back to top
Politics

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi Warns Tories They Could Lose Muslim Votes Over Gaza

The former Conservative chairman, who quit the cabinet over the government's "morally indefensible" stance on the issue, told BuzzFeed News that as many as 37 constituencies could be swung by the Muslim vote.

Posted on
Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi warned the Conservative party that its position on Israel's war on Gaza this summer could mean that it could lose a number of seats at the next general election.

"I think [the two main parties' policy on Gaza] will play a part in certain communities," the former cabinet minister told BuzzFeed News. "We also have to remember that something like 37 seats at the next general election will turn on the back of the way in which Muslim communities in those constituencies vote so it could be quite a powerful swing."

It is believed that many Muslims place a party's foreign policy towards the top of their priorities when voting. A YouElect poll from 2010 showed that 53% of Muslims named foreign policy as the most important issue when considering which party to support.

But Warsi said she believed most UK voters would choose a party based on its economic policy.

The baroness, who resigned as senior minister for the Foreign Office over the government's "morally indefensible" stance on Gaza this summer, was responding to a question from BuzzFeed News on whether she thought the Conservatives could lose votes over the issue.

The Q&A took place at an event organised by City Circle at the School of Oriental and African Studies during which she discussed a number of topics.

Warsi said also that the government needed to strengthen its policy on foreign fighters.

The question of whether to prosecute British citizens who return after travelling to Syria and Iraq to fight has been a controversial one, with many suggesting the government needs to do more to tackle the root problem.

Warsi said there needed to be consistent policy, adding: "We have young men who go out and fight for the Syrian National Coalition, which apparently we recognise and therefore treat differently, we have young men who go out and fight for the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] and could be involved in what could be war crimes and no one raises issues around that.

"And the distinction that's always drawn is that if you go and fight for a recognised state army, that's acceptable, but not if you go and fight for a group which is not a formal state army. I think that's really dangerous."

Warsi said current conversations ignore the fact that British citizens could travel abroad to fight in the countries in which their parents were born.

This is because discussions in parliament are focused on militant groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

She said: "We have a very large Pakistani-origin community in this country, we have a very large Indian community in this country, and India and Pakistan are not unknown for having their own spats. I would hate to think that lots of British Pakistanis and lots of British Indians would go join the Pakistani army and the Indian army and fight for a while and then come home and it'll all be alright."

She said that Britons should only be able to fight for this country, adding: "What I'd like to see is a system where, if you're going to fight, you're gonna fight for the British army."

Advertisement

Warsi sidestepped a number of questions by telling the audience to wait for her memoirs, which, she added, do not yet exist.

Warsi's warning: "The memoirs, allegedly, haven't been written, yet." #CCWarsi

Siraj Datoo@datsFollow

Warsi's warning: "The memoirs, allegedly, haven't been written, yet." #CCWarsi

7:52 PM - 23 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

When she resigned this summer, a number of rumours circulated that Warsi would release a book using inside information from cabinet meetings.

Warsi keeps dodging questions by saying, "Wait for the book." There's a humorous tone when she says it, but it's in back of her mind.

Siraj Datoo@datsFollow

Warsi keeps dodging questions by saying, "Wait for the book." There's a humorous tone when she says it, but it's in back of her mind.

8:03 PM - 23 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.