Thursday 22 April 2010
The Guardian reports that David Cameron will sent Nick Herbert (shadow environment secretary) to Poland to attend a gay rights march in Warsaw in July. Nick is David’s most senior gay member of his frontbench team
The move is yet another cynical ploy intended to defuse criticism in tonight's leaders' television debate that the Tories have allied themselves with extremists with homophobic views in the EU. Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown are expected to use the second TV debate to embarrass the Tories by highlighting their links with hard-right groups in the European parliament. These include the Czech ODS party, whose founder, Vaclav Klaus, has questioned global warming, and Roberts Zile, of Latvia's Fatherland and Freedom party, some of whose members attend a ceremony to commemorate members of the Latvian legion of the Waffen-SS. And the highly conservative Law and Justice party of Poland founded by the late President Lech Kaczynski, who died earlier this month in a plane crash in western Russia. Kaczynski banned gay rights marches in Warsaw when he was the city's mayor.
David Miliband, today accuses Cameron of adopting an "isolated and weak" position on Europe after abandoning the main centre-right grouping in Strasbourg to sit in the new European Conservatives and Reformists group. We all remember them and DC's hopeless interview with the Gay Times where he thought he need not bother to even attempt a justification of this. Where his performance was so bad he asked to stop the cameras at one point so he could compose an answer. No insult to gay people there then.
Cameron claims the Tories have responded to these concerns by asking Herbert to travel to Poland. He said: "We would not join with parties that had unacceptable views. But we do recognise that, particularly in central and eastern Europe, there are parties that have still got some way to go on the journey of recognising full rights for gay people. We are helping them make that journey." Really, have you told Chris Grayling about that yet Dave? He’s not terribly keen on gay people being treated like normal is he as he is on record as saying that guest house owners should be able to discriminate on this sort of basis. Why not send Chris to Poland Dave he would go down much better with you so called allies.
Cameron added that Labour and the Lib Dems were in no position to lecture the Tories about their new group. "I would say there are partners of the Liberal Democrats who refer to homosexuality as a plague. How many times have you read that in the Guardian? There are partners of Labour that were collaborators with the communist regime in Poland that locked people up and was responsible for appalling human rights abuses. That is a bit disingenuous to say the least coming from the party that brought us Section 28. Whatever you can say about Labour they have done more that anyone to equalise rights for gay people. Indeed Nick himself would know all about that as he was able to utilise laws brought in by Labour to enter into a civil partnership with his partner of 10 years in January 2009.
Dave went on "Our point is that it is good to have a new group that is against a federal Europe, that wants free trade, co-operation and progress in Europe. And yes, some countries, particularly some of the Catholic countries, do have very conservative social views. They are on a journey in respect of that and it is a journey we can help them with." I see then so that’s ok, they can be as homophobic and extremist as they like as long as they are against a federal Europe. Why didn’t you tell the Gay Times that Dave when you wanted to get gay people to vote for you?
But Miliband will warn that Cameron's stance on Europe shows he is incapable of leading change. "Since they have failed to change themselves they have little hope of changing the country, or reforming Europe," he will say in a speech in Bristol. "The Tories are frightened of Europe which makes them isolated and therefore weak in Europe. They want to retreat and defend, not engage and lead. They have outlined a policy plan based on isolation, confrontation and weakness." I must admit that Miliband has a point here. Thanks to the disastrous attempts by the New Tories to woo the pink vote this seems to be a yawning open goal.
I frankly don’t see how sending the token gay in the shadow cabinet (possibly the cabinet by July) will in any way change these peoples mindset. Nor do I see how this will be seen as anything except what it is, damage limitation.