Ed Lines

IT’S A toss-up whether Dewsbury owes former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson a huge debt of gratitude, or a big fat raspberry and a ‘thanks for nothing pal’.

When the ex-Luton football hooligan first brought the EDL to town, West Yorkshire Police thought they were being clever by caging them in the railway station car park and giggling at them from the Ashworth Road flyover. Operational geniuses, our local Plods.

That was always going to bring the EDL back in force, and when they did in 2012 it also brought five Islamic extremists, with a car full of weapons – bomb, gun, knives/machetes.

Where Robinson ‘saved’ Dewsbury’s bacon that day was in having a domestic with his wife and not turning up for his own party. It meant it ended early, the EDL banner-wavers buggered off in search of a pub and the terrorists turned up after everyone had gone home.

They consoled themselves by going to pay homage at the Markazi mosque in Savile Town, CCTV images of which were shown at the subsequent Old Bailey trial where they all got 19 years.

Perhaps imagining they’d be giving it large among a bevy of heavenly virgins by 5pm that Saturday, they hadn’t bothered insuring the car and were stopped heading back down the M1. Mind you, the police had the motor for two days before accidentally popping the boot and discovering their arsenal.

The story is topical, in that the successors to Robinson and the EDL (he left in 2013), Paul Golding and his far right Britain First, are heading to Dewsbury next month.

My message to them now is the same as to Robinson then – get lost, guys. Dewsbury doesn’t need you. A few hardy souls are trying to get some retail trade going in the town; you are not going to help anything, let alone struggling businesses.

If you want to make a point, go do it on the steps of Kirklees Council, or better still Whitehall and Downing Street.

These demonstrations have an unhappy history, dating back to the BNP’s first appearance in Dewsbury in 1989, when a small number of them held a heavily policed rally behind the town hall, oblivious to the fact that in their wake a full-scale riot was breaking out amongst local youths, sparked by far-left agitators.

That 1989 riot and the ransacking of the Scarborough pub was the starting point for my book The Islamic Republic of Dewsbury.

THE events of the EDL rally in June 2012 are  in Robinson’s recently published autobiography Enemy of the State. It’s a chilling read, and not for any anti-Islamic ideology or apocalyptic visions of our future.

I don’t sense that the Luton wide-boy thinks that deeply – but if you think for one moment that we live in a free and fair democracy, you’d think again after reading it.

It’s surprising because half of his friends growing up in Luton – and which makes Dewsbury look like Harrogate – were black or Muslim. But of course that doesn’t fit the ‘far right’ stereotype which, I’m ashamed to say, the mainstream media is culpable of propagating.

What is more troubling is what the state did to Robinson from the moment he started the protest group.

Masses of armed police raiding his family’s houses, seizing computers, freezing assets – on the spurious excuse of a damaged £30 fitting in a hotel (which the IPCC ruled was a fabricated complaint anyway).

Arrests, detentions and illegal bail conditions, trumped-up charges, on a weekly and monthly basis. Harassment of anyone doing business with him.

And when he was jailed for idiotically using a friend’s passport, he was held in solitary confinement in Category A prisons for over five months. He was locked in a room with three Muslim extremists who kicked his teeth out – and oops, the CCTV wasn’t working.

You couldn’t see the state doing that to Anjem Choudary, Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri Mohammed, could you? Human rights lawyers would be all over them.

When a four-year tax case against him was thrown out, the police threatened to prosecute his wife unless he pleaded guilty over a self certification mortgage dating back eight years.

And then, when they had him inside again, they tried to recruit him to go back and be their man, inside the EDL.

When Robinson was out on licence and accepted an invite to address the Oxford Union – where he intended telling exactly what was happening to him – he was thrown back in prison for a month and put on an open wing of a Cat-A jail packed with terrorists doing life.

Finally, the police went back on his guilty-plea agreement and seized his house.

There’s not much that’s likeable about Tommy Robinson, apart from the fact that he obviously has brass balls the size of the town hall. Oh, and he happens to be a British patriot – which sadly is now a swear word itself.

I heard an interesting speech by Douglas Murray, the respectable conservative commentator, who made the point that our governments never seem to pause to ask if these street protest movements actually have a point.

The default response is always police thuggery, harassment and, judging by ‘Tommy Robinson Enemy of the State’, when all else fails, threats and blackmail.

You don’t have to like or agree with anything about him or the EDL to be ashamed of our country.

IT IS lovely, charming, wonderful that British astronaut Tim Peake can do a somersault in the gravity-less International Space Station.

Big whoopee. Any youngster coming off ‘the clanger’ in Overthorpe or Lees Holm Park during the days before elf’n safety got rid of anything that was fun, did two or three somersaults before landing in a heap, hopefully on the grass but more likely on the ash surface that stripped the skin off your knees and elbows. Rubber compound play surfaces? Concrete was a step up for us as kids.

Has anyone else got fed up of TV footage of Commander Tim having his first spacesuit fitting, Commander Tim having his first sit down in the rocket, Commander Tim saying goodbye to the wife and kids, Commander Tim saying his first hello from space – apparently there’s a cracking view of the moon. You don’t say. This week, Commander Tim tried to ring his mum and dad – but only got their answerphone. Well slap my thigh … hold the front page!

It’s nearly 55 years since Yuri Gargarin orbited the earth, for crying out loud. That was news. Mind you, back then news organisations employed time-served journalists, not wet-eared media graduates to run the BBC and national press.

Someone give me a bell if Commander Tim finds ET or goes for a spacewalk and doesn’t come back. That’ll be news.

WHY would anyone imagine that John Major’s view on anything is worth a Euro? He was a poor Chancellor, worse Prime Minister, and the one notch on his career belt was a knee trembler with Edwina Currie. Dearie me.

Sir John is warning of dire consequences of leaving the EU – from the bloke who signed us up to the disastrous Maastricht Treaty (and he was chairman of big American investment company Carlyle’s European board, so he has plenty of form).

I’ve been faintly embarrassed by current Prime Minister David Cameron going round the tables of Europe’s leaders with his begging bowl and cringed last week when he said he was confident of getting everything he was asking for.

You’re asking for sod all, Dave! That is not a win, sunshine.

The new year will see the EU referendum issue cranked up. Just as interesting as the in-out arguments will be the status (as in what they personally have to gain or lose) of the people making them.

A FOUR-DAY weekend awaits. It’s approaching lunchtime on Wednesday the 23rd, so I suppose I’d better file this column and start thinking about buying some Christmas presents. I’m a day early this year! Whatever your faith, or none, a peaceful and happy Christmas to one and all.

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