Daniel Hannan: the Tory spin doctor

Why is he so keen to defend anti-Semites?

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It is always pleasing to know that you have upset the right people. But the personal attack on me by the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, for a factual report I wrote for this week's magazine on Jewish outrage at the Tory link to Michal Kaminski, cannot be allowed to pass unanswered. First, a reminder of who we are talking about:

The new chair of the Conservatives and Reformists group, which includes the 24 Tory MEPs, is Michal Kaminski. He belongs to Poland's Law and Justice party, one of whose MPs, Artur Górski, described the election of Barack Obama in the US as "a disaster" and "the end of the civilisation of the white man". Kaminski is a former member of the neo-Nazi National Revival of Poland party (NOP), which, in a direct quotation from Hitler's Mein Kampf, says in its manifesto that "Jews will be removed from Poland, and their possessions will be confiscated". In 2001, he condemned his own president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, for apologising over the Polish massacre of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne in July 1941.

I reported on-the-record complaints about this man from various leading Jewish figures across Europe, including the Chief Rabbi of Poland. For this, I am accused of "the most shameful tactic yet", and of being a "first and foremost Labour spin doctor". Quite apart from the fact that Hannan has spent his career posing as a journalist, a leader writer and a columnist while desperately seeking elected office as an official Conservative candidate (while I have never sought office, frequently written critically of Labour and never been a member of a political party), I am amused that his "journalistic" source for this smear is the Tory blogger "Guido Fawkes". Conservative fanatics such as Hannan and "Fawkes" have never forgiven me for reporting President Obama's verdict on David Cameron: that he is a "lightweight"; a claim which I have had confirmed by a number of officials and which I know to be as true as it is upsetting to some. Still, with enemies like "Fawkes" and Hannan, I must be doing something right: the MEP is, after all, the man who showed his true colours with a foaming attack on the NHS on Fox News (does his beloved Tory Central Office back this, by the way?). As for "charge sheets": I prefer Sunder Katwala's excellent take-down of Hannan.

But back on the substance of the Kaminski story, I am sorry that Hannan does not share the verdict of a real journalist on my piece: that of his superior Telegraph colleague George Pitcher, the paper's highly respected religion editor. Or, say, his former ally in Brussels Edward McMillan-Scott, who told my colleague Daniel Trilling that "I regard [Kaminski] as completely unsuitable for the post of vice-president and also therefore unsuitable as the leader of the new group. It doesn't take long to find out his past is pretty dodgy". The facts on Kaminski - and his new alliance with David Cameron and Daniel Hannan - speak for themselves.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.