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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Duncan Smith orders race inquiry
Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith says he will not tolerate racists
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith says he will be looking at whether action is needed over reports that a former deputy leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Britain has joined the Tory party.

Bill Binding, 76, from Clapton, east London, who stood for the far-right British National Party (BNP) in the 1997 election, told the Guardian he had left the klan four years ago after deciding different races were genetically alike.

We will have no truck whatsoever with racists or those who use race as part of a political creed

Iain Duncan Smith
Interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live on Monday, Mr Duncan Smith branded the klan "reprehensible and disgusting" but suggested Mr Binding would not be expelled from the Conservatives if he now disowned its views.

During the leadership election, Mr Duncan Smith was accused of attracting extremists after he sacked pensioner Edgar Griffin from his campaign because of links to the BNP.

Asked about Monday's reports, the Tory leader said: "I simply say that the party has made it clear and I've made it clear from the beginning that we will have no truck whatsoever with racists or those who use race as part of a political creed."

'No guilt by association'

"I am going to make sure of that... I've discussed this matter today very briefly before I came on air with the chairman. We will be looking at this directly but I am unable therefore to take any action at this stage."

Mr Duncan Smith attacked the notion of "guilt by association", saying former Communists could be found in the Labour Party but that did not make Tony Blair a Communist.

Edgar Griffin
Griffin was sacked from Duncan Smith's leadership campaign
"I think they (the KKK) are a reprehensible, disgusting organisation and if the individual thinks that as well, well that's fine. If they don't, then they have no place in the Conservative Party."

Retired train driver Mr Binding told the Guardian he understood Mr Duncan Smith did not want "witch-hunts" but would move against racists in the party.

The klan is seen as only a marginal group in the UK far right and Mr Binding said there were only 18 members when he was deputy leader.

'No racial divisions'

Mr Binding said only a type of "old Labour" style socialism was left when the "racism and war-mongering" was taken out of far right views.

He now believed in a multi-cultural society, arguing "Anglo-Saxons" in Britain were not threatened by the presence of other races, he said.

"The Anglo-Saxon culture is not being destroyed - we exist," he added.

The reports about Mr Binding came as Edgar Griffin appealed to be reinstated as a Tory member, saying he was not a BNP supporter and describing the decision to expel him from the party after Mr Duncan Smith sacked him as a "cock-up".

Meeting Muslim leaders

Mr Duncan Smith, who is meeting with Muslim leaders on Monday afternoon, used his radio interview to stress that the campaign against global terrorism should not be turned into a war against Islam.

Arguing that his party needed to talk less about the issue of Europe, Mr Duncan Smith promised to "major on public services" and said the NHS was rapidly becoming among the worst health services in the western world.

He turned his fire too on Labour for heaping regulations on small businesses and hitting those on marginal incomes the hardest with hidden tax increases.

See also:

24 Aug 01 | Wales
Tory campaign hit by BNP row
24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
BNP row: What impact?
13 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith elected Tory leader
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