Tories will be tough on antisemitism

By Chris Grayling, February 12, 2009

Hate crime is abhorrent whatever the circumstances.

Whether it is the recent bout of antisemitism following the Gaza crisis or the attacks on Muslims after 9/11, crime based on prejudice must be dealt with robustly and clearly.

The incidence of antisemitic attacks in Britain in recent weeks has been disturbing and shocking.

The scale has been unacceptable.

It is worrying that the government has paid so little attention to the problem.

When disputes and confrontation turn into conflict elsewhere in the world among communities also to be found represented in the UK, it is hardly surprising that passions run high here.

That is particularly true in a world of 24-hour media where images of conflict are ever present in our living rooms.

A month ago, I was one of the participants on the panel of the BBC’s Question Time when it was broadcast from Leeds. It was a few days after the Gaza crisis broke. In the audience were members of both the Jewish and Muslim communities in West Yorkshire. Passions ran high — the questioning was fierce and the debate robust.

That’s as it should be. But in the UK, that is all it should be.

Political debate in Britain should never turn into acts of violence or extremism. We should be tough if they do.

I plan to use my first few months as Shadow Home Secretary meeting as many of our community groups as I can.

I want all to see that I am willing to listen and learn — and to understand their issues and points of view. That is central to what we stand for as a nation — and it is what we will stand for in government.

Chris Grayling is the Shadow Home Secretary

    Last updated: 5:20pm, February 12 2009