The Conservative Party is not “institutionally Islamophobic,” a report commissioned by the Tories has found.
Professor Swaran Singh, a former equality and human rights commissioner, analysed 1,418 complaints relating to 727 separate incidents as recorded in the Tories’ complaints database between 2015 and 2020.
His review said Boris Johnson’s comments about women wearing the burka have given an impression that the Tories are “insensitive to Muslim communities.”
It found anti-Muslim views were seen at local association and individual level, but claims of “institutional racism” were not borne out by evidence of the way complaints were handled.
The report also found that:
- Anti-Muslim sentiment “remains a problem” within the Conservative Party.
- Two-thirds of all incidents reported to the Tory Complaints Team related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination.
- Three-quarters of all incidents recorded in the complaints database at CCHQ involved social media activity.
- Where such discrimination was experienced, it was most likely to have occurred at the level of a local Party association.
- Many of those interviewed by the investigation agreed that “Islamist extremism” should not be conflated with Islam, and that concerns about Islamism should not prevent the Party from significantly improving its community outreach efforts into Muslim communities.
- There is clear evidence of a Party complaints system in need of overhaul.
- There is no evidence that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination.
Professor Swaran Singh said: “Racism and other forms of discrimination have a long-lasting and pernicious effect on individuals and communities. We were tasked with scrutinising how the Conservative Party dealt with allegations of such discrimination and whether its policies and processes to deal with complaints of discrimination were fit for purpose.
“Our report should make for uncomfortable reading for the Party and, more importantly, spur it into action. I hope the Party will fully accept our recommendations and implement the changes needed in a transparent and timely manner.”
However, former Conservative chair Baroness Warsi said the report into Tory Islamophobia shows the party is “institutionally racist” – despite the findings saying otherwise.
She told Sky News: “I think the findings of this report show clearly that the Conservative Party is institutionally racist, that’s based upon the definition of what is institutional racism. The way I see it – if it looks like institutional racism, feels like institutional racism, fits the definition of institutional racism – then, I’m afraid it is institutional racism.”
She also said while some of the recommendations “are good and should be implemented… I think we now need an independent Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation because there are flaws to this report.”
Baroness Warsi also said she thinks Boris Johnson “accepts he is part of the problem and that he got it wrong in the past” and although his apology over comments about women in burqas was “mealy-mouthed,” she said “we can move on from that.”