For so long, every prominent Tory prepared to offer a view on the subject - barring the example of Sayeeda Warsi - had denied the party has a problem with racism, and especially Islamophobia. Worse, chairman Brandon Lewis has ducked questions and evaded his responsibilities shamefully, with members suspended for their bigotry then being quietly re-admitted to the fold. But now he really is in the mire.
Any excuses to sell us today, Bran?
Last week, the Tweeter known as MatesJacob offered a most prescient suggestion: “I would love to see a poll of Conservative Party members’ attitudes towards Muslims - we’re assured that Islamophobia is restricted to a tiny minority, are any polling companies willing to prove or disprove that?” Well, quite. And there was more.
“Seriously, any outlet wanting to cover this story in a meaningful way could commission a poll like that, it would be far more comprehensive and credible than my anecdotal data and would make for an interesting story whatever it showed”. Indeed. So if there’s so little in the way of anti-Muslim prejudice in the Tory Party, what’s the problem?
Ah well. As Adam Bienkov at Business Insider has told today, “A new poll of Conservative Party members finds widespread anti-Muslim feeling in the party … Four out of ten members would not want a Muslim person as prime minister with a similar number saying there should be limits placed on Muslim people entering the country”.
That may look bad. But it gets worse. “45% believe that ‘there are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter’ … 67% believe that ‘there are areas in Britain that operate under Sharia law’ … 39% believe that ‘Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community’”. And then it gets a lot worse.
“Both of the candidates for the Conservative Party leadership have committed to holding an inquiry into Islamophobia in the party if they become prime minister … However, today's poll suggests that most Conservative Party members do not believe such an inquiry is necessary, with 79% saying they do not believe there is a problem with Islamophobia in the party”. Those members think their views are not a problem. Hmm.
And one more nugget from the YouGov poll, which was carried out on behalf of Hope Not Hate: “40% of members wanted limits on the number of people of the Islamic faith entering the country, as opposed to just 5% who want to see fewer Christians or Jewish people”.
Then there is the litany of past statements by London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, still favourite for the Tory leadership, which suggest a streak of unreconstructed bigotry, and not just towards Muslims.
So now MatesJacob has an answer. It is an answer that blows away the pretence of Brandon Lewis and every other Tory talking head, the suggestion that Islamophobia is some kind of minor problem for the party, a mere little local difficulty.
The Blue Team has a racism problem. But many out there knew that anyway.
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