This evening, Baroness Warsi joined the Question Time debate from Leeds, joined by Yvette Cooper MP, Tim Farron MP, George Galloway MP and journalist David Aaronovitch. Catch up with the show here.
Britain’s first Muslim Cabinet minister tells her Tory colleagues to wake up to what’s happening in the country. Oliver Wright meets Sayeeda Warsi
Published in The Independent on Monday 16th April 2012 by Oliver Wright
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is standing, surrounded by large sacks of African chillies, having an animated conversation with a former nuclear submarine engineer about his new range of hot sauces. Since we met five hours ago, we’ve already launched the Tories’ Welsh local government election campaign in Newport; visited the first “wireless” town centre in Monmouth; and toured a women’s refuge in Cardiff.
But for the moment, as we sample the Hot Diggidy Dog sauces (“You just can’t take the spice,” Warsi jokes), Simon Llewellyn, the firm’s boss, wants to bend her ear about bank lending. “You can only get a loan now if you’re already successful enough not to need it,” he laments. She listens, suggests a new government scheme which might help him, and when he still seems downbeat promises to personally deliver a letter of complaint to the Treasury. Then we’re off again.
Ahead is a party fundraising evening (with a “luxury” pub finger buffet) in the Vale of Glamorgan and a three-hour drive to the Salford Premier Inn for the night. And that’s day one. Tomorrow we’ll tour the new Blue Peter studio, watch five former Lib Dem councillors in Rochdale defect to the Tories and visit a steam railway in the Rossendale Valley before Warsi heads off to Preston for more visits and then a fundraiser in Penrith.
As co-chairman of the Conservative Party, Warsi, 41, does these 48-hour visits around the country every week for nine months of the year. It is a gruelling schedule, but there has been little sympathy for her among some of her Tory colleagues in Westminster. Some have sounded less than impressed with their chairman. Anonymous briefers in Westminster variously paint her as a “lightweight” not up to the job; “over-promoted” because of her race and gender; never elected to office; “not to be trusted” for big media performances; and about to be sacked in a reshuffle. So are they right?
Baroness Warsi attended the Channel S Awards where she spoke and presented the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The awards ceremony brought together achievers from every generation of Bangladeshi’s in Britain to celebrate their successes and legacies. One of the most influential awards schemes for promoting the British-Bangladeshi community in the UK, it recognises the hidden talents within the community and rewards them. Channel S has taken this step every year since 2007 and has proven successful every year and in 2012 planned to recognise and reward the hard-work individuals do in the community.
|KARACHI: Baroness Saeeda Warsi, the first-ever Muslim member of the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron cabinet, said that Pakistan’s democracy has a bright future but for that the democratic process should be allowed to continue.
Talking exclusively to The News via phone from the UK, Warsi said: “I believe that we should let the democratic process continue in Pakistan and allow the infant democracy a chance to grow.”
Warsi said that the time is approaching when current democratic government in Pakistan will give way to another democratic government.
“Handing over power to another democratically-elected government through a democratic process will be a historical moment for Pakistan,” she said and added she is hopeful one would be able to see the emergence of great democracy in the future. “But to move forward for a better future, we have to allow this process of growth to take place and we need to be patient,” she stressed. Warsi said that she was quite optimistic about the future of Pakistan and that things will improve, adding Pakistan has a lot of potential which needs to be discovered and utilized properly.
She said that during her visit to Pakistan in January this year she met a large number of businessmen and professionals which made her to realise that people have mixed feelings about the future of Pakistan.
On interfaith harmony especially between Muslims and Christians, she said: “I have been working on bringing interfaith harmony, especially after 9/11. I, as a Muslim, think it is my responsibility to try to make the two sides come together and talk. I have over the years managed to do so and have had offered a platform where people from different religious background have come together and talked on a variety of topics that would have been left untouched otherwise.”
“I believe in social action and I think if you can bring people of different backgrounds to work together to attain a single goal, it will help build better relations between the two,” she said and added she had embarked on several social action projects in several countries where parliamentarians and/or politicians worked together on one project for the betterment of the whole and this helped build bonds between them and they interacted in ways that would have probably been difficult otherwise.
“Say for example if public office holders from different religious/cultural backgrounds in Pakistan come together and decide to clean a local park, working together for a common goal will allow them to know each other better and a better relationship is formed between them.”
Warsi stressed that the politicians as well as people should not wait for others to do the work instead they should get together for a particular goal.
“If politicians and leaders from different parties work together, they will be able to resolve a lot of issues that would otherwise take longer to be resolved and hence improve the overall situation and make a difference in the society, as well as country as a whole.”
Published in The House Magazine, Thursday 8th March
By Paul Waugh and Sam Macrory
Sayeeda Warsi is in her CCHQ office, pondering what her mother thinks. She may be co-chairman of the Conservative Party, a privy counsellor and the first ever female Muslim cabinet minister, but it seems parental approval of her life choices is not easily won.
“My mum wanted me to be a lawyer and she chose my husband [for an arranged marriage]. And I’m now divorced and remarried, and a politician: so you can read from that what you want,” she says.
Hints of maternal disappointment certainly don’t seem to dampen the bubbly enthusiasm of the woman who has, in many ways, come to embody David Cameron’s modern Tory party.
In at the ground floor with the Cameron project, Baroness Warsi is now not just a minister but also the PM’s anti-Lib Dem and Labour attack dog, his elections field marshal and – increasingly – his personal envoy in key strategic countries overseas.
Crucially, she also tries to combine the modernising message of the Conservatives with a thoroughly traditional approach to the party’s core values and history. Her own small office in Millbank Tower is a microcosm of the mix of old and new. Hung on her wall like an artwork is a heavy black leather briefcase with the forbidding words ‘Chairman of the Conservative Party’ emblazoned on its side. It’s an artefact that reeks of the history of past chairmen such as Norman Tebbit, Rab Butler, Willie Whitelaw and others. But just underneath is a black and white Andrew Parsons portrait of a relaxed Mr Cameron, jacketless and sleeves rolled up, alongside Warsi herself. She jokes that the photo makes it “look like David is going to punch me”.
Published in The House Magazine, Thursday 1st March
By Sam Macrory
Baroness Warsi tells Sam Macrory that in May’s local elections the coalition will be set aside as the Tories fight for every seat
Sayeeda Warsi is reading through a copy of Tom Watson’s interview in last week’s issue of The House Magazine. The Tory party chairman is not impressed, not least when Labour’s local elections campaign chief suggests that Boris Johnson is a “part-time mayor” with a second, well-paid, job.
“Oh my God, it’s the whole class war thing again,” exclaims Warsi, who is heading her party’s local campaigns. “If the best thing that Tom Watson can come up with is ‘it’s a class war’ – you know, Boris appeals to every class, every background, every race, every religion, every gender – his appeal is so broad. Boris is London.
Compare record to record, not record to pie-in-the-sky promises, anyone can make them. Boris has got a great record, and he’s an iconic guy for this great city in an amazing year.”
Warsi, who spent the day after we met phone-canvassing with Boris, describes his fight for the London mayoralty as “the big iconic election, which is run by Boris, his campaign, based on his record”, and is unimpressed by the Labour candidate.
“The prospect of the world descending on London in 2012 and us projecting to them Ken Livingstone as the face for Britain is enough incentive for me to get out of bed every morning and think this is the election we’ve got to fight. Labour have presented this kind of spent man of the past … it’s not just not good for the Conservatives, it’s not good for London, it’s not good for the country.”
Published in The Telegraph, Tuesday 14th February 2012
Today I have the honour of leading the largest ministerial delegation from the United Kingdom to the Vatican – our reciprocal visit following the momentous State Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in September 2010.
We will be celebrating the decision Margaret Thatcher took 30 years ago to restore full diplomatic relations between our countries. The relationship between the UK and the Holy See is our oldest diplomatic relationship, first established in 1479. And today, thanks to the great success of the Pope’s visit, it is one of the strongest too.
But this trip is about more than a Valentine’s Day “love in” with our Catholic neighbours. This is about recognising the deep and intrinsic role of faith here in Britain and overseas. For a number of years I have been saying that we need to have a better understanding of faith in our country. Why? Because I profoundly believe that faith has a vital and important role to play in modern society. But mistakenly, faith has been neglected, undermined – and yes, even attacked – by governments in recent years.
Published in the Financial Times, Saturday 4th February
By Hester Lacey
Sayeeda Warsi, 40, co-chair of the Conservative party and minister without portfolio, is the first female Muslim to serve as a minister in a British government. She was made a life peeress in 2007.
What was your earliest ambition?
To be one of the Famous Five; free in a place without too many rules.
Public school or state school? University or straight into work?
Birkdale High School; Dewsbury College and then Leeds university. My education was a privilege. A lot of Asian girls had traditional parents, and had to fight to stay at school, while my parents were very encouraging.
Who was or still is your mentor?
A law teacher at college called Andrea. Her approach was life-changing. Dad, who’s always had a get-up-and-go approach. In terms of politics, Michael Howard.
How physically fit are you?
More than I was six months ago. I could run for two minutes back then, now I can run for 30.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
Success comes because people are in the right place at the right time.
Have you ever taken an IQ test?
Not that I’m aware of.
How politically committed are you?
Right now, my political commitment is my life.
Published in The Daily Telegraph, Monday 16th January
By Peter Oborne
As the traumatic events of the weekend show all too vividly, Pakistan is one of the most turbulent and unstable countries in the world, and a diplomatic nightmare.
But Britain has a secret weapon – Sayeeda Warsi. With her Punjabi heritage, local languages and easy manner, the Conservative Party chairman can reach parts of the Pakistan political system that other government ministers cannot.
As I witnessed at first hand last week, David Cameron has licensed Baroness Warsi to operate as Britain’s unofficial envoy. The Tory chairman flew into a first-rate crisis set off by the potentially deadly stand-off between government and military. The defence secretary had just been fired.
Within hours she was at the Pakistan foreign office for a meeting lasting well over an hour with Pakistan’s newly promoted – and extremely beautiful – foreign secretary, Hinna Rabbani Khar. Just 34 years old, the University of Massachusetts-educated Khar is the latest star phenomenon to hit the Islamabad scene and is suddenly being tipped as a potential successor to Asif Ali Zardari, should the government fall this week.
Lib Dem president accused of ‘slagging off the coalition’
Published in The Independent, 1st Jan 2012
By Matt Chorley
The Tory party chairwoman, Baroness Warsi, has accused her Liberal Democrat counterpart of treating the coalition like “a bad episode of Come Dine with Me” by enjoying the good things on offer and “then slagging it off afterwards”.