Almost half of Conservative party members believe Islam “a threat to the British way of life,” according to a poll which has reignited concerns over Islamophobia within Britain’s ruling party.
It found that more than one-third of card-carrying Tories believed that Islamist terror attacks reflected a widespread hostility to Britain among the Muslim community, and nearly six in 10 thought “there are no-go areas in Britain where sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter.”
Attitudes hardened among those who had backed Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership election, 44% of whom believed that Islamist terror reflected widespread hostility of British Muslims, and two-thirds of whom believed there were “no-go areas”.
Conservative members were far more likely to have negative attitudes towards Muslims than members of the public in general, 30% of whom said they thought Islam was a threat, according to the poll, which was commissioned by the antiracism organisation Hope Not Hate.
According to the YouGov poll of 1,213 Conservative party members, almost six in 10 card-carrying Tories had a negative attitude towards Muslims, scoring them 50 or below when asked to rate their feeling towards various religious minorities on a scale of 0-100.
A fifth indicated that they had a very negative attitude towards Muslims, rating them 20 or below – compared with only 3% who indicated a similarly negative attitude towards Hindus, Jews or Sikhs.
Commenting on the findings, the former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi said: “This latest poll is further evidence that the party has a real and serious issue with racism directed at Muslims.
“It’s been consistently raised with the party since 2015. The refusal of the party to take the matter seriously has meant that these abhorrent views have been allowed to fester and grow – the culture of impunity must stop.”
The poll comes four months after the Equality and Human Rights Commission dropped plans for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party, despite having received a dossier from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) detailing more than 300 separate allegations of Islamophobic comments and actions by Tory activists, councillors and political advisers. Instead, the party said it would conduct its own review to look into how complaints are handled.
The poll’s findings form part of Hope Not Hate’s submission to the inquiry.
A spokesperson for the MCB said: “For years, we have been alarmed at how entrenched deeply Islamophobic views are in the Conservative party, and this polling, coupled with the MCB’s dossier of over 300 members engaging in Islamophobia is further evidence of how institutional, systemic and embedded in the culture of the Conservative party this is.”
The Conservative party has been approached for comment.