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ELECTIONS 2004: POLICE SHOULD CONSIDER INCITEMENT POWERS FOR SMOOTH LOCAL ELECTIONS

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Against a backdrop of controversy on issues such as the Middle East, asylum ...
Against a backdrop of controversy on issues such as the Middle East, asylum

and immigration, politicians of all major parties and none have united in a

call for the local elections in June to be free from racist and religious

intolerance.

The political groups represented through the Local Government Association

have pledged to do what they can to keep hatred out of local politics.

Speaking on behalf of the leaders of all the political groups at the LGA,

Jeremy Beecham, LGA chair said: 'The only intolerance we should see this

summer is that towards individuals or groups who seek to hijack the

electoral process for their own extremist aims.

'Democracy relies on free speech, which must be protected. But it also

relies on giving equal value to every member of society.

'No-one should be allowed to exploit local election campaigns to incite

hatred against people just because of the colour of their skin, their

religion or national origin. Democrats must be strong and united against

anti-democrats.

'We hope that the police will uphold our tradition of election campaigns

characterized by tolerance, debate, discussion, and understanding; by using

their powers, such as to stop incitement to racial hatred, against

extremists of all kinds.

'For our part, will do everything we can to ensure that when we campaign, a

clear distinction is drawn between legitimate policy differences, especially

sensitive policy areas such as immigration, and anything that threatens

everyone's right to be treated equally with respect.'

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