Conservative Diary

Race and multiculturalism

25 Jan 2013 12:07:08

Warsi: Under a quarter of Britons think Muslims are compatible with the British way of life

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By Paul Goodman

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Earlier today, Sunder Katawala at British Future tweeted the full text of Sayeeda Warsi's speech yesterday evening to Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks).  The Baroness broadened and deepened the argument she put in her controversial "dinner party speech" last year, but the most striking part of her speech is not the words, but the statistics.  "Early indications are that 50 to 60% of reported religious hate crimes were anti-Muslim", she said, referring to information from the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Continue reading "Warsi: Under a quarter of Britons think Muslims are compatible with the British way of life" »

12 Dec 2012 08:00:12

Beneath Cameron's drive for same-sex marriage lies disdain for his own MPs

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-12-12 at 07.02.50When I left the Commons in 2010, the local Association activists were more or less the same people as when I entered it in 2001 - though, of course, older.  Others had died during that decade or so, like other, less active members.  Others still failed to renew their membership, or moved away from the High Wycombe area.  But they were essentially the same people at the end as at the start: decent, hard-working, public-spirited, not always well-off, seldom movers and shakers (unlike some of the people I worked with at Westminster, though this wasn't necessarily to their disadvantage), distinguishable from their neighbours largely by being politically active - and, by the end of my time as the local MP, a bit more set in their ways, as older people tend to be.

As time like an ever-rolling stream bore those ten years away, I noticed a change in their attitude to the party leadership.  They didn't exactly become more disenchanted - though this was so in some cases - but they definitely became more detached, as all the while around them election turnout stayed very low, public disenchantment with the political system grew, and party membership fell further.  After David Cameron became leader in 2005, trying to report what he was doing became rather like trying to explain to an elderly couple what their grandson was up to.  Imponderable words and phrases began to flow from my lips even more frequently than usual: "huskies...modernisation...inclusivity...hoodies".

Continue reading "Beneath Cameron's drive for same-sex marriage lies disdain for his own MPs" »

12 Nov 2012 08:38:03

Warsi says that the party must win minorities to win majorities. She's right.

By Paul Goodman
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The Sun reports that Sayeeda Warsi will say in a speech today that -

"Tories have a “brand problem” with ethnic minorities and will not win future elections until they solve it...The Foreign Office minister believes her party must learn from President Barack Obama’s recent triumph. And in a warning to David Cameron, she ups his call for an Aspiration Nation with the need for “an Integration Nation”.

She will also say:

“This issue has gone from a moral imperative to an electoral reality.” By 2050, minorities will make up a fifth of all voters but only one in six of them voted Tory at the last general election. And she will cite Obama’s success in attracting 70 per cent of Latino and Asian voters, and 90 per cent of the black vote".

Continue reading "Warsi says that the party must win minorities to win majorities. She's right." »

5 Nov 2012 06:39:50

It doesn't matter if we think we're not racist. But it matters if ethnic minorities think we are.

By Paul Goodman
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Before the last party conference, Tim Montgomerie reported that most voters aren't worried that the Conservative Party is bigoted, basing this conclusion on polling evidence obtained for ConservativeHome.  "Only 2% say that Conservative attitudes to women are a big barrier," he wrote, adding that "only 1% identify attitudes towards gay people and ethnic minorities".  This is both true and at the same time incomplete - and if considered in isolation (which Tim didn't do, of course) can further a dangerous complacency.

This is because there is an obvious difference between voters in general and voters in particular.  For example, if 1% of all voters think that the Conservatives don't have a problem with people from Yorkshire, but 84% of people from Yorkshire disagree, this will clearly be a barrier to winning votes and seats in Yorkshire.  So let's have a look at the three groups identified in the article (which is surely correct in identifying class, as the polling on which is was based suggests, as the main problem for the party among the generality of voters).

Continue reading "It doesn't matter if we think we're not racist. But it matters if ethnic minorities think we are." »

27 Sep 2012 11:05:17

The Coalition is not doing enough to end the equalities industry - tackling it would be a social and economic good

By Matthew Barrett
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Amidst all the talk of "going for growth", Lib Dem "hate taxes on the rich", and difficult decisions for Ministers having to reduce their budgets, there is one large, flabby area of government which has been insufficiently tackled, but which could be cut down to size easily, popularly, and with huge benefits for society: the equalities sector.

As people working in the private sector - the real economy - knows, hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted on having to comply with equalities regulations, and millions more are spent on funding equalities professionals - unproductive individuals. The Treasury ought to see cutting down on this pernicious aspect of the Whitehall establishment as a priority, not just to save money on those employed to collect meaningless data, but to create the conditions necessary for small and medium-sized businesses to power the recovery.

The idea of having an equalities sector is out-dated. In the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when race relations were considered poor, and legislation like the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and '68 were passed, one could see there was some logic in ensuring government adhered to the principle of racial equality it had legislated for. Race relations improved in the second half of the 1980s and 1990s (when, un-coincidentally, a Conservative immigration existed), but, perversely, the 1980s Labour left saw "diversity", "equality", and other such Guardian buzzwords, as a fundamental part of what Labour should believe in, which led to the expansion of the equalities sector when Labour entered office in 1997.

Continue reading "The Coalition is not doing enough to end the equalities industry - tackling it would be a social and economic good" »

15 Sep 2012 08:26:08

Lord Marland pulls out of a trade trip to Libya as the Mohammed film protests rage. But note how quiet Britain has been (fingers crossed)

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-09-15 at 10.24.16The application of the Government's new Prevent policy, which draws clear distinctions between extremism and non-extremism, and the untangling of our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan - two U.S marines were killed yesterday at the base where Prince Harry is stationed - have seen media coverage of Muslims in Britain wind down (and since most news by definition is bad news, such coverage as a rule is relentlessly negative).

This may be about to change.  The Financial Times (£) reports this morning that Lord Marland, the Trade Minister, has cancelled a planned visit to Libya in the wake of the horrible murder of the U.S Ambassador there.  The film about Mohammed that has caused convulsions worldwide follows a revisionist Channel 4 series about the origins of Islam, the launch of which was cancelled for security reasons.  And Baroness Cox is seeking to ban sharia courts or councils. She wants to introduce a bill which "would make it a criminal offence for any individual or group to pose as a proper legal court".

Continue reading "Lord Marland pulls out of a trade trip to Libya as the Mohammed film protests rage. But note how quiet Britain has been (fingers crossed) " »

1 Sep 2012 10:55:04

How to get the best out of Sayeeda Warsi

By Paul Goodman
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A Conservative Party Chairman who sits in the Lords is no less accessible to party members than one who sits in the Commons.  But there are two reasons why he or she should be a member of the latter. First, a Commons Chairman is more accessible to Tory MPs: they can't approach the Chairman in the voting lobbies, or huddle with him round a Commons tea table, if he simply isn't there.  Second, and more importantly, an MP has a certain independence from Downing Street.  He has been sent to Parliament by his constituents, not appointed to it by the Prime Minister.

Former Chairmen such as Lords Baker, Patten and Tebbit were among the biggest of Big Beasts.  But they also had an advantage that neither of today's co-Chairmen had: they could look Margaret Thatcher or John Major in the eye as fellow MPs.  By removing the Chairmanship from the Commons, as it were, David Cameron has moved it nearer Number 10, and it has been further weakened by being divided in two.  This should change.  Members and MPs and the media and voters respond instinctively to a single Chairman who carries a natural authority of his own.

This is why Tim Montgomerie and I want to see as Chairman, respectively, Michael Gove and William Hague - two senior Cabinet Ministers and MPs of top-flight ability who the Cameron/Osborne duopoly listen to carefully.  (We will fight it out between us, while the Prime Minister doubless earmarks someone else for the post.)  So Sayeeda Warsi and Andrew Feldman should both be moved from their current co-Chairmen posts, though given Lord Feldman's management skills there's no reason why he shouldn't stay on as Chief Executive.

Continue reading "How to get the best out of Sayeeda Warsi" »

10 Jun 2012 11:20:39

Theresa May to target migration loophole and tell judges foreign criminals do not have absolute right to family life

By Matthew Barrett
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May Marr June 2012Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Home Secretary Theresa May was able to promote her counter-attack Sunday initiatives: immigration and deporting foreign criminals. 

Mrs May began with immigration, saying that "we’ve already looked at non-EU economic migrants, and student visas and settlement and now we’re looking at family". A current loophole in the immigration system is that which allows spouses and children to migrate to Britain without proper safeguards. Mrs May outlined her objection to this:

"This isn't just about the numbers though, in terms of family, because we think it is right that somebody who is looking to bring somebody into the UK to join them as a spouse or a partner should be able to support them financially, and should not be bringing them in on the basis they're going to be reliant on the state"

As a result, the required income level for migrants wishing to bring a spouse should be £18,600, Mrs May said. Those wishing to bring a spouse and one child would be required to be earning £22,400, and for every extra child, the amount to be earned increases. 

Continue reading "Theresa May to target migration loophole and tell judges foreign criminals do not have absolute right to family life" »

18 May 2012 16:44:38

A small minority of Pakistani men, warns Sayeeda Warsi, see women as "second class citizens" and white women as "third class citizens"

By Tim Montgomerie
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“There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game and we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first... This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against."

WarsiWith these words the straight-talking Baroness Warsi, the co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, has entered the debate about the sexual grooming of young girls in Rochdale by men, mainly of Pakistani origin. If Muslim and other leaders fail to be “open and front-footed” she warns that extremists such as the BNP will fill the gap and peddle hate. Former Home Secretary Jack Straw had been the most senior politician to comment until now. He had stated "there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls" and see them as "easy meat".

Read Baroness Warsi's full interview in the London Evening Standard.

Her comments follow tip-toeing and obfuscation by other public figures. The Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Steve Heywood, has for example denied race and origin as an important factor. "It just happens," he said, "that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men." Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, had also tried to diminish the cultural factors in Rochdale.

This is not the first time the Tory Chairman has tackled extremists within the Muslim and Asian communities. She did so two years ago after fanatics pelted her with eggs.

10 Apr 2012 07:45:09

Tokenism and ignorance: how the Conservative Party misplayed its hand with ethnic minority votes. And what it can do to improve.

By Paul Goodman
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Knowing one group of ethnic minority voters...

Mohammed Razzaq died not long before I was selected as the Conservative candidate for Wycombe, so I never got the chance to meet one of the first Tory Asian mayors in the country.  A wave of migrants left the part of Kashmir that is effectively controlled by Pakistan to work in the High Wycombe's paper mills and furniture factories, joined trade unions and thus were thus placed automatically on the conveyer belt that led to the Labour Party.  Razzaq was part of it, and time made his switch to the Conservatives less unusual.  As the years passed and living standards rose, clan politics, the Tory grip on local politics, disillusion with Labour and - I like to think - a growing awarness that Conservative policies work combined to give the party an unusually high share of this almost exclusively Kashmiri (or Pakistani) origin and Muslim Asian vote.

My swing in both 2001 and 2005 (the two elections I fought and won) was roughly the regional average - and this in what was then the Tory constituency with the largest proportion of Muslim voters in the country.  The shift to me was therefore either disproporionately large among non-Asian voters - broadly speaking, the white majority - or shared out fairly evenly among voters of all backgrounds.  The truth probably lies somewhere between the two.  I would be surprised if I won less than a third of the Asian vote in 2001 and more than two-fifths or so in 2005.  This had less to do with my merits or otherwise than, as I am indicating, unusual voting ( the recent Runnymede Trust briefing found that an average of only 13% of Pakistani-origin vote Conservative) in an unusal Tory seat.

Continue reading "Tokenism and ignorance: how the Conservative Party misplayed its hand with ethnic minority votes. And what it can do to improve." »