The No.10 website has refused to host a petition calling for an inquiry into Tory racism. We are organising our own, reports Feyzi Ismail
It’s an upside down world. The media and the political classes are obsessing with claims of anti-Semitism in Labour, while a series of very public, apparently racist, comments and slurs from Tory Mayor Boris Johnson and Conservative London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith have passed with little comment.
During Barack Obama's visits, Boris Johnson suggested that his views on the EU were shaped by the ‘part-Kenyan’ President's ‘ancestral dislike of the British Empire'. During the mayoral campaign Goldsmith has stooped much lower by consistent attempts to link his Labour competitor Sadiq Khan with terrorism and radicalism simply because he is Asian and a Muslim.
There seems to be reluctance to even examine these incidents, let alone to condemn them. A group of us tried to launch a petition on the No.10 petition parliament website calling for an enquiry into racism in the Conservative Party, only to be contacted with the news that the petition has been turned down on the grounds that the racism in the Tory Party is not government business.
Clearly anti-Semitism and racism of any kind in any party needs to be confronted and dealt with. But there is a complete imbalance here. Labour - especially its left - has a far better record of opposing racism than any other major party.
Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life actively challenging racism of all kinds, including campaigning against organisations of the far right, which are both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim. There is a long history, on the other hand, of overlap between elements of the Tory Party and anti-semitic far right organisations. Many of the Tory-supporting papers that are accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism have been running a campaign of vilification of the Muslim communities in Britain for years.
It is time that the left went onto the offensive and campaigned against those individuals and organisations who systematically use racism to further their aims. Parliament may not host a petition, but we will find one that will. Watch this space.
Feyzi Ismail teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is active in UCU
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