Former British Chancellor Sajid Javid has urged the governing Conservative Party to act tough on Islamophobia, as he revealed that he was blocked from standing in a safe Tory seat on the basis that its constituents would not vote for a Muslim MP.
Writing in The Times, he urged the party to implement the recommendations of an independent report that investigated internal incidents of Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination. Javid said the party must act “without delay” and “set an example” for others to follow.
The inquiry, led by Prof. Swaran Singh, a former commissioner of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), found that anti-Muslim sentiment “remains a problem” in the party.
Javid, who called for the inquiry while running for the party leadership in the summer of 2019, said anti-Muslim sentiment is “unquestionably a problem,” and welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to fully adopt the report’s recommendations.
The review called for the party to produce a mandatory code of conduct within a year. Amanda Milling, the party’s co-chair, said all the recommendations would be enacted, and committed to publishing an action plan within the next six weeks.
While the inquiry found that there was widespread Islamophobic sentiment, it said there was no evidence of systematic or institutional bigotry because the party did not treat complaints about Islamophobia differently from other forms of discrimination.
The inquiry found that two-thirds of complaints sent to the party were Islamophobia-related, and that there was “anti-Muslim sentiment” at local levels and among the party grassroots.
“While the party leadership claims a ‘zero-tolerance approach’ to all forms of discrimination, our findings show that discriminatory behaviours occur, especially in relation to people of Islamic faith,” the report concluded.
Lord Sheikh, founder and president of the Conservative Muslim Forum, welcomed the report. But former Cabinet Minister and Conservative Party Chairwoman Baroness Warsi — who has vocally campaigned against Islamophobia within the party — said there is an “obvious” racism issue among the Conservatives, and called for the EHRC to investigate. The EHRC said it will respond after evaluating the report’s conclusions.