From The Guardian: Conservative MPs are warning of a risk of entryism in the party as the pro-Brexit group Leave.EU encourages its supporters to become members in order to back Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg in a future leadership contest.
Conservative party rules mean anyone who has been a member for more than three months can vote in a leadership contest. Grassroots members have the final say between a pair of candidates, selected by Conservative MPs in a series of ballots.
Leave.EU was set up by the rightwing businessman and Ukip-backer Arron Banks to fight the 2016 referendum, but lost out to the more mainstream Vote Leave in its bid to be the official Brexit campaign group.
It claims to have 88,000 supporters, and is urging them to “flood” the Tory party to elect a “true Brexiteer” such as Johnson or Rees-Mogg.
“These people are absolutely dedicated to their cause. And you don’t need an awful lot of people to make a huge amount of difference – so it’s really worrying,” said the Tory MP Anna Soubry.
From The Independent: The Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim violence, has reported an increase in incidents of abuse aimed at women wearing the niqab or hijab over the past week [since Boris Johnson‘s derogatory comments].
From The Guardian:Boris Johnson’s support among grassroots Conservatives, already resurgent in the wake of his resignation over Brexit, appears to have been bolstered further by his claim that Muslim women in burqas resemble letterboxes and bank robbers.
Tory activists have claimed that party members admire the former foreign secretary’s “straight talking” on the controversial issue and suggested his words implied he had listened to some of their concerns about community integration.
One senior grassroots activist said the membership was unlikely to be offended by his choice of language. “I doubt it. They’ll know what Boris is doing. They know how he operates – and they like it. The grassroots talk straight and polishing everything with Westminster-speak is not the way they do it. It won’t do him any harm.”
In March, the then foreign secretary was forced to eat humble pie after referring to his Labour opposite number, Emily Thornberry, as the “Lady Baroness whatever” in the House of Commons – an apparent reference to the title of her husband, Sir Christopher Nugee.
His comment brought a sharp dressing down from the Speaker, John Bercow, who said his language was “inappropriate and frankly sexist”. A contrite Johnson insisted he had meant no harm and apologised “unreservedly” if he hurt Thornberry’s feelings.
More seriously, he faced calls to resign in November following claims that his careless comments about a British-Iranian woman held in Iran had jeopardised her chances of release. Giving evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, Johnson said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists” at the time of her arrest, even though she maintained she was on holiday.
Her dismayed family said the error had been seized upon by Iranian authorities as proof that she represented a threat to the government.
From Evolve Politics: The mainstream media’s wall-to-wall coverage of the seemingly never-ending Labour anti-Semitism saga shows that they *clearly* must care about the issue a great deal. However, given the unprecedented coverage they’ve given to Labour’s ongoing issues surrounding antisemitism, it seems slightly odd that the same people have offered nothing but eerie silence regarding three top Conservative politicians holding secret meetings with Steve Bannon, an openly racist White Supremacist neo-Nazi leader who is accused of outright antisemitism, and whose supporters were recorded chanting “Jews will not replace us“. Very odd indeed.
From The Courier: The chairman of the Scottish Conservatives’ youth wing has been accused of anti-Semitism after using a phrase developed by the Nazis.
James Bundy, an economics student at St Andrews University, posted on social media at the weekend about a BBC package about gender stereotypes and children that the corporation was using “his taxpayers money….to promote cultural Marxism” – sparking a backlash from some quarters.
The tweet was removed after The Courier asked the Tories about it, but Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said it was “utterly unacceptable” for a leading figure within a mainstream political party to “use and normalise” a term which has such anti-Semitic underpinnings.
Cultural Marxism was a conspiracy theory developed in Nazi Germany to demonise Jews, and is a term consistently used by far-right groups such as the BNP.
Norwegian far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik also used the term over a hundred times in his “manifesto” before committing the Utoya Island massacre and Oslo bombing in July 2011.
From The Guardian: A Conservative MEP has come under fire for suggesting that Britain’s Treason Act should be updated to apply to citizens who are “working undemocratically against UK through extreme EU loyalty”.
David Bannerman, a former Ukip deputy leader who defected back to the Conservatives in 2011, told the Guardian he was referring to those who might leak confidential information that would damage Britain’s interests after Brexit.
The MEP tweeted on Wednesday: “It is about time we brought the Treason Act up to date and made it apply to those seeking to destroy or undermine the British state. That means extreme jihadis. It also means those in future actively working undemocratically against UK through extreme EU loyalty.”
From The Guardian: Theresa May is under pressure to explain whether she knew about allegations of “extreme bullying” against the disgraced former minister Andrew Griffiths when she promoted him to government within days of becoming prime minister.
Griffiths, the prime minister’s former chief of staff who was forced to resign as a minister for sending hundreds of sexually explicit messages to two women, had been accused of bullying a council leader for several years when May took office in July 2016.
The complaints are understood to include claims that the Tory MP sent abusive text messages to Richard Grosvenor, the leader of the Tory-run East Staffordshire borough council.
Despite the complaint being acknowledged by Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) in emails up to January 2016, Grosvenor said his allegations were never properly investigated.
Six months later, in July 2016, Griffiths was appointed lord commissioner of the Treasury and senior government whip in May’s first government.
From The Guardian: Andrew Griffiths, the minister for small business, has resigned from the government after being found to have sent more than 2,000 explicit messages to two women in his constituency.
The Conservative MP for Burton, and Theresa May’s former chief of staff, released a statement saying apologising for what he had done, after the texts were put to him by the Sunday Mirror.
In the statement, the 47-year-old junior minister said: “I am deeply ashamed at my behaviour which has caused untold distress to my wife and family, to whom I owe everything, and deep embarrassment to the prime minister and the government I am so proud to serve.
He said he would be seeking professional help to address his unacceptable behaviour sending sex texts. “I do not seek to excuse my behaviour and will be seeking professional help to ensure it never happens again.
From Channel 4 News FactCheck: Michael Fabricant has been captured on video standing in front of what appeared to be the flag of apartheid South Africa on the mantelpiece of his parliamentary office.
South Africa used the tricolour design between 1928 and 1994, and it was flown throughout the apartheid era, when South Africans were forced to live separately along racial lines and non-white citizens were openly discriminated against.
The flag became a symbol of the apartheid system and was regularly set on fire by protesters in a show of defiance.
Earlier this year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation called for the old flag to be banned from public display after became a feature of demonstrations by white farmers in the country.
The foundation said: “These displays demonstrably compound the pain experienced by millions of black South Africans who suffered under apartheid and continue to struggle under its legacy.”
Asked why he had an apartheid-era South Africa flag on his mantelpiece, Mr Fabricant replied on Twitter: “It’s alongside an old soviet-era USSR Hammer & Sickle flag – just out of shot. The cameraman can confirm. They are places I went on work visits in the 1980s. I am neither a Communist nor a supporter of apartheid.”
From The Guardian: Sayeeda Warsi has called on the Conservatives to launch a “full independent inquiry” into Islamophobia in the party and warned the Tories were pursuing a politically damaging policy of denial about the problem in its own ranks.
The former Conservative party chair accused incumbent Brandon Lewis of a “woefully inept” response to recent complaints and added that MP Zac Goldsmith should receive “mandatory diversity training” following his unsuccessful attempt to beat Sadiq Khan to the London mayoralty.
Writing for the Guardian, Lady Warsi said: “I’ve been warning my party of its ‘Muslim problem’ for far too long,” and said that elite indifference to the issue meant the Tories were stuck with a political strategy that amounted little more than “fuck the Muslims”.
From The Guardian: The Muslim Council of Britain has accused the Conservative party of hoping allegations of Islamophobia in its ranks will “magically go away” and complained that the party’s chairman has not responded to its call for an internal inquiry.
Three weeks after it first raised the issue, the group wrote again to Brandon Lewis on Tuesday highlighting further allegations of anti-Muslim prejudice within Tory ranks. It said it was not acceptable to turn “a blind eye to legitimate concerns about bigotry”.
The MCB said further examples of alleged Islamophobic abuse had emerged, including the former party chair Sayeeda Warsi saying she had been racially abused at meetings, and a pro-Tory Facebook group that contained a string of anti-Muslim threats.
From The National: SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked: “Mr Speaker, what options are available to us in this house to ensure that the Government understands real concern among people in Scotland at this unprecedented power grab, and how can we make sure that our voices are heard?”
Immediately after the MP asks “what options are available”, an MP can be heard shouting “suicide”.
Multiple reports from the Chamber have suggested Tory MP Ian Liddell Grainger, who represents Bridgwater & West Somerset, was responsible for the comment.
From The Independent: A former Conservative parliamentary candidate who quit the party over its treatment of black and minority ethnic communities has said that, as the son of two refugees, he was “unable to look at himself in the mirror”.
“…The Conservative Party and many within it seem to have a notion that Islam is not compatible with British values and therefore not compatible with the Conservative 1Party.
“…I realised was I could not pursue the values of openness, tolerance and inclusivity that are dear to me whilst a member of the Conservative Party. I’m proud to say I joined Welsh Labour earlier this year.”
From The Independent: The Muslim Council of Britain has written to the Conservative Party calling for an urgent inquiry following “more than weekly occurrences of Islamophobia from candidates and representatives of the party”.