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Posts tagged ‘House Magazine’

Sayeeda Warsi: House Magazine Interview

New flavours in the Tory kitchen

Published in The House Magazine, Thursday 8th March

By Paul Waugh and Sam Macrory

Baroness Warsi jokes that if she wasn’t campaigning she’d be cooking for a living, but the very model of a modern Tory chairwoman thrives on confounding cultural expectations

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”.

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Baroness Warsi: Fighting on every front

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.”

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