Wednesday 28 February 2024

Why the Tories Won't Confront Islamophobia

We know the Conservative Party is institutionally Islamophobic. And now there are hard numbers that add to the charge. According to Hope Not Hate's survey of the Tory membership, 58% thought Islam was a threat to the British way of life and 52% believe there are "no-go areas" for non-Muslims in European cities. Which also happen to be governed by Sharia law. Only 19% of members polled had a positive view of Muslims (40% were negative). Others weren't left out of the oh-so predictable results. 45% were negative toward immigrants in general, and 49% weren't keen on Roma. 72% thought immigration was a bad thing for Britain. 45% also believed there was a secret plot by "global elites" to undermine European identity through immigration. There were some differences between age. I.e. The more elderly, the more extreme. And 55% would welcome Nigel Farage into the party.

This makes a mockery of claims that Lee Anderson's rant, and Suella Braverman's lies about antisemitism and Islamist hate marches - repeated at every opportunity - are isolated incidents. When leaks from Tory MP WhatsApp groups feature members saying how they've got a full inbox praising Anderson's racism, what they don't tell you is most of them came from members of the local association. You can only conclude that "moderate" Tories, like Sayeeda Warsi (who happily dished out glib distortions when she was in government), don't go to meetings much.

HnH have showed another reason why the Tories won't take Islamophobia seriously. The Conservatives are thoroughly compromised by racism. Rishi Sunak and the contenders for the post-catastrophe leadership know that if they pressure wash the party stable, all the vermin that thrive in the filth will stream out of the yard and scurry into the cesspit Nigel Farage and the Reform Party have set up over the road. And so Islamophobia and anti-immigration posturing isn't just a strategy the Tories have fooled themselves into thinking is a go-er, they need it to keep their increasingly unhinged party from falling over.

As someone wrote somewhere, the Tories have two big problems if they want to remain a viable party of government. The cohorts of voters opposed to the Tories have this thing called memory. The right wing press often reminds its diminishing audiences of the winter of discontent, but that cuts both ways. The racism, the cuts, the crumbing public services, the strikes, the inflation crisis, fuel bills, Covid mismanagement, these are going to ensure there's a solid block of anti-Tory voters for decades to come. And second, the values, outlooks, and interests of the rising generation of voters have time and again been attacked by the Tories. The party's only way back to government is not doubling down on right wing politics, as bizarrely some on the left also think, but a thorough detox. The racists, the climate change deniers, those who rail against "globalists", they need to be got shot of. And more than that, the Tories have to curb the propensity to rip everything up. Only then when, ironically, they approach conservatism will they make inroads into the people who spurn them today.

This is the choice the next leader has. Lean into the hate and bigotry and secure the continuance of the party as it stands, albeit without much of a future. Or go for a split and recompose the Tories around a moderate centre right politics. Them's the breaks, as Boris Johnson said on the occasion of his defenestration. Whichever way the Tories go, a great deal of pain awaits.

Image Credit

1 comment:

Blissex said...

«Lean into the hate and bigotry and secure the continuance of the party as it stands, albeit without much of a future»

Our blogger keeps mentioning being "nasty" as the key electoral strategy of the Conservatives, as if both himself and the Conservative leadership thought that values and culture mattered that much.

But I reckon that like myself the Conservative leadership do not think that values and culture matter that much electorally, but class interests matter a lot more to many more people. Why do they still talk a lot publicly about values and culture? My guesses are:

* Many voters have come to associate "nasty party" with "pushes property prices and rents higher" and so emphasis on "nasty" values and culture is in effect an indirect appeal to property owners. This is in effect also the electoral strategy of the Mandelson Tendency a consequently of New New Labour.

* Since New New Labour also are presenting themselves as the "nasty party" championing property owners, the Conservatives hope to differentiate themselves at least somewhat by having even "nastier" values and culture than Starmer.

* As the Conservatives become even "nastier" then New New Labour competes in the same direction, and that might lose Starmer to abstention some of their voters for whom values and culture matter most. But the Conservative main hope most likely is that the property slump of the past two years will become a property boom in the next year.

The Conservatives and New Labour have been the "nasty party" for a long time and this has not (so far) made them disappear. They have lost only when they have failed to protect the material interests of their voters, or when "the left" has aggregated enough voters with a programme to counter those material interests (which is not what many politicians on "the left" would dare to do today and for a long time, given the vicious object lesson as meted out to Corbyn).