The Daily Telegraph, whose sister paper the Sunday Telegraph waged a disgraceful smear campaign against Foreign Office minister and former Tory party co-chair Sayeeda Warsi, carries a report titled “Baroness Warsi rapped by Lords sleaze watchdog over undeclared Wembley flat income”.
The Lords Commissioner for Standards found that Warsi had omitted to register an interest as the recipient of £6,937 in rent during 2010-11 from a flat in Wembley, which she had been forced to leave for security reasons on joining the cabinet and was unable to sell due to negative equity. The rent she received was in fact less than the mortgage and other expenses she paid on the flat, but it exceeded the £5,000 threshold and should therefore have been declared.
The Commissioner accepted that Warsi’s oversight did not result in any financial loss to the taxpayer or additional monetary gain to herself, and that she had made no attempt to conceal the existence of the flat or the fact that she was renting it out. Indeed, Warsi herself pointed out that she had made the rental arrangement known to the Cabinet Office, the Leader of the House and HM Revenue and Customs.
In other words, this is pretty much a non-story. Which didn’t prevent the Telegraph from hyping it up for the benefit of Warsi’s enemies in the Tory party and the paper’s own readership of right-wing anti-Muslim bigots.
It’s also worth noting that the complaint about Warsi’s failure to declare the rental income came from Labour MP John Mann. As chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, Mann would presumably hesitate to provide assistance to a bigoted campaign against a Tory politician from the Jewish community, even if this did offer the prospect of some party-political advantage to Labour. But he evidently has no compunction about aiding the witch-hunt of a Muslim politician, and contributing to the general atmosphere of Islamophobia, by trying to catch Warsi out on a minor technicality.
Here are some of the comments that the Telegraph‘s report has provoked from its readers:
“Warsi would be long gone, having been caught fiddling time and time again, but she plays the ‘don’t repress me I’m a Moslim card’, and no one dares prosecute her.”
“She was ‘ennobled’ by Cameron as a token muslim.”
“Conservative pawn for chasing Muslim block vote.”
“Rubbish – the block vote goes to Labour as everybody knows. Cameron was just pitching for a piece of it – and losing a million traditional Tory votes in the process of course.”
“The reason they are going for that vote is that its the fastest growing.”
“If I fail to declare a significant amount of income on my tax return, and then get caught, will a nice ‘sincere apology’ cause HMRC to consider the matter closed? I think I can guess the answer.”
“Depends on your religion.”
“Might melanin levels influence the response too?”
“Isnt it strange how all the players in this dirty little story are of Parkistani origin. Corruption is part of Pakistani culture.”
“What a surprise. Cameron’s token Muslim gets away with it.”
“About time Dave’s token muslim was removed.”
“To paraphrase… the thief should have their hand cut off as a punishment, God willing. I am sure Warsi as a good Muslim would agree.”
“Allah is out the window for many muslims if a bit of lying and cheating can make money.”
“Yes, and a lot of muslims in prison for drug offenses.”
“Don’t forget all those culturally enriching experiences young White girls have had in towns all over the UK.”
“‘Foreign Office Minister’? The public face of our 90% white Christian country, is Muslim. That is as bad as the BBC having a Muslim as the head of religious programming.”
“‘Baroness Warsi’, ‘Tory official Naweed Khan’, ‘the property’s owner Wafik Moustafa’. Am I in the same country?”
“Warsi is a typical example of the variety and richness of culture brought to this country by immigration. And a typical example of the sort of creature who cries out to be drowned in a vat of pink custard.”
“For visual effect, I would still prefer 3/4″ hemp rope and a lamppost.”
“Of course this unsavoury case is closed. It would be ‘racist ‘ to suggest that her activities might be a typical example of the corruption endemic in her own country of Pakistan.”
“Warsi is a typical example of the variety and richness of culture brought to this country by immigration.”
“Why are we being run by these criminal minorities? … This country was a lot better run when the people with power were Christian, heterosexual men with a traditional British attitude.”