The Conservative councillor who hit the headlines for attending a meeting of the English Defence League has claimed he was fraternising with the far right to “reduce the barriers of racism”. In an interview with BBC Radio Essex, suspended Cllr Blaine Robin spoke out on his bizarre excuses for attending the planning meeting:

“The aim was to reduce the barriers of racism … I’m an inquisitive person, I have attained a PHD in social research methods.”

As Scrapbook revealed last week, Cllr Robin had been publicly praised by EDL leader Tommy Robinson during an organising meeting prior to the Tower Hamlets demonstration in August and also built cordial ties to the EDL in his ward.

Despite the nature of this transgression, it took a letter from East of England MEP Richard Howitt to the leader of Southend Council to force the Conservative administration to suspend Cllr Robin:

Not that seasiders would know this from their local press. With Blaine’s future as a councillor in doubt in the wake of his suspension, regional media in Essex finally jumped on the story. But the Southend Echo completely overlooked Richard Howitt’s role in calling for Robin’s suspension — implying that the Southend Tories had acted decisively without external pressure.

This was followed by yesterday’s BBC Radio Essex interview, more Newsround than Newsnight, which blithely accepted Blaine Robin’s explanations at face value.

This won’t be the last time that the blogosphere drags the mainstream media, kicking and screaming, towards a story. Unfortunately for local residents, however, we can’t force them to drink.

  1. Even local Labour cllr (and I think their leader on the council) Ian Gilbert accepts that Blaine is neither rascist nor islamaphobic.

    http://victoriavoice.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/southend-in-the-news-for-the-wrong-reasons/

    Infact he seems largely to agree with the Tories that this really is just a serious error of judgement.

    When the racist outrage your trying to promote is over black man who stands up for gypsy’s, organises ‘international peace conferences’ and speaks to the UN on behalf of Tamils, maybe you should just drop it before this starts looking like a really rather nasty smear campaign.

  2. Muhammad Haque says:

    I am interested in your point about the absence of “local media” in the domestic UK political coverage. This is not confined to South end or indeed to the “South East” of England. This is the case all over the UK. And there is no mystery as to why this is so. There is really no longer any “local media”.
    What there is in the place of local media is “media conglomerates” sited “locally” to create or rather capture the market share in the commercial revenue that “local news” still generates. And the fact that there is no longer locally owned and locally connected ownership of local media in the UK is also to do with the abolition of local democracy by the blatant abuse of local electrons for the furtherance of anti-local agendas. All the “main political” parties intuitionally installed in the UK are guilty of the failure there. It is more than ironic that a European Parliament member’s intervention was the critical factor in getting your particular “incident” into the “news”!
    There is therefore a huge gap, deficit in the UK. It is a deficit in democracy and the country is the poorer for it. I challenge Liam Fox to explain why an MEP had to intervene when the “local” MPs and the local councillors stayed silent. Will Nigel Forage care to explain? And if Theresa May – who was last week at the centre of a “smear” about a UKIP “speech”, show her constitutional law grasp and her political originality and explain why so many of the “Home Councillors and MPs” routinely remain careless and indifferent to what is being done to and against their loc al communities?
    Has Mrs May a tangible, decent, democratic answer? For if she hasn’t – and if the others I name as contextually relevant and representative samples of mainstream post holders and power seekers remain equally silent or indifferent – then the likes of the allegedly extremist and fringe groups cannot be blamed if they then move in and “fill the gap”!
    In the August 2011 run up to an alleged threat to Tower Hamlets on 03 September 2011 where orchestrated displays of “demand for banning political marches” were staged with the unbelievable participation of most of the self-styled “anti-fascist” groups, individuals and factions supporting bans, it was noticeable that the “local” “elected” “councillors” on Tower Hamlets Council failed to speak up for democracy.
    The facts are that if anything the “councillors” as well as “MPs” and the “London Assembly” interests all in effect echoed the “ban the marches” orchestra.
    Why have they been silent? Without finding the truthful and ethical, legitimate and democratic answer to this question, your question cannot be answered. Why so? Because when “elected” local councillors do not speak up for local peoples’ democratic say on issues and “local state decisions” that affect local peoples lives so comprehensively as is the case now a days, there cannot be any basis for a “local press” to be expected to do the reporting. The gap, as I have shown above, is even wider and deeper.

  3. It’s a bit harsh to accuse the Echo of being afraid to address the issue – it was on their front page! The gripe here seems to be a lack of acknowledgement of the Labour Party’s role in getting cllr Robin suspended. This may be annoying for Richard Howitt but, from a reader’s point of view, does not really detract from the main thrust of the story. Did Mr Howitt or anyone from the local party contact the Echo to let them know what he’d done?

  4. Sean callaghan says:

    The problem being is racism is set firm on both sides of the fence from muslims,to far right groups and realy all that it is is a fear of the unknown becuse their has been a failure to try and understand diversity and multi culturism, and maybe if we stepped outside our concrete boxs we call home and spoke to our neighbours and alike maybe we could gain a better understanding of social groups and diverse culture,when the media has more or less installed this anti islamic fear into our culture the same as hitler did about the jews in germany, islam will take over ur towns courts when in reality most muslims are hardworking pilars of the community,and i can almost garuntee that these so called far right groups will use a late night conveinence store which are mainly run by asians and do u know why this is because english store owners would shut up at six,so my point is at the end of the day a majority of far right group members are sweeped up along with the tide and unless we break barriers and try and learn about diffrent veiws we will be stuck in this vicious cycle of extremism from what ever point u come from.fueled by the media,Mr robin has worked hard with all social groups this is a political assasination attempt to quell conservative control in southend the facts are he was their but never stood up on any stage in support of the edl the video showed the speaker said he congratulated mr robin for not being closed minded and willing to listen before passing judgment so if being open minded is a crime god help us because we all have free will and a brain to think and a moral compass i apologise if this went slightly off topic these are justbmy thoughts and feelings

  5. In fairness, the Echo couldn’t just run a story that said “we think this video might show Robin at at EDL meeting, a bit, maybe” – it would have been a bit weak. They waited until there had been an event – Robin being suspended – to make an item out of it. Otherwise it would just have been a floppy bit of speculation. I loved the latest bit of reporting on it in yesterday’s Echo, when the Tories admitted they were always aware of Robin’s ELD involvement but that they only suspended him when media pressure was applied.

  6. Sean callaghan says:

    Erm it seems my responce to rachel was removed for some reason maybe it struck a chord with the eople on this blog and rachel it wasnt an attack on u ,however i feel i have wasted to much effort to repost the whole thing again selective bloging at work .well thankyou everyone who took time to reply to my posts or even read them,
    Regards sean of the family callaghan

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