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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Threats of racism charges within Welsh Tories

This morning's Western Mail blows the lid off the behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings amongst Welsh Conservatives as their head office sought to secure the nomination of Plaid Cymru-defector Mohammed Ahgar (Oscar) as a Tory Regional Assembly Member.

They report that David Fouweather, a Newport councillor who chairs the Tories’ South East Wales Area Council, was told that he could be suspended from the party unless he backed the selection of Oscar, the only AM from an ethnic minority, who defected to the Tories from Plaid Cymru:

The Western Mail has obtained a copy of a letter sent last week by Mr Fouweather to Catrin Edwards, who chairs the Conservative Party in Wales.

It states: “I am writing to you to express my concerns regarding the adoption of the two area Assembly list Members for South East Wales.

“From the outset this process was interfered with by people who had little or no connection with the area.

“There were numerous telephone calls made to myself by a representative of the party chairman’s office in London. These calls made it quite clear to me that Mohammad Asghar had to be re-adopted at all costs because of the embarrassment that it would create for the party.

“I was told that failure to re-adopt Mr Asghar could lead to my possible suspension from the party whilst an investigation was carried out to see if there were any racial motives for him not being adopted.

“This I found deeply offensive, resulting in a great deal of pressure being put upon me to deliver the desired outcome for the party hierarchy.”

This whole affair will be deeply embarrassing for the Welsh Conservatives, who have tried to keep a lid on the deep disagreements within their party over the future of Oscar and his daughter. On the wider issue though I agree with Naz Malik, who is chief executive of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association. He is quoted as saying:

“My personal view is that the hierarchy of the Conservative Party is happy to have Mr Asghar as an AM because he doesn’t pose a threat to anybody.

“He has singularly failed to articulate the concerns of ethnic minority communities in Wales, either as a Plaid Cymru representative or a Tory, and the Conservative Party’s insistence that he should be a candidate next year perpetuates the worst kind of tokenism.

“None of the parties in Wales have properly addressed the need to select ethnic minority candidates in winnable seats who are capable of bringing the needs of such communities into the Assembly spotlight in a coherent way.

“Until that is achieved, the Assembly will not be the inclusive body it would like us to think it is.”

it's not the sense that the assembly itself is an inclusive body, it aims to be, it's the political parties that make up
the Senedd will not be inclusive
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