CABINET OFFICE – 'SLY ANTI-SEMITISM' – 1 February 2005
Dr Julian Lewis: When the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster last met Lord Birt, did he discuss the decision to revive the Fagin smear initiated by the Chairman of the Labour Party last year? Given the outrage that that smear caused then, how could he have thought anything other than that what he was doing in reviving it in his poster advertisement was nothing more and nothing less than a calculated campaign of sly anti-Semitism?
[The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Alan Milburn): I very much regret the terms in which the hon. Gentleman put his question. I fully understand and respect the views of those who have concerns about any poster designs that have appeared on the Labour Party website. However, let me make it absolutely clear that those poster designs were not in any way, shape or form anti-Semitic – they were anti-Tory. I give no apology at all for making it clear to the British public exactly what the Conservatives' plans would mean, exactly where they stand and exactly what they would do to the British economy by taking us back to sky-high interest rates, mass unemployment and instability in the economy, and most of all making £35 billion of cuts to public services. If the hon. Gentleman is so interested–
Mr Speaker: Order.
Mr Bill Wiggin: Why was the Deputy Prime Minister excluded from the anti-Semitic smearing group?
Mr Speaker: Order. I allowed the previous question to be put to give the Minister an opportunity to reply, but these are really matters for the Conservative and Labour parties outside the House. The Minister must answer questions about ministerial responsibility. On that happy note, we must move on.]