Cards on the table. This site first called for an enquiry into anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice as long ago as 2010. If any right-of-centre media outlet did so before then, we’re not aware of it.
Last year, we suggested that the Extremism Commissioner look at hatred and prejudice more widely in a single inquiry – including anti-Muslim hatred, of course. It would need to be a major strand of such an investigation. This is the broad route that the Government is going down.
Some say that there should be a stand-alone inquiry into anti-Muslim hatred focusing on the Conservative Party alone – perhaps commissioned independently by the Party itself. They add that the main Tory leadership candidates, including Boris Johnson, committed to one during the contest.
For the record, the Conservative Party clearly has a problem with anti-Muslim hatred – though not remotely on the same scale as Labour’s anti-semitism one. It is also worth looking at the tape to see what was actually said and by whom. The forum was a BBC debate. Viewers will find the relevant section at 1.23 minutes in.
- Sajid Javid says: “You’re all good guys. Shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative Party into Islamophobia?”
- Jeremy Hunt says “absolutely”, and emphasises his view by stretching out his arms and opening his hands in a gesture of agreement.
- Michael Gove moves his head up and down very slightly. It looks more like a movement of assent than not, but he says nothing.
- Boris Johnson nods, then shakes his head sideways, then barks something. It might be agreement – or one of those characteristic wordless Johnson expostulations.
- Javid then says: “Rory, you agree?” to Rory Stewart. Stewart nods. Readers will remember that he didn’t fully engage with the debate.
It is true that none of the candidates dissented from Javid’s challenge. That can certainly be read as assent. But, contrary to some claims, we can’t see any evidence from the tape that Johnson explicitly committed himself to a Conservative-only investigation.