Blair's tough stance on asylum 'helps BNP'

Emotive language used by the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues is helping the far-right British National Party, Sir Bill Morris has warned.

By attacking asylum seekers, Tony Blair is leaving "footprints'' for the BNP to follow, Sir Bill said on his retirement from the leadership of the Transport and General Workers' Union.

Referring to Mr Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference, Sir Bill, one of Britain's most prominent black men, told The Independent: "The Prime Minister says we should cut the number of asylum-seekers by half and that we should stand no interference from the judiciary. I thought the judiciary were there to carry out the will of Parliament.

"When he says he wants to 'derail the gravy train' of legal aid to asylum-seekers, that is a threat to fundamental freedom.

"All this is a little bit authoritarian, and anti-democratic. I don't want to decide who should come and who should go, but if you are here, you should be treated with a modicum of fairness. I don't want to see footprints left so that the BNP can step in to them. I don't want language used just to appease the Daily Mail.''

Sir Bill also took issue with comments by David Blunkett. "When the Home Secretary talks about the children of asylum-seekers 'swamping our schools', I say to myself, haven't I heard that from other politicians - from the British National Party and Mrs Thatcher? These are emotive words."

Sir Bill is being succeeded by Tony Woodley, who is considered to be further to the left and who has taken up a position as a leading light in the so-called union "awkward squad".

The leftward lurch of the union was thought to be tempered at the weekend by the election of Jack Dromey as the T&G's deputy general secretary. However, Mr Dromey said: "The message to boardrooms and Tony Blair is clear, never again will the voice of working people be ignored.''

Comments