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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 00:00 GMT
Benn condemns Tory 'racism'
Tony Benn
Tony Benn: Racism must be "exposed and resisted".
Veteran MP Tony Benn is to launch a stinging attack on William Hague for introducing "naked racism" into the national debate about asylum seekers.

The Labour leftwinger, who has chosen to step down as an MP at the next election to "spend more time in politics", will address a rally in London on Monday night.

When it comes to asylum seekers, the real issue is that this is a backdoor way for naked racism to be introduced by people like William Hague

Tony Benn MP
He is expected to say: "When it comes to asylum seekers, the real issue is that this is a backdoor way for naked racism to be introduced by people like William Hague into the democratic political scene.

"It's very dangerous, and it needs to be exposed and resisted."

In what is likely to be one of his last public appearances as a member of parliament in a career spanning over 50 years, Mr Benn will back calls for the abolition of the government's voucher and dispersal schemes for asylum seekers.

He will speak alongside representatives from the Europe-Roma organisation and the Socialist Alliance.

William Hague
The Tory leader is accused of "naked racism".

Mr Hague was widely criticised for a speech he made earlier this month, when he said Britain under a second-term Labour government would become a "foreign land", where British people no longer felt at home.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook accused Mr Hague of "exploiting the worst instincts of fear and prejudice".

But at the time Mr Hague rejected suggestions that his attitudes were racist or xenophobic.

He said: "We trust the people. They are not bigoted or ungenerous."

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Parties will not exploit race issue
05 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Tory critics round on Hague
27 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Benn attacks Labour chiefs
20 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague accused of race 'opportunism'
30 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Hague fuels asylum row
10 Mar 01 | UK
Tony Benn: End of an era
04 Dec 00 | Talking Politics
Benn's golden anniversary
22 Feb 00 | Labour centenary
Tony Benn: Lessons of history
28 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Benn to stand down
16 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Blair defends asylum measures
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