In just 24 hours the Conservative Party revealed the true extent of its racism

Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom
Fréa Lockley

It took just 24 hours for the lid to truly came off and reveal the full extent of racism in the Conservative Party. Conservative MPs, including cabinet ministers and an entire government department made a series of racist comments. Some passed these off as ‘gaffes’ or errors. But they reveal a dangerous pattern of racism in the party.

“Coloured woman”

On 7 March, Amber Rudd got the ball rolling when she referred to Labour’s Diane Abbott as “a coloured woman” live on BBC Radio 2‘s Jeremy Vine Show.

Rudd later apologised saying, she was “mortified at my clumsy language”. But as Abbott said, Rudd used “outdated”, “offensive” language and a “revealing choice of words”.

Rudd’s work as the boss of the Department for Work and Pensions shows a similar lack of compassion and outdated views:

And many people pointed out that as home secretary, Rudd was also the architect of increasingly hostile and violent immigration policies:

It didn’t stop there…

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has repeatedly asked the government to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. On 7 March, Labour MP Naz Shah called on Andrea Leadsom to call a debate, “given the scale of it”.

Leadsom claimed the Conservative response has been “extremely robust”. Yet she also told Shah to: “Seek an adjournment debate” and discuss the issue “with Foreign Office ministers”.

Shah’s response was scathing:

On 7 March, Shah wrote to Theresa May stating that Leadsom:

played into the idea that Muslims born in our country are “foreigners” or somehow less British than the rest of us… This comment exposes a profound ignorance of race issues at the top of government.

Many people also expressed outrage over Leadsom’s comment:

This is a crucial issue, not least because Islamophobic hate crimes in London alone rose over 31% in 2017/18.

“Fancy an African Adventure?”

Later that day, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was forced to remove a series of job vacancies posted under the tagline “Fancy an African Adventure?”

As Buzzfeed reported, an FCO employee said this:

Harks back to colonial-era fantasies of a temporary tropical getaway as a character-building career boost.

Many people expressed concerns about the advert:

Ignoring racism

On 7 March, the Guardian also reported that Conservative party chair Brandon Lewis is:

Accused of ignoring repeated pleas by Tory members to investigate alleged racist and Islamophobic incidents, including a claim that a white senior party official referred to an Asian councillor as an orangutan.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has been leading the call to investigate Islamophobia and all forms of racism in the Conservative Party for some time. On 7 March, she highlighted Islamophobia in the party in a series of tweets:

Enough is enough

With so much blatant Conservative racism on show, even the BBC‘s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted:

Although her language was criticised:

It wasn’t difficult to join up the dots:

Yet on 8 March, James Cleverly, deputy Conservative Party chair, excused all this saying, “we all make mistakes”, claiming the comments were just a “slip of the tongue”.

But these are not “mistakes”, “own goals” or gaffes. This is out-and-out racism. Its consequences destroy lives. Enough is enough.

Featured image via Chris McAndrew/Wikimedia and screengrab

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us