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Robinson’s crusades

A new serious far-right movement is crystallising around the laughable campaign to paint Tommy Robinson as a martyr, writes SABBY DHALU

IN less than three weeks Tommy Robinson will face a retrial after he was released on bail in August. A “free Tommy Robinson” movement emerged after he was imprisoned in Leeds. Earlier this year, he was given a suspended sentence after being found guilty of contempt of court in Canterbury.

The Honorary Recorder of Canterbury Judge Norton’s remarks in are worth remembering.

“This contempt hearing is not about free speech. This is not about the freedom of the press. This is not about legitimate journalism; this is not about political correctness; this is not about whether one political viewpoint is right or another. It is about justice and it is about ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly.”

It is a profound irony that those who claim to support women and children subjected to rape, sexual abuse and exploitation, undermine justice for these crimes.

The correct approach to this issue is crucial as it has provided the political cutting edge for the recent growth of the new fascist and alt-right in Britain.

The anti-racist movement must stand with women and child survivors of these abhorrent crimes and for justice. We must also oppose attempts by the racist right to exploit these crimes for political advantage by claiming that perpetrators commit these crimes for religious or cultural reasons and specifically target white women and girls.

The 2014 Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Exploitation in Rotherham by Alexis Jay OBE revealed that ‘there is no simple link between race and child sex exploitation’ (Pg 91). Conceding to racist and Islamophobic myths will embolden not defeat fascists and racists.

The “free Tommy Robinson” street movement has mobilised the biggest far-right demonstrations for decades.

The racist right from fascist groups, the Football Lads Alliance/ Democratic Football Lads Alliance to For Britain and UKIP are using Robinson to reorganise.

This is the first serious attempt since the collapse of the English Defence League (EDL) to develop a racist street movement and give it a political form.

This far-right movement has received an extraordinary level of international political support. Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom complained to Kim Darroch, the British ambassador in Washington DC about Robinson’s imprisonment, following lobbying by the alt-right website Breitbart and others.

It has also received support from far-right figures including Donald Trump’s ex-chief of staff Steve Bannon,  Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders and UKIP leader Gerard Batten.

American think tank The Middle East Forum spent a five-figure sum on Robinson’s legal defence and reports suggest similar organisations bankrolling a high-profile campaign to release him. The Middle East Forum has also paid for foreign far-right speakers to attend “Free Tommy” rallies in London in addition to funding the far-right activist’s court defence.

Bannon recently announced plans to establish “The Movement” — a foundation to help encourage the spread of right-wing populism in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament elections. Over the last year he has met right-wing politicians across the EU such as Nigel Farage, members of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National in France and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Bannon has also met prominent Tories including Michael Gove — still a Secretary of State under the Conservative government — Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, indicating the potential for a possible post-Brexit far-right populist movement in Britain.

This new threat of the far-right requires a renewed response.

Violent attacks on trade unionists, the left, anti-racists, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, African, Asian and Caribbean people, socialist bookshop Bookmarks and places of worship, have been a feature of their campaign. The murder of Jo Cox and the Finsbury Park terrorist attack on Muslims, in the last two years, show how far some on the extreme right are prepared to go.

The far-right are a threat to the whole Labour movement, as well as Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, African, Caribbean, LGBT people, all progressives and anti-racists.

The lesson of history is that we must unite against racism and fascism. This means that we must put aside differences on other issues such as Brexit or the Middle East.

Racism, Islamophobia and anti-semitism are being used by the far-right to build support and must be robustly confronted. We must build Stand up to Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism.

We must also unite behind Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. An underlying cause of the growth of the new alt-right populist movement is the attack on the living standards of working people. Therefore defending Corbyn’s anti-austerity leadership of the Labour Party, which stands for making the majority better off, is crucial.

We encourage all those who wish to be part of the discussion on how to defeat the new threat of the far-right and racism to join Diane Abbott MP, John McDonnell MP and many others at the conference organised by Stand up to Racism and Unite Against Fascism on Saturday October 20 at Friends House, Euston, London.

We also encourage everyone who wants to stand up to this new threat to build the National Unity Demonstration Against Fascism and Racism, backed by the TUC, on Saturday 17 November.

Sabby Dhalu
Stand up to Racism Co-Convener and Unite Against Fascism Joint Secretary


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