I’ve watched Tommy Robinson for a long time now. I first noticed him debating with Paxman many years ago on Newsnight and have laughed, cheered and groaned in equal measure ever since, as he has lurched from an irritable hothead one minute, to a kind and likeable rogue the next.
I’ve seen disastrous head slapping interviews, like the one with Piers Morgan, that I expect even Tommy regrets, and an interview with Andrew Neil where Neil tried to guide Tommy through the rules of debate and give him a chance to express his views rationally, with some success. He is the source of a number of conspiracy theories and his book ‘Enemy of the State’ is a short autobiography of his personal struggles. He is a very complex man to understand.
Tommy has been to prison a few times, for assaulting a police officer, for fraud and for travelling to the United States on a false passport. Of late, as a self-styled journalist he has again fallen foul of the law by attending court to barrack a child grooming suspect (who was later found guilty) – and earned an 18 month suspended sentence for it. He was daft, but this was a very harsh sentence. He has in my opinion undoubtedly been picked on and persecuted by the police.
Tommy has also been on film at least three times punching out opponents. Once was in prison, probably a pre-emptive strike to avoid being attacked, once when striking somebody at a race track and most recently whilst getting in the first punch after a much larger opponent – a migrant – was raising his arm to strike. I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. I reckon all three incidents were in self-defence on the basis of what I saw, however there is no real doubt that Tommy can let his temperament rule his mouth and this sometimes ends in a punch up.
However, by showing this side of his character he has also gained many supporters and acolytes as evidenced by his huge popularity with the FLA community and other similar domestic groups. People are screaming out for strong leaders from within their own identity groups in the absence of being able to express their own political beliefs within any political party. UKIP has not grasped this vital point.
Through crowd funding and Patreon, Robinson is now a full-time political commentator in the style of Paul Joseph Watson and others and, like the others, he is drifting into international commentary. This is dangerous ground as it has brought him into contact with characters like Sellner, Pettibone and Southern. Why he’s getting involved with these foreigners is beyond me but it appears that David Kurten, Gerard Batten and a good many others in UKIP seem entirely in step with Robinson and follow him avidly. People will follow anyone who Robinson supports, so he now has enormous responsibility to choose his friends wisely.
What is now very clear is that Tommy possesses a hefty dollop of charisma. He is a born leader. That is evidenced by his massive following – 412,000 on Twitter for example. He is also young, intelligent and has balls. He would have been a brilliant RSM in the Army. He’s the sort of person you would want with you in the trenches. I can see that.
But Tommy currently cannot join UKIP, as he falls foul of the EDL proscription. (He led it!). He also has a number of past criminal convictions and one current one. That does not put him ‘in good standing’.
Now for the point of this article.
UKIP cannot, it seems, convert crowds into members. Marchers do not win elections. Hot air does not win elections. Parties and voters do. As difficult as it may be for many – including me – to countenance, is it not better, in the face of an absurd interim agreement on Brexit and the utter refusal of this government to control migration, for UKIP to select a leader who would, almost certainly, attract hundreds of thousands of members and provide a catalyst to unite – under the UKIP banner – the disparate but hopeless gaggle of rightist parties and factions?
It’s clear from the support he gets on this site and many others that he’s popular and it seems like half the UKIP ‘faces’ would defer to his style of leadership, perhaps because they lack charisma and self-confidence themselves.
His faults and history aside, I have had to ask myself whether or not Tommy is a good man or a bad one and whether I like him or loathe him and I am clearly not alone. There are some questions to debate. Would you have Robinson in UKIP and eligible for leader? Could Robinson be moderated without taking away his mojo? Could he work within a democratic organisation and not as a maverick or dictator? In short: could he develop into a ‘real’ politician?
I do not have the answers and throw this out to debate. It could get lively, but that’s what we are here for. I haven’t met Tommy but expect that I would like him despite being very frustrated about how he does things sometimes.
I hope he reads this article and makes a comment.
But would I make a pact with The Devil?
I just don’t know yet.