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Ten facts about the new Tory Chairman, Sayeeda Warsi

The BBC World Service profiles Sayeeda Warsi - the Chairman of the Conservative Party and the first Asian and Muslim to sit in a British Cabinet.

Screen shot 2010-06-04 at 13.57.16Listen to the 25 minute profile here but I provide a bullet point summary below:

  1. Her father was a bus conductor after originally coming to Britain almost penniless. Later in life he became a multi-millionaire, manufacturing beds and mattresses.
  2. Her mother came from a middle class environment and insisted that her daughter could become a teacher, doctor, pharmacist, accountant or lawyer - but not, as she originally wanted, a actress.  
  3. She rejected Labour because it wasn't an aspirational party. Labour wanted to give Asians extra money but did not believe in the power of education and independence.
  4. When she unsuccessfully stood for Dewsbury in 2005 she joked that she was too white for half of the electorate and too female for the other half.
  5. 'I hardly use the title The Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury because it makes me sound like a pub'! She says there are benefits to being unelected. She says she can speak her mind and stand up for the good of the country without fear of upsetting consituents.
  6. Describing herself as a British Muslim, she says she has changed her "ill-judged" views (from 2003/2004) on homosexuality since she has met and worked with openly gay people. She declares herself in support of same sex partnerships.
  7. She criticises Labour for believing that none of the Blair-Brown actions overseas played any role whatsoever in radicalising UK Muslims. She implies that the UK government's actions were part of a process of radicalism.
  8. After ending seventeen years of an arranged marriage - during which time she had a daughter of her own (now 12) - she has remarried and has four step-children. She regrets she sees so little of them but doesn't buy them off with expensive trainers but with the thought that they are sacrificing for the greater good.
  9. Baroness Warsi says there would have been a lot more women in the Cabinet if the Tories had ruled alone.
  10. I don't represent any ethnic minority at the Cabinet table. Most of all, she jokes, she represents the blunt speaking of Yorkshire.

Tim Montgomerie


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