Clinton and Kaminski: What the papers say
The Jewish Chronicle revealed last week that concerns were expressed during the London visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Conservative links to far-right European groups and Polish MEP Michal Kaminski.
The Guardian and The Times ran stories after the coverage, focussing on what Mrs Clinton’s concerns will mean for the meeting between her and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague in Washington.
Disclosure of Washington’s concerns comes on the day William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, arrives in the US capital for talks with Mrs Clinton. A source close to the State Department said: “Hillary always likes to ask questions and, as she is such a candid person in these meetings, I would be surprised if she did not ask Hague to explain the position.”
Louis Susman, the US Ambassador to London, is also understood to have expressed alarm about the “direction of travel” of a party widely expected to take power after the next election.
The Guardian, the Observer, the New Statesman and now the Jewish Chronicle have been shining a light in this dark corner, but from the rest of the media there has been little more than silence.
There is growing unease in the White House that David Cameron's Euroscepticism could undermine the ability of a Conservative government to influence events in the EU, threatening to weaken Britain in the eyes of the US. Clinton, while anxious not be seen to be interfering in a domestic election, has discussed the issue informally in Europe.
Influential Jewish groups in the US urged Clinton to raise with Hague the Conservatives' decision to enter a European parliament coalition with [Michal Kaminski].
"I think Churchill would turn in his grave. It is an insult to the tradition of this great party," said George Schwab, president of the New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy and a Holocaust survivor from Latvia.
Clinton, who will be wary of saying anything in private or public at tomorrow's meeting that could be used in Britain's general election, is understood to have taken note of the Tories' decision to leave the EPP. US officials are concerned by reports that the Tories' new grouping is headed by Michal Kaminski, a Polish rightwinger who questioned a Polish apology for a notorious anti-Semitic pogrom in 1941.
European diplomats say Clinton is focusing on the Tories' broader approach to the EU. She is understood to have expressed fears about the Tories' plans to junk the Lisbon treaty if it has not been ratified by the time of the British general election.
A prominent Holocaust survivor has called on the Conservative party to reconsider its alliance with Michal Kaminski, the Polish MEP who leads the Conservatives in the European parliament, citing his "unacceptable" views.
Ben Helfgott, 78, said Kaminski's attempts to compare the massacre of 1,600 Jews in Jedwabne in 1941 with acts of collaboration with the Soviet army by individual Jews were "not acceptable".
Polish residents of Jedwabne, along with German troops, rounded up the Jewish population and led them to a barn which was set alight. Kaminski told the Jewish Chronicle: "If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland."
Today Hillary Clinton has a chance to do what the BBC, most British newspapers and the rest of the political class have singularly failed to do: she can confront the Conservative party over its noxious new alliances in Europe.
Where is the outrage? Where is the revulsion at David Cameron becoming partners with men who cheer those who fought for Hitler and against Churchill? The Guardian, the Observer, the New Statesman and now the Jewish Chronicle have been shining a light in this dark corner, but from the rest of the media there has been little more than silence.
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
The Guardian splash today puts some serious meat on my story in last week's Jewish Chronicle about growing US unhappiness about the Tories' new friends in Europe.
When I first put it to the Conservative Party press office that there might be an issue here I was told that it was unlikely the Obama government was troubling itself with such a parochial British issue. To me this demonstrates a fundamental failure of understanding that stretches right up to David Cameron himself.
If he had taken the trouble to do as much a Google search on his new allies he would have been able to predict that this would become a serious problem for him in America.
Martin Bright, The Spectator