Baroness Warsi's resignation seriously dents the Tories’ supposedly inclusive image

Cameron now faces an uphill struggle to win support from UK's Muslim communities

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When David Cameron appointed Sayeeda Warsi to become Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet minister in 2010 he sent a strong message to ethnic minority voters: the Conservatives are now an inclusive party.

But it is a sentiment that has not survived. While Baroness Warsi’s resignation was a principled decision on Gaza it also partly reflects her wider frustration at the failure of the Conservatives to live up to their promises of 2010.

From the tone of ministers’ rhetoric on immigration, to the bandying around of emotive phases like “extremism” in relation to the Trojan Horse affair, ministers have too often appeared tone deaf to the concerns of Muslim communities in Britain for whom faith and culture matter hugely. And while Baroness Warsi, a Yorkshire-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants, has fought to temper that rhetoric, it is a battle she feared she was losing.

Gaza has been a case in point. While Mr Cameron claims to have been even-handed, his statements on the crisis have tended to emphasise the right of Israel to defend itself over the condemnation of Palestinian deaths. Even the Foreign Office was said to be shocked by a recent statement from Downing Street that “expressed condolences for the deaths of Israeli troops” but only “concern” about “mounting civilian casualties” in Gaza.

It is hard to overestimate how badly this has played in British Muslim communities. And for Mr Cameron it could also have a significant impact on Tory election prospects. In order to win a majority the Tories will have to do well in urban, marginal seats with sizable ethnic minority populations. Yesterday Mr Cameron lost a good, competent minister – but he may also have reduced his chances of winning the election.

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