Nusrat Ghani islamophobia case must mark a turning point, says Baroness Warsi


Baroness Warsi has described the allegations of islamophobia shared by Nusrat Ghani as "an open secret in Westminster" and urged for a change in attitudes in confronting Islamophobia.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme, Warsi stated that Ghani had struggled to be heard despite attempting to have the matter addressed behind closed doors for two years.

Ghani, who in 2015 became the first Muslim woman elected as an MP, was fired as transport minister without explanation during a reshuffle in February 2020. In an interview published this weekend in the Sunday Times, Ghani claims that her 'Muslimness' was cited as a reason for her dismissal.

Nusrat Ghani, pictured above

Commenting on the revelations, Baroness Warsi remarked: “What Nusrat has alleged is an open secret unfortunately in Westminster.

“Colleagues on the front and the backbench have known of these allegations and have known that ‘Nus’ has struggled to be heard, because, for nearly two years, Nus has been trying to have this matter resolved behind closed doors.”

In her interview with the Sunday Times, it was also revealed that Ghani raised the issue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson but was told that he could not get involved. She clarified that she decided against using the Conservative Party’s internal complaints process as she believed it was "very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on government business".

Warsi echoed Ghani’s remarks, emphasising the limitations of the party’s internal process when dealing with issues of islamophobia.

She said: “The process that the prime minister and others were asking her to use at that time was exactly the process that was subsequently criticised by the Singh report. For all It’s failings, the Singh report did say that the party process was not fit for purpose. So, not only was she being asked to use a process that was completely inappropriate, but it was a process that subsequently proved to be ineffective.”

Warsi questioned the party's internal policy for dealing with complaints of islamophobia.

For Baroness Warsi, this latest allegation of islamophobia mirrors previous cases which she believes have not been taken seriously enough, and have seen victims of discrimination dissuaded.

She believes this must mark a turning point: “There is a pattern in these cases. That pattern is apparent in the case of Nus Ghani and that pattern is this: Islamophobic racism is not viewed as seriously as other forms of bigotry and again we see that here. When it’s raised as an issue it’s made clear that it is a career-ending issue … therefore that creates a fear in others not to raise this issue.

“There’s never a proactive response. It’s always put back upon the complainant who’s mired in bureaucracy to try and be heard, and action is rarely taken. … The message that cannot be left at the end of this is the message that I’ve been hearing for years and years, that if you have the audacity to raise the issue of racism within the party within government then that is actually a career-ending issue - that cannot hold true after this case.

Mayowa Ayodele