Thursday, 14 January 2010

Anti-fascist MEP threatens legal action over expulsion by Tories

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP may take legal action against the Conservative Party after an internal appeal panel upheld his expulsion from the party.

The MEP had been a party member for 43 years and represented the Conservatives in the European Parliament for 25 years from 1984-2009. But he was stripped of the Tory whip last year, sitting as an Independent, and later expelled from the party after his fellow MEPs voted him Vice-President of the European Parliament, when McMillan-Scott stood against Michal Kaminski, the Polish Law and Justice politician.

McMillan-Scott challenged Kaminski for the Parliament's Vice-Presidency after he had warned David Cameron about Kaminski's extremist past. However, Kaminski's defeat in the EP vote led to Tory Timothy Kirkhope standing aside so that Kaminski could instead become the controversial leader of the Tories' new European parliamentary grouping.

McMillan-Scott said he felt "no shame" in losing the whip on a point of principle, but believes that his expulsion from the party for the same thing "disproportionate and against natural justice."

He noted that his treatment went beyond that of any Conservative MP involved in the Westminster expenses scandal, and that the five year ban contrasts with the two year expulsion of Den Dover, the former Tory MEP who was expelled for two years in 2008 when he refused to pay back "unduly" claimed expenses payments worth over £538,000.

The Telegraph reports his comments today:

"This is not about me: it is about the values of the next British government ... In the context of the Westminster expenses scandal, for which no Conservative was expelled, this will be seen by many as a serious case of double standards. The party seeks to prevent my candidacy in the next European election merely for taking a stand on matters of personal conscience. This raises very serious ethical, legal and political issues," he said.

McMillan-Scott has opposed the party's Eurosceptic policy, and its decision to leave the main centre-right alliance in the European Party which contains the German Christian Democrats and French Gaullists. But he has also argued that there is a "double standard" in the Conservative failure to take any similar action against MEPs Daniel Hannan and Roger Helmer, noting that they also actively oppose party policy on Europe by campaigning for British withdrawal from the European Union as members of the 'Better Off Out' group.

McMillan-Scott has described Hannan as "Dog-whistle Dan".

The Independent reports that McMillan-Scott's strong commitment to challenging European fascism was in part informed by his maternal grandparents having been members of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, who were interned by the Churchill coalition government during world war two.

McMillan-Scott said

"I stood against Kaminski because he represented the rise of disguised extremism at a key moment in European politics - the start of a new European Parliament which saw gains by the far right in 13 out of 27 EU countries, including the BNP in Britain."

Most Conservatives have defended the decision to partner the populist and authoritarian Law and Justice Party in the European Parliament.

But criticism of Law and Justice's populist and xenophobic authoritarianism is not confined to the left. A Daily Telegraph editorial argued that the party's heavy defeat in the Polish General Election in October 2007 were the result of "their willingness to pander to xenophobia, their use of state institutions to persecute political opponents and their diplomatic ineptitude repelled many younger voters", with 80 per cent of young Polish voters telling pollsters they felt "ashamed" of the Law and Justice government.

Donald Tusk's liberal centre-right Civic Forum party now governs Poland, though Law and Justice retain the Presidency ahead of Presidential elections this year.


curiousdave said...

Hmm. But I remember when the scare story was that the Tories would leave the EPP and sit with the Italian post-fascists. Now, the Italian post-fascists sit with the EPP (one as vice-president of the Parliament) and the Tories don't. It's all very odd.

Leo Watkins said...

Good on Mr McMillan-Scott - he's fighting a noble cause.

An observation - this issue is yet another example of something being repressed quite effectively by the Conservative leadership at the moment, but which has the potential to erupt into something altogether larger and more damaging if and when the Tories get into power. It is, therefore, another piece of evidence to back up my prediction that Cameron's government will be a 1-term one.

Newmania said...

You coninually try to make something of the odd collection of allies British Conservatives wre obliged to get into bed with.

This is because there is no democracy for Britain on the EU because we are not like them. Your answer is presumably that we are allied with federalists with whom we we fundementally disagree as do the majority of the British people.

Why not simply remove votes form people you diagree with Sunder , it amounts to the same thing and it would be very Fabian,.

Sunder Katwala said...


This is simply a report on McMillan-Scott's reaction yesterday. It draws from the Reuters, independent and Telegraph reports linked, and is similar to them. So it wasn't an opinion piece on this occasion, but simply sets out the context to his expulsion and possible legal appeal. Obviously people take different views. Many Tories may think Mcmillan-Scott disloyal; others in different parties may think his disagreement was one of principle, and may note the contrast of the explusion with the frequent calls for more independent thinking from MPs and MEPs etc.

British democracy and the EU is based on Parliament passing the 1972 EC Act, not repealing it since, and Parliaments voting for the Maastricht, Lisbon treaties.

As to "not like them". Any member can exit using the Lisbon Treaty exit clause or, politically, by simply declaring its departure, for example after a Parliamentary or public vote. I doubt there would be a public majority for withdrawal in a referendum. Most Tory Eurosceptics are playing a longer game as they think they would lose an earlier one, as Fraser Nelson set out in the Spectator. And while some (like Margaret Thatcher as PM) have been strongly against referendums on European questions, think it would be a good idea to have another in or out referendum at some point in future.