Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, shadow minister for community cohesion, sparked outrage last weekend by saying people who vote for the fascist British National Party (BNP) have 'very legitimate views' on immigration.
BNP leader Nick Griffin openly admits that his organisation's ultimate aim is an all-white Britain. For Warsi to call BNP voters' views on immigration 'legitimate' is tantamount to saying the worst kind of vicious racist bigotry is 'legitimate'.
The BNP is a fascist organisation with a history of organising violence against black and Asian people. It is unacceptable for a mainstream politician to suggest there is anything 'legitimate' about its immigration policies.
Warsi is an Asian Muslim herself. She was blocked as the Tory candidate for the seat of Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, currently held by Labour's Shahid Malik, after being told by local party officials that 'the white community is not ready for two ethnic candidates'.
Anti-fascist campaigners condemned Warsi's comments.
Denis Fernando, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said Warsi should 'heed the warnings of Europe' where 'mainstream parties attempted to pander to the fascist vote, but this only helped it grow'.
It is not just Tory politicians that are willing to echo the BNP's bigotry in a tawdry attempt to grab the racist vote.
Labour Party activists in Barking, east London, were furious when their local New Labour MP Margaret Hodge sought to blame the lack of council housing in the borough on immigrants in May this year.
The BNP – which has 12 councillors in Barking & Dagenham – boasted that Hodge's comments had 'legitimised' their anti-immigrant position and led to a 'win-win situation' for the fascists.
Instead of accommodating BNP racism, politicians of all parties should take a firm stand against racism and unite to drive out the fascists from political life.