Tommy Robinson’s MEP Campaign Stumbles At The First Hurdle

Tommy Robinson's MEP Campaign Stumbles At The First Hurdle
Photos taken at the Say No to Tommy Robinson march and rally in London on Sunday 9th December 2018. Copyright: Gary Knight/Wikimedia Commons.

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been incredibly divisive over the past few years; centrists and those to the left have often condemned his actions while more right-wing and fringe groups have embraced and encouraged him. Now, the activist has been making a significant amount of headlines with his campaign to run in the European elections. Not many of these headlines may be what Mr. Robinson was hoping for.

While many of his supporters have actively encouraged him online, as well as in his appearances, much of the media has pointed out the inauspicious nature of the campaign so far. For example, Mr. Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was warned at his announcement event that he was in breach of electoral laws by offering free food at the event. Mr. Yaxley-Lennon has frequently been met with criticism from authorities in the past.

Much of this has been centered around the issue of free speech. Critics have branded the political activist a racist and bigot, with Tommy Robinson claiming to speak for the working class. He first came to prominence after founding the English Defence League nine years ago; the overall aim of the political group, as professed by Mr. Robinson, has been to prevent  “the Islamification of Britain.”

Condemnation For Tommy Robinson

This is also the platform that Mr. Yaxley-Lennon is running on as a candidate for MEP for the north-west of England. His candidacy has been met with condemnation by many figures in the area. Chief among these has been Mike Kane, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East. Mr. Kane issued a joint letter with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders condemning Mr. Robinson and his views.

In the statement, they said:

We want to make this statement about Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson. Together, on behalf of our community, we felt it necessary to speak out against his visit. We are firm in our belief that violence and racism have no place in our political discourse. Wythenshawe is a proud community. It is our community. It is a community that rejects hate and works tirelessly for the common good. A community with a bright future.

Tommy Robinson will have some stiff competition in the upcoming European Elections; representatives from nine political parties, including Ukip and the Brexit party are running to be one of eight MEPs for north-west England on 23 May. That may be slightly more difficult now, however; the official Tommy Robinson for MEP Twitter account was suspended not long after it was launched. That being said, it’s not clear why the account was suspended; however, because of its association with far-right groups, it may be easy to assume the reasons behind the decision.