Tory Islamophobia: Anti-Muslim sentiment ‘remains a problem’ within Conservative Party, report finds

Anti-Muslim sentiment “remains a problem” within the Conservative Party, an independent report has found.

Professor Swaran Singh, a former equality and human rights commissioner, analysed 1,418 complaints relating to 727 separate incidents as recorded in the Tories’ complaints database between 2015 and 2020.

In a 44,000-word report on his findings, he said: “Judging by the extent of complaints and findings of misconduct by the party itself that relate to anti-Muslim words and conduct, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party.

“This is damaging to the party, and alienates a significant section of society.”

Prof Singh’s review was published almost two years after all five candidates in the 2019 Conservative leadership contest – including eventual winner Boris Johnson – committed to an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia within the party.

He also found:

• Two-thirds of all incidents reported to the complaints team at the Tories’ headquarters related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination
• Three-quarters of all incidents recorded in the Tories’ complaints database involved social media
• High-profile incidents, such as remarks made during Lord Goldsmith’s London mayoral campaign and Mr Johnson’s comments on Muslim women in burqas, “give the impression to many that the party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslim communities”
• The Conservatives’ complaints system is “in need of overhaul” due to its “under-resourced and inadequately trained” complaints team, a “weak” data collection system, and “poor” communication between officials, complainants and respondents
• There has also been a “lack of transprency” in the complaints process, while there are no clear guidelines as to which behaviours should attract which sanctions
• But there is “no evidence” that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination
• And allegations of “institutional racism” against the party – such as those made by former Tory chair Baroness Warsi – were not borne out by the evidence available

Prof Singh said parts of his report would “make for very uncomfortable reading among the leadership and the rank and file”.

“Change will be a difficult process that will require a completely new mindset in some quarters, and one that some party members may not like,” he added.

In August 2018, while a backbench MP, Mr Johnson was heavily criticised for comparing Muslim women wearing a burka to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” in a column for the Daily Telegraph.

In evidence to Prof Singh’s investigation, in which he was also asked his previous comments on Islam and references to black people as having “watermelon smiles”, Mr Johnson said he was “obviously sorry for any offence taken” from his past remarks.

“Would I use some of the offending language from my past writings today? Now that I am prime minister, I would not,” he added.

In his report’s conclusions, Prof Singh called for the Tory leadership to publish an action plan within the next six weeks to set out how it will tackle the failings he found.

And, within the next six months, Prof Singh recommended the Conservatives produce and implement a new code of conduct for party members.

In the next year, Prof Singh said each party association should have given equality traning to at least one named member.

Subscribe to the All Out Politics podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Former Tory cabinet minister Baroness Warsi – who has long campaigned on the issue of alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party and previously questioned Prof Singh’s suitability to oversee the review – said she would give his report “full consideration” before offering a response.

Conservative co-chairman Amanda Milling said the party would be responding to the report’s recommendations later on Tuesday.

A spokesperson from the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “We are pleased to see that the independent investigation has now published its report.

“We have been kept informed of the progress of the investigation by Professor Singh and will evaluate his team’s findings carefully.

“We will assess the report alongside the investigation’s terms of reference and await the Conservative Party’s response on the actions they will take.”

Source: Read Full Article