|The Conservative Party stance on asylum and immigration
As controversy over Conservative leader Michael Howard’s stance on asylum and immigration rages on, register your vote on the issue.
Today the Conservatives took a double-whammy from two Tory big-hitters today as former leadership challenger Michael Portillo and two-time London mayoral candidate Steve Norris criticised their party over immigration.
Norris called Howard's tactics “cynical”, while Portillo warned the Tory leader that playing the immigration card didn't work during the last election and was just as likely to fail this time around.
Norris said: “I can’t say I am all together delighted by it. The dog whistle approach to politics is about as cynical as you get and I am not entirely sure that I would subscribe to it.
“More to the point, from a purely tactical perspective, it is pretty clear that that sort of message appeals to Tory core voters.
“Whilst it is always important to shore up the core vote, the Conservative party isn’t going to win unless it attracts about two million more people who didn’t vote Conservative in 2001.”
|Labour candidate Dr Rupa Huq with Tony Blair
A poll in the Sunday Telegraph found that while the Conservatives had a significant lead on the issue of asylum and immigration this was not translating into voting intentions.
Labour's lead over the Tories had widened to ten points. Another poll yesterday, in the Daily Telegraph, gave Labour a more moderate four-point lead.
The Conservatives went on the offensive today over criticism of their emphasis on asylum and immigration.
Shadow home secretary David Davis said they were putting forward an “entirely responsible and entirely sensible” approach to the issue.
He said: “Every responsible government in this country over the years has recognised the need for controls on immigration. This Government, interestingly, seems to think there’s no upper limit. We disagree.
“There is an irony that while I was on Channel 4 last night debating with Charles Clarke and I was attacked for talking about immigration the very day before they launched an immigration policy.”
But the Labour candidate for Chesham and Amersham, Dr Rupa Huq, has said that the Conservative's narrow campaigning is turning voters away.
She said: “I think this whole debate often gets conflated; immigration and asylum are two different things. The things that we have to be concerned about are things like the frauds, the scams, the criminal gangs, those kind of abuses of the system.
|Michael Howard: controlled immigration
'″And immigration – the way it's been used by the Conservative party – even senior Tories have come out; Michael Portillo today has said that it's a flawed strategy for them to concentrate so much on immigration.
“They look like a single-issue party at the moment.”
Tony Blair made a keynote speech on immigration today turning up the heat on the Tories as he pledged 600 extra border guards. Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy accused Labour and the Tories of a “bidding war” on the issue.
Blair said that asylum claims were down, and have been falling faster in the UK than in the rest of Europe. He said Britain wa a “tolerant decent nation” and must not have that tolerance turned on its head.
The country can unify around key aims of rooting out abuse, and removing those that should not be here, but this must never be used as a political '″weapon”, he added.
Attacking the Conservatives further, the Labour leader claimed they turned from a “one nation to one issue party”.
Outlining Labour's efforts on immigration, he said Labour have introduced fines for lorry drivers found with bringing in asylum seekers, created a new offence of entering the UK without papers, created a single tier appeal system, and have 'weeded out' many 'cowboy immigration advisors.'