Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott gets the boot

A row between Conservative MEPs, who are no doubt fighting over who gets what after joining the European Parliament two days ago much like school children fight over who gets the best desk in the classroom (and, amusingly, trying to sit as far away as possible from - the two most unpopular boys in the class - the British National Party's Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons), has resulted in the disciplining of Edward McMillan-Scott.

Edward McMillan-Scott has been disciplined after having the nerve to oppose Conservative party rule which would have forced him to make way for far-right PiS member Michal Kaminski. Good man - and that's not a thing we often have the opportunity to say when discussing a Tory.

As the Tories' longest-serving MEP Mr. McMillan-Scott represents Yorkshire and the Humber, as does ex-member of the openly neo-Nazi National
Socialist Movement Mr. Brons. Conservative group leader Timothy Kirkhope had ordered Tory MEPs to make way for Polish Michal Kaminski in the vote for vice-president. However, he disobeyed his leader's command and stood against Kaminski which has led to the removal of his whip.

Michal Kaminski is Warsaw's MEP and a member of the Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party, an organisation widely considered racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-semitic.

McMillan-Scott has been an MEP for a quarter of a century and was leader of the Conservatives in Europe in the past. It is widely considered that he will decline to stand in the next European elections, which may have given him more confidence to oppose party rule.
He has expressed his concerns over the Conservatives' decision to make allies of those he terms "extreme rightwingers" - under the command of party leader David Cameron, the Tory MEPs - much to their own worry and dismay in some cases - have joined the European Conservatives and Reformists; an alliance which also lists Kaminski's controversial Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc party among its members and which has become notorious for its racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-semitic views and policies. That Mr. Cameron has chosen a party of that type over the more moderate, centre-left conservatives Angela Merkel of Germany and Nicholas Sarkozy of France makes his recent efforts to tranform the British Conservatives' image into that of a caring, sharing, non-racist, non-homophobic party look rather false.

"Despite what David Cameron has said there are already indications that some of the members have links with extremist groups and I feel very, very uncomfortable with that," says Mr. McMillan-Scott. He's not the only one - many people in Britain must surely be wondering about some of Mr. Cameron's chosen bedfellows, especially Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski who is on record claiming that "the affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it."

Kaczynski's identical twin brother Lech, who is now the Polish president, is also a member of the PiS. During his time as Mayor of Warsaw, he
banned a gay rights parade but permitted a homophobic "parade of normality." Very odd people for modern, accepting, anti-discrimination Mr. Cameron to want to have anthing to do with, don't you think? You could almost end up suspecting that he's no different to the prejudiced Tories of old and all he has said in support of equal rights is no more than a cynical and deceitful ploy to attract more votes.

For all his undoubted and rapier-like wily skills as a politician and popularist David Cameron seems oddly unaware that, just like all of us, he will be judged by the company he keeps. Or is he a fascist in liberal clothing?

It looks as though Messrs. Cameron and Kirkhope may have shot themselves in the foot somewhat, however, because Mr. McMillan-Scott was voted in as an independent vice-president regardless, whereas Kaminski failed to win a post which leaves the Conservatives and Reformists as the only group without a vice-president. If he now chooses to leave them, the alliance will slide from being the fourth to the fifth largest group in the EU Parliament.

That Mr. McMillan-Scott has been successful while taking a stance opposed to the far-right and extremism is clear evidence that that type of politics does not enjoy the support that many proponents of similar ideology believe. This is very much the case in Britain as well as in Europe, where despite the success of Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons in the recent elections, the vast majority did not and will not vote for their party. If David Cameron is genuinely the figurehead of a newly inclusive and humane strain of Conservatism he will need to make a real effort to demonstrate the truth of what he says; because his actions are liable to create suspicion that he hasn't been straight with us and to give the impression that he's no more than an unpleasant racist, homophobic Tory of the type he's trying hard to convince us all is now extinct.

Let Mr. McMillan-Scott know of your support for his opposition to dangerous far-right extremists by e-mailing him: edward.mcmillan-scott@europarl.europa.eu

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