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Issue #1730      May 11, 2016

Tory Party’s racism problem

BRITAIN: Trade unionists demanded a human-rights probe into a Tory Party rife with racism last week after drawing up a damning dossier of hate which has gone unpunished. Conservative MPs, councillors and candidates have repeatedly used the most disgusting slurs against minority groups – and it goes right to the top.

Britain’s biggest union Unite, which helped compile the research based on media reports going back to 1989, argued that even the most disgusting comments have rarely resulted in serious action.

The union is calling on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate whether the party’s racist “dog-whistle” politics were damaging race relations in Britain.

In almost all cases Tories making offensive comments have not been expelled from the party, including those in senior positions.

Top of the list is Prime Minister David Cameron, who went on a sanctions-busting jolly to apartheid South Africa in 1989 and only apologised 17 years later.

Also included is outgoing London Mayor and MP Boris Johnson, who escaped punishment when he described black people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” in the Telegraph in 2002. He only apologised when he first ran for London mayor in 2008.

And Cabinet minister Oliver Letwin also escaped disciplinary action after it was revealed that he had said black people have “bad moral attitudes” when he was a top adviser to Thatcher.

He argued any government schemes to help black people would be wasted in “the disco and drugs trade.”

“Now voters can see for themselves the sort of party the Conservative Party is and the sort of government this Prime Minister is happy to lead,” stormed Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

“It is a party where the routine denigration of peoples and culture is too often met with no more than a shake of the head. How dare he whip up fury about the Labour Party, which has acted swiftly and thoroughly when allegations of racism among members are made – in sharp contrast to his party’s behaviour.

“He is dragging this country back by decades and his party into the sewer.”

Mr McCluskey urged the commission to look “very closely” at the Tories’ “repeated indulgence of fear-based politics.”

Unite equalities officer Harish Patel added: “These comments have no place in British life but by indulging them this Conservative government is sending out a signal that prejudice and racism are acceptable.”

Even top Tories have admitted the party is racist, with former health secretary Andrew Lansley complaining of “endemic racism” in 2001. It suggests the disgusting racism of its 1964 election slogan: “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour” is still ingrained in the party.

A Conservative spokeswoman claimed the damning dossier was a “pretty cheap attempt” to “distract” from the paper-thin, anti-Semitism scandal whipped up against the Labour Party.

“Instead, why aren’t they making sure the Labour leadership actually finally get to grips with the problem?” she asked – although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already announced an investigation into any alleged racism in the party, while the Tories have done nothing.

Racist then, racist now

  • February 2009: Bolton councillor Bob Allen posted a picture of a gorilla alongside a critical comment about an Asian Labour councillor on a blog. He apologised, the party investigated, but it is not known if he was disciplined. He still appears to be a councillor.
  • March 2009: Leicestershire councillor Robert Fraser said that Romanians would “stick a knife in you as soon as look at you.” And: “Some of these European ones, they make the Irish look like complete amateurs and I would dread, I would dread, to see them in Groby.” The Tories sent him on diversity training, but he stood again for them.
  • November 2009: MP for Spelthorne David Wilshire said the exposé of MPs’ expenses left them treated like Jews in Nazi Germany: “Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler’s gas chambers.” David Cameron asked him to say sorry.
  • January 2010: Smith Benson, councillor for Colne, complained that there were “too many Pakis” in his town. Council leader Tony Beckett refused to discipline him and said: “I think for the Labour Party to say he should be sacked for making a sweeping statement is a bit strong.”
  • August 2011: Tory Dover councillor Bob Frost describes rioters as “jungle bunnies.” He lost his teaching job but the Tories only suspended him for two months. In 2014, he referred to the prospective Middle Eastern buyers of Dover port as “sons of camel drivers.” No action was taken.
  • January 2013: Enfield Tory councillor Chris Joannides compares Muslim children to black bin bags in a Facebook post.
  • April 2014: Barnet councillor Tom Davey said online that it might be easier to find a job if he were “a black female wheelchair-bound amputee who is sexually attracted to other women.” He was not disciplined by the party.
  • May 2014: Tory Coulsdon activist Stephen Lees tweets: “Every single Muslim should be expelled from this country – not deported – expelled, and every mosque demolished.”
  • August 2014: UCL Conservative Society member reportedly comments: “Jews own everything, we all know it’s true. I wish I was Jewish, but my nose isn’t long enough.” There is no evidence that the Conservative Party ever investigated.
  • May 2015: Tory councillor for Leicestershire Bob Fahey refers to a fellow councillor as a “chink.” There is no record of any disciplinary action and he apparently remains a councillor.

Morning Star

Next article – Turkey – Intensified repression of labour

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