An independent review into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party has found widespread evidence of anti-Muslim sentiment in the ruling party but has stopped short of calling the Tories institutionally racist.
Overseen by the former equality and human rights commissioner, Professor Swaran Singh, the review analyzed 1,418 complaints relating to 727 separate incidents as recorded in the Conservative Party’s complaints database between 2015 and 2020.
The 44,000-word report draws a picture of widespread Islamophobia and discriminatory attitudes and conducts across the length and breadth of the Tory Party, particularly at local association levels.
But remarkably the report does not draw the obvious conclusion: that the Tory Party is institutionally Islamophobic.
Among the highlights of the review is that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s comparison of Muslim women wearing a burka to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” was “insensitive to Muslim communities”.
Johnson made the comparison in a column for the Daily Telegraph in August 2018, when he was a backbench Tory MP.
Furthermore, the review found that Lord Zac Goldsmith ran a “racist” and “Islamophobic” campaign against Sadiq Khan during the 2016 London mayoral election.
Beyond specific instances of Islamophobia, the review found “clear evidence” that the Tory Party’s complaints system is “in need of overhaul”.
As part of his conclusions, Professor Singh called on the Conservative Party leadership to publish an action plan within the next six weeks to demonstrate how it plans to address the report’s findings.
Professor Singh also called on the ruling Tories to “produce and implement” a new code of conduct for party members within the next six months.
Not surprisingly leading Tories have rallied round the report especially as Professor Singh has stopped short of calling the party institutionally racist or Islamophobic.
Conservative Party co-chairwoman Amanda Milling has said the party accepted “all the recommendations” contained in the review.
Former Tory Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said the report contained “distressing examples of anti-Muslim sentiment” but was at pains to insist that PM Johnson was not Islamophobic and “respects anyone from any background, any community”.
However, there was a more critical and trenchant reaction from former Tory co-chairwoman, Baroness Satyeeda Warsi.
Baroness Warsi – who has transformed herself into a leading critic of the Tories on issues related to Islamophobia – told Sky News the review showed that “the party was institutionally racist”.