Not content with breaking bread with nasty Euro-extremists in Brussels, it seems that the Tories have invited their strange new bedfellows to attend their Conference in Manchester today, according to the Guardian.
David Cameron’s decision to leave the mainstream European centre-right MEP grouping and join up with a ragtag of racists and homophobes - just because they ‘anti-federalist’ has caused much consternation - not just in Labour circles.
Rabbi Barry Marcus of London’s Central Synagogue said: “David Cameron has been making overtures to the Jewish community. We need to say: ‘why are you associated with people like this?’ the ideal thing would be to make a statement dissociating himself and the Tories from people like this.”
Foreign Secretary David Miliband laid into the Tories at Labour’s conference last week, saying that he was sickened by the fact that ‘not a single Tory batter an eyelid’ at their new racist and homophobic colleagues.
With breathtaking chutzpah, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has written to Miliband, asking for an apology. Yet, as the Observer’s foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont, made clear in today’s Guardian, Miliband was bang to rights in his criticism of the Latvian the ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ party’s Waffen-SS annual commemoration march.
As Beaumont says: "It is precisely this that the Tories have ignored for the convenience of their political alliances in Europe. They have ignored the real history of the Latvian legion, an organisation that included enthusiastic Nazis culpable in the murder of the country's Jews."
If these nasty dregs of the European right do turn up to party with the new friends, the UK Conservatives, in Manchester, I hope they’ll get a rousing reception from local anti-racist, BME, LGBT and faith groups.
No wonder, in a little-noticed piece of news on Friday, it emerged that Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat CDU party in Germany, has downgraded relations with the Conservatives. Joint policy groups have been scrapped and an annual meeting has been cancelled.
It seems David Cameron and Hague are willing to lose influence in Europe, rather than lose face with the Eurosceptics in their own party.
Beyond the simple distaste of Cameron's extremely unwelcome bedfellows, beyond the "schoolboy politics" of the Tories, as Miliband called it which marginalises the Tories in Europe, there's perhaps an even more fundamental point about judgment here.
David Cameron had the chance to say no to the Eurosceptic extremists in his party. He had the chance to be a major force in the EPP, the biggest MEP group in Brussels - to stay in the centre-right mainstream with Merkel and Sarkozy. But he flunked it.
Truth is, Cameron’s new model Tories are just like the old lot. They don’t want to be in the European mainstream, despite what the past weeks and months have taught us about the interdependency of economies, about the need for co-ordinated action to tackle the world’s problems.
What does it say about Cameron’s judgment? I’m ashamed of a British political party with these racists and extremists. If he can’t call this one right, surely he can’t be trusted with the future of the economy and our public services.
He certainly can’t be trusted to ensure that Britain stays at the heart of Europe, rather than flirting with extremism on the fringes.
Mike Katz is a vice-chair of the Jewish Labour Movement