'Star' is on his own as Asian candidate

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Indy Politics

He believes in corporal punishment, has a black belt in taekwondo and hates the euro with a passion.

He believes in corporal punishment, has a black belt in taekwondo and hates the euro with a passion.

As a result, Shailesh Vara, a solicitor and the Tory party's only Asian candidate in a winnable seat at the next election, will be unveiled today as the conference's official "Rising Star 2000".

Mr Vara, 40, will contest Northampton South, the ninth most marginal Labour seat with a majority of 744. With a required swing of just 1.3 per cent, it is a Tory candidate's dream.

As the treasurer of Conservative Lawyers and having spent more than a decade in party positions at local, regional and national level, it is no surprise that Mr Vara has clinched the plum spot.

In a party with no Asian or black MPs, he is something of a novelty. But in an interview with The Independent yesterday, he made clear that the dearth of ethnic minority candidates does not trouble him. "It's important that I am a Briton and I am a Conservative. That comes first. I'm not here to represent one section of the community over another," Mr Vara said.

"I don't believe the Tory party is racist. Don't forget that it takes a long time to become a candidate. For me, my race is irrelevant."

Having made his mark in the law and order debate last year, winning cheers for a return of corporal punishment, Mr Vara is no shrinking violet. He also has no qualms about the party's harder line on asylum and immigration. "If a person is a genuine asylum-seeker, who has fled real persecution, they won't mind being cared for in a safe, secure detention centre."

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