Mr Cameron's Strange Links with the Kremlin
This news release was issued today. The new edition of Private Eye carries an interesting story about the British Tories and the Russians.
Tory Disarray over Kremlin Links in Europe Council
Former Europe Minister, Denis MacShane, has welcomed the Tory decision to quit their alliance with Vladmir Putin on the Council of Europe but says that David Cameron shares the same Eurosceptic vision of Europe as a loose, disaggregated grouping of states which the Kremlin can play divide and rule politics with.
The Labour MP first exposed the Tory-Putin alliance earlier this year when, as a UK member of the Council of Europe, he led a campaign to stop a Putin placeman being nstalled as the Council of Europe president with the backing of Conservative MPs.
"I could not believe that in their obsessive dislike of cooperating with mainstream centre-right parties Cameron's Conservatives had agreed to become the Kremlin's little helpers. I welcome the decision of Cameron to order his Council of Europe delegates to quit their alliance with the Russians. But it remain pure hypocrisy on Cameron's part to call for a tough European line on Russia when he actively opposes any and all means to achieve European unity on common foreign and security policy. Every time Europe is debated in the Commons the number one target for Cameron and William Hague is the idea of a united EU line on foreign policy. This is exactly identical to the Kremlin line which wants to break apart EU nation states and deal with them one by one on a divide and rule basis. Cameron's Euroscepticism is consistent with Putin's Euroscepticism and neither will be any help to the next US president," said MacShane
See full Guardian web site story below for background (There is also a good background in the new issue of Private Eye)
David Cameron to pull out of partnership with Russian party
Tory leader to stop Conservative MPs sitting in Council of Europe with Russian parliamentarians who support Putin
Andrew Sparrow, senior political correspondent
Wednesday August 20 2008 12:14 BST
David Cameron is going to stop Conservative MPs sitting in alliance with Russian parliamentarians who support Vladimir Putin in an influential Europe-wide assembly.
The Tories have decided that they cannot continue sitting in the European Democrat group in the Council of Europe after being accused by Labour of "hypocrisy".
On Saturday, in a high-profile and controversial intervention, Cameron flew to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, to express solidarity with its people following the invasion by its neighbour, Russia.
Cameron adopted a more robust, anti-Russian stance than the government has. He called for Russia to be suspended from membership of the G8 group of industrialised nations and for Georgia's entry into Nato to be brought forward.
But yesterday Denis MacShane, the Labour former Europe minister, said it was hypocritical for Cameron to pose as anti-Russian in Georgia when Conservative MPs were sitting alongside parliamentarians from Putin's United Russia party in the Council of Europe.
There are 47 countries in the Council of Europe, which was set up after the second world war to promote human rights and the rule of law. It has a parliamentary assembly, made up of parliamentarians from member states, and MPs sit in groups that reflect their political beliefs.
Many centre-right parties from EU countries sit in the European People's Party group. But the Conservatives do not share the pro-Europeanism of many parties in the EPP and instead they sit in the European Democrat group with United Russia and other parties.
MacShane told guardian.co.uk that it was hypocritical of Cameron to advocate firm anti-Russian policies "when he leads the only major European party that works with the Kremlin in the Council of Europe".
But, when the Conservatives were asked for a comment, they said they would be pulling out of the group.
A spokeswoman said: "Given the recent events in Georgia, we do not believe that the current arrangement in the European Democrat group in the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly can continue as it is.
"We are already in the process of consulting our partners within the group, such as the Polish Law and Justice party and the Czech Civic Democrats about the way forward."
She said that talks about a new grouping had been going on for some time and were not just prompted by the "hypocrisy" allegations. She also said that, because negotiations were under way, it was not possible yet to say what the outcome would be.
MacShane said today that he welcomed the Tory decision. But he said that Cameron ought to go further.
"Cameron needs to support a common European foreign policy and the mechanism in the Lisbon treaty that will achieve this," he said.
"Putin supports the idea of a Europe of a loose grouping of nation states which is also Cameron's line and which would allow the Russians to play one EU member state off against another."