A new poll of Conservative Party members has found that they continue to have widespread suspicion, prejudice and hostility towards Muslims.
The poll by YouGov for HOPE not hate found that 57% of party members had a negative attitude towards Muslims, with 21% registering a very negative attitude.
Half of Conservative Party members (47%) believe that Islam is “a threat to the British way of life,” while 58% believed that “there are no go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter.” This figure rose to 66% of those who backed Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership election.
Over a third of Tory members thought that “Islamist terrorists” reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community, compared to 53% who thought it was wrong to blame all Muslims for the actions of a violent minority.
The poll revealed that Conservative Party members hold significantly more negative attitudes towards Muslims than the general public.
In a separate poll commissioned by HOPE not hate, YouGov asked the same questions in a national poll.
Just under a third of the general public (30%) thought Islam was a threat to the British way of life (compared to 47% of Tory members), while 37% of the public thought that there were no go areas where non-Muslims could not enter (compared to 47% of Tory members). And Conservative members were more than doubly as likely to think that Islamist terrorists reflect a widespread hostility to Britain amongst the Muslim community than in the national poll.
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Yet despite this Conservative Party members refuse to believe that their party has a problem with Islamophobia. The poll revealed that 79% said that there is no problem while just 9% think there is. Among Johnson supporters this grew to 86% and fell to 4% respectively.
Only one in six party members (17%) felt that the Conservative Party should be doing more to combat Islamophobia and other racism within the party, compared to 74% who believed that the party was already doing all it reasonably can.
HOPE not hate said: “The polling represents a huge challenge to the party’s leadership, demonstrating that Islamophobia is a widely spread view within the party’s membership. This is underlined by the continued inaction, or tepid action, against members – some of whom are senior members – who engage is outright Islamophobic activity…
“Our polling and the case studies included in our submissions should send a wave of alarm through the party’s leadership. While the party’s leading figures have been keen to rightly call for Labour to do more to tackle antisemitism within its own ranks, with a few admirable exceptions, they have been less eager to call out racism within their own party.
“It is not good enough to only oppose racism when it is also politically expedient to do so. Whether the party – from its leader on down – is serious about tackling Islamophobia within the party will be measured not by warm words but by tangible actions, starting with an admission that the problem exists in the first place.”
HOPE not hate recommends that:
- The Party creates an independent complaints and disciplinary procedure.
- The Party initiates an open and transparent system for suspending members subject to investigations, ensuring a due process and support and clarity for complainants.
- A programme of training for members on Islamophobia, anti-Muslim prejudice and understanding British Muslims be set-up. This programme should include opportunities for all members to learn, compulsory training for MPs and other leaders and a system for requiring those disciplined to partake in it.
- The leadership of the Conservative Party commit to making greater efforts to promote a more positive image of Muslims to members and the wider public and call out anti-Muslim prejudice wherever it is found.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We take any complaint very seriously. There is currently an independent investigation into our complaints processes. We will consider any recommendations to further strengthen our procedures.”