Are Tories hypocrites? A challenge to Conservative readers.
I have a piece in today’s Observer about David Cameron allying with reactionary parties in Europe, and indeed supporting the candidates of Vladimir Putin.In it I make the point
It is not only Cameron who would rather we did not look too hard at the direction Conservative policy has taken. In recent years, Conservative writers and thinktanks have lambasted the left’s alliances with Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood. They asked with justifiable relish what had happened to progressives’ opposition to racism, misogyny, homophobia and censorship. Yet now that their own leader is allowing his MEPs to be led by a man who shares many of the prejudices of Islamist reactionaries, their once-angry voices have fallen into a shameful silence. Opposition to Europe on the British right now performs the same function as anti-Americanism on the British left. As long as a potential ally is against Brussels, nothing else matters.
Euroscepticism without discrimination or limits is producing a kind of dementia in a party which still kids itself that it is the best guardian of national security. If that were true, Tories should have noticed that Vladimir Putin is using Europe’s dependence on Russian gas as a weapon of political blackmail. The conspiratorial east European parties Cameron allies with in Brussels are rightly alarmed by the Kremlin’s barely concealed desire to rebuild the Russian empire.
But while Cameron cosies up to anti-Russians in the European Parliament, he allies with Putin’s United Russia party at the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly. Last year, British Conservatives lobbied to install Putin’s candidate, Mikhail Margelov, a KGB instructor during the Eighties, as the assembly’s president. You shouldn’t need to be told the reason for their alliance. Putin’s party is against a federal Europe and, as ever, that is all that matters.
If you want to read the similarities between Cameron’s friends and Islamists – they don’t produce a perfect match but they do echo each other – read this long briefing from a conservative perspective here. There is a brilliant academic paper here on the historical significance of the Jebwabne massacre in today’s Poland, which ought to warn you that Cameron is on the wrong side of the struggle for a democratic, modern Poland.
So then here is a challenge to Tory readers. Quite righly you mock and deplore the Left’s alliances with dark forces. Are you prepared to do the same when your own side behaves as badly as your adversaries?