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Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Tory party 'must exclude racists'
The Tory leadership rivals with Asian Conservative Rami Ranger
Conservative leadership candidate Ken Clarke has said his party must become "more moderate" and "more inclusive" if it is to have a chance of winning the next election.

Addressing Asian business leaders in London on Monday night alongside his rival Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Clarke also said the party must adopt much tougher measures to expel racists from its ranks.

The way to become more representative is to adopt a more moderate position and tone in politics

Ken Clarke

His comments come after the row following the revelation that a member of Mr Duncan Smith's leadership campaign had links to the far-right British National Party.

Edgar Griffin was later expelled from the Tory party and the episode gave added significance to the long-arranged meeting with members of the British Asian Conservative Link.

'Tolerance and fairness'

Mr Clarke told the audience in north Acton: "We have to become a more inclusive party.

"We need to be more representative of the country in our membership, not just in the constituencies, but in Parliament as well.
Edgar Griffin
Edgar Griffin: Expelled from the Tory party

"The way to become more representative is to adopt a more moderate position and tone in politics and emphasise the Conservative principles of tolerance and fairness."

The two candidates appeared together for the first and only time at a party event - their only other head-to-head debate was on BBC Two's Newsnight.

Before entering the meeting, Mr Clarke told reporters that the party needed to vet new members more thoroughly.

He said: "You don't just take a subscription off the first person who walks through the door."

'No closed doors'

Arriving a few minutes later, Mr Duncan Smith insisted that he had taken decisive action in the Griffin affair.

He said he also wanted there to be "roots for opportunity" within the party for members of the ethnic minorities.

No party can hope to get into government without the Asian vote

Rami Ranger, British Asian Conservative Link

The shadow defence secretary added: "We will make sure that there are no closed doors to anybody from any community."

The general secretary of British Asian Conservative Link, Rami Ranger, said it was important that both candidates underlined their rejection of anyone holding racist views within the party.

He praised Mr Duncan Smith for acting "decisively" over the Griffin affair.

"There is no place in the Tory party for racists. No party can hope to get into government without the Asian vote," he said.

But Mr Ranger complained the party took Asian Conservatives for granted and raised concerns about the difficulties faced by ethnic minority candidates trying to get selected for safe seats.

'Discussion vital'

The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Mr Duncan Smith had dropped Tory MP Andrew Hunter from his campaign team after he was named as deputy chairman of the right-wing Monday Club.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Duncan Smith said Mr Hunter had never been a member of his campaign team.

"This is getting rather silly isn't it," he said.

"The idea that you have all sorts of guilt by association with somebody who is involved with a legitimate group ... is ridiculous. It is not a political party."

Democracy warning

He insisted he Conservative Party members could not be associated with other political parties but it would be "an end to democracy" to stop discussions.

The leadership contender said the term "multi-cultural society" was vague - he believed people from a diverse range of creeds and backgrounds had a valuable role to play and should be treated as British.

Mr Duncan Smith had already been outlining his views on race in an article for the Times newspaper on Monday.

In it, he described himself as a "One Nation" Tory who will make the party more welcoming to black and Asian members.

Sir George Young, Ken Clarke supporter
"There still is everything to play for"

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See also:

27 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith: Tories open to all
27 Aug 01 | UK Politics
'Nastiest ever' Tory leadership battle
24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory grandees 'failed' to vet Griffin
23 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory feuding goes on
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