Sayeeda Warsi, who was appointed to the Conservative Shadow Cabinet last week by party leader David Cameron, has said she regrets the hostile language used in her 2005 election leaflets.
It has now emerged that a Tory candidate at last year’s council election used the same campaign literature.
During the last general election campaign the gay equality organisation Stonewall said Mrs Warsi, the then-Conservative candidate in Dewsbury, was being homophobic by accusing the Labour government of, “allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.”
Mr Scott lost his seat in the 2006 local council election to the Labour candidate.
PinkNews.co.uk has obtained a letter sent to David Cameron last July by a group of Labour MPs representing the Kirklees District Council area complaining about homophobic campaigning.
The letter, signed by Labour MPs Mike Wood, Kali Mountford, Mary Creagh, Shahid Malik and Barry Sheerman and dated 19th July 2006, read:
“Mr Scott acted as the agent/manager for Mrs Warsi’s general election campaign and was the councillor in the ward in which Mrs Warsi resides – this probably explains the similarities in their literature.
“After perusing the leaflets, which focus negatively on race and sexuality, we would welcome your position vis-à-vis the literature.
“We would welcome your leadership on this issue within your own party and we hope that you would wish to distance yourself and condemn the literature which certainly has no place in a constituency that already has the highest BNP vote in the country.”
A senior source in the Labour party confirmed the letter had been sent to Mr Cameron, but he did not reply.
Ms Warsi’s leaflets, reportedly redistributed by Mr Scott, read:
“Labour has scrapped Section 28, which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old.
“Labour reduced the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16, allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.”
In 2005 these leaflets were aimed at the Muslim voters in the constituency.
Other campaign literature, targeted at white areas, had a strong anti-immigration theme.
The existence of the letter means that Mr Cameron had been warned about Mrs Warsi’s views a year before he chose to appoint her as Shadow Minister for Social Cohesion.
“We hope you will disassociate yourself from the views held by two regional/national figures in your party,” the MPs wrote.
“Although all of Kirklees’ MPs are Labour, you will agree that the points we raise are above party politics.
“You talk about wanting a modern party which has no place for bigotry or hatred and whose philosophy is based on honesty, equality and fairness.
“We feel this is an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity with which you seek to lead your party and clearly outline what you believe to be acceptable and unacceptable from key party figures.
“We are enclosing some literature which was distributed in Kirklees at recent elections by Mrs Sayeeda Warsi and more recently, by former Dewsbury South Conservative Councillor, Jonathan Scott.
“Mrs Warsi is of course one of the Vice-Chairs of the Conservative party and Jonathan Scott heads up ‘Conservative Vision’ in Yorkshire.
“We feel this is an opportunity to demonstrate the integrity with which you seek to lead your party and clearly outline what you believe to be acceptable and unacceptable from key party figures.”
In an interview with The Guardian, today Mrs Warsi said that she was not intimately involved in the production of the controversial leaflets.
“I look back at lots of my election leaflets and think, ‘God – why did I phrase it like that? What was I on?’” she told the paper.
“There was a whole team that was involved in my election leaflets.
“People used to kind of draft little bits together, and we’d throw it together and send it off to the printers.
“Looking back on it, maybe I could have used much better language than that.”
Mrs Warsi told The Guardian that the Conservative party’s position on Section 28 has changed but that her personal view is that sex education should be removed from all schools.
“I’ve made this absolutely clear: what people do in their private lives is absolutely their business. If people want to engage in heterosexual or homosexual lifestyles, then they can,” she told the paper.
Mrs Warsi said she thinks that sex education should be “out of the school system, initially.”