The Tories and the far right

This article appeared in Tribune

20 November 2009

Who called David Cameron’s new friends on the hard right in east Europe a “shoddy, shaming alliance”? Not David Miliband, nor any other Labour spokesperson. No, it was The Economist, global capitalism’s parish journal, which thus denounced the neo-isolationism of the Conservatives.
Who believes Cameron to be “untrustworthy”? Not Gordon Brown, but – according to The Guardian – Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. She has withdrawn her CDU party’s representative in London in protest at Cameron’s hostility to mainstream European conservative parties.
Who was “incensed” at Cameron’s efforts to block the Lisbon Treaty? Not the pro-European Alan Johnson, but Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France.

Who thinks the leader of the Tory MEPs in Strasbourg, the controversial Polish politician Michal Kaminski, is a “distasteful cynical demagogue”? That would be the influential Bagehot column in The Economist.
Who believes Kaminski is wrong to keep trying to downplay the massacre of Jews at Jedwabne in Poland in 1941? None other than Poland’s Chief Rabbi, who also described as “neo-Nazi” the fascistic and anti-Semitic party Kaminski joined as a youth. That was two decades ago – at a time when most young Poles flocked to the underground Solidarity union or to Catholic parties if they wanted to express their opposition to communism.
Who said Cameron was flirting with “respectable fascism” in the European Parliament? Edward Macmillan Scott, a true blue Yorkshire MEP who has served at all levels of his beloved Conservative Party, but whom Cameron has expelled.
If any of the above charges were laid against Labour, all the media furies in the world would be unleashed. However, while the BBC is prepared to allow the racist and anti-Semitic Nick Griffin his Question Time hour of fame, it seems to have no news slot to report on the European and international scandal that is engulfing the Tory leader as a result of the disastrous alliance William Hague and his incompetent Europhobe team have made with the right of the right in Europe.
Tory propagandists such Iain Dale, as well as the increasingly eccentric Europhobe Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, try to pretend that the attacks on Kaminski or the vile Roberts Zile from Latvia – another Hague find and now a Cameron ally, whose party commemorates the Waffen SS – are all got up by Labour.
The chief ideologue of Kaminski’s PiS party has told Canada’s Globe and Mail that Jews control Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, the equivalent of The Guardian in that country. This is rank anti-Semitic language and the efforts of Tory propagandists to pretend there is no problem with the Tory alliance with the hard right in east Europe are untenable. It’s true that the Foreign Secretary took a risk by using his Labour Party conference speech to highlight how the Conservatives are “abdicating the centre of European politics for the fringe” – as the Economist describes Tory neo-isolationism.
However, it was not Labour’s European Union watchers who exposed what was going on, but journalists such as Toby Helm on the Observer, James Macintyre in the New Statesman and Ian Traynor in The Guardian. It was Timothy Garton Ash, the liberal Oxford professor and international affairs commentator, who wrote that Cameron preferred “fascists to federalists”.

It was Roger Cohen in the New York Times who revealed the incomprehension of American Tory watchers at Cameron’s embrace of politicians with a terrible record on what happened to Jews in the Second World War.
The question is why the silence on the part of top Tories. Michael Heseltine has said he hopes Cameron will rejoin the mainstream of European centre-right politics. But where is Chris Patten? Why has the usually voluble and indiscreet Ken Clarke got nothing to say? There are senior Tory MPs standing down at the general election, including the pro-European David Curry. Has he nothing to say?
And when will the likes of John Humphrys, Jeremy Paxman and David Dimbleby start asking hard questions?

NOTE : 25 November 2009. After this article appeared Newsnight did carry out a balanced report on Kaminski and Jedwabne. Jeremy Paxman did ask hard questions of Daniel Hannan MEP who spoke for the Conservative Party. Although both William Hague and Shadow Europe Minister, Mark Francois, were in the Commons that evening for the Queen's Speech Debate on foreign affairs. But they do not want to defend the new alliance with the right of the right in East Europe. Instead, Hannam who was resigned as a Tory spokesman in the European Parliament in protest at David Cameron's reneging on his "cast-iron" promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty got more and more red-faced as he tried to answer Paxman's questions about the awful background of populist nationalist politicians like Kaminski. Poles rightly are concerned that Poland is being smeared with a general antisemitism accusation which is unfair. But this row stems from the decision of the Tories to create their weird alliance instead of operating as an independent party group in the European Parliament.