Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Good Friend of the Conservative Party

So said William Hague when writing to a Tory MEP about Michal Kaminski, the right-wing Polish MEP who leads the new European Conservatives and Reformers grouping in the European parliament.

Iain Dale tracked down Michal Kaminski and interviewed him for Total Politics about claims of anti-semitism and homophobia. Naturally, Kaminski denies it, but Craig Murray tells a story from his life as a diplomat in Poland in the mid 1990s.

When Alexander Kasniewski defeated Lech Walesa to become President of Poland in 1995, Kaminski was one of the right wing activists involved in lobbying the media to publish stories stating that Kwasniewski's grandmother was Jewish. That accusation became the focal point of the entire election campaign. The Kwasniewski camp felt unable to reply that the ethnicity of Kwasniewski's grandmother was immaterial; in fact, they went to great lengths to produce documents and witnesses to show that she was not Jewish. That fact is crucial to an understanding of the depth of anti-semitism in Poland. Even Kwasniewski felt unable to face it down electorally
Supporting Kaminski for a Vice-Presidential post within the Parliament was the price for his party's co-operation with the Conservatives in forming a new right-wing grouping in the Parliament after they left the European People's Party centre-right group. This in itself came about because Cameron rashly promised the exit in his campaign to win the Tory leadership and to buy Euro-sceptic support. All of that has put the Conservatives in bed with a rather dubious bunch of right wingers, rather than the mainstream. It was too high a price to pay for the Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who decided to stand against Kaminski and was promptly expelled from the Conservative Party - even though he actually won the election and now serves as an independent Vice-President, leaving the new Tory political grouping as the only one without a Vice-President to representative. It is this sort of sure-footed incompetence that can only bode well for this putative Conservative government of ours - and as McMillan-Scott explains, it was a result of lobbying by the ubiquitous Daniel Hannan, lobbying that had been rejected by three previous Conservative leaders.
But according to Hannan, one reason the Tory MEPs left the EPP Group was because David Cameron felt "it is wrong for Conservatives to say one thing in Britain and do another in Brussels". Yet this is exactly what is happening now with these antisemitic, homophobic, racist links.

McMillan-Scott quotes a Polish newspaper on Kaminski - that he

is not officially and completely an antisemite or homophobic, but at some point he recognised that these things can help him politically

indicating that the views that he has espoused may have been just window-dressing to take advantage of the conservative views of Catholic Poles.

Despite his protestations of innocence, the leader of their grouping in the European Parliament was denied an official platform at the party conference, being restricted to a fringe event - you don't think that the Tories are afraid that Kaminski's views might be a little too 'old-school' for the fragile new image of the party?

Last night there were signs that links with Europe's right were hitting the Tories' standing with voters. Support for Cameron's party has plummeted among the gay community, according to a new poll. A survey by found that only 22% of respondents would vote Tory if there was a general election tomorrow compared to 39% in June. Most of the voters who deserted the Conservatives moved over to Labour, the poll of 600 subscribers found.

That's a yes, then.

The Observer has been digging away at Kaminski and his party and adds

senior members of Kaminski's Law and Justice party have made openly homophobic comments including comparing homosexuality to a disease and bestiality. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, the former Law and Justice prime minister, was reported in 2005 as saying that homosexuality was "unnatural" and believed that if a person "tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom". A year later, he added that he "did not want homosexuals to teach in public schools" and that he "would not want a gay cabinet member in your government"

It is entirely possible that Kaminski isn't homophobic - but he certainly knows people who are. Curiously, although Kaminski reasserts his opposition to gay adoption and never explains why - he just mumbles about it being a sensitive issue.

Interestingly for someone who serves in the European Parliament on the same benches as the confirmedly anti-Lisbon Tories, Kaminski disagrees with Iain Dale's views:

ID: What about the democratic side of the EU, because they basically blackmailed Ireland into supporting the Lisbon Treaty. You’ve been quoted as being fully in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.
MK: Not fully in favour.
ID: You think it should go through?
MK: I worked with the president who signed the treaty. I am not satisfied with Lisbon at all, but it was in my opinion a huge step forward, if you take into account that the Lisbon Treaty replaced the European Constitution.
ID: They’re basically identical though.
MK: No, it’s not identical.

But haven't the Tories been telling us for years that the Treaty is a direct match for the Constitution?

When not even their friends believe it, why should we?

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