EDITORS NOTE: This Article Was Originally Published In June 2018.
THERE was an online and street revolution in Britain this summer. The atmosphere was electric and to those who read Politicalite and other alternative news outlets between May and August 2018 will know exactly why.
In May, our small-scale news website that was set up for a fiver in April 2017 and read by just a few thousand people per day, with a Facebook reach of around 300,000 reached record heights and was seen by over 150,000 visitors in one week.
We saw a social media reach of over 4.2m on Facebook and 13.8m on Twitter. Social media experts will be asking how did we do it? It was simple, we simply started reporting the news.
— Jordan James (@politicalite) June 2, 2018
In 2011, there was an ‘Arab Spring’ in the Middle East and almost immediately after the Arab uprisings began, there was debate over the influence of Facebook and Twitter after both Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were both deposed by social-media led revolutions.
The Pew Research Center said: “The imminent overthrow of Mubarak. In covering what some deemed the Facebook or Twitter revolutions, the media focused heavily on young protesters mobilising in the streets in political opposition, smartphones in hand.”
“Social media indeed played a part in the Arab uprisings. Networks formed online were crucial in organising a core group of activists, specifically in Egypt. Civil society leaders in Arab countries emphasised the role of “the internet, mobile phones, and social media” in the protests and digital media has been used by Arabs to exercise freedom of speech and as a space for civic engagement.”
In July 2012 a report was published by the United States Institute of Peace based on analysis of bit.ly links from the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain.
They concluded: “Bit.ly links, or short URLs, are predominantly used in social media such as Twitter. The authors came to some conclusions that countered the initial assumption that social media was a causal mechanism in the uprisings.”
“Instead, the study suggests that the importance of social media was in communicating with the rest of the world what was happening on the ground during the uprisings.”
A similar thing, albeit on a smaller scale happened here in Britain this summer after right-wing activist and citizen journalist Tommy Robinson was jailed by the British state for reporting on the trial of a Muslim grooming gang.
The working-class wake-up call came after Tommy was jailed for thirteen months after being in “contempt of court” although Mr Robinson was arrested for “breaching the peace” whilst streaming live to 10,000 people on Facebook, following his arrest the video was seen by over half a million people – he was later released on Bail and his jailing was proved to be a “Kangaroo Court.”
Robinson, who was on a suspended sentence for previously reporting outside a court case of a similar trial, had three months left on his sentence. The problem is in this case is that it’s only illegal to film inside a courthouse, it’s not illegal to film in the street or even outside a Courthouse.
The British press and countless broadcasters such as the BBC report outside court-cases, including the one of disgraced TV personality Rolf Harris.
Top picture: The UK MSM reporting OUTSIDE the court.
Bottom picture: Enemy of the state reporting OUTSIDE a court.
— Jordan James (@politicalite) May 27, 2018
A picture’s worth a thousand words. These two pictures must be worth a million. https://t.co/7E2VS27cK0
— Gerard Batten MEP (@GerardBattenMEP) May 28, 2018
The Judge who sentenced Robinson was allegedly seen laughing at a top window as Robinson was arrested for citizen journalism according to reports
He was arrested and jailed for 13 months, all within the short space of five hours and the Judge Marsen QC imposed a “Media Ban” meaning no British news outlets could report the case.
— Jordan James (@politicalite) May 26, 2018
The shocking use of authoritarian laws by the British State sparked a furious backlash not just by his supporters but by people who even disagreed with Robinson and his political views. The main uprising came from ordinary working-class people across Britain.
Politicalite took the decision to ignore the media ban and continued to report on the case of Tommy Robinson – it was a case we felt was in the public interest. We broke the story of the location of his imprisonment, HMP Hull – which was shared over 15,000 times.
We looked back to George Orwell and his famous quote about truth. In his 1949 book “1984” about a dystopian future, Mr Orwell wrote: “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” and we decided to become revolutionary.
At 9 am that Friday morning before Robinson was arrested our Facebook page had a reach of around 300K. At 11.59pm we had a reach of 600K and received over 27,000 hits after being one of the few British alternative media outlets to report on the case. Users were telling us they we’re unable to access the site as so many were trying to read coverage of his arrest and jail sentence and our shared server was overloaded.
The following day, a flash-protest emerged on Whitehall, organised via social media and protesters stormed the Downing Street gates providing a shock to the British Establishment, Politicalite reporter Harry Palmer was on the scene.
Harry said: “The day started slow and a small crowd came together, enthusiasm was existent but not quite raw, for the number count was low. Then out of nowhere appeared an army of people! Flags of the union and England flew high and proud and the ecstatic crowd banded together and unified.
This sudden unification brought about a rattling of the downing street gates of which triggered a police presence en masse. One man passionately climbed on top of the gates and swilled an officer with warm Stella spit-backs. Little to pay for the injustices that would follow.
As the crowd gathered around and speeches became more high rate, London ground to a halt. The speakers held fast, they endured. Though beer was indeed flowing, it is safe to say it was well earned for the sun was beating down heavily.
The buses stopped and were unwillingly abandoned by happy American tourists, keen to embrace their brothers from over the pond. One American questioned: “why did you ever let them take your guns?”.
A question many have been asking across Britain recently, Britain is a country that is pretty laid back, it takes a hell of a lot to get people mobilised and especially get working-class people on the streets to protest something. What triggered the protests across Britain last week was the continuing crack down on the Media, Free Speech and Opinion by the British Government.
Earlier this year right-wing activist Martin Sellner, his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone and Canadian YouTuber Lauren Southern were banned from entering the UK after they planned to attend a free speech rally at Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Now up until that point I did not share the same views as Mr Sellner, but I believed in his right to voice his opinion and looked to Evelyn Beatrice Hall.
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall
It’s a worrying state of affairs when you do not feel safe to voice our opinions in a country that is supposed to be a bastion of Free Speech. I have even sent messages to my loved ones to contact the relevant people if something happens to me so that the world can know. I feel as though I am living in a Middle Eastern dictatorship, did Britain really fight world wars for this?
The week following the Downing Street protest, the mainstream media tried to ignore the those angry at The Government. Online newspapers that did report it such as The London Evening and Metro and The Daily Mail (both owned by DMG) branded all the protesters “far-right” racists and smeared them as drunken louts.
We had posted a video of the Downing Street protest on our Facebook page and it was viewed by over 117,000 people. Britons could see what really happened and it didn’t match the Establishment rhetoric.
Over the course of that week, we had non-stop coverage of the Tommy Robinson story and Politicalite hit over 120,000 smartphones. At one point so many people were trying access our content, the site buckled under the sheer pressure.
We kept up the pressure on the Establishment and by Bank Holiday Monday evening tensions were rising throughout working-class Britain, The mainstream media tried again to smear the supporters of Tommy now known as #FreeTommy supporters and many who had never supported him or shared his views decided to back Free Speech and backed the #FreeTommy campaign.
A change.org poll calling for the release of Robinson was signed by over 500,000 people and BuzzFeed News teamed up with George Soros backed Hope Not Hate to pen an article calling for change.org to DELETE the petition, branding it “Racist.” – A foreign left-wing media entity tried to silence 500,000 people.
News personality Piers Morgan, Blogger Guido Fawkes (named after a man who tried to blow up the British Establishment) sided with The Establishment hit twitter to try to control the situation. They tweeted slanderous messages and smeared the #FreeTommy movement.
They called us “knuckleheads” and “knuckle-draggers.” Guido lost thousands of followers within hours.
Guido Fawkes boycotted. A pity, as it’s been a fantastic website over the years. But the treatment of Tommy Robinson is reprehensible. https://t.co/t34lZzKLvI
— Niall McCrae (@CraeNiall) May 29, 2018
We kindly reminded Piers Morgan of his past at The Daily Mirror (that brought about his Firing) with a Facebook post that was shared over 11,000 times and seen by 245,000 people.
The Guardian’s Media Editor Jim Waterson even responded to a tweet by @Politicalite asking why he had only just begun to tweet about the Robinson story after he was jailed on Friday, with the Establishment version of events. We told Jim that he had “lost his chance to control the narrative” and this was his response.
The Guardian’s Jim Waterson thinks it’s “racist” to question the mainstream media silence in the #TommyRobinson case. He’s now deleted his nasty tweet. No surprise he works at the Guardian and used to work for BuzzFeed. #FreeTommy pic.twitter.com/zBLyMJ8xd6
— Jordan James (@politicalite) May 28, 2018
It was clear that the Establishment could not control the narrative anymore so by Monday – they decided to lift the Media ban after The Independent and small local news-outlet LeedsLive challenged the courts decision on the reporting restrictions.
Moments later, LeedsLive published Tommy Robinson’s home address in a report on his trial. Politicalite automatically knew within seconds of reading the story that the address should have been omitted. Robinson is a divisive political figure, he has received death threats and terror plots to Kill Tommy had been foiled by Mi5 and the Police. The team at Leeds Live clearly had know background on Tommy and they disregarded his families safety and published his address.
Within minutes of the judge lifting the media ban @leedslivenews PUBLISHED Tommy Robinson’s home address putting his wife and children in grave danger. The mainstream media is a disgrace! #TommyRobinson #FreeTommy Read More: https://t.co/Rfjxt5gPKa
— Jordan James (@politicalite) May 29, 2018
We decided to write an article on the actions of LeedsLive and the response was shocking. Within an hour the story had been shared 1,000 times. Thousands of people who had been simmering for days found an outlet and sent responses to the LeedsLive journalists after we encouraged them to voice their outrage. In their thousands they did. We also called for a boycott of more than 200 titles held by Mainstream Trinity Mirror – who own LeedsLive.
The following day we were then smeared by LeedsLive via the Press Gazette for our coverage, they didn’t even call us for a comment and editor Jordan James had to fight to get a statement included.
— Press Gazette (@pressgazette) May 30, 2018
The Sun on Sunday’s Political Editor David Wooding hit Twitter and tried to call those ‘playing at journalism’ idiots.
We hit back and then reminded readers of The Sun or “The Scum” as its known in Liverpool of their coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which led to the City of Liverpool boycotting the paper after they smeared victims of a crushing disaster at a Hillsborough Football Club. A boycott that still exists to this day, with Sun reporters having to hide who they really work for.
Its no surprise the scum at The Sun would side with the Establishment – the paper infamously smeared the Hillsborough victims after the 1989 disaster running the vilest frontpage in history. #FreeTommy #TommyRobinson #FootballLadsAlliance #DontBuyTheSun https://t.co/yK1xYbg0O3
— Jordan James (@politicalite) May 31, 2018
This was the power of social media in action, the establishment tried to silence us, they tried smear us, they tried to jail a man who spoke to us and spoke out against our the issues facing us, but they forgot about the most powerful weapon against authoritarian regimes in the world, Facebook.
Facebook allowed us to voice our opinion, we could join groups and mobilise, we could write our own news and become the storyteller. No longer did we have to rely on the Mainstream Media to tell a distorted story of our lives.
Tommy Robinson supporters outside Leeds court for the demo yesterday . How sad have we become when normal everyday people have to justify who they are whilst lefties on twitter are calling this a BNP & EDL march! He left in 2013. Don’t want to call you thick in public though. pic.twitter.com/bXUQaTH5Dl
— Timo (@Timbotennis47) June 2, 2018
The MSM used what we in the Alt-Media like to call a “media blackout” – it’s when a major Political protest or problem occurs and the MSM simply ignore it. In this case, they could ignore it no more.
A week after Tommy was jailed, the working-class people of Leeds and Manchester came out in their thousands and marched upon the city to protest the events.
— Lucy Brown (@lucyfrown) June 2, 2018
Within hours the British press did something extraordinary, they reported what was actually happening in Britain, they still included smears – but they could no longer keep the situation under wraps – the Alternative media had unwrapped it for the people and we were riding an incredible wave.
— Jordan James (@politicalite) June 3, 2018
On the Saturday, there was a thousand strong March through Manchester and protesters chanted “Ohhh Tommy Tommy! Tommy Tommy Tommy Robinson and marched through the streets of Manchester calling out the man the state tried to silence. Politicalite’s Facebook Live of the March was seen by over 145K people.
The craziest moment of the week and a small ray of light in a very dark turn in the national story of Britain was when Facebook’s Karel Baloun, who was hired by Mark Zuckerberg in 2005 of commented on one of our links about BuzzFeed trying to stifle opinion.
Karel was one of Facebook’s early hires who was hired by founder Mark Zuckerberg as a Senior Engineer and I had researched Karels impact the world via Facebook in University whilst I studied for my Media degree.
I messaged Karel and he replied. They say you should never meet or ‘virtually’ meet your inspirations’ but Karel responded to a message I sent and he amazed me even more by being a down to earth guy and he actually gave me some advice. After being smeared by The Establishment, it was a real feel good moment. He said that Politicalite and the Free Tommy movement seemed to be “riding a wave” and encouraged me to make sure used Facebook to give a voice to those who really deserve it.”
Baloun said: “Seems like you’re riding a powerful wave…” and added: “Just make sure you are using your platform to really help people, to give a voice to people who really deserve it!”
After years of being ignored, I felt like Politicalite and other Alternative News websites are finally gave a form of power back to the people. We gave a voice to those who really deserve it. The working class people of Britain, and in a way that is all thanks to people like Karel Baloun, because without him… we would never be able to tell our story to the world.