On a cold Tuesday morning late last month, 500-1,000 supporters of Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) gathered outside his retrial at the Old Bailey, central London. The retrial focussed on two charges — whether Robinson had breached reporting restrictions on the Huddersfield child grooming case, and for contempt of court. After a short hearing, Nicholas Hillyard QC took the decision to refer the case to the Attorney General.
UKIP Leader Gerrard Batten addressed the demonstration, and Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders had announced his intention to join the “free speech protest”, though he didn’t show.
Alongside Union Jacks, the flags of UKIP and of the fascist groups Generation Identity and For Britain were waved by those present. Speaking to his supporters outside court after the hearing, Robinson claimed that he had been unaware of reporting restrictions in the Huddersfield case, decried “Islamic rape jihad gangs” and called media outlets “enemies of the people”.
Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) has warned that Tommy Robinson is at the head of a growing far-right movement with fascists at its core.
As Weyman Bennett, Co-Convenor of SUTR said, “Robinson’s security were instructed to wear full black clothing, as Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts did in the 1930s. The implied threat of violence in chants from the crowd such as ‘hang the judge’ was reminiscent of the National Front.
“We need unity to defeat the fascists. This is why we must organise the biggest possible demonstration on the 17 November to mobilise the anti-racist and anti-fascist majority.”
The decision on whether Robinson will return to jail will now lie in the hands of Tory MP and Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC. Regardless of the result, building a mass movement against racism remains the central task for socialists. Robinson will remain free on bail until further notice.