Theresa May under pressure to scale back crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants amid mounting criticism of 'racist' spot checks

Tories fear spot checks and billboards are a political gift to Ukip

Deputy Political Editor

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was under growing pressure from within Tory ranks last night to scale back the tough new crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants amid mounting criticism of her department’s tactics.

The Independent disclosed last week that officials had conducted a series of “racist and intimidatory” spot checks at railway stations in areas with large ethnic minority populations.

It followed controversy over a campaign in which trucks carrying the message “go home or face arrest” toured several London boroughs.

Both schemes were signed off by the Home Office. But the Liberal Democrats have condemned them, insisting they were not Coalition policy.

It emerged that Lynton Crosby, the Conservatives’ chief election strategist, who had been widely assumed to be behind the trucks scheme, feared the initiative had played into the hands of the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

He is understood to have made his displeasure clear during a private meeting with a lobbying company in London, agreeing that the initiative had created an unnecessary row over tactics and distracted from policy.

It also gave a platform to Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, who condemned the initiative as ill-conceived and “unBritish”, Mr Crosby agreed.

Downing Street has suggested the billboard scheme could go nationwide and insisted it was already working, although it could point to no firm evidence that was the case.

Meanwhile, the spot-checks have triggered an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for possible unlawful discrimination.

A black Tory adviser, Derek Laud, said yesterday he feared his party’s next general election campaign would resort to dog-whistle tactics on race.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, Mr Laud protested that it was no coincidence that immigration was being raised as an issue by his party and bemoaned that more liberal attitudes to race were being sidelined.

“I have never called anyone racist. It is an often used and discredited cry. But this time, I believe the Conservative Party has shown it is racist. It will do anything, right or wrong, to bolster its poll ratings. Cameron's hard work around a modernity agenda ran into the sand. His party has never really embraced change, but he gave up the fight too soon,” he wrote.

The station spot-checks also came under fire from Martin Ruhs, a member of the Government's migration advisory committee, who warned against the draconian approach taken by other nations.

“In liberal democracies generally we don’t want to do the kinds of things that are commonplace in Singapore or maybe the Middle East,” he told the Observer.

“You have to draw the line somewhere. Different people will draw the line in different places over what is acceptable in how you treat people.

“Obviously the government has to do something about irregular immigration, but the issue is more complex than many policymakers believe. Some policies have an element of a spectacle – you want to send a signal, and those policies aren’t necessarily the most effective.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies