At least Ukip is openly bigoted – the Tories just hide their disdain for people like me

Too many Tory MPs harbour supremacist attitudes. The mask fools no one

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
Sunday 25 January 2015 20:09
Baroness Warsi has once again launched a bitter attack on the Government
Baroness Warsi has once again launched a bitter attack on the Government

Baroness Warsi – the Tory peer who resigned from the Cabinet five months ago – has once again launched a bitter attack on the Government.

The Coalition, she rightly says, is alienating good Muslims who want to work with fellow Britons to tackle radicalisation. We are marginalised and not heard. Previously, she bravely criticised David Cameron and co for not condemning Israel’s violent onslaughts on Gaza, which left more than 2,000 dead, including children and women. These are admirable interventions from a woman who was once the Tory party’s poster girl, the icon of inclusion and modernisation. Millions still remember the day she walked into 10 Downing Street in Pakistani garb, her face beaming.

But surely it is time to ask: what on earth is she doing in this party? Why did she join them years back? Did she think that Conservatives really valued people like her? More fool her – and the other black and Asian Tory MPs and peers who have persuaded themselves that the contemporary Conservative Party understands and welcomes diversity. Paul Uppal, an Asian Tory MP in Wolverhampton South West, tries hard to push this line: “I wouldn’t be a Tory if I didn’t feel the party is trying to change things and actually open the door for everyone in the UK, regardless of their ethnic background.” Warsi used to sing from the same song sheet, not long ago.

These loyalists remind me of those old maharajas who craved approval from the haughty imperial rulers even after their lands and wealth had been taken. And Mancherjee Bhownagree, a rich Indian who was elected Tory MP in Bethnal Green in 1895. A keen supporter of the Raj and his masters, he was derided as “Bow-and-Agree”. Tories still treated him as an outsider, an interloper, a coolie upstart.

Yes, undeniably, the party now has several able non-white elected and appointed men and women, some of whom are flying high. In contrast, the Lib Dems have no minority MPs. I have good Tory friends whom I trust completely. But that trust does not extend to the party. Too many MPs and party members still harbour colonial and supremacist attitudes. Their main election strategist, the Australian Lynton Crosby, is thought to be behind nasty anti-immigrant campaigns in both Australia and the UK and he will use these tactics again as Ukip gets more popular. Cameron – who projects himself as a cosmopolitan, 21st-century leader – appointed Crosby. The mask now fools no one. At least Ukip is open about its bigotry.

Last summer, after watching me argue with the columnist Rod Liddle on Channel 4 News, MP Michael Fabricant tweeted that he could never appear on a discussion programme with me as he would end up punching me in the throat. I’ve never met the man. What made him so violently angry?

I think Fabricant was expressing something visceral, a deep loathing of a woman of colour who is not docile, not humble, doesn’t know her place. Too many of his tribe think the same. They hated Warsi for the same reason. Last week, a slightly tipsy Tory activist told me that Priti Patel, the Asian Tory MP for Witham in Essex, now a Treasury minister, should go run a corner shop: “She has been over-promoted just because she is an ethnic [sic]. She doesn’t understand Conservatism and doesn’t belong. The other coloured MPs are the same – outsiders. No offence.” We should be grateful to these loose-tongued gentlemen. They don’t spin, don’t pretend.

All this explains why barely 16 per cent of black and Asian voters are attracted to the Tories. In 2010, Lord Ashcroft funded a large survey of ethnic minority Britons and their voting intentions. Some 10,000 people were interviewed. The report, Degrees of Separation, warned: “The Conservative Party’s problem with ethnic minority voters is costing it seats. Secondly, it is not right that in contemporary Britain, a large part of the population should feel that a mainstream party of government, which aspires to represent every part of society in the whole country’s interest, has nothing to say to them.”

Operation Black Vote, which tries to encourage political engagement among black and Asian Britons, estimates that in 168 marginal seats the ethnic vote will swing it one way or the other. For a while, the Tories did seem to be listening. But now they are becoming more Ukip-y, more white.

Sima Kotecha, an excellent Radio 4 reporter, talked to ethnic minority voters in 2013. Several of them, including those who seemed natural Tories, said that David Cameron’s party was “racist” and virulently anti-immigrant. I have spoken to people from various communities who say the same thing. A number of them also remember that Tories have always opposed laws to promote equality and end unfair discrimination. Under the Coalition, race laws have fallen into disuse while racism is increasing. Tories don’t care about us or our rights. They don’t like or respect us. So why should intelligent, informed, proud black and Asian citizens vote for them?

Doesn’t ‘The Sun’ realise that Page 3 is so last century?

The Sun thought it was being really smart last week, and funny. First, it seemed to have dropped its Page 3 tit pics and, then, as feminists rejoiced, resumed the “tradition” and had a good old laugh about it. Not smart, not funny. The cavemen who run the paper and salivate over the half-naked women seem not to have noticed how stupid they seem in today’s fast-moving world.

And the women who oblige seem to be even stupider. Is this all they are? All they want to be? Time to put them away, ladies. You can be more than two bits hanging out, a saddo wanker’s solace. I know some of these nudes were savvy and got very rich. But selling yourself as meat is not clever. Not ever.

In the 1990s, the lads’ mag Loaded was a boob bazaar, packed with breasts of every variety. Today it has no pin-ups. Its editor, Aaron Tinney, explains why: “It’s a question of what have these models done to deserve that platform? Is that really a career for a woman these days?” Incidentally, Tinney worked for The Sun and he is not sympathetic to feminism, but his questions are spot on. These images are so last century. They should disappear now, consigned to the mausoleums that hold Benny Hill shows and the embarrassing Carry On ... films.

Women have breasts and men have balls. No big deal. Get over it, chaps.

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