Brandon Lewis is Chairman of the Conservative Party, and is MP for Great Yarmouth.
As Muslim families gather today to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, they will be joined by neighbours of different faiths and none to celebrate this happy day. This is a wonderful reminder of how much Muslims contribute to the community and culture of British life.
Britain would be a poorer place without British Muslims. We are lucky to have a rich tapestry of faiths and different communities in the United Kingdom. It is one of the things that makes this nation strong. As a Party we are strongest when we reflect the diversity of backgrounds and experience of wider society in our membership.
That is why it is utterly unacceptable that anyone should suffer abuse because of their faith, race, gender, sexuality, disability or ethnicity. Such prejudice destroys society from within. That is why I believe discrimination of any kind has no place within the Conservative Party.
A single case of abuse is one too many, and since becoming Chairman I have taken a zero-tolerance approach. We have a clear and fully transparent process for investigating complaints under the party’s Code of Conduct. In response to the cases brought to us, we have immediately suspended members and launched investigations. Many of these have led to expulsions.
Yesterday, I met with TellMAMA, an organisation doing tremendous work to support and protect Muslims in Britain. They recognise that the Conservative Party has acted swiftly in disciplining members who have expressed unacceptable attitudes towards Muslims, but we should always be looking to do more to stamp out anti-Muslim abuse or discrimination of any kind.
So I am taking the following steps:
- First, the Conservative Party will work closely with TellMAMA to give local associations tailored advice, support and guidance to deal with abuse and bigotry robustly.
- Second, I will make diversity training available to all members and association officers to improve awareness of discrimination and promote inclusion.
- Third, I will be writing to local associations to remind them of the standards of behaviour expected from representatives of the Party and to stress the importance of promoting tolerance and inclusivity.
- Finally, I will ask all local associations to report back to CCHQ about how they have dealt with locally reported complaints.
It is vital that we all work together to fight against an increasingly abusive public discourse – wherever it may come from – that coarsens public debate, and dissuades so many from playing an active role in public life. I am determined that our Party will take the lead in doing so, to build a country that gives voice to all communities in Britain.