Ex-council candidate accuses Conservatives of prejudice and discrimination as he quits party

Accusations of Islamophobia, racism and discrimination have been thrown at the Conservative Party by a departing council candidate.

Brothers Amir and Ali Sadjady cancelled their party memberships last week amid claims of bullying and emotional blackmail.

Amir Sadjady, 41, who resigned from his position of deputy chair for Hammersmith Conservatives, also claimed there is a culture of fear in the Conservative Party which prevents people from speaking out.

The Conservative Party said the claims were strongly denied by his local association.

Small business owner Mr Sadjady said: “There is prejudice against anyone who doesn’t fit in to their make-up.

“It is initially about the way someone looks, about not being white and about not having the right sounding name.

“The people who do complain will get bullied, either directly, indirectly or emotionally.”

Mr Sadjady, who is Muslim and was born in the UK to Iranian parents, made a number of allegations about the conduct of the Conservative Party including being excluded by other members, inadequate selection processes, poor complaints procedures and inaction by the Conservative Campaign Headquarters.

He said: “If you don’t fit in in the way they want you to, they side-line you, they push you around.

“You lose your identity in the process. You lose your culture.

“They’re not looking to represent anyone who looks like me.”

Mr Sadjady said he raised the issue of the lack of black and minority ethnic councillor representation to a councillor, agent and person responsible for selection but claims his concerns were not addressed.

He was selected as a council candidate and allocated to Addison ward in 2016 but considered this to be an unwinnable seat following the 2017 General Election.

Mr Sadjady then started campaigning in Kensington after moving back to the area where he grew up.

But he claims he was not included on mailing lists for campaigning, was told his application for wards had gone missing and was only given three days’ notice for a selection event for Holland Park ward prompted after he asked why he had heard nothing for three months.

At that event he said there were fewer members than usual present and newcomers to the area, who did not know where Grenfell Tower was, were chosen ahead of him.

Mr Sadjady also alleges he was asked to door-knock certain houses while campaigning because the residents were not white and to have attended a selection event where no people of colour were chosen to ask a question.

He added: “Someone wasn’t selected in a certain area because they wouldn’t get the correct amount of votes because of their name profile.

“To not be allowed to progress, not because of one’s ability, but because of one’s ethnicity.”

Mr Sadjady said he met with the Head of the Voluntary Party, Ian Sanderson, to discuss his concerns in August 2018 but said he did not receive any communication afterwards from Mr Sanderson or his colleague who was also at the meeting.

He said the meeting was arranged with the help of the Chairman of the National Conservative Convention Andrew Sharpe OBE.

Mr Sadjady said: “Basically they said to me, well we know we have a problem but we’re not quite sure what to do with it.

“I don’t know if they took me seriously.

“They don’t know how it feels therefore it wasn’t something they could necessarily emphasise with.”

Mr Sadjady said the party is unwilling to deal with allegations of discrimination without proof.

He said: “The onus is on people to suffer, to somehow gather evidence and then come out, give the evidence and then be completely side-lined.

“They’re not actually trying to get rid of it.”

He said people in the Conservative Party are afraid to say anything because they are concerned it is going to affect their political careers.

Mr Sadjady said: “They are not even willing to like a tweet, that’s how scared they are.”

He thinks it is very unlikely that the Conservative Party is going to change.

I don’t think anyone is taking responsibility,” he said.

“I think this is the game that they are playing.

“They are just going to deny it, blanket denial, no comment, denial until one day someone’s going to come forward with significant compelling evidence that is going to incriminate everyone and they’re hoping that that day will never come or that people have got to where they want to be before that happens.

“No one is going to do anything that will jeopardise their popularity with the membership if their ambition is to become the leader and every MP wants to become the leader.

“It’s the same with local government.”

He claims two other friends have left the Conservative Party in the last year because of racism.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We take all allegations of discrimination or abuse extremely seriously, and have taken swift action when complaints have been submitted to us centrally.

“Mr. Sadjady’s claim that he was not selected for a local council seat because of his ethnicity has been strongly rejected by his local association.”

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