Tommy Robinson has left the EDL. But this is a change of key, not a change of message

He has not denounced the principles that the EDL still stands for

Share
Related Topics

The announcement yesterday morning that Tommy Robinson and
Kev Carroll, co-founders of the English Defence League, were to leave the group
took many by surprise.  By removing himself from the far-right movement,
Tommy Robinson is changing his tactics, but – as I learned at the press
conference last night – there’s little to suggest he will be denouncing
Islamophobic views anytime soon.

Only this year, Tommy was filmed at an EDL organised street demonstration shouting how ‘Islam is not a religion of peace, it is fascist and violent’, and last night Tommy refused to take back comments made in the past concerning his views on Islam.

He seemed wholly uncomfortable when faced with questions regarding his views on Halal cuisine, and would not retract past comments that mosque-building in the UK should be limited. If this wasn’t ringing enough alarm bells, Tommy still asserted he stands by past comments made about “links between Islam and paedophilia.” However, last night the Quilliam foundation, who broke the news of Robinson’s retreat from the EDL, were keen to reiterate that “Tommy and Kev do not hate Muslims.” The two journalists next to me both commented at this point “something here isn’t right”.

When asked if this was the easy way out for him, Tommy said that he “only got 45 minutes sleep last night”. He’d “neglected his wife and family”, he said, and told us he was “dreading going home”. At one point I came close to feeling sorry for the bloke who has had such a ‘difficult’ time of it, but then I remembered he’s Tommy Robinson from the EDL. It needs to be made clear, these men last night made no attempt to denounce actions of the EDL in the past, nor the principles the EDL stands for.

More disconcerting was that it transpired that Maajid Nawaz, co-founder and chairman of Quilliam, an anit-extremism group, had only started speaking to the ex-EDL frontmen over the “last couple of days.” It certainly was made no clearer at the press conference last night as to what the EDL leadership had done to prove they weren’t actually racist - but Nawaz pointed out that he and his colleague were Muslim, and therefore how could Tommy be racist?

In essence, I was left wondering what on earth was going on. For Tommy and Kev it’s clear they have a lot to gain from moving away from the EDL, a failing organisation described by the men as “out of control”. This way they can be seen as more moderate, a voice of reason from the right.

Moreover, with groups such as UKIP finding such electoral success in the UK, is it any wonder that Tommy and his cronies are looking for ‘a more democratic’ way of pursuing their racist agenda?

However, for Quilliam, this move presents a wonderful publicity stunt if nothing more. Nawaz was clear last night that the ex-EDL leaders were to receive “training and education” through his foundation to “educate them on Islam”. However, there was no plan presented of how this would take place, or what Quilliam envisaged doing with their latest recruits. Speaking to an international relations scholar last night at the University of Oxford, who has spent time working with Muslim community groups in the north, I was told that “nobody in the Muslim community takes Quilliam seriously.”

 

Last night Tommy asserted 'there are problems and we need to solve them. We must confront the problem but marching and chanting is offending moderates'. Clearly, he and Carroll are trying a change of tactic, but their dangerous views have not suddenly been enlightened. “We are singing from the same song-sheet, just the same sheet as Quilliam against Islamism” Carroll told the audience.  Forget Quilliam, the song-sheet Carroll and Robinson hold is full of bile, and a change of key won’t change the message.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
One 200ml bottle of codeine linctus contains three times the equivalent level of morphine you'd get in casualty if you broke your wrist  

The ‘war on drugs’ consistently ignores its greatest enemy: over-the-counter painkillers

Janet Street-Porter
The author contemplating what could have been  

I was a timid, kind, gentle-natured child, later to be spurned and humiliated – in short, the perfect terrorist-in-waiting

Howard Jacobson
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable