Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷 @MikeStuchbery_ Journalist / Historian ★ (@BylineTimes/@TheLocalEurope)★ 'Let everything happen to you, beauty & terror, just keep going, no feeling is final.' ★ ↙️↙️↙️ / ⌛ Jan. 11, 2019 7 min read

Recently I talked about how figures within the British Far Right, centred on ‘Tommy Robinson’, increasingly use live-streaming & crowdfunding services to provide a substantial profile & payday. This is an attempt to pull together existing reporting to give a clearer picture. /1

What I am attempting to do here is not investigative journalism - simply pulling together what is already in the public domain to add weight to my previous thread and encourage further discussion among journalists, activists and interested members of the public. /2

The first thing that needs to be said is that this is not an issue that figures within the government are unaware of. As recently as December, @Tom_Watson was highlighted the Far Right’s use of Facebook’s ‘Donate’ button (since disabled) to raise money. /3  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/08/mark-zuckerberg-must-end-far-right-fundraising-on-facebook-says-tom-watson 

Earlier in 2018, the Charity Commission was made aware by the @Guardian that groups within the Far Right - including the EDL, founded by ‘Tommy Robinson’ - was using Facebook to fundraise under the auspices of 'charity' and 'outreach'. /4

The second thing that must be reinforced is that ‘Tommy Robinson’ himself has been supported from the United States, with both a regular salary, his legal costs, and the costs of running rallies being covered by conservative think-tanks with an anti-Islamic agenda. /5

’Tommy’s’ legal fees and rally staging costs were almost entirely covered by one group - that is to say, the Middle East Forum. Journalists such as Luke Bailey (@imbadatlife) have reported on this at various times in 2018. /6  https://inews.co.uk/news/free-tommy-robinson-funding/ 

We have an idea of how much was being spent per rally by the Middle East - Vinnie Sullivan, a peripheral figure on the Far Right tweeted how he had been excluded from organizing one of the rallies, inadvertently revealing the costs involved. /7

‘Tommy’ was also paid a five-figure salary as a Shillman Fellow, enabled through his work with ‘The Rebel’. These fellowships are funded by Robert Shillman, an American tech billionaire who supports right-wing causes, as reported by @thetimes. /8  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tommy-robinson-winds-up-the-bigots-and-the-cash-floods-in-6kffsh8rk 

In addition to US funding, ‘Tommy’ personally profits from regular appeals to his support base. These are enabled through regular attempts to incite anger over news stories involving Muslims, utilising regular (sometimes nightly) video livestreams and requests for donations. /9

How well ‘Tommy’ has been doing through fundraising & his attitude towards supoorters revealed by his former PA, Lucy Brown, who went to @TheTimes in the midst of a dispute over pay. Her comments (in the article cited previously) are quite revealing. /10

Funds estimated to have been raised via public donations during his imprisonment for contempt of court alone are said to be around two million pounds, according to Brown (presumably), as reported in the @DailyMail. /11  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6300047/Tommy-Robinson-expects-jail-contempt-received-massive-payday-2m-public-donations.html 

That said, it is difficult to know how much he has brought in. It is known, however the he has, over the last few years, put money into a number of ‘shell’ companies in the name of family members. These can be easily found via Companies House. /12

Seeing ‘Tommy’s’ astounding success in crowdfunding, involving himself in regular controversies and news stories to source donations, is it any wonder that many young individuals drawn to him have started their own fundraising efforts? /13

In my last thread I described a few figures that have recently appeared, such as James Goddard and Danny Tommo. Here, I’ll try to articulate a few more younger individuals who have embraced the techniques ‘Tommy’ has had success with, so to speak. /14

Robinson’s former production crew Caolan Robertson, and his boyfriend George Llewelyn-Jones now work with YouTuber Lauren Southern, crowdfunding documentaries on right-wing causes such as European migration & supposed ‘white genocide’ in South Africa. /15

Jordan James has been a supporter of ‘Tommy’ for the last few years, moving closer to him. He set up the Far Right 'Politicalite' website in 2017 - accused by @BuzzfeedUK of soliciting donations while reproducing stories from other outlets wholesale. /16  https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/euronews-right-wing-website-videos 

Jack Buckby, who ran for the Far Right Liberty GB, in Jo Cox’s seat appeared with Tommy on numerous occasions. He hosts a show on The Rebel & writes for the Spectator. He continues to fundraise, recently claiming persecution by ‘Antifa’ for visa woes regarding his fiancee. /17

For a really fantastic piece that talks about this new generation of Far Right activists using digital platforms to enrich themselves, @GenericRedfern has a great piece. /18  https://medium.com/@GenericRedfern/work-experience-for-the-british-far-right-4331435c7ec5 

It must be said, this tendency for fundraising has not gone unnoticed by older members of the Far Right. A YouTube search for ‘James Goddard’ revealed this activist criticizing Goddard for his frequent requests for donations. /19  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taO6qcOv0ZQ 

I have to be clear here - none of what I’ve described here is illegal. Similarly, we see the similar use of fundraising and livestreaming by left-wing activists as well within the UK and abroad. Figures within the Left often work with one another to raise their profiles. /20

However, there arises a significant danger when these young Far Right activists rely on the constant demonization of minority groups, and the sensationalization of complex  and sensitive news stories to maintain their profile and keep the donations flooding in. /21

When ‘stochastic terror’ - sustained, implied threats of violence - are constantly carried through the words and images of these young Far Right activists, then we create an atmosphere where tragedies like the death of Jo Cox become more frighteningly possible. /22

Simply put, put together, these individuals can do much to radicalise young people and make the spectre of Far Right terrorism loom larger within British society - a terrifying prospect, given the chaos and uncertainty over Brexit. /23

I have noted before that blanket calls for banning of these activists from platforms are problematic, since they are effectively able to create ‘free speech’ arguments surrounding them, inflating their profile even further. /24

Fact-checking videos and blogs have some uses, however they will never have the reach and viral nature of these videos in the first place. Logic, reason and facts simply don’t cut through in the same way that an emotive, well-produced video starring these personalities. /25

What is needed, I believe, is two-fold. While activists have been monitoring and following these figures for years, they have had precious little success gaining mainstream attention in several instances. Mainstream media should be more serious about listening to activists. /26

Groups across the country have spent literally thousands of hours monitoring and cross-referencing the movements and statements of these individuals. They have compiled hours of data. They are there, willing and waiting. Ask them what they know. /27

The other area of focus, as I’ve noted before, is the careful scrutiny of what these individuals have to say against the ToS of the platforms they use. Enough attention on violations and social media companies and payment platforms will have no choice but to drop them. /28

Deplatforming works. We’ve seen it with Alex Jones and Richard Spencer. It reinforced just how fringe and harmful their views are. Hate speech is not protected here, nor should it be. The rise in online hate has had a severe impact on politics, civil cohesion & public trust. /29

As I said at the beginning of this thread, none of this constitutes investigative journalism, drawing from sources or anonymous tips. There is nothing gleaned from anything that isn’t available to the general public with an internet connection. /30

That said here’s where I go out on a limb. I have the ability to work with groups and journalists to get stories published that cover these figures. If you have tips or information that may be useful, send it using a ‘burner’ e-mail to [email protected] /31

I hope that gave context and clarity ot some of the things I’ve been saying about the rise of the young Far Right in the UK. Please feel free to contact me to ask any questions that you may have, and thank you for taking the time to read. /FIN

Addendum: I got this while posting. I have no way of knowing whether they're having me on, but if posting a fake Tommy fundraiser bitcoin wallet will get you £5k, who knows how much the guy is making off the radar...

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Threader is an independent project created by only two developers. The site gets 500,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Running this space is expensive and time consuming. If you find Threader useful, please consider supporting us to make it a sustainable project.