David Ottewell, Manchester (UK) Evening News, June 13, 2007
A MANCHESTER Labour MP will today criticise a ‘disastrous’ Government policy to settle asylum seekers, saying it has aided the far-right.
Graham Stringer (pictured), MP for Blackley, has secured a debate in the Commons and will speak out on the eve of a council by-election in north Manchester targeted by the BNP.
The party has flooded the Charlestown ward with leaflets claiming to be ‘a major political force’ in the area after gaining almost a quarter of the vote in neighbouring Higher Blackley last month—a result that shocked and angered politicians of all mainstream parties.
The leaflets include a appeal to Liberal Democrat and Conservative voters, saying their parties ‘can’t win round here’.
Mr Stringer will say a policy adopted by ministers in 2000, which saw asylum seekers settled in north Manchester in unprecedented numbers, gave rise to damaging ‘myths’. He said he had personally investigated claims that asylum seekers were being given free transport and that certain shops in Blackley were only serving customers of a particular race.
Both were ‘completely untrue’, he said.
The policy, announced early in 2000 and stopped in November the same year, had seen Iraqis and Iranians housed on the same street and other groups housed with ‘little planning’, said Mr Stringer.
“It was completely disastrous,” he will tell the Commons. “The myths it gave rise to proved a fertile breeding ground for the BNP and other nasties.”
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