Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi
|The Right Honourable
The Baroness Warsi
|Minister of State for
Faith and Communities
4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Hazel Blears[a]|
|Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs|
4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
Serving with Lord Feldman
|Preceded by||Eric Pickles|
|Succeeded by||Grant Shapps|
|Minister without Portfolio|
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Preceded by||Hazel Blears[b]|
|Succeeded by||Kenneth Clarke
|Shadow Minister of State for Community Cohesion and Social Action|
2 July 2007 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Member of the House of Lords|
15 October 2007
28 March 1971 |
|Alma mater||University of Leeds
College of Law, York
|a. ^ Office vacant from 6 June 2009 – 3 September 2012
b. ^ Office vacant from 28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010
Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi PC (Urdu: سعیده حسین وارثی, born 28 March 1971) is a British solicitor and politician of Pakistani origin who was created a life peer in 2007. From May 2010 to September 2012 she was the Co-Chairman, along with Lord Feldman, of the Conservative Party, and a Minister without Portfolio in David Cameron's Cabinet. She was the third Muslim minister and the first female Muslim to serve as a minister in the United Kingdom, although she never won an election. On 4 September 2012, she was appointed Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities.
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Political career
- 3 In Government
- 4 Controversies
- 5 Views
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Styles
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Early life and career
Baroness Warsi was the second of five daughters born in Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1971, to Pakistani immigrants from Bewal, Gujar Khan. She is of the Jat caste, her ancestors being ethnic Indians from southern Pakistan. Her father, Safdar Hussain, after starting life as a mill worker, operates a bed manufacturing company, which has a turnover of £2 million a year. Warsi has said that her father's success led her to adopting Conservative principles.
Warsi was educated at Birkdale High School, Dewsbury College, and the University of Leeds, where she read law (LLB). She attended the College of Law, York to complete her legal practice training and thereafter with both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office Immigration Department.
After qualifying as a solicitor, she worked for the last Conservative MP for Dewsbury, John Whitfield, at Whitfield Hallam Goodall Solicitors and then set up a practice in Dewsbury.
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. She served as a special adviser to Michael Howard on community relations, and was appointed by David Cameron as vice chairman of the Conservative Party with specific responsibility for cities.
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.
On 1 December 2007, Warsi travelled to Khartoum, with the Labour peer Lord Ahmed, to mediate in the Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case (a British citizen teaching at Unity High School had been prosecuted and jailed for insulting Islam after allowing her class to name a teddy bear Muhammed). Although the peers' meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir did not lead directly to Gillian Gibbons being pardoned, it is acknowledged that, along with the enormous efforts made by her family, friends, and others, it was a helpful contribution to her release. Gibbons' son thanked Warsi and Ahmed for "their hard work behind the scenes" and the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, praised both peers, saying "I applaud the particular efforts of Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi in securing her freedom." The left-leaning Guardian newspaper referred to the incident as "Tory Peer's Triumph".
Minister without portfolio
On 12 May 2010, David Cameron appointed Baroness Warsi as Minister without portfolio in Cabinet, when she succeeded Eric Pickles as chairman of the Conservative Party. The appointment made Warsi the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet.
Ahead of David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle, Warsi plead to retain her position as Conservative Party chairman. Her argument to stay was based on her sex and ethnic minority origins saying "I’m a woman, I’m not white". In the same interview she said that she was angry to be viewed "as a tokenistic appointment".
In the event, on 4 September 2012 Warsi was shuffled to the new post of "Senior Minister of State" in the Foreign Office and Minister for Faith and Communities (the latter being a role she shadowed in opposition). Warsi tweeted she had been sacked from the Cabinet saying, "It's been a privilege and an honour to serve my party as co-chairman, signing off @ToryChairman". 
Roger Helmer defection
In March 2012, Baroness Warsi was criticised by a number of Conservative MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee for her handling of MEP Roger Helmer's defection to UKIP. A witness of the meeting said, "She had a very very tough time. She got it with both barrels from MPs across the party. For the party chairman to get treated like that shows what people think of the party chairman." Another is reported to have said “I just thought she was out of her depth. I have never seen anything like it – other than the last time she was before the 1922. I genuinely think she is the worst chairman we have ever had."
In May 2012, Warsi apologised for failing to declare rental income in the House of Lords register of interests. Declaring the fact of income, but not the amount, is necessary for rental income over ₤5,000.
Parliamentary expenses inquiry
On 27 May 2012, criticisms of her claims for parliamentary expenses were reported. The Labour Opposition urged a full police investigation into her expenses after it was alleged that she claimed up to £2,000 in despite staying rent-free in the London home of a Conservative Party donor, Dr Wafik Moustafa. Moustafa claims that he received no money from Warsi. Though he stated it was not personal, Moustafa was in a political dispute with Warsi concerning the Conservative Arab Network.
Warsi was ultimately cleared by the Commissioner for Standards in July 2012.
Breach of the Ministerial Code
Sir Alex Allan found Warsi to have committed two breaches the Ministerial Code, though he concluded they were minor and noted that she had apologised. The first was in relation to a trip to Pakistan where she failed to declare that she was being accompanied by a business partner but Sir Alex found that even if Lady Warsi had declared the relationship it would not have prevented the trip from going ahead. The second was when she invited her business partner (Abid Hussain) to meet David Cameron at a number 10 Downing Street Eid event.
The Conservative Party leadership was criticised in some quarters for holding Baroness Warsi to account on the Ministerial Code while apparently having a more relaxed approach to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Following the publication of the report, David Cameron said Baroness Warsi would be keeping her job.
The gay rights organisation Stonewall, as well as several Labour politicians, questioned her suitability for a high-profile Conservative Party role owing to leaflets issued during her 2005 election campaign that contained views which they claimed were homophobic. Some of her 2005 campaign leaflets claimed that Labour's lowering of the homosexual age of consent from 18 to 16 (under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000) was "allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships", and that homosexuality was being "peddled" to children as young as seven in schools.
In discussing immigration, Warsi said that people who back the British National Party (BNP) may have a point: "They have some very legitimate views. People who say, 'we are concerned about crime and justice in our communities – we are concerned about immigration in our communities'". On 22 October 2009, Warsi represented the Conservatives on a controversial edition of Question Time marking the first ever appearance of Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP. During that broadcast she strongly criticised the BNP, and when directly asked whether she was in favour of civil partnerships, replied, "I think that people who want to be in a relationship together, in the form of a civil partnership, absolutely have the right to do that."
On 30 November 2009, she was pelted with eggs by a group of Muslims whilst on a walkabout in Luton. The protesters accused her of not being a proper Muslim and of supporting the death of Muslims in Afghanistan. Warsi told the BBC that the men were "idiots who did not represent the majority of British Muslims". She later continued her walkabout with a police escort. In May 2010, British radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary warned that she could be in physical danger if she visited Muslim communities. He said she would be attacked by eggs every time she went near a Muslim community and some protesters may take the attacks further, because he did not view her as a Muslim and could not represent Islam or any Muslim due to her support of the military involvement of the British Army in some Muslim countries.
In the context of the United Kingdom debate over veils, a Tory MP tried to ban women from wearing burqas in public in 2010. Warsi responded that the garment does not limit women from engaging in everyday life. Amidst critics who say the burqa is divisive and has no place in British society, she argued that the choice of what to wear should be down to the individual. She was supported in her position by her colleague, Immigration Minister, Damian Green who said banning the face veil would be "un-British" and would be at odds with the UK's "tolerant and mutually respectful society".
Church and society
In September 2010, during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland, Baroness Warsi said the Labour government appeared to have viewed religion as "essentially a rather quaint relic of our pre-industrial history. They were also too suspicious of faith's potential for contributing to society – behind every faith-based charity, they sensed the whiff of conversion and exclusivity. And because of these prejudices they didn't create policies to unleash the positive power of faith in our society." She returned to this theme, as a cabinet minister, in February 2012, saying "Britain is under threat from a rising tide of militant secularisation", before an official visit to the Vatican to mark the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of full diplomatic ties between Britain and the Vatican. She went on to say, "I am not calling for some kind of 21st century theocracy. Religious faith and its followers do not have the only answer. There will be times when politicians and faith leaders will disagree. What is more, secularism is not intrinsically damaging. My concern is when secularisation is pushed to an extreme, when it requires the complete removal of faith from the public sphere". While she herself is a Muslim, she says that Europe needs to be "more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity".
At age 15, when on holiday with her extended family in Pakistan, a number of boys were introduced to her, from them she chose Naeem. In 1990 Warsi married her cousin Naeem in an arranged marriage, and had one daughter Aamna. Her husband has denies that it was arranged. She describes herself as a "Northern working-class mum". She and her first husband divorced in December 2007.
- Miss Sayeeda Warsi (1971–1990)
- Mrs Sayeeda Warsi (1990–2007)
- The Rt Hon. The Baroness Warsi (2007–2010)
- The Rt Hon. The Baroness Warsi PC (from 2010)
- "Sayeeda Warsi: The Tory peer who never plays it safe". The Independent. 28 February 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- "Shadow Cabinet: Who's Who". BBC News. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Dodd, Vikram (27 April 2005). "Adviser to Tory leader attacks gay sex laws". The Guardian.
- "Profile: Sayeeda Warsi". BBC News. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- House of Lords Minutes of Proceedings for Tuesday 15 October 2007. House of Lords Information Office.
- Lewis, Jason; Hennessey, Patrick (27 May 2012). "Calls for Warsi to stand down for investigation into flat expenses". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "Teacher speaks of Sudan 'ordeal'". BBC News. 4 December 2007.
- "Tory peer's triumph delights Cameron". The Guardian. 4 December 2007.
- "Cameron's cabinet: A guide to who's who". BBC News. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- "Privy Council Orders for 13 May 2010". Privy Council. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- "Baroness Warsi plea to remain as Tory chairman". The Telegraph. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "Cabinet reshuffle: Lansley replaced by Hunt in health job". BBC News. 4 September 2012.
- "Tories give Warsi both barrels". Evening Standard Politics Blog. 8 March 2012.
- Lewis, Jason (26 May 2012). "Cabinet minister Baroness Warsi admits breaking cash rules". The Telegraph.
- "Baroness Warsi: Labour urges expenses probe". BBC News. 27 May 2012.
- "Lady Warsi: I take expenses allegations very seriously". BBC News. 28 May 2012.
- Martin, Daniel (26 July 2012). "Lords probe clears Warsi over claims she wrongly claimed Parliamentary expenses". Daily Mail.
- Hope, Christopher (27 June 2012). "Baroness Warsi found guilty of breaching ministerial code – but David Cameron says she can keep her job". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "No 10: Jeremy Hunt will not face ministerial code inquiry". BBC News. 31 May 2012.
- "'Homophobic' leaflet used again by Tory candidate". Pink News. 11 July 2007.
- "Adviser to Tory leader attacks gay sex laws". The Guardian. 27 April 2005.
- Peev, Gerri (4 June 2013). "Warsi refuses to back bill for gay marriage: Minister abstains but Government wins crunch vote". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "Sayeeda Warsi and the BNP". Pickled Politics. 1 October 2007.
- "Immigration... Immigration... Immigration: Cameron hoped to ignore it. But now it's back with a vengeance". The Independent. 30 September 2007.
- Plunkett, John (15 October 2009). "Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi confirmed for Question Time with BNP leader". The Guardian.
- Question Time, 22 October 2009.
- "Tory Muslim peer pelted with eggs". BBC News. 30 November 2009.
- Ward, John (16 May 2010). "Syeeda Warsi slammed by islamic fundamentalists". Daily Star.
- Nicks, Gary (4 August 2010). "Conservative chairwoman: Don't ban burka". Daily Star.
- "Damian Green says burka ban would be 'un-British'". BBC News. 18 July 2010.
- "Baroness Warsi urges church community role". BBC News. 16 September 2010.
- "Religion sidelined by 'militant secularisation', says Baroness Warsi, 14 February 2012". BBC News. 14 February 2012.
- Warsi, Baroness (13 February 2012). "We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith". The Daily Telegraph.
- Storer, Jackie (19 July 2005). "n Ms Warsi change the Tories?". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Conservative Party Accessed 2 July 2010
- "Baroness Warsi's plea to remain Tory party chairman". BBC News. 1 September 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sayeeda Warsi.|
- Sayeeda Warsi Official website
- Profile at the Cabinet Office
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at PublicWhip.org
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou.com
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Sayeeda Warsi, Baroness Warsi collected news and commentary at The Guardian
- Profile: Sayeeda Warsi, BBC News, 2 July 2007
- Sayeeda Warsi: Cameron's secret weapon, The Sunday Times, 3 October 2009
- Britain's first Asian Cabinet Minister, BBC World Service, 3 June 2010 (26 minute audio interview)
- Debrett's People of Today
- profile in the Daily Telegraph, 16 January 2012
|New office||Shadow Minister of State for Community Cohesion and Social Action
|Minister without Portfolio
|Party political offices|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party
with The Lord Feldman of Elstree
The Lord Feldman of Elstree