Miliband sees red over Tory Euro-al­liance

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - By Martin Bright po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor

WHEn DAvID Miliband read the JC last Fri­day, he blew a gas­ket.

The cause of his fury was the in­ter­view with Michal Kamin­ski, Pol­ish MEP and leader of the Tories’ new al­lies in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists.

He had read Mr Kamin­ski’s frank re­marks about his re­fusal to apol­o­gise for the no­to­ri­ous mas­sacre of Jews at Jed­wabne in July 1941 and his view that he did not judge this atroc­ity as be­ing on the same scale as other crimes of the Holo­caust.

Ear­lier in the week, Mr Miliband had been re­minded of his own Pol­ishJewish roots af­ter his brother, Cli­mate Change Sec­re­tary Ed Miliband was re­united with a long-lost rel­a­tive dur­ing a ra­dio in­ter­view in Rus­sia.

The For­eign Sec­re­tary had a busy week­end ahead, with the visit of US Sec­re­tary of State, Hil­lary Clin­ton. Afghanistan and north­ern Ire­land were on the agenda, but Mr Miliband im­me­di­ately put pen to pa­per to re­spond to Mr Kamin­ski in the pages of the Ob­server.

In­vok­ing Bri­tain’s war­time fight against fas­cism, he said: “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.”

As the JC re­veals to­day, Mrs Clin­ton’s visit co­in­cided with grow­ing con­cern in US diplo­matic cir­cles about the Con­ser­va­tive Party’s new part­ners in Europe.

The Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion now re­alises there is a very real pos­si­bil­ity of a Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment next year and is con­cerned that the Con­ser­va­tive Party’s new al­liance within the Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists (ECR) will ham­per the UK’s abil­ity to ful­fil its tra­di­tional role as a transat­lantic bridge be­tween the EU and Wash­ing­ton.

At the time of his lat­est in­ter­ven­tion, Mr Miliband had been un­der fire from the Tories for over a week about us­ing his speech at Labour Party con­fer­ence to at­tack Mr Kamin­ski’s “an­ti­semitic, neo-nazi past”. The in­ter­view, we are told, made him all the more de­ter­mined to stick to his guns.

In his in­ter­view, the Pol­ish politi­cian re­it­er­ated his pub­lic op­po­si­tion to an­tisemitism and his com­mit­ment to the state of Is­rael.

But he also said the fol­low­ing about the Jed­wabne mas­sacre, which was car­ried out by Poles against their Jewish neigh­bours: “I think that it’s un­fair com­par­ing it with a nazi crime, and putting on the same level as the nazi pol­icy.” It is this re­fusal to recog­nise the full scale of the crime that caused Mr Miliband to re-en­ter the fray.

Fur­ther de­tails of Mr Kamin­ski’s past emerged dur­ing the course of the week. Im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the in­ter­view, the ECR were forced to is­sue a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of their leader’s po­si­tion on the wear­ing of the Chro­bry Sword, a sym­bol of the Catholic ul­tra-right in Poland. Dur­ing our ex­changes Mr Kamin­ski de­nied that he ever wore the sym­bol, which was used by the an­ti­semitic na­tional Rad­i­cal Camp Falanga Group in the 1930s.

How­ever, a fol­low-up state­ment from Mr Kamin­ski, is­sued af­ter the JC went to press, said: “I did wear the sword, which was used around a mil­len­nia ago to crown Pol­ish kings, on my lapel on oc­ca­sions.”

He added that af­ter 1989 it was one of the sym­bols of the con­ser­va­tive Chris­tian na­tional Union party and worn by many main­stream right-wing politi­cians.

“In re­cent years it has been taken as a sym­bol by the far Right. Al­though it is not the same, there are sim­i­lar­i­ties with how the BnP in Bri­tain has taken the Union Jack as their sym­bol. When I felt the sym­bol started hav­ing this mean­ing I stopped wear­ing it and I asked the rest of my party to stop too.”

At the same time, ev­i­dence emerged of links be­tween Mr Kamin­ski’s Law and Jus­tice Party and a Pol­ish ra­dio sta­tion ac­cused of spread­ing an­tisemitism.

Ear­lier this week, De­nis MacShane MP, chair­man of the Euro­pean In­sti­tute for the Study of Con­tem­po­rary An­tisemitism, re­leased a list of mem­bers of the ECR group­ing who ap­peared on Ra­dio Maryja.

In 2006, Marek Edel­man, the last sur­viv­ing leader of the 1943 War­saw Ghetto up­ris­ing, who died this week, urged the gov­ern­ment to close down the ra­dio sta­tion be­cause of its “xeno­pho­bia, chau­vin­ism and an­tisemitism”.

Mr Kamin­ski him­self has ap­peared as a pre­sen­ter on the sta­tion on only one oc­ca­sion, but oth­ers in the Euro­pean group­ing, in­clud­ing pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Zbig­niew Ziobro, have fronted dozens of the sta­tion’s pro­grammes.

In pub­lic, the Con­ser­va­tive po­si­tion on Mr Kamin­ski has hard­ened. Se­nior Tories have con­tin­ued to back their leader’s line that there is noth­ing to hide about their new ally’s past.

How­ever, be­hind the scenes, there is real con­cern that Mr Kamin­ski could still cause se­ri­ous em­bar­rass­ment to David Cameron. They know that the Tory leader has staked his rep­u­ta­tion in Europe on this con­tro­ver­sial man.

The Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil’s Mick Davis with Pol­ish MEP Michal Kamin­ski

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.