The Trevor Phillips suspension is exposing the British media for the shyster it is

Trevor Phillips
Support us and go ad-free

The Labour Party has suspended Trevor Phillips over allegations of Islamophobia. The response from British media outlets and figures is a sight to behold. Because it’s a far cry from their coverage of alleged antisemitism in the party.


The Times first reported on Phillips’s suspension, describing him as a “pioneering anti-racism campaigner”. The ex-head of the UK’s equality watchdog has a checkered past when it comes to comments on Muslims, to say the least. One Telegraph headline in 2016, for example, read:

British Muslims becoming a nation within a nation, Trevor Phillips warns

That same year, the Daily Mail reported that Phillips said Muslims are ‘not like us’. Who exactly Phillips was referring to in his amorphous ‘us’ is unclear.

Meanwhile, the Times reported:

Comments by Mr Phillips about the failure by some Muslims to wear poppies for Remembrance Sunday and the sympathy shown by a substantial proportion in an opinion poll towards the “motives” of the Charlie Hebdo killers also form part of the complaint.

Phillips has been energetically talking up the differences between ethnic groups for a long while now, though. That’s made him somewhat of a favourite among Britain’s right-wing press. Because highlighting the differences between people along ethnic lines – rather than what unites them – is a pet topic for these rags, of course.

Same thing

On the other hand, these same right-wing rags – along with the rest of the mainstream media – have spent the last four years rallying against these sorts of views in relation to another religious group: Jewish people.

So why are they giving Phillips ample airspace to defend his views, while criticising his suspension?

There are a number of reasons. Firstly, as already mentioned, racism isn’t hard to find in the British press. Islamophobia in particular is a regular feature in content. Indeed, it’s very prevalent in politics too, particularly in the Conservative Party. So it’s unsurprising that figures in Britain’s largely Tory-supporting press are keen to brand Phillips’s views as unproblematic. Conceding they are would be like holding up a mirror to their own faces.

Furthermore, Phillips has publicly criticised Jeremy Corbyn over alleged antisemitism in the party. He was a signatory to a letter that accused the Labour leader of being “steeped in association” with the prejudice. So condemning Phillips won’t reflect badly on Corbyn; it can’t be used as a stick to beat the Labour leader with. Although one Daily Mail columnist did try to turn the suspension into an argument against Corbyn’s leadership:


In short, Phillips’s suspension has exposed Britain’s media for the shyster it is. Not all prejudices are equal in its world. And the ones which get short-shrift are the ones the media can’t use to attack political foes.

Featured image via Good Morning Britain/YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Were we to replace the word ‘Muslim’ with the word ‘Jew’ in his writings and opinions then it would undoubtedly meet ANY test on the definition of anti-Semitism.

      The problem is that whilst it IS socially unacceptable to be anti-Semitic the same doesn’t follow for the abuse heaped on the Muslim population of this, and other, countries. Many of the things said about Muslims were said about Jewish people in 1930s Germany, and this is NOT hyperbole. Whilst, thankfully, there have been many voices defending the rights of Jewish people everywhere I think those who listened only heard half the story. The ‘warnings from history’ that are part of Jewish history are not solely confined to that religion. The warnings the survivors gave us was not to give special treatment to Jewish people, rather it was to treat them only as equal and to heed the REAL message which is to never divide on the issue of religion (among other things)

      In that respect the Muslim population of Britain is becoming as the Jewish population in 1930s Germany. They are ever more afraid of what will come next. We have a PM and an Equalities leader (of all things) who are actively PROMOTING religious hatred. Thus emboldened is it hardly surprising that right wing thugs regularly target innocent Muslim people in our country for discrimination, abuse and violence.

      I am thoroughly ashamed of where this country is now, our grandparents went through a war, suffered losses and hardships to fight against an evil regime which had ideals that stemmed from the kind of atmosphere we are living through now. Now that this passes from living memory we seem, almost instantly, to forget..

    2. Isn`t the fact that he encouraged others to vote for other political parties sufficient on it`s own to expel him .It is against the rules. This is without describing the labour party as”not safe for Jews”which is not true

    3. It’s all about an understanding and, often, the taking out of context ‘nuance’ of or about particular discourse. We know oh so well of the professionalism of grubby delving trollsters who are ‘out to get you’ assiduously researching long into dour dark nights digging out meticulously as with an archaeologist’s zeal throughout a lifetime poking and prodding about in the mud for the prize-of-all-prizes. Until at last after much whittling and sieving amongst smidgens of grime bright shining golden-guilt evidence is unearthed – firmly grasped and held aloft in shaking ordure dripping gnarled hands. We have seen ‘trollstering archaeologist’s’ past triumphs with so many high profile former Labour Party members. Haven’t we?

    4. Islamophobia and anti semitism are two very different things. There are portions of the Islamic community that have demonstrably posed significant risk to society be it through extremist Jihad or grooming gangs. The Jewish community have not had similar issues in their ranks.
      That Khalid Mahmood, a Pakistani born Muslim and the UK’s longest serving Muslim MP has come out strongly in support of Phillips speaks volumes. He has described the charges as ‘outlandish’ and that they add to the sense that the Labour party has ‘lost it’s way.’
      Jennie Formby has defended many of the vile anti semitic bigots in the Labour party for years, so it’s very odd to kick Philips out, as Mahmood has reiterated.

    5. Trevor Phillips has correctly said that Muslims are not a race. One has to wonder though why he described them as a nation. They may not be a race but I believe that it is unlawful in this country to unfairly discriminate against someone on the grounds of their rreligious beliefs….so it is legitimate to challenge someone about their comments on Islam. I think that Trveor Phillips does seem to be unfair. Why did he make the comments about the religion of the paedophiles when he was commenting on the grooming gangs? If you want to attack paedophilia, then attack paedophilia. I don’t think it was right for him to highlight their religion. What was the relevance? Does he seriously think that all Muslims are paedophiles? I doubt it.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.