Yesterday Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, was released on bail while waiting for retrial on his contempt of court charges. This was greeted with jubiliation from his supporters, almost as if he had been proven innocent in some way.
There followed, this morning, interviews with two of the far right's commentariat on the BBC.
On Radio 4's Today programme there was Raheem Kassam - former editor in chief of Breitbart News London, former advisor to Nigel Farage when he led UKIP, a contester for UKIP's leadership in 2016 (he withdrew) and supporter of Yaxley-Lennon to the extent that he has been over in America raising money for Yaxley-Lennon's cause.
Whilst on Radio 5 there was Ezra Levant - founder and main contributor of The Rebel Media website and YouTube channel. The Rebel Media is a Canadian far right media platform for anti-Muslim ideology.
This is following hard on the heels of Steve Bannon being interviewed on Nigel Farage's LBC show, saying off air that Yaxley-Lennon (Robinson) was:
the f—ing backbone of this country. You lose guys like Tommy Robinson, you’re not going to have a country.”
Bannon, founder of Breitbart News (are you joining all the dots yet?) is one of the most vile, right wing fascists to hit our airwaves. He was also given airtime on Good Morning Britain on 13th July - being toadied to by Piers Morgan, as is his wont with the far right, which could be seen in his toadying over Trump. No shouting over Bannon as he does over other, usually more left wing, guests.
So, our airwaves, printed media, online media have been saturated with the far right lately. It's like there have been no lessons learned from Nigel Farage's media saturation, which involved 32 appearances on Question Time alone before we take into account any other show. When Nigel Farage first hit the media, he was treated with scorn and derision. David Cameron tried to brush UKIP off, calling them a bunch of
'fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists''
Boris Johnson said in May 2014 about the EU referendum promised by Cameron and the rise of UKIP threatening the Tory vote:
and so I say to all those toying with another self-styled Euro-sceptic party, whose MEPs notoriously slumber and snore through Strasbourg debates: You kip if you want to – the Tories are giving us the first chance to vote on Europe in my adult lifetime"
He also ended that article with:
it would be an utter disaster if we were to miss this chance by inadvertently ushering Miliband into power
I think I know what "disaster" is preferable right now.
Undoubtedly, the rise in media coverage of Farage and his party played it's part in Brexit and the rise in racism in this country. The more he was on TV, the more certain people said to themselves, "He's only saying what we're all thinking" so they were emboldened to say it themselves. Racism has increased, notably Islamaphobia although racism across the board. Some people no longer feel as if they can't say racist things any more and that it's absolutely fine to perform hate crimes such as pulling off Muslim women's hijabs.
Today Helen Dale tweeted
However, she is wrong, as these tweets counter:
As well as his party polling "the highest general election vote of any UK far-right party", Griffin himself won the most votes he'd ever had in a general election, 6,620, contesting Margaret Hodge's seat in Barking.
So Helen Dale, you are sadly wrong and if the media in this country doesn't learn from the vast amounts of historical evidence, racism and fascism in this country will continue to be legitimised in the eyes of Yaxley-Lennon and his supporters and will continue to rise. The media are currently enablers and will yet end up with blood on their hands.