Asians quit Tory party over 'racism': Claims of plot at Central Office to block ethnic minorities

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The Independent Online
ALL the elected officials of a Conservative Party Constituency Association - all of Asian origin - have resigned from the party amid allegations of racism and right- wing plots.

Qayyum Chaudhary, chairman of the Small Heath Conservative Constituency Association in Birmingham, has quit, along with his deputies Arif Khan and Moeen Chowdary, vice-chairman Nasreen Kayani, treasurer Saghir Ahmed and ward chairmen Farid Khan and Noor Hussain.

Mr Chaudhary alleged that right-wingers at Conservative Central Office plotted to prevent members from ethnic minorities from being put on to the candidates' list from which prospective candidates are chosen to stand.

'We are not the right colour or creed for them. Pressure from the right wing has resulted in frustration and disappointment by people who have spent much time, money and energy for the party,' Mr Chaudhary said. He added that other non-executive party members were resigning too.

'I contested this seat for the Tories at the last election and then afterwards I was told that I could not be a candidate. No one told me why. I could not get a straight answer and if I wrote to anybody I did not get a reply,' he said.

A Central Office spokesman dismissed his claims. 'He became a constituency chairman and yet he is saying that he cannot get on in the party. He was a parliamentary candidate in 1992. We actively encourage members from ethnic minorities to become candidates at every level of representation.'

He added: 'There are a number of candidates from ethnic minorities on the candidates' lists. Individual members' resigning is a matter for them. The association in Small Heath will continue.'

Bernard Zissman, leader of the Tory group on Birmingham City Council, said: 'I think this is a great storm in a teacup. It is sad that we are losing people but Small Heath is not exactly a hotbed of Conservatism in Birmingham.' He added: 'I have been leader of the Tory group for a couple of years and Mr Chaudhary has never been to see me to suggest that there may be something wrong.'

Mr Chaudhary, who sits on the West Midlands area committee of the party's One Nation Forum, added disenchantment among Small Heath Tories had been heightened by heavy-handed enforcement of immigration laws.

Mr Chaudhary alleges that a female party member, who married someone from the Indian sub-continent, was refused permission to bring her husband into Britain, although she wanted to stay to care for two seriously ill siblings.

Another member was refused permission to bring her fiance to Britain for their wedding, on a short-term visa, after which they would have returned to the Indian sub-continent. She had to take her family to her wedding overseas at a cost of pounds 8,000. 'This particular problem started last year before we could challenge decisions through adjudications and we usually won. But last year the right of appeal was taken away,' Mr Chaudhary, an immigration adviser, said.

'I find it very difficult to operate because there is no way that I can assist our members . . . If they have a problem and we refer it to the Government, we do not get any helpful response.'