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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Blunkett and Kinnock at loggerheads

Home Secretary David Blunkett has become locked in an angry war of words over race with former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

Mr Kinnock kicked off the clash with an attack on Mr Blunkett's remarks that ethnic families should speak English at home.

Speaking in an interview with the Independent newspaper, Mr Kinnock said: "I simply don't understand him.

"There is enormous benefit living in a multicultural society."

And he warned that Labour should not attempt to deal with the rise in popularity for some right wing groups by pandering to the same xenophobia.

ID Cards

But Mr Blunkett hit back - saying Mr Kinnock "should know better".

Defending his role during a Guardian debate on the fringe of the Labour conference, he criticised those people who had attacked him as: "people who should know better - particularly former leaders of the party."

And he won support from MP Fiona Mactaggart, who insisted Mr Blunkett had not made the remarks attributed to him in the media.

He had simply been talking about the problems that could be caused by language between generations in immigrant families.

Control

The debate, entitled "Can Labour Afford to be Liberal?", saw the home secretary criticised by the leader of the civil liberties group Liberty, John Wadham.

He said policies on ID cards, the scrapping of the double jeopardy rule, and the erosion of trial by jury were all illiberal acts that should not be introduced by a Labour government.

But Mr Blunkett defended his policies, insisting a liberal society had to be underpinned by a sense that the government had control of the problems that affected ordinary people.

Unless people were given basic protections they would not accept a more liberal agenda on issues like crime and immigration, he said.


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17 Sep 02 | Politics
06 Sep 02 | Politics
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