Shreela Flather, Baroness Flather DL (born 13 February 1934) is a British-Indian politician, teacher and life peer.
Flather became a life peer for the Conservative party on 11 June 1990 as Baroness Flather, of Windsor and Maidenhead in the Royal County of Berkshire. She was the first Asian woman to receive a peerage. In 1998 she resigned as the Conservative whip over the demotion of Viscount Cranborne for his actions to reduce the impact of the 1999 House of Lords Act. She rejoined the party in 1999, but left a second time in 2008, since when she has sat as a crossbencher.
She has also been a teacher of English as a second language and a member of the Conservative Women's National Committee. Flather has been recognised as Asian of the Year 1996. She has served senior posts in various organisations involved in refugee, community, race relations and prison work. She was also shortlisted for the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative Award in 2015 for her outspoken work on women's rights, and she remains in the directory of the Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who publication.
Flather is a distinguished supporter of Humanists UK and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. She is one of the Vice Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group. She lives in Maidenhead with her husband.
Her most important contribution has been to help create a memorial to the volunteers from the Indian Subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who fought with the British in two World Wars. These volunteers who number nearly 5 million had all but been forgotten. Her own father volunteered in the First World War and was a stretcher bearer in Mesopotamia. The Memorial Gates stand on Constitution Hill near Hyde Park Corner.
In September 2011 she said that the Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrant communities and including white British in the United Kingdom of having a large number of children in order to be able to claim more benefits. She said the issue did not apply to British families of Indian origin as the Indian families had a different mentality from that of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in the UK, desiring that their children should be educated. She put an amendment that the first two children should get full benefits, the third one half and taper down to a quarter for the fourth. There should be no restriction on the number of children but parents should take responsibility for their own children. Labour Party MP Michael Dugher condemned her and said that her views were unacceptable.
Flather made further controversial comments in November 2012, when she defended Conservative election strategist Lynton Crosby, during an incident where he used an offensive term referring to Muslims at a meeting when he was working for Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. She said: "I don’t condone swearing, but Lynton is right to say it is pointless for the Conservatives to chase Muslim votes. They are all on benefits and all vote Labour."
Honorary Doctor of Laws Leeds University, Honorary Doctor of the Open University and Northampton University. Fellow University College London. Indian President's personal acknowledgement of overseas Indians, Pravasi Samman.
Family and personal life
Flather is the great-granddaughter of Sir Ganga Ram, a noted engineer, philanthropist and agriculturist during the late 19th century and early 20th century in Punjab, British India. She was married to Gary Denis Flather until his death in 2017.
- "No. 52169". The London Gazette. 14 June 1990. p. 10541.
- "Profile: On the Level with Baroness Flather". Obv.org.uk. 13 February 1934. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "Grassroot Diplomat Who's Who". Grassroot Diplomat. 15 March 2015. Archived from the original on 20 May 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- "All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group". British Humanist Association. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Immigrants have children for benefits, says Asian peer". BBC News. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
- "Indian-origin Tory politician Baroness Flather slammed for racist". Sify.com. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Andrew Sparrow. "David Cameron appoints Lynton Crosby to run Tory election campaign | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- "Former Conservative Peer Shreela Flather: Muslims Are All On Benefits And Vote Labour". The Huffington Post. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
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- Nigel Morris (7 July 2015). "Baroness Flather accused of 'bigotry' over her views on marriages in Pakistani community". The Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Bedi, Baba Pyare Lal, Harvest from the desert. The life and work of Sir Ganga Ram, NCA, Lahore 2003 ISBD 969-8623-07-8 (reprint version) pg xvii