Tommy Robinson’s Speech At The Oxford Union

RobinsonBack in October I hosted a podcast with the excellent blogger and author Eiynah as well as the notorious founder of the EDL, Tommy Robinson.  You can read why I felt the conditions and context for this discussion made for a better idea than some may haveinitially feared.

Needless to say, I’ve never had any affinity for the EDL, and I hope my thoughts on that were made clear here:

The EDL’s numbers increased rapidly and they became well-known to the public, media, and the law – for all the wrong reasons. Whether they were always a thuggish, racist & far-right movement, devolved into such, or were simply hijacked by those elements is a topic of debate for some – but regardless – that’s certainly the picture I have of them (which is not to say all members fit that profile of course). I’ve been vocal in my condemnation of The EDL in my personal life, and on Twitter. I hope it’s clear that I harbour no sympathies towards the movement whatsoever…


Needless to say, this doesn’t change what I did know and see of The EDL and I certainly didn’t like it. I didn’t recognise anything in what they were doing that I could identify with or support. Sure, they were making sounds about some mutual concerns, but these sounds were woven amongst a tapestry of sinister ideologies and tactics. As far as I was concerned, The EDL and Islamism were different sides of the same coin.

Tommy Robinson however, remains an interesting character that continues to polarize opinion and challenge perceptions. Whether or not you feel he is the right person to be speaking up on these serious issues is a topic for debate, but the reality is; very few people are speaking up unfortunately.

This is not intended to be an endorsement of Tommy, past or present as I don’t agree with a lot of what he says and does – some of which I brought up on my Podcast when I disagreed that the 10 commandments are a worthy foundation for British society, and argued in favour of secularism instead.

I finally got around to watching his speech at the Oxford Union, which was, as with most things involving Robinson, preceded by controversy.  Indeed, there were protests and attempts made to prevent him from speaking at all, even from Academics, once again highlighting the moral confusion of the far-left. The full talk has finally made its way to YouTube and is well worth your time. I think he raised some good points and is clearly passionate about these topics on a personal level.  Let me know what you think in the comments, I’d really be interested in gauging opinions given the preconceptions and expectations some may have had before this talk.

You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • michele turnnidge

    Tommy Robinson is a very courageous man, after everything that as happened to him he still goes on fighting for what he and a good majority of this country can see happening, we will end up in civil war, as long as our government and police continue to hide behind the word Rascist, and continue to be Rascist towards us. Everything that Tommy said years ago has happened and will continue to happen unless we try and change things. I hope I live long enough to see these changes, because I will be leaving my children to this mess.

  • Until Robinson left the EDL and joined the Quilliam Foundation, my only view of him was the one portrayed by the media, as a right-wing thug. After watching the programme where he met Mo Ansar, my view of him started to change very quickly and has continued to do so.

    I find it hard to fault almost anything Robinson said in his speech. Of course he is not a classically educated speaker, but in his own way he is very eloquent and painted a very clear picture of his life and his views. He is clearly very intelligent.

    I’ve seen quite a few posts on Twitter etc that try to show he is being dishonest and is really a racist (quoting racist jokes and the like that are attributed to him). Whether or not he said or meant those things, I admire the fact that he admits he is “no angel” and that followers of the EDL did things that he regrets. He left the EDL to distance himself from unsavoury elements he felt were infiltrating the organisation, and over the past year or 2 he has gone to painstaking efforts to denounce racism, and to make it clear that he is only against extremism. I don’t know what more he could do. Being willing to change or improve yourself, to admit you have faults, is a sign of great character and integrity.

    In summary I would say I find it impossible to identify anything Robinson said in his speech that would make his position on Islam fundamentally any different to the position of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc. I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s view on that.

  • What’s to disagree with with what Tommy had to say. (Statement not a ?)

    Whenever I’ve brought up the subject of Tommy Robinson I sort of feel my family and friends look at me as someone who is getting more conservative the older I get even when I have liberal views. I mention he has a lot of thought provoking things to say and I can feel them looking at me as if I’m defending the National Front.

    Each time I discuss TR I tell people to watch the Oxford debate and tell me what they disagree with.

    It’s easy to shout RACIST at Tommy but as far as I can tell nobody has ever produced any evidence. Finding examples of Tommy being racist is like trying to find a swear word in @GSspelchecker’s tweets.

    There’s a YouTube clip of Saira Khan from series one of The Apprentice shouting continually at him for being racist and all he does is ask for examples which of course she couldn’t provide. She looked a bit of a tit tbh.

    For an open and welcoming society that Britain is portrayed as there are clear divisions and you can point a big finger in the direction of our schools. The sooner schools are secular the better.

    The government has probably discussed the idea of not allowing Muslim faith schools but they know they can’t do that if they allow other faiths access to impressionable minds.

    Sooner or later when they finally accept there is a problem they will have to bite the bullet and make schooling secular. Only the UK and Iran have an established church which is not a club I’m happy to be in.


  • The attitude of the press towards Tommy Robinson has been very disappointing, verging on arrogant and stupid, labelling him from day one as a racist. This has led to people who have never actually listened to him speak calling him a racist. He’s not a racist, he’s raising issues that most of us are ignorant about and he’s making us all confront them, which the left wing press does not want to do.

    It is essential in my view to be able criticise ideas and doctrines within all religions, it’s not racist, and to argue that it is represents very lazy and muddled thinking. The left wing press in particular need to learn this fast and Tommy is one of many voices helping this process along.

    Well done for being brave enough to feature Tommy on your podcast and keep up the great work 🙂

  • While I agree with a lot TR says he does get things wrong or goes too far on occasion. I cringed a bit when he said Muslim ghetto. Also followed him on twitter and he tends to jump on stories which suit his narrative before any evidence to back them up is available. I would have liked him to of mentioned quilliam and the good work they are doing in his speech as a way forward.

    • Michele Turnnidge

      I would just like to say that most Muslim dominated areas are ghettos, I know elderly people where their gardens are there pride and joy who happen to live in these Muslim areas and the houses and gardens are unkept, and they also not very nice to the elderly because they obviously think that they should move out of there area. Unless you’ve experienced this way of living, I don’t think you will ever understand.

  • I found this very interesting. There are ways Mr Robinson expresses himself that are problematic, and that’s led people to pass judgment on him unfairly. He’s obviously continuing to try to learn and grow, which is always to be admired. Personally, I often have a major problem with my fellow liberals because they’re often so busy trying to be politically correct, they won’t criticize anything for fear of being labelled bigoted. Then they hear someone like Mr Robinson and because he’s not educated, they make assumptions and judgments and don’t even listen to what he has to say.

  • Yes, Tommy Robinson is a thug, but no-one can ignore the realities of his experience of growing up in Luton. I was surprised to find him more nuanced than I’d expected. In particular he’s careful to distinguish between the Islamists and other Muslims – his point about 30 mosques in Luton but the people from the Salafi one being the ones with influence on the local Council is telling. He’s not anti-Muslim or even anti-Islam, but anti-Islamist.

    It’s clear that the security services failed to realise for a long time just how serious the Islamist threat was.

What do you think? Leave some comments!