Tories accused of 'divisive, dog-whistle politics' over anti-immigration campaign video

Conservatives are ‘echoing the very worst elements of the Leave campaign and the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric of Nigel Farage’s Ukip’, one MP tells The Independent

Benjamin Kentish
Monday 15 May 2017 15:56 BST
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Tories accused of 'divisive, dog-whistle politics' over anti-immigration campaign

The Conservative Party has been accused of “toxic, dog whistle politics” after releasing a campaign video saying they will be tougher on immigration than Labour and accusing Jeremy Corbyn of wanting more migration from the EU.

The clip, posted on Facebook, tells voters there is a “choice at this election on immigration” before cutting to a clip of Theresa May promising to reduce the number of people entering Britain from the EU.

“Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe, and that is what we will deliver,” the Prime Minister says.

The video then shows part of Mr Corbyn’s answer to a question about whether he thinks “too many” people from other parts of the EU have come to live and work in the EU.

“No I don’t think too many have come,” the Labour leader is shown as saying.

The video does not include the rest of Mr Corbyn’s answer, given to reporters after a speech during the EU referendum campaign last April.

The Labour leader’s full response was: “No I don’t think too many have come – I think the issue is wages and regulations as I said in my speech. Hence the agency workers issue I raised in my speech and [the need for government to enforce] the minimum wage that I raised in my speech.”

The Conservative campaign clip ends with striking text reading: “Corbyn and immigration: too big a risk”.

Labour MP David Lammy, whose parents were immigrants to the UK from Guyana, told The Independent: “This is dog-whistle politics from the Tories, echoing the very worst elements of the Leave campaign and the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric of Nigel Farage’s Ukip.

“The Tories need to come clean and be honest with the public: how are they going to meet their tens of thousands target that has been missed every single year? Who is going to pay the taxes that fund our pensions and our public services? Who exactly is going to work in our NHS, in our social care system and in the low-paid jobs in hospitality and other industries?”

His comments echoed those made by critics on social media, who accused the Tories of divisive and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

“What appalling dog-whistle politics,” wrote one. “You’ve really gone the full Ukip.”

Another added: “Oh that’s it, appeal to the wider bigots, racists and ill-informed why don’t you... Pathetic scaremongering and a poor means of masking your horrendous policies.”

“Crikey, more and more you are allied with the far right. I’m definitely not voting Tory this time, and yes it’s a big deal – I’ve been Tory faithful for over 20 years,” said a third.

Others pointed out that, as Home Secretary, Theresa May was previously responsible for delivering the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto promise to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands” – a pledge she failed to meet.

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