After years of denial, the Conservative Party set up an arms-length investigation into Islamophobia and other forms of racism within the party. The report from this investigation was released today. In response to the report, Nick Lowles, HOPE not hate’s CEO, released the following statement:
“For many years, Conservative members and activists have complained of Islamophobia within the party. Those complaints were ignored, dismissed, and belittled. The party’s inaction has caused pain and distress to its Muslim members, and to the wider Muslim community. After years of denials, it is now welcome that the Singh Investigation has found that the party’s processes were poor, fell short of basic standards, and are in need of an overhaul. The report recommends an independent mechanism for handling complaints.
“Boris Johnson’s mealy-mouthed apology today for his own comments suggests he still just doesn’t get it. For years, he has used racist language to talk about Muslims and other minorities and today, in the face of this report, all he can muster is a non-apology, expressing remorse not for what he said but that people took offence.
“But the issue of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party runs much deeper than just the few case studies in the report. HOPE not hate did not receive confirmation that our substantial submission to the inquiry was even received, let alone a chance to discuss our findings. If we had, we would have emphasised the deep-seated cultural problems facing the party. YouGov polling we commissioned showed how widespread Islamophobic views were within the membership. Unless that is addressed, reforms to structures and processes will not be enough.
“The report also fails to recognise the institutional nature of the problem. It ignores the cultural issues amongst grassroots members, and how a number of members, including leadership figures, are able to make Islamophobic comments, and are aided and abetted by a complaints system not fit for purpose. This has led to a deep and embedded institutional problem that the Conservatives have been unable or unwilling to address.
“Ultimately, the Conservatives should be judged by their actions, not just their words. As the Investigation says, it will require that everyone in the Party, particularly those in a position of responsibility, follows anti-discrimination principles not just by the letter of the law, but also in the spirit and attitudes that befit a fair, open, modern democracy. The words used by the Prime Minister today fall well short of that and bodes ill for the prospect of firm and decisive action.”