Conservative Party in deep trouble over Europe

2:53 pm - October 30th 2009

by Chris Barnyard    

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This morning Poland’s Chief Rabbi, Michael Schudrich, appeared on the Today programme in an effort to salvage the reputation of Michal Kaminski – the leader of their European grouping. Predictably, this is being spun as final proof their man is innocent, and trying to shut down the difficult questions about his past.

Toby Helm’s stark assessment this morning that the Conservative Party is now completely isolated and pushed into the fringe in Europe is worth reading:

The Tories’ old allies in the European People’s party and Party of European Socialists held meetings before the summit to decide their positions on the jobs, their strategy, views, approaches. Had the Tories been in the EPP, they as the likely UK government in waiting could have influenced those talks, or at least put their oar in and rubbed shoulders with Merkel and Sarkozy, making their presence felt.

But the Tories’ new grouping, which Kami?ski leads, had no meeting at all. They did not get round to organising one, their spokesman told me. Well, there we are then. They were nowhere. Absent. Out of it.

But one suspects this is unlikely to be that troubling to some Tories, who have always seen themselves as outsiders in Europe. They’ll huff and puff but are happy to pretend they don’t care for what’s going on in Europe.

But their isolation is rapidly increasing. The Economist article is certainly damning, as is the view across the pond that Cameron cannot be taken seriously unless he is part of Europe. Obama has always been a multi-lateralist and unlikely to take Cameron’s foot-stomping seriously.

In an effort to salvage their reputation the Conservatives have been ferociously trying to rebut claims about Michal Kaminski’s past – the man who now leads their faltering Euro grouping.

Even before getting into that, it’s worth continually repeating that David Cameron’s new grouping is suspect not just because of Kaminski. A significant percentage of its members have very dodgy pasts. Left Foot Forward blog recently outlined several sexist and Islamophobic statements its members have made.

This blog has exposed and highlighted the voting record of the deeply homophobic Lithuanian MEP Valdemar Tomaševski. And what about the Latvian Waffen SS connection? There is only uncomfortable silence.

Feebly asserting that Kaminski is great because he is a strong ally of the state of Israel and has condemned anti-Semitism does not answer anything. Nowadays Nick Griffin himself considers himself as a strong ally of Israel.

But if you want to get to the nitty gritty, LFF has a good question on this morning’s events: “Did Policy Exchange, the Conservative party, or the Polish Law and Justice party lean on Michael Schudrich to clarify his original statement?

Dean Godson, of Policy Exchange, is the neo-con who was turfed out of the Telegraph for being too pro-Israeli. He is the same who threatened to take Newsnight to court when it highlighted several inconsistencies in their report, and never followed that through.

It’s also interesting to note how overtly the Jewish Chronicle and Stephen Pollard is lobbying on behalf of Kaminski even though the newspaper has traditionally taken a neutral approach to party politics. The editor could perhaps pay more attention to his own political editor Martin Bright who has repeatedly expressed concerns over Kaminski himself.

There are several unanswered questions Kaminski and the Conservatives have carefully avoided answering and he has been shown to be dishonest about his past repeatedly. Just declaring him as pro-Israeli and hence beyond question is non-starter for anyone with an ounce of sense.

James Macintyre: Chief Rabbi of Poland on BBC
Next Left: Up to a point, Chief Rabbi

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About the author
Chris is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is an aspiring journalist and reports stories for LC.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Europe ,Foreign affairs ,Realpolitik ,Westminster

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Reader comments

Erm, did you actually listen to the chief rabbi on the radio this morning?

His measured approach was in complete contrast to the hysteria which this story has so-far generated.

2. LondonStatto


What’s cute is the way the PES and the EPP think that they can somehow have an influence on the outcome.

At least the ECR has the good sense to appreciate it has no influence on the decision.

The ECR hasn’t met because it has no need to. Sarkozy and Merkel decided who it would be over lunch. Any pretence of democratic involvement is, as usual with the EU, a sham.

Final point: when you’re arguing with the Polish Chief Rabbi about antisemitism, and the Tories are 13-17% ahead in the polls, sometimes it’s okay to conclude that your smeary tactics are not working.

Has the tool Millibland apologised for his antisemtic smears yet? If not, why not?

Let it go, you lost this one. You failed.

As for Bagehot? Well-known federast, and like the rest of you, best ignored.

Oh – like it or not – I suspect that Cameron and pals will be rubbing shoulders with Merkel and Sarko soon enough.

Will you people please find something else to bang on about. The story is now dead. If the Chief Rabbi of Poland expressly says he does not regard him as anti semitic, then what on earth can any of you have rounds to complain?

Oh The economist, possibly the most Europhilic publication in the country, objects to Conservative policy in Europe. Well strike me down with a responsibly fished kipper.

This a dead end, and will not garner you a single vote in 2010. Since the left got utterly trounced every which way at the last Euro elections by Euro sceptic parties, I think it wont get you any votes in subsequent elections.

It just shows how weak the left is that it keeps banging on about these non issues.

His measured approach was in complete contrast to the hysteria which this story has so-far generated.

Funny that cjcjc – when someone Muslim says anything you find vaguely objectionable then the accusations of anti-semitism and homophobia come out very quickly.

Perhaps you could answer the questions linked above instead of the Tories? They don’t want to answer anything and you’re just trolling for them.

To judge from the headlines of stories on LC over the last couple of months this story has been devastating for the Tories as each accusation is proven to be true.

In reality the accusations keep falling apart, as with the Polish Chief Rabbi’s torpedoing the Kaminski smears this morning. So much so that even in forums like the Guardian the readership seems wholly unimpressed by the accusations.

In terms of concrete damage done by this story so far, Labour may actually have come out of it worse. The Latvian Government called in the UK ambassador to issue a formal protest over ‘historically illiterate’ attacks on a NATO ally made for domestic political advantage. And now, if Guido is to be believed (…) the Poles are threatening to veto Miliband as prospective EU Foreign Minister.

I doubt they will (can they even?) but in trying to make the Tories look bad, Labour have badly offended two of our NATO allies and EU partners. Add them to India in the list of ‘countries that our ridiculous Foreign Secretary has badly pissed off’. At least when Boris offends places he apologises for it.

There’s little doubt that the Chief Rabbi is mightily pissed off at being dragged into this, although he has not withdrawn any of his original criticisms. It’s difficult to see why the tories would want to keep this going, but as long is they do I expect Milliband will oblige.

So from what I can gather the only people call this guy anti-Semitic are British politicians using it as a vehicle to attack the Tories? But now the whole attack is coming down around their heads with the head Rabbi attacking Miliband for spinning, Labour saying that the Rabbi is obviously wrong?!?!? and now it seems that any possible EU role for Miliband will now possibly be vetoes by the Latvian Government, how the hell can you guys not have worked out that every bloody time you’ve committed to a smear tactic it has come and bitten you on the arse.

It is pretty damnable that in spite of evidence from Kaminski himself, and now a clear statement from the Chief Rabbi of Poland that he does not consider Kaminski to be anti-semitic that the smear and lies continue from those rearranging the deckchairs on the good ship Labour.

The problem is that this is the only chink they could find in the armour of Cameron, so they desperately need to pretend it is damaging them, that the Tories are ‘isolated’ in Europe (as opposed to the way they obviously all fawn on Gordon Brown and co) and that they are in crisis over it. Of course, the reality is that most voters couldn’t name Kaminski, couldn’t care less about political alliances in Europe and all this fuss goes over the heads of anyone not anally retentive enough to pretend like it matters.

“Funny that cjcjc – when someone Muslim says anything you find vaguely objectionable then the accusations of anti-semitism and homophobia come out very quickly.”

Is this not Whataboutery?

It’s a wee bit tiresome that those comments from those on the right-hand side of the political spectrum mainly consist of going: this is old news get over it, when one could suggest that if you don’t want to read it you could just not bother, if it really was a case of getting over it.


Way to go engaging with the fact that the accusation has been proved false.

Chris, what is the purpose of this article? Why are you accusing the Jewish Chronicle and the Chief Rabbi of anti-Semitism?

Every time you make an obviously stupid claim in public, you make every other claim you ever make less effective.

What that Michal Kaminski MEP holds some rather odd views and is from a party that is verging on the far-right?

You’ll have to try a bit harder than this. The article offers no solid evidence, just smear and ignores the fact that Milliband has been shown to be wrong and a touch hysterical. When Cameron is in power do you really expect the others to ignore him because he doesn’t belong to one of the two big blocs – get real. When the French are awkward and stamp their feet people applud them for their independence, when we do it we are seen as isolated and not at the heart of Europe. Remember the lone voice isn’t always the wrong one.

Hmm, so someone claimed that a Polish Rabbi said he believed a certain Polish politician to be anti-semitic.

Polish Rabbi has now stated unequivocally and unambiguously that he does not think that the Polish politician is ant-semitic.

Why is this a problem for the Conservative party?

Well I look forward to Labour’s throughout the PES standing up for British interests in Europe, seeing as the Tories are so isolated….. haha, yeah ok. Like that’ll happen. “Give away more national sovereignty? Sure. Do I still sign where it’s marked €?”

Banana boy is blowing his chance of being EU foreign high panjandrum now too…it’s wonderful

If the Labour Party had any sense they’d lock Miliband away in a cupboard and bring Bevin back from the dead. He was a good Labour foreign secretary. Miliband seems to excel in causing diplomatic upsets.

22. Margaret Young

The Conservatives are on the run over this, let’s keep the pressure on!

@4 The PES and EPP do get quite a major say, in the European parliament, which has to give its vote of consent. Latvia isn’t exactly the key block vote. But Milliband is indeed a twat. He’s the foreign secretary, not Alistair bloody Cambell.

@18 Of course Cameron won’t be ignored. He’ll be kept informed of EPP policy. He’ll get to discuss it in the council. The Commission will request his government’s input. The US administration will take note of the extent of his influence on European decisions on trade and military cooperation, and consult him accordingly.

When Mr Cameron stamps his feet, everybody will pay attention and note that the representatives of the country with the fourth largest GDP in Europe have something to say – but since they’ll also know that the ruling party in Britain is fundamentally opposed to the European project, and that a referendum would probably result in Britain leaving the EU, they might not be that sympathetic and understanding. They might just feel that Mr Cameron used up all his credit even before becoming Prime Minister.

IMO the Conservatives are just being silly – which is not unusual – but this issue is becoming increasingly boring.

Surely, a more important issue is the Blair bid for the EU presidency:

“Tony Blair does want to be the first president of the European Council, his ally Lord Mandelson has told the BBC.”

Try this in Friday’s FT on: Blair Inc

Banana boy is blowing his chance of being EU foreign high panjandrum now too…it’s wonderful

I wouldn’t get all my propaganda from rightwing blogs if I was you, it makes you look like a tit more often than not.

Keep up the pressure on the disgusting Kaminski -squeeze the Tories until their pips squeak

Yawn – I never said or thought that the Poles could veto banana boy.

I just wonder whether a majority of EU states will want such a klutz as their high panjandrum.
He is an embarrassment.
In any event he himself will soon realise that going round attacking other countries’ MEP’s for domestic political purposes will not do his case much good generally, not just in Poland.

Meanwhile I think it is nothing more than a statement of fact that the interview with the chief rabbi has taken whatever sting there was out of this issue.

Might I suggest that Labour’s attack dogs (I am assuming their is no strategy, so no strategists, consider the following).

1. Since Mr D. Milliband started publicising this (and I know he was not the first), Labour’s poll position has actually got worse. Clearly this is hurting the Conservatives a lot then.

2. That picking on a politician’s youthful follies is hardly relevant nowadays: faced with evidence, people can change their minds. And Mr Kaminski’s brief association with a party which is now neo-Nazi no more makes Mr Kaminski a neo-Nazi than the dalliance of several members of the governing party of the United Kingdom with various extreme left-wing organisations in their youths makes them communists. Life is a journey, and postcards from the past are not valid criticisms of people who no longer are of the views shown on them. Especially when, if this is a valid technique, some of your own MPs are vulnerable to it.

3. The Chief Rabbi of Poland never said Mr Kaminski was anti-semetic, and appears to have spent a lot of time clarifying this fact. What was said was that Mr Kaminski had been associated with an unpleasant party, and in response to an unpublished question (which would provide context) that people should be aware of this – which could at a strech no more ridiculous than interpreting this as an accusation of anti-semeticism be regarded as saying Mr Cameroon should check his new ally’s background but go ahead with the association if he was happy. Anyone bothered enough to read who is not automatically going to follow the Labour spin line can work this out, and it makes those making the claims look dishonest and manipulative, which is an image that the Labour party desperately needs to lose to have a chance at the next election.

4. The key anti-Semetic point of not apologising for a massacare of Jews by Polish criminals is against a position also adopted by the Polish members of the EPP. Indeed, I am not personally inclined to appologise (i.e. accept responsibility) for anything my grandparent’s generation did some thirty years before my birth, simply because they may have been British. I do not expect modern Germans to appologise for Nazism even, and this is a consistent and logical point. You appologise for your errors. Note also that much of the country, including Labour supporters, would appear to believe apologies to be due from our current government over various issues, so it is hardly wise to emphasise people that you dislike not apologising whilst ignoring the fact that there are demands for a mea culpa from you at the same time.

5. Bluntly, people know what racism is, and are mostly appaled by it. By devaluing it by trying to smear a clearly non-racist party in Britain as racist by association Labour are playing into the hands of the British National Party, as people reason that if the acceptable Conservative party are apparently racist in the eyes of others, there is less problem with voting for another avowedly non-racist (in their own description of themselves) party with dubious associations. And these voters are more likely (by a margin of 2:1 according to the last survey) to be from normally Labour than normally Conservative party supporting households.

That’s five reasons why this line of attack may not be a good idea from the point of view of the Labour party, and this ignored the fact that it is missing the chance to attack the Conservatives (if you believe in the benefits of Europe, be prepared to attack on them, or focus on something else) or better, spend some time devising a coherent and attractive new approach to government. The small group of journalists, bloggers and foreign secretaries involved in this stupid campaign should consider whether it is not merely shooting Labour in the foot.

29. Margaret Young

I have a feeling Mr Coulson and other party hacks at Tory Central Office are desperate to try and shut this story down. Sorry guys this issue will run and run!

One other thing: Ms Young seems keen to see the replies to this not as valid arguments (despite the fact mine was designed to point out why Labour may not be wise to follow this line of attack) but as Tory plans.

So to support this, can I suggest reading that well known Conservative supporter Michael White: I think you may find it interesting.

Alternatively you could believe Mr Helm’s strange assertions that many (unspecified) Jews are still opposed to the associations of the Conservatives with their Polish allies (I note that Mr Helm does not mention the Latvians any more). Of course, it might be worth checking their political stance first.

Dave made his bed now it is time to lie in it.

It is not the job of the foreign secretary to be attacking mainstream politicians from countries with which we are allied. If he is sensitive about the countries we associate with maybe he should advocate withdrawing from the EU.

Party before country every time.

Auntie Vera, are you a parody of a racist?

If so, great work!

Conservative party in deep trouble? The only place I hear any criticism of the conservatives and their new european allies is this website, the guardian or occasionally the BBC. This is a non-issue, it has failed to take root anywhere else in the many, many months that you have continually plugged it and the public couldnt give a monkeys. Give up and move on to something else I would.


Perhaps you should tell Mr. Hague he shouldn’t get so excited about it.

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  3. Tim Ireland

    "declaring Kaminski as pro-Israeli & hence beyond question is non-starter for anyone with an ounce of sense"

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    The Conservative Party is in deep trouble over Europe

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    RT @libcon The Conservative Party is in deep trouble over Europe

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    "declaring Kaminski as pro-Israeli & hence beyond question is non-starter for anyone with an ounce of sense"

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