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Cameron pledges end to cops abuse of anti-terror laws for stops

David Cameron speaks in Peckham, south London

David Cameron wowed a diverse audience in south London last night with a series of eye-catching initiatives designed to seal the deal with Britain’s Black communities.

Speaking at a questiontime-style meeting in Peckham on Wedneday, the Conservative leader pledged to end the police practice of using anti-terrorism laws to stop and search people, and said that foreign visitors who were turned down for a Visa should get a refund.

Cameron became the first political party leader to address a majority-Black event in the run-up to the general election, expected in early May.

Cameron’s comments about stop and search come after the equalities watchdog slammed the use of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop people.

The Tory leader was given a round of applause when he criticised the police for misusing the law to search people who did not arouse any suspicions of being engaged in possible terrorist activity.

The tactic has been disproportionately used against Black communities. Last week the Equality and Human Rights Commission, led by Trevor Phillips, threatened to use enforcement powers against police forces that continued to misuse the anti-terror law to stop and search at will.

Cameron said: ‘It’s unacceptable that terrorism legislation is used to stop people, for stop and search, who have nothing to do with terrorism. We believe we can make the change so that terrorism laws can only be used to deal with terrorism.’

His remarks suggest that a Conservative government would tighten regulation to prevent police forces from willingly using the Terrorism Act to stop people without justification. However the Tory leader defended the need for police to carry out stop and search in the war against crime.

In an article published in The Guardian ahead of his Peckham visit, Cameron pledged to “change black Britain” by lifting black children out of poverty and investing in a work and enterprise scheme that would help BME entrepreneurs start their own businesses more easily.

Responding to a question from the audience about the cost of visas, Cameron said it was wrong that people who had visa applications turned down should also forfeit the large fee. He said that the cost to applications should be for “administrative” costs only.

That means that an incoming Tory government might offer partial refunds to people who are unsuccessful in their visa applications, minus the basic costs of processing the application. Cameron added a caveat that he “could not give a blanket guarantee” about changes in the visa system.

But the clear impression was given that visa processing should not be a money-making racket and should only charge fees necessary to cover the costs of processing each individual claim.

Commenting on a range of issues, David Cameron told potential voters of his plans to combat family breakdown with the party’s marriage tax proposals, crime and justice with ‘active’ policing and failing schools with a pupil premium scheme.

The Tory leader also outlined plans to get ‘Britain working’ claiming that the party’s enterprise measures will lift those who are in need out of poverty. He also pledged to bring ‘real change’ to the country with far reaching and ambition plans.

Cameron’s performance went down well with the Peckham audience, including Conservative member Nic Careem – a former Labour activist – who said: ‘I can say in all honesty that I have been present at similar events with Blair and Obama, and David Cameron was as good as both guys.

‘All those questions put to Cameron, unlike Blair, was not known to him in advance. I thought he answered them without prevarication and showed despite the Labour spin he was a man with substance.’

By Lester Holloway

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6 Responses

  1. Saying what you think people want done isn’t substance, actually putting together clear plans of how you will achieve, and then implementing those plans is.

    What is clear is that Cameron is an excellent communicator, and in that sense, he is comparable with Obama and Blair.

    However, there is a difference between being able to talk someone into bed; and being a good lover, partner, and parent.

  2. I too, am amused and take issue with David Camerons tactical approach. Saying the right things to try and convince black voters, has been done, and can look like a desperate attempt, at appeasing a minority of people, who are looking for justice and change.

    Yes, the enforcement of the anti-terrorism law needs to be completely overhauled, and needs to be applied ONLY, to which it was intended. But as we know, if the law makers are allowing the law breakers to continue t break it. What hope is there for the black community.

    Cameron can savour his convincing words, for those, who WANT to believe this. I, for one would need to see practially how he is going to go about this. A clear breakdown in policies-meetings set up across the country to black communties would help. Peckham is just one drop in the ocean.

    Shortsightedness, needs clear vision!! Southall does not represent the whole of the Asian community. As Brixton was deemed representative of the black community. However, yes it is a start, lets just see how things pan out shall we!

  3. Daivd,

    Substance is action and change – just as you say,

    Action – Cameron was the first political party leader to address a majority-Black event in the run-up to the general election

    Change – 20% of Surrey – I repeat Surrey – MPs will be black and Conservative after the next election. Do you like it? I love it!

    I think most people have noticed by now, at least anyone being slightly objective, that regardless of your political colour, it is the Conservatives that have made the most effort in addressing Black and Asian people’s concerns this time round. You’ve got to judge each election on its merits. Labour are in big trouble – Black and Asian people are doing what Bob Marley said – Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!

    We will not be fobbed off by Labour’s clientist attitude towards us anymore. We will be treated as individuals who deserve respect for all what we have achieved. We demand it. Its up to us to take it. Only The Conservatives can help us on this one.

    All the best,

    Cllr Imran Khan (Reigate and Banstead Borough Council)
    Twitter.com/immikhan

  4. David

    Of course your right. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. At least after the other night it’s pretty clear DC has started to eat the pudding, although only if he is elected will we know if he will finish the pudding. Considering from where his party were once on the issues raised the other night one sign of his substance is how he changed his party to one that Black people need not fear!

  5. If a party engaging with black and asian people in 2010 is celebrated as an achievement there in lies the problem. the fact that we see it as such a milestone prove standards are pretty low. I would be happy if there were an over-representation of any parties BME MPs in Surrey or anywhere else Imran, but why is how I would feel relevant?

  6. This is a very positive move by David Cameron. I remember returning from Dublin, Ireland in 1992 and was stopped under the terrorism act of that period. It was very clear to me at the time that the Essex Police had thought that I was entering the country of my birth (England) through Ireland as an economic migrant. They detained me at Stansted Airport as I was the only black traveller on that flight that day. I was so livid that I remember mentioning the incident to a white woman traveller, who gave me the impresion that she was quite happy with my ordeal. It is a shame that this problem is still happening in this country today under New Labour. What has New Labour done to improve the position of BME citizens in the United Kingdom today? Nothing has changed since the 1950’s and 60’s. Keep up the good work David.

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