Sunday, July 26, 2009

Extreme Extremists & Their Extremism.

Nick Cohen joins the long line of left wing and europhile commentators denouncing the Conservative Party's new European allies. Cohen isn't a crude partisan charlatan like others who have made these claims- Denis MacShane for instance.

His insinuation that Poland's Law & Justice Party is antisemitic- in particular the leader of the European Parliamentary group, Michal Kaminski, looks weak. Judging by the enthusiasm of the editor of the Jewish Chronicle for Kaminski I doubt the smears will work either.

Some of these continental parties have their share of nutters no doubt, however in order to make a case that leaving the EPP is a mark of extremism then you don't simply have to demonstrate that the new bedfellows are unsavoury but that they are worse than the previous allies, or the allies of other parties.

The supposedly moderate EPP for example includes:
  • The Alleanza Nazionale of Italy who are the direct descendants of the Fascist party and whose Mayor of Rome has promised to expel all of the capital's gypsies from the city.
  • The German CDU who have campaigned on slogans of "Children Not Indians".
  • Poland's Civic Platform party who support removing children from Lesbian mothers.
So those are the moderate right wing parties Nick Cohen wants the Tories to hook up with. How about the Labour Party's allies in the European Socialists:
  • An Irish MEP who used to be in the IRA
  • The Self-Defence of the Republic Party of Poland, whose leader has praised Hitler and has received honorary degrees from the antisemitic Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, who are connected with David Duke.
  • An Italian Truther
  • The successor parties to a number of Eastern European communist parties.
  • A Turkish party with links to the PKK.
You might think it would be hard for the harmless bearded Lib Dems to sit with nutters, but their Irish allies Fianna Fail are currently trying to get a blasphemy law on the statute books. Jorg Haider was in their group for a long time.

Contrived alliances with ideological extremists is an inevitable result of the structure of the European Parliament and the fact that it only becomes an issue when those nutters are less than 100% committed to an ever deeper European Union suggests that it isn't their extremism that it the issue.

Update: There is a great comment from Marko Attila Hoare, who is not a Conservative or on the right in any sense, in the comments at Harry's Place:

The pot is calling the kettle black.

The Labour Party in the Council of Europe belongs to the Socialist Group, which includes Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky - a Russian counterpart of the BNP. The Socialist Group also includes Aleksandr Babakov, the former leader of the Rodina party - whose members in the Russian Duma called for all Jewish organisations in Russia to be closed.


Sarkozy and Merkel are a disgrace to Europe - responsible for denying a NATO Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine last year; then muting European resistance to Russia’s invasion of Georgia. It’s totally understandable that David Cameron wants other allies. Unfortunately, he isn’t exactly spoilt for choice…

The last point is true, it isn't a case of the Law & Justice Party being great, they aren't, at best they are extremely chauvinistic and reactionary, but a case of whether they are markedly worse than the alternatives.


Matthew said...

I'm not sure. The ADL seem to have problems with the Polish leader and his party. Also although many parties have extremists (surely many Conservatives belive the things you say the mainstream right European parties believe?) it seems that Cameron's allies (from the larger Polish party to the single MEP ones by definition) actually have those views has party policy, whereas:

The German CDU who have campaigned on slogans of "Children Not Indians".

Are you sure? The link suggests just one German CDU candidate did, I'm not sure it was (as you give the impression) party policy.

Matthew said...

Whoops pressed send to early.

I feel a bit sorry for Cameron here as I'm not sure he really wanted to stick by the pledge, and really would like to say something like 'I don't even want to be in the EU, so it's hardly my fault I'm saddled with this nutty parliament'. And I don't think it'll matter as long as Conservative MEPs attack their allies on certain issues when required.

asquith said...

I make no judgment on the virtues or vices of the EPP or PES, but it does need to be repeated that Law and Justice are a toe-curlingly shite party, which is why their stint in government was a disaster & they were turned out decisively.

They actually have a track record of trying to impose their fantasies on the real modern world & it being a failure & an embarassment, which is a bit different from just mouthing off & governing in a sane manner.

Given a completely free choice, Civic Platform would be much better. But I suppose that if he wants more EU-critical friends, this is the sort of shite that has to be done.

I suppose this is a lesson to right-wingers that just because Nick Cohen vaguely slags off people he calls "the left", it doesn't make him any kind of ally to you. He is best avoided in general :)

Ross said...

"but it does need to be repeated that Law and Justice are a toe-curlingly shite party"

Yes but that's because they are Polish and most Polish parties are nuts.