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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Party Poopers

Of course the Conservatives will not see it like that and the impact on the electorate will be minimal but nevertheless the presence of two prominent east European allies of the Tories, who are at the centre of a bitter row over their far-right links, at their annual conference in Manchester next week was bound to cause a row. Whether that row will overshadow their conference is doubtful but it will still prove an irritant for party chiefs.

David Miliband, the foreign secretary, has accused Michal Kaminski, the rightwing Polish leader of the Conservatives' caucus in the European parliament, of having an antisemitic and neo-Nazi past. He also said the rightwing Latvian party led by Roberts Zile, For Fatherland and Freedom, was guilty of celebrating Hitler's Waffen-SS.

The Guardian says that leading Jewish figures have condemned the invitation, describing the actions of the Latvian party as "vile". They add that the two men are to take part in a conference fringe meeting on the future of Europe. Both strongly deny the charges levelled by Miliband.

Whatever the merits of the new Conservative grouping in the European Parliament, and I can see few, it raises fundamental questions about Cameron's judgement. The new group was formed because of Cameron's need to keep Euro-sceptics on board but immediately raises doubts as to what would be the Tory Leader's priorities in government. Would he put party unity first or the interests of the Country? Can he really justify forming an alliance with such parties when he is trying to re-position the Conservatives to appeal to mainstream British opinion?
When you've got yourself out on a limb through a rash promise, necessity makes strange bedfellows (if I might use the expression). The media, Labour and john Bercow might also profitably look at UKIP's best mates.
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