Conservative Diary

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If Conservatives don't campaign (responsibly) on immigration, others will do so in an irresponsible and dangerous way

12.15pm update: A CCHQ spokesman has responded to the story with the following brief statement:

"It is not true to say that our candidates have been told not to campaign on immigration. This is an important issue for many people."

That does not stack up with what I have been told by candidates on the ground, and I stand by the story as below.


About a month ago, the Conservative front bench appeared to be acknowledging the need to address the issue of immigration in the run-up to the general election.

So I was somewhat surprised and indeed perturbed to hear from a number of candidates over the last few days that they have been told not to mention immigration on their election literature.

I am not for a moment suggesting that it is the number one election issue for every voter and that it should be the centrepiece of the Tory campaign - but it is an issue which we ignore at our peril as it is clearly playing on the minds of a number of voters.

And if the Conservatives fail to address the issue - and in a responsible manner - it will be the extremists in the BNP who fill the vacuum, and you can guarantee that they will do so in an irresponsible, hateful and divisive way.

Last autumn Nicholas Soames and Frank Field said that by not addressing the issue of immigration, mainstream political parties had allowed the BNP to flourish. Maurice Cousins of Nothing British recently made a similar argument here and Michael Howard too has emphasised the need to take on the BNP. 

They are right. It would be irresponsible of the Conservative Party not to address the issue - or indeed to try and prevent candidates from campaigning on it.

Jonathan Isaby 

> Tim recently suggested in this post in his "closing the deal" series that Chris Grayling, along with immigration spokesman Damian Green and Baroness Warsi, ought to announce a proposed limit on net immigration 


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