When I proposed successfully that Cumbria County Coucnil should adopt the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism, I started by saying that no political party is entirely free of anti-semitism and no party can afford to be complacent about it.
I have written or said more than once since that the same applies to prejudice against Muslims.
It was right that the Conservative party commissioned an independent report and investigation into racial prejudice within the party. That report, chaired by Professor Swaran Singh, was released this week.
It does not make comfortable reading and demonstrates that we have work to do to eliminate prejudice in general and anti-Muslim prejudice in particular.
The report found:
- From 2015 to 2020 the party's central database recorded 1,418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination
- Two-thirds of all incidents reported related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination
- Three-quarters of all incidents recorded in the Conservatives' complaints database involved social media activity
- Sanctions were issued in 231 cases with 50% resulting in a suspension and 29% an expulsion from the party
- "No evidence" that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination
The Singh report recommended that the Conservatives should, within six weeks, publish a plan laying out how it intends to tackle the failings highlighted by the investigation.
It also recommended producing a code of conduct and said at least one member of every party association should receive training on the complaints process.
The Conservative party accepted these recommendations in full and will implement them.
This report provides, as the Guardian wrote, an opportunity to re-set our relations with Muslim communities.
It is an opportunity which we cannot afford to lose.
The statement released by the Conservative party on the subject reads as follows.