“From 1933 to the outbreak of World War II, Churchill was not permitted to talk over the British radio, which was, of course, a government monopoly administered by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Here was a leading citizen of his country, a Member of Parliament, a former cabinet minister, a man who was desperately trying by every device possible to persuade his countrymen to take steps to ward off the menace of Hitler’s Germany. He was not permitted to talk over the radio to the British people because the BBC was a government monopoly and his position was too ‘controversial’.” – Milton Friedman
This is a tale of two Tommy Robinson interviews with the BBC.
The first interview with Tommy Robinson, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (interviewed by Sarah Montague), focused primarily on what the EDL stands for and on what it believes. Robinson came across well in this interview. And precisely because of that it produced a furore from the usual suspects who criticised the BBC for given Tommy Robinson ‘a platform’ and ‘an easy time’. The critics came from all Leftist quarters, from the UAF-SWP to Mehdi Hasan (the man who called all non-Muslim ‘cattle’ and ‘ignorant’.) In fact the ‘ten questions’ which Mehdi Hasan ‘bashed out’ as alternative questions, and which he cried that the BBC should have asked instead (as written in the Huffington Post on the 11th of June), are precisely the questions which Andrew Neil did eventually ask. Now isn’t that a bit of a coincidence?
As a direct response to that intimidating backlash, the BBC decided to make amends by conducting an interview, this time with Andrew Neil, which was the direct opposite of the first once. This time every single question was about the EDL itself or about Tommy Robinson and his past. This clearly demonstrated that the BBC gave in to intimidation and even to threats.
Andrew Neil will of course claim that he’s his own man. Nonetheless, the BBC did apologise for the first interview and so there's absolutely no doubt that the producer/controller of the show would have specified the type of interview he wanted from Andrew Neil. He would have wanted an interview which would be the direct antithesis of the first interview on the Radio 2 Today programme.
The First Interview
Tommy performed well on the Radio 4 Today programme. And that's precisely why the Left were so outraged that he was given freedom of speech - which they hate with a passion.
Nevertheless, the Radio 4 journalist, Sarah Montague, did indeed grill him. It's just that the Left, and perhaps the interviewer herself, didn't expect Tommy to respond with good and articulate answers or make any cogent points. Again, Robinson’s good performance was the real reason why the red fascists reacted in the way that they did.
If the EDL’s message is genuinely so extreme, and so ‘racist’ and ‘fascist’, then why doesn’t the Left trust the people to work that out for themselves? Of course SWP/UAF/Hope Note Hate have never trusted the people, or the working class, to work anything out for itself.
By banning the EDL, and demanding the Lesser Gulag (the Leftist ‘no platform policy’), the SWP-UAF/Hope Not Hate, etc. intend to do the people’s thinking for them; which is what they’ve always tried to do. They simply don’t trust the people; especially the working class! And that’s the fundamental reason why the British working class has always rejected the middle-class revolutionary Left.
THE SWP-UAF particularly is intrinsically totalitarian in both its condescension of the working class and in its belief that all those who dare to disagree with them either have ‘false consciousness’ or are 'bigots' or 'fascists'. And if all non-Marxists have False Consciousness, by Marxist definition, then all of us must therefore allow the SWP-UAF, as the middle-class condescenders that they are, to do our thinking for us.
The Second Interview
This Andrew Neil interview, on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, is all about the usual stuff. It's all about Nazi salutes, Tommy once being BNP (a non-activist member), etc. There were no questions about Muslim grooming, Islamic militancy, the bomb threats against the EDL, about the killing of Lee Rigby (except on how the EDL had ‘exploited’ the death), about halal meat in our schools, about sharia law in the UK, etc. As I said, it was all about the EDL and Tommy Robinson himself.
Does Andrew Neil think there are other - more respectable - people or groups speaking out about these issues? There are others. However, Andrew Neill would do the same kind of thing to them too. If he interviewed Liberty GB, for example, he would no doubt ask questions about its links to the EDL or whether it thinks ‘all Muslims are terrorists’. You know; the usual mindless stuff. In other words, because the parliamentary parties aren't tackling these issues, Andrew Neil basically thinks that no one should be. But it’s precisely because the parliamentary parties aren’t tackling these issues that the EDL and other groups exist. Yet despite that dearth of an opposition to militant Islam, Andrew Neil still deemed it fit to ask questions exclusively about the EDL and Tommy Robinson’s past.
But what do you expect from a monomaniac of parliamentary politics? Andrew Neil is a man who has been born and bred on the minutia of parliamentary politics and on the sad insubstantial differences between the current Labour and the Conservative Parties.
I believe in the parliamentary system. Despite that, sometimes we must accept that politics does occur outside Parliament. Indeed sometimes it must occur outside it. There must be more to politics that the tit-and-tat pseudo-disputes between Cameron and Miliband and putting a cross on the ballot box.
It’s mainly because the EDL is outside Andrew Neil's political milieu that he doesn't like it and that's also partly why he says that the EDL is or can be 'fascist'. (How can a single-issue pressure group be a ‘fascist movement’? Strictly speaking, only political parties can be fascist.) Nevertheless, non-violent activism (e.g., the Suffragettes) and demonstrations (e.g. the Countryside Alliance) are part of English history and its political traditions. Surely Andrew Neil must realise and accept that.
And Parliament has been in the wrong before. It was wrong in the 1930s when many of its members were appeasing Hitler and the Nazis (some because because they were appeasers; others because they were sympathisers). And indeed the BBC has been wrong before when it too systematically stopped Winston Churchill from warning the British people about the threat of Hitler and the Nazis. Does all this sound familiar to you?