POLITICS
01/03/2019 15:45 GMT | Updated 02/03/2019 11:16 GMT

Tory Party Showing 'Tell-Tale Signs Of Institutional Racism' Over Islamophobia, Says Baroness Warsi

Former party chair says Conservatives "hiding behind bureaucracy".

The Conservative Party is showing “worrying tell-tale signs of institutional racism” over its handling of Islamophobia, Baroness Warsi has said. 

It comes after HuffPost UK revealed the Tories failed to expel member Colin Raine, despite him sharing hate online and an allegation he was behind a far-right protest at an MP’s office. 

Raine’s membership was instead allowed to expire, Bishop Auckland Conservative Association confirmed. 

Reacting to the story, Warsi tweeted: “Reactive not proactive; hiding behind bureaucracy; using process as an excuse; failing to acknowledge the challenge; opaque complaints system. 

“All these are worrying tell tale signs of institutional racism @Consevatives.” 

The Conservatives stressed that Raine is no longer a member of the party. 

Warsi is a former chair of the Conservatives and has made repeated calls for a full independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the party. 

The campaigning organisation Hope Not Hate last month accused the party of being “in denial’ about the extent of anti-Muslim feeling among its rank and file. 

Warsi also raised the case of a Tory member who appeared to have called Pakistani immigrants “animals” and claimed that “no Muslim ever invented anything”. 

She called on Lewis to take action. 

Lewis replied that the man, who called himself Stephen John Letherbarrow in the posts, had been suspended from the party pending an investigation. 

 A Conservative spokesman said: “When cases have been reported to CCHQ the party has consistently acted decisively, suspending or expelling those involved and launching an immediate investigation.

“The swift action we take not just on anti-Muslim discrimination, but discrimination of any kind is testament to the seriousness with which we take such issues.”

Military veteran Raine ranted on Facebook about “aggressive muzzies” who he claimed were praying in public to “provoke a reaction”. 

In a 2017 post, Raine, who was then a member of Bishop Auckland Conservative Association, added: “If it is a fight they want I feel they will soon get one.”  He has also called those who back remaining in the European Union “traitors”. 

Raine further boasted online about meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017 and has previously stood as a Tory candidate in local elections.

A social media post from 2017 shows Colin Raine with the PM

He was reported to the Tory party in November for allegedly organising a ‘save Brexit’ protest outside Labour MP Helen Goodman’s office. 

In November last year, Goodman wrote to Tory chairman Brandon Lewis, informing him that the protest included members of the far-right group the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and an English Defence League splinter group called North East Infidels.

Lewis replied some three weeks later to say that Raine “is not a member”. 

Bishop Auckland Conservative Association chairman Ted Henderson has confirmed Raine was a member of the party for a year, but has refused to say when his membership expired or why Raine has not been banned. 

Just three weeks before the protest at Goodman’s office, Raine was filmed by the Newcastle Chronicle at a pro-Brexit march in Sunderland. 

In a video on its website, he is wearing a blue rosette and tells the reporter: “I’m Colin Raine and I’m here representing the Conservative Party.”

Raine was “spoken to about his actions and views” but not expelled. Instead Henderson said that Raine had “decided not to apply for renewal” of his membership. 

“We as an association, and myself as the chair, were very uncomfortable with Colin’s views and his apparent association with some extreme groups of individuals,” he said. 

Goodman told HuffPost UK: “I am disappointed to learn that the Tory commitment to tackling racism is so paper thin that they didn’t take any action and just waited for his membership to expire.”