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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Fighting prejudice

The four party leaders in the National Assembly have issued the following joint statement:

For the first time in any election in Wales, voters on 10 June are faced with a clear choice between those who peddle a message of race hatred and those who want to engage with the voters over genuine political choices and differences over policy.

No issue should be immune from political debate but the responsibility to offer electors a choice of answers to real problems and the right to exercise freedom of speech should not be abused to create an atmosphere of fear and prejudice which makes individuals the potential targets of violence and abuse, and which divides communities rather than enabling them to resolve their problems.

Wales values all its people, celebrates its diversity, sticks to its inclusive principles and provides a proper and safe refuge for those fleeing persecution in their homelands.

There can be no place in our democratic process for those who seek to incite or encourage, blatantly or covertly, racial hatred, prejudice and discrimination between others. Elected politicians must represent everyone, not pitch one group against another for short-term political or personal gain.

To this end we reaffirm our commitment to the agreement on the principles of good practice and conduct in elections, signed by the leaders of all parties represented in the National Assembly for Wales in 2001.

We urge members of the public to report to the police and relevant public authorities any instances of incitement to hatred that may occur in this election campaign, and to ensure that everyone in Wales is protected from abuse and expressions of prejudice.

Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales and Leader of the Welsh Labour Party
Ieuan Wyn Jones AM, Leader of the Opposition and Plaid Cymru Group
Nick Bourne AM, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives
Mike German OBE AM, Leader, Welsh Liberal Democrats, National Assembly for Wales

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