The Tories make their choice

Fascism over moderation in Europe

So now we know for sure. The Conservative Party of David Cameron and William Hague is willing to expel a moderate MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott, for speaking out against the leader of the Tories' new group in Europe, a leader whose past is seen as so anti-Semitic that leading Jewish rabbis from around Europe have expressed grave concern.

We knew that Hague had defended Michal Kaminski at a meeting of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. We knew that the Tory blogosphere and Conservative commentators had -- as one voice -- leapt to Kaminski's defence at the earliest possible opportunity. We knew that the Yorkshire Post had come under pressure from Conservative Party officials to allow Kaminski space in the paper to respond to McMillan-Scott's objections. (I even knew that both Daniel Hannan, the NHS-hating Cameron ally, and other so-far-unnamed officials at Tory Central Office -- I will return to this on some other occasion -- sought to smear me after I helped break the Kaminski story.)

But expulsion? Not even the most openly racist Tory MPs have faced that. And for unpatriotically blasting our health service on US television, Hannan was awarded a legal affairs job in Europe by the party leadership.

As the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has said, this is the true face of Cameron's Tories. "Mr McMillan-Scott has been expelled for standing up against the new far-right conservative extremists and their associates in the European Parliament."

So, the question remains: why are the Conservatives so desperate to silence McMillan-Scott and Kaminski's critics, while turning a blind eye to backbench racists and promoting right-wing cranks?



James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.