Which sums up how I really feel earlier than assembly the book’s creator, Tommy Robinson. What if he turns out to be not almost as unhealthy as his fame as ‘Britain’s most hated man What if, as some familiar with him have warned, I end up to love him and wish to plead his cause, and end up being tainted as a far-right thug by association?
We meet in a gastropub in a pretty Georgian market city. It’s only ten minutes from the ‘shitholeof a dump the place Robinson has always lived Luton and much more congenial for lunch as a result of we’re much less prone to be interrupted by any of the numerous Muslims who have put him on their dying listing. Robinson, 34, is sporting Stone Island, the popular costly attire (about ?800 for a jacket) of violent football hooligans like the one he was once 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 bad-boy fame is overrated; Tottenham has the most effective firm). He is frank about all the pieces he’s executed, good and bad. It’s part of the natural 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 in case you spent a few hours in his firm. He’s clever, fast, articulate, nicely-informed, good-mannered and surprisingly meek in his politics for a man so often branded a fascist. Lots of his home associates are black, some are Muslims; he’s not clearly racist or anti-Semitic. He solely bought into activism and street demos as a result of he happened to be a white working-class English lad in precisely the flawed place at exactly the wrong time. It was Luton, sadly, that Islamist proselytiser Anjem Choudary chose as the base for his varied proscribed organisations.
As a result the character of the town modified without end; and so did Robinson’s life. The trigger was an area 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 once told another interviewer: ‘I was like, they can’t do this! In working-class communities we all know any individual within the Armed Forces. I’ve acquired a mate who lost his legs. And these lot were sending individuals to kill our boys.So Robinson based the protest organisation that might make him infamous the English Defence League (he subsequently give up it in 2013).
You know the way hateful the EDL is: each-one does. What’s curious, although, is how a lot worse it’s by repute than in deed. It’s nearly as if the chattering classes needed some type of bogeyman whose name they may brandish in outrage every now and then with a view to demonstrate that, whereas in fact they condemn fundamentalist Islam, they really feel simply as appalled, if no more so, by the ugly spectre of far-right nationalism.
It’s the same with Tommy Robinson. In the event you looked at social media in the fast aftermath of the latest terrorist murders on Westminster Bridge, you might need been stunned by the extent to which the righteous rage of the bien-pensant Twitterati was directed not on the killer, Khalid Masood, and the culture that radicalised him, but relatively at that culture’s most vocal critic, Tommy Robinson. Based on Robinson, this is no accident.
It’s a mirrored image of the Establishment’s intense reluctance to admit the size of the issue with fundamentalist Islam in Britain. Robinson’s latest experiences have made him deeply suspicious of the authorities. Forcing him to share a prison wing with Islamists suggests, to him, that his personal welfare is not exactly their prime precedence.
Whereas he was in prison, he refused to eat any common food (he believed it would be poisoned or otherwise contaminated, so he stuck to tinned tuna), and made positive to trigger sufficient trouble so he wound up in solitary the place nobody may stab him. His front teeth are all pretend, the actual ones having been knocked out when he got trapped in a room with eight Islamists. The only purpose he didn’t die, he says, is as a result of they didn’t have any ‘shivs(bladed weapons).
He’s a strong advocate of separate prisons for Muslims and non-Muslims: the dimensions of bullying (nobody dare be caught cooking bacon, for example) and the extent of radicalisation, he argues, makes it culturally suicidal to proceed as we are.
After numerous beatings and makes an attempt on his life, Robinson is underneath no illusions about his prospects of reaching a ripe previous age. ‘I’m a lifeless man strolling,he Stone informed me. It’s not for his own sake that he minds: just for that of his spouse and three young youngsters. Though his children are as yet unaware of his notoriety (Tommy Robinson is a pseudonym), he’s discovering it more durable and tougher to protect them. Last August, police in Cambridge ejected the entire family from a pub on what Robinson claims was a bogus pretext of possible public disorder between rival soccer followers.
You may argue that Tommy Robinson doesn’t precisely help himself the best way he goes on the lookout for trouble half the time. However then, I don’t think that many people are ready to pass judgment. Not unless we’ve personally shared his worm’s-eye view of Islamic encroachment on our inner cities, which only a few of us ever will. We simply wouldn’t be brave enough.