Ed Lines

BBC Radio 5 Live was back on the phone on Tuesday. Unlike last time they didn’t axe my interview because a German WWII bomber on the seabed off Brighton was startlingly found to be: a) wet, and b) broken.

Slap my thigh, etc etc.

This time I was asked if I minded being interviewed alongside the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, one Mohammed Shafiq, discussing the resignation of English Defence League chief Tommy Robinson.

Why would I mind being interviewed with Mr Shafiq? I guess some people do.

I was invited on Tuesday’s lunchtime show partly because of the bothersome EDL rally in Dewsbury town centre last year when a gang of Islamist terrorists drove here from Birmingham planning to bomb the event.

But for EDL leader Robinson not turning up and the demonstration finishing early, Dewsbury could have seen the country’s biggest terror event since the London bombings.

Mohammed Shafiq was on, basically, because he’s yet another self-appointed rent-a-gob. If you don’t believe me, Google the bloke and check out his personal website.

He’s the self-anointed voice of ‘progressive’ British Islam, much like Shahid Malik and Sayeeda Warsi have portrayed themselves in their own incredibly self-aggrandising ways.

It’s a great little earner and you don’t have to deliver any results, just make ‘modernist’ noises – a bit like the Heckmondwike mullah who was willing to carry out the forced marriage of a child, while playing West Yorkshire Police for fools as a ‘community leader’.

The district’s full of these hypocrites. They’re outnumbered only by the PC idiots clogging up every public body you can name.

Firstly, to Robinson’s resignation from the EDL. I don’t know whether it was the constant death threats, fears for his young family, the lessons of his last spell in prison, or whether he really did resign because extreme factions in the EDL were getting out of control.

Any one of those would be reason enough for most sane individuals. Presenter Sheila Fogarty wanted to know what I thought.

“If it means the EDL don’t bring their trouble back to Dewsbury, then great,” I said in summary. The banter went back and forth. I remarked on the cycle that these right-wing groups seem to follow – the National Front, BNP and now EDL. Like fires, they smoulder, burst into flame, then eventually die out.

There’s an intellectual basis to these discontented groups’ forming, then they tap into something in the public psyche that gives them momentum.

But they end up being fuelled not by ideas and debate, but by the most base, ugly aspects of human behaviour. Their mission thrives on the fear and hatred of some pretty unsophisticated people.

As we repeatedly see, that’s a difficult energy to channel in any positive fashion. Any chance of these nationalist groups providing a rational, intelligent voice is mugged by the thugs who’ve inexorably become its rank and file.

The NF gave way to what was initially a more plausible BNP, but which under Nick Griffin followed that same downward spiral. It’s ironic that Griffin and the BNP can probably trace their rapid decline back to his public emasculation on Question Time by Sayeeda Warsi ahead of the 2010 election.

Here in North Kirklees where the BNP was a real powerhouse just a few years ago, the reasonable voices of men like Colin Auty and David Exley, went in their own ways like Tommy Robinson has now.

Did I think the EDL was finished? I suspected so, I told 5 Live’s audience, while cautioning that the power vacuum could be an unstable void. It will either fade away, or lurch even further to the right.

My co-guest Mohammed Shafiq, meanwhile, gloried in his part in Robinson’s decision to leave the EDL. He revealed how he had met him, ‘counselled’ him and taken his phone number. You’d think he’d sold Robinson a prayer mat and thrown in a burkha for his wife, to listen to the bloke.

Shafiq wanted to come across as the voice of reason, but just couldn’t resist putting the boot in. ‘We have destroyed the EDL’ he boasted (I’m paraphrasing), and you couldn’t help wondering who the ‘we’ he was referring to were.

He didn’t accept that Robinson’s resignation could be meaningful until the man basically got on his knees, recanted his beliefs, and begged forgiveness from his Muslim masters.

I gave Shafiq a dig over that, and sure enough he bit: “Muslims are threatened and spat at in the street blah blah blah.”

“And in Dewsbury me, my friends, my family are threatened, spat at, attacked in the street…”

Mohammed Shafiq didn’t like that, predictably. It doesn’t fit the convenient ‘victim’ persona these stooges play at every opportunity.

Maybe next time he’s invited on 5 Live, he’ll ask who else is appearing.

 

WAS that a civic sigh of relief I detected around Kirklees when Dewsbury, Batley, Mirfield et al avoided the ignominy of being included in the latest ‘Crap Town’ anthology of the worst places to live in the UK?

When the original list was published in 2006, Mirfield was left a little red-faced at being named no.27, with public figures bristling their indignation.

Actually, they should have celebrated the mere fact of being noticed – this work is clearly one big back-handed compliment.

Hull stood atop the Crap Town pile in 2006, a spot now ridiculously occupied by London.

Indeed Bradford at no.2 is sandwiched between one of the world’s greatest cities and Chipping Norton, dahling, the Oxfordshire seat of David Cameron and his country set.

I can only imagine they measure ‘crap’ in that regard by the steaming piles the local hunt leaves to be shovelled up after a red-jacketed gallop round the shire.

There is a lesson to be learned, however.

If you don’t want to live in a Crap Town, don’t follow Locky.

I’ve edited newspapers out of Dursley in Gloucestershire (new in the 2013 list) and the seaside town of Morecambe (no.3 in 2006) and currently split my time between Dewsbury and York.

York came in at Crap Town no.5 this week, which is as maybe. But I’m not offering a house swap, thanks.

 

I’M MINDFUL of the pitfalls of Facebook and use it sparingly, but I do like the open group ‘Dewsbury Pictures Old and New’. If you enjoy nostalgia and memorabilia, I’d heartily recommend it.

The problem with fond reminscences are the inevitable comparisons with today. It’s an issue the group is struggling with a little, because it’s both easy (and understandable) for such online conversations to take on a life of their own.

For now the voices of reasoned debate seem to be holding forth in and amongst the fabulous photographic gems. Long may they continue.

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