Belfast Telegraph

The inherently racist Tory leopard cannot change its spots

By Yasmin Alibhai Brown

Baroness Warsi, the Tory peer who resigned from the Cabinet five months ago, has once again launched a bitter attack on the Government. The coalition, she says, is alienating good Muslims who want to work with fellow Britons to tackle radicalisation.

Previously she criticised David Cameron and co for not condemning Israel's violent onslaughts on Gaza, which left more than 2,000 dead, including children and women.

These are admirable interventions from a woman who was once the Tory party's poster girl. But surely it is time to ask: what on Earth is she doing in this party? Did she think that Conservatives really valued people like her?

More fool her - and the other black and Asian Tory MPs and peers who have persuaded themselves that the contemporary Conservative Party welcomes diversity.

Yes, undeniably, the party now has several able non-white elected and appointed men and women, some of whom are flying high. In contrast, the Lib Dems have no minority MPs.

I have good Tory friends whom I trust completely. But that trust does not extend to the party.

Too many MPs and party members still harbour colonial and supremacist attitudes. Their main election strategist, the Australian Lynton Crosby, is thought to be behind nasty anti-immigrant campaigns in both Australia and the UK and he will use these tactics again as Ukip gets more popular.

Last summer, after watching me argue with the columnist Rod Liddle on Channel 4 News, MP Michael Fabricant tweeted that he could never appear on a discussion programme with me as he would end up punching me in the throat. I've never met the man. What made him so violently angry?

I think Fabricant was expressing something visceral, a deep loathing of a woman of colour who is not docile, not humble, doesn't know her place. Too many of his tribe think the same. They hated Warsi for the same reason.

Last week a (slightly tipsy) Tory activist told me that Priti Patel, the Asian Tory MP for Witham in Essex, now a Treasury minister, should go run a corner shop: "She has been over-promoted just because she is an ethnic (sic). She doesn't understand Conservatism and doesn't belong. The other coloured MPs are the same - outsiders. No offence."

We should be grateful to these loose-tongued gentlemen. They don't spin, don't pretend. All this explains why barely 16% of black and Asian voters are attracted to the Tories. In 2010 Lord Ashcroft funded a large survey of ethnic minority Britons and their voting intentions. Some 10,000 people were interviewed.

The report, Degrees of Separation, warned: "The Conservative Party's problem with ethnic minority voters is costing it seats."

Operation Black Vote, which tries to encourage political engagement among black and Asian Britons, estimates that in 168 marginal seats the ethnic vote will swing it one way or the other. For a while the Tories did seem to be listening. But now they are becoming more Ukip-y, more white.

I have spoken to people from various communities who say the same thing. A number of them also remember that Tories have always opposed laws to promote equality and end unfair discrimination.

Under the coalition, race laws have fallen into disuse while racism is increasing. Tories don't care about us or our rights. They don't like or respect us. So why should intelligent, informed, proud black and Asian citizens vote for them?

Belfast Telegraph

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