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May 01, 2004
First Lib Dem Muslim in Parliament
Liberal Democrats will have for the first time a Muslim, and that a woman, in the Parliament, reports The Muslim News. Mrs Kishwer Falkner, 49, was selected among 46 new working peers appointed today to the House of Lords.
The list, approved by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, included no Muslims selected for peerages by either the Labour Party or the Conservatives. None of the seven new independents are Muslim.
Falkner said that she was “honoured and delighted to take up this new role”. “I see this as a recognition of the contribution that so many immigrants make to life in Britain. I look forward to be a voice for diversity in the House of Lords,” she told The Muslim News.
Her appointment was also was welcomed by the editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed Versi. “It is heartening to see that the Lib Dems have at last made the move to select a Muslim to the House of Lords. I hope that this is just a beginning and look forward to seeing a Lib Dem MP next year,” he said.
Versi suggested that support for Britain’s third party was being boosted by its anti-war stance. “Muslims are joining the Lib Dems in large numbers and in the next General Elections, Muslim votes will go to the Lib Dems in large numbers,” he said. He expressed hope that the Lib Dems would reciprocate “by placing Muslims in winnable seats.”
The Editor was also critical of Labour not taking the opportunity of adding to its existing four Muslim peers in the House of Lords, but was even more scathing about the Conservatives. “It was a shame that there are no Muslim Tories in the Parliament, including in the House of Commons and that the House of Lords Appointments Commission couldn’t find even one Muslim for the working peer.”
Mrs Kishwer Falkner, who was born in Pakistan, came to Britain in 1973 as an economic migrant. She read International Relations at the London School of Economics and gained an M.A. in European Studies at the University of Kent. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, the USA, continental Europe, Africa and Asia. Her background has covered the corporate sector, international organisations and the not-for-profit sector.
She joined the Lib Dem in 1986 and stood as prospective parliamentary candidate in Kensington and Chelsea in 2001, gaining the highest ethnic minority vote for Liberal Democrats in London. She was selected for this year’ European elections but has now stepped down to join the Lords.
Kishwer is married to Robert Falkner, an academic teacher at the London School of Economics and they live in West London with their seven year old daughter Sophia.
Her appointment brings the total of Muslims in the House of Lords to five. All the others are Labour. There are also two Muslims in the House of Commons, both Labour. There is one Muslim in the European Parliament, a Conservative.
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