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Black Conservative councillor suspended for meeting English Defence League

Cllr Blaine Robin, a Conservative councillor in Southend, has been suspended after attending a meeting of the English Defence League. The association seems to have arisen from the high personal regard Cllr Robin has for Steve Riley who is a member of the English Defence League and a resident of Kursaal Ward which Cllr Robin represents. Cllr Robin has praised Mr Riley several times over various community initiatives.

I don't think presenting Cllr Robin as racist or extremist stacks up. Not so much because he is black but also because I couldn't find any evidence of expressing any intolerance or hostility to any minority group. On the contrary he has spoken up for the Tamils. Also when some Romany Gypsies were frightened of being attacked he spoke up for them. When Cllr Robin was elected in 2008 he defeated a BNP candidate.

The misjudgment is that Cllr Robin seems to have been persuaded by Mr Riley that the EDL are some sort of decent, patriotic, non racist organisation. In fact the EDL is an appalling organisation that revels in violence. This is pretty well established.

It is right that Cllr Robin has been suspended while the whole matter is investigated. I suspect the investigation will conclude that Cllr Robin is a hard working councillor with mainstream opinions but that he has been guilty of terrible naivety. He should be a bit more sceptical about people - even if  they do have the exalted status of being residents of Kursaal Ward.


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