Disaster? What disaster? Senior Tories shrug off Islamophobia warning | Politics


Conservative MPs didn’t appear too involved as Girl Warsi sounded the alarm that their social gathering was institutionally riven with Islamophobia.

“I don’t actually consider we’ve got that massive an issue,” stated one former minister, who appeared shocked to be requested in regards to the subject.

When 14 members of the social gathering have been suspended for allegedly Islamophobic feedback on a Fb group supporting Jacob Rees-Mogg, the response was to attempt to deflect consideration on to Labour.

“Islamophobes don’t have any place within the Tory social gathering and it’s encouraging that we’ve got acted swiftly, in contrast to the socialists,” Rees-Mogg pronounced.

From a lot of the remainder of the social gathering, there was a deafening silence. Brandon Lewis, the Conservative social gathering chairman, responded to Warsi on Twitter accusing her of “lacking out on key information” in regards to the social gathering’s “clear course of” and “swift motion”.

Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis, the Conservative social gathering chairman, hit again at Warsi. {Photograph}: Ian Forsyth/Getty Photographs

The impact has been to make Warsi – a Muslim girl who has personally suffered vicious abuse – appear like she is combating a lonely battle to get her social gathering to acknowledge that the issue goes deeper than just a few unhealthy apples.

In the meantime, Lewis has been tweeting sympathetically to a Labour MP complaining about antisemitism and criticising Jeremy Corbyn for not doing extra. And there are few indicators that the Conservative management is heeding warnings that this gleeful taunting of Labour may backfire.

Mohammed Amin, the chairman of the Conservative Muslim Discussion board, stated he had been telling Lewis that extra motion wanted to be taken on Islamophobia for a very long time however Conservative headquarters had made clear there could be no unbiased inside inquiry into anti-Muslim hatred.

“The social gathering management remains to be in that stage of ‘retains wishing that the difficulty would go away’,” he stated. “Day-after-day when native councillors subject social media tweets denigrating Muslims and typically MPs retweet this stuff … primarily, each time issues like that occur, the place of the Conservative social gathering with British Muslims takes a step backwards. It’s electorally damaging to the social gathering.”

He stated the social gathering’s strategy to the Muslim group had “gone backwards”, together with Zac Goldsmith’s London mayoral marketing campaign, Boris Johnson’s feedback about girls in burkas resembling letterboxes and Theresa Could’s post-Brexit try and woo Ukip voters.

“Denial is the primary method that almost all organisations react to accusations of this type,” Amin stated. “It takes quite a bit for longstanding Conservatives to rock the boat. The social gathering has an extended historical past of unity moderately than overtly arguing its case. However Baroness Warsi, Lord Sheikh and myself have accomplished this as a result of we care in regards to the social gathering and we care in regards to the nation.”

With just a few Conservative voices talking out publicly on the difficulty, the social gathering doesn’t but appear to have reached the identical stage of seen political disaster as Labour has on antisemitism, following Jewish MP Luciana Berger’s resolution to stop the social gathering in protest at its failure to do sufficient to sort out antisemitic abuse.

However one Conservative Muslim parliamentarian, who didn’t wish to go on the report, stated they felt the issue of Islamophobia among the many social gathering’s rank and file is perhaps simply as widespread however extra underneath the radar, particularly because the social gathering had far fewer activists and an older help base who have been much less prone to be lively on social media.

Whereas many Conservatives are reluctant to inflame the difficulty by talking out, Anna Soubry, the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, who stop as a Tory MP over Brexit, stated she had witnessed the management’s unwillingness to grip the issues brought on by a drift to the suitable.

She stated she wouldn’t go up to now to say that the social gathering was “institutionally Islamophobic” however there have been too many examples the place folks with anti-Muslim views had not been booted out.

“This unwillingness to know the issue and root it out comes from a scarcity of management and going through as much as the actual fact there are a major variety of Conservative members with publicly acknowledged views which are odious and offensive and so they don’t have any place within the trendy Conservative social gathering,” she stated.

“Brandon Lewis and Theresa Could won’t face up and take care of the truth that the social gathering has drifted to the suitable and has been infiltrated. The issue is that Brandon simply received’t grip the issue and while I don’t doubt he abhors Islamophobia and different types of racism, he’s unwilling to take swift and environment friendly motion to expel folks.”

Matthew McGregor, the campaigns director of the anti-racist charity Hope Not Hate, stated there have been indicators that the Conservatives had “wilful blindness” about Islamophobic views of their rank and file. The organisation’s analysis discovered that 49% of Conservative voters see Islam as a risk to the British lifestyle and 47% consider the false conspiracy principle that there are areas the place sharia legislation dominates and non-Muslims can’t enter.

“It does appear that extra folks on the core of the Labour social gathering are lastly understanding left antisemitism as an issue in itself – not simply electorally – and are talking out extra forcefully,” McGregor stated.

“There’s a strategy to go, and actions will communicate louder than phrases, however the floor is beginning to shift. It’s not clear that the Conservative management perceive the size of the problem they face with Islamophobia within the Tory social gathering. They should acknowledge the issue in the event that they’re going to sort out it.”

He stated one strategy on each side that critically wanted to be averted was any tribal try and divert consideration from complaints about racism by pointing to a different social gathering’s report. “When each Labour and the Conservatives have critical points with racism inside their ranks, it has been grim to see both sides commerce blows over who’s worse. Political point-scoring over the size of the opposite social gathering’s points is simply gross.”

Regardless of the temptation for politicians to attain factors, Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future strain group, stated all events must be listening laborious when members of a sure religion stated they have been being made to really feel uncomfortable.

“If you’re a celebration that desires to control, the check of you as a celebration is that nobody who has acquired your values ought to really feel a pressure with their identification, religion and background,” he stated. “It’s positively true that many Jewish folks really feel that about Labour. And the Conservatives must be listening to the Muslim members of their very own social gathering who really feel there is a matter that wants a proactive stance, not simply throwing out folks as soon as proof involves mild.”

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