Sayeeda Warsi might have had that “I told you so” feeling recently. As the BBC has reported, “Theresa May has been accused of ‘burying her head in the sand’ over Islamophobia in the Conservative Party … Former party chairwoman Baroness Warsi said the PM had failed to ‘acknowledge’ or ‘tackle’ the problem and this was ‘symptomatic’ of her wider leadership … Shortly after her comments, the party said 14 members had been suspended for Islamophobic Facebook posts”. Now, though, matters are far worse.
At that time, the Guardian noted that “The party was responding to racist and abusive remarks that were discovered and collected online by the @matesjacob Twitter account and made by people who had said or indicated they were members of the party”. That Twitter feed, also called Racists 4 Rees-Mogg, has now made a serious allegation.
That allegation can be put directly. “In this thread, I'm going to prove unequivocally that @BrandonLewis lied to us all on Nov 7th 2018. It wasn’t a harmless lie, it was a deeply cynical abuse of his position. He must resign … The lie: in response to @HopeNotHate’s tweet about Islamophobia, Brandon replied ‘We deal with complaints, none outstanding’. The only logical interpretation of this is that, at that time, Brandon wasn't aware of any unresolved Islamophobia complaints. And that was a lie”.
The thread, where the allegation is backed up, can be seen HERE. It then got worse for the Tories, as the HuffPost explained: “Tory chairman Brandon Lewis has been asked if he misled the public over the extent of Islamophobia in the party’s rank and file … Hope Not Hate’s chief executive Nick Lowles has written to the party boss asking him to explain a statement he made in 2018, saying of Islamophobia complaints there were ‘none outstanding’”. Lowles was also unhappy about Lewis’ statement.
“We took your statement to mean that there were no complaints of Islamophobia outstanding - but we now know that this is not true … Were you trying to mislead us, and via the statement, members of the public? Or are your systems and processes so broken that you did not know your statement was untrue when you made it?”
Lewis has not, as far as is known, replied. But then, he has good reason to be otherwise engaged: as Sky News reported late last night, “Twenty five Conservative members have allegedly been suspended over allegations of Islamophobia, as the party fights off claims it faces a serious issue with anti-Muslim discrimination”. Oh dear, Tories!
There was more. “Among the people reportedly being investigated are a woman who said ‘no Muslim will get my vote’ and another who vowed to ‘stand against the Islamification of our country’ … Another said to be among those suspended was a man who wrote in a Facebook post: ‘I was going through a few magazines the other day down the local mosque. I was really enjoying myself. Then the rifle jammed.’”
39 suspensions so far. And there will be many more. Brandon Lewis has been caught with his trousers well alight. Yet no-one has resigned. As Nick Lowles told Lewis, “it appears clear that the time for a proper, independent inquiry into the Conservative Party’s problems with Islamophobia is now”. What also needs to happen is that Lewis has to go.
If it had been Labour and anti-Semitism, there would have been outrage. Just saying.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at