The Government toughened its rhetoric against the British National Party on Wednesday, denouncing the movement as "racist and extremist" and excluding its two MEPs from an official reception.
Baroness Kinnock, the newly appointed Europe minister, said that Nick Griffin, the BNP leader and an MEP since the last election, had not been invited to the occasion. "We do not associate in any way with what are clearly racist and extremist individuals," she said. "It was not my decision, as some people think, but I fully support it. It is long-standing Government policy not to have such dealings with racist extremists such as the BNP."
The Government has generally avoided using such forthright language about the BNP, perhaps because the party won over disillusioned former Labour supporters in the last Euro-elections. Baroness Kinnock's denciation came as Mr Griffin used his maiden speech in the European Parliament to attack "war propaganda" against Iran.
Mr Griffin, an MEP representing North West England MEP, accused the Western powers of using Iran's post-election violence as a means of preparing public opinion for a possible war.
"However well-meaning, and even justified, criticisms of Iran may be, they will be exploited as war propaganda by the powerful vested interests that stand to gain from a military attack on that country," he said. "Neo-cons, oil companies, construction corporations and the Wahhabi mullahs of Saudi Arabia all want to see the sovereign state of Iran destroyed by an aggressive war."
Flanked by his colleague Andrew Brons, the other MEP from the BNP, Mr Griffin claimed that the West was planning another "illegal and counter-productive attack" on a Muslim country. Employing rhetoric strikingly similar to that used by Muslim extremists, Mr Griffin added: "Not even European liberals are naive enough to fall for lies about weapons of mass destruction again, so human rights are being drafted in as a new causus belli."
The burden of war would fall on "brave British cannon-fodder, 18-year old boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne."
Mr Griffin also accused mainstream British politicians supporting Unite Against Fascism, which he called "an organisation of far-Left criminals which routinely deploys intimidation and violence against nationalist dissidents in Britain".