On Friday, Tory chair Brandon Lewis wrote an article for the Conservative Home website in which he claimed that he and the party had adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to Islamophobia by its representatives:
But that did not appear to be happening in practice, as Buzzfeed’s Stuart Millar pointed out concerning the case of a Tory councillor who had shared Islamophobic material – and was defended by the party’s vice-chair Ben Bradley:
Not ‘immediately suspended’, then – nor even the posts removed until the failure received media coverage.
Labour MP Afzal Khan wrote Lewis a letter, asking for clarification of what was going on:
Khan’s letter was statesmanlike and measured, but expressed the deep concern felt by many Muslims at the Tories’ apparent tendency to turn a blind eye or even cover up racism in their ranks:
The problem is not merely the racist posts of a Tory councillor, but the attitude taken and conflicting stories told by a vice-chair of the party – an approach seemingly backed by the Tories’ communications team. But Lewis’ response was anything but:
So, expressing concerns over a clearly widespread problem and asking for a proper inquiry is just ‘playing politics’ – a far cry from the ‘zero tolerance’ approach Lewis was touting to Conservative Home only a day earlier.
It was a million miles from fitting behaviour – and astonished Buzzfeed’s Millar:
Millar also pointed out that, even though the Tory party now says it has suspended the councillor in question, ‘CCHQ’ has persistently refused to say whether it will also be investigating Ben Bradley’s defence of the racist posts and his completely misleading initial response to Buzzfeed’s enquiry.
Racism in the Tory party appears as deeply ingrained as ever – and the party’s attempts to pretend it’s doing something about it can’t even weather a day before huge cracks expose the bleak reality underneath.
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