“Luton will be the biggest test yet of what the EDL has become” (Newsnight Reporter).
In advance of this Saturday's EDL demo in Luton Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Lennon) the founder of the protest group was invited into the Newsnight studio for a grilling by Jeremy Paxman. This slot had to wait until after analysis of the day's events in Egypt and what significance they may have for the democratic prospects for the Arab world. Thus, in the opening shots of the programme an understandably nervous Robinson was pictured awaiting his ordeal. Unsurprisingly, Paxman introduced him by drawing attention to the significant expense which would be incurred by this Saturday's demonstration.
Before the interview proceeded, Newsnight ran a report on the EDL which it was said had been worked on by a BBC journalist over the past six months whilst she was “getting to know members of the EDL”. She noted the large number of demonstrations that it has held over the past two years since its inception in Luton in response to the barracking of members of the Royal Anglian Regiment by a group of Islamists. Although neither the Muslim Defence League (MDL) nor UAF were named, she mentioned that groups had formed in opposition to the EDL. This weekend’s demo was billed as being likely to be biggest yet, which has caused some surprise to the police and media who did not expect the EDL to last for such a length of time. The fact that neither predicted this suggests to me a very real and deep lack of understanding of the issues that have fed into the rise of the EDL. This certainly became evident when Paxman got underway with his interview.
Starting with a precis of Robinson's/Lennon's background, the 28 year old was described as“Luton born and bred”. He was pictured at his business (a tanning salon) donning a bullet-proof vest before venturing out onto the streets of Luton. The reporter questioned the need for such apparel, evidently viewing it as a piece of unnecessary posturing, but Robinson claimed that both his house and business had been attacked by Muslims and that his personal security was under real threat.
Not only does Luton possess links to the intercepted Fertiliser Bomb Plot and the 7/7 bombings, but since the EDL came into being another Luton resident Muslim became a suicide bomber and blew himself up in Stockholm. Moving on, the report then drew attention to the increasing pressure being placed upon police forces by EDL demos (although no emphasis was placed upon the expense incurred in policing the frequently violent UAF counter-demonstrations).
In an effort to tap into the motivations of ordinary EDL members and supporters, the reporter visited a Birmingham pub to which Robinson had been invited to address members of a newly-formed division.
Women, children and non-white members were also present, and understandably some of those in attendance were uncomfortable with the BBC cameras. Robinson made clear throughout that he had no problem with West Indian, Sikh or Hindu youth; the problem was specifically with doctrinaire Muslims (although he did not use this term which could have helped him out in his sparring with Paxman).
The EDL is a genuine working-class protest movement that has grown out of the frustrations of ordinary people tired of being ignored by members of the political and media elites who insist on stigmatising them as 'bigots' and 'racists' at every opportunity, even though they are not. We often hear politicians moaning that working class people are disengaged from politics, and yet when they do form there own movement as in the case of the EDL, they are turned upon by these very same individuals. Mainstream politicians have little relevance to the lives of ordinary English working class people and possess no real understanding of their lives and their problems. Little wonder, as the more affluent in our society (such as Paxman) have the money to buy themselves out of undesirable neighbourhoods. If they think that certain areas of Luton, Burnley, Tower Hamlets, Bradford and Dewsbury are so marvellously culturally 'vibrant' and 'enriched', why is it that they don't flock to live in these places? We know the real reasons why.
Returning to the Newsnight report, one woman interviewee drew attention to the exceedingly rapid growth of the Muslim population in her locality and the fact that non-Muslim children were getting picked on at school. Of course, the privileged middle-class interviewer (and by middle class I'm not referring to a humble office worker, but someone sheltered from the unsavoury aspects of contemporary life by a fat BBC salary) could not get her head around such a perspective, for she did not have a clue what it must be like to live in such a situation.
Instead of fading into oblivion, the EDL has grown in strength and has even, the report noted, acquired an international dimension, sending delegates to the anti-Ground Zero Mosque Rally in New York and to Amsterdam to support Geert Wilders. Guramit Singh was also interviewed, and quite rightly noted that “Islam [as a doctrine] is disgusting”. The EDL Nottingham Deputy Leader declared that he was against what was in the Qur’an, i.e. the doctrine, and not against Muslims.
Tommy Robinson Interviewed
As expected, Paxman treated Robinson in a condescending manner, swooping down from his sheltered eyrie with claws extended. The EDL founder outlined that he and the EDL stood against Shariah Law and Islamism from which many of our towns and cities are under threat. He declared it to be incompatible with Western democracy and to be against the rights of women, homosexuals and infidels. Islamisation is a real and ongoing process. Paxman did not understand. He attempted to pour scorn on Robinson's position and ridiculed the notion that England was 'under threat' from Shariah Law or Islamisation. Robinson countered by illustrating that Islamisation was concentrated in those areas where Muslims constituted the demographic majority.
Unfortunately, there was no time to touch upon the questions of immigration and differential birth rates, but in truth, Paxman would have been equally dismissive of those arguments, as his bloated bank account will forever protect him from the negative consequences of such processes. Paxman is as out of touch with the reality of the lives of ordinary English folk living next to Muslim enclaves as Mubarak is with the mood of the Egyptian demonstrators. Neither of them understand that things have changed. The fact that Paxman resides in a bubble was vigorously underscored by Robinson.
“Could a Muslim join the English Defence League?” fires off Paxman. “Of course they could, yeah”, replies Robinson.
Paxman inferred that Robinson had never read the Qur'an, but from Paxman's verbal and facial expressions of incredulity (a prime piece of gurning) in response to Robinson's concurrence that the contents of the Qur'an were vile, it's evident that Paxman most certainly is unacquainted with anything but a bowldlerised qur'anic primer.
The problem of twenty years of Muslim pimping gangs and paedophilia covered up and not dealt with because of political correctness and fear of offending the Muslim 'community' led to more gurning from Paxman and childish assertions that "white men do that too!" Jeremy old boy, you really don't understand do you? One thing that a Cambridge education (good as it is) will never provide you with is an insight into the lived experience of working class people in areas of our town and cities that you'd never dream of spending five minutes in out of choice, unless you were there on a journalistic assignment.
The interview drew towards its close: “Aren’t you worried by what you’ve set off?” asked Paxman.
“Ours is a righteous cause” replied Robinson.
Make your own mind up. I'm not a righteous man, but I do know which of the two aforementioned men know about the real problems engendered by the implanting of doctrinaire Islam in our country, and in this instance it is the man with knowledge born of experience rather than of educated wishful thinking who has the better measure of this matter. Being an educated man, perhaps Mr Paxman ought to take note of the Oxford Dictionary definition of a ‘bigot’: noun – ‘a person who is bigoted’: bigoted (adjective) – ‘obstinately convinced of the superiority of one’s own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions’. Doesn’t sound a bit like Jeremy, does it? Ahem!