Last month, on 25 May, a 44,000-word report into institutional Islamophobia in the Tory Party was published. Muslim party members have deemed it a ‘whitewash’ after it concluded that there is no evidence of institutional Islamophobia in the party.
The inquiry did find that there were instances of Islamophobia, but only at the level of individuals and local associations.
This doesn’t quite match with the evidence to hand. Between 2015 and 2020, two thirds of complaints within the party were related to anti-Muslim discrimination. This is the same party whose leader has referred to niqab-wearing women as ‘letterboxes’ and black men as having ‘watermelon smiles’.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has been requesting that the Tories be independently investigated – by a body such as the EHRC (Equalities and Human Rights Commission) – in relation to cases of Islamophobia in the party documented since May 2019.
Instead, however, this report was drawn up internally by the party. This is after the MCB’s case was rejected by the EHRC, which deemed that such an investigation would not be proportionate to the problem at hand.
This stands in stark contrast to the inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour Party, which was taken up by the EHRC and published after rabid media scrutiny in October 2020.
This followed a five-year smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Left in the capitalist media, with the entire establishment hysterically asserting that the party was ‘institutionally anti-semitic’. In fact, less than 0.1% of the party membership (which numbered at around 500,000 at the time) had been involved in any complaints around anti-semitism.
This difference demonstrates not that the establishment takes anti-semitism more seriously than Islamophobia, but how cynical the attitude of the ruling class really is when it comes to the question of racism.
The establishment has no interest in defending the rights of Jewish people, Muslim people, or any oppressed groups and ethnic minorities. Such rhetoric is simply a convenient tool, which the ruling class use in whatever way they see fit to best serve their interests.
The Tories are a racist party. Their leadership are the architects of the ‘hostile environment’ and the Windrush scandal; and their membership, following this lead, consists of bigots, xenophobes, and reactionaries of all kinds.
But the bottom line is that the Tories are defenders of the capitalist class and the status quo. Labour’s radical policies under Corbyn, on the other hand, were a challenge to this.
As a result, the establishment happily gives Tory Islamophobia a free pass, on the one hand, while weaponising anti-semitism to discredit Corbyn’s Labour and divide the working class with the other.
This latest report is also causing divisions within the Tory Party, which for so long had managed to keep such differences largely behind closed doors. Now, however, as the tensions and splits inside the party increase more widely, leading Tories are airing their dirty laundry in public.
The inquiry is a blatant attempt to quietly brush aside the issue of Islamophobia. But it’s not enough to cover the cracks forming in the Conservative Party, between the so-called ‘moderates’ and the more-openly reactionary layers.
Sajjad Karim, a former Tory MEP, for example, has argued that the approach taken with this report is an example of a growing ‘English nationalist agenda’, and has called for an external inquiry to take place.
Such a step would offer no solutions to Islamophobia in the party, or in wider society. Under capitalism, even so-called ‘independent’ bodies such as the EHRC are not truly independent, but are at the beck and call of the establishment.
This can be seen from the government’s recent ‘independent’ report into racial inequalities in Britain – another cynical ‘whitewash’ by the establishment, which unsurprisingly concluded that the UK does not suffer from institutional racism.
The establishment’s hypocrisy is clear. While Labour is accused of ‘institutional anti-semitism’, when it comes to Tory Islamophobia, it is apparently a just case of ‘a few bad apples’.
Independent regulators and ‘watchdogs’ such as the EHRC are no friends of the oppressed. In reality, these bodies are bound to the capitalist system and the ruling class’ interests, before any duty they claim to have in defending equality, human rights, or justice.
Racism and class
Capitalism’s existence is reliant on discrimination, on oppression, and on the ability of the ruling class to put these to use in order to divide the working class. The Tories and the Labour right wing have no interest in truly fighting racism – neither within their parties, or beyond their own ranks.
We cannot trust the capitalist class and their institutions to defend the oppressed against discrimination, or to fight for its eradication. These ladies and gentlemen are defenders of the very system that ensures that this oppression and discrimination exists.