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Le Pen's BNP tour condemned

| Thursday, 22 April 2004 | Click here for original article

A visit to the UK by French far right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen has been condemned by a government minister.

Mr Le Pen is due to visit Manchester and the West Midlands this weekend, as part of a tour to back the British National Party (BNP).

On Thursday Labour MP Richard Burden said the tour will "promote racial discord".

But the BNP said other political parties just want to ban a legitimate European citizen from entering the UK.

Mr Burden, MP for Birmingham Northfield, said Mr Le Pen's "racist and anti-semitic outbursts" were well known.

'Fascist regime'

"We don't want them in this country and we don't want the kind of racial discord and disharmony spread by Le Pen and perpetrated by the BNP in this country," he said.

The comments about Mr Le Pen came as the House of Commons discussed business for next week.

Peter Hain, Leader of the House, said: "He is seeking to exercise his right to free speech here in a way that he would not be able to exercise his right to free speech if he were to live under the fascist, racist regime that he supports.

"I think it means we re-double our efforts, all of us on all sides of the chamber, in order to make sure that we get neo-Nazis like Le Pen out of this country and their hideous anti-semitic, racist ideas with them."

'Viable alternative'

However, the BNP's organiser for Oldham, Mick Treacy, said the reaction to the visit is only because other political parties are "frightened" of losing support to the BNP.

"We are getting supporters coming to us from all political parties - like the Lib Dems, Labour, the Tories and the Greens. They are saying those parties don't have any real policies, and we're the only viable alternative.

"To the people who accuse us of holding [fascist and racist] policies, if they can tell us exactly which policies they are talking about we can discuss it, but they never do."

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