Source: Independent on Sunday (10 April 05)
Author: Andy Mc Smith
Michael Howard has been accused by the United Nations refugee agency of indulging in ‘political opportunism’ and encouraging hatred of foreigners by dragging asylum-seekers into party politics.
The stinging rebuke came ahead of Mr Howard’s first speech since the official start of the election campaign, in which he put immigration into the centre of the political arena by accusing Tony Blair of wanting to ‘pussyfoot around’ the issue. He asserted that ‘it’s not racist to talk about immigration’.
His words fly in the face of a sharply worded warning from the British representative of the UNHCR, Anne Dawson-Shepherd, who has accused the Conservatives of making false claims about asylum-seekers and has pleaded with them to ‘stick to the facts’. ‘UNHCR is terribly worried as among some quarters the crisis rhetoric and lumping of asylum with immigration issues continues, often fuelled by thinly disguised xenophobia and political opportunism,’ she said.
Her statement was provoked by a false claim put out by the Conservatives in defence of their much ridiculed promise to set up offshore centres where asylum-seekers can be held while their claims are processed.
Go to UN attacks Howard for ‘false’ claims on asylumfor the Independent on Sunday’s full article.
Go to ‘UK must share, not shift burden’ to read a copy of the UNHCR press release on the issue.
Go to ‘Asylum & Refugees Pre-election Talking Points’ to read a copy of the UNHCR Letter to MPs.