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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 February, 2004, 16:23 GMT
Tory apology over CRE claims
David Davies
David Davies is the Conservative spokesman on equal opportunities
A Conservative Welsh assembly member has apologised for comments he made about the Commission for Racial Equality.

David Davies, the AM for Monmouth, had accused the CRE of being a "recruiting sergeant" for the far-right British National Party.

In an interview with BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme - to be shown on Thursday night - Mr Davies claimed the CRE was creating resentment by refusing to recognise the problem of racial attacks against white people.

He said this failure was pushing moderate voters towards the BNP because it was an organisation that was willing to discuss the problem.

But on Thursday afternoon, he released a statement, apologising, and saying he supported the CRE and the work it did.

"I was attempting to highlight the importance of the CRE being seen to be consistent in the way it pursues racism," he said. "However, I am sorry if the terms that I used gave a misleading impression."

In a separate statement, his party said : "David Davies has apologised if his comments gave a misleading impression. The Conservative Party supports the work of the Commission for Racial Equality".

The statement went on to say that the party enjoyed "a very strong and positive relationship" with the organisation.

Nick Bourne, the leader of the Conservatives in the Welsh assembly, distanced himself from the comments saying they were made in a "personal capacity".

A former head of the CRE, Lord Herman Ouseley, denied the claim and said the organisation condemned any form of racially-motivated violence.

Mr Davies, the Conservative spokesman on equal opportunities at the assembly, claimed the CRE was in effect institutionally racist.
Both I and the Conservative Party as a whole deplore racism in every form
Nick Bourne

"They and other organisations coined the phrase institutional racism. It was used in a rather nebulous way," he said.

"It was first used to describe the police force... because they couldn't actually pin down any particular examples of racist behaviour, so they came up with the idea that a whole organisation has some sort of institutional bias.

"Well, in my opinion the CRE are showing the same institutional bias. They are by the same token an institutionally racist organisation."

The Monmouth AM said: "I'm sorry to have to say this, but the CRE are one of the best recruiting sergeants the British National Party could have.

"I wonder, slightly tongue in cheek, perhaps why the BNP don't build a link straight onto their website because the CRE have shown over quite a long period that they are simply not prepared to tackle issues about black and Asian racism towards each other or the white population."

Mr Davies said the CRE only seemed to be interested in "portraying the image that racism is something which occurs with white people being the racists and black and Asian people being the victims.

"That simply isn't true," he added.

Reacting to his views Mr Bourne said: "Comments that were given by David Davies were made in a personal capacity.

"Both I and the Conservative Party as a whole deplore racism in every form."

Home Office figures suggest that black and Asian people are far more likely to be the victims of racially motivated crime, but Mr Davies warned that extremists were latching on to cases where white people were victims.

Lord Ouseley said that Mr Davies was wrong, adding that he could not see how the CRE was helping the BNP.

Dragon's Eye is on Thursday on BBC 2W at 2030 GMT and at 2335 GMT on BBC 1 Wales.




SEE ALSO:
Anti-BNP front promises action
03 Feb 04  |  Politics


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