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Monday, 27 August, 2001, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Duncan Smith: Tories open to all
Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke
Both contenders will meet Asian supporters on Monday
Conservative leadership hopeful Iain Duncan Smith has brushed aside claims that he is soft on racism.

In a newspaper article on Monday, he says minority communities are an intrinsic part of modern Britain.


The charges against me are predictable rubbish

Iain Duncan Smith
The remarks are being seen as an attempt to draw a line under the events which led to the expulsion of a campaign team member, whose son runs the British National Party.

The comments coincide with a meeting on Monday night where both Mr Duncan Smith and his rival, Ken Clarke, will meet Asian Conservatives.

'Open to everyone'

Writing in the Times newspaper, Mr Duncan Smith describes himself as a "One Nation" Tory who will make the party more welcoming to black and Asian members.

Edgar Griffin
Edgar Griffin: Expelled from the Tory party
"Under my leadership, the Conservative Party will be open to everyone, whatever their colour, background, class or lifestyle," he writes.

"British Asians already share our values and outlook, as their commitment to family life indicates; British blacks, too must be made at home in the Tory family."

Labour party 'smear'

The shadow defence secretary brands suggestions that he is attracting extremists as "predictable rubbish" emanating from the Labour party.

His riposte follows a plea from the Conservative peer, Lord Taylor of Warwick, to the Tory leadership candidates to act on their pledges to rid the party of far-right sympathisers.

Lord Taylor of Warwick
Lord Taylor is calling for action not words
On Sunday, a senior supporter of Mr Clarke said the former chancellor would act as "a purging agent" to rid the party of right-wingers.

The comments came in the wake of the expulsion of Edgar Griffin from the Conservative Party because of his links with the far right last week.

Mr Duncan Smith had immediately sacked 79-year-old Mr Griffin, whose son Nick Griffin is chairman of the British National Party, as a vice-president of his leadership campaign when the links were revealed.

In his newspaper article, the shadow defence secretary promises any Conservative Party member with links to the BNP will be "out of his ear" under his leadership.

Lord Taylor on Sunday described the purge pledges from both contenders as "nice words" but said the Conservatives had so far shown little inclination to take action against racists.

'Cancer of racism'

He told BBC News: "Iain Duncan Smith was part of the leadership team who did absolutely nothing about racism.

"He was part of the leadership campaign responsible for William Hague's 'foreign land' speech. He is tainted by association."

On Mr Duncan Smith's rival, the peer said: "Kenneth Clarke must not be smug and complacent because the Edgar Griffin incident is not only a stain on Iain Duncan Smith's reputation but it is a stain on the Conservative Party's reputation."

Lord Taylor added: "Race will come back time and time again to hound the Conservative Party. It is a cancer that is in the body that will spread and eventually kill the Conservative Party."

Monday's meeting between the two leadership contenders and Asian members of the Conservative Party is a long-standing engagement for both candidates but it now has added significance.

The meeting comes after shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe, a supporter of Mr Clarke, described the leadership contest as "probably" the nastiest she had witnessed.

And acting Tory chairman David Prior told Monday's Financial Times both candidates should concentrate on the real issues, arguing the arguments about the past and personalities should never have started.

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See also:

27 Aug 01 | UK Politics
'Nastiest ever' Tory leadership battle
25 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Griffin considers joining BNP
24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory grandees 'failed' to vet Griffin
24 Aug 01 | UK
BNP: A party on the fringe
23 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory feuding goes on
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