Tory Islamophobia woes continue

The right wing ‘populist’ wing of the Conservative Party, have seized the newspaper headlines this week, as a series of outbursts and media gaffs have exposed what appears to be a deep seated Islamophobia problem within the hierarchy and in the rank and file of the Conservative Party.

First, it was the controversial article in the Daily Telegraph last Thursday by former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, in which she rallied against ‘Islamist and left wing extremists’, alleging them to be ‘in charge of Britain now’ and then the former Deputy Conservative Party Chairman, Lee Anderson accused the Muslim London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, of being under the control of Islamists, with his refusal to apologise forcing his suspension from the party. The train of gaffs continued, as the Deputy Prime Minister, Oliver Dowden, despite dismissing Anderson from the party, refused to accept that his remarks were Islamophobic and dismissed Suella Braverman’s comments in the Telegraph as  ‘legitimate public debate’. We then had Paul Scully, the former Minister for London, appearing on BBC radio repeating an established Islamophobic trope by saying that there are ‘no-go areas’ in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham Spa. His actual words were:

‘There are areas where there are a tiny minority of people who make people uncomfortable about not being of their religion, of their culture, who are misinterpreting their own doctrine. That’s not to say Tower Hamlets itself is a no-go area’

After realizing the scale of upset that his words had caused, Scully attempted to qualify his earlier comments by making further remarks later on the same day in a TV interview. He exclaimed:

‘What I was referring to was that a few years ago you had the Muslim patrols and I think some of those protagonists themselves realise the error of their ways, and I’ve seen other areas where there’s just been pressure upon people worrying about going about in their own area… This isn’t about tropes. There is no doubt there are people in this country that are fearful for going out not just because of Muslim gangs but because of other gangs’

Paul Scully declares parts of Tower Hamlets and Birmingham Spa are ‘No-Go areas’

A spokesperson for the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan responded to Scully’s comments by saying:

‘Unfortunately Paul Scully is resorting to a notorious Islamophobic trope – with the highly offensive and untrue claim that there are ‘no-go’ areas for non-Muslims in parts of London…This comes as senior Tories, including the prime minister, have failed to call out MP Lee Anderson’s vile racist and anti-Muslim comments about the mayor. As a former government minister Mr Scully should be striving to unite our communities, not sending out deeply divisive messages about Muslims’

The next day, Tuesday 27th February, the Minister for Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson, appeared on LBC Radio’s morning show and was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari, to explain exactly what was wrong with Lee Anderson’s remarks that led to him being sacked from the Conservative party. Despite asking the same question six times, Tomlinson refused to give a clear answer, simply repeating that the remarks were wrong. Ferrari then asked three times if the minister regarded Anderson’s remarks as Islamophobic, to which Tomlinson again refused to give a clear answer. Nick Ferrari, then took the rare decision to abruptly and controversially terminate the interview.  

Referencing the comments by both Anderson and Braverman, the Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf issued a statement saying that he regarded the Tories as ‘riddled with Islamophobia’. He added that the claim by Lee Anderson, a Tory Deputy Chairman until last month, was disgraceful and he regarded the comments published by Suella Braverman, the former home secretary of promoting ‘really dangerous conspiracies’


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