James O'Brien's reaction to the "staggering" report of Tory party Islamophobia

6 March 2020, 13:22

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien talks to the Muslim Council of Britain about their "staggering" expose of the Conservative party's Islamophobia.

The report has found that 300 people currently in the party ranks have publicly expressed anti-Muslim views.

Spokesperson Miqdaad Versi listed "astonishing" examples from the report of people saying "Muslims should be sterilised", "thrown off bridges" and "deported."

"They dismiss anyone who says anything, they deny it's a problem in the first place, and they actually deceive the public," Mr Versi continued, "the former chair Brandon Lewis was public and said there's no outstanding complaints.

"Hope Not Hate said here are three complaints, you're just lying and he wasn't able to answer."

Mr Versi accused the party of spouting "meaningless platitudes" like a promise to take "swift action" and never fulfilling them.

"Boris Johnson the Prime Minister says one bounce and you're out but the number of cases where individuals have silently or secretly let back into the party, it's crazy.

Miqdaad Versi said that Tory MP Brandon Lewis was accused of lying after he said were no Islamophobic complaints
Miqdaad Versi said that Tory MP Brandon Lewis was accused of lying after he said were no Islamophobic complaints. Picture: PA

"You look at it and it's not an issue of one individual case, it's an issue of cases across the party from memberships to councillors to representatives to MPs."

He said a poll has found that two thirds of the party membership believe that parts of the UK are under Sharia law.

"These far right conspiracy theories have infected the party to a level that you wouldn't expect!" Mr Versi said. He added that as many of these examples have been found on social media, the cases within the party are probably a much higher number as many Tory members are older and not on social media.

James pointed out that his sympathy was not only for Muslims but for those who genuinely believe these lies about Muslims as they are being "held hostage by hatred."

Mr Versi agreed that these views are fermenting and spreading to wider society: "If we want Islamophobia in society to be tackled, we need the government to get their house in order."

James reflected that a party whose "power rests on propagating views like this is going to be concerned enough to address people following their lead."