Question the number of immigrants entering the UK and you are labelled a racist, xenophobe or a bigot. The Labour Party is especially fond of shouting these insults when it wants to shut down the immigration issue in the public arena.
Remember how then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown was spectacularly caught out during the 2010 election campaign describing a voter he had just spoken to in Rochdale as “some bigoted woman”?
Sixty-five-year-old Gillian Duffy had the temerity to challenge Mr Brown on a number of issues including immigration and crime.
Now Labour is doing it again by attacking a Parliamentary petition claiming “Muslims are taking over Britain” as “bigotry” before it can even be debated.
The upcoming three-hour Commons debate comes after more than 100,000 people signed the document, which also claims “foreign citizens are taking all our benefits”.
However, Labour MP Steve McCabe (Selly Oak, Birmingham) is not in favour of open, public discourse when it isn’t started by members of his own party: He said: “I’m in favour of discussing immigration but I don’t think we should dignify the views of total bigots with a Commons debate.”
It follows a promise in the Conservative manifesto before the 2010 general election that any petition signed by more than 100,000 people will be eligible for a debate in Parliament.
The petition titled “stop allowing immigrants into the UK,” on the official Commons petition website has now been signed by 185,560 people. It reads:
“The UK government need to prevent immigrants from entering the UK immediately!
“We MUST close all borders, and prevent more immigrants from entering Britain.
“Foreign citizens are taking all our benefits, costing the government millions!
“Many of them are trying to change UK into a Muslim country!”
The petition’s entry also includes an explanation written by the person who started it. It reads:
“If the Government does not do anything, then Britain may take in 12 million more immigrants by 2060.
“There is footage of foreigners destroying British soldiers graves, which is a huge disrespect to us.
“Sign this petition to show the government what they need to do!”
The House of Commons Petitions Committee has decided to hold a debate on the petition. It will take place in Westminster Hall, a debating chamber of the Commons which is less well-known than the main Chamber. However, debates held here officially have the same status as those in the main Chamber.
According to the Birmingham Mail, MP McCabe said: “This highlights the problem with saying that if you have enough signatures on a petition then it will be debated. It is a licence for bigotry, and that is what we are witnessing here.
“I have spent a lot of time in recent years consulting my constituents about immigration.”
The debate will be led by Conservative MP Paul Scully who represents Sutton and Cheam in Greater London, but that does not mean he will support the views expressed in the petition.
There will be a speech from a Government minister, a Labour front-bench spokesperson and a spokesperson for the SNP, which is now the third largest party in the House of Commons. There will also be speeches from as many backbench MPs as time permits in the three-hour debate.
The debate is set down for October 19.
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