In the comments beneath my post on Tommy Robinson’s arrest, Bloke in North Dorset heaves to for a moment and writes this:
That said, I’m not convinced by your revolution argument. I’ll believe it when a V type movement happens and first 20 people turn up and start filming and get arrested and then 50 ……. If you really want to support Tommy and start the revolution that’s how it’s done, not throwing £20 in to a kitty.
It’s a fair comment, and I should clarify. I don’t believe we are on the cusp of a revolution, but I do believe the foundations of what could become a revolution are being laid in earnest. My point about throwing £20 in the kitty wasn’t to suggest the population is about to stage an uprising, which is why I specifically kept it as a thought experiment. Instead, I was suggesting that if and when somebody decides to start pushing back in earnest, they will be able to count on a lot of tacit support. Every revolt is dependent on thousands of anonymous hands placing small notes in hats, and also people keeping schtum and refusing to criticise the revolutionaries. Even as little as five years ago I don’t think the likes of Tommy Robinson could have counted on much support, but things have changed drastically. Flicking through social media I get the impression that were Robinson to come to harm in jail and the sentencing judge later found in a ditch with his throat cut, a substantial chunk of the population would simply say nothing. Again, I don’t think this will happen but if it did, I don’t think everyone would be as outraged as the chattering classes.
But Bloke in North Dorset is right in one sense. At this point Tommy Robinson is pretty much alone in willing to stick his neck out, despite all the support he has. As such, he’s easy for the authorities to intimidate, arrest, and imprison. If things are going to change we’d need to see ten, a hundred, or a thousand of him and I really don’t see where such men are going to come from. But then again, once the conditions are laid down people do tend to pop up out of nowhere to seize the moment as the government of the day blunders about swinging haymakers and catching air. History is full of such examples, and in hindsight events always unfold more slowly than appears at the time.
Streetwise Professor makes a similar point here:
Robinson is a flawed guy with a checkered past, but the fact that only someone like him is willing to stand up to the ruling class demonstrates how pervasive & oppressive the social control in the UK is.
— streetwiseprof (@streetwiseprof) May 26, 2018
Perhaps surprisingly, the person this tweet made me think of was Jacob Rees-Mogg. A lot of people are fervently hoping he will run for leader of the Conservatives and become Prime Minister. From what I’ve seen of him there is much to like: he’s knowledgeable, intelligent, unflappable, polite, and principled. The problem is, like Tommy Robinson, there’s only one of him. If Britain is going to advance in the direction many of us want it to, the likes of Rees-Mogg should be what’s expected of all MPs. Instead, he stands out like a Welshman in a Champions League final alongside mediocrities such as Theresa May and Amber Rudd and opposite actual dunces like Corbyn and Abbott. It says something about the state of British politics that not only does a man who is capable of expressing his thoughts clearly and accurately hold novelty value, but turns a lot of people off for the same reasons. I come back to my long-held conviction that a population gets the leaders it deserves.
There’s probably not much Tommy Robinson and Jacob Rees-Mogg have in common, although there is no shortage of dimwits who would describe both as “far right”. However, they share the same burden of representing many people’s hopes while being utterly alone in doing so. That will have to change before Britain does.