10 January 2020
Labour and Conservatives in hot water over fresh allegations of Islamophobia in councils
This week, both Labour and the Conservatives have come under fire for Islamophobic and offensive comments made by a Labour council by-election candidate and a sitting Conservative councillor.
Cllr Colin Elcock, a Conservative councillor on Dudley Council has faced calls to resign following controversial and offensive tweets which have now been deleted asking whether people in Iran were “all on the dole”, and claiming Islam was about “domination not integration”.
Kyle Pedley, Vice Chair of Stourbridge Conservative Association, quit during the election after accusing the association of Islamophobia, has denied the Conservative Party has any issue with Islamophobia, citing the inclusion of “more and more people from the Asian community” as evidence of anti-racism.
Stourbridge Conservative Association allowed a prospective candidate for council elections to be subject to an inappropriate line of questioning about being Muslim. This questioning included “are you really a Muslim? Do you pray 5 times a day? How many times do you go to the mosque? How many Muslims do you think there are in the world?” Pedley said he made complaints to Conservative Central Office and to the Party Chairman, but did not receive a response.
Chetan Harpale, the Labour council by-election candidate in Alperton has now been suspended following a series of Islamophobic tweets labelling London ‘Londonistan’ and calling Pakistani Muslims “a stain on this planet”, as well as mocking the Mayor of London’s ‘London is Open’ slogan, telling Khan “it seems only for Jihadis”.
These Islamophobic comments have led to a suspension but raise serious questions about how Chetan Harpale was selected to stand in the by-election.
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“Islamophobia is becoming more and more rife across the political spectrum, with political parties desperately needing to take robust action to tackle this scourge.
“This week, we have seen evidence of vitriolic hate in both of the main political parties, with Conservative Cllr Colin Elcock making offensive remarks about Islam, and Labour’s council by-election candidate Chetan Harpale posting Islamophobic tweets, both echoing much of the far-right sentiment we have seen becoming increasingly mainstreamed in political discourse.
“The electorate deserve better from their politicians and prospective politicians. Clear, meaningful action must be taken by the respective parties. Labour must conduct a full investigation and review its selection process to ensure individuals who espouse such Islamophobic views do not make it onto the ballot paper.
“The Conservatives must accept its intrinsic problem with Islamophobia and racism which is seen throughout every level of the Party. This is not the first time concerns have been raised about Stourbridge Conservative Association. Steps must be taken by the Conservatives to tackle the hateful culture that has been allowed to fester, starting with the suspension of Stourbridge Conservative Association.”