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Some of the bitchiest women are men in politics: Ex-British minister

world Updated: Aug 10, 2014 18:14 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Sayeeda Warsi

Sayeeda Warsi, who hit the headlines last week by resigning from the David Cameron government on its Gaza policy, used two interviews on Sunday to hit back at her sneering party detractors by saying that “some of the bitchiest women I’ve ever met in my life are the men in politics’.

Warsi’s resignation was widely hailed, but also invited scorn and biting criticism from her Tory colleagues, who claimed that she was not good enough for the job, was about to be pushed, and had resigned because she was not made Foreign secretary in the recent reshuffle.

The first ever Asian and Muslim woman cabinet minister in Britain, Warsi was a foreign office minister when she resigned. According to her, she had consistently opposed her government’s policy on Gaza, but had failed to make any headway in meetings.

In interviews to The Sunday Times and The Independent on Sunday, she also hit out at her party leadership and predicted that it will not win the May 2015 general elections because it had neglected ethnic minority voters, who have traditionally supported Labour.

New research shows that the ethnic minority vote (comprising people of Indian and other south Asian origin and of Afro-Caribbean origin) could decide over one-quarter of the 650 seats in the next elections.

According to Warsi, her party leaders were failing to face the ‘electoral reality’ by ignoring non-white voters. It is now ‘too late’ to hope that they will support the Conservatives next year in the numbers needed to win outright, she said.

Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, said: “I will be out there, vocally fighting for an outright Conservative majority. But the electoral reality is that we will not win outright Conservative majorities until we start attracting more of the ethnic vote.”

On criticism of her resignation, she said: “Some of the bitchiest women I’ve ever met in my life are the men in politics. I am a brown, working-class woman from the North. People have been telling me I'm not good enough since the day I was born".

Warsi, who has been one of Cameron’s earliest supporters since 2005, said: “I looked at him and said, ‘This is a guy who gets today’s Britain. He’s a new kind of Conservative, comfortable with today’s Britain.’”

But, she added: “I think the party has shifted since then. The party leadership has shifted since then. I think over time it will be a regressive move because we have to appeal to all of Britain, not just because it’s morally the right thing to do... but because it is an electoral reality. We’ve probably left it a little too late to take this part of the electorate seriously.”