A Tory MP retweeting a far-right leader highlights just how rampant Islamophobia is

Conservative Party logo and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon
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A Conservative candidate for parliament has sparked outrage after retweeting claims from far-right agitator Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’) about Muslim paedophiles. This news came just days after Yaxley-Lennon gave his backing to Tory leader Boris Johnson. It also comes amid the party’s ongoing failure to address the Islamophobia crisis in its ranks.

Another Tory boosting far-right Islamophobia

Karl McCartney, who was Tory MP for Lincoln from 2010 to 2017 and is standing there again in the coming election, shared Yaxley-Lennon’s post that claimed the government had “made it illegal” to expose Asian grooming gangs, and that Britain was in the midst of an “Islamic takeover”. Anti-racist group Hope Not Hate also exposed that McCartney had a long history of promoting a range of far-right racist content. He later apologised for the retweets.

The news comes on the back of prime minister Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that his party would take a “zero tolerance” policy on Islamophobia. Yet it seems at the time of writing that McCartney is still the Tory candidate for Lincoln.

Johnson himself previously described anti-Muslim bigotry as a “natural reaction” to the “problem” of Islam. And in the week after he compared burqa-wearing women to letterboxes, Islamophobic incidents rose 375%.

The Muslim Council of Britain has called for McCartney to stand down. A spokesperson said:

It is quite clear that Karl McCartney’s endorsement of Islamophobes renders him unfit to be an MP

“Thinly veiled racism”

The issue of grooming gangs has been an extremely emotive issue in society for a number of years. But a peer-reviewed academic study from Ella Cockbain showed the concept of “grooming” to be a racialised crime, where the ethnic background of Asian Muslims accused of it was constantly emphasised in reporting. Meanwhile, the word was much less frequently used in connection to white offenders. Thus, only Asians – almost by definition – could be groomers, in the same manner as the ‘terrorist’ vs ‘lone wolf’ dichotomy we see for mass shooters in the US and elsewhere.

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Cockbain writes that the construction of the ‘Asian grooming gang’ is merely an attempt to “further a political agendum and legitimize thinly veiled racism”, noting that similar xenophobic moral panics have occurred in Australia with fears over ‘Lebanese predators’.

Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein, meanwhile…

Cockbain’s point is most starkly emphasised by the latest allegations against Prince Andrew. Virginia Giuffre claims that she was forced to have sex with him multiple times when she was just 17 years old, and that he took part in an orgy with nine underage girls while on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s private island.

In an instantly infamous interview with the BBC, the prince attempted to defend his actions and his close relationship with the man whom some describe as the “most prolific paedophile” in US history. He initially doubted that he had ever even met Giuffre, before being reminded by the interviewer that there exists suggestive photographs of him with his arm around the teenager’s waist. He also claimed that her detailed accounts of him sweating profusely could not be correct because he had a rare medical condition that made him almost unable to sweat. The mocking headline in the New York Post the next day read “His Royal Dryness”.

The prince insisted that he was never a close friend of Epstein’s. But it was later established that he was the guest of honor at his prison release party, stayed with him in Manhattan many times, and flew on his infamous private jet nicknamed the “Lolita Express” by locals who believed the US plutocrat trafficked and raped children aboard on the way to his private island. The prince defended himself by sayingI admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable”.


In a recent video for Double Down News, British-Pakistani comedian Tez Ilyas took aim at the media coverage of the Prince Andrew allegations. He claimed that, “if Jeffery Epstein and Prince Andrew were… Prince Shokat or… Jaffa Ali… from Rotherham, they’d be a grooming gang” to the media, noting that “Epstein was running this island… flying in the most powerful people from all over the world to come and play at this pervy Alton Towers”.

Ilyas also proposed a novel solution to all this: tax. He said:

When you’re a billionaire, it seems you can get away with all sorts. … Maybe if we taxed him that 50%, he wouldn’t have the money to buy all those islands and that, and then he wouldn’t have been able to solicit all those underage girls… that’s why we need a fair tax system.

In short, the problem is not just Tory candidate McCartney and those he retweeted. It’s also that the “thinly veiled racism” of the grooming gangs debate has essentially been legitimised and echoed by a media that now claims to be shocked.

Featured image via screenshots

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