|David Cameron at the Swaminarayan Temple|
Action is now seen as urgent following the collapse of the Conservative vote in Bradford West. Conservative co-chairman, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said:
We need to learn from centre-right parties in other countries how to attract votes who share our values but haven't traditionally voted Conservative. And we need to go out and persuade those voters that a Conservative government is the best way of fulfilling their aspirations for themselves, their families and their communities.However this strategy may not be welcomed by all Tories. Warsi herself has been under attack from the party's right-wing. An article in the current New Statesman LINK states:
Judged by the intensity and sheer volume of the anti-Warsi vitriol, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion that her critics don't like her because she ticks three very un-Tory boxes: she is female, Asian and Muslim. Since it is 2012 and they can't say as much in public, her right-wing opponents target instead her alleged lack of 'competence' and 'ability'.Interestingly in the same edition of the New Statesman Salma Yaqoob, reviewing the Bradford West result, remarks that the Labour Party has for generations 'relied on and reinforced the corrupting influence of biraderi - clan networks - that so disfigure south Asian politics'. The by-election result marks the community's break with Labour.
Although the Conservatives will have their eye on Brent North, held years ago by right-wing Tory Rhodes Boyson, the reality is that the local Conservative Party is very weak, with just a rump left on the council, and Barry Gardiner, helped by boundary changes, strengthened his grip on the constituency against the trend at the General Election. At 62.3% Brent North has the 4th highest BME population and Brent Central is 7th at 53%.
There are pitfalls in this strategy, not least the reaction of right-wingers. The YouTube videos of Cameron's 2008 visit to the Swaminarayna Temple attracted many racist comments as well as, somewhat oddly, anti-Muslim rants. The Daily Mail, even more bizarrely, for the April 2010 visit by the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, focused on the poor state of Mrs Brown's feet, revealed when she took her shoes off to enter the temple! LINK