Tory peer launches bizarre attack on Muslim MPs

Baroness Warsi declares that Muslims who go to parliament “don’t have any morals or principles”.

The Conservatives' Sayeeda Warsi is under fire this morning after declaring that she didn't want to see more Muslim MPs, because "Muslims that go to parliament don't have any morals or principles".

Next Left, which broke the story, reports that Warsi's comments were included in an unpublished Times story by the reporters Andrew Norfolk, Tom Baldwin and Richard Ford.

Whether the Times, which has amended headlines to suit the Conservatives in recent weeks, runs the story remains to be seen.

The full comments by Warsi, which were made in a speech at a Yorkshire dinner in honour of the president of Kashmir, were:

[He] says we need more Muslim MPs, more Muslims in the House of Lords. I would actually disagree with that, because one of the lessons we have learnt in the last five years in politics is that Muslims that go to parliament don't have any morals or principles.

It would seem that the Tory peer, who is a practising Muslim and the shadow minister for community cohesion, has rather a lot of explaining to do. The Times report notes that there are more than 80 Muslim candidates standing in tomorrow's election, including several Tories in winnable seats.

Baroness Warsi is quoted as saying that her original remarks were mistranslated and taken "completely out of context", which seems a rather insufficient defence.

Let's hope we get a response from the Times and David Cameron later today.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.