Today Hillary Clinton slammed the Tories for failing to join the recent pile-on against Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In a speech described by the Guardian as ‘stinging’, Clinton said it was ‘disheartening’ that Conservative MEPs in Brussels voted to ‘shield Viktor Orban from censure’. She was referring to the 18 Tories in the European Parliament who last month rejected the invoking of the punishing Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty against Orban’s Hungary for being a prejudiced and illiberal state. Hungary is no longer a real democracy but an ‘illiberal’ one, said Clinton — and it’s shameful that Tories are cosying up with such a regime.
It’s hard to work out what is most galling about Hillary’s latest act of haughty, self-righteous condemnation of people and politicians who think differently to her. There’s the historical illiteracy. In a line that her speechwriters knew would hit the headlines — and it did — Clinton said the Tories’ refusal to slam Orban suggests they have ‘come a long way from the party of Churchill or Thatcher’. Right. Because Churchill would never have sided with a political strongman from the East that he disliked and opposed in order to achieve a broader political goal, would he? Perhaps while she’s at Oxford today, Clinton could sign up for a booster course on modern British history.
There is also the staggering hypocrisy. Being lectured by Hillary Clinton about getting too close to foreign authoritarians is like being told off by Shane MacGowan for boozing too much. Clinton is the queen of tea-and-hugs with dictators. She described Egypt’s authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak as a personal friend. There are loads of photos of her being chummy with him. And lest we forget, his rule of Egypt from 1981 until 2011 — when the people turfed him out — was essentially one long state of emergency in which dissidents were ‘disappeared’ and criticism of the government severely punished. He makes Orban look harmless in comparison.
Clinton continued her political flirtation with Egyptian tyrants when Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took over in a coup in 2012. Despite his vicious repression of human rights, political rights and freedom of speech, Hillary welcomed Sisi to the US in 2014, where he hung out with her and her husband. I wonder what Oxford’s Institute of Human Rights makes of that? Indeed, one wonders why an Institute of Human Rights invited as its keynote speaker a woman who has been so chummy with people who have trampled violently over people’s human rights. There’s a shamelessness to all this.
And of course Clinton is friendly with Saudi Arabia too, such a human-rights void that women can’t even swim in public or try on clothes when they’re out shopping. As for the right to vote, the right to speak or the right to religious freedom, forget about it. How curious that Clinton condemns the Tories for opposing the EU’s censure of Orban yet the Clinton Foundation is happy to take donations from a kingdom in which people are beheaded in public and where anti-Semitism is a national pastime (the New York Times says that between $10m and $25m in donations to the Clinton Foundation came from Saudi Arabia). Anyone who applauded Clinton’s self-serving pose as a defender of human rights at Oxford today needs to have a word with themselves.
And finally there’s the fact that Clinton knows, deep down, that the Tories were not actually siding with Orban’s government but rather were standing up to the EU and its arrogant belief that it has the right to reprimand and punish democratically elected governments. We know she knows this because her chief criticism of Tory MEPs is that they voted to ‘shield Orban from censure’. So she is attacking them for doing something that was actually quite principled: no, not singing the praises of Hungary under Orban but questioning whether Brussels has the moral authority to try to politically re-engineer a government that was freely and fairly elected by its own people, as Orban’s was. So there you have it. Clinton accuses others of getting too tight with tyrants despite having done much of that herself. And she slams Orban for being anti-democratic while cheering the far more anti-democratic behaviour of the EU and its oligarchical bullying of elected governments it doesn’t like, and by extension of electorates it thinks are dim or deranged. And still that aloof, Third Way, arrogant political class, of which Hillary is the archetype, wonders why it is being rejected at the ballot box.