Thursday, 22 October 2009

Foreign Secretary or font of pre election bile?

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband laughing at the Labour Party Conference 2009.
I have registered my apprehension, on this blog, that the ECR group, which the Conservatives have helped constitute in the European Parliament, contains unpleasant, populist nationalists from the former Soviet bloc. I believe that the Tories should have considered more closely the character of the various organisations with which they were about to associate in Europe. It is true, however, that the groups within the European Parliament are, by necessity, alliances of convenience, forged between parties on the basis of the most amorphous common principles. Such is the character of EU politics.

MEPs within a group, and the parties from which they are drawn, might share very broad objectives or a common outlook as regards the European Parliament. They certainly do not, by anyone’s understanding, endorse the domestic platforms of each of their groupmates. Which is why I believe that, the ECR having already been formed, Conservatives do not need to defend the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party (to take a prominent example) and they should not attempt to do so.

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has led a campaign, aided zealously by the Guardian newspaper, aimed at smearing the Tories by association. Member parties of the Conservatives’ European group, he has insinuated, are far right, anti-Semites, seething with racist hatred and extremism. To this end he has adduced an inconsistent armoury of evidence, some of which does have unpleasant connotations, some of which is, frankly, nonsense. It has been a loud and orchestrated attack, coordinated with the help of sympathetic media, and we can be certain that it has almost nothing to do with genuine concerns about Conservative connections.

Fatherland and Freedom is the party most frequently cited by Miliband and the Guardian, due to the Waffen SS commemoration which a number of its members have attended. If Labour’s concerns were authentic, and were grounded in real anxiety that an association with the British Conservative party might provide legitimacy for an extremist group, they would surely concentrate on the discriminatory language and citizenship policies which Latvian ethno-nationalist revisionism actually creates, in practice, rather than redundant, though repugnant, ceremonies which symbolise its precepts.

Now, with rumours rife that Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the Conservative party’s European links, sources in Washington have suggested that the Foreign Secretary has ‘been stirring the pot’ in an attempt to poison relationships between the Us government and any incoming Tory administration. Given the tenacity with which Miliband has pursued this issue at home, it is a credible suggestion. It also brings into question the ability of Labour ministers to do their jobs responsibly, and with Britain’s best interests paramount, when their priority is clearly spewing pre election poison towards the Conservative party.

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