Race-hate row over election leaflet

A TORY candidate has been accused of pandering to extremists by saying asylum seekers should not be given council homes in an election flyer.

Conservative Central Office has investigated following complaints over pamphlets dropped across Vange by Luke Mackenzie.

Last year, the Echo revealed the Commission for Racial Equality accused Basildon Tories of discrimination for flagging up the issue of asylum seekers in election literature.

Now the decision to promote the fact Basildon Council will not allow asylum seekers to join its housing list has again come under fire.

Mr Mackenzie is standing against the council's only ethnic minority member, Labour's Danny Nandanwar, as well as the BNP.

His brochure states: "I support the Conservative policy of giving council housing to Basildon citizens and not being used to home asylum seekers."

It also claims the Govern-ment is encouraging record immigration.

Mr Mackenzie, who at 21 would be the youngest councillor at Basildon if elected, defended the wording and said he "deplored" the politics of far-right parties like the BNP.

He said: "I support multi culturalism, but it is only fair Basildon houses go to Basildon people first regardless of their ethnic background."

However, Allan Davies, Basildon Labour group deputy leader, described it as propoganda to stir up race hate and segregation.

He said: "Mr Mackenzie does appear to lean further to the right than some of his fellow Tories who have not flagged up this issue in personal statements.

"In a democracy, every one has a right to stand, but I believe David Cameron should be looking in detail at some of his candidates' policies."

Tony Ball, Tory deputy leader, said: "Luke has the 100 per cent endorsement of the local assocation and central office has looked at it and now told us it is happy to endorse his comments. We have raised this issue for the last four years and if it was a problem we would have been told by now."

Tory council leader Malcolm Buckley said promoting the asylum issue was to counter BNP claims asylum seekers were housed locally by the council.

He said: "The fact is most people want an open and honest debate on immigration and the only positive thing to emerge from the BNP is to force the debate among mainstream parties.

"But there are too many loony lefties who will cry racism just at the mention of the word immigration."

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