Guido has been a regular critic of Baroness Warsi – it is fair to say we do not approve of her characterisation and handling of the Eurosceptic wing of her party – for example she blundered so badly during the succession to the retiring Roger Helmer MEP that his seat is now represented in the UKIP interest.
We’ve written before that it is pretty poor of her defenders to try to characterise criticism as crypto-racism. It was the Labour MP Karl Turner who called for Warsi to be referred over her expenses claims not just to the Lords Commissioner for Standards, he wrote to the police as well. It was Labour’s semi-official attack dog Michael Dugher who wrote to the Cabinet Secretary demanding a full investigation. Labour’s Deputy General Secretary Tom Watson raised questions about the propriety of her trip funded by the government of Pakistan. Turner, Dugher and Watson have many unpleasant failings, however racism is not among them.
Tory activists don’t rate Warsi’s skill at making her party’s case on the Today programme or on Newsnight, Tory commentators tend to agree. Here Guido thinks they mistake her blunt directness for a communications problem – she was pretty effective on the most watched edition of Question Time against Nick Griffin. She may not appeal to political wonks and pundits – she is not a product of the Oxbridge PPE clique that dominates Westminster – however because voters can identify with her Warsi reaches voters who it is impossible for the posh boys to reach. Warsi is a highly visible and valuable advocate, which is exactly why Cameron appointed her party chairman. Warsi should be deployed to reach non-traditional Tory voters, not to communicate to the political class that wakes up listening to Today and goes to bed watching Newsnight.
Labour and their media allies are trying hard to make capital out of her referral by Cameron and Hunt’s non-referral. This is supposedly evidence of Tory prejudice. Actually it just reflects the fact that Hunt denies wrongdoing and Warsi admits it, arguing that they are minor oversights.