Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tories under pressure from US over Conservative allies in Europe.

And now it is the turn of the Obama administration to ask what the rest of us have been asking all along; just who has David Cameron got into bed with in Europe?

In order to please the loony wing of his party during the leadership contest, Cameron chose to align himself with some of the most extreme parties in Europe, but the US will now wonder what use Cameron will be to them when it comes to trying to influence Sarkosy and Merkel. And the truth is that Cameron will be of little use at all as he has set himself up way to the right of anywhere one could expect to find either the German or the French right wing governments.

There is growing unease in the White House that David Cameron's Euroscepticism could undermine the ability of a Conservative government to influence events in the EU, threatening to weaken Britain in the eyes of the US. Clinton, while anxious not be seen to be interfering in a domestic election, has discussed the issue informally in Europe.

And that's before one gets to the reaction of American Jewish groups to Cameron's choice of European bedfellows.

Influential Jewish groups in the US urged Clinton to raise with Hague the Conservatives' decision to enter a European parliament coalition with a Latvian party, some of whose members participate in an annual service commemorating Latvian units of Hitler's Waffen-SS, and a Polish politician who has questioned the need to apologise for an anti-Jewish pogrom during the second world war.

"I think Churchill would turn in his grave. It is an insult to the tradition of this great party," said George Schwab, president of the New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy and a Holocaust survivor from Latvia.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, the leading US organisation dedicated to fighting anti-semitism and one of American Jewry's most influential voices, said those outside Europe had the "right to raise moral questions", chiefly because the new grouping in Europe "legitimises extremism, bigotry, Holocaust denial and Holocaust revisionism".

The US is only now waking up to the consequences of Cameron's decision to order the party to quit the mainstream European People's party, which includes the parties of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and form a new Eurosceptic caucus, the European Conservatives and Reformists, with mainly east European rightwingers, including Michal Kaminski, of Poland's Law and Justice party, and Roberts Zile's Latvian party, For Fatherland and Freedom.

I have always said that I thought Cameron's decision was incredibly short sighted. He made this decision to outflank David Davis, his main rival for the Conservative leadership, and it was always likely to be a decision which would haunt him.

It may have kept the subject of Europe quiet amongst his backbenchers, but that's only because the sensible wing of his party aren't as loud and disfunctional as the anti-Europe brigade, it certainly doesn't mean that his choices won't have far reaching consequences.

An American official, asked about the consequences for the US and about the far-right links, said: "I do not see any upsides in the new grouping. I can only see downsides. In life it is normally best to do things when they have an upside."

The upside for Cameron was that this new grouping got him elected by the insane wing of his party. The downside for Cameron is he now has to negotiate from that far right European position.

I am not even convinced that he believes in their doctrine, indeed, I am not convinced at this point that Cameron believes in anything. He wants to be elected and, at the moment, that really is all that he believes in.

I don't think he has even thought out the consequences of the decisions he has so far taken. He is watching the polls and his position in them; nothing else.

But the Obama administration are questioning just what use Britain will be to them when it comes to influencing Europe should the Tories come to power, and the answer is no bloody use at all.

If the Obama camp are trying to work out where a Cameron government would stand politically, I can only wish them the greatest good luck; we have all been trying to work that out for months now, with no great success. And Cameron appears determined not to tell us.

He wants elected. He really hasn't thought it out any further than that. Or, at least, that's the strong impression he's giving.

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