Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends


5:59 pm - October 2nd 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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It annoys me about lefties that they get scared too easily by the media. David Miliband is likely to be the latest victim of Tory faux-outrage and he shouldn’t back down. He said in a speech:

Last week on the BBC, and you should go through the transcript, Eric Pickles, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, explained without a hint of shame that we should not condemn one of their new allies, the ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ party, who every year celebrate the Latvian Waffen SS with a march past of SS veterans, because they were only following orders.

It makes me sick. And you know what makes me sicker? No one in the Tory party batted an eyelid. What do they say? All you need for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent. I tell you conference, we will never remain silent.

All this is factually true. But the Tories have gone on the offensive, calling it an anti-semitism row.

William Hague has trotted out this bit of spin:

It is also indecent to allege that Eric Pickles, who has an admirable record campaigning against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, was defending the Waffen SS. Mr Miliband should withdraw that suggestion.

Oh yeah, the Tories could never be nasty. But if you read Miliband’s article he says Pickles is defending the Latvians, not the Waffen SS directly. Hague should improve his reading comprehension.

In fact, if you read Peter Beaumont’s explanation here, it is the Tories who are historically on very shaky ground.

Furthermore, the Tories are also allied to the homophobic MEP from Lithuania, who they’ve said nothing about. Rather than become defensive over the Tory counter-attack, they should press home their point and keep repeating it. It was the right thing to say.

I remember during the Labour party conference not many Labour MPs were willing to take issue with Andrew Marr over his smearing because they didn’t want the issue to carry on.

This sort of attitude pisses me of. Either you have the courage to say what you want and stick to the point, or you don’t say it. Miliband was right to raise the point about Cameron’s friends in the EU and he should take the Tories to task instead of capitulating to the right-wing smear machine.

Update: Jamie Kenny has more on the Latvians and the Waffen SS

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Labour party ,Media ,Race relations ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Right.

Isn’t it also fascinating that Iain Dale has been crowing about how he got the Daily Mail to apologise for using homophobic smears against him [which he was quite right to do; the Mail was totally out of order], yet he is deafeningly silent about the fact he is a PPC for a Party which now sits with European far-right nutters who have done thins like call homosexuality a “disease”, petitioned to have a “gay elephant” banned from a zoo (cf Nick Cohen in Observer a few weeks ago) and whom LibCon this week revealed support openly homophobic legislation.

Why the silence, Iain?? If it was all about standing up to the Daily Mail for matters of principle, why are you not standing up to David Cameron and demanding that he disassociate the Tory Party from these people.

@ Paul Sagar:

Well, on the basis that homophobia always needs to be challenged, whoever it is directed at, I have answered Iain’s call for people to write to the Mail in complaint. I have posted the letter here:

http://www.sohopolitico.com/2009/10/my-letter-to-mail-re-iain-dale.html

For what it’s worth, I have also asked Iain to follow in the same spirit, and make his voice heard on the Tories’ homophobic European allies. Will he act? Clearly I’m not holding my breath.

Re: the article, I agree wholeheartedly – it’s difficult to know what to add. Sunny has already gotten a statement out of the Lib Dems condemning the Tories’ Lithuanian alliance. Any chance that David Miliband might add his voice as well, since he is already speaking to similar concerns?

Important correction:

Turns out that the Mail hasn’t apologised to Dale (that was a hoax) and so Dale will be pursuing complaints against that newspaper.

Good on him. He should. What they said was outrageous and unacceptable.

But the same is true of what the Tory Party is doing in Europe. I fail to see the difference between the two; if homophobia is wrong here, it’s wrong everywhere, surely?

4. Shatterface

‘But the same is true of what the Tory Party is doing in Europe. I fail to see the difference between the two; if homophobia is wrong here, it’s wrong everywhere, surely?’

Yes, and it was wrong in America when Blair was sucking up to the virulently homophobic Republican Party, but pointing that out here will be dismissed as ‘whataboutary’ won’t it?

Really, I didn’t realise we were all in love with the Republican party. In fact you would be hard-pressed to find anyone other than me who dislikes the Republican party more… and by extension Tony Blair’s working with them.

Miliband will end up falling into the trap that the Tories have in the past – obsessing about Europe.

“Yes, and it was wrong in America when Blair was sucking up to the virulently homophobic Republican Party, but pointing that out here will be dismissed as ‘whataboutary’ won’t it?”

it will so long as we are talking about Iain Dale trying to take a principled stand vis-a-vis the Daily Mail, but not towards his own party

After all, I don’t recall Dale apologising for, or remaining silent on, the failings of Tony Blair.

When the examples are asymmetric, it’s fair to cry “whataboutery”, surely?

@Shatterface

It will, because that’s what it is. Labout never formed a formal parliamentary alliance with the US Republicans, on the basis of shared principles and values. That is what the Tories have done with Tomasevski and others.

The members of the Tories’ EU parliamentary group are signed up to a list of mutual commitments, including ‘The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.’ The sort of virulent homophobia that the Conservatives’ MEP allies embody destroys families. Yet, they have been allowed into the Tory group. So we are left to infer that the Tories do not think that hatred of gay people is incompatible with their own brand of family values.

9. David O'Keefe

What is the complaint? Other than Miliband telling the truth.

“Yeah, look at those evil nasty people. Racists and homophobes, the lot of them. What’s that? Some people who sit in our group are just as bad. Oh well, never mind. They’re federalists, let’s move on.”

Seriously, the Irish are voting for the second time on a treaty they already said no to and you run a story about how bad the TORIES are in Europe? Where’s our referendum?

11. Jimmy Sands

So what? Britain said no the last three times in a row to the tories. Does that mean they can’t change their minds?

@10: A small procedural change; or rampant abuse of those of a particular sexual preference (supported by the party which will most likely form the next government of the UK). How strange that this site would find the latter more worthy of comment.

@ Mark M:

“Yeah, look at those evil nasty people. Racists and homophobes, the lot of them. What’s that? Some people who sit in our group are just as bad. Oh well, never mind. They’re federalists, let’s move on.”

Time to put this nonsensical right-wing argument to bed. The Party of European Socialists is very large (214 MEPs): even if you can point to the existence of a few lone nutters within it, you cannot seriously maintain that they alter appreciably the character of the group. By contrast, the Tories’ new alliance is small (55 MEPs), and contains a high proportion of extremists and bigots. Unlike in the PES, each individual member in the ECR contributes more than marginally to the ethos and direction of the group.

More importantly: Labour didn’t put together the PES, whilst the ECR is wholly a Tory invention. It is entirely appropriate to judge them on the Frankenstein’s monster they have created. They can be expected to take responsibility for it.

Seriously, the Irish are voting for the second time on a treaty they already said no to and you run a story about how bad the TORIES are in Europe? Where’s our referendum?

I dunno, why not ask the Tories? After all, they’re the ones disappointing the europhobes with their failure to give a straight answer on this, aren’t they?

14. Jimmy Sands

“the ECR contributes more than marginally to the ethos and direction of the group.”

Not to mention the chief jew-baiter is actually the group’s leader.

[13] “I dunno, why not ask the Tories? After all, they’re the ones disappointing the europhobes with their failure to give a straight answer on this, aren’t they?”

Wow, that’s one way of looking at it. It’s the Tories fault that we’ve not had a referendum. Just remind me which party is in office again would you. I do agree it’s irritating that the Tories won’t say what they’d do if it is ratified, I expect that come the election we’ll all know what the situation is with Lisbon, and what the Tories intend to do about it.

“you cannot seriously maintain that they alter appreciably the character of the group. By contrast, the Tories’ new alliance is small..”

But one or two crackpots in a group of 54 have as much say over the direction of the party as one or two do in a party of 184 (that is, none – their views will always be shouted down).

Still, it’s encouraging to know that only the 5th largest grouping the the parliament causes the euro-federalists so much worry that they go sniffing into the background of every MEP, desperate for any slight link to racism, homophobia or anti-semetism. Must eat them up inside to think that not everyone wants President Blair.

If this is all the Left have… er… left, you are screwed at the next general election.

1. Europe isn’t the biggest concern at general election time, let alone the realpolitik of MEP groupings;

2. Voters are turned off by sniping and negative campaigning, they want to hear the positives that candidates and parties have to offer them;

3. This sort of OP is really fcuking boring.

ukliberty:
you are screwed at the next general election
the left isn’t the Labour party. And even then, I think you’ve missed the particular point (about Cameron’s EU grouping) and the bigger point (about lefties backing down). As for the rest..

Europe isn’t the biggest concern
You write all the time about civil liberties. Frankly, those aren’t at the top either. We are not a single issue blog – please stop telling us what we should or should not be writing about.

Voters are turned off by sniping and negative campaigning

orly? And since Cameron abandoned his pledge to not play punch-and-judy politics his ratings haven’t dived either. In fact they’ve done quite well. There’s no evidence to back up your case.

This sort of OP is really fcuking boring.
No one is forcing anyone to read anything.

Sunny, I apologise for my intemperate language and of course I recognise that it isn’t mandatory to read particular articles and you have every right to write what you want.

Voters are turned off by sniping and negative campaigning

orly? And since Cameron abandoned his pledge to not play punch-and-judy politics his ratings haven’t dived either. In fact they’ve done quite well. There’s no evidence to back up your case.

I’m not referring to ratings but voter turnout and, contrary to your belief, there is support [1] for my claim – a number of papers suggest negative campaigns affect turnout, although it should be said there is some disagreement as to how greatly turnout is affected and under what circumstances. It also matters whether a particular voter – or rather, the elector, as he may or may not have voted yet – is partisan or floating.

However, parties may not particularly care about turnout because negative campaigning can work for them in terms of success – as the Electoral Commission concluded of the Northern Ireland elections in 2005, negative campaigning worked for the DUP but not the UUP.

[1] including, but by no means limited to, the Electoral Commission’s Election 2005: turnout How many, who and why?:

4.7 Our post-election qualitative research identified a number of factors contributing to non-voting at the 2005 general election:
… The nature of the four-week campaign which was seen by non-voters as, at best, lacklustre and, at worst, negative in tone and too stage-managed.

There is an interesting article on the Tories vile friends in the Liberal publication LIBERATOR. Unfortunately the current issue is not available online. It covers the whole gamut: the Latvian SS connection, climate change deniers, homophobes, sexists etc.

Incidentally, I thought Sunny was more approving of oppressed peoples allying themselves with the Nazis and joining the Waffen SS.

21. Rob Hampton

“It covers the whole gamut: the Latvian SS connection, climate change deniers, homophobes, sexists etc.”

What’s wrong with being homophobic, sexist or denying man made global warming? I think homosexual acts are dirty, I am against reconstructing gender identities and I don’t believe that climate change is caused by man. So do very many other reasonable people. You are smearing people you disagree with in order to avoid political arguments. And then you accuse the tories of being the smear machine.

What’s wrong with being homophobic, sexist…

Think what you like, but don’t interfere with others as a result of your prejudices.

ukliberty: I’m not referring to ratings but voter turnout and, contrary to your belief, there is support [1] for my claim – a number of papers suggest negative campaigns affect turnout

I’d like to see this more fleshed out. The evidence from America suggests that negative campaigning can actually raise turnout – as long as you find ways to energise and motivate your own base. I think stage management is an issue, but the low turnout is more likly to be down to the little difference between the main parties than negative campaigning (of which we have little).

Besides, people say they hate negative campaigning but they’re affected by it and internalise it.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article:: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  2. Ben Cooper

    RT @libcon Article: @DMiliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  3. sunny hundal

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  4. sunny hundal

    @danielbyles please see this: http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  5. Soho Politico

    Time for Miliband to develop some backbone: RT @libcon: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  6. Andreas Paterson

    RT @pickledpolitics Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I – Spot on

  7. Liberal Conspiracy

    Article:: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  8. topsy top20k

    Article:: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  9. Ben Cooper

    RT @libcon Article: @DMiliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  10. Top 5k

    Article:: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  11. topsy top5k en

    Article:: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  12. sunny hundal

    Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  13. sunny hundal

    @danielbyles please see this: http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

  14. Soho Politico

    Time for Miliband to develop some backbone: RT @libcon: Miliband shouldn’t back down over Cameron’s EU friends http://bit.ly/2YUG5I

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