This phrase was the slogan
for the Conservative Party
's British election campaign
, used prominently on posters from February through April of that year.
Each poster would consist of some 'common sense' idea such as "How would you feel if some bloke who'd been let out of prison early attacked your daughter?" - ideas that almost invariably appealed to the lowest common denominator, and made sense for ten minutes til you actually thought about them.
The campaign received great notoriety though for one particular poster - "It's not racist to impose limits on immigration". This poster was an extremely disingenous way to appeal to supporters of the British National Party (and to a lesser extent the UK Independence Party), an extreme right-wing fascist party that has been taking support from people who would traditionally have supported the Conservatives. Immigration being a code-word in Britain in much the same way that 'bussing' once was in the USA, this poster unleashed a storm of protest, as would be expected, with parody sites appearing online where one could generate one's own poster ( for example at http://kryogenix.org/code/conposter/index.php ) and with bloggers posting parodies such as "It's not racist to hang niggers" or "It's not racist to hate Pakis".
The campaign was discontinued due to its 'great success' in late April 2005, and one can only hope that most people in Britain are not thinking what the Conservatives are 'thinking'.
Disclaimer - while this w/u is fairly critical of the Tories, I am no great supporter of the Labour Party either and this is not intended as a statement of support for them.