New week, new British row over some form of exclusivism

Rashmee Roshan Lall
2 min readFeb 26, 2024
Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash

New week, new British row over some form of exclusivism. This week, it’s accusations of Islamophobia in Britain’s governing Conservative Party.

A leading member of the party — former deputy chairman Lee Anderson, no less — accused London’s mayor of allowing “his mates” free rein in London during pro-Palestinian marches. The word “Islamist” was mentioned, which is obviously significant considering the London mayor in question is one Sadiq Khan, who belongs to the main opposition Labour Party.

On a GB News discussion, Mr Anderson said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London…People are just turning up in their thousands, and doing anything they want, and they are laughing at our police. This stems with Khan, he’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”

The Conservative Party promptly slapped Mr Anderson on the wrist and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that the comments were “wrong”, “not appropriate”. But he didn’t use the word “Islamophobic”, which was left to the pundits to drone on and on about. He didn’t embrace another term either — anti-Muslim hatred — which is favoured by the cabinet colleague who harbours the most ambition to oust Mr Sunak as party leader, British-Nigerian business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch.

Mr Anderson, meanwhile, blew metaphorical raspberries, saying “the comments I made weren’t racist, at all. They keep banding this word ‘Islamophobia’ about, nobody can explain what it really means”.

He’s got a point there. Islamophobia is not racism because Islam is not restricted to any particular race. That said Mr Sunak does seem to know what Islamophobia means because he told BBC Radio York he didn’t think his party had Islamophobic tendencies. And Mr Sunak’s fellow-Conservative, London mayoral hopeful Susan Hall, also seems to know just what Islamophobic means. “I may be one of Sadiq Khan’s biggest critics,” she said, “but I also see the monstrous abuse he gets as one of the country’s most prominent Muslim politicians. No one should have to put up with that, and I wholly condemn anyone who does it or fuels it. His faith is one of his positive characteristics, not something to be suspicious of”.

But 29 per cent of the great British public thinks the Conservatives have a problem with “anti-Muslim prejudice”, according to a new Savanta poll. And 41 per cent reckon its rival Labour Party still has a problem with anti-Semitism.

All this talk of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia is beginning to make me feel left out.

Originally published at



Rashmee Roshan Lall

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Writer. My novel 'Pomegranate Peace' is about my year in Afghanistan. I teach journalism at university in London