EXCLUSIVE: David Cameron’s European ally supports “deeply homophobic legislation”


5:22 pm - September 30th 2009

by Soho Politico    


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Over the past few weeks I have been collecting information from human rights to shed light on one of David Cameron’s allies in his new European grouping. This is the first of a multi-part investigation.

Despite the persistent criticism that it has allied itself with extremists, David Cameron’s Conservative Party now sits in the European Parliament with the European Reformists and Conservatives group (ECR), led by Poland’s Michal Kaminski – a man allegedly with a racist and homophobic past.

But so far it has gone unreported that another ally of the Conservatives in Europe has a much more serious and recent record of homophobia.

Valdemar Tomaševski, MEP from Lithuania, and member of the Tories’ Euro coalition, is on record as having branded homosexuality a “perversion”.

Not only that, I can now reveal for the first time that he also personally voted for a Lithuanian law that has been described as a harsher, more wide-reaching version of Britain’s Section 28.

The Lithuanian law was widely condemned by human rights watchdogs. The draconian “Law on the Protection of Minors from the Detrimental Effects of Public Information” bans discussion of homosexuality not only in schools but in any public places and media that could be accessed by young people.

Amnesty pointed out that if adopted, the proposals would also permit the prosecution of an extremely wide variety of activities, including campaigning on human rights issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, providing sexual health information to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people or the organization of gay film festivals, or Pride events.

Tomaševski voted for the law on 16th June, shortly before vacating his seat in the Seimas, Lithuania’s national parliament, to become a MEP (see his voting record [in Lithuanian] here – Row 10) Update: here is an English translation.

Amnesty International has strongly condemned the Lithuanian hate law, saying it “deprives young people of their right to freedom of expression and access to information and risks isolating children who are already amongst the most at risk of violence at school or within the family.”

It’s UK LGBT Campaigner Kim Manning-Cooper said:

This is a very bad day for LGBT rights in Lithuania. By adopting this deeply homophobic legislation, the Lithuanian authorities have taken a huge step backwards. This law is a clear infringement of freedom of expression and non-discrimination rights and should be repealed immediately.

A raft of other human rights groups and campaigners have also added their criticisms of Lithuania, among them Peter Tatchell, who said in June:

This legislation is homophobic discrimination. As such, it clearly violates the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. It also violates the equality and anti-discrimination clauses of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Lithuania has signed up to these international humanitarian declarations but it is now defying them. It wants the rights of EU and UN membership, but not the responsibilities.

A mere week after voting to pass the homophobic law, Tomaševski was welcomed with open arms into the Tories’ ECR group.

———–
(with many thanks to the kind people at the Lithuanian Gay League for responding to my request for information about Tomaševski’s voting record in the Lithuanian parliament)

Cross-posted to the Soho Politico blog too.

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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Conservative Party ,Equality ,Europe ,Foreign affairs ,Westminster

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Reader comments


1. Denim Justice

How many people in the UK who were going to vote Tory are going to be put off by this information?

How many people in the UK who were going to vote Tory are even going to be made aware of this?

Well, no one has made them aware of this yet… until now.

This is sterling work by Soho Politico.

You can also read the translation of his voting record from Lithuanian to English via Google, which confirms this vote.

@1 it depends on how they view LGBT people. It may affect some people quite a lot. Considering the Tories are trying to stop appearing like a “nasty party” hanging around with a bigot isn’t a good idea.

The Tories have made some disgraceful choices in Europe. I don’t like her, but I know who I would choose out of the Lithuanian right or Angela Merkel. Most other people in this country would feel the same too.

I completely agree with #2 and #3, this is very important work SP

Good work, Soho.

PS. Rather amused by the claim this article is “posted exclusively here“, followed by “Cross-posted to the Soho Politico blog too.”

6. Fellow Traveller

New Labour in government has entertained King Abdullah on an official visit during 2007 when he met both the Queen and the Prime Minister (Gordon Brown) despite protestation by Amnesty International on the basis of the Saudi Kingdom’s poor human rights record including its treatment of homosexuals.

New Labour has also maintained close relations with the American Republican Party for the last 8 years of President Bush’s period of office regardless of his personal opposition (“Bush calls for ban on same sex marriages” – CNN 2004) to homosexual marriage rights and that of his party to homosexuality in general.

Nice try with guilt by association. Plenty of it going around right now.

Ooops, well spotted Duncan – got rid of that now.

Fellow – nice try at whataboutery, but hosting foreign dignitaries isn’t the same as being in an alliance with various MEPs in Europe.

The point is – if you’re against such legislation then the Tories should not embrace such people. Right?

I agree completely, this work is of huge importance. The bigger the spotlight, the better.

Bravo Soho.

The thing to remember here is that the Tories could have easily stayed in their centre-right grouping but decided to go off with these bunch of holocaust-denying, homophobic loonies instead.

I imagine this news will work it’s way into the LGBT community and the information will be passed on throughout networks of politically active LGBT people.

I really am not surprised by this. I imagine a majority of the parties the Tories either have a similar history of the Tories with homophobic attitudes or they maintain them.

@Luke (10): That’s interesting… if the information did indeed go viral, it could have a great impact. I’ll do my part.

“The thing to remember here is that the Tories could have easily stayed in their centre-right grouping but decided to go off with these bunch of holocaust-denying, homophobic loonies instead.”

True, but Dave Lightweight obviously decided that Merkel was on the way out. Judgment call I suppose.

Hey – thanks very much @ Sunny, Carl Packman, Duncan Stott, and Joel.

@ Fellow Traveller: that is an absurd parallel. New Labour did not go say to those people: ‘Hey, we seem to agree about a lot. Fancy sitting together in an alliance and voting as a group from now on?’

There is an enormous difference between tenuous attempts at insinuating guilt by association, and forming a reasonable, informed judgement about a person or party based on who they choose to collaborate with, align themselves with, and claim common cause with.

14. Fellow Traveller

What on earth do you mean they didn’t agree about a lot? New Labour went to war with Bush and his party in three countries. The last two prime ministers have presented a united front in defense of Western civilisation and its ‘values’ alongside the US President, Vice President, Defense Secretary etc.

As for Saudi Arabia – nice to see raisons d’estat wheeled out as a justification for selling arms worth tens of millions of pounds to a state that flogs and imprisons homosexuals, won’t let women drive cars or work and whose leader gets treated to the full red carpet treatment complete with a slap up banquet attended by the PM at which no doubt much was said about the long standing ties (back to WWI) of our two great nations, our shared interests etc.

Actively assisting regimes like this at the state level with weapons is worse than merely joining up in a parliament with a party to get enough votes.

I didn’t expect a bunch of Labour dead heads to see it that way however.

15. Daniel Hoffmann-Gill

[deleted]

@Fellow Traveller

Realpolitik versus joining the same political “party”? That’s your line of logic?

Both bad, one is definitely less justifiable than the other. Your whataboutery is kinda detracting from the main point isn’t it?

I mean if you care so much for LGBT rights why are you talking about New Labour?

Good work. We need to know more about the filth the Tories have lined up with in Europe. And what exactly was wrong with Merkel, Sarkozy etc?

@ Luke: I certainly hope so. Many LGBT people are right now far too complacent about the Tories – the view seems to be that, given the advances we have won, we cannot go backwards. That view is immensely dangerous, and ignores just how tenuous the support for equality still is within the Conservative Party. This news certainly undermines the claim that the Tories have changed: when faced with a choice between promoting equality and indulging their obsession with European isolationism, they have gone with the latter.

@ Joel: great stuff!

@ Fellow Traveller. Look, I clearly do not support or condone the government activities you cite – to the contrary. But what the hell are you trying to prove by bringing them up? The Tories supported the Iraq war. They were conspicuously silent over the Al-Yamamah Saudi arms deal. In fact, they have received thousands in donations from the Said family, a member of which was involved in that deal. Labour and the Tories look about square on these issues (which is to say that they both look terrible).

This, though, is a new and different issue. It is not an attempt at guilt by association. The Conservatives are voluntarily in a parliamentary group with this man. They created this group, negotiated its membership, and formulated its shared principles. Like other groups in the EP, the ECR are held together by claims of ideological affinity. It is entirely in point to judge them on the membership of the group that they moved hell and high water to put together. And that judgement, frankly, ain’t favourable.

What was wrong with Sarkozy etc (for the Tories anyway, I can think of plenty of things I think is wrong with him) was that he’s too pro-European. The point here isn’t that the Tories agree with these people on LGBT issues – they will be worse than Labour but not as bad as previous Tory governments if they get in – it’s that they’re still obsessed with Europe and they will overlook differences on issues they think of as minor issues for the sake of pushing their anti-Europe agenda.

FT – don’t you think there’s a difference between working with the elected heads of governments you have relationships with if you are the leader of a country, and forming an official alliance with groups you have no need for a diplomatic relationship with? (And whatever valid criticisms you have about the war, that doesn’t mean Labour’s ties to the Republicans are stronger than to its sister party the Democrats, and you know it.)

Yawn………….

21. Daniel Hoffmann-Gill

[deleted]

Forgive me but given that the most important issues by far at general election time are laura norder, the economy, education, health, and immigration, I don’t see “Tory MEPs ally with homophobic foreign MEP SHOCK” reaching those heady heights of concern.

In other words, no-one* will give a fcuk about this when they cast their vote.

* i.e. not enough people to keep your favourite bunch of incompetents in government.

I fully agree with the argument Tatchell made last week regarding the age of gay consent.

In fact he said the age of consent for all should be lowered to age 14

How awful. And they also sit with Proinsias De Rossa, a former IRA man and Giulietto Chiesa, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Oh no, wait a minute. Those people would be sitting the the same grouping as the Labour party.

Would you grow up. The European Parliament is filled with crackpots and it’s hardly surprising that each of our parties has to deal with people with unsavoury views.

[deleted]

26. Stewie Griffin

[deleted]

I’m not sure this quite counts as “very important work” but as a gay man I certainly think the boy king needs to be challenged on this, just as the goblin king needs to be challenged on the IRA and 9/11 conspiracist people with whom Labour is associated.

All this points to is the lunatic arrangements which prevail in the European parliament.

I am praying for an Irish NO on Friday, but am not optimistic!

As I said to Alex on LL:

Draconian, Alex?

It’s what we had just a few years ago and we need it back badly.

Homosexuality should NOT be promoted to children.

Some people believe that encouraging youngsters to identify with a ‘sexuality’ at a young age, when they are not mature, actually encourages suicidal thoughts.

What do we have in Britain? Stonewall going into schools to bang on about ‘homophobic bullying’.

All bullying should be tackled – BY THE SCHOOLS. In my opinion, Stonewall are using bullying as an excuse to normalise unnatural sexual practices to attract youngsters, because they know that when they have matured and their hormones settle down, most will be beyond recruitment.

Children are used as pawns in all sorts of political games. Good on the Lithuanians for dealing with this one, because loose morals kill civilisations.

Stewart Cowan @ 28 (how fitting):

Homosexuality should NOT be promoted to children.

When / where is it “promoted to children”?

Some people believe that encouraging youngsters to identify with a ’sexuality’ at a young age, when they are not mature, actually encourages suicidal thoughts.

And what about those people who have identified themselves as being homosexual but consider suicide because of all the bigots around them who say homosexuality is abnormal, unnatural etc?

What do we have in Britain? Stonewall going into schools to bang on about ‘homophobic bullying’.

All bullying should be tackled – BY THE SCHOOLS. In my opinion, Stonewall are using bullying as an excuse to normalise unnatural sexual practices to attract youngsters, because they know that when they have matured and their hormones settle down, most will be beyond recruitment.

Recruitment into what?

Children are used as pawns in all sorts of political games. Good on the Lithuanians for dealing with this one, because loose morals kill civilisations.

How are “loose morals” related to homosexuality?

[looks at Stewart’s blog] Ah – Stewart’s a creationist…

“How awful. And they also sit with Proinsias De Rossa, a former IRA man ”

That bit of whataboutery must get circulated by Central Office, it’s become a stock answer. Why not read up about what de Rossa thinks about the IRA before you make a complete tit of yourself

“When / where is it “promoted to children”?”

Cameron’s alma mater?

I’m not going to bother tolerating any homophobia or personal attacks on this thread either.

If you want to play whataboutery – as Tories usually do – feel free. Though you do look like idiots.

“When / where is it “promoted to children”?”

By normalising, you promote.

“I’m not going to bother tolerating any homophobia or personal attacks on this thread either.”

Good. I just stick to the facts.

Apart from verging on lunatic fringe governments and pols in eastern Europe, does anyone else in mainland Europe go on obsessively about homosexuality?

The usual line is: chacun à son goût.

I really can’t believe other west Europeans worry much about it, which might explain why we have so much Europhobia in Britain.

35. LondonStatto

Yawn.

Have you forgotten the EPP extremists and the PES extremists?

The Tories really are a sham and a disgrace!!

To the poster bringing up the EPP!

The EPP’s main members were not extremest though were they and those mentioned were diluted to insignificance in he grouping that contains most the majory powers. I don’t hink you quite get it. One of the Tories did and he got the boot.

“If you want to play whataboutery – as Tories usually do – feel free. Though you do look like idiots.”

The point about whataboutery is that although it does dodge the issue somewhat, it does highlight hypocrisy which is often relevant. At the end of the day I think it’s justifiable to ask “why are you attacking group X who do this bad thing but not group Y who do a similarly bad thing?” especially if the person on the attack may be sympathetic to group Y.

[31] Jimmy

Are you denying that he was ever in the IRA? I’ve said no more than ‘former IRA man’.

Also Does it make me look any more of a tit than saying “led by Poland’s Michal Kaminski – a man allegedly with a racist and homophobic past”. Unfounded allegations are the best you can come up with against Kaminski now, so you move on to other people in the ECR.

And you’d be up in arms if I said “the British Prime Minister, an alleged pill-popper, addressed the Labour Party Conference”. Can’t beat some rank hypocrisy.

I think it is very legitimate to scrutinise the position of the Conservatives’ new allies and sister parties in this way, and look forward to seeing what else you have found out.

I also think the decision to leave the EPP and join the new group was a very telling one – in terms of the strength of Tory Euroscepticism. It was an early pledge, which won David Cameron the support of Dan Hannan and others. It tells us something about the balance of pressure politics within the party (and the emphasis still placed on the EU) that, even when it was difficult to carry out and it had caused a major diplomatic rift with the major centre-right leaders of the EU, it was achieved.

So there are many legitimate questions about how the Conservatives deal with regressive attitudes among their new allies.

However, I don’t think that the attitudes of central and East European parties on homosexuality do provide a ‘smoking gun’ about a secret homophobic agenda of the Conservative party in Britain at all.

[edited]

Sunder – very well put.

As a gay eurosceptic I am in two minds.

(Though ideally of course we would join Norway and Switzerland – what basket cases they are, eh? – outside the EU. Problem solved!)

@ Mark M, 40:

There is no hypocrisy there. The difference, clearly, is that there is evidence in support of the assertion that Kaminski has a racist and homophobic past – to use just one instance, his calling gay people ‘faggots’ on television – and the weight of that evidence has so impressed and persuaded a prominent, senior MEP that he was willing to go to the wire, and accept ostracism by his party, rather than ignore it.

Whereas, where is the evidence that GB is taking pills of any kind, let alone pills that undermine his ability to do his job? Where are the politicians who are worried enough about these allegations to publicly endorse them, and resign, or be sacked, rather than keep silent?

Nice try, but there’s really no comparison.

@ Sunder: I hope to speak to the issue of whether this association implies anything about the Tories’ domestic agenda for gay issues in a further post. But, when it comes to ‘smoking guns’, I think we can at minimum say at least this: That gay people in Britain are often not only concerned about equality and gay rights at home, but also internationally. And they donate their time and money to help those who, like Lithuanian LGBTs, face discrimination in a much more extreme form. So it is depressing, indeed galling, to find that the Conservatives are sabotaging those efforts to help LGBTs abroad by supporting, legitimising, and raising the profile and influence of a person who stands in opposition to LGBT human rights, and supports state-sponsored discrimination.

For the low down on The Sun’s endorsement of the Conservatives, read this:

“Four years ago, when David Cameron did not have an experienced tabloid operator like Coulson to advise him, it nearly went horribly wrong. When the raw and newly elected Tory leader first met News International’s patriarch Rupert Murdoch, he was intent on projecting himself as a socially tolerant leader with modern ideas who would shake up an outdated Tory Party. In his anxiety to be modern, Cameron described with great enthusiasm how he had enjoyed the new US blockbuster film Brokeback Mountain. Far from being impressed, the ageing Murdoch was appalled that a would-be prime minister should be watching a film containing graphic scenes of gay sex.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/how-cameron-cosied-up-to-murdoch–son-1795742.html

SohoPolitico@44

The objection was not at all to the investigation – which I agree is a good piece of scrutiny.

I agree with what you say here about solidarity. I was planning to post something about that over on Next Left – but I didn’t want to make the point about the BNP reference there, since it was simply in the comments and not I think reflective of the post itself or most of the discussion.

@41

Well said Sunder. Some balance and rationality at last.

You are also correct to point out that political alliances at a European level with disparate political parties are how the EU parliament works. Whilst it is entirely legitimate to examine the individual policies of each party within a group, it is not very helpful to try to assign each policy to the UK party as if it were their own.

Thus a chant of “homophobic Tory scum” is a) untrue and b) unhelpful. It is rather akin to criticising someone for what was said by his mother-in law.

47. vulpus_rex

None of this is news. The homophobic activities of Polish and Lithuanian politicians and their link to the Tories in Europe has been all over the gay press for months.

Despite the above, the intention according to polling is that something like 39% of gay men will vote Tory and the significant majority of the rest are gearing up to vote anything but Labour.

Here’s why – It is good that they have avanced the equality agenda but they have been universally rubbish at everything else – illegal wars to the debauchery of the education system – and I will not roll over like a good little gay boy and ignore all the latter simply because they handed out a few “equality sweeties”.

David Cameron may have to sit down with Homophobes, but Tony Blair brought Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams, men who think it fine to blow up pregnant women into power, I know which I think is the lesser evil.

I know a number of gay Conservatives. There are many employed at CCHQ, serving on local councils and, of course, even two or three in parliament.

It’s unfair to say that the modern Tory party is homophobic by and large. It is though fair to say that a disproportionate number of gay and non-homophobic Tories consider the gay rights agenda to have been effectively concluded with the advent of civil partnerships, and that there is no further work to be done on combatting homophobia.

This includes combatting the attitudes of homophobic Tories, who are still all too often considered an acceptable and indeed mainstream part of the Tory coalition. Boris Johnson’s career has not been damaged (perhaps the opposite) by his homophobic remarks about civil partnerships. Roger ‘homophobia doesn’t exist’ Helmer appears to have a job for life in the European Parliament, consistently topping the Tories’ East Midlands list.

So my fear for the Tories in power is not that they will roll back gay rights legislation. It’s that too many of them (including Cameron) show no inclination to actively fight homophobia. You only need to look at a random ConHome thread to see that many Tories still see gay rights as part of a perceived left-wing ‘identity politics’ agenda, with which Conservatives should have no truck.

I hope to speak to the issue of whether this association implies anything about the Tories’ domestic agenda for gay issues in a further post.

It implies nothing. The Tories’ membership of the EPP was increasingly anomalous – one of the Tories was expelled from the EPP for stating what was a Conservative manifesto committment in the chamber.

The EPP’s European policy, like that of every major European grouping is essentially federalist. It was in favour of the EU Constitution and opposed to a referendum on it. It was then in favour of the Lisbon Treaty and opposed to a referendum on that. If European policy were a minor little side-show, given a general agreement on centre-right politics, then this could be ignored. When European policy is the sole reason for the existence of the grouping, a total and fundamental disagreement between the Tories and every other member of the group becomes something of a problem.

Eventually, given the incresing euroscepticism of the Conservative Party as a while (name me more than two prominent MPs who could be described as Europhiles?) there was going to be a break with the EPP. The problem then is that the Tories had to find mainstream anti-federalist political parties from seven (?) countries in the EU. Given the divergence of opinion on federalism between the UK and more or less everywhere else this was always going to be tricky.

But the lessons from that aren’t quite so favourable for the left in the UK. Fancy a look back at the Euro elections here? Who came top? And who came second? The Tories alone polled almost as many as Labour and the Lib Dems put together. There is an implication to the fact that the mainstream majority political position in the UK is different to almost everywhere else in the EU. And it’s not that the Tories are racists and homophobes.

And yes, everyone can play the game of guilt by association. The PES has communists and weirdos and loonys in it too – largely from Eastern Europe.

@ Tim J, 51:

Eventually, given the incresing euroscepticism of the Conservative Party as a while (name me more than two prominent MPs who could be described as Europhiles?) there was going to be a break with the EPP. The problem then is that the Tories had to find mainstream anti-federalist political parties from seven (?) countries in the EU. Given the divergence of opinion on federalism between the UK and more or less everywhere else this was always going to be tricky.

Tomasevski was the last to join the group – he was admitted after all the other members (at least, according to ConservativeHome, who say he was the latecomer). They could have had their group, without him in it. And of course, it would still have had some questionable characters. But don’t try and make out that the Tories faced a choice between allying themselves with Tomasevski and not having a group at all, because it won’t wash.

53 – That’s not quite what I’m saying. I’m saying that, given how incredibly marginal euro-scepticism is as a political force in virtually every country other than the UK (where it is the mainstream majority position) the ECR has been founded solely on that issue. The ECR currently has 8 countries represented – less than 7 and it can’t be a European grouping. The ECR have very little margin.

The argument, which some are putting forward, that the Tories left the EPP because their wider political ideologies are more closely matched by the Polish Law and Justice Party is absurd. On a wider point, however, the idea that the EPP was a perfect match for the Tories on every point other than federalism is also nonsense. Look at the EPP basic programme, which all members have to sign up to:

All EPP member parties have signed up to the statutes and the basic programme. The three pillars of the party are: Christian personalism; the social market economy, and European integration leading to a decentralised federal Europe. We are the European party of the centre (in German: “Mitte”). In their national context, all our parties have their tradition, their history, and their name. In the north of Europe, there are member parties which are described as “conservative” but whose ideology and political action are more social than those of many parties calling themselves “progressive”.

There is no tendency within the EPP to move to the right, nor to create a conservative party.

The EPP is a central European Christian Democrat Party. The Tories aren’t and never have been. The British Conservative Party has always struggled to find European partners, not because they’re horrible but because British politics is fundamentally different to European politics.

On the specific European policy point, how on earth could the Tories have remained in a group which was in favour of: An EU foreign policy; an EU seat at the UN, WTO and IMF; a common European income tax; a harmonised European police force; and an end to all national vetoes. All those policies are debatable on the merits, but the Conservative party is opposed to all of them.

#54

Sorry, but I still think it’s a question of priorities.

Yes, British politics is different from European politics, but even the majority of Eurosceptic British voters don’t seem to prioritise it as highly as the Conservative Party do – hence their dismal performance whenever they make it the mainstay of an election campaign.

All political parties and groupings have differences, and the Tories managed to co-exist in the EPP for long enough, maintaining their own perspective and using the advantages of being in a grouping to that end. The Tories have clearly decided that their differences on LGBT issues with their new allies are less important than their differences on Europe with their old allies. That is a judgement call they’re entitled to make, but it tells us something about their priorities – and too their likelihood of continuing to prioritise LGBT issues over other issues when drafting legislative timetables if they win an election.

If the Europe thing is a big enough deal for the Tories to have to withdraw from the EPP, then they could refuse to be in a grouping, with the sacrifice for speaking rights etc that that entails, should they believe their differences with their allies on LGBT issues are important enough.

@ Tim J:

the ECR has been founded solely on that issue.

But that’s not true, though, is it? The ECR members are all signed up to a list of principles, and a shared conservative ethos, which includes points on many non-integration related subjects, e.g. the importance of the family.

Yes, British politics is different from European politics, but even the majority of Eurosceptic British voters don’t seem to prioritise it as highly as the Conservative Party do – hence their dismal performance whenever they make it the mainstay of an election campaign.

Hmm. Why don’t we look at, for example, the European elections to the European Parliament in which the Tory MEPs sit? Oh look…

All political parties and groupings have differences, and the Tories managed to co-exist in the EPP for long enough, maintaining their own perspective and using the advantages of being in a grouping to that end. The Tories have clearly decided that their differences on LGBT issues with their new allies are less important than their differences on Europe with their old allies. That is a judgement call they’re entitled to make, but it tells us something about their priorities – and too their likelihood of continuing to prioritise LGBT issues over other issues when drafting legislative timetables if they win an election.

No kidding. The Tories have decided that their differences with their new allies on attitudes towards LGBT matters are less important than their differences with their old allies on all European policy and most economic policy. Look at the list of EPP policies, and find me one that matches Tory policy – they were a terrible fit. They weren’t in the EPP for all that long either – they started in the ED, but that folded, and there was a while when they couldn’t find any partners because British and European politics aren’t very compatible.

But that’s not true, though, is it? The ECR members are all signed up to a list of principles, and a shared conservative ethos, which includes points on many non-integration related subjects, e.g. the importance of the family.

I think it’s a stretch to argue that arguing for ‘the importance of the family’ is homophobic. Otherwise, have a look at this shared ethos, and tell me that it doesn’t look more like a Conservative policy than the single European income tax etc of the EPP.

1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal
regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate
catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater
democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU
federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a
revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum
procedures
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of
both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to
greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU
funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old,
large and small.

I’ve been informed that yesterday someone was trying to impersonate Daniel Hoffman-Gill and post outrageous comments while pretending to be him. I’ve now deleted them and responses to them.

“Hmm. Why don’t we look at, for example, the European elections to the European Parliament in which the Tory MEPs sit? Oh look…”

Yes, look: they got an unspectacular 28%, having been outflanked by UKIP on the Euroscepticism front, as happened in 2004.

It’s clear that the Tories’ views on Europe are closer to mainstream public opinion than Labour’s or the Lib Dems’. The difference is that the public don’t care much about Europe, and told the Tories so in the General Elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005.

Of course they perform (relatively) well in European elections, when Europe is actually the subject of the election. In any other context it is way down the list of voter priorities but, apparently, still quite high up the Tories’.

“When / where is it “promoted to children”?”

By normalising, you promote.

Stewart, tempting as it is to argue with a Truther and creationist, I don’t really have the time and I think Sunny will mind me taking this thread OT, particularly as there is a more interesting discussion going on.

59 – isn’t the argument that people don’t much care about Europe, as proved by the Tories only getting 28% of the vote not rather disproved by the fact that the Tories got nearly as much Labour and the Lib Dems combined, and that the main Euro-sceptic parties got getting on for 45% of the vote?

Of course they perform (relatively) well in European elections, when Europe is actually the subject of the election. In any other context it is way down the list of voter priorities but, apparently, still quite high up the Tories’.

We’re talking about the Conservatives’ European policy. Don’t you think that it’s reasonable that Europe ought to be a priority in determining their European policy? It’s not the Conservatives that are going on and on about this in any event. It’s the Labour Party, because they think they’ve found a weak spot.

“59 – isn’t the argument that people don’t much care about Europe, as proved by the Tories only getting 28% of the vote not rather disproved by the fact that the Tories got nearly as much Labour and the Lib Dems combined, and that the main Euro-sceptic parties got getting on for 45% of the vote?”

No, it proves that when voters are invited to vote in European elections, Europe is higher up the priority list than it otherwise would be and that voters are more likely to be inclined to the Tory Eurosceptic position (as I acknowledged).

The Tories committed themselves to getting out of the EPP for this election presumably in the hope of getting more Eurosceptic votes. In the event, they only managed 1% more than 2004, and this in the context of massive swings to the Tories in every other election since 2007. That doesn’t suggest voters were terribly impressed by the promise. More likely, they were apathetic about it, and voted Tory for other reasons.

The Tories committed themselves to getting out of the EPP for this election presumably in the hope of getting more Eurosceptic votes.

No. They committed themselves to getting out of the EPP because virtually every policy position of the EPP group is in contradiction to stated Conservative policy. When an MEP can be expelled from the group for stating a Conservative manifesto committment, you’ve reached an unsustainable point.

61. Jimmy Sands

“Are you denying that he was ever in the IRA? I’ve said no more than ‘former IRA man’.”

Half a century ago. He was 16. In his adult political career he has been arguably their most vehement opponent. Ask a provo what they think of the man they insist on calling Frank Ross and see how they react. It goes to show just what a stupid and contemptible smear Hannan is trying to push.

Incidentally I’d never heard of the other guy you mentioned so I checked (as clearly you didn’t). He is no longer either an MEP or connected to any PES party. You got that from Hannan too didn’t you?

Finished scraping that barrel yet?

62. Jimmy Sands

“– one of the Tories was expelled from the EPP for stating what was a Conservative manifesto committment in the chamber.”

So you don’t think comparing the (German) presiding officer to the nazis had anything to do with it? Is there a Dan Hannan fan club outing here today?

63. Shatterface

cjcjc: ‘As a gay eurosceptic I am in two minds.’

I saw something similar on this week’s ‘House’.

By all means promote this story as much as you can to the UK gay community.

But Joe Public? Don’t even bother. He/she just doesn’t care. In fact, it might actually make some people more positive towards the Tories. I’d advise you to sell this one carefully.

Can’t we get Iain Dale to ask his followers to start a polite but firm letter writing campaign/’backlash’?

66 – not according to Joseph Daul at the time:

“I don’t care if you call for a referendum in the United Kingdom. But I won’t have you doing it from the floor of the European Parliament as a member of my Group.”

@ Douglas, 69:

i think you are unduly pessimistic about the depth of public concern for equality, TBH. I am not aware of your politics, so I don’t address this to you personally. But Tory commenters in this thread, and others like it, are very fond of saying that honestly, gay rights just aren’t a public concern. And often what they mean is that it is not of concern to *them*.

@58 – it was quite a convincing one though!

Disagree with Douglas (69). The populace can be supportive and fiercely defensive of tolerance.

Euro-politics may seem very far away to a lot of people, hence all those voters in the MEP election who used it as an excuse to deliver a blow to Labour at home rather than voting on European issues. But that’s why the spotlight needs to be bigger. I think Joe Public can be supportive of his gay neighbour, and I agree with what Soho said (72).

@58 – it was quite a convincing one though!

After drinking too much I am usually great at impersonating the person I could have been if I weren’t drunk.

Not.

This is just silly politiking – all political groupings contain people that disagree on some matters (e.g. try to show the socialist group does not contain members that believe in nationalisation of key industries, which is not Labour party policy).

The Conservative party is not homophobic because some extreme idiot in their group (who has signed up to a set of principles that define the group, not to Conservative party policy) happens to be homophobic. No more than Labour is because a local councillor in their party happens to be. There are homophobes, racists, nutcases etc in all parties; their existence does not mean that parties agree with them.

And as for the gay rights agenda – has it occured to you that this is discriminatory in promoting rights for only one equality group (therefore at the expense of others). Maybe equal rights (to which the Conservatives are committed) would be a better thing to promote?

Some politicians here in Poland are offended by a new children’s book which tells the story of a couple of gay penguins and their chick.

They claim that the book is homosexual propaganda and will lead to more homosexuality. Gay rights campaigners claim that the book merely promotes tolerance of different lifestyles.

What makes this storm in a teacup so bizarre is that a lot of the politicians getting so worked up about the penguin book are at the same time trying to get Roman Polanski off the hook for sodomising a 13-year old girl.

Work that one out…

Sunny @58 Thank christ for that!

Some politicians here in Poland are offended by a new children’s book which tells the story of a couple of gay penguins and their chick.

So are we saying that Poland has an adoption agency for gay penguins?

If so, how come we haven’t got one?

75. Jimmy Sands

@71

Quite the spin there. He was of course far from the only member to hold thiose views. What got him kicked out was disruptive behaviour leading up to his final tantrum. That he now has the nerve to criticise others for nazi comparisons is breathtaking.

SohoPolitico

A belated response to your response and our discussion back @44 and @41 in this post.
http://www.nextleft.org/2009/10/embarassing-allies-and-constructive.html

But I would certainly be interested to read yr view of why this should also be of concern with regard to the Conservatives’ domestic agenda on equality and gay rights issues, and may prove persuadable on that.


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