Warsi rails against media Islamophobia

By Peter Wozniak

The media in Britain has a “fair game” attitude to attacking the Muslim community, Sayeeda Warsi has claimed.

The extraordinary comments came in an interview for with the New Statesman, in which the Conservative chairman, the first Muslim woman to sit in Cabinet, also claimed the Tories had lost several seats at the election due to fraud.

“If you have a pop at the British Muslim community in the media, then first of all it will sell a few papers; second, it doesn’t really matter; and third, it’s fair game”, she said.

Baroness Warsi said: “[There were] at least three seats where we lost, where we didn’t gain the seat, based on electoral fraud. Now, could we have planned for that in the campaign? Absolutely not.

“It is predominantly within the Asian community. I have to look back and say we didn’t do well in those communities, but was there something over and above that we could have done? Well, actually not, if there is going to be voter fraud.”

When asked if Labour benefited from the supposed fraud, she replied: “Absolutely”.

Election day was marred by large numbers of people being turned away from polling stations following instances of queuing and higher-than-expected turnout.

This is however the first time a Cabinet minister has directly blamed electoral fraud for failing to win seats.

Baroness Warsi staunchly defended the party’s troubled director of communications, Andy Coulson, saying she had “a huge amount of time” for him.

The Tory chairman is in charge of the party’s election strategy and expressed anxiety over how it would perform in local elections next year, in the midst of the government’s impending cuts drive.

Admitting life would become electorally difficult for the coalition following the spending review, she said: “2011 is the year we would expect to lose some seats. It is the first year of government and we will have to make some difficult decisions.”