Tommy Robinson's release pending a retrial has been received with jubilation by the far right. Anti-racists need to be prepared to take them on, argues Steph Pike
Tommy Robinson is a far right, Islamophobic, violent extremist and racist. He has been released on bail to face a retrial on one of the charges of contempt of court (the other conviction stands). The appeal was successful on procedural grounds; Robinson did not actually contest the charge of contempt. Whatever the outcome of the retrial, whether he is portrayed by his supporters as a victorious defender of free speech or an imprisoned martyr, the fact remains that he has become a figure around which the far right are organising. His acquittal and subsequent retrial will embolden racists across the country.
The recent “free Tommy Robinson” demonstrations have seen the largest street mobilisation of the far right in decades. These demonstrations have been characterised by violence, Islamophobia and nationalism. Employing the language of populism and supported and funded by powerful international organisations such as the American think tank The Middle East Forum, this racist and Islamophobic street movement is hailed by far right politicians including Donald Trump’s ex-chief of staff Steve Bannon, the Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Welders, and UKIP’s leader Gerard Batten.
The rise of the far right has not happened in a vacuum. The lurch to the right of the Tory government, its racism and its creation of a hostile environment for migrants, Muslims and black people has both emboldened racists and created the conditions for the re-emergence of a far right street movement.
The most recent “Free Tommy Robinson” mobilisation in London on 14th July saw thousands of anti-racists take to the streets in protest and the previous day was vastly outnumbered by over a quarter of a million people protesting across the country against the politics of hate and division represented by both Donald Trump and this Tory government.
Despite this, we cannot be complacent. We cannot allow the far right to mobilise and spread their politics of violence and hate. We must build a broad-based movement to unite in a mass campaign against racism that can outnumber and defeat the far right wherever they mobilise.
Steph Pike a is a revolutionary socialist, feminist and People's Assembly activist. She is also a published poet. Her poetry collection 'Petroleuse' is published by Flapjack Press.
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