LBC radio host James O’Brien has tackled the accusations of 'institutional' Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
He asked his listeners to “imagine” if Labour members made the kind of comments Tory MPs have made about Muslim women, about Jewish women.
Speaking on his LBC show, he painted pictures of a number of imaginary scenarios:
Just imagine if Owen Jones wrote an article about there not being enough antisemitism in the Labour Party and then tell me how the hell Rod Liddle gets to write an article arguing that there's not enough Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.
He is referring to an August 2018 New Statesman article written by Liddle titled Why Boris is Wrong About Burkas. He wrote: “My own view is that there is not nearly enough Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.”
Imagine if Diane Abbott or John McDonnell came forward with comments about Jewish women being like letterboxes, or made a joke about the wigs that orthodox Jewish women wear. Made a joke that invited people to mock and condemn them.
Imagine if John McDonnell made a joke about the wigs that orthodox Jewish women wear, the locks that orthodox Jewish men grow or the yamulkes that many Jewish men choose to wear.
Explain to me how that would be substantively any different to what Boris Johnson said about Muslim women's sartorial choices, the ones that make them look like 'letterboxes'.
James refers to an article written by Conservative MP Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph, in which he described women who wore the religious face veil as “looking like a letterbox". Yes, it was in the context of defending their right to wear it, but it was still seen by many as offensive to an entire community of British people – namely Muslims.
O’Brien went on to criticise the media for the way such cases are reported.
Andrew Neil can still claim when he's covering these issues that he's impartial. And Fraser Nelson can host an event at the Palladium with Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose fans are so vile that 14 of them have been suspended from the very party.
"Just swap all of those phrases. Swap Islamophobia for antisemitism. Swap Rod Liddle for Owen Jones. Swap Fraser Nelson for Jason Cowley over at the New Statesman and swap Jacob Rees-Mogg or Boris Johnson for Diane Abbott or Tom Watson.
"And you tell me that we don't live in a country that is utterly upside down."
Peter Lamb had been suspended from the party in 2015 after a series of online posts about Muslims. He was later readmitted to the party after apologising, and went on to stand in the 2017 council by-election in Harlow, and was selected to be a Conservative council candidate in 2019.
The Muslim Council of Britain previously attacked the party for being unable to deal with the "scourge of Islamophobia". A spokesperson said, "We’ve seen MPs, councillors and members engage in bigotry that should have no place in a modern Conservative Party," and they're urging Theresa May to launch an independent inquiry.
Baroness Warsi told PoliticsHomethatIslamophobia in the Conservative Party is a "rot [that is] institutional".
In response to the latest revelation, a Conservative spokesperson told The Independent: “This Facebook group is in no way affiliated with the Conservative Party and many of the people identified on it are not party members.
However, we have identified some people who are party members and they have been immediately suspended, pending further investigation.
When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action. Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong and will not be tolerated.