Tories in disarray as US questions Cameron's links to "respectable fascism"

Furore builds over Conservative alliance with European anti-Jewish far right

The New Statesman's revelations about the Jew-baiting past of David Cameron's anointed European ally Michal Kaminski have unleashed a political process with no clear ending.

In the United States a senior Democratic politician has said that Barack Obama should look askance on Cameron if the Tory leader continues to defend Kaminski, a member of Poland's Law and Justice party. Even though Kaminski protests that he is not anti-Semitic, he does not disavow his anti-gay views - still less the disgustingly racist anti-Obama remarks of his associates.

Instead the Conservatives are working themselves up into a lather over the senior Conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott.

The day after the New Statesman broke the news about Polish and European Jewish organisations' concern about the Cameron-Kaminski alliance, the Yorkshire Post published an article by McMillan-Scott further exposing Cameron's secret manoeuvring.

McMillan-Scott is a true blue Yorkshire Tory who has carried the anti-Labour flag in the north of England since 1997. He said Kaminski was "homophobic and had fascist links". The MEP argued that the new Cam-Kam alliance heralded "the rise of extremism" in Europe and declared that "the rise of respectable fascism had to be stopped". These are extraordinary charges to level. McMillan-Scott's language provoked an intemperate outburst from the normally calm and suave Tim Montgomerie, editor of the well-regarded ConservativeHome blogsite, which is close to Cameron.

He accused McMillan-Scott, a right-wing traditional Tory, of being "a useful idiot of the left", and said the Yorkshire Post article was a "pathetic justification of his own disloyalty". Montgomerie also urged the Tory chairman, Eric Pickles, to expel McMillan-Scott from the party. (He has already lost the Tory whip in the European Parliament.) Such over-the-top language about disloyalty and expulsion shows how rattled thinking Conservatives are about the mess into which William Hague has dragged the Tories by pushing through an alliance with the likes of Kaminski.

Worse followed as David Rothkopf, a former under-secretary for commerce in the Clinton administration, declared on his blog: "I have no hesitation suggesting that Kaminski is either anti-Semitic [or] pandering to anti-Semites . . . and a more suitable choice for support by the British National Party than by Conservatives." Rothkopf is close to the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. He added that Cameron's endorsement of Kaminski "makes him an even more dubious choice to be Britain's next prime minister".

With less than a year to go to a general election, the Cam-Kam debacle has crossed the Atlantic and become a political issue in America. Is this what Cameron wanted when he turned down the chance to appoint knowledgeable Malcolm Rifkind - the former foreign and defence secretary - as shadow foreign secretary, and instead promoted the anti-European obsessive Hague?

Denis MacShane is MP for Rotherham and was a minister at Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.