Friday, July 17, 2009

 

New EU Tory Leader “Essentially A Fascist” Says Tory MEP

There are some “F-words” that you hesitate to use in politics for fear of offence, but David Cameron’s new European Parliament Conservative Group, bodged together with sticky tape and suspicious armbands, has already had a rebellion, an expulsion and a putsch. Much more of this f-wording about and they’ll be completely F– ascisted. Newly re-elected, newly expelled Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott described the Polish extremist who seized the Group’s Leadership as “essentially a fascist,” and on last night’s PM programme, you can hear what the Conservative Leader said about “fags” that made one of his staff exclaim, “Oh my God!”

I’ve often criticised David Cameron for not having the honesty to make any policy commitments, merely asking people to vote for… Something that he hasn’t thought of yet. The Liberal Democrats make it clear what we’re offering, but Mr Cameron has been desperate to avoid doing any such thing. And, this week, it’s hard not to have some sympathy with his approach. In the three and a half years since he stood to become Conservative Leader, Mr Cameron has made a whopping two cast-iron unbreakable commitments, and both of them are causing him terrible difficulties. At home, he’s absolutely committed to one policy, one tax cut… But unlike the Liberal Democrat commitment to close loopholes on the ultra-rich and raise green taxes in order to raise allowances, helping those on middle incomes and taking millions of the lowest-paid out of tax altogether, Mr Cameron’s one tax pledge is to slash the inheritance tax paid by millionaires (even Ken Clarke, a man who knows his populism and his political poison, was forced to apologise for trying to back down on that). Unsurprisingly, now all of us non-millionaires are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet, Mr Cameron and his millionaires’ club are taking a lot of flak for getting their priorities greedily wrong.

Even that out of touch, self-serving tax disaster seems like wisdom, however, when measured against Mr Cameron’s one other promise – made when he was struggling for the more extreme voters in the Conservative Leadership race – to leave the largest, most influential group in the European Parliament and set up a ‘Billy No-Mates’ sect of their own. Not only has this alienated all the major centre-right governments in Europe – the ones Mr Cameron would have to work with should he be elected – and relegated the British Conservative MEPs from the largest part of the most powerful group, able to get things done, to a tiny squeak at the sidelines (dropping instantly from the biggest Group to the, er, fifth-biggest, and shrinking), but several of their new bedfellows are extremists of the most disgusting kind. And, to cap it all, on the new group’s very first day together in the Parliament, it was already straining at the seams. Was it worth it?

Conservatives Held To Ransom By “Essentially Fascist” Fruitcakes

The big problem is that the “European Conservatives and Reformists Group” is made up of only 55 MEPs from eight countries, only just enough to qualify as a “Group” within European Parliament rules – by contrast, the major players that can actually get things done, the European Socialists, the European Liberals and the European People’s Party that the Conservatives have just flounced away from all each have between two and four times as many MEPs, from three times as many countries. This isn’t just a matter of voting strength and influence, though obviously that’s important: the unfortunate fact for Mr Cameron is that if one or two MEPs from the ‘wrong’ country drop out, he suddenly ceases to have a Group at all.

Unlike any of the three major groups, then, Mr Cameron’s new Conservative Group can be held to ransom by most of the crackpots within it. And guess what? It’s already happened. On its very first day, Mr Cameron’s extremist Polish partners threatened to pull the plug unless their man became leader. So the brave British Conservatives instantly surrendered. If that’s his idea of standing up to Europe, I’d be interested to see what difference he can find between that and complete collapse of all negotiating positions.

Who knows what demands the smaller parties can get the British Conservatives to cave in on, when almost any one of them can nuke his Group on a whim?

And how did Mr Cameron get himself into this corner in the first place? Because the promise was forced out of him in surrender to the most hardline anti-European extremists among the British Conservative MPs. If Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister, how many of them will he be forced to surrender to, how often, and on what scarily right-wing policies, now that he’s proved that his instant response to being held to ransom is to give in completely?

The catalyst for this week’s first row of many was a longstanding Conservative MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott – just re-selected by the Conservative Party, just re-elected by the voters – who refused to support the new Group’s nominee for one of the European Parliament’s Vice-Presidents. Yesterday he called Polish MEP Michal Kaminski “essentially fascist” and an unsuitable person to be a Vice-President, or to lead a Group. Now, it’s possible that Mr McMillan-Scott may not have opposed Mr Kaminski on grounds of entirely selfless principle – his preferred Vice-Presidential candidate was the successfully elected MEP with the strangely familiar name of Edward McMillan-Scott – but he made a clear case yesterday about the “essentially fascist” background and “essentially fascist” voting record of Mr Kaminski.

Mr McMillan-Scott, it should be noted, stood by the Conservative manifesto on which he’s just been re-elected, and by the allies that the Conservatives had announced before the European Elections… But didn’t see why he should be committed to an “essentially fascist” Polish party and others with “links with extremist groups” that the British Conservatives did deals with only after the results had been declared. If even Conservative MEPs think they’ve been forced to buy a pig in a poke, what choice did their voters have?

And, of course, on the pretext of Mr McMillan-Scott’s one-man rebellion – though you can’t help wondering if this was their plan all along – the British Conservatives’ Polish partners announced that their man was to become the Group’s Leader, or the deal was off. So he is. Yes, the British Conservative MEPs are now led by a man who one of their own – just expelled for it – described yesterday as “essentially a fascist” and as unsuitable a person to lead a Group as he was to be a Vice-President.

What a success, Mr Cameron!

As Liberal Democrat Voice reports (and is it just me who’s getting a weird effect with LDV at the moment, where the pages won’t load and I have to read them in cached form?), the Financial Times has said Mr Cameron’s decision
“to quit the European People’s Party (EPP), the main centre-right political group in the European Parliament, is backfiring on the Tories in spectacular fashion. The decision was always daft – a bit like the right wing of the US Republican Party splitting off and forming a minority group in Congress – but it now looks more short-sighted than ever.

“To meet the requirement that an officially recognised faction should have at least 25 MEPs from seven countries, the ECR has been cobbled together out of 26 Tories, 15 Poles, nine Czechs and a solitary politician each from Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands (a Finn was also supposed to be in, but dropped out a couple of weeks ago). The Tories are bound to spend half their time nursing the egos of the last five individuals, any two of whom could destroy the group by leaving it.”
Conservatives In Bed With “Essentially Fascist” Homophobia

The “essentially fascist” extreme nationalism of most of the parties within Mr Cameron’s new sect includes a Czech party that opposes any action to stop climate change, a Polish party that says “homosexuality threatens to bring about the downfall of the human race” and calls President Obama’s election “the end of white man’s civilisation,” and of course the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party, who have a suspiciously swastika-like logo and hold ceremonies celebrating the SS (the British Conservatives explicitly denied before the European Elections that they would do a deal with this party – and, once the elections were over, instantly broke their promise, as widely predicted). Liberal Democrat Ed Davey wrote to the Conservatives challenging them about these “essentially fascist” bedfellows before the European Elections but, of course, they only came clean about them once the elections were over.

In a week where reports of homophobic hate crimes are soaring in London, the British Conservatives have teamed up with parties whose members call for gay people to be locked or beaten up.

I don’t know for certain what David Cameron’s personal views on equality are. He first stood for election as an MP on a viciously homophobic platform, and started his Parliamentary career with solidly homophobic votes; since he became Conservative Leader, however, he deserves praise for some of his personal actions. He’s appointed out gay MPs to his Shadow Cabinet and, when votes on gay rights have come round in Parliament, he’s generally voted for them or abstained – though most other Conservative MPs have voted against, so he’s a Leader without many followers. My gut instinct is that Mr Cameron has no very firm views on gay equality, which is how he could be so opportunistically homophobic just a handful of years ago, and now makes opportunistically gay-friendly noises as part of “detoxifying the Conservative brand”. Make no mistake – I’m extremely happy for the Conservative Leader to be making gay-friendly noises, even opportunistic ones. When I first got involved in politics, the Conservatives made vicious attacks on lesbians, bisexuals and gay men one of their main campaign tools, Liberal Democrats took the flak for supporting equality and Labour were gutless abstainers. I’m glad those days seem to be over for Mr Cameron and at least some of his party.

But if he strongly believed in equality, he couldn’t have formed an alliance with Europe’s biggest bigots. He couldn’t be held to ransom by any one of those bigots. And he couldn’t have his own Group, the one he promised to form and personally made happen, led by a man with an “essentially fascist” record of viciously homophobic policies. While Mr Cameron may personally have a ‘live and let live’ attitude, it’s now been proved beyond doubt that, if the choice is between standing up for equality for lesbians, bisexuals and gay men and another priority, lesbians, bisexuals and gay men will get dumped.

There are signs, of course, that Mr Cameron is worried about what a PR disaster this is, and has asked his Polish playmate to tone down his statements for UK consumption; in interviews with the UK press this week, Michal Kaminski made clear that, while he doesn’t agree with that sort of thing (carefully only hinting at his extreme homophobic policies), he certainly has nothing against “them” and has never used any sort of homophobic language.

How unfortunate, then, that last night’s Radio 4 PM programme, about 43 minutes in (it’ll only be available for a few days, so if anyone captures that item and makes it available on their own site, I’ll happily link to it), dug out a Polish interview in which Mr Kaminski kept using a Polish homophobic word which translates as “fags” even after his interviewer twice challenged him on it, and that, when PM contacted him for a statement on his having told an obvious lie to cover up his homophobia, Mr Cameron’s new Leader in Europe… Refused to talk to the BBC, while the one of his assistants they played the interview to exclaimed, “Oh my God!” The British Conservatives must be so proud.


Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

And in at number 95 on The Golden Ton for 2008-9.

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Comments:
Lot of them about. Do you know ANY LibDems who don't actively bsupport war crimes, racial murder, child sex slavery & organlegging in the Nazi cause?
 
Ah, I thought I'd not seen you for a while. Day trips from Bizarro-world getting more pricey, are they? Don't forget to buy a stick of rock while you're out finding Lib Dems to stalk.

Meanwhile, in the real world...
 
So "no" then.
 
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