Oni Oviri writes that while the Swaran Report highlights that race issues persist within the Conservative Party, they are not exclusive to the Conservatives, and Labour also has plenty of work to do.

It is unsurprising the vuvuzela style noise experienced after the Sewell Race Report has not been repeated with the recently published report by Professor Swaran Singh on all forms of discrimination within the Conservative Party. Dominic Cummings is certainly a distraction but equally because the main finding from the 18-month investigation is that the Conservatives are just bad at handling complaints. The 44,000 word report found that allegations of institutional racism against the party, an accusation levelled by the former Party Chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, were not borne out by the evidence available but it did find that there were some issues which would make for "uncomfortable reading among the leadership".

It was during the 2019 Conservative leadership candidates race that ex-Chancellor, Sajid Javid, raised the issue of Islamophobia in the party and asked the other candidates to commit to an inquiry on discrimination. All candidates agreed and Prof. Singh, a former Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, took on the task of Chairing the investigation and the report. He analysed 1418 complaints relating to 727 separate incidents between 2015-2020 and found that two-thirds of all incidents reported to the Conservative Party headquarters related to allegations of alleged anti-Muslim discrimination. 74% of cases related to social media activity. He concluded that "Judging by the extent of complaints and findings of misconduct by the party itself that relates to anti-Muslim words and conduct, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party". But he stated that there was no evidence that the complaints were treated any different from other forms of discrimination.

The blame for any anti-Muslim sentiment appears to lie at the local Conservative Party Association level. Sajid Javid, in an op-ed, remarked that he "was rejected by one association because some members didn't think locals would vote for a Muslim to be their MP". The report acknowledges that discriminatory behaviours occur and calls on the party to introduce sweeping changes including producing a mandatory code of conduct within a year.

The Conservative party has struggled in recent decades to attract ethnic minority voters. In the 2019 election, 20 per cent of ethnic minority voters backed the Tories compared to 64 per cent for Labour.

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However, we are reminded that the Conservatives are not the only UK political party to suffer from accusations of institutional racism. The Labour party has faced repeated accusations it did not take anti-Semitism seriously under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile their Forde inquiry into alleged racist comments made to Labour Black and Asian MPs, Councillors, members and staff alike, has been shelved indefinitely. It is not hard to see why. The Labour Party habitually revel in putting blinkers on the wider ethnic minority debate often to deflect their own internal racism issues. Members who feel alienated are told that discussions on racism undermines the Party leader. A recent open letter from Labour's Black MPs, including Diane Abbott, Clive Lewis and Marsha De Cordova, addressed to party leader Kier Starmer, warned that failing to publish the Forde report risked "doubling down on the impression that the party does not take issues of anti-black racism seriously". A black Labour Councillor commented, "They don't value us. As a community, we are politically lost".

It is a historic misconception to assume the Labour Party is the Party for minority ethnic voters and members. Whilst the Conservative Party have always promoted a positive message about opportunity and ambition-the values that encouraged me to become an elected Councillor in 2018 and no doubt propelled Sajid Javid and Baroness Warsi into senior political party positions, the Labour Party focused on apartheid style categorisations on the grounds of ethnicity, to drive division and make people more conscious of their differences rather than their similarities. The term Black and Minority Ethnics for example, first used by the Labour Party MP Bernie Grant in 1987 and shortened to BAME in recent years, is a term deeply unliked. The Sewell report was right to remark on this term, calling for its use to be disaggregated. The pessimistic binary analytical narrative about race have only encouraged the rise of identity politics. It is no wonder that the use of BAME by the media in discussions on the impact of Covid-19 on minority ethnic communities, triggered off five public led petitions calling for the banning of the term.

Whilst the Labour Party's sentiments on their treatment of minority ethnics is reported as being "good enough to deliver votes and leaflets" but not to reach leadership roles, it is always the Conservative Party who have done what they are best at and actually delivered on a considerable number of firsts relating to minority ethnic progression in politics. Dating back to 1832, John Stewart became the first mixed-race MP representing Lymington followed by Indian born Sir Mancherjee Bhownaggree MP, elected in 1895 to represent the constituency of Bethnal Green North East. With the minority ethnic categorisations in place today, the Conservative Party could proudly boast a number of other historic minority ethnic firsts dating back to Disraeli – British born, with an Italian, Portuguese and Sephardic Jewish background.

In essence, the Conservative Party have always been the party who focus on merit and that is why the Party have double the number of minority ethnic Cabinet Members today compared to the Labour Party. Boris Johnson has as many minorities around his Cabinet table than the Labour Party have had minority ethnic Cabinet Members in their entire history.

This is why the Swaran report is welcome, reinforcing the conclusions of the Sewell Race Report and offering concerted recommendations. Of course, there is always more that can be done, particularly within the grassroot party membership, on social media online interactions and by the general public as a whole. It is incumbent on us all to recognise and bridge the divide in society as reasoned and civilised human beings.

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