The Conservative Party moved to underline its anti-racist stance yesterday after Andrew Hunter, a senior Tory MP, announced that he had cut his links with a far-right magazine.
Conservative Central Office welcomed the decision by Mr Hunter to resign formally as a patron of Right Now!, a publication that has carried articles attacking immigration and multiculturalism.
The magazine shares a postal address with the Monday Club, the hard-right group suspended by Iain Duncan Smith last autumn for the "racist" nature of its website and its support for voluntary repatriation.
Mr Hunter, a deputy chairman of the Monday Club, was one of three MPs forced to resign from the club by the party leadership in October.
Last week the MP for Basingstoke was still listed as a patron of Right Now! some six months after Mr Duncan Smith's warning that he would "not tolerate intolerance". But in a letter to the magazinethis week, Mr Hunter states he can no longer be associated with the publication "in any way".
He objects specifically to an advertisement in the latest issue from the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA), a new group threatening legal action against the Tories over the Monday Club suspension. The advertisement states it is "horrified by Tory frontbench spokesmen advocating gay lifestyles and New Labour ideas".
In his letter to Derek Turner, the magazine's editor, who has referred to himself as a "neighbourhood Nazi", Mr Hunter states that he is a very loyal supporter of Mr Duncan Smith and has been appalled by the "antics" of the CDA.
A spokesman for Mr Duncan Smith said: "We welcome Andrew's decision, which will send a clear message that the party has changed on these issues."
Monday Club rebels will fight back tonight, with motions to their annual meeting attacking the party. Michael Smith, a spokesman for the CDA, said: "We know many of the senior people in the party don't actually object to the Monday Club. This is all about them affecting a pose to prove they have moved to the centre ground."Reuse content