We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Davey: Conservatives must face the nasty truth about their friends in Europe

June 4, 2009 6:32 PM
Ed Davey

Ed Davey MP

The Lib Dems' Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Edward Davey MP, has written to William Hague detailing some of the widespread charges of racism, homophobia and climate change denial made against the Conservatives' allies, the Polish Law and Justice Party and its European Parliament candidates.

The Conservatives are courting the PiS in the hope that they will join them in a new group in the European Parliament.

Edward Davey challenged Mr Hague to make clear whether the Conservatives still intend to join with the PiS in light of these revelations - and to tell voters where they stand in advance of Thursday's elections.

Edward Davey said; "The Tories have been at pains to portray themselves as modern, 'liberal Conservatives'. How do they square this with the views expressed by the PiS?"

The Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary went on to say; "Do they agree that homophobia, racism, sexism and climate change denial have no place in twenty first century European politics? If so, are they still prepared to strike a deal with these people for the sake of political convenience? Don't the voters have a right to know?"

Full text of the letter

Dear William,

Further to my previous letter, I note that last weekend your Leader met with representatives of Poland's Law and Justice Party (PiS) to discuss forming a new group in the European Parliament: this raises a number of questions about the alliance that the Conservative Party is seeking to build in Brussels. Voters have a right toDo they agree that homophobia know the answers to those questions in advance of Thursday's election.

Quote from Ed Davey letterUnder European Parliament rules, a group requires at least 25 MEPs from a minimum of seven Member States. So far you have indicated that you would like to do a deal with the Czech Civic Platform and the PiS. Given that a deal would be just weeks away, will you now level with the British people and tell them which parties you are in discussions with? Are there really four of them? Or are these parties simply the product of your wishful thinking?

Moreover, it is not enough to do a deal with anyone who'll have you. You have been at pains to portray yourself as a modern "liberal Conservative". How do you square this with the views expressed by the PiS?

One Law and Justice senator, appointed the honorary chair of the newly-elected chamber in 2007, denied that Auschwitz was a death camp. Artur Gorski, a PiS MP, described President Obama's election last year as the "end of the civilisation of the white man". Meanwhile, President Kaczynski said that homosexuality threatens to bring about the downfall of the human race.

You may also be aware that the PiS has adopted as its top regional candidates three politicians that it has poached from the League of Polish Families: a party known for its extremist positions. This is a party that has its own private militia (the All-Polish Youth) whose skinhead supporters attack gay events, which features a number of prominent representatives accused of anti-Semitism, and whose members have been recorded attending neo-Nazi meetings.

A further top regional candidate has come via the hardline Self-Defence Party and an additional two PiS candidates, again topping their regional lists, also adhere to outlandish views.

Are these the kind of people that "liberal Conservatives" are keen to work with?

If so, can you explain why, in 2006, sixteen Conservative MEPs voted in favour of a European Parliament resolution condemning the League of Polish families, "whose leaders incite people to hatred and violence"?

In reflecting on whether you are prepared to do a deal with this political party, I would ask you to consider the following facts about each of these six PiS candidates:

1. Urszula Krupa (League of Polish Families MEP, 2004-09, number one slot on the Lodz regional list) claims that "ethical relativism" in the developing world favours "sexual exploitation and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Sexual freedom...robs women of their dignity...and encourages violence."

2. Jacek Kurski (League of Polish Families until 2004, number one on the Podlaskie and Warminsko-Mazurskie list) is a former member of the National Rebirth of Poland, identified by the Stephen Roth Institute as an anti-Semitic party.

3. Miroslaw Piotrowski (League of Polish Families MEP until 2009, number one on the Lublin list) has been quoted as saying that climate change has "nothing to do with human activity" and that European action to tackle it is "more fiction than science".

4. Ryszard Czarnecki (former Self Defence MEP, current PiS MEP, number one on the Torun and Bydgoszcz list) opposed a constitutional amendment on non-discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, saying, "the next step would be accepting deviations such as paedophilia and zoophilia".

5. Ryszard Legutko (number one candidate in Wroclaw and Opole) is the author of a book entitled I Don't Like Tolerance with a follow up essay Tolerance Does not Solve Anything.

6. Zbigniew Ziobro (number one candidate in Krakow and Kielce): introduced a parliamentary bill to restore the death penalty in Poland and has faced accusations of widespread use of phone taps without judicial approval (he has been accused of "Stalinist methods" and violating civil liberties).

This list is by no means exhaustive: all of the candidates have advocated or are associated with a range of unpleasant positions.

Do you agree that homophobia, racism, sexism and climate change denial have no place in twenty first century European politics?

If so, are you still prepared to strike a deal with these people for the sake of political convenience? Don't the voters have a right to know?

I would be grateful for a response before the polls open.

Ed Davey SigYours sincerely,