Monday 1 July 2013


When the Stones first rolled onto the stage, fifty years ago, Britain was in an age of crumbling optimism. We didn’t know how we were going to survive in our post-war, post-empire world, but we were somehow sure we would. We used to actually, say, out loud, “It’s a free country” Admittedly it was often a rude response when asked to stop doing something the grown-ups didn’t approve of, but it was said with the confidence of certainty; it was a free country.

On Saturday, while Mick Jagger was busy with a photo call outside his Glastonbury yurt, Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll were using Armed Forces Day to drum up support for the English Defence League by attempting to walk to Woolwich and lay tributes to slaughtered soldier, Lee Rigby. Their walk was an intentionally provocative act of defiance against islamic aggression but was nevertheless in the spirit of the freedoms supposedly won by allied forces in two world wars.

Don’t stop reading at this point, I’m not coming out and declaring any affiliation or affinity for the EDL, but to ignore what’s happening in this country is just foolish and a great many people are highly concerned about it. Posted online was a short video which must have been watched by thousands. The two walkers were deliberately obstructed, provoked and then attacked - an action their police escort seemed to tacitly allow to happen - and then they were detained, arrested and held for the rest of the day.

Watching the video I was struck by the appearance of the aggressors. They didn’t look like the usual tattooed freaks and Arab-scarved nutters that normally turn out to taunt an EDL event. If anything they looked much as the UAF and Hope-Not-Hate fanatics might portray a typical EDL supporter. At first they even appeared to blend in with the peaceful walk. But if many bloggers are to be believed, they may have been police stooges, planted to facilitate an arrest. Whatever the truth of the matter a wholly different set of policing tactics seems to apply to groups on either side.

Rather than confront and contain the islamist preachers, police generally appear to be there to protect them, or run from their angry mobs when tempers get hot. Gob for hire, Anjem ‘Andy’ Choudary is apparently untouchable even as he openly supports violent jihad and backs groups such as the provocative IED. Other ironically-named groups such as Unite Against Fascism, Hope-not-Hate and Tell Mama have openly hostile agendas and a record of violent confrontation, yet arrests are few and rarely reported openly.  Such differential treatment is increasing the alienation of many working class white Britons, how could it do otherwise?

So what is going on? Is the government deliberately allowing the fomenting of anti-islamic emotion and promoting nationalism? Every day, parts of the mainstream media carry stories of invasion by breeding, by benefit fraud and by openly threatening behaviour and affray, from flag burning, disrupting white protest groups, shouting pure hatred and vowing to wreak another holocaust. White no-go areas are not only tolerated, but protected – it seems – by the authorities. Given that the most typical EDL member is from displaced white working-class men – former Labour voters – it’s hard not to be cynical of official policy which seems to be fanning the flames.

Freedom of speech should not be confused with freedom to do as you please, but words are just words, aren’t they? However, say a word against the favoured ones – anybody NOT white British, it seems – and you are treading on the delicate breaking ice floes of our newly frigid and polarised society.

 As the old troubadour strutted the pyramid stage on Saturday night he was living proof of what you can achieve in a free world - fifty years of only rock and roll, passion and fire.I wonder if Mumford and Sons will be around in fifty years’ time? And whether Glastonbury will even be possible by then?

1 comment:

  1. Fifty years ago, Enoch Powell was a relatively-obscure Tory politician known primarily to political junkies. He had spoken out against Britain's continuing attempt to hold onto African colonies, he had been involved in de-institutionalising of the mentally-ill, and in the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

    But you see, you make just one speech that questions the Narrative-- one speech that offends the virgin ears of all the good and proper correct-thinking people-- and everything else you've done is set at nought.

    What Powell did, a good half-century before his time, was to open Overton's Window, or possibly even shatter the glass in it. And for this he was never forgiven. There are those who, to this day, make like Horatio Nelson and see no ships.

    And everyone thought old Nucky was just talking about Black Caribbeans, when in fact, he was much more conversant, given his war experience, with South Asians, and might have known a thing or two about the Islam of that region.