I am proud to represent the city of Manchester in the European Parliament, a multi-cultural city which promotes tolerance and respect for others and which values its diversity. This week the Conservative party welcomed two hard right MEPs, their new best friends in Europe, to their conference in our city. Michal Kaminski, leader of the Conservative and Reformist Group and Roberts Zille from the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party, are associated with anti-Semitic and homophobic views.
David Cameron, in an arrogant and high-handed way, tries to sweep these controversial associations under the carpet, saying “a lot of what is said about these groups is simply not true.”
Whose version of the truth should we believe? A Tory leader who has thrown his lot in with Europe’s hard-right to placate the extreme Eurosceptics in his own party, or statements from his new political allies which are a matter of public record.
The leader of Kaminski’s Law & Justice Party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said homosexuality would lead to the “downfall of civilisation”, while members of the party have stated in an open letter before this year’s elections that “homosexuality is a pathology undermining the sanctity of the family”.
It is not just their own statements that damn them. The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, said “It is clear that Mr Kaminski was a member of the NOP, a group that is openly far-right and neo-Nazi”, while a Polish resident of Manchester summed it up in the Manchester Evening News: “for me, it is like teaming up with the BNP. Shame on you Mr Cameron”.
There is no place in the progressive and radical city of Manchester for a party that lurches to extremism when given the opportunity. There is no respect for a Conservative leader that allows his Tory MEPs to vote for a European Section 28. But why should we be surprised given that Cameron himself didn’t even show up a few years ago to vote on the repeal of Britain’s Section 28?
The two faces of Cameron’s Conservatives were on show in Manchester. While Kaminski and Zile were invited to speak at one fringe event, in another part of the city the Tories hosted their first ever Gay Pride event.
Yet Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill pulled out of this event in protest at Kaminski’s presence, while at the same time the Board of Jewish Deputies sought clarification from the Tories about their links with these controversial parties – and over 30,000 people read Stephen Fry’s call for the Tories to distance themselves from those associated with the politics of hate. In the end it was LGBT Labour’s alternative night, “Tory Shame” at Poptastic, which proved to be the hot ticket in our out and proud Labour city.
Mancunians are not so easily fooled by the Conservative party’s so called compassionate Conservatism, and as for the Tories pretence that they would invest in the Manchester economy, Boris blew the gaffe by saying that if you want to stimulate the Mancunian economy then you invest in London.
Same old Tory, same old story.