Martin Bright

David Cameron’s strange European bedfellows

David Cameron's strange European bedfellows
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I just don't understand David Cameron's stubbornness over his alliance with his new friends in fringe European parties. Why make a stand for these people? William Hague's insistence of an apology from David Miliband following his comments at Labour Party conference is plain daft. Miliband may have gone over the top in what he said about Cameron's new allies. But there's no way he will withdraw his comments. Why draw attention to the Conservative Party's connections with these people? 

I don't know if Poland's Michal Kaminski really is an anti-Semite or a homophobe or whether he was a member of a neo-fascist group in his youth. Everything David Miliband said about him may be a smear. But in terms of raw political pragmatism, why not just opt for the safer bet of the centre-right European People's Party group in the European parliament? if you really want to persuade people you are on the centre ground of British politics then why not hang out with politicians on the mainstream right in Europe?

I'm with my old Observer colleague Peter Beaumont on all this:

"What is most shocking, perhaps, in this whole story is the intellectual and moral laziness of senior Tories. And the fact that they are so little troubled at being associated with a foreign party that associates itself – for whatever reason of nationalism and history – with Hitler's Schutzstaffel: the SS."

I defer to Peter's knowledge of foreign affairs and would trust his judgement over William Hague's.

Why put yourself in the position of having to justify an alliance with a party that takes part in the annual celebration of the Latvian Waffen SS? It just doesn't make sense.

The Tories will argue that leaving the EPP was part of Cameron's leadership campaign. But the Tory leader would have shown more moral strength if he had said: "Sorry, I know I promised to pull out, but on reflection it makes no sense because it puts us on the fringes of European mainstream politics."

I have always wondered if David Cameron could cut it on the international stage. This is not a good start.