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Tory MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith, was roundly criticised for running a ‘disgusting and risible‘ campaign of ‘dog-whistle racism’ against Muslim London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the London Mayoral contest in 2016.
However, despite these previous accusations of Islamophobia, Goldsmith has now demanded that the Conservative Party move to expel the Senior Muslim Tory Peer, Lord Sheikh.
The Senior Muslim Tory Peer hit the headlines in recent weeks after demanding the Conservative Party heed calls from the Muslim Council of Britain and begin an investigation into accusations of widespread anti-Muslim hatred within the party.
However, Goldsmith has now called for Sheikh’s expulsion from the party after reports emerged revealing that the Tory Peer had attended the same conference in Tunisia which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also been criticised by the right-wing press for attending.
Unsurprisingly, given his track record, Goldsmith’s calls for the party to expel the man calling for an investigation into Islamophobia has been met with widespread anger:
Zac Goldsmith calls for Lord Sheikh's immediate *EXPULSION* because he attended a conference (at Tunisian president's invitation?)
ICYMI 1: Lord Sheikh cited Zac Goldsmith's campaign as why there should be an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Tory Partyhttps://t.co/Mq8DTSu4yl
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) August 14, 2018
So Tory Lord Sheikh attended the same peace conference as Jeremy Corbyn and Tory MPs, including Zac Goldsmith, want him excluded from their party.
The fact Lord Sheikh has been calling for an inquiry in to Tory Party Islamophobia is purely coincidental, obviously.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) August 15, 2018
Along with the now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Tory Peer Lord Sheikh attended a Peace Conference in Tunisia in 2014 at the behest of the Tunisian President.
The event in Tunis was named the International Conference on Monitoring the Palestinian Political and Legal Situation in the Light of Israeli Aggression, and was held to discuss ways to gather opinions from all sides of the conflict with the aim of achieving peace in the region.
However, Goldsmith moved to condemn Lord Sheikh’s attendance after it emerged that other attendees at the conference included members of the Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas.
Following the story emerging, Goldsmith wrote on Twitter:
“If this man is not immediately expelled from the Conservative Party, the Party hierarchy’s complaints about Corbyn will look entirely cynical.”
If this man is not immediately expelled from the Conservative Party, the Party hierarchy’s complaints about Corbyn will look entirely cynical. https://t.co/kO7ZMEAUxs
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) 14 August 2018
Lord Sheikh is the founder of the Conservative Muslim Forum, the official Organisation for Muslims within the Conservative Party.
Sheikh has been openly criticial of the party’s handling of widespread allegations of anti-Muslim hatred by Party members, and revealed that he has himself been the victim of Islamophobic abuse after calling for Boris Johnson to be kicked out of the party over his recent controversial comments regarding the burqa.
Along with Sheikh, another prominent Tory Muslim, the former Tory Minister Baroness Warsi, had demanded the party instigate a formal investigation into anti-Muslim hatred after scores of Conservative Council Candidates and politicians were suspended from the party in the run-up to the local elections in May.
However, with Goldsmith’s latest demand for Lord Sheikh to be expelled from the party, the Tory row over internal Islamophobia is now surely set to intensify.
It has now also emerged that a formal complaint has been submitted to the party – a letter which also demands an investigation into 3 other Conservative MPs, Brandon Lewis, Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry:
I write as a Conservative Party member (indeed current constituency executive member, former constituency chairman, former agent, and former local candidate) to request that the Party investigate – properly, fully and impartially – some of our parliamentarians against the Party’s Code of Conduct and to seek if actions or statements by them are in contravention.
A complaint brought against a parliamentarian and any official investigation into their possible breach of the Party’s Code of Conduct is a very serious matter. Therefore it must never be pursued ad hominem as a witch-hunt against a particular parliamentarian, or pursued over a clear partisan political position or argument (eg over a pro- or anti- Brexit divide), or indeed in any way used to deflect from other embarrassments or bad PR.
I am sorry to say that the Conservative Party does not seem to be acting rationally or properly in how it is dealing with investigations into the Code of Conduct at present, and I believe the Party has already brought itself into some serious disrepute. We appear utterly inept, utterly cynical, and with some people in power in the Party pursuing very obvious personal agendas.
I write to request that the Party consider:
A) Investigation into the actions of Lord Sheikh in attending a highly controversial conference in Tunisia.
B) Investigation into controversial pair-breaking in a parliamentary vote by Brandon Lewis MP the Party Chairman.
C) Investigation into past controversial comments by MPs Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke on the burqa.
Unhappily aspects of these 3 issues have actually all blended into each other through this last week, and they highlight both a lack of consistency and a hypocrisy which is staining our integrity both within the Conservative Party and with the public at large.
In the last 10 days there has been a great deal of noise and fury from the party machine and by some prominent parliamentarians about a recent newspaper article written by Boris Johnson MP in which he made comments critical of and ridiculing the burqa. The Party has publicised that he will apparently be investigated against our Code of Conduct for these comments.
Brandon Lewis MP the Party Chairman has, seemingly prematurely and very probably unwisely, proffered his opinion – demanding that Mr Johnson apologise as if a clear conduct breach has already been shown – and ex officio as Chairman he will be involved in the overseeing of the investigative committee and any subsequent disciplinary action into Mr Johnson.
It is therefore imperative that Mr Lewis represents an unimpeachable position himself in relation to our Code of Conduct. and yet it is far from clear that he is currently able to offer this – following recent controversy with what seems a deliberate breaking of his agreed voting-pair with maternity-leave Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson in a tight Brexit-related vote at the end of session.
Nobody sane can deny that this unhappy event did not bring the Party into great disrepute with the public – and the pair-breaking itself is eminently worthy of investigation under the Party’s Code of Conduct.
We cannot have a Party Chairman sounding off against an MP over a possible breach of the Code of Conduct by them, when there is an immense shadow hanging over his own head about his own possible breach of the Code of Conduct.
We look ridiculous!
Furthermore, in this last week, the news has been (quite rightly) filled with the details of the Labour Leader’s highly controversial and distasteful attendance at a 2014 conference in Tunisia with the appalling wreath-laying incident at the graves of terrorists. Indeed writing only yesterday in the Daily Mail newspaper, the Conservative Party Chairman describes Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance at the events in Tunisia as “beyond the pale” and “unedifying”.
But we now learn that the Conservative peer Lord Sheikh was also a delegate at this Tunis conference and – although there is no suggestion he was involved at the despicable grave ceremonies – this means he certainly was sharing a platform during the conference with apologists for terror – so he must be immediately investigated himself over a possible breach of the Code of Conduct by attending.
We simply cannot have the Conservative Party Chairman slamming the Labour leader in print for attending this event and not likewise pointing the figure at Lord Sheikh for attending the same event. Otherwise, and again, we look cynical and ridiculous!
And of course Lord Sheikh was the most public and vociferous figure all over the media this last week telling us that Boris Johnson should be disciplined against the Code of Conduct and indeed should be thrown out of the Party.
We simply cannot have a Conservative Lord slamming a Conservative MP he doesn’t care for in the name of the Code of Conduct, but avoiding a full investigation and possible discipline for his own controversial actions under the same Code of Conduct. Otherwise we look even more cynical and even more ridiculous!
Furthermore, amidst the swirl of outrage against Boris Johnson’s burqa comments in print, the Party appears utterly inconsistent as it has not castigated other Conservative MPs who also made comments critical of and ridiculing the burqa and I can not find any record of their facing similar investigations under the Code of Conduct.
Ken Clarke MP when speaking about the burqa on the BBC in 2013 and whilst a cabinet member, criticised it as a “most peculiar costume for people to adopt in the 21st century” and clearly ridiculed it as a “kind of bag“. In a subsequent appearance on BBC Question Time aired 7 Nov 2013 – in response to the question “Should The Burka Be Banned?” – his close colleague and supporter Anna Soubry MP gave him wholesome support and also herself criticised the burqa as a “peculiar concept”.
Anna Soubry MP has again been a most vociferous figure this last week telling us that Boris Johnson’s comments should be investigated, and threatening to leave the Party, etc etc – but, with the utmost hypocrisy, seems to have forgotten her own comments from several years before.
If Boris Johnson’s recent comments on the burqa are considered so controversial and worthy of an investigation under the Party’s Code of Conduct, then *obviously* there also should be some investigation into these past controversial comments by MPs Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke. Does our Party only believe in equal treatment of our members/representatives when it suits us?
If, for some reason presently obscure to me, it is considered that the Code of Conduct of 2018 can not be applied retrospectively to these 2013 statements, we nevertheless must get a clear indication from the Party if the comments of Clarke and Soubry would now breach the Code of Conduct if repeated in 2018.
Because otherwise we open ourselves to yet even more public ridicule and accusations of cynicism.
I look forwards to your reply at your earliest convenience.
Please acknowledge receipt of this letter.
With tensions already running extremely high within the party over both Brexit and Theresa May’s flailing leadership, this latest crisis has the potential to spill over into an all-out Tory civil war.