They say first impressions count and as thousands of men, women and some children marched in unison down Whitehall towards Downing Street it was immediately apparent that Tommy Robinson’s call-to-arms to protect freedom of speech had resonated with many.
At its peak, approximately 5-6,000 people had heeded his message and as the crowds streamed past in the scorching mid-afternoon sun, it felt very fitting that a sound-system blasted out 2008 UK chart single ‘Great DJ’ by The Ting Tings which includes the lyrics “gave hope and a brand new day”.
It was an upbeat, hopeful soundtrack for what felt like a hopeful day amid the backdrop of some very dark recent precedents following the banning of Canadian journalist Lauren Southern from UK soil for handing out provocative LGBT leaflets in Luton and the conviction of Count Dankula for a parody video, as well of course as the silencing of high-profile figures including Robinson across social media.
Robinson will undoubtedly be happy with how the event panned out and at times it felt more like a concert with singers and video content adding to the standard speech format. The technical production was impressive and the police, to their credit, kept the 2-300 communists well away from the main event and it was probably this lack of confrontation which persuaded the hard-left demonstrators to fade off into the distance well before Robinson had delivered his final speech when he announced to cheering crowds that he would be taking Twitter to court.
The array of flags at the event reflected the increasing diversity in the crowd at these type of events – indeed there were the national flags of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the United States as well as banners promoting UKIP, For Britain, the LGBT community, Generation Identity, the DFLA, Catalonian independence and even a European Union flag much to Raheem Kassam’s amusement. And talking of diversity, a line-up which included a lesbian, ex-Muslim, war veteran, drag queen and gay man is hardly your stereotypical line-up of Nazis, no matter how loud the Momentum lot screech ‘Nazi scum off our streets!”.
As you’d expect with such an array of speakers, some were better than others but collectively they were powerful and defiant in their tone even if overall it probably lasted too long with many people leaving before the end to escape the heat.
The mainstream media was as predictable as ever in their coverage – either choosing to completely ignore the event in the heart of Britain’s capital or, as in the case of the Guardian, Evening Standard, Metro, GQ Magazine and Buzzfeed, deciding to irrevocably distort the day’s proceedings. Headlines such as “scuffles break out” and copy littered with references to the far-right show the establishment media to be scared to death of their narrative imploding.
However, if freedom means anything to us as a movement and if we’re to rise above the shameful propaganda of the mainstream, telling the truth is necessary even when it would be easier to stay silent. And in that regard, we firmly believe it was a big mistake to deny YouTubers Ali Dawah and Mohammed Hijab entrance to Sunday’s backstage area and only Robinson will know why that decision was reversed.
Only 24 hours before Lucy Brown had announced on social media that Dawah was on the speakers’ line-up in a move which Shy Society praised as a masterstroke because freedom of speech stands for absolutely everyone – even people we vehemently disagree with. It is only by challenging, debating and offending that we can seek the truth and form our own judgements.
We have watched the full video footage as well as speaking to eyewitnesses there and it is undeniable that Dawah and Hijab turned up peacefully assuming rightly that they were part of the day. As Lucy seemingly struggled to fulfil her earlier promise, despite Dawah’s name printed on the official line-up sheets hung up in the backstage area, and as the pair were left stood outside with the main crowd, it is again undeniable that unsavoury elements moved in and surrounded the pair before intimidating, pushing and eventually attacking them, chanting brainless things such as “Paedo, paedo, paedo!” as the police were left with no other option than to forcibly remove them for their own safety. Those trying to claim anything else do our movement a huge disservice and would do well to watch the footage from minutes before it turned ugly which clearly shows the pair in relaxed mood, joking with official stewards and Kassam.
It is these thuggish elements – and it is a small element – which let down all the other peaceful thousands in attendance. Do they not realise that their actions threaten to completely undermine the whole event which was promoted on the back of protecting freedom of speech? Whether you like them or not, they were invited and had every right to be there. These braindead morons – and we’re sorry, but that’s literally what they are – just give mainstream media photographers the one ‘money shot’ they need to paint the whole event in a certain way.
That said, it should not detract from what was overall a very successful demonstration. We spoke to numerous ‘first timers’ and their message was unanimous: “We enjoyed it more than we thought we would, it’s not how the mainstream media present it, and we’ll probably come again.” The key now is to attract even more first-timers onto the streets while disassociating ourselves with the people who think thuggery, violence and intimidation is a tactic that will win our beliefs broader support.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain
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