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Non-white Tories slug it out

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON JULY 6. In an unseemly display of ethnic `disunity', two of the best known non-white faces in the Tory Party are engaged in a bitter slanging match which, some believe, has been inspired by the leadership to get its own back on one of them.

It started with a stinging attack by Shailesh Vara, a well-heeled Asian Tory-on-the-make, on the party's only black peer Lord Taylor for his persistent criticism of the leadership on race-related issues.

In remarks which the pro-Tory Daily Telegraph claimed had the "tacit approval of his leadership'', Mr. Vara accused Lord Taylor of "whingeing and carping from the sidelines'' instead of contributing to the party's efforts to improve its image among ethnic minorities.

``It's time for him to roll up his sleeves, to recognise the enormous positive changes that have happened in the party and are continuing to happen under Ian Duncan Smith and to stop whingeing and carping from the sidelines,'' he said accusing Lord Taylor of consistently taking a `destructive' view of the party while ignoring Labour's record on race. A successful lawyer Mr. Vara was made vice-chairman of the party after he failed to win last year's parliamentary election and is seen as a sole non-white rising "star'' in the organisation struggling to rid itself of its "white, male and middle class'' image.

Lord Tayor, a former BBC journalist, has hit back saying Mr. Vara's attack was intended to `discredit' him.

"It may be that eventually they may destroy me in some way but think of the consequences for them. They can discredit me with lies but how is that going to help the party engage with the black and Asian community'' he said.

The Daily Telegraph has lent generous space to the sparring `ethnic' Tories, and to remove any doubts that Mr. Vara's interview was, indeed, a put-up job, it said: "His demolition job on Lord Taylor...will be seen at Westminster as an authorised put-down of a man who for years has used his media profile to challenge Tory attitudes on race...''

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