Sunday, October 11, 2009

David Miliband in fresh attack on Tory links to far right.

David Miliband is upping the rhetoric against the Tory party's links to far right groups in Europe, stating that Britain's reputation will be harmed if the Tories are elected whilst still aligned with far right European leaders who continue to insist, as does the Polish MEP Michal Kaminski, that Poland should not offer an unconditional apology for the massacre in 1941 of at least 300 Polish Jews.

"There will be incredulity in Washington, Beijing and Delhi, never mind Berlin and Paris, that a party aspiring to government in Britain – the party of Winston Churchill, no less – chooses allies like this," he says.

I find it utterly astonishing that Cameron has chosen as his bedfellows some of the most extreme right wingers in Europe. And people who continue to espouse this right wing nonsense, even whilst over here in Britain to attend the Tory conference, and even whilst speaking to Jewish newspapers.

Miliband launched his latest criticism after reading comments by the ECR group's chairman, the Polish MEP Michal Kaminski, in which he suggested in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle that the murder of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne by their countrymen should be considered a lesser crime than atrocities by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

"I think that it's unfair comparing it [the Jedwabne massacre] with Nazi crimes and putting it with the same level as the Nazi policy," Kaminski told the paper, adding that he opposed a national apology for the Jedwabne massacre unless Jews apologised for what he said were their crimes during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland.

Last week's Tory party conference was overshadowed by arguments over Kaminski's attendance, and that of another member of the ECR group, Latvian Roberts Zile of the For Fatherland and Freedom party – some of whose members support commemorations of the Latvian Waffen SS. Their alliance with the Conservatives is causing increasing unease at senior levels of the Jewish community.

Cameron's alliances will alienate him from centre right governments like those of Sarkosy and Merkel, and place Britain, once again, on a collision course with the European Union. At a time when Obama is calling for the world to come together to fight problems like global warming, the Tories have used this recent crisis to lurch to the right in order to battle with some phantom European superstate.

It's a shameless playing to the gallery of Tory Euro-loons on the part of Cameron and he's very lucky that the majority of the British press are giving him such an easy ride on this.

And Miliband, had a similar reaction as my own to Cameron's speech the other day, detecting within it hints of Reagan and Thatcherism:

For all the rhetorical window dressing, the Tories have used the economic crisis to shift to the right and return to the tired old tunes of the past.

The idea that we need to reduce the deficit now to curb inflation is dangerous nonsense. It would turn nascent recovery into depression. On social policy, the attack on the evils of government action to tackle poverty, in favour of a spirit of self reliance, is the mantra of Keith Joseph, which really did create a broken society in the 1980s. Unable to define a modern Conservatism, Cameron plumped for reheated Thatcherism.

He completely ignored the challenges and complexities of a modern globalised world. There was nothing about global interdependence in his speech at all. No analysis of the global nature of the financial crisis, or of global terrorism, or global competition.

Cameron has made a great deal out of how much he has transformed his party from the nasty party of the eighties into this new all inclusive Tory party for the new millennium.

However, in his speech the other day, and with the friends he keeps in Europe, and with his conference proposal that government itself is the problem, one gets the distinct feeling that the nasty party of the eighties isn't that far beneath the surface.

As Miliband states:

They are not just wrong in themselves. They are tokens of an unreformed party, out of touch with the modern world and dangerous for Britain.

Cameron is very good at giving the impression of change within the Tory ranks but, when he talks of allowing the recession to bite as hard as it might and promises to have no government intervention, people really need to think about just how radical and wrong he is actually being.

His insanely right wing European bedfellows are merely a symptom of a much deeper and more radical right wing malaise. The recent financial collapse has destroyed the mantras of Reaganism and Thatcherism. And yet it is to those failed philosophies that Cameron has returned for no better reason than he, like his American Republican counterparts, haven't managed to think of another way to define themselves in the wake of the credit crunch.

So they cling to the things which sustained them in the eighties, even though that language - "deregulate, deregulate, deregulate" - almost brought the entire world's financial system to it's knees. It's not just ill thought out, it is dangerous.

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