Shafi Rahman looks in to the impact of Baroness Warsi resignation on the British-Asian electorate
The fight in the Conservative party came to the fore as Treasury Minister Priti Patel, Prime Minister David Cameron’s new confidante from the British-Asian Community, challenging former Party chairperson Baroness Warsi’s claim that the “Conservatives can’t win the next election.”
Priti Patel MP, Prime Minister’s Indian Diaspora Champion, speaking to Asian Lite on the impact of Warsi resignation, said: “At the next General Election, the Conservative Party will have broad-based appeal amongst all hard-working families because of our highly successful record on the economy, which is the fastest-growing advanced economy this year.
Baroness Warsi was very critical of Cameron and his top team.
“I am a brown, working-class woman from the North. People have been telling me I’m not good enough since the day I was born,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Times. “Some of the bitchiest women I’ve ever met in my life are the men in politics. I don’t hold the fact that someone went to public school against them. I don’t hold the fact that they haven’t had the breadth of experience that some of us who didn’t go to public school have had. I hope that if I can be so understanding about their background and shortcomings, they can be understanding to those of us who haven’t had those opportunities.”
She added that the electoral reality is that “we will not win outright Conservative majorities until we start attracting more of the ethnic vote.”
But Priti challenged the issues raised by Baroness Warsi.
“The Conservatives have made such important progress in cleaning the mess left by the last Labour Government, and all voters need to fully realise that our economic gains and the UK’s fiscal wellbeing will be threatened by Ed Miliband, his weak leadership and his reckless tax-and-spend agenda,”
Tory backbencher Alec Shelbrooke said Lady Warsi had “embarrassed herself” and her criticisms would “quickly fizzle out”. He told the BBC: “I think within a week, ‘Who was Lady Warsi?’ will be the question. She has ended her career in many ways.” He said that Warsi’s comments are “unfortunate”, he suggested she had undermined her position by “spreading out into areas of different criticism”.
But Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Minister for London, is predicting the next year’s outcome will be a big shock to the Conservatives.
“Ethnic minorities are one amongst many groups that all political parties need to win over next year – and perhaps one of the most important,” he said.
“Just last week, the Conservative strategist Lynton Crosby said that the Prime Minister had nothing to gain by taking a harder line against Israel, because the Muslim vote will not be decisive to a victory in 2015. Well he could not have been more wrong. The British electorate has changed, and it is vital that our politics changes to reflect this,” says Mr Khan.
Labour MEP Afzal Khan, the most influential politician among the Pakistani community, said the resignation of Baroness Warsi from the cabinet as the latest sign of failure of the Conservatives to reach up to ethnic minorities.
Afzal Khan said “the Tories have been too busy looking after the interests of the rich and the corporates and they have no time for ethnic minorities.”
Khan said that the attempt of the Tories have been marred with series of failures.
The Conservatives won a 36% share of the vote at the last election, but gained the support of just 16 per cent of ethnic minority voters while the Labour bagged 68 per cent. The installation of Warsi was seen as attempt to gain ethnic Asian minority votes.
“Every time they make an effort, they are off the mark,” he said. Khan added that the recent stance of Government n Gaza crisis has exposed its failure. “The Government was not able to take a strong stand against Israel in the UN forums. They have failed the humanity in that sense,” he said.
“Research published by Operation Black Vote has concluded that any future majority government will only be possible with the support of ethnic minority voters. However it appears that those at the top of the Conservative Party are blind to this, and the only Conservative politician who appears to have recognised its importance has just resigned from Government,” Sadiq Khan added.