Published in the Evening Standard, Friday 18th May 2012 by Joe Murphy
Baroness Warsi: Father asked me ‘why be a leader if you don’t take the lead?’
Baroness Warsi may be a Cabinet minister with all the finely-honed minds of the civil service to call upon, but sometimes the adviser she trusts most is simply her dad.
So it was when the horrific details of the Rochdale sexual grooming scandal poured out in a shocking court case this month.
Five white girls, aged 13 to 15, were plied with alcohol, food and money and subjected to multiple sex attacks. The guilty men were Muslims of mainly Pakistani origin, some regarded as pillars of their community.
Shortly after nine men were convicted, Lady Warsi sat down to dinner at her parents’ house and her father asked what the Government was going to do about it. She did not know. The baroness recalled: “Dad then said, ‘Well, what are you doing about it?’ I said, ‘Oh, it’s not me, it’s a Home Office issue’.” At this her father, Safdar, gave her a remarkable lecture.
“He said to me: ‘Sayeeda, what is the point in being in a position of leadership if you don’t lead on issues that are so fundamental? This is so stomach churningly sick that you should have been out there condemning it as loudly as you could. Uniquely, you are in a position to show leadership on this.’
“I thought to myself, he’s absolutely right.” Today she has decided to use an interview with the Evening Standard to do as her father advised.