Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We have been remiss

We have not lived up to (down to?) our name. Our namesake was pretty good last week,* but this week he really justified his gig. We've discussed Kaminski before., when I said

I think this is going to bite the Tories, have things really got so mad that only Muslims' objectionable views draw comments from the right?

Our Dave still counts as being on the left, so he doesn't prove me wrong, but this is good to read.

William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has given no clue as to what that state of matters-not- restingness might consist of. Instead, he has reassured his party that he means business and, as evidence of this, he cited how he and Mr Cameron had gone ahead with their 2005 pledge to pull the Tories out of the centre-right European People’s Party grouping in Europe, and create a new group — the European Conservatives and Reformists.

It is hard to imagine, except for the most blinkered Little Englander, a more catastrophic precedent. The EPP has people like Angela Merkel in it, the ECR has the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party (earning a rebuke from the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation because of its support for an annual parade by Latvian SS veterans), the EPP has President Sarkozy’s party, the ECR has, as chairman, the Polish member of the Law and Justice Party, Michal Kaminski, who has described homosexuals on air as “faggots” and demanded that Jews apologise to Poles for supposed “mass collaboration” with Soviet invaders.

I don't know why this isn't getting more coverage. This is an incredibly serious decision which reveals something of the character of the Tory Party. How the EU takes shape will affect all our lives, and the Tories have decided to play silly buggers. I was thinking of voting Tory at the next election as the best tactical vote to remove my incumbent MP. I really don't think I can do that now.

I also particularly liked "There is no progressive agenda, Mr Cameron, that isn’t internationalist." I'm a bit worried that that might just be re-heated Leninist cant, but if so, it's re-heated Leninist cant that sounds right to me. Good stuff delivered to the right audience. The comments don't address what he says at all; they're just the more or less automated responses any column which mentions the EU gets. My favourite starts "The EEC/EU, or whatever it is being called this week, is nothing less than Hitler's Dream Come True." Ignorance** and Godwin. Fail.

*I agreed with him.

** If any readers are too young to remember the EEC, the EU absorbed the European Economic Community in 1993 when the Maastricht Treaty came into force.


Anonymous Jonathan said...

Look, I have no more time for the assorted types the Tories have joined with in Europe. But the enthusiasm for European Peoples Party bloc seems odd when one realises EPP contains Berlusconi's party. It isn't just his numerous offences - the Economist did after all describe his as unfit to hold public office - it's also that his current party emerged from a merger between Forza Italia and the National Alliance - the latter (Mussolini's unrepentant grand-daughter and all) as close to fascism as anything the Tories are now allied with. If EPP had any concerns for proper democratic norms they wouldn't want to touch Silvio and his mob with a bargepole.

9/30/2009 08:57:00 AM  
Anonymous saucy jack said...

Whatever the ECR's sins, the fact that its Latvian chapter has "earned a rebuke from the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation" does not impress me much. It's rather like saying that somebody has been condemned by Stephen Pollard or Denis Macshane and expecting a hushed shock to descend across the dinner table.
And Mussolini's granddaughter left the National Alliance quite a while ago.

9/30/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nor should Tony and Cherie Blair, and David Mills touch him with a bargepole!

I agree with you, Jonathan, but I think that your observation applies to certain sections of the Labour Party as well. I think that much of our political elite has a fascination with power and Berlusconi has it. There is less concern about where it comes from.


9/30/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

the latter (Mussolini's unrepentant grand-daughter and all) as close to fascism as anything the Tories are now allied with.

Actually Fini renounced Fascism years ago - and Mussolini's unrepentant granddaughter broke with him as a result. There are some seriously nasty characters on the Italian Right, but almost none of them are in National Alliance. Berlusconi is quite happy to have Alessandra Mussolini as an ally - and a guy called Ciarrapico, who's denounced Fini as a traitor to Fascism, was actually an MP for Forza Italia before the merger. And then there's the Lega Nord, who are sleazy racists and proud of it - one of their leading members recently said that if immigration wasn't controlled "we could end up with a Prime Minister who'd spent too long in the sun". The Lega haven't merged with Forza Italia and don't sit in the EPP group - they're even too far right for the Tories-and-Latvian-SS group - but they're closer to Berlusconi on most things than Fini.

I think the point I'm making here is that the Berlusconi period is an anomaly - a surprisingly durable and alarmingly popular anomaly, but still an anomaly. Fini is way out to the Left of Berlusconi and Bossi, and when he eventually takes over the leadership of the merged party it's a safe bet that he'll steer it in a much more moderate direction. Five years from now, I'd say, Italy will be run by a nasty, bigoted, authoritarian, right-wing Christian Democrat party - which will fit right into the EPP bloc. And that will be an enormous improvement.

9/30/2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Jonathan has a point, and I'll admit that I'd forgotten about Berlusconi's mob. However, even though he's an agile political operator, he can't do very much in a bloc dominated by heavyweights from France and Germany. Maybe neither bloc is particularly palatable from a left-wing point of view, but I still feel that the EEP is more pragmatic and less hysterical than the ECR, and that the Tories have chosen the wrong allies.

This story may have legs. There's more at Liberal Conspiracy.

9/30/2009 06:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re. Jonathan: I think it's a measure of Cameron's growing problem that he had to buy off the EU-phobes in the Tory party (who are convinced the EPP is a gang of seven-foot tall federalist lizards), then create a bloc that has some kind of presence and profile in EU parliament without hanging out with the crazies such as the French NF, UKIP and the BNP. Hence the number of one-horse parties in the ECR, let alone the dodgy Latvians and homophobic Lithuanians.


9/30/2009 11:10:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Europe has been their problem for decades now and this utterly stupid decision shows that nothing has changed.

Osborne is on record as thinking that the atmosphere at the moment is 'just like 1997' but there's no real unity in the party and not even really a groundswell of public support. They like Cameron because he'll get them elected but as soon as something 'bad' happens in Europe he'll be in serious trouble. He tried to pick off the europhile old guard with expenses but it didn't really work.

10/01/2009 07:18:00 AM  

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