Concerns about Islamophobia among Conservative ranks deepened on Friday after it was reported that the party was dealing with more than 100 alleged cases, including a host of previously unreported ones.
The party has been rocked by allegations over the issue – including from its former chair, Sayeeda Warsi, who has described the problem as “institutional” – as a steady stream of accusations against self-professed Tory members come to light.
Earlier this week, it emerged that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had written to the Conservative party after receiving complaints – and the Tory government has also been criticised for refusing to adopt the working definition of Islamophobia proposed by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims, which has been widely accepted elsewhere.
According to ITV News, more than 100 accusations of Islamophobia and other forms of racism made against people claiming to be Conservative party members are set out in a leaked dossier.
The broadcaster said 19 of the 110 cases had not previously been made public. They reportedly include allegations that Tory members have called Islam a “cult” which is being allowed to “take over our country”, as well as calling the Muslim population an “infestation” whose members cause “mayhem wherever they decide to invade”.
ITV News said other quotes in the dossier referred to Muslims as “aliens” and “radicals”, with one saying: “Their plan is to turn this country into an Islamic state.”
Reacting to the news on Friday, Matthew McGregor – campaigns director at Hope Not Hate – said: “These revelations have become depressingly familiar because the Conservative party has failed to tackle this crisis of Islamophobia in its ranks.”
He said the party’s response called into question whether it was truly dealing with the issue.
“They’ll probably release a bland statement insisting they take this seriously – but, until they take real action against the racists in their ranks, such a statement will be worthless.”
Last month, two Conservative local election candidates were suspended over allegations they had spread racist and inflammatory material and, in March, a Guardian investigation revealed that 15 Tory councillors who had been suspended over similar allegations later had their membership quietly reinstated.
Warsi has been outspoken on the subject, calling for an investigation. On Friday, she told ITV News the dossier showed the party has “something to hide”.
She said: “Last month, I spent four weeks speaking to the party privately and I started by asking them to bring to the table the number of complaints that they had received – and said that I too would bring to the table the number of complaints that I had received to try and at least understand the scale of the problem.
“The fact that the party refused to do that, and the fact that we have these revelations today that this issue is widespread and deep, clearly shows that the party has got something to hide.”
She continued: “The party have to first and foremost acknowledge the extent of the problem. They then have to be transparent about the process that is being adopted.
“They need to have a measure, a definition of Islamophobia against which they measure these vile comments, and then they need to send out a very clear signal that racists and bigots will have no home in our party.”
Cabinet minister James Cleverly – in his former position of deputy chair of the party – said he rejected Warsi’s claim of institutional Islamophobia, adding that “all political parties” have individuals who “say and do things that are inappropriate”.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for the Conservatives said: “A substantial number of these people are not members. Any other party members on this list have either already been suspended, expelled or are under investigation.
“Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but where we find evidence of members making abusive or discriminatory posts, we take swift action.”