The baroness’s real agenda

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Ge­of­frey Al­der­man

SAY­EEDA HUS­SAIN Warsi, the Rt Hon the Baroness Warsi of Dews­bury, is a failed politi­cian who, un­til Au­gust 5, was priv­i­leged to hold a num­ber of of­fices in David Cameron’s coali­tion govern­ment, in­clud­ing that of min­is­ter of state in the For­eign Of­fice. A York­shire lass whose Pak­istani fa­ther made good as a man­u­fac­turer of beds in Dews­bury, where she was born, Warsi joined the Con­ser­va­tive Party and was put up by them as their can­di­date in Dews­bury in 2005.

She failed to win the seat and, as a re­ward, in 2007 was raised to the peer­age. When Cameron be­came prime min­is­ter three years later, her en­tirely to­kenis­tic in­clu­sion in his govern­ment was more or less in­evitable. And Warsi — the first fe­male Mus­lim to sit at the Cabi­net ta­ble — has con­tin­ued to hold high of­fice ever since. Un­til last week.

It was then that she re­signed from the govern­ment. In an over­long, ram­bling and typ­i­cally self-in­dul­gent let­ter of res­ig­na­tion, in which the baroness enu­mer­ated and di­lated upon the nu­mer­ous pub­lic of­fices she has held and the in­nu­mer­able pub­lic ben­e­fits that have flowed there­from, she at last came to the point: “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… 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.”

What she ac­tu­ally meant by this was not im­me­di­ately clear. But it seems that what she meant was this: a great many Pales­tinian Mus­lims were be­ing killed in Gaza, whereas only a few dozen Jews were be­ing killed by Gaza’s Ha­mas govern­ment; some­thing had to be done to re­dress this im­bal­ance, but all that the coali­tion govern­ment was pre­pared to do was to carry out a re­view of cur­rent li­cences fa­cil­i­tat­ing the ex­port to the Jewish state of sundry mu­ni­tions of war; what Warsi wanted was a full arms em­bargo; she didn’t get it, so she re­signed.

But her let­ter of res­ig­na­tion went a tad fur­ther. In order to un­der­stand why, we need to re­mind our­selves that Warsi has form where Ha­mas is con­cerned.

In 2006, ap­pear­ing on BBC Ra­dio 4’s Any Ques­tions, she could scarcely con­tain her de­light at the elec­tion of a Ha­mas govern­ment in Gaza: “I think what’s hap­pened in the Mid­dle East with the elec­tion of Ha­mas is ac­tu­ally an op­por­tu­nity and I think that’s the way we’ve got to see it. When groups that prac­tise vi­o­lence are sud­denly pro­pelled into power through a

She might have con­demned Pak­istan. But she didn’t

demo­cratic process they get re­spon­si­bil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity can be a tremen­dously tam­ing fac­tor.”

Of course, the re­al­ity turned out to be very dif­fer­ent: Ha­mas set about mur­der­ing its Fatah op­po­nents and then dis­pensed with elec­tions al­to­gether. But Warsi re­mained un­de­terred. In 2007, in an in­fa­mous ex­change on BBC’s Ques­tion Time, she was chal­lenged by the writer and jour­nal­ist Dou­glas Mur­ray, to con­demn the mur­ders of Bri­tish troops in Iraq. “I re­peat­edly asked Warsi to con­demn the killing of Bri­tish troops [Mur­ray has blogged]… she re­peat­edly re­fused to do so.”

So while many have praised Warsi’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter as an ad­mirable state­ment of prin­ci­ple, I’m afraid I re­gard it as a sin­is­ter ex­am­ple of po­lit­i­cal black­mail. We may be sure that the ref­er­ence to “rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion” was quite de­lib­er­ate: “If you don’t do what I want you to do over Gaza, you will have a prob­lem with rad­i­calised Bri­tish Mus­lims.”

She might have added that she would de­plore such a devel­op­ment. But she didn’t.

At the end of June, Pak­istan launched a ma­jor of­fen­sive against Is­lamist ter­ror­ists in Baluchis­tan and North Waziris­tan. Around 400 ter­ror­ists (and an in­de­ter­mi­nate num­ber of civil­ians) were killed in a to­tally in­dis­crim­i­nate bomb­ing cam­paign that re­sulted in more than half-a-mil­lion civil­ians flee­ing the area. Warsi, whose For­eign Of­fice port­fo­lio in­cluded Pak­istan, could have con­demned the “dis­pro­por­tion­ate” ac­tions of the Pak­istani govern­ment. But she didn’t. In­stead, she an­nounced an ad­di­tional aid pack­age for the butch­ers of Is­lam­abad.

These mis­cre­ants were Mus­lims, not Jews.

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