REVEALED: Islamophobia from Conservative Councillor in Harlow

Gregory Davis - 18 04 24

Cllr James Leppard expressed Islamophobic sentiments and endorsed abuse of Sadiq Khan

HOPE not hate can reveal further evidence of the growing problem of extremism in the Conservative Party, this time from senior councillor James Leppard of Harlow District Council. First elected to represent Harlow Common ward in 2021 and standing for the same seat in the local elections on May 2nd, Leppard holds the key portfolio of Finance and Governance for the council.

Cllr Leppard has made a number of deeply Islamophobic statements on Facebook, saying of Muslims that “We really don’t need them here. They add nothing” and repeatedly endorsing Islamophobic abuse of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

These revelations are just the latest piece of evidence showing the scale of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, coming one week after Birmingham Councillor Rick Payne was forced to resign after HOPE not hate revealed his use of an anonymous Twitter account to spew anti-Muslim hatred. 

“We don’t need them here”

Prior to taking his seat on the council, Leppard was the admin of a small pro-Brexit Facebook group, ‘The Brexit Forum’, in which he discussed current affairs with a few hundred other Facebook users.

His posts in that forum are a disturbing read, showing a man who holds British Muslims in very low regard and holds hostile beliefs about Muslim politicians.

After posting a thread about the 2020 Vienna terror attacks, Leppard rejected another group member who urged him to consider the overwhelming majority of Muslims who do not engage in extremism or violence by responding that “we don’t need them here”: 

In another reply to the same thread, Leppard expanded by saying that Muslims “add nothing” to the UK, and that we should “give them a wide berth and not allow any to come here”:

“Not entirely unreasonable for people to acquire a fear, mistrust and aversion to Islam. Why are they in Western countries they clearly despise. […] We really don’t need them here. They add nothing.

Facebook post by Leppard, 3 November 2020

As with most of the Islamophobes we encounter, Leppard appears to harbour a particular aversion to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

In response to a thread on the topic of the removal of statues following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, Leppard ‘liked’ comments by group members who called Khan a “c*nt”, and others that invoked Khan’s religion as a means to attack him:

“we have a Muslim deciding what should and should not be history in the UK WE want a vote on the removal of all mosques”

“Let’s let Khan change history, but not until non Muslims can change the Quran”

Facebook comments “liked” by Leppard, 10 June 2020

In the same thread, Leppard responded with “well said as always” to another group member – who he has described as “old friend […] a very educated and erudite fellow” – when he laid out in explicit terms why he thought anyone who would vote for a Muslim mayor were “imbeciles”:

A Persistent Stain

The existence of a major problem with Islamophobia within the Conservative Party is nothing new. HOPE not hate has been warning for many years that anti-Muslim sentiment amongst party members and officials is at crisis levels; our most recent polling found that 40% of Conservative Party members have a negative view of Muslims

After what currently looks likely to be a bruising election for the party, those involved at every level will have to decide on the future direction of the Conservatives: join the crowded but unpopular ranks of the UK’s overtly anti-Muslim and anti-immigration parties, or attempt to steer the party back towards a more moderate and inclusive vision of Britain that has a far broader electoral appeal.


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