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The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"Lord Taylor of Warwick is the most prominent black figure in the Concervatives"
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Sunday, 29 April, 2001, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Race row MP faces expulsion
Conservative MP John Townend
MP told: Shut up or face expulsion
Conservative leader William Hague is taking a new tough line over the race row in his party - by threatening to expel the man at the centre of the controversy, MP John Townend.

If John Townend continues to make intemperate remarks about race he will be expelled from the party

Tory official
This follows suggestions that the leading black Tory peer, Lord Taylor of Warwick, might quit over the issue.

A senior Conservative source told BBC News Online: "If John Townend continues to make intemperate remarks about race, he will be expelled from the party."

But this threat was dismissed by Lord Taylor - who described it as "disgraceful and pathetic".

William Hague
Under fire: Tory leader William Hague

The Conservative Party became engulfed in controversy when Mr Townend attacked immigration and said Britons were becoming a "mongrel race".

Mr Hague had repeatedly said there was no point in withdrawing the whip because Mr Townend was not standing at the general election.

The Tory source said: "Removing the whip would have been no more than a gesture because he will not be an MP very much longer.

This is pathetic and typical of weak leadership

Lord Taylor
"However, what William (Hague) has now decided to do is to go further than that and say that unless Mr Townend steps into line with the broad thinking of the party on this issue, he will be expelled - and that is not gesture politics."

But this failed to satisfy Lord Taylor.

He said: "This is pathetic and typical of weak leadership.

"On at least three separate occasions Mr Townend has uttered racist remarks and William Hague has done nothing.

Lord Taylor
Lord Taylor accused Mr Hague of refusing to act
Earlier, Lord Taylor had indicated that he found it "very difficult" to remain a member of the Tory Party in the wake of Mr Townend's comments on immigration and "Anglo-Saxon" Britain.

The Tories were in essence "a good party" - but there was a right wing, racist element of which William Hague was "frightened", he said.

"I'm not alone in the Tory Party. There are many that feel as I do."


Trade Secretary Stephen Byers said that Lord Taylor would be welcome in the Labour Party.

He described him as "a politician of great principle".

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy accused Mr Hague of showing an "abysmal failure of leadership" when he opted not to withdraw the whip from Mr Townend.

But he also attacked Labour.

He said it was "weak" and "indecisive" in not countering an "increase in racist overtones" which he said had entered UK politics.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Tory peer attacks Hague over race
17 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Tory candidates warned over racism
19 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Benn condemns Tory 'racism'
14 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Parties will not exploit race issue
10 Mar 01 | Scotland
Cook warns Tories over race campaign
05 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Tory critics round on Hague
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