I Am the SNP's Newest Recruit (but I Did Say That Alex Salmond Was Naive)

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN SMITH

THE defection of a key Tory has backfired on the SNP after it emerged she is also a former member of the Labour Party.

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who stood for the Conservatives in last year's Scottish Parliamentary elections, was paraded by Nationalist leader Alex Salmond in Glasgow yesterday.

But the publicity coup turned into a political embarrassment as Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh, 29, was forced to admit the SNP was her third party in five years. She had launched a scathing attack on Tory leader William Hague for shifting the party too far to the right and for encouraging racist views against asylum seekers.

But her political credibility was undermined when she admitted she had been a member of the Labour Party from 1995 to 1996 when she campaigned for Govan MP Mohammed Sarwar in a local council election.

It also emerged that during last year's elections, when Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh stood for the Tories in the Glasgow Govan seat, she branded Mr Salmond as 'hopelessly naive' over his views on the Kosovo conflict.

Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh, a lawyer, is married to film producer Zulf Kar Ahmed and has a four-year-old daughter and a son aged two.

At last year's elections the Tories presented her as the new face of Conservatism. But yesterday's revelations allowed the party to brush off her defection.

Tory leader David McLetchie, said: 'She doesn't seem to know if she is left wing or right wing, pro-union or pro-independence. You have to conclude this is political opportunism at its most crass.' Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh, who before joining Labour had been a member of the Young Conservatives, said that she joined out of family loyalty rather than political conviction.

Her family are traditionally Tory and her father, Mo Rizvy, was the first Asian councillor in Scotland, holding the Stockbridge seat in Edinburgh District Council for the Tories.

Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh joined the Young Conservative as a 17-year-old Law student in Edinburgh. …