Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, chair of the Bishops' Conference committee on migrants and asylum seekers, said he was "appalled" by Tory MP John Townend's attack on asylum seekers this week. Mr Townend, 66, who is standing down as MP for Yorkshire East at the next election, sparked a storm of protest on Wednesday when he lavished praise on Enoch Powell's infamous 1968 'rivers of blood' speech. He went on to blame 'coloured immigrants' for changing British society, saying that: "Our homogeneous Anglo-Saxon society has been seriously undermined by massive immigration, particularly Commonwealth immigration, that has taken place since the war." Bishop O'Donoghue said: "These remarks are extremely provocative and harmful. Only a few weeks ago, all the party leaders signed up to the new accord from the Commission for Racial Equality. In a few short days new anti-racist legislation is due to become law. These are sensitive times with a General Election just around the corner. Mr Hague should do more than simply repudiate these comments. He should withdraw the whip from Mr Townend." MPs across the political spectrum echoed Bishop O'Donoghue's comments. Prime Minister Tony Blair said in the Commons: "Many, many people, including many members of this house, have backgrounds that come from other countries. In this modern day and age, surely it is not merely a principle that is morally right, but a principle in our self-interests that anyone, regardless of their race or ethnic background, is a full and proper member of our society."
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