Denis MacShane: What does Cameron gain from alliance with extremists?

Kaminski's views on Jews and gays put him at the rough end of BNP politics

Sunday 23 October 2011 07:26

Welcome to the Cam-Kam, the new dance of the European hard right. Choreographed by William Hague, the new dance-master for the Europe-hating media and Tory millionaire MPs, the Cam-Kam allows the worst of 20th-century politics – dislike of Jews, gays, immigrants – to prance and preen on the European stage.

Named after the alliance between David Cameron and Michal Kaminski, the Cam-Kam reminds watchers of the worst of ultra-nationalist politics.

It shows a side of the Tory leader that is far removed from the Andy Coulson image of the heir to Blair raising politics to a higher plane.

As a child of the post-1968 liberated and liberal Notting Hill classes it is impossible to conceive of Cameron with a gram of anti-gay or anti-Jewish prejudice.

On the contrary, he has spoken warmly of the values and contribution of the Jewish community in Britain and those who have heard him speak do not doubt the sincerity of his views.

Equally he has promoted gay Shadow Cabinet members and apologised for the Tory line on Section 28.

So why this alliance against his own nature with Michal Kaminski, a Polish right-wing politician whose views on Jews, on gays, on immigrants, on President Obama would place him at the very rough end of BNP politics in Britain?

The Conservatives like to pretend that Kaminski's views are those of an exuberant youth and have even compared him to the Jewish John Bercow who was a staunch rightist in his days as a student political activist.

To be sure, Kaminski was part of the European National Front under the leadership of the Italian fascist Roberto Fiore. This had the Spanish Falange and other far, far-right parties in membership. Kaminski made his personal pilgrimage to see General Pinochet when he was detained in Britain.

But Kaminski's more extreme utterances, like his handing out leaflets at Warsaw station urging Ukrainian immigrant workers to go home – a Polish jobs for Polish workers appeal – have continued into this century.

Kaminski protests that he is not anti-Semitic. But what is the adjective to use for a man who is accused of organising a campaign against the brave decision of the then Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski to apologise for the massacre of Jews at the hand of Polish villagers in 1941?

Polish nationalist politics has always, to put it politely, had difficulties with the Jewish question. The pre-war Endecja party of Roman Dmowski was anti-Jewish. In 1968 the communist government expelled Jewish students and intellectuals who played a key role in exile in supporting the creation of the Solidarity union movement.

Bronislaw Geremek was one of the stars of that movement, later Poland's foreign minister and an MEP. He was Jewish and when he was killed in a car accident last summer supporters of the anti-Semitic Radio Maryja held up a poster at his funeral saying: "Thank you God for taking him away."

On the MEP list headed by Kaminski there were included candidates from openly anti-Jewish politics.

This sadly is the world of religious right-wing politics in Poland. It is not neo-Nazi and when the Chief Rabbi in Warsaw was attacked he received a sympathy call from the current Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, who is Kaminski's mentor. And most Polish rightists support Likud in Israel as the Jewish quesion in Poland is about national politics, not about Israel.

Nonetheless it remains odd that David Cameron has led the Tories into an alliance with a man whose views on Jews would not be permitted in British, let alone American politics.

The Civic Platform ruling party in Poland is close to being the mirror of the Tories – pro-market, patriotic, sceptical about Brussels, and vaguely liberal. Why didn't the Tories make a more natural alliance with them? Some analysts take the Cam-Kam alliance back to his campaign to become Tory leader when he promised hardline anti-EU MPs anything to win support.

But Cameron has reneged on previous promises and it remains a puzzle why he has chosen Kaminski of all politicians in Europe to be his new ally and friend.

The upside is all for the Pole but what benefit does Cameron get? In all events the Cam-Kam tango will end in tears, as in the unending Euro political dance it is important to choose partners very carefully indeed.

The writer is a Labour MP and ormer minister for Europe

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