On the 15th of May Tommy Robinson, also known as Steven Yaxley-Lennon, shouted "Hello Carlisle" to a crowd of cheering spectators who had travelled from all over Cumbria to hear him speak. Yaxley-Lennon had been campaigning in the city centre that day. Just a few hours earlier his fellow far-right activist and bodyguard Danny Tommo had posted a video on Twitter accusing The Labour Council and Cumbria police of being fascists for their large police presence and made claims they had deliberately tried to disrupt Yaxley-Lennon's campaign by not allowing his vehicle into the city centre.
It was later revealed in a statement by Cumbria Police regarding the incident, that:
"No permission had been sought to enter the city centre with any vehicles today. To ensure the safety of city centre visitors, businesses and residents the appropriate documentation is required. This includes a risk assessment and public liability insurance. No application was received." "Officers will be in attendance in Carlisle city centre tonight to ensure public safety and prevent any incidence of crime or disorder whilst electioneering is taking place."
There were more than forty officers on the streets of Carlisle that day, including armed police. This stands in stark contrast to the situation in Warrington on the 2nd of May, where two plain clothes officers were unable to prevent wide scale disorder, and Yaxley-Lennon supporters including Danny Tommo allegedly assaulted a young woman, a counter demonstrator and broke her nose. Another counter demonstrator was knocked unconscious. This is almost a throwback to the violent clashes between the British Union of Fascists and opponents in the 1930s in London's East end.
When Yaxley-Lennon spoke to the people of West Cumbria he positioned himself as the anti-establishment candidate claiming a vote for him would "send a strong message to the establishment." He went on to speak about "Muslim paedophiles" to his crowd of supporters gathered in Carlisle City Centre.
When Jimmy Savile was exposed as a paedophile, was it really relevant that he was a Roman Catholic? Yaxley-Lennon and his supporters will claim it is relevant as they allege that 85% of grooming gangs are Muslims. But they not referring to a plethora of evidence, just one deeply flawed academic study, the Quilliam report, which claimed that 84% of grooming gang offenders are Asian with Muslim heritage.
An expert on child sexual exploitation criticised this study with the following statement.
As around three-quarters of British Muslim's are from an Asian ethnic background, with such a small number of Asians involved in child sexual exploitation it seems hard to believe there could be a link between these type of cases and Islam. But for Yaxley-Lennon it isn't because the perpetrators are sick individuals, it's their religion what's most important. In a tweet to his social media followers he stated. “2 more muslim paedos caught in Bristol” “The common denominator is that they’re all Muslim,”
He told his supporters that "30 men are on trial for rape of our English daughters." Referring to the Huddersfield grooming gang. But why is it really necessary to highlight the victims are English? To make this a war between the Muslim 'outsiders' and those that are "English" as if in some cases Muslims can't be "English" too? After all this the same person who thinks that the Mayor of London born in Tooting, London, isn't British and is part of an invasion into our country. The only difference between Yaxley-Lennon himself and Sadiq Khan is they have different coloured skin and a different religion. How can anyone claim Yaxley-Lennon isn't a racist?
He went on to tell his supporters "Carlisle isn't plagued with the problems I talk about but you need to protect this beautiful city." Highlighting the fact that most people in Cumbria are White British and there isn't many Asians or Muslims. But what exactly do the people of Carlisle need to protect their city from? Muslim paedophiles? To do that you would have to protect it from Muslims altogether as there is paedophiles within every community. And what are the practicalities of that? How do you exactly protect a city from Muslim migration?
In a pathetic imitation of a 'true left-wing firebrand' Yaxley-Lennon went on to denounce the political class. "The politicians all went the same club, they all went the same schools." He went on with his class war rhetoric "Those traitors in parliament are middle class" "They don't fear me they fear you." As if he was inciting the masses into proletariat revolution.
He pointed out to his supporters that "Carlisle is a working class town" "We know who we are" "75% of this country is working class." "I'm one of you." But the truth is Yaxley-Lennon's working class credentials and his attempt to paint himself as some sort of working class hero don't really don't stand up to scrutiny, as anyone who tries to divide the working class is viewed by many as a "class traitor" or a " scab" in the same way as those that cross picket lines. There is only one working class whether black, white, Muslim or Jewish and our collective aspirations must focus on hope not hate.
Not once during Robinson's speech did he have any coherent policies or ideas about how he was going to change the country for the better. He had nothing positive to say except to talk about himself and highlight paedophiles that happen to be Muslim.
He told his followers "I'm going to the Labour heartlands... to all the working class towns." "I want them to realise you have someone to vote for now." "For too long we have had no one to vote for." "Let's rock the establishment." The problem is for Yaxley-Lennon 75,000 trade unionists from all over the north west who recently marched through Manchester will never see him as anything more than a racist. Most working class people see Yaxley-Lennon for what he is, and his followers are a small minority of bigots who aren't representative of the working class. This was evident in the EU election result where Yaxley-Lennon, despite coverage of his candidacy in the mass media was only able to get 2.2% of the vote.
After Yaxley-Lennon had just told everyone they needed to vote for him because he is working class and denouncing the middle class, he went on to tell his supporters how he got excited about the election of Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who inherited 413 million dollars... While in office Trump has made huge tax breaks for the top one percent all paid for by making 1.5 trillion dollar cuts to Medicaid, a free healthcare service for people on low-incomes, 845 billion dollar cuts to Medicare, which provides health insurance for people aged 65 and over, younger people with disabilities and has made 25 billion dollars cuts to the Social Security budget. This has transferred wealth from the working classes to the richest people in America. Trump has repealed regulation on banks setting us up for the next financial crisis and increased spending on the military by enough money to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. This is the man who said said Bernie Sanders universal healthcare plan was a “curse on the US and its people”. Meanwhile poor working class Americans who cant afford health insurance get a 90,000 dollar bill when they try to commit suicide and end up in hospital for a week. Or a 450 dollar month bill for insulin they need to stay alive. Poor working class Americans are literally dying because they are rationing insulin. This is Yaxley-Lennon's idol. A man of the people...
He lambasted The Labour Party telling his followers "I despise what Labour have done to this country." Although for him this is probably about migration as if that's the only issue that counts.. He made no mention of the Conservative Party and the damage of 10 years of austerity, which is a political choice that has caused untold harm to working class communities.
New Labour under Tony Blair made some unpopular choices such as the Iraq War and their continuing with the privatisation of the NHS which many Labour Members find unforgivable. But these things seem to have overshadowed some of the good work done by New Labour. In contrast Yaxley-Lennon has no answers, no ideas and no vision for a better society and this was clear when you listen to his speech in Carlisle.
New Labour brought us The National Minimum Wage, Working Tax Credits for the poor, The Human Rights Act, Education Maintenance Allowance, Paid Statutory Paternity Leave, Winter Fuel Allowance, increased paid annual leave to 28 days per year, Free TV licences for over 75s and crime fell by 43% to a 30 year low.
New labour oversaw increased spending on education from 39.1 billion in 1998 to 88.5 billion in 2010, 48,000 more teachers between 1997 and 2010, In england pupils achieving five good GCSEs increased from 45% in 1997 to 76% in 2010, homelessness cut by two-thirds, doubled spending on the NHS, a dramatic improvement in waiting times and waiting lists, overall satisfaction with the NHS increased from from 36% in 1997 to 71% in 2010. Yaxley-Lennon must hate the fact that Labour did all this for the working class people in our country.
If anyone had any doubt that Tommy Robinson is a fascist then think again. This is the man who was banned from Facebook and Twitter for telling his followers to "Make war on Muslims" "behead those who follow the Qur'an". If he had said "Make war on jews" "Behead those who follow the Torah" could his followers see the similarities with Adolf Hitler then? This man marched with Neo Nazis in Poland, where people chanted for a "Jew free Poland" He was in the BNP a fascist and deeply antisemitic organisation. There is videos of him referring to British Muslims as "enemy combatants who want to kill you maim you and destroy you" There are also videos of him blaming all British Muslims for the 7/7 bombings and threatening them with the full force of the EDL.
If all Muslims are responsible for terrorism then by that same logic anyone who was in the EDL is a paedophile, as a considerable number of the EDL have been jailed for sex related offences and grooming young girls. This includes high ranking members such as Leigh McMillan who assaulted a 10 year old girl over 100 times. And also Richard Price who helped found the EDL who was found to have child pornography on his computer. Yaxley-Lennon defended him and said he had no idea how the images got there. He also started a campaign to get him out of prison. If the people of Carlisle need to protect themselves from Muslims or Muslim paedophiles surely they need to protect themselves from activists Yaxley-Lennon has worked along side as well? Where are the videos of him denouncing these people to his followers in towns and cities across the North West? We are yet to see these videos and probably never will.
Yaxley-Lennon specifically covers the cases of paedophiles that happen to be Muslim because he is a xenophobic, racist who see's those who are British Asians or Muslims as outsiders. For him terrorism and grooming gangs are just a handy stick to attack the Muslim community. Yaxley-Lennon supporters will claim he only covers the sex cases of Muslims because the establishment media aren't covering them. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The Crown Prosecution Service’s former prosecutor and lead on child sexual abuse who was responsible for bringing down grooming gangs once observed.
Many have heard of the grooming cases in Rochdale and Huddersfield, but not many have heard of the cases in Dearby and Penzance. You have to ask yourself why? In much the same way young girls were picked up off the streets and plied with alcohol and drugs. But there is a good chance you haven't heard of these incidents because the perpetrators were white.
Yaxley-Lennon may think the people of Cumbria need to protect themselves from outsiders that are going to come into the county and rape their children. This is the very definition of xenophobia. But the truth is they are all outsiders. Immigration into Cumbria dates back as far as Roman Times where Romans came from all over the empire from Europe, Asia and North Africa and settled in towns such as Maryport. Much later came Irish migration. It doesn't take long to see the Irish heritage of many of the people of West Cumbria. Irish surnames like Mcaleavy, McCourt and others are common.
Between 1845 and 1849 there was a famine in Ireland known as "The Potato Famine". Irish migrants fleeing starvation came and worked in the linen industry, the ironwork's and in agriculture. Later Irish migrants came and worked in the West Cumberland iron mines because of labour shortages in the local economy. The population of towns like Millom dramatically increased from 100 to 10,500.
The history of anti-Irish prejudice in Britain is no big secret. Irish people have suffered the worst kind of discrimination. Hatred and fear of Irish people as an ethnic group in the past isn't that much different than that directed at Muslims today. The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume refereed to Irish people as barbarians much like Yaxley-lennon refers to citizens of the Muslim country of Somalia as barbarians now. This is the very definition of bigotry, which Yaxley-Lennon and his followers claims he is not.
In the 1950s there was signs up in lodging houses saying "No Irish need apply" Should the people of Carlisle put up signs that say "No Muslims" to protect themselves from the issues Yaxley-Lennon talks about? The Cumbrian town of Cleator Moor is nicknamed "little Ireland" because of Irish immigrants who came there during the 19th century. This is why Cumbrians must stand up against prejudice and racism and not fall for Yaxley-Lennons lies. Cumbria has a proud history of immigration. When in a West Cumbrian dialect locals say ""As gaan yam" which means "I'm going home" they are not speaking English. This is a dysfunctional language brought by migrants from Scandinavia. When locals say "What's crack" this is clearly Irish. Yaxley-Lennon himself was born to an Irish mother. And many Irish immigrants settled in his home town of Luton during the 19th century. If Sadiq Khan isn't English then Yaxley-Lennon isn't either. The thing is when we focus our attention on Muslims or so-called 'outsiders', we let the corporate establishment off the hook for their greed and exploitation, losing sight of the real enemy. And perhaps the people we turn on aren't the problem. As the only people we turn on are ourselves?