Letwin turns tables on Blunkett with pledge to avoid Tory hysteria

Shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin has pledged that Conservative
MPs will “continue to bend over backwards” to avoid inflammatory
language about asylum seekers.

But he claims his opposite number, David Blunkett, has set a very
different tone and striven to “keep the rhetoric at a high pitch”
in order to appeal to voters.

“I think Blunkett’s language is more risqu’ than mine and I believe
he knows what he is doing. I think he intends to sound tough,” he

Letwin was responding to a letter from Community Care
editor Polly Neate calling on Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith
to urge his MPs to moderate their language to avoid whipping up
hatred against asylum seekers and refugees.

One of the aims of Community Care‘s Right to Refuge
campaign is to challenge racism and promote tolerance.

But Letwin, who is himself descended from Russian asylum seekers,
said his party was already aware that the asylum issue was one
where emotive language was best avoided.

Earlier this year, Letwin alleged that terrorists could use the
asylum system to enter this country and “blow people up”. But he
rejected claims that this was an intemperate claim.

“I was not being lurid,” he said. “Ninety-nine per cent of those
coming here either legally or illegally are harmless. But the prime
minister himself has warned us that a terrorist outrage here is
‘inevitable’, and these people could well use our asylum system to
get in as it is in chaos.”

Letwin warned that, if the asylum issue was not faced head on, it
could help the far right. “My criticism of the liberal
intelligentsia is that they say ‘don’t touch this subject’. But
failing to address the concerns of ordinary people is not
sustainable in a democracy,” he said.

The Conservatives are looking at what the UK can learn from ways
other countries deal with asylum seekers, including methods used in
Australia and the Netherlands.

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