Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Anti-Semitism and Anti-Muslim prejudice

Last year I successfully proposed, in a non-partisan manner which was able to obtain all-party support, that Cumbria County Council should adopt the IHRA working definition of Anti-Semitism.

I said while proposing that motion that no party is completely free of Anti-Semitism and that no party can afford to be complacent about it.

I also said while proposing the same motion that there are other forms of prejudice which are also very worrying and called out prejudice against Muslims as one of them. The previous comment about Anti-Semitism applies to these forms of prejudice too - that no party is completely free of such prejudice or can afford to be complacent also applies.

The extraordinary comments by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, warning that the Labour party is not doing enough to root out Anti-Semitism should be treated very seriously.

I think it is almost impossible to credibly dispute that the worst problem with a form of racism in a mainstream political party on the UK mainland is Anti-Semitism in the Labour party, a problem currently being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights commission.

It is my personal impression that another significant problem, which does not get called out anything like as often as it should be, is Anti-English bigotry in the Scottish National Party.

Almost every political party has either had to expel or suspend members, or should have, because of a wide range of hate speech or unacceptable conduct. Anti-Jewish or Anti-Muslim prejudice are the most common, but the Labour party was also called out this week for Anti-Hindu prejudice.

While I do not for one second think that the Conservative party has anything like as serious a problem with either Anti-Semitism or Anti-Muslim prejudice as Labour has with Anti-Semitism, we cannot afford to ignore either.

That's why I welcome the fact that, when he was asked about this today, the Prime Minister did apologise for anti-Muslim prejudice in the Conservative party and confirmed that an inquiry into "every manner of prejudice and discrimination" in the party would begin by Christmas.

Former Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi, who has been calling for an inquiry, said the apology was "a good start".

The difference between Boris Johnson's willingness to apologise, admit that there is a problem and describe what will be done about it, and Jeremy Corbyn's refusal to apologise for Labour's Anti-Semitism problem was glaring.

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