Warsi resigns (1)
Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi has resigned from the government, saying its policy on the crisis in Gaza is “morally indefensible”.
She wrote on her Twitter feed that she was leaving with “deep regret”.
Lady Warsi, who was previously chairman of the Conservative Party, became the first female Muslim cabinet minister when David Cameron took office in 2010.
She grew up in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and worked as a solicitor before entering politics.
Lady Warsi was demoted from the cabinet to a middle-ranking Foreign Office post in 2012. She was made minister for faith and communities at the same time.
She wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.”
Lady Warsi’s resignation letter says it is “morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term effect on our reputation internationally and domestically”.
She adds that the decision “has not been easy” but there is “great unease” within the Foreign Office over “the way recent decisions are being made”.
The Huffington Post reports,
Now that she has quit the government, the Tory peer wants to “speak more freely” on this issue and her first demand after handing in her resignation letter is for the UK to introduce an arms embargo. “It appalls me that the British government continues to allow the sale of weapons to a country, Israel, that has killed almost 2,000 people, including hundreds of kids, in the past four weeks alone. The arms exports to Israel must stop.”
Unusually this has been reported, straight away, on the French media, “Démission d’une secrétaire d’Etat britannique en désaccord avec la politique du pays sur Gaza” Libération.
And the German, “Protest gegen Gaza-Politik: Britische Außenstaatssekretärin Warsi tritt zurück” Der Spiegel.
This is the right decision and one can only agree with her statement.
Warsi has also made this admirable reflection (November 2013),
Warsi: Christian minorities ‘endangered’ in Middle East
Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.
Syria’s civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.
Baroness Warsi said politicians had a duty to speak out against persecution and appeal for religious tolerance
But before anybody goes overboard in admiration for the unelected Warsi this should be remembered,
“Warsi was the unsuccessful Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury at the 2005 general election, becoming the first Muslim woman to be selected by the Conservatives. During the election campaign she was criticised for election literature which was described as “homophobic” by the gay equality group Stonewall.” Wikipedia.
Unable to get elected this happened:
“On 2 July 2007, Warsi was appointed Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. To take up the post, she was created a life peer as Baroness Warsi, of Dewsbury in the County of West Yorkshire, on 11 October 2007 and was introduced in the House of Lords on 15 October 2007. On joining the House of Lords, she became its youngest member.”
Then there is this (National Secular Society),
Baroness Warsi’s partnership with the OIC means it is only a matter of time before we are completely silenced in the name of religious freedom, argues Anne Marie Waters.
Baroness Warsi, our unelected “Minister for Faith”, in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington on Friday, stated that the UK is “committed to working with the United Nations Human Rights Council to implement Resolution 16/18.”
We are? I can’t remember agreeing to this – can you?
She then went on to make this hilarious statement: “The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also remains a key partner in our quest to promote religious freedom.”
I genuinely don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
It is difficult to know where to begin with this, so I’ll start with Resolution 16/18 – a proposal which received the support of the United States back in 2011. Hillary Clinton, who could well be the next US President, set up a meeting in Washington D.C. that year. The aim of this get-together was to explore ways to implement the provisions of Resolution 16/18 around the world.
Resolution 16/18 calls upon UN member states to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.” It was initially introduced in March 2011 at the UN Human Rights Council by the OIC. This coterie, dominated by Islamist states, had made several previous attempts to have a resolution passed which aimed to criminalise “defamation of religions” but had failed. This time, due to some clever re-wording, the tactic worked and non-binding resolution was agreed.
Following this, the Istanbul Process was created in July 2011. This meeting was attended by Hillary Clinton who praised the US and the EU for agreeing the resolution at the Human Rights Council. The conference had been convened by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the OIC. This is a man who frequently speaks out against Islamophobia, and calls for a “proper understanding of Islam“.
The Istanbul Process continues and last met in Geneva in June 2013.
Baroness Warsi’s commitment (on behalf of the UK) to work with the OIC to implement Resolution 16/18 seems to be grounded in the idea that the OIC are equally committed to religious freedom. In making such claims, Warsi shows herself to be either a) completely stupid, b) a damn liar, or c) both.
So to summarise; Sayeeda Warsi, a woman who failed to secure an elected place in Parliament in 2005, now enjoys a seat at the Cabinet table despite the fact that she remains unelected. She has used this position to commit the UK to assisting in the implementation of a resolution which will effectively criminalise anyone who dares to tell the truth about what happens in the name of Islam (this would be “negative stereotyping” you see). She has no mandate for this, and she wouldn’t have if the people were ever asked our opinion on the matter.
And if anybody on the left doubts where she stands there is this (November 2013),
Faith is being put back at the “heart of government,” as it was under Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher, a minister will say today.
The Coalition is one of the “most pro-faith governments in the West,” Baroness Warsi, the Minister for Faith, will say. “More often than not, people who do God do good.”
Churchill and Thatcher would have welcomed the Coalition’s promise to protect the right of town halls to hold prayers and the creation of more faith schools under Michael Gove’s Free Schools programme, she will say.
Public policy was “secularised” under the previous, Labour government, Lady Warsi will tell an audience at the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge.
But Churchill saw totalitarian regimes as “godless” while Thatcher regarded politics as second to Christianity in defining society, she will say.
“We see flickers of Churchill’s flame and echoes of Thatcher’s sermons in all we do,” she will say. “But this was never inevitable. When we came back into power in 2010, I felt that some of the reverence for religion had disappeared from politics. I found that the last government didn’t just refuse to ‘do God’ – they didn’t get God either.”
The Coalition ruled out a ban on the full-face veil out of respect for religious liberty, she will say, also citing the welcome it gave to a ruling which saw Nadia Eweida win the right to wear a small crucifix at work for British Airways.
Lady Warsi, a former chairman of the Conservative Party, will say that religious groups must be allowed to provide public services without the state being “suspicious of their motives”.
“I know that Mrs Thatcher would have approved of devolving power to faith communities,” Baroness Warsi will say.
“As she once said: ‘I wonder whether the State services would have done as much for the man who fell among thieves as the Good Samaritan did for him?’ ”
Cynics (hat-tip DO), may also recall this (2012),
Warsi demoted in cabinet reshuffle
And Lo and Behold!
Baroness Warsi’s resignation has more to do with the reshuffle than it does with Gaza
Baroness Warsi has just resigned from the Tory front bench over the Government’s policy towards Gaza. At least that’s the official line. In truth Baroness Warsi has resigned over the government’s policy towards Baroness Warsi.
It’s been an open secret in Westminster that Warsi has been angered since her demotion from Tory party chair. “She’s going to do a Clare Short,” one Tory MP told me a few months ago.
Well, she has done a Clare Short, ostensibly resigning over an issue of foreign policy.
As the first Muslim Cabinet minister Warsi adopted some brave stances on a number of controversial issues – such as proposals to ban veils – and had spoken out about wider Islamophobia. Neither stance saved her from abuse and threats of violence from extremist elements in the Muslim community.
But the reality is Warsi was an ineffective party chair, and an unpopular member of the Government. “She was proof of why most ministers – from whatever party – should always come from the elected House of Commons, rather than being parachuted in via the Lords. She really didn’t understand the grass roots at all,” said one Tory MP on news of her resignation.
The loss of Baroness Warsi is a blow to David Cameron’s attempts to give his government a more diverse face. But her resignation is more to do with events in last month’s reshuffle than events in Gaza.
(1) “Dear Prime Minister
For some weeks, in meeting and discussion, I have been open and honest about my views on the conflict in Gaza and our response to it.
My view has been that our policy in relation to the Middle East Peace Process generally but more recently our approach and language during the current crisis in Gaza is morally indefensible, is not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long term detrimental impact on our reputation internationally and domestically.
Particularly as the Minister with responsibility for the United Nations, The International Criminal Court and Human Rights I believe our approach in relation to the current conflict is neither consistent with our values, specifically our commitment to the rule of law and our long history of support for International Justice. In many ways the absence of the experience and expertise of colleagues like Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve has over the last few weeks become very apparent.
This decision has not been easy. It has been a privilege to serve for 3 years in your Shadow Cabinet and over 4 years in your Cabinet. Introducing you in Blackpool in 2005 as you made your bid for leadership I had the pleasure of being there at the start of the journey and it would have been rewarding to have been there til the end.
The last decade has given me the opportunity to work with some of the best in the Conservative Party and indeed in Government. William Hague was probably one of the finest Foreign Secretaries this country has seen and has been inspirational. He dismantled foreign policy making by sofa government and restored decision making and dignity to the Foreign Office. There is however great unease across the Foreign Office, amongst both Minister and senior officials, in the way recent decisions are being made.
Eric Pickles has supported me tirelessly in our work on combating hate crime. Challenging anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia and the pioneering work of celebration faith in the public sphere. This new found confidence in Government has allowed me to take the very public International lead on religious freedom, specifically on the ever growing crisis of the persecution of Christians. However, early evidence from the Home Office and others shows that the fallout of the current conflict and the potential for the crisis in Gaza and our response to it becoming a basis for radicalisation could have consequences for us for years to come.
From both Eric and William I learnt the art of reconciling passion and idealism with pragmatism and realism, but I always said that long after life in politics I must be able to live with myself for the decisions I took or the decisions I supported. By staying in Government at this time I do not feel I can be sure of that.
It is therefore with regret that I am writing to resign.
You will continue to have my personal support as leader of the Conservative party as you continue to ensure that our Party evolves to meet the challenges we face in Britain today and ensure that the Party is relevant and responsive to all communities that make up today’s Britain.
More updating (prompted by reading below).
Sayeeda Warsi’s Tory colleagues are really, really sad that she has quit. A Tory source tells Guido:
“Warsi’s resignation is classic Warsi. Attacks her own team, pure grandstanding, and shows that she is a quitter. Her resignation does nothing to help the innocent civilians on both sides who are suffering. She had a much better chance of helping support the ceasefire if she had stayed inside Government. But instead she has thrown in the towel.”