Jewish Board challenges Tories over links with alleged anti-Semites

By staff writers
October 9, 2009

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has written to the Tory leader, David Cameron, “seeking assurances” about the Conservative Party’s links with allegedly anti-Semitic politicians from Poland and Latvia.

The news has increased pressure on Cameron over his party’s membership of the Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.

The group’s leader, Michal Kaminski of Poland, has now ignited further controversy by saying that he still believes that his country should never have issued an apology for the massacre of hundreds of Jews in the town of Jedwabne in 1941.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews explained that their letter to Cameron was “very polite”. They said it made no allegations, but raised questions about Kaminski and Robert Zile, the Latvian foreign minister also accused of anti-Semitism.

Both Kaminski and Zile are attending the UK Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester this week. A statement from the Party said that accusations of extremism against them had “repeatedly been shown to be false”.

Alongside the Tories, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group includes right-wing parties from Poland, Latvia and the Netherlands. Ever since the alliance was formed, it has caused controversy both within and outside the British Conservative Party.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, which campaigns for the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, pulled out of a Tory Pride event due to the presence at the Conference of allegedly homophobic politicians from elsewhere in Europe.

Meanwhile, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell urged the Tories to split from their European allies, saying “David Cameron is all talk and no action on gay rights”.

He added that “so far, he has not promised a single new policy for gay equality”.

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended his party’s allies, particularly those from Poland. He described the criticisms as a “slur on the reputation of a country that is a good friend to Britain and a close ally in NATO and the EU”.

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