Anti-Islam campaigner Tommy Robinson’s fans rewrote a Leonard Cohen classic to be about their far-right hero and it is completely stupid
The trial of “Tommy Robinson”, the convicted fraudster, for a particularly idiotic case of contempt of court, was today referred to the attorney general.
Robinson, whose real name is probably Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, but who has used various other names both legally and illegally, drew a small crowd of oddballs to the Old Bailey. One of Yaxley-Lennon’s most prominent supporters, Canadian anti-Islam activist Ezra Levant (a visitor from overseas who Yaxley-Lennon doesn’t seem to mind being here), posted an image on Twitter of new lyrics to be sung to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
It’s, well, it’s f*cking rubbish, isn’t it? But, in addition to being rubbish, and stupid, and really weird for a far-right English organisation to co-opt a song written by a Canadian Jewish Buddhist, it’s full of inaccuracies.
Shall we go into some of them, in too much depth? Yes! Let’s!
1. In the tweet, Levant presumably means “I think”, because “In think” doesn’t make any sense. If you’re going to come over here, Levant, learn the language, you Canadian idiot.
2. Either “Where journalists weren’t allowed to report”, or “Where a journalist wasn’t allowed to report” would be closer to coherence than what is written here, although neither would scan properly. Later in the song any semblance of caring about scansion is entirely abandoned, though, so why not go for it from the beginning?
3. Reducing the idea of contempt of court, one of the tenets of the British legal system, to “a secret court where journalists aren’t allowed to report” is at best inaccurate. The issue is the timing and context of reporting - the law essentially exists to, among other things, stop the press from damaging the chances of a fair trial taking place. Entering a courtroom with a camera or recording device is, apart from with special permission, contempt of court. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, criminal contempt can be defined as “conduct that denotes wilful defiance of, or disrespect towards the court, or that wilfully challenges or affronts the authority of the court or the supremacy of the law itself”. What Yaxley-Lennon is alleged to have done - secretly filming a criminal trial, breaking reporting restrictions (including a postponement order that was in place to ensure all of the trials involving some 27 men could take place without being affected by the porting of one another), and broadcasting it on the internet - absolutely qualifies as contempt of court. There was an appeal after his conviction due to an error in how the case was recorded, which was successful, hence this retrial. The Secret Barrister has an in-depth explanation of the whole thing which is very much worth reading.
4. Due to not living in America, the Fifth Amendment, cited here, doesn’t mean anything. The Fifth Amendment applies to the Constitution of the United States, so trying to use it in the UK is like trying to claim there’s been an offside in swimming. Absolute nonsense.
5. Judges don’t use gavels in the UK. There’s a really good, pretty comprehensive Twitter account called Inappropriate Gavels dedicated to pointing this out again and again.
6. It should either be “OK” or “okay”, not “ok”.
7. His name is Stephen, not Tommy. He adopted the name of a 1980s football hooligan. He’s also gone by Andrew McMaster and Paul Harris.
8. “Last time they tried to kill him, but he endured ya” is intriguing. Contextually it seems to be suggesting that the British justice system tried to kill Yaxley-Lennon (which, of course, it didn’t - the maximum penalty for contempt of court is two years, and Britain doesn’t currently have the death penalty. It was completely abolished in 1998, 34 years after the last time it was used). The “ya” at the end of the line should probably be “them”.
9. “They need the votes for their growing state / And don’t care who their voters rape” - no idea. The “they” we’ve had before is the justice system, who aren’t attempting to grow a state. The judge today was the Recorder of London, which isn’t an elected position. It’s appointed by the Lord Chancellor, which is a role associated with the ruling party, but then, what does that mean? The Conservative government want Britain to grow via rape? This is swearing, but what the f*ck does that mean?
10. “There was a time the press let you know / Who is really coming to your shores” doesn’t rhyme, scan or make grammatical sense. Well done, everybody. Also, Yaxley-Lennon was imprisoned in 2013 for illegally entering the US, so if his followers are against people entering countries without notifying people, they should probably have a word with him.
11. “But now they never tell the story true yeah” is amazingly shit. Would “to ya” not have been about thirty times clearer as an end to that line?
12. The claim that “The state tries to say Tommy has racial hate” isn’t accurate here - what he is charged with is contempt of court and breaching bail conditions. While he has been accused of incitement to racial hatred before, that has generally been in the media, following comments by him such as “The Quran is a violent and cursed text”, which he said on Good Morning Britain.
13. Caliphate only has one L.
14. A caliphate is in itself a state - a caliph is a head of state, so “caliphate” works the same way as a word as “kingdom” - which makes this bit rather confusing.
15. The flyer uses the American spelling of paedophile rather than the British one. And they’re not celebrated, really, are they? They’re hated. For example, Yaxley-Lennon’s friend Richard Price, who was found to have child pornography on his computer, is hardly a celebrated figure, although Yaxley-Lennon found the time to defend him. And the grooming gang who Yaxley-Lennon interrupted the trial of, convicted of a disgusting 120 offences between them, are rightly detested. In fact, Yaxley-Lennon’s contempt of court could have ended up being the best thing that had ever happened to them - trials have collapsed and been scrapped in the past due to prejudicial reporting making fair trials impossible, so his aggressive idiocy could have led to them walking free.
16. “Tommy Robinson is incarcerated” - fair enough, yeah, he has been, but pretty much always for being a dick. He was first imprisoned for assaulting an off-duty police officer who intervened in a “drunken argument” between Yaxley-Lennon and his wife. He spent three days in prison in 2011 for climbing onto the roof of FIFA headquarters. He then spent eighteen weeks in prison in 2013 for the illegal entering of the US mentioned above. Later that year he served six months for £160,000 worth of mortgage fraud. “Muslims most of the time do a million pound fraud and get a suspended sentence” he later said.
17. This is exhausting. Can we stop now? This flyer, the lyrics and everything about it is almost (but not quite, for we have tried) indescribably pathetic.
18. Yeah? Cool.
You may also like