Baroness Warsi blasts 'revolving door racism' in Tories as 15 suspended councillors allowed back in

Posted On: 
25th March 2019

The Conservatives have been accused of allowing "revolving door racism" as it emerged that more than a dozen councillors who were suspended over far-right online posts have been allowed back into the party.

The Conservatives' handling of anti-Islam abuse has been under scrutiny in recent months.
Credit: 
PA

Former Tory co-chair Baroness Warsi seized on analysis by The Guardian which found that 15 councillors have been reinstated in recent months despite sharing anti-Muslim or far-right remarks on social media.

But the Conservatives said their disciplinary procedures stood in "sharp contrast to other parties".

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According to The Guardian, those reinstated include Swale Borough Council leader Andrew Bowles, who served a 13-day suspension for sharing a post lauding far-right leader Tommy Robinson as a patriot. The council chief told the paper he backed Mr Robinson's "right to have his say" and did not "have any racist or Islamophobic views".

Solihull borough council councillor Jeff Potts, who was suspended by the party in September after sharing a post that said Muslims should be deported or risk allowing terrorists to "kill innocent people for generations to come", is also among those reinstated.

PoliticsHome revealed earlier this month that Peter Lamb, who accused Muslims of "sticking together" and compared Islam to "alcoholism" had been allowed to stand as a council candidate despite a previous suspension. He has since quit the party.

Baroness Warsi, who has frequently attacked her party's handling of Islamophobic abuse, hit out at the Conservatives on Twitter.

A Conservative spokesperson said: "Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong.

"When CCHQ has been made aware of the small number of such cases we have acted swiftly, suspending members and launching immediate investigations, in sharp contrast to other parties.

“Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, a period of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis."

'MORE TRANSPARENT'

But Mohammad Amin, chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, urged the party to publish a set of formal disciplinary processes to try and tackle the problem.

He told The Guardian: "There needs to be a more transparent process, much clearer criteria, which are published.

"Not just criteria for suspending people but criteria for un-suspending people.

"I personally don’t necessarily have a problem with un-suspending people who have apologised and undergone diversity training, for example. But what we need is a clear published rule book."

The report comes after the Conservative's London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey urged the party to have a "proper conversation" about tackling Islamophobia.

Mr Bailey said the Tories would do themselves "no favours by tolerating or ignoring" anti-Muslim abuse.

"In the Conservative party, we cannot give cover in any way to those Islamophobes, even if they vote for us. We need to crack down on hate at the source and expel it from our midst," he added.

"We must set clear guidelines as to what is acceptable and then enforce them with 100% effectiveness. Full stop."