In 2019 the Conservative Party set up the independent investigation to look into allegations of discrimination following discussions with Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Party asked Professor Swaran Singh to chair the group and there were 5 other members of the team, including a Muslim, Mr Wasiq Wasiq.
I have looked at the report and I generally welcome the findings of the group and the recommendations which have been clearly set out.
The group analysed 1418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination and two thirds of complaints referred to anti-Muslim activities. In addition to looking at complaints, the group published a public call for evidence and reviewed representations, and they did also undertake interviews.
The findings of the report can be summarised as follows:
- The Party complaints system is in need of overhaul and the party has an under resourced and inadequately trained complaints team
- The data collection system is inadequate
- There is a lack of transparency in the complaints procedure
- The systems at Local Party Association levels for dealing with complaints are weak and there are no common understandings on what needs to be done
- As a number of complaints relate to social media, and the Party’s Code of Conduct relating to social media were not known.
- There needs to be training at both CCHQ and Local Association levels.
- Discrimination can be seen as detrimental to emotional health and wellbeing of the people who have been discriminated against.
The report sets out recommendations which should be done within the following timelines:
Within 6 weeks the Party should:
- Publish an Action Plan
- Review the investigation and identify where the investigation has been inadequate
Within 6 months the Party should:
- Publish a progress report
- Produce a simple and easy to understand and mandatory Code of Conduct to be applied across the entire membership of the Conservative Party. By having one Code of Conduct all party associations will be able to understand and implement it.
- Produce a comprehensive policy and behaviour procedure
- Decide whether complaints should be handled at CCHQ or local association, provided the Local Association have been trained adequately to do so.
After 12 months the Party should:
- Instruct a 1-year review, which should be carried out by the group or another appropriate body to establish the extent to which recommendations have been met
- Make sure each party association has at least 1 person who has been appropriately trained, and courses should be offered on an annual basis and refresher courses offered every 3 to 5 years.
I believe that the group has identified and reported that there are problems at both Local Association and CCHQ levels. The report sets out what needs to be done and also stated the timelines which need to be adhered to.
On behalf of the Conservative Party, Amanda Millings has apologised to anyone who has been hurt by discriminatory behaviour of others or failed by the system.
I have had a meeting with Amanda Millings, and I was assured that all the recommendations would be carried out, and in fact work has already begun. The Party has a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of prejudice and discrimination and the Party would like everybody to feel welcome. By implementing the recommendations, it is hopeful that this can be achieved.
I do not feel that there is any institutional racism in the Party, but the Party has accepted the recommendations and is willing to take remedial action in line with the investigation’s findings. I think we should all do what we can to ensure the recommendations are undertaken.
I have been interviewed on the Television and Radio and I have referred to some of the points stated above.
Conservative Muslim Forum