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Tory chaos delayed reforms tackling Islamophobia in party, reviewer finds

24 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Photo Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The chaos at the top of the Conservatives caused delays in fulfilling plans to tackle Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination in the party, an independent reviewer has said.

Professor Swaran Singh said the “turmoil” has affected the Tories’ ability to undertake the reforms he called for in his original inquiry into the issue.

The former equality and human rights commissioner’s review, published on Monday, found the implementation of some of his recommendations has been “slow”.

Training at the local level is “mixed”, and the large amount of documentation in response to the investigation has not necessarily improved “awareness or action on the ground”.

No formal process has been put in place to handle complaints of discriminatory behaviour involving the party’s most senior members, the review found.

Individuals coming forward with allegations were also said to need better care.

“Politics is a rough business, but there is no reason why the complaints process should be indifferent or abrasive to the experience of individuals involved,” the report said.

The churn at the top of the Tories was said to have had an “unavoidable impact on the day-to-day running” of the party.

Prof Singh told the PA news agency: “It just took forever for them to focus on this.”

Since he completed his report in May 2021, Boris Johnson was forced out as prime minister, as was his immediate successor Liz Truss in a period of tumult.

Upheaval

In the report, Prof Singh wrote: “The two years since the publication of the report have seen considerable political upheaval in the UK.

“In that time, the Conservative Party has had three leaders and seven chairs.

“This turmoil has impacted on the party’s efforts to implement our recommendations.

“Change took longer than expected, and challenges resulting from the interdependencies between recommendations contributed to delays in implementation.”

Prof Singh told PA that it has “taken much longer than we expected” to implement reforms.

He cited the “biggest problem” as being tackling issues at the local party level but welcomed fresh action from Tory headquarters as he undertook his review.

In one case detailed in the review, a complainant was further distressed by no sanction being completed after nearly a year from the judgment – and the offending continued “undeterred”.

“No apology has been offered to the complainant, or demanded of the respondents, despite the panel imposing other sanctions,” the review said.

But the team welcomed the “wholehearted acceptance” by the party that it must implement the recommendations.

Prof Singh’s update showed there had been 212 complaints relating to 137 incidents in the three months up to June 2022.

Bullying

Five complaints were categorised as bullying or intimidation, three cited sexual assault, two referred to criminal activity and one was about a member writing on an “alt-right” website.

Prof Singh issued a range of fresh recommendations, including reviewing whether complaints against the most senior members should be handled independently.

Conservative chairman Greg Hands MP said: “The party has made significant progress on Professor Singh’s recommendations with 25 complete and just six ongoing.

“There is however still work to be done and this is a process of continual improvement.”

The original inquiry was established by the party following a series of allegations about Islamophobic behaviour among Conservatives.

It found Mr Johnson describing women wearing burkas as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” gave the impression the Tories were “insensitive to Muslim communities”.


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
8 months ago

….Isn’t it strange how Tory Islamaphobia didn’t and doesn’t get as much press as the allegations against Jeremy Corbyn?

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
8 months ago

Also Cambrophobia

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