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David Davies AM
"I'm not going to be bullied into signing bits of paper"
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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Tory whip attacks anti-race charter
commission for racial equality logo
The Commission for Racial Equality asked for pledges
A prominent Conservative Assembly Member has joined the election race row calling on the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) to stay out of politics.

David Davies AM - the Tories assembly chief whip - said the CRE should itself sign a compact agreeing not to publish material likely to generate hostility between different political groups..

David Davies
David Davies: His compact called for CRE's depoliticisation

The row first erupted after the refusal by prominent Tory MPs, including Michael Portillo, to sign the CRE anti-racism pledge, which calls on politicians not to use the issue of race during the forthcoming general election.

The Commission for Racial Equality said it did not want to pressure MPs into signing its anti-racism election pledge.

The pact, a spokesman went on, was drawn up to encourage politicians not to use racist language during the forthcoming general election campaign.

But, Mr Davies, remained unconvinced.

I am not going to be bullied in to signing bits of paper by a body which, sadly, has become politicised

David Davies AM
"I am not going to be bullied in to signing bits of paper by a body which, sadly, has become politicised," he said.

"I will make a deal with them - they sign my compact and I'll sign theirs."

Mr Davies, AM for Monmouth, has drawn up his own five-point compact for "everyone involved with the CRE to sign."

His document outlaws the use of words which might encourage others to discriminate, stir hatred or lead to prejudice on grounds of political affiliation.

He said that he wanted the CRE to limit its role to promoting good race relations.

Michael Portillo MP
Michael Portillo refused to sign the pledge

I would ask them: "Why are you asking politicians to sign patronising bits of paper when you are not prepared to do it yourselves?

He said he rejected any kind of political intimidation on the basis of party political affiliation, and added that CRE members should abide by such principles or face disciplinary action.

Mr Davies said only the Conservative MPs who declined to sign the document had been named by the CRE and the body should step out of the business of politics.

'Committed to equality'

He went on: "The commission has been asking MPs to sign bits of paper and I would like to see if they will sign mine.

"Their conduct over recent weeks has been disgraceful and they have undermined confidence in their own organisation.

"I am committed to racial equality but I don't share all of the CRE's beliefs.

"I have offered to sign their compact and there is nothing in the compact I have drawn up that they could disagree with."

Mr Davies' actions follow the decision by shadow chancellor Michael Portillo to refuse to sign a CRE pledge to avoid playing the race card during the election.

Mr Portillo said Tory leader William Hague had signed the promise on behalf of the whole party.

Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe entered the argument at the weekend, signing the pledge but dismissing it as "silly".

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