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 Whistleblowers Need Protection


Why we must stop rise of a new face of fascism

By Edward McMillan-Scott
July 31, 2009

In 1942, the Pole, Jan Karski, tried to persuade Allied leaders about the Nazi death camps, which he had witnessed. US Supreme Court judge Felix Frankfurter said: "I did not say this young man is lying. I said I am unable to believe him. There is a difference."

At the count for the European Elections, in Leeds Town Hall last month, the first BNP parliamentarian in Britain was elected. It happened under the debased form of proportional representation the "closed list" introduced by Jack Straw which I have always opposed.

I did not hide my distaste at the BNP win, as I have long studied the rise of "respectable" fascism across Europe. From my youth, I have opposed totalitarianism, and especially the religious persecution which is often a part of it.

On July 14, in Strasbourg, I stood and won against a Polish MEP, Michal Kaminski, for the post of Vice-President of the European Parliament, because he symbolised the rise of disguised extremism in Europe.

Although Kaminski was nominated by the new Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) created by David Cameron, I decided to take the issue head on, even at the discomfiture of my own party. I did this at great personal and political risk I could have lost everything and have now lost the whip but I did it on principle.

It was not my principle it was a higher one. To oppose a menacing political movement at a key moment in Europe's politics.

I am grateful to the Yorkshire Post for allowing me to address my constituents directly.

The European Parliament should represent the best in democracy, but its internal elections are based on backroom deals between party bosses, of which Kaminski thought he was part.

In that undemocratic vein, my Yorkshire colleague, Timothy Kirkhope leader of the Conservative MEPs who that day had been elected leader of the ECR, was simply replaced by Kaminski.

Although the European Parliament gets a fairly bad press, I am proud of the work that I and other MEPs have done to spread democracy and human rights, the central tenets of the EU, across Europe and the world.

The very fact of the EU's existence acted as a beacon to the many dissidents with whom I used to work in Communist-ruled countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Encouraged by them, I set up the EU's Democracy Initiative, now with a budget of 140m, to spread the Conservative values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law.

It has now been disclosed, as Kaminski should have done to the Conservative Party when nominated for Vice-President, that he has had fascist links he was a member of Poland's notorious fascist National Revival (NOP) and he tried, as its MP, to cover up one of the worst anti-Jewish atrocities in wartime Europe.

On July 10, 1941, Poles rounded up hundreds of Jews and put them in a barn on the outskirts of the village of Jedwabne. Egged on by the SS, the barn was set on fire. In 2001, the then president of Poland organised a national apology, but Kaminski opposed it.

Kaminski was pictured on Polish TV in 2000 using a homophobic term which even the interviewer says is offensive: Kaminski repeats it. He caused a storm at that time by using the pre-war anti-semitic slogan, "Poland for the Poles". He denies it.

Last week, Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's quality daily, said: "Kaminski isn't officially and completely anti-Semitic or homophobic, but at some point he recognised that these things could help him politically."

Ambivalence about totalitarianism, like Judge Frankfurter's, has no place in today's Europe.

At the same age as Kaminski was consorting with fascist skinheads, I was a member of the Young Conservatives. A few years later, I found another cause with the European Movement, set up on an all-party basis to make the case in a referendum for staying in the Common Market.

When I was elected leader of the Conservative MEPs in 1997, The Times described me as "a moderate pro-European, with a general loyalty to the party line".

I am to this day, and I have asked for the Conservative whip to be restored. Is it not telling that, after a three-month onslaught on MPs' expenses, the whip was removed from no Conservative MP except Derek Conway?

After the European elections, complying with a manifesto commitment, I left the mainstream centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and joined the ECR group.

It was formed because, during his leadership campaign, David Cameron had promised that his MEPs would leave the EPP, largely continental Christian Democrats and conservatives but seen by many as too "federalist".

I have always been a Conservative internationalist, believing that Britain should be leading in Europe not leaving it. The EPP is the party of Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish conservative who currently chairs all EU meetings.

However, I accepted that after the East/Central European enlargement of the EU, in 2004, there could be parties, who having lived under the shadow of Moscow, feared it might be re-imposed through Brussels.

So all I said in the run-up to this year's Euro elections although I was much sought out by the media was that "I am convinced that David Cameron will not send us to the wilder shores of European politics, and I am committed to the choices he makes".

I was trusted enough, because of my election experience, to be asked to join not only the party's Euro election strategy committee, but also George Osborne's general election committee. I have been a member of the Candidates Committee for longer.

When I attended the ECR's inaugural meeting, in Brussels, on June 24, we had been joined by 15 MEPs from Poland's controversial Law and Justice party, which had incorporated MEPs from the ultra-Catholic Motherland Party. I said that I was "uncomfortable" and that I hoped that there was no-one in the room "who has had links after 1989 with extremist groups like Poland's NOP".

The following day, as I discovered later, the reference to his membership of NOP was removed from Kaminski's Wikipedia page. Kaminski was covering up again.

The rise of "respectable fascism" must be stopped. The people who advised Cameron have been used by those who seek respectability through links with the Conservative Party. It is not me who should be expelled it is Kaminski.

Edward McMillan-Scott is an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. He is a Vice-President of the European Parliament and currently sits as an independent

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