Blair urges withdrawal of Le Pen invitation

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Indy Politics
Conservative Central Office yesterday refused to condemn a right-wing pressure group's invitation to the extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen to address a meeting in Brighton during next month's Tory party conference.

Tony Blair, the shadow Home Secretary, said the Prime Minister and Sir Norman Fowler, the party chairman, should use their influence to get the invitation by the group, Western Goals, withdrawn.

Last week, the group issued an invitation to Mussolini's grand- daughter, Allesandra.

Mr Blair said the rise of the neo-fascist right was causing concern all over Europe. 'This invitation is a grave insult to all those who bear the scars of having fought in and lived through the Second World War,' he said. 'It is extraordinary that such an invitation should be extended to a Tory party conference.'

Central Office said no application had been made by the group to participate in the conference's official fringe and that Sir Norman would not be taking action.

'We cannot stop anyone if they want to have a meeting in Brighton,' a spokesman said. 'It is not for us to condemn or condone it and we are distancing ourselves from it completely.

'If an application was made we would have to look at what exactly the subject matter of the meeting was and who was attending it.'

Sir Norman could not bar people from holding meetings any more than he could stop a National Front demonstration in Birmingham, the spokesman added.

A Downing Street spokesman said it was a party matter.