Nigel Hastilow, the Tory candidate who said Enoch was right, has resigned rather than an issue an apology for his remarks. The speed with which he has gone has minimised the damage that has been done but Hastilow’s comments illustrate just how dangerous the immigration issue can be for the Conservatives; Peter Hain got in a shot at the ‘racist underbelly of the Tory party’ on Sunday AM this morning. The real problem for David Cameron will come if someone who is an MP, and therefore can’t be got rid of quickly, expresses similar sentiments.
The leadership’s irritation with Hastilow can only have been increased by the fact that the controversy over his remarks have obscured the story about how Ruth Kelly has been caught using her parliamentary communications allowance to promote the Labour party in breach of the rules. The issue of the parliamentary communications allowance is one that the Tories are particularly keen to see gain traction as they think it justifies the money that Michael Ashcroft is spending in the marginals. It will be hard for Gordon Brown to propose a legislative curb on Aschroft’s spending if it is seen as an attempt to level the playing field rather than gain an advantage.