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The Double Standards Towards Racism in the Conservative Party

Ahead of the election, we have, as always, seen a crop of headlines attacking the character of specific candidates. This year we are seeing a lot of headlines uncovering the true views held by candidates standing for ‘Reform UK’

A recent example, of a racist comment directed at present Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was uncovered by Channel 4. Sunak was born in Southampton to parents of Indian descent. Nevertheless, Reform UK activist Andrew Parker was recorded using an abhorrent, racist remark to describe the Prime Minister. Such language is unacceptable, and has in this instance been condemned, across the political spectrum.

Regardless of whether we also think Mr Sunak is “wet”, and glossing over the more awful language used, ad hominem attacks should never be paid any heed - they are politically irrelevant. 

The response to these vulgar and pointless remarks is, however, worth investigating. Rishi Sunak himself called out the comments, drawing particular attention to how they affect his daughters. He also addressed Reform UK leader Nigel Farage’s role in all this, saying he has ‘some questions to answer’. 

Sunak went further, stating that he does ‘not repeat those words lightly’  for it is ‘too important not to call out clearly for what it is.’ Acknowledging his role not only as Prime Minister but also as the father to two young girls, the Conservative Party leader reaffirmed his duty to ‘call out vile and corrosive behaviour.’ 

But why is this response politically significant?

The Conservative Party has not exactly built up its moral authority of late. Their rhetoric has degraded everyone from the Metropolitan Police to migrants. Continuing to accept donations from the racist Frank Hester - who earned that epithet by saying that looking at Diane Abbot ‘makes you want to hate all black women’ and that she ‘should be shot’ - did not help their case. It can only make us doubt the sincerity of Rishi Sunak’s moral outrage at the racism he recently experienced.

Indeed if the Conservative Party really occupied such an overtly anti-racist position, it wouldn’t consistently leave its own racism unpunished. Councillor Smith Benson used the same racist slur recently used against the Prime Minister all the way back in 2010 and was allowed to keep his post. Zac Goldsmith was elevated to the Lords and enjoyed a number of ministerial portfolios after conducting a campaign which was judged to be, to some extent, islamophobic by figures across the political spectrum.

These racisms festering in the Conservative Party’s heart and history cripple Rishi Sunak’s ability to act against racism even when, grotesquely, directed at him and his family.

Image: Number 10

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