Yes Baroness: Sayeeda Warsi Stole The Show Tonight

Britain’s online community certainly has a collective flavour. There is an enjoyably scheduled sense of direction and topicality in blog posts, facebook updates and tweets isn’t there? So far on this drab October’s agenda there has been an interesting and unusual mix of celebritism and politics: Jan Moir’s unnatural column, Cheryl Cole’s solo efforts and now Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time.

In and around these almost organised uproars, I enjoy the quirky sideshows and tangents... How can Simon Cowell be so rich and have such bad hair? Is Nick Griffin a closet gay like Martin Webster inadvertently suggests? Is Bonnie Greer actually a brilliantly acted prosthetic make-up side-project of Germaine Greer?

What interested me most about Question Time this evening was the ever-emerging authority of Sayeeda “Baroness” Warsi, who I like to call The Waroness.

Tonight The Waroness, who is the Tory’s spokesman on community cohesion, gave such brilliantly articulate and naturally considerate answers you could almost hear the whoosh of her pay rise. Of course if David Cameron comes into power then The Waroness will no doubt become a senior minister.

She’s quite a political wild card too, being the first Muslim woman to be selected by the Conservatives. The Waroness must surely be empathetic and understanding towards minorities.

Yet in 2005 her supposed empathy-slash-impartiality towards minorities revealed itself to be somewhat wavering, when her election campaign in Yorkshire showcased ideas of a homophobic slance.

The Waroness disagreed with the equality and alignment of sexual age consent, as well as attacking what she believed to be the “pedalling” of homosexuality in schools.

It was refreshing, therefore, this evening to see Sayeeda Warsi confirm her support and acceptance of civil partnerships. Presenter David Dimbleby’s reiterative insistence on asking The Waroness for her views on gay relationships being legally recognised made it quite clear to the audience that he suspected her to be a bit behind the times and lacking a few colours in her rainbow.

Of course The Waroness knows better than to say a homophobic remark in the run-up to a national election, and consequently volunteer to be Jan Moir 2 in front of a colossal BBC audience. Also, since climbing a few rungs on the Tory ladder, The Waroness will have realised just how many of the party's MPs are a bit gay. You only need to look at their work experience shadows and interns! There are usually at least five having a cigarette outside KU Bar.

Still, hopefully, she is wiser now and has learned from the backlash to her insensitivities in 2005. I think that Warsi knows the role of politicians - to serve and support the public, not to dictate and attempt to reshape communities to fit their own personal preferences.

Admittedly, her vocalised support for civil partnerships was somewhat skeletal compared to the rest of her expansive and charismatic contributions to QT this evening. Of course the focus was on ostracising Nick Griffin from British politics, and so Dimbleby spared The Waroness the discomfort of resurfacing her mistakes from 2005.

Nevertheless, The Waroness gave an impressive political performance tonight. Collected, intelligent, diligent and understanding. I’m intrigued to see where Warsi’s strengths will take her next.


  1. Great. But I didn't like her comment about how Britain deserve to let in "the best and brightest" that was pretty fascist in itself. Surely we should be aiming to be a humane charitable Britain trying to allow as many desperate refugees in as possible, not only the best and the brightest.

  2. I agree. "The best and the brightest" did sound a bit headmistressy and Australian.

    Immigration should be supportive and offer refuge to persecuted innocents. Although perhaps it shouldn't be a complete charity shamble, like Oxbridge?

  3. Having not had the pleasure of watching Nick Griffin being allowed to sit with humans last night, i can only comment on your comments, not the programme itself.
    I does not surprise me that the Baroness is a touche uncomfortable with homosexuality. The emancipation of the gay community is an essential part in the emancipation of minority groups and women; homophobia is a patriarchal socio-historical construct, and any blow against it is a blow for all of us who inhabit the shady zone outside of white, male heterosexuality. That a Muslim woman can't quite shake off her discomfiture is hardly surprising. Until she shakes off Islam (since she is Muslim - I would have the same view were she, say, Catholic) she won't see beyond her own immediate experience. She needs to look to history, and see the spectrum of what is absent there - ooh, back to rainbows.

  4. Benjamin J. O'Brien26 October 2009 at 20:13

    I am not a fan, personally. She is a politician through and through. Islam is in a bit of a funny place at the moment. Don't quote me on the "funny".

    Christianity is often blamed for the morality of the period of history wherein it was dominant, namely 1-1900 AD (and further in certain quarters). However, it is important to point out that society itself did much to shape Christianity at its conception.

    That said, it is impossible to deny that Christianity supported the discriminatory agendas of those nations which adopted it as a state religion. However, if we take a societal model of developing public opinion in comparison with developing Christian opinion, they are certainly in sync. That is to say, secular liberalism, at least roughly, moves in tandem with Christian liberalism.

    There are, of course, certain denominations with the Church where liberal agendas are not maintained - just as there are certain denominations of social group where the same is true.

    By and large, in my experience, the same cannot be said of Islam. I have studied the matter a little, and it seems that, whilst it would be wrong to call all Muslims fundamentalist, there is more of a propensity to conservatism. The Baroness has, in the past, expressed views contrary to the homosexual agenda; I take her acceptance of civil partnerships as nothing more than political posturing. I.e. "This lady is for turning."

    I was also very unimpressed with her responses to Mr. Griffin; he made (relatively) fair criticisms of Islam - obviously he overplayed them slightly, for effect - that she hoodwinked out of the discussion without a serious retort. As much as I detest the man, he was right to call the event a lynch-mobbing, it probably drummed up more of a sympathy-vote response than what the producers were looking for. If we are to take his party less seriously, we would have benefited from a proper response to his accusations, not a blasé can't-touch-this-I'm-a-minority type response.

  5. Benjamin J. O'Brien26 October 2009 at 20:16

    p.s. ignore the grammatical errors, I'm tired and it's late!

  6. Griffin needs to explain stealing party money instead of coming on and scaring people with his one eyed rant that fell on deaf ears.. if it was up to me he would be deported to space!!