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Conservatives in Denial About Islamophobia in Their Ranks

Conservatives in Denial About Islamophobia in Their Ranks

A new survey by the anti-racism organisation, Hope Not Hate, has found deep rooted Islamophobia among the Conservative Party.

The survey polled 1,200 Conservative Party members, finding that more than half believe in conspiracy theories about Islam; have negative view of Muslims; and believe that Islam breeds intolerance and calls for violence.

The findings, although unsurprising, are nevertheless alarming, highlighting the prevailing Islamophobia within the Tory Party.

Although individual Conservatives have occasionally been found engaging in conspiratorial Islamophobia, with the Party HQ promising to take action against them, the findings of the report suggests that the issue runs much deeper.

A Tory Inquiry Was Launched Earlier This Year

The Tory Party launched its so-called inquiry into Islamophobia ‘and all forms of intolerance’ last year. It was promised by Boris Johnson who was put on the spot by Sajid Javid about the issue during televised debates ahead of the Party’s leadership election. Johnson agreed and the inquiry, which campaigners have been calling for since 2015 was launched earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate published its submission to the inquiry. The organisation had already recorded and exposed numerous cases of Islamophobia among the Party ranks.

For the purposes of the inquiry, Hope Not Hate polled 1,200 Conservatives.

The polling found that 57% of Party members hold a negative attitude towards Muslims, with 21% registering a very negative attitude. This is significant in comparison to the negative views held about Jews, Sikhs and Hindus, which is around 22%.

Perhaps more alarmingly, 58% believed in conspiracy theories about Islam such as Sharia-zones and no-go zones. 22% claimed that Islam sought to replace the law with Sharia.

50% expressed belief that Islam breeds intolerance and calls for violence; 41% believed that Muslims refuse to integrate and that Islam promotes physical abuse of women; and 47% believed that Islam is a threat to the British way of life.

Despite Mounting Evidence, Conservatives See No Islamophobia in the Party

Despite mounting evidence of Islamophobia within the Tory ranks, many of those polled claimed that this is no issue. They are in complete denial.

Among those who responded, 79% said that they believe no problem of Islamophobia in the Party. The number rose to a shocking 86% among Johnson supporters. Only one-in-six (17%) said that the Party should be doing more.

Beyond denial, however, the inquiry also showed that the Party failed to take action against the Tories who were caught making racist and Islamophobic comments on social media.

Among those was Rosemary Carroll, the Borough Councillor for Pendle, who was suspended in 2017 after comparing an Asian person to a dog. Carroll remained suspended for almost a year during which he sat on the council seat. After local elections in 2018, she was quietly readmitted.

According to Hope Not Hate, there are almost 40 similar cases of Tory Councillors posting anti-Muslim or Islamophobic content on social media.

Many of them were readmitted, including Martin Oddy, a Tory activist from Leeds, who joked about the Christchurch Mosque massacre by a far-right terrorist. He was back with the party by December 2019.

While some explained their readmission on grounds of taking “diversity courses” or apologising, others, such as John Raper, a Councillor from Ryedale, was not suspended to begin with despite posting numerous racist, homophobic and Islamophobic content for which he has refused to apologise.

The findings of the inquiry lay bare what many already knew, that Islamophobia and racism among the Conservatives is entrenched and systematic, with offenders receiving a slap on the wrist at best.

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