As the BBC reported last week, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis wanted the world to know that Islamophobia, and indeed any other form of racism, had no place in his party. “The party has not said how many investigations there are but 14 members have been suspended for Facebook posts. Mr Lewis said ‘swift action’ had been taken when complaints were made”. And he wanted the world to know he meant business.
“He said there was ‘absolutely no place’ for anti-Muslim discrimination in the party”. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, “The Conservative Party has not said how many investigations it has conducted into allegations of Islamophobia against party members in the last year, or how many people have been suspended or thrown out”. That’s most convenient. Bluster and then silence.
But Lewis was serious about tackling the issue. “‘Investigations are rightly kept confidential and may vary in length, so we cannot and will not provide a running commentary on individual cases,’ Mr Lewis said. ‘However, as you have no doubt seen, sanctions include suspensions and expulsions.’”. One Tory member was not convinced.
Sayeeda Warsi’s response contained these telling words: “The party does not take complaints seriously and only does so when there is a huge public outcry”. She has been proved right after those previously suspended for their nailed-on show of bigotry were quietly let back in. You read that right: the Tory Party has readmitted fifteen sitting councillors - FIFTEEN SITTING COUNCILLORS - who had been caught red handed.
As the Guardian has now told, “More than a dozen Conservative councillors who were suspended over posting Islamophobic or racist content online - with some describing Saudis as ‘sand peasants’ and sharing material comparing Asian people to dogs - have had their membership quietly reinstated”. There was more.
“The chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Mohammed Amin, called on the party to publish a set of formal disciplinary processes after the Guardian found 15 examples of politicians who posted content that was deemed objectionable”. So there is no formal disciplinary process. All that criticism of Labour for its disciplinary processes, and now we find that the party doing much of the criticising has none of its own.
It gets worse: it is believed - the Tories aren’t telling right now - that the party has not adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, along with all the examples, for complaints against members. And as there are no formal disciplinary procedures for those Tory members, its effectiveness would be diminished if it were adopted.
Anyone smell hypocrisy here? Some of the bigotry unearthed by the Tweeter called Racists4Rees-Mogg included blatant anti-Semitism. Yet there is no outcry, and on that front, very little action. The Tory sympathisers in the press are not calling for expulsions, which is probably as well, because the Tories aren’t expelling anyone.
When the level of scrutiny that was applied to Labour is applied to the Tories, the racists come crawling out of The Blue Team’s woodwork. Yet many of those caught just get let back in with no more than a mild slap on the wrist. And that’s not good enough.
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