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.