The Secret Barrister gives what I assume is an accurate legal perspective on the arrest and imprisonment of Tommy Robinson. Here’s his third paragraph:
While, as we’ll see below, the reasons for the postponement order appear sound, the consequence of preventing fair and accurate reporting by responsible journalists was that there was no factual counterpoint to the selective and inaccurate details of Yaxley-Lennon’s situation that were inevitably flooded through social media by his knuckle-dragging cheerleaders, not least his racists-in-arms across the pond. Thus sprung a (largely unchallenged and unchallengeable) narrative of Tommy The Brave being arrested outside court for no reason and imprisoned in secret by the deep state, culminating in petitions for his release and a Nazi-themed march on Downing Street.
One needn’t read any further to understand the purpose of The Secret Barrister’s post is not only to inform readers as to the legal situation, but to make sure everyone knows that he is a decent, right-thinker, and not some nasty oik like those who support Tommy Robinson. He would have been able to make the same legal points without prefacing them with a paragraph of virtue-signalling, but why waste an opportunity to polish your right-thinking credentials and further cement your position in polite society? Besides, if you’re going to write about Tommy Robinson and not criticise him, people might think you’re on his side and that would never do. Better to include some boilerplate progressive buzzwords as a shield against such accusations.
There’s a lot of this going on, and from some unexpected sources too. Personally I don’t know if Tommy Robinson broke the law, but from what the experts are saying it seems he did and he was either stupid or trying to martyr himself. But as I wrote in my previous post, that is largely beside the point. I could open up any news site right now and point to flagrant breaches of the law which go unpunished by the authorities (here’s one), because it’s either too much trouble or the perpetrators are members of a protected class. On the flip side of the same coin I could also find examples of people who haven’t done much wrong but nevertheless are clobbered by the authorities: I understand that Lauren Southern, a Canadian right-wing provocateuse who looks as though she weighs 50kg soaking wet, is banned for life from entering the UK.
When the ruling classes want to dispose of someone inconvenient, they don’t just shoot them and dump their body in a well. There has to be some semblance of a justice system being applied; even Stalin’s high-ranking victims were subject to show trials. Now I don’t think Tommy Robinson is a victim of a Stalinist show trial, but it serves as a reminder that the underlying reason for a person being punished is not always the one the prosecuting state says it is. A better example is the trial and incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the dismemberment of Yukos, the oil company he founded. There was absolutely no doubt that Khodorkovsky had engaged in serious financial improprieties, tax evasion, and general gangsterism and probably had blood on his hands as well. However, as his defenders pointed out quite reasonably, everyone who’d risen to the position of oligarch in ’90s Russia had done exactly the same and often much more and much worse, and some of these men were Vladimir Putin’s best pals. So why Khodorkovsky?
Why, indeed. The reason, as everyone knew, was that he had dared dip his toe into the political arena and threaten Putin’s rule, so he put the entire machinery of the state into action to see that Khodorkovsky was ruined. It was a highly selective use of the justice system, and even Khodorkovsky’s fiercest critics admit privately that the tax evasion was just an excuse, his real crime was threatening the ruling powers. However – and this is crucial in the context of Tommy Robinson – the Russian government made damned sure to publicise Khodorkovsky’s unsavoury past and to emphasise that the crimes he’d committed were real. They did so to ensure his defenders were hamstrung from the start and the public on the side of the state. After all, the rule of law is important, is it not? And Khodorkovsky clearly broke the law, so why should he go free? This is the actual view most Russians take of the matter, yet the chattering classes in the west saw him as some sort of martyr.
I still maintain the reason Tommy Robinson was arrested is because he is an ongoing embarrassment to the ruling classes and he is representative of what they fear most: the ugly, ignorant masses not getting with the programme. Like Khodorkovsky, the fact that he broke the law is largely beside the point, because the law is applied so selectively in modern Britain, and often applied for nakedly political purposes. And like Putin did with Khodorkovsky, the British state has successfully managed to get most people agreeing with the incarceration of Robinson, stroking their chins and earnestly reminding us of the rule of law. I admit, it’s been a neat little operation. Here’s so-called conservative journalist Stephen Pollard:
So many tweets asserting that “Tommy Robinson” has been ‘punished by the state for daring to report on sex abuse trials ignored by the MSM’. Struggling to decide if the tweeters are plain thick or deliberately distorting the truth.
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) May 29, 2018
Again, this is more virtue-signalling than anything else, letting his readers and progressive colleagues know he doesn’t associate with those thick, dishonest Tommy Robinson supporters, thus ensuring he’s not cast out of polite society. Anyone who doesn’t think there is a class issue to all of this is willfully blind: barristers and Oxford educated Metropolitan journalists sneering at the plebs who are simply too stupid to understand what “Tommy the Brave” has been arrested for is, as with so much else, simple snobbery.
There is much to learn from this episode, and it ties in nicely with what the ZMan said recently about Ben Shapiro, the American conservative commentator:
These edgy guys serve as a palace guard, maintaining the line between what is and what is not acceptable. Their job is to make sure that none of the bad think from the outer dark creeps into the thought of the orthodoxy.
Unlike a guy like Peterson or a Sam Harris, Shapiro is just another grifter from Conservative Inc. He’s the edgy band your parents said was OK, hoping you would not start listening to the stuff they thought was dangerous.
Like all of Conservative Inc., he is for free speech that pays him well, but otherwise sides with Antifa against his competition. He’ll never talk about the fact that corporate America is willing to sponsor an Antifa convention in Chicago, but coordinates their efforts to prevent VDare from holding a private gathering.
Someone recently said on Twitter they find Shapiro’s constant policing of the boundaries of right-wing political discourse tiresome. The reaction from Shapiro showed the remark had struck a nerve, and we’re seeing a similar policing action from the right in the UK. The likes of The Secret Barrister, Stephen Pollard, and other supposedly conservative commentators aren’t right wing or even conservative in any meaningful sense, they’ve simply chosen to wear that label while coming out in support of the status quo from which they are likely doing very well indeed. They wouldn’t dare say anything outside the Overton window because they’d lose their spot in whatever social circles they mix in, and almost every genuine conservative policy now falls well outside it. But at the same time, they want to present themselves as representatives of conservative opinion and to do that they must police the boundaries of acceptable discourse and ensure they’re not outflanked on any issue. This is why, when anyone appears bearing genuinely right-wing opinions, they’re subject to character assassinations by the moral guardians of conservative thought.
The real damning fact is that it has fallen to Tommy Robinson to take on the failings of the ruling class, and nobody has stepped up to help him. Where are all the supposed middle class conservatives who say they’re fed up with authoritarian halfwits like Cameron and May leading their party into oblivion? Where are all the MPs who claim they want to see real conservative leadership which can take on the left and roll back the damage wrought by decades of progressive policies? Yes, Tommy Robinson is naive enough to get himself jailed, and he’s not a very slick operator; yes, we know that, but why’s he left to do it all on his own? Why haven’t these oh-so-clever barristers and journalists not taken up the genuine issues he’s cack-handedly trying to draw attention to?
The reason is because what passes for middle and upper class right wing conservatism in Britain is nothing of the kind. Ask yourself, what have they conserved? And who have they put in office since New Labour got kicked out? They’re simply a branch of the establishment, or at the very best they’re enablers of the ruling classes, more interested in feathering their own nests and maintaining the cosy status quo than bringing about change or addressing Britain’s myriad issues. If they couldn’t bring themselves to support what Tommy Robinson is trying to do, they could at least have kept their mouths shut and not do the government’s job for them. Next time you ask why Theresa May is Prime Minister, or why Brexit is being derailed, or why Britain is continuing down the road of identity politics and progressivism, there’s your answer.