Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tories Face Split as Former Klan Leader Joins Party

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Tories Face Split as Former Klan Leader Joins Party

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH MUIR

A MASSIVE split is looming between London Tories and the party leadership over a decision by Conservative Central Office to allow a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan to become a member.

Hackney Conservatives have called for the suspension of Bill Binding's membership pending an inquiry, despite the view of national officials that the 76-year-old is no longer a racist.

Mr Binding, who has stood as a Parliamentary candidate for the British National Party, joined the Tories in May by registering on the internet. He then canvassed near his home in Hackney during the last general election.

But local officials say they knew nothing of his past until they were contacted by Searchlight, the anti-Fascist magazine. They want more details of his involvement in racist organisations and proof that his views have changed.

Eric Ollerenshaw, the Hackney deputy chairman, said: "I think this is totally embarrassing for us. This was a centrally recruited member.

The local association knew nothing about him. He then did an hour or so at a polling station during the election." He added: "We need to suspend his membership until we know more. We need to know how many years he spent in the BNP and Ku Klux Klan. We also need to know what questions he was asked by Central Office. At the very least we would ask potential members if they have ever been a member of another party. If you look at the website, Central Office doesn't even seem to do that."

Mr Binding, a retired Tube worker, today told the Evening Standard that he ceased to have any contact with far-Right groups four years ago. "I am not a racist," he said. "I don't mind any inquiry taking place. I have completely renounced those views." He added: "I don't think racism is a problem any more.

The problem is culture and religions. …

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