How not to manage a major political row

By MatthewHarris
October 18, 2009

As a communally active Liberal Democrat, I have lived through more than the occasional Jewish political row. Letters from the Board of Deputies, front page headlines in the JC - I don't so much have that T-shirt, as a whole wardrobe full of them. The latest such row, about the Tories' new allies in the European Conservatives and Reformists group, is like a greatest hits compilation of this ever-expanding genre, prompting me to offer the Tories some entirely unsolicited tips on how to manage (and how not to manage) the fallout:

1. If lots of people are saying that the Tories' new allies might be antisemitic, there is little to be gained from accusing your critics of all being part of an anti-Tory conspiracy

2. If the Anglo-Jewish community's elected leadership expresses reservations about the Tories' new allies, don't shoot the messenger

3. Don't be surprised when the Tories' new allies are subjected to the legitimate scrutiny of the media

4. Don't be surprised when jaws drop at the Tories joining with the likes of Messrs Ziles and Kaminski

5. Don't expect this row to magically disappear of its own accord - it won't, unless you Tories actually end your alliance with Kaminski and Ziles

6. Don't expect the rest of us to stop asking the Tories some very tough questions until you've ditched these new allies (just as Liberal International ditched Austria's Freedom Party when it became a far-right party)

7. Don't swap a Tory alliance with President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel for a journey into the unknown with a bunch of right-wing fringe parties

8. Don't howl with injured innocence when the Tories are asked fair questions about an alliance which is entirely of your party's own making

9. Do think twice before allying the Tory Party with people who march with Waffen SS veterans

10. Do expect questions if the Tories elect Michal Kaminski as the leader of their new grouping in the European Parliament.


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