Tuesday 8 October 2013

The EDL is history, but what to make of Tommy Robinson?

It is a confusing story - Tommy Robinson renouncing the EDL for its right wing extremism. When I first heard the story, I thought it was a spoof.

But it couldn't be more real, Robinson and several others have resigned, citing that Nazi's and other extremists have taken over the helm of the English Defence League.

I can't believe that he hadn't noticed this before! Every EDL demo I've opposed was loud with some of the most hateful far right chants, and he was definitely at the same demos!

Having just watched Robinson on Newsnight though, I have to give him some credit. It seems it is possible to head an extremist street fighting sect for four years, and then to see the error of your ways. It was a bout in prison that did it, followed by his encounters with brave Muslims who are taking huge risks by countering violent forms of political Islam.

Don't get me wrong, his analysis and beliefs are still clearly flawed, but their seems to be genuine remorse at some of the harm he has done, and a desire to make amends.

One of my most treasured moments in my last job was when a former member of the EDL came to my house and handed over his EDL Division hoody. He had come to realise how hate filled they were and that they were not part of the solution, but a major part of the problem.

People can change. All people deserve forgiveness and we should be prepared to take Robinson at his word.

We now know that what remains of the splintered and dying EDL is toxic and dangerous. Those who now decide to throw their lot with them should be exposed as the evil racist Nazis that they clearly are. There can be no hiding behind the idea that the EDL represent 'ignored white working class' concerns. They are nasty street thugs bent on violence and extremism. Time for them to disappear down the sewer where they belong.

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