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Tory gains on race could be reversed by Davis

By Lester Holloway

Fears are growing that the Conservative Party could put the brakes on their diversity agenda following the promotion of hard-right David Davis to home affairs in a shadow cabinet shake-up.

David Davis
Davis: uncompromising rightwing policies

Race campaigners are worried that Davis will undo the work of his more liberal predecessor, Oliver Letwin, in developing links between the party and minority ethnic communities.

Davis has been criticised over his support for ‘racist’ ex-Tory MP John Townend. Launching his 2001 leadership bid Davis claimed he would have refused to expel Townend if he had been leader.

Townend, then MP for Yorkshire East, caused outrage when he claimed Britain was being turned into a ‘mongrel race’, and lavishing praise for ‘rivers of blood’ right-winger Enoch Powell.

Townend said British people would have made Powell prime minister if they had known Birmingham and Leicester were now on the verge of becoming ‘ethnic majority’ cities.

The then Tory leader William Hague forced Townend to apologise amid calls for the MP to be ejected from Parliament.

But when Davis was he was asked whether he would have expelled Townend from the party, he said: “No, I wouldn’t have expelled him. That’s my view.”

Davis made no attempt to distance himself from Townend’s remarks.

Newly-crowned Tory leader Michael Howard handed the key post of home affairs to Davis, who will now be responsible for the party’s immigration and race policies.

Simon Woolley
Simon Woolley

There are now calls for Davis to demonstrate his anti-racist credentials. Simon Woolley, head of Operation Black Vote, said of Davis’ appointment: “It doesn’t send out the most positive signals.

“I would hope that in the week ahead David Davis will demonstrate to the black communities that he will continue the transformation of the Conservative Party, and that BME concerns will be effectively addressed in opposition and, or, in government.

“Failure to do so will mean that the Conservative Party will be forever in the political wilderness.”

Lord Herman Ouseley said: “He will have to be watched and judged by what he does. His views might well indicate what he might do. If this is what he has said in the past we might have a problem.

“At this stage we can only watch and observer to see whether he is worthy of higher office.”

Davis was seen as a possible leadership challenger but agreed to step aside, following the ousting of Iain Duncan Smith, to allow the ‘coronation’ of Howard.

The fiercely ambitious Davis is a former SAS solider and businessman. He was known as an arch-rival to Duncan Smith, and is widely seen as a future Tory leader.

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said Davis’s remarks may have been “on the way the process was handled, not endorsing Mr Townend.” Blink was asked to check with Davis’ office for a definite answer, but Davis did not respond to our enquiry.

See also:

David Davis supported ” racist colleague ” now he must prove he’s changed

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