THE MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN (MCB) has given a guarded welcome to the Singh Investigation into racism in the Conservative Party – although other commentators have felt that it falls far short of a proper, critical investigation.
In particular, the Investigation rightly recognises that Islamophobia has been a serious issue for the Party and that concerns had too easily been denied and dismissed, says MCB.
Many of the recommendations reflect longstanding concerns of the Muslim Council of Britain which says the Conservative Party must acknowledge the scale of the problem, apologise for the failures highlighted and adopt the Investigation’s recommendations.
THe MCB says that while recognising the sheer scale of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, the Investigation does fall short of acknowledging the root causes of this bigotry. It does not address the structural nature of Islamophobia in the Party, how racism had impacted many elements of its culture, and how the Party had been disingenuous in its public responses. Furthermore, the Investigation fails to cover the polling data highlighting the scale of Islamophobia amongst the Party membership, and does not recommend specific training related to Islam and Muslims as is warranted given the scale of the problem.
Commenting on the outcome of the Investigation, Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “The Singh Investigation report rightly acknowledges the scale of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party and provides some valuable recommendations. The Investigation primarily deals with form over substance. Procedure is important, but it needs to be underpinned by dealing with the deep seated issues of institutional racism. We hope that this is the starting point of the Party’s own self-reflection. Regardless, it is imperative for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to determine whether any breaches of law have taken place.”
The Singh Investigation was ostensibly launched to tackle the concerns of Islamophobia in the Party as raised by the MCB and many others. It was released after several delays, almost two years after Prime Minister Boris Johnson first acknowledged the need for such a review. The Investigation was promulgated amidst much controversy: from the composition of the Investigation, where advisors have dismissed the very notion of Islamophobia, to the Investigation’s restricted terms of reference and its unwillingness to use the term Islamophobia.
The MCB has been a leading proponent of the importance of ridding political parties of Islamophobia. It has shared a dossier of hundreds of cases with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and campaigned against this type of racism endemic in the Party, to be taken seriously for many years: starting from Zac Goldsmith’s bigoted campaign for Mayor of London. The MCB shared its views on the inquiry in a letter, which is in the Appendix of the Investigation.
The Investigation itself included a number of important recommendations:
- A completely revamped and transparent complaints process.
- Upgrade to the Code of Conduct.
- The importance of reopening cases that have fallen short of the expected standards, albeit without an appeals process for historic cases not covered in the Investigation.
- A community outreach strategy with a particular focus on improving meaningful engagement with Muslim communities
It demonstrates the validity of many of the arguments made by the Muslim Council of Britain within the last few years.
The MCB has also laid out a number of additional recommendations (all documented within the letter to the Singh Investigation in Appendix 3.3), which it believes are necessary to start the Party on the journey to tackle the endemic Islamophobia it faces:
- Apologise for the Party’s most prominent failures in tackling Islamophobia.
- Take action against historic cases previously wrongly dismissed to demonstrate the no-tolerance policy in action: examples where action is required include Bob Blackman MP, Nadine Dorries MP, Mike Fabricant MP and Stourbridge Conservative Association (following the evidence by Kyle Pedley).
- Adopt the APPG Definition of Islamophobia.
* Read the Singh Report here See Appendix 3 for the MCB’s views shared with the investigation.
* Source: Muslim Council of Britain