Tommy Robinson Wins Back Support From Geller and Spencer

… and loses it again

Others have noticed this; Robert Spencer reports on communication with former head of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson:

Tommy Robinson has written to us emphasizing that he has not changed his positions, and the unfolding events have borne that out… His association with the Quilliam Foundation was and is problematic… But we understand that Tommy has been under enormous pressure. It is impossible to hold him accountable for Quilliam’s disingenuousness when he has not repeated it himself. 

Geller and Spencer repudiated Robinson a couple of weeks ago, with Geller describing him as “the poster boy for the stealth jihad”. She continued:

It seems they have taught Tommy well. His deception to friends and colleagues mirrors the Islamic teachings of kitman (lie by omission) and taqiyya. So Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll are no longer on the SION board. 

Robinson and Carroll appear to have remained on the SION (“Stop Islamization of Nations“, a vehicle for Geller’s international links) website all this time. It seems that Spencer and Geller decided to retract their excommunication after seeing a recent documentary about Robinson and Mo Ansar, which I discussed here.

It should be remembered that Robinson attempted to retain his association with Geller and Spencer even after his departure from the EDL and his new association with the Quilliam Foundation; at the Bloomsbury press conference where he announced the move, he added that he was “indebted” to Geller for financial support for his family while he was in prison awaiting trial for passport fraud (although at the time, Geller said she was fundraising for Robinson’s “legal defence”). Geller, however, dismissed this as a “cop out” explanation – certainly, it looked to me like a way to distance himself from Quilliam’s anti-Geller views without making a substantive point.

Throughout this whole saga, there has been a disconnect between Quilliam’s narrative of Robinson’s change of heart and Robinson’s own story. Quilliam has sought to portray Robinson as an ex-far right extremist, just as Maajid Nawaz is an ex-Islamist. A former Quilliam Director of Research, James Brandon, wrote a post in which he opined that:

Robinson’s next steps are even more crucial; his supporters at Quilliam and elsewhere need to sure that public renunciation of the EDL as an organisation is followed by moves to renounce their ideology in full… Quilliam should introduce Robinson to Google’s network of ‘Formers – extremists who have renounced violence and radicalism. Members of that group, like ex-neo-Nazi TJ Leyden, can play a key role in talking to him, opening his eyes to new ideas and helping him to transition from rabble-rousing ex-EDL leader to a genuine democrat. As well as helping shape his ideas, these formers, who include ex-gang members from similar street backgrounds as Robinson, can also provide him with a new network of friends and allies; this will be vital in helping to break away from his EDL ex-associates and making his disengagement from the EDL permanent.

But Robinson was always very clear that he does not regard himself to be an “ex-extremist”. Instead, he complained that far-right elements had made headway in the EDL while he was in prison, and that he sees street protests as no longer effective. It was obvious that he and Quilliam were talking at cross-purposes – and it should be remembered that Quilliam has been dishonest in the past when it comes to showcasing ex-EDL members.

According to Spencer:

Tommy is planning to start a new organization that is as free from Quilliam as it is from the EDL, and in that… we wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly support him.

Perhaps Robinson is under the impression that people joined the EDL because he was its head, rather than that he had followers because he was the head of the EDL; but launching new organisations and “global forces” and such is actually a common way by which the self-styled “counter-jihad” movement maintains publicity and links.

UPDATE: An exchange on Twitter between Sunny Hundal and Nawaz (link added):

Sunny Hundal: Hmm. T Robinson now welcomed back by Geller/Spencer, and he refuses to renounce previous views. Our criticism were right no?

Maajid Nawaz: Really? You not glad he left EDL & said “sorry” to Shiv in the Guardian? Seriously Sunny, give us time & stop being a downer

UPDATE 2 (5 December): Geller’s support for Robinson at last now seems to be off. In article about documents relating to her exclusion from the UK, Geller writes:

The documents say that I “worked with” the English Defence League. No, I supported their campaign to stop Sharia in London and to oppose Islamic supremacism, while always being wary of some of the elements within the group. Two of their leaders spoke at one of our conferences — but “work together” is overstating matters. Anyway, EDL leader Tommy Robinson has now jumped ship and rushed to condemn his former friends and allies. I didn’t hurry to condemn him, but gave him ample opportunity to clarify his new position; unfortunately, it is clear now that he is a traitor and a liar. I understand that he faces jail time for tax-related crimes, but to throw the EDL in its entirety and every other brave counter-jihadist under the bus makes him the worst kind of turncoat.

No explanation is given as to why she’s suddenly changed her line on Robinson once again, but the reference to his “crimes” (he’s just pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud) perhaps indicates that she no longer thinks he’s of any use. The SION website and the “President’s Council” appear to have slipped her memory.

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