Letter: Tory future at risk

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Amid all the words about the Conservative Party's views on Europe I hope you can find room for a comment on Sir Norman Fowler's view that money spent on refugees is "waste" ("Fowler attacks `waste' on refugees", 7 October).

This country's hospitality to victims of persecution is one in which the Conservative Party has had a large and honourable part. Sir Norman knows that Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic run as strongly in the persecuting stakes as most of their predecessors. He knows it is impossible to tell which refugees are genuine before their claims are heard. He knows that so many of our ancestors have benefited from this hospitality to victims of persecution that it has almost become a defining mark of British nationality. In the words of Lord Peter Wimsey: "You must be British, no other race ever boasts of being mongrel."

If the Conservative Party should lose this tradition and descend into vulgar xenophobia it would no longer be fit for polite society. As a political pluralist I believe that would be an immense loss to the country.

Earl RUSSELL

House of Lords

London SW1

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