Priti Patel’s behaviour towards her cabinet colleagues is a hot topic right now. The home secretary stands accused of bullying, and a number of her allies have subsequently rushed to Twitter to declare that they ‘stand with’ Patel.
Just as important though, if not more, is how politicians behave towards the public they are meant to represent. And although it’s not getting nearly as much attention as Patel, the Conservative Party just revealed a scandalous fact about such behaviour within its ranks.
Following a report by the anti-racism group HOPE not hate (HNH), which documented vile Islamophobic comments allegedly made by Conservative Party members, a party spokesperson has confirmed a number of suspensions.
The spokesperson didn’t confirm the exact number of members suspended, nor how many of them were elected officials. The spokesperson merely confirmed that, of those HNH identified, the party suspended “all those found to be party members”.
HNH says its report details Islamophobic comments from “more than 20 Tory officials and activists, including six sitting councillors”. The social media messages included statements calling for violence against Muslims, celebrating the death of a Muslim shopkeeper, and accusing Muslims of having an “agenda for world domination”. According to HNH, one comment from a former Conservative councillor read:
Moslems [sic] do not deserve ‘Human Rights’ as we understand them, partly because of their animal-like behaviour, and partly because they reject our Western value system… it is now time to deploy the machine guns.
The Conservatives have long faced criticism for their inadequate response to Islamophobia in the party. Previous polls have shown shocking levels of anti-Muslim bigotry in the party membership. And it goes right to the top of the party, with Boris Johnson having made Islamophobic comments in the not too distant past.
March 2020 and another bunch of @Conservatives caught being bigots 🤷🏽♀️
First complaint was submitted 15th Nov 2015 !
More than 4 Years & 4 months on my Party is still in denial 🤦🏽♀️
Conservative Party suspends fresh batch of members over #Islamophobia claimshttps://t.co/cLfiIguecE
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) March 2, 2020
Now, the party has taken some action. But only after HNH exposed the party members’ Islamophobia to the light of day. Let us not forget either that the party has suspended councillors for prejudice in the past, only to reinstate them quietly later on.
The Conservatives’ handling of Islamophobia clearly isn’t good enough. But unfortunately, the media isn’t holding the party to account over it. The British press’s response to the party’s problem with Islamophobia has ranged from being silent on the issue to ‘joking‘ about it. Compare that to the wall-to-wall coverage of any allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Perhaps that disparity is partly due to the fact that the media isn’t averse to engaging in Islamophobia itself.
Featured image via Wikimedia – Richard Townshend / John Ranson for The Canary
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?