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Baroness Warsi is the most powerful example of Tory feminism

By Joseph Willits 
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WarsiWith the release of 'The Iron Lady' last Friday, political commentary has focused on feminism, and women in politics a great deal. This morning in a Telegraph blog, Cristina Odone discusses the superiority of Tory feminism. She writes:

"Blue feminists don’t go in for the tokenism their red counterparts support. They despise positive discrimination as a confidence-sapper. Red feminists want the nomenklatura filled with quotas and box-ticking representatives; but blue feminists argue that women, like men, should be chosen on merit, not sex. Knowing they’re the best for the job gives them the self-confidence that the Left’s token women lack."

Whilst other commentators have been keen to focus on rising female Tory MPs such as Louise Mensch, Claire Perry and Amber Rudd as examples of card carrying Tory feminists, a more subtle, yet incredibly powerful example would be that of Baroness Warsi.

Commenting on the guilty verdict for Stephen Lawrence's killers, Trevor Phillips cited Warsi's position in the Cabinet, as an example of how far politics and race relations had come since 1993.

Warsi's comments last year, that Islamaophobia had "passed the dinner-table test", in that flippant prejudice against Muslims had become normal, was both brave and correct, however won her no favours. After these comments, in a ConHome survey Warsi was voted the least favourite member of Cameron's Cabinet, and was described rather unflatteringly by Charles Moore as the "trade union leader of British Muslims":

"She seemed to say that, if you were extreme, you could not, by definition, be Muslim. To call any Muslim an extremist, therefore, amounted to a libel of the faith."

Although, like Diane Abbott, Warsi's comments were perceived by some as making a sweeping and libellous generalisation about Britons and their casual Islamophobia, as Matthew Goodwin has written on ConservativeHome, they were backed up by significant academic research. 

Warsi's fearlessness in exposing the hatred of extremist groups such as Muslims Against Crusades, and her battling for equal opportunity in the Muslim community should not go unnoticed either. Her criticism of casual dinner-table racism from a white-British majority goes hand in hand with her often citing a lack of opportunity for Muslim women:

"The real barrier for Muslim women is cultural not devotional. Islam preaches a message of opportunity; but too often the opportunities given by our faith are denied by our culture."

 The Tory Chairman too, cannot be accused of being a one-trick pony in her battle to combat Islamophobia and extremism. Her belief that prejudice can only be countered through communities united, for example the Jewish and Islamic communities in the UK, is testament to that.

It only seems appropriate then that I understand Baroness Warsi is to use Razia Sultana as her great life on the Radio 4 programme, 'Great Lives'. Razia Sultana, who preferred to drop the 'a' and be referred to as Sultan, was a Sultan in Delhi in the 13th Century. Razia was known for her shrewd politicking, preferences to dress as a man to become their equal, her religious tolerance, and emphasis on education for all. Perhaps here is an example of a superior form of feminism, appropriate to motivate a powerful female member of the Cabinet. 


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