‘Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!’ EDL leader says he’s the victim of a state conspiracy

Stephen Lennon arrestedEnglish Defence League leader Stephen Lennon’s latest address to the masses, “Tommy’s November video diary“, was posted on the EDL website yesterday.

It’s little more than an extended self-pitying whinge about his personal problems and how he’s being persecuted for his beliefs. He’s been charged with tax evasion, his sunbed business is closing down because he’s behind with his rent, his wife is stressed, his mother’s ill. And all as a result of Tommy’s selfless commitment to leading the EDL in their heroic struggle against the Islamification of Britain.

As evidence of his supposed persecution Lennon produces an email sent by James Brokenshire – who holds the junior ministerial position of parliamentary under secretary of state for crime and security at the Home Office – to the Labour MP for Newcastle North, Catherine McKinnell. Lennon quotes Brokenshire as stating that “we are working with a range of partners to address the driver of the EDL”. Lennon claims this is proof that the Home Office is colluding with “the police, the tax office, the VAT” in an attempt to destroy him and the movement he leads.

Lennon’s video has inspired a Cambridge EDL supporter named Gerry Dorrian to post a piece on the 300-word theses blog under the headline “Did James Brokenshire order a man’s life pulled apart?” In this account, the email has been elevated to the status of “leaked Home Office minutes”. Dorrian asks: “Did a senior Conservative MP order police and financial authorities to put such pressure on the voluntary head of a human-rights group that he has lost his house, is facing bankruptcy and is now looking on as his family bear the fallout?”

The email to Catherine McKinnell would in fact appear to be the Home Office’s stock reply to politicians who write to express concern about the EDL. The same response was sent to Calderdale councillors last month. A report in the Halifax Courier, however, quotes the Home Office as stating that it is working with its partners “to address the drivers of EDL activity”, which makes a lot more sense. “Drivers” in this context of course means “underlying causal factors”. It’s not a reference to the individuals who lead the EDL. And Lennon has misquoted the sentence in order to make out that it’s about him personally.

In short, Lennon’s claim to have uncovered a state conspiracy against him is a fantasy based upon a combination of narcissism, paranoia, illiteracy and lies. If we’re trying to identify the “drivers” behind EDL activity, then one of them is undoubtedly the stupidity of EDL members who uncritically swallow Lennon’s bullshit.