Farewell, brave English lionheart. Photo by Henry Langston.
This morning, it was announced that EDL leadership duo Tommy Robinson and Kev Carroll had decided to leave their band of racist street bigots behind, having finally realised that, "though street demonstrations have brought us to this point, they are no longer productive". Apparently Tommy was also stunned by the realisation that his organisation is full of neo-Nazis, citing "the dangers of far-right extremism" as another reason for leaving behind the far-right extremist party he's been the leader of for over four years.
He has assured his fans that he will keep fighting the good fight – "not with violence, but with better, democratic ideas" – but what will happen to those he's left behind? Personally, I was never sold on the efficacy of getting really drunk and shouting racist things until you get kettled by cops or pelted by anti-fascists. But some people were. I decided to find out what these people thought of their leaders' decision to abandon them.
As the news came through, EDL supporters sat numb behind their laptops, agog with the kind of disbelief you get when a well-liked pet is unexpectedly run over:
Like the end of any relationship, after the denial came the tears:
It very quickly became clear to most that Tommy and Kev's statement was legit, but there were still those who stubbornly refused to believe it. This guy pointed to the notorious gullibility of Muslims and the notorious lies of lefties as reasons to remain sceptical:
Apparently it was more plausible that the EDL's hated enemies – Unite Against Fascism – had orchestrated the whole thing than it was that Tommy just got tired of spending his weekends getting arrested:
Supporters of splinter groups like the Infidels, who broke away from the EDL because it wasn't racist enough, were in full "I told you so" mode. Here they are accusing Tommy of having been in on the conspiracy to disempower the Anglo-Saxon race all along:
Some went even further, and accused them of the ultimate crime...
...that's right: being "mugs".
Others – who had perhaps modelled large parts of their identities on the EDL's fallen leader – made personal pleas to Tommy over Twitter:
While for others it was an opportunity to fulfil their own Führer fantasies and make a bid for the leadership:
A few people decided to compliment him as if he were a 35-year-old Magaluf bar promoter, finally throwing in the Apple Sourz soaked bar-towel:
But ultimately, it was up to the EDL Spain Expats Division – that is, people who hate immigration so much that they had to emigrate – to sum up the feelings of the nation on this momentous day:
Rolling back the sarcasm, many of the EDL supporters were vowing to continue without their erstwhile head honchos, saying that they intend to march in Bradford this weekend as had already been planned. Kev and Tommy’s announcement seems to have come at a time when the EDL were on the wane after their post-Woolwich bounce in popularity, so it could be the case that it merely accelerates the death of an organisation that already appeared to be in terminal decline. Those still determined to pursue their Islamophobic crusade at street level will probably form lots of splinter groups, which will, with any luck, be unable to muster a presence that is in any way coherent or threatening.
Significantly, none of the racist rhetoric that Robinson and Carroll have spouted over the years has been disavowed. Despite the involvement of Quilliam, it's likely that they’re just changing tactics and are still a pair of racist idiots. A press conference tonight should shed some more light on what this pair of goons plan on doing next, so watch this space.
Follow Simon on Twitter: @Simon Childs13