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MPs Warn of Asylum-led 'Social Unrest'
- Cross party group boosts anti-immigrant currents

A CROSS PARTY group of British MPs has come close to endorsing the line on asylum seekers taken by the racist extreme right wing.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said: "This (the rise in the numbers of asylum seekers) is unacceptable. If allowed to continue unchecked, it could overwhelm the capacity of the receiving countries to cope, leading inevitably to social unrest."

Words and phrases such as 'unacceptable', 'overwhelm' and 'social unrest' is precisely the kind of language pedalled by the likes of the far-right British National Party, which has made some gains in local elections recently.

It now seems there is a cross-party anti-immigration axis, with MPs on all sides apparently convinced that to make strong noises against asylum seekers is the best way to stall the advance of the BNP. Experience from France counters such a theory. Back in the 1980s when Jean-Marie Le Pen's Front National first gained a foothold, the political establishment stole some of Le Pen's rhetoric in the hope of stealing also his voters. In fact, the opposite happened - the move merely succeeded in lending legitimacy to racist politics and the Front National grew apace.

Entwined with the purely political aspects of all this, there is the considerable issue of human rights. "The government must ensure standards of international law are upheld," warned the Refugee Council in the face of new arbitrary decisions on which countries are 'safe'. Home Secretary David Blunkett is likely to add more and more countries to the 'safe' list in order to cut back on refugee numbers, but it should be remembered that, even under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was deemed safe under these rules.

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