Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary
I do confess, though, to being baffled as to what Robinson has done in the past few weeks that prompted such concerted action, not least because it isn’t clear that he was barred from these platforms for breaking the law. The contempt allegation relates to a video Robinson posted on Facebook last May and, in any case, the decision to proceed with his prosecution was announced after he was banned from the platform.
Perhaps more interesting than the social media ban, though it attracted less attention, was Amazon’s decision to withdraw Robinson’s anti-Islam book from sale. I very much doubt that it is a riveting read. The book’s blurb is a mixture of conspiracy theory and self-help, promising the reader that they will “understand the Qur’an within minutes instead of months,” and to unveil secrets that Western elites have “had proof of for over 150 years.” It claims to provide “the knowledge to make politicians find some backbone.”
Robinson’s co-author, Peter McLoughlin, says he worked as a postgraduate researcher and teacher in several British universities, before realizing that they were hotbeds of “cultural Marxism” (a phrase that appears several times more in his self-penned biography on Amazon).
I spent some time trawling through McLoughlin’s page on Gab. It is mostly inane for the same reason that most social media is inane: Nobody is a genius if one can read their every passing thought. But he is well within the nexus of the alt-right. Amazon suggests that, if I like his books, then I might like Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer
I don’t believe that Amazon banned this book for commercial reasons. Amazon sells a good number of offensive books and, unlike a social media site, there is no confusion between the platform and the publisher. Amazon is simply too convenient for a boycott to have much effect
It is no surprise that Robinson and McLoughlin ended up writing together, although, given their relative fame, I think McLoughlin got the better end of the bargain. Robinson has a long, if inconsistent, track record of concerns about Islam and Muslims. In the late 2000s, he set up the English Defence League, a far-right campaign group-cum-political party apparently populated with football hooligans.
A few years later, he left the group in a shower of publicity, apparently reformed while working on BBC TV programs "The Big Questions" and "When Tommy Met Mo." If this reformation was genuine, it was short-lived, as not long
The ability of the far right to monetize its views is one of the most interesting features of the social media age. Confected outrage goes both ways: The “woke” Twitterati may be able to launch a witch-hunt against a public figure for something they said a long time ago; but, equally, those who see it and disagree will find their own champions. Robinson’s former assistant told the Times that “your outrage, valid as it is, will be monetized.”
This takes us back to Amazon removing his book. According to McLoughlin’s figures (not quite an independent source), sales rocketed from that moment. I don’t imagine it would have attracted masses of attention otherwise.
Of course, the reaction of the media and political elites to the likes of Robinson doesn’t help. Cries of “Islamophobia” are a waste of breath to those who don’t care, and off-putting to those who think that Robinson might have a point. That latter category can be worked with, if we stop treating them as racist, and start thinking of them as a significant part of our voting population.