s racially superior] stock.” Why should this shock Scottish people? We have been in a union with England for three centuries, we have been dominated by the products of this Anglo-Saxon master race, and as the pencil pushers and administrators of their empire we have long understood the nature of British imperialism.
So now let us ask: What will throwing a milkshake at Farage achieve? Well, Nigel Farage – the victim of the attack – is not the important element in this equation. It’s his constituency, those who are prepared to vote for him because they are sick fed up being ignored, laughed and sneered at, and humiliated. How might people in this bracket react to the man saying what they want to hear being humiliated in public, and humiliated with a Five Guys shake – not a cheaper McDonald’s or a Burger King shake, but a Five Guys shake?
This comes about through a process known as normalisation, in which the seemingly absurd is made acceptable over a protracted period of time. Wealthy and powerful corporate agendas, either by ownership or by influence, are packaged by the media and sold to an increasingly docile and depoliticised public – steadily changing public opinion. Ultimately this shift in opinion creates a rising political demand not being met by the establishment political parties.
The presence of the Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, along with representatives from other European far-right organisations, at the London rally makes it clear that the rise of the right is not simply a problem of the British white working class. Neo-Nazi and far and ultra-far-right groups are gaining strength and popular and political momentum right across the northern hemisphere; from central Russia, across Europe, to the rust belt of the United States. These groups and organisations are in communication, learning from and influencing one another.
Over the past nine months, in an attempt break out of my own social media bubble, I have been monitoring about three hundred influential British nationalist and Scottish unionist accounts on Twitter with the help of a “lurker” account. It never tweets or retweets. This account simply follows, allowing me to see what is going on in the world of British nationalism in Scotland.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but then if everything was always what it seemed to be there would be scant work for psychoanalysts. I have a suspicion the BBC is telling us more than it is actually telling us. Watch closely.