Every day I’m called a racist - Woolas

Reporter: Lobby Correspondent
Date published: 03 February 2010

OLDHAM MP Phil Woolas has revealed he is accused of being racist every day in his role as Immigration Minister.

The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP said it was racist not to raise the issue of immigration because it was patronising, and any MP representing a constituency similar to his would agree.

Speaking in an immigration debate he said: “I sympathise with those MPs who say that they have been attacked as racist for raising the matter, because that happens to me by the hour, and not just in liberal forums, but in communications from members of the public.

“This is the nasty underbelly of the debate.”

Mr Woolas said it was important and right that immigrants were made to learn English to help them integrate, a policy he pushed for following the Oldham riots in 2001.

He said it was important to debate the issue at a time when extreme parties were starting to gain popularity.

He added: “It is showing the British public that migration policy is managed which is what enables us to better talk about how we can diminish discrimination.” Mr Woolas made the comments in a Westminster Hall debate where Tory MP Nicholas Soames said annual immigration must be slashed by three-quarters if the UK population is not to reach 70 million by 2030.

Mr Woolas said Government policies were working and said Tory policies to cap net migration were “confused”.

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