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Asian woman MPs create history in UK poll

A new record has been set with the election of several woman candidates with origins in the Indian sub-continent, including the first Muslim woman MP Shabana Mahmood, who won on a Labour ticket.

india Updated: May 07, 2010 19:26 IST

A new record has been set with the election of several woman candidates with origins in the Indian sub-continent, including the first Muslim woman MP Shabana Mahmood, who won on a Labour ticket.

Among the woman winners were Indian-origin Priti Patel (Conservative) and Valerie Vaz (Labour). The latter's brother, Keith Vaz, was once again elected from the Leicester East constituency.

Results indicate that the number of MPs from ethnic minority background will break the previous record of 15 in the 2005 election.

Besides Shabana Mahmood who won from Birmingham Ladywood, Yasmin Qureshi, Labour candidate from Bolton South East, also won with majorities of more than 8,000.

Rushanara Ali (Labour) romped home victorious from the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency with a majority of over 11,000 votes.

A record 22 Asian women were in the fray for yesterday's polls from all three main parties -- Labour, Conservatives and Liberal democrats.

Until now no Asian woman had ever been elected as an MP.

The first male Asian MP, the Indian Dadabhai Naoroji, was elected in 1892 for Finsbury in central London. Mohammad Sarwar became the UK's first Muslim MP after winning Glasgow Central in 1997.

Sayeeda Warsi became the first Muslim woman to sit on the front bench for the Conservatives in 2007, but as a baroness rather than as an MP.

A former Oxford graduate and barrister, Shabana Mahmood is the daughter of the Birmingham Labour party's Chairman and stood against another woman Asian candidate for the Conservatives, Nusrat Ghani.

Speaking last month, Mahmood said: "The image of the voiceless Muslim woman who cannot leave the house is just not true, they are interested in politics. Parliament is for the people - all of the people - and the ethnic minority population should claim it."

Yasmin Qureshi, 46, is a Pakistani-born criminal barrister, who moved to the UK when she was nine.

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted. Obviously, I am very pleased the voters of Bolton South East chose a Labour candidate and elected a Labour MP. It is a truly humbling experience and I promise to work very hard for the constituents."