“The Government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories. Cram criminals together and see what happens. You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment. Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders.”
Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
For us in Russia, Communism is a dead dog, while, for many in the West, it is a living lion.Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
A gorgeous late summer’s day in England. The weather is fine enough for a pleasant full day’s play in the final Ashes test match at The Oval, the funeral of light entertainer Cilla Black has just taken place, and the British Labour Party are locked in a power struggle over their upcoming leadership election. The European migrant crisis is now seeing tens of thousands of people, mostly Muslim, migrating from the chaos of the Middle East and the Maghreb. Over London, and banking in to land at Luton Airport, an aeroplane’s passengers include a family, rather a traditionally structured one in these modern times; a husband and wife and their three young girls. They are returning from a holiday in Spain. On passing through customs control, the man is arrested by officers from Bedfordshire Police.
The man’s name, the one which will have appeared on the plane’s flight manifest, is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, although for some time he has gone by the name of Tommy Robinson. His arrest is in connection with a previous period of incarceration, itself a recall to prison after an alleged breach of bail connected with the original crime of mortgage fraud. The police claim that Robinson was involved in a physical altercation with a man while in prison. Robinson claims that although there was a fight, he was defending himself from a planned attack involving boiling water and sugar mixed together to cause facial disfigurement, a well-known method of revenge in Britain’s prisons.
Tommy Robinson may well be going back to prison, an institution he is more than familiar with. If he does, a question arises. Is his incarceration an impartial expression of British justice, a valid and legally appropriate response to the breaking of British law, or is it a type of false flag exercise to silence and demonise a man who has spoken in such a way that his comments and ideas are unacceptable to that legal and judicial system while at the same time not being imprisonable in and of themselves? In other words, is Robinson a prima facie criminal or a heretic?
Tommy Robinson was once the leader of the English Defence League (EDL), a loose and chaotic movement born from a mixture of intense and often violently expressed patriotism, and football hooliganism. The movement’s focus soon became Islam, partly inspired by a demonstration by Luton Muslims against British soldiers returning from a tour of Afghanistan. The perceived disrespect shown by the demonstrators seemed to strike a chord with the EDL. For some time, there had been a growing belief among the British working class – although strangely absent from the media - that Muslims are allowed to get away with rather too much, while critics of the same religion seem to be excessively persecuted. This dichotomy is precisely the case with, the case of, Tommy Robinson.
If it is the case that Robinson is being cyclically imprisoned not for what he has done but for what he has said, then we are now a country which takes and holds political prisoners, and the difference between HMP Peterborough and the Lubyanka is one merely of degree. If Robinson is being put through the gruelling experiences he claims to have been put through because of his stated position on the subject of Islam and its – according to him – deleterious effect on Britain, then British justice (already a raddled old whore) has descended into something properly totalitarian. Certainly, if a quarter of what Robinson told me in a 20-minute phone call last week is true, he is being victimised for his beliefs while at the same time being held in prison for other misdemeanours – real or trumped up – while the establishment work tirelessly to criminalise the type of what they term ‘hate speech’ for which Robinson is well known. It is the same method famously used to imprison and nullify the threat of Al Capone, never successfully prosecuted for gangsterism, but dying in prison on a charge of tax evasion.
If we are a country which now holds political prisoners, or those incarcerated and harassed for holding viewpoints inimical to state diktats concerning favoured social groups, perceived sexual identities or religious beliefs, this may be a dangerous and horrible new world for us and any children we might have. We already live in a country in which more truth concerning the aims and methods of the Islamic Reconquista comes out of the mouth of a goombah like Anjem Choudhary than it does from the British Prime Minister.
To get at the truth of Robinson’s incarceration and possible intimidation won’t be easy; in its way this country is as secretive as Communist countries or Islamist theocracies. But it is surely worthwhile, in the midst of a country hurtling towards economic destruction and social breakdown, to see whether or not the future holds not the smiling social worker but the ruthless apparatchik, not the helpful, cheerful police service but the Stasi, not the corrective institution of prison, with its ping-pong and telly, but the Gulag.
We are not there yet, and the voice of heresy may yet be proved to speak truth. Religious heretics in the Christian tradition, after all, were persecuted not for being wrong, but for speaking out against the church as a power structure, as an institution which dealt not in metaphysics, gods or angels, but with power, coercion and control. It is no coincidence that the modern Progressive Left, while loudly dismissive of religion (with the exception of Islam), use the same structures: heresy, inquisition, excommunication.
The case of Tommy Robinson will continue, in many places.