Amanda Milling, the party’s co-chair, promised to act after a long-awaited probe branded the Tories’ complaint-handling unfit for purpose and warned “anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem”.
Ms Milling accepted “all the recommendations” and promised an action plan in six weeks’ time, admitting: “It is clear that there have been failings in our complaints process.”
But Professor Swaran Singh’s report failed to satisfy critics, some of whom branded it “a whitewash” and called for the equalities watchdog to launch its own investigation.
They seized on its refusal to even use the term Islamophobia, while Boris Johnson’s notorious remark about women wearing the burka was said to merely “give the impression” of being “insensitive”.
Sayeeda Warsi, a former Conservative chair, said the Singh report had exposed “a system that failed to protect victims of racism”, who were “painted as troublemakers for speaking out”.
Warning of unfinished business, she told The Independent: “The findings of the report do not support its conclusion that the party does not have an ‘institutional issue’.”
Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, warned: “It doesn’t go far enough to really address the institutional nature of Islamophobia.
“It cited so many cases, but that reality of the deep and entrenched and embedded Islamophobia within the party still remains to be addressed and to really be actioned by the Conservative Party themselves.”
And the grassroots Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) group announced it was writing to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), to urge it to step in.
The watchdog has long warned it will intervene if it believes the Tories are failing to take proper action and reacted to the Singh report by saying it would “evaluate his team’s findings carefully”.
MEND said: “The report fails to adequately tackle clear examples of Islamophobic and inflammatory comments at senior levels of the party, such as Boris Johnson’s comments on Muslim women in burqas.”
The language used about the prime minister’s remark “trivialises legitimate concerns and obscures the responsibility of party leadership”, it protested.
Sajjad Karim, a former Tory MEP, said: “The manner in which this inquiry has been conducted means it is nothing but an attempt to whitewash deep-rooted issues out of sight.”
The Singh report found that:
* The Conservatives recorded 1,418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination, between 2015 and 2020 – with two-thirds concerning anti-Muslim discrimination.
* The people interviewed by the investigation who experienced discrimination did so “at the level of a local party association”.
* Local anti-Muslim sentiment was “demonstrated by a number of social media complaints against party members which were upheld”.
* Many of those interviewed believed Islamist extremism was being conflated with Islam.
Marsha de Cordova MP, Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, said: “This report is a damning indictment of the discrimination rife in the Conservative Party, and it goes all the way up to the prime minister.
“Reports of Islamophobic hate crime spiralled in the weeks after Boris Johnson likened women who wear the burka to ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.”