Open Letter to West Yorkshire MPs, Council and Religious leaders in response to the #racistvan

AN OPEN LETTER TO WEST YORKSHIRE MPs, COUNCIL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT’S INTENTION TO ROLL OUT ITS RACIST BILLBOARD VANS

JUST West Yorkshire is calling on elected representatives and religious leaders in West Yorkshire to demonstrate leadership by writing to the government to condemn its intention to roll out the racist billboard vans calling on immigrants to go home or face arrest, outside of London.
The incendiary language – reminiscent of the National Front’s ‘Go Home Pakis’ slogan used in the 70s – is not only deeply offensive to ethnic minorities but has the potential to incite racism and xenophobia. Communities in West Yorkshire have worked hard over the past decade to combat racism and promote community cohesion and the Home Office campaign threatens to roll back these hard-won gains.The Advertising Standards Authority has already launched an investigation into the Home Office’s campaign for potential breaches of the UK advertising code. However, JUST also believes the initiative contravenes the Equalities Act, which places a positive duty on public bodies to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. JUST is therefore urging MPs, council and religious leaders to ask the government to publish its Equalities Impact Assessment to ascertain if due consideration has been taken to evaluate the impact of its policy on minority groups.However, notwithstanding the possible breaches of the advertising code and equalities legislation, the case for resisting the racist vans is ultimately a moral one. The Tory-led Coalition’s scheme diminishes democracy as its version of dog-whistle politics appeals to the lowest common electoral denominator. The narrow arithmetic of Tory electoral survival against UKIP has engendered a venal politics that puts ethnic minority communities and vulnerable immigrants at risk. The government’s recent assault on so-called shirkers and skivers and the disabled is part of the same gutter politics targeting the poor and the vulnerable.West Yorkshire leaders must stand up to the government and declare that the Racist Billboard Vans are not welcome here in our name.We look forward to hearing from you at admin@justwestyorkshire.co.uk about the steps you intend to take to challenge this retrogressive initiative.Ratna Lachman
JUST West Yorkshire
admin@justwestyorkshire.co.uk
01274-542222
@RatnaLachmanThe letter was sent to the following elected representatives and religious representatives in West Yorkshire  representing a cross-section of faith communities on Saturday 9 August, 2013:

Council Leaders
Councillor Mehboob Khan – Kirklees         Councillor Peter Box – Wakefield
Councillor David Green – Bradford            Councillor Keith Wakefield – Leeds
Councillor Tim Swift – CalderdaleMembers of Parliament
Bradford                              Leeds                                      Wakefield
David Ward MP                    Alec Shelbrooke MP                Mary Creagh MP
Gerry Sutcliffe MP                Rachel Reeves MP                  Jon Trickett MP
Kris Hopkins MP                   Greg Mulholland MP                Yvette Cooper MP
Philip Davies MP                  George Mudie MP
George Galloway MP           Fabian Hamilton MP
Hilary Benn MP
Stuart Andrew MP
Ed Balls MPCalderdale                           Kirklees                               
Linda Riordan MP                 Barry Sheerman MP
Craig Whittaker MP               Simon Reevell MP
Jason Mcartney MP
Mike Wood MP