With the UK Government increasing its control over what people can and cannot say publicly, usually about the “Religion of Peace”, it was only a matter of time before people took the message to the streets in large numbers. And where better to take it, but outside Downing Street itself? Whether Theresa May was sat in her garden on this incredibly hot day, listening to a range of speakers and a drag queen singing remains to be seen but time will only tell. Yes, this was Tommy Robinson’s Day For Freedom! #DayForFreedom
So what made in excess of 5000 people, from all backgrounds and ages, decide to spend their Sunday listening to a very mixed bag of speakers? Well, the last few months have been somewhat challenging for those on the “right”. It started when Martin Sellner, the Austrian leader of Generation Identity was banned from entering the UK along with his girlfriend, the conservative Brittany Pettibone. This was then followed by the UK refusing entry and banning Lauren Southern, the Canadian vlogger under anti-terrorism laws. They were all told that being allowed entry to the country would “not be conducive to the public good”, which translates as “You cannot come here and slag off Islam”. Southern had previously handed out leaflets in Luton stating that “Allah was a gay god” before getting moved on by the police. Whilst all this was happening, Marcus Meecham was found guilty of making a joke involving a dog & Tommy Robinson was banned from Twitter.
The event, organised by Lucy Brown, Caolan Robertson & George Llewelyn-John began with a stirring speech by Army veteran Richard Inman, who said that he did not spend his early years fighting for the UK’s freedom, only to see it being taken away and also taken over by people who do not share the values of the country. He added that he would have died for the UK then and if need be, would die for them again. It must be hard for someone who spent time abroad fighting the enemy only to see them now living happily in the UK but not being allowed to criticise it. It was not long before Islam and the problems it causes was mentioned and subsequently became a theme in all the speeches.
Current UKIP leader Gerard Batten & ‘For Britain’ leader Anne Marie Waters also gave speeches, reinforcing the fact that we should be allowed to criticise any ideology and how easy it is to get arrested under the guise of hate speech. Neither seized the opportunity to try and and convince the large crowd to join their respective parties however. As half of UKIP believe that Islamophobia is a thing and a ‘For Britain’ candidate was made to drop out after being critical of Islam, both parties need to decide what they truly stand for before signing up new members.
Shazia Hobbs, author and victim of Islam, also spoke at length. Hobbs mentioned the number of speakers who, banned in their own country of Pakistan due to their extremism, are free to go on UK wide Mosque tours. Sadiq Khan also came under criticism for spending too much time & money policing the internet, rather than the increasingly bloody London streets. Grooming gangs and FGM also got a look in, as part of a very factual & bleak but very well received speech.
It was not all doom & gloom, there were some lighter moments with speeches by Liam Tuffs, a Facebook comedian who re-iterated that simple jokes can now get people in trouble. This was evidenced by a speech from Mark Meechan, aka Count Dankula, who was found guilty of making a grossly offensive video. He by his own admission is not right wing, he just believes that everyone should be able to say what they want, as long as it does not advocate violence. This was a sentiment echoed by most of the crowd as well, as it was made up of people who had felt the long arm of the law or crucified by the media for saying something “offensive”.
The last invited speech was saved for flamboyant author, Milo Yiannopoulos, who when not talking about himself entertained the crowd by putting across how much fun it is to insult different groups and how feelings shouldn’t get in the way. He also made clear that he doesn’t want to see it as a return to people just looking for an excuse to be racist. Tommy Robinson rounded up the days events by reminding everyone of why they were there, explaining the evils of Islam and how this will just be the first of many events. He was joined on stage by the family of three boys who had been killed by Jaynesh Chudasama in January this year.
As the event had been heavily advertised, it attracted a number of self declared anti-fascists. The small group, made up mainly of masked socialists were kept apart by a large police presence. During the event, there was only one instance of them breaking through which led to a small fight before swiftly being broken up. There have been reports however that later in the evening someone had been hospitalised by Antifa after being hit with a bike lock and smaller random attacks. Youtube Islamist, Ali Dawah was also invited to speak in the interests of fairness, but as he did not agree to the terms set by the organisers, he was not allowed on stage. Raheem Kassam, editor of Breitbart UK, offered to read Dawah’s speech for him but he declined.
Ultimately, it could be argued that an event arguing for freedom of speech, held outside Downing Street with with no interference from the authorities could be seen as hypocritical. However when moderate Conservatives are banned from the country, people are arrested over comments on Twitter, public figures getting accused nationally of being racist and repealed blasphemy laws being brought back in under the guise of new legislation, there is still someway to go before we can speak out against issues without having to look over our shoulders first. It would seem that yes, more of these events are needed and this is only the beginning.
You can watch the day’s events on Project 1984