While the Tories and their pals in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate were hammering Labour for alleged anti-Semitism, it should have occurred to them that their record on racism was not exactly squeaky clean - neither the harbouring of it, the doing of it, nor the turning a blind eye to it for fear of upsetting someone important.
So The Blue Team did nothing about Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, who endorsed anti-Muslim sentiment on social media, hosted a known hate preacher at the House of Commons, and supported moves to preserve anti-Dalit prejudice, the effective importation of the racism of the Indian sub-continent to the UK. That last item also had Blackman’s Parliamentary colleagues Matthew Offord and Mike Freer on board.
As Sky News has reported, “Baroness Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in cabinet, revealed she has spent two-and-a-half years raising the issue within the party. The Muslim Council of Britain has now called on the Tories to launch an independent inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia. The group said the last month had seen weekly incidents of Islamophobia from Conservative representatives and candidates”.
There was more. “Baroness Warsi told Sky News the issue was a long-running one for the Tories and ‘was an issue for us long before the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party became public … What's really concerning for me is that the frequency of these incidents seems to be now increasing, whether that's because there's now more public awareness about reporting these issues”. And more.
Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain has written to Tory chairman Brandon Lewis detailing a whole host of particularly nasty Islamophobic acts from Tories - before reminding Lewis about Zac Goldsmith’s vicious campaign against Sadiq Khan in the run-up to the 2016 London Mayoral election. But it is what is not mentioned that is worse.
The Tories’ press pals have been piling on the Muslim-bashing for some time now: whether it’s the Daily Mail’s talentless and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn, professional slob and amateur human being Rod Liddle at the Sun, Andrew Norfolk having his credibility trashed by the Murdoch press in order to push a totally untrue narrative over the “Muslim fostering” case, or any number of Islamophobes at the increasingly desperate Spectator, the impression of rank and rabid bigotry is inescapable.
That’s before wheeling out faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh and his now infamous Sun article which talked about “The Muslim Problem”. All those publications mentioned in the last two paragraphs back the Tories, Theresa May and her pals having made the ultimate Faustian pact with the press in exchange for sweeping all the years of bad behaviour under the carpet and shelving Leveson Part 2.
And that is where the Tories really do have a problem: they cannot truly cleanse their own Augean stables without their press pals backing off as well. The problem they have is that the relationship with the press barons for which they have volunteered is distinctly asymmetric: they do what they press wants (bin Leveson 2), but the press won’t drop the Muslim-bashing bigotry even if Theresa May goes cap in hand and asks them nicely.
As David Lammy told them, you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Get that one scratched!