The Conservative Party is under pressure to explain why it failed to expel a member who shared Islamophobic hate online and allegedly organised a far-right protest outside an MP’s office.
Ex-Tory member Colin Raine ranted on Facebook about “aggressive muzzies” who he claimed were praying in public to “provoke a reaction”.
In the 2017 post, the military veteran, 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.
He was reported to the Tory party in November for allegedly organising a ‘save Brexit’ protest outside Labour MP Helen Goodman’s office.
But it seems that the party did not expel Raine and instead allowed his membership to expire, with the association chairman telling HuffPost UK he “decided not to apply for renewal”.
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.
She said: “My concern is not that people were exercising their right to protest in public: it is that a Conservative was lining up with the racist far-right, especially given that I receive representations from ethnic minority constituents who say they no longer feel safe.”
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.”
A series of posts online which appear to have been made by Raine were made during 2017.
Records of local elections show that a man called Colin Raine was a Conservative candidate for areas of Bishop Auckland in the 2005 and 2007 local elections.
He also used one online post to claim he had been a member of the party since 1997 and that he was a vice chair of his local branch.
The party will not comment on whether he held a position with the branch.
Henderson said Raine was “spoken to about his actions and views” but not expelled.
Raine instead “decided not to apply for renewal” of his membership, he said.
“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,” said Henderson.
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.”
It comes after anti-racism organisation Hope Not Hate claimed that the Conservative Party was “in denial” about Islamophobia among its grassroots.
A spokesman for the campaigning organisation said: “This is shameful from the Conservatives. These were brazenly hateful comments made by someone representing their party, from an individual who appeared to have little shame in also publicly associating with known far-right extremists.
“How long will the Tories continue to pretend they don’t have a problem with Islamophobia in their midst?”
Baroness Warsi, a former Conservative Party chairman, has also broken ranks to call for a full independent inquiry into anti-Muslim actions and behaviour in the party.
The Conservative Party has said it does not comment on internal processes.
HuffPost UK has attempted to contact Raine for comment.