Anti-racism campaigners have condemned far-right activist Tommy Robinson, who visited Salford this week in his bid to become an MEP for the North West.
The controversial founder of the English Defence League brought his campaign to Salford Precinct on Monday and Tuesday, describing the event as a ‘family-friendly’ meet and greet.
Robinson supporters in the crowd jeered and chanted during his speech, shouting “Tommy’s a legend” and singing his name outside the precinct.
A counter-rally went ahead in Bexley Square, Salford, to say “No to Tommy Robinson; No to Fascism” which was attended by Salford Labour Councillor Sam Bellamy and the current Labour MEP Julie Ward.
Stephen Yaxley Lennon has put himself at the forefront of a vicious campaign of hatred against the Muslim community.
It’s vital the whole of the anti-racist movement mobilises to stop him gaining a platform to spread Islamophobia & racism.#NoRacismNoFascism #DontVoteNazi pic.twitter.com/CnvBJIEzn1
— Stand Up To Racism (@AntiRacismDay) April 27, 2019
She said: “Tommy Robinson has no place in our community.
“We’ve got four weeks to make people understand the power of their vote at the ballot box. This time round it’s not an option.”
There is also a joint campaign between Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism.
Salford Now spoke to Paul Jenkins, the North West Regional Organiser for Unite Against Fascism.
He said: “The message of our campaign is very simple: use your vote to stop Tommy Robinson at the European elections on 23rd of May.
“The threat of him getting a seat to represent the North West is very real.”
According to Jenkins, Robinson will only need approximately 8 per cent of the vote to secure a position in the European Parliament because of the system of proportional representation across the region.
In his speech at the precinct, Robinson pledged to hold a “non-stop campaign” through the North West of England.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, will be standing as an independent in the election MEP for the North West, despite originally being born in Luton.
The anti-Islamic campaigner said he chose the North West because of the effect of extremists in areas like Oldham and Rochdale.
He added: “If I go to the EU, I’m doing it voluntarily. I am donating one hundred percent of the money I’ll be given from the EU to victims of sexual exploitation.
“I don’t want a penny of it.”
Robinson said: “Our community has been destroyed, everyone’s left, everyone’s run. There has to come a time when people stop running.
“And this is the start if we make history on May 23rd.”
He repeatedly spoke of “forgotten people” and “people like us”.
Robinson explained his decision to run in the North west by saying: “I picked the North West because Labour’s main stronghold is in these areas.
“These are Labour-guaranteed seats. And I think the Labour party have neglected the people of these communities and ignored them for too long.”
Robinson’s campaign has also met a hostile response on social media. His Twitter account has been suspended and campaign videos on YouTube come with a warning that they may contain offensive content.