Conservative party paranoia on Poland

An Conservative party employee used a fake name and email to comment on an article on this blog about anti-semitism in Poland. The Tory party was not mentioned.

An employee of the Conservative party has used a fake name and email address to comment on a Left Foot Forward guest post about anti-semitism in Poland.

The Guest blog post, published last Wednesday, examined the case of a Polish politician, Marek Jurek, calling for the Polish Government to take legal action against London-based Polish Film Director, Aro Korol, for his planned film – “Hitler’s Daughter” – which exposes anti-Semitism in Poland. The article made no mention of either the British Conservative party or the European Conservatives and Reformists.

The commenter, who uses the name “Gordon” wrote:

“So Jurek is a FORMER member of Law and Justice. And Law and Justice sit with the Tories in the European Parliament. So what?

“That’s as tenuous as expecting the Polish Socialists to be embarrassed bcause George Galloway, a former member of the British Labour Party, made an outrageous statement in the House of Commons.

“Is that the sound of barrels being scraped?”

The IP address is registered to Although is a different URL to the Conservative party’s main website ( and shows only a Daniel Hannan video and a picture of a pile of cash, an IPBlock query reveals that the IP address is registered to Anne Nunan, Director of IT at Conservative Central Office, 25 Victoria St and Vince Cooper of the same address.

Left Foot Forward contacted the Conservative Party to ask if they would ask their staff member, and other staff, to desist from attacking challenges to anti-semitism in this way.

A Conservative spokesman declined to do so while describing the comments as “innocuous” and “odd.” He outlined that CCHQ did not have “a team of people commenting on websites such as yours” and reiterated that the Conservative party opposed all forms of anti-semitism.

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46 Responses to “Conservative party paranoia on Poland”

  1. Clay Harris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative party paranoia on Poland

  2. FYI

    I’m not a conservative employee and I left the vast majority of comments on that story. I analyse Polish politics on a regular basis. I complained that your article was factually inaccurate in several places. This is in contradiction of your mission statement. For all you know I might agree with your political sympathies. I was complaining about your standards, not your politics. Describing Jurek as a “politician” is still misleading. He isn’t an MP and his wannabe political party isn’t in parliament. From your wording, readers will assume otherwise. The other individual mentioned in comment section correspondence, Anna Sobecka, is also not an MP. You still need to correct that, if you are referring to her in your ‘UPDATE’ section. Both individuals are former politicians. They have no ties to Poland’s centrist government of the Civic Platform party, which is leading in the polls at around 50% compared to the Law and Justice party’s circa 25%.

    But “outing” of people who post on your website is a massive breach of trust and I question whether it is a breach of weblog
    ethics. Your disclaimer indicates that you are not going to “out” individuals. If you think something unethical is going on, you should report it to the parliamentary ombudsman rather than outing people you think may have a conflict of interest in a vigilante manner. This will improve the public’s trust in your website.

    Still, the central issue here is that Radio Maryja is just one of very many media outlets in Poland. It is far less influential, for example, than the left-leaning Agora empire, which includes Gazeta Wyborcza, of Adam Michnik fame. To claim that “Hitler’s Daughter” ‘exposes’ anti-Semitism in Poland is pretentious if not untrue and smacks of advertorial. Michnik himself, to take one of a multitude of examples, writes about this subject of anti-Semitism in his country. Radio Maryja is not a new media outlet, and it has been known about and laughed at by Polish liberals (and many centre-leaning conservatives) for over a decade. In fact, one of the reasons why Civic Platform won a record landslide victory two whole years ago is because the public were protesting against the (now defunct) League of Polish Families and its support in Radio Maryja. This documentary is behind the curve. It should have been made 3 or 4 years ago, when League of Polish Families (never at more than 12%) were brought in to coalition government by Law and Justice. The Polish electorate comprehensive booted them out at the first opportunity.

    As I said before, anti-Semitism is best combated fairly and accurately. Scaremongering, exaggeration and prejudice only weakens your argument.

  3. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative party paranoia on Poland:-

  4. Gordon's dad

    A minion at Tory HQ left a rather boring comment on your blog during his or her tea break.

    And that’s a story?

  5. Simon

    Good God what a scandal

  6. Sunder Katwala

    CCHQ role here intriguing > RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative party paranoia on Poland:-

  7. Soho Politico

    RT @nextleft: CCHQ role here intriguing > RT @leftfootfwd: Conservative party paranoia on Poland:-

  8. Sunder Katwala

    What (via @leftfootfwd is this CCHQ domain for? v.odd page; sockpuppet haven?

  9. Jessica Asato

    Why are CCO staffers leaving anonymous comments on @leftfootfwd? Don't they have enough to do following Kaminski around?

  10. Unity


    1. You’re protests just that bit too much to be kosher – perhaps you’d like to give an account of your own political affiliations. You’re not a British Tory, for sure, but you do come over as an astroturfer.

    2. As for web ethics, the general non-outing rule does not apply to astroturfing, which is itself a breach of trust, so get over it and quit whining.

  11. FYI

    I’m British, I’m a liberal, I know this subject, and I care about accurate journalism.

    Now your turn.

  12. Anon E Mouse

    It’s the way Tony Benn describes the ends of empires – basically Labour is over and every activist, facing at least a decade in the wilderness is clutching at straws in the vain hope the electorate forgives this government for the shameful way it has behaved for over a decade.

    The electorate will not forgive or forget and rightly so.

    It’s over. You know it. Every reader of this blog knows it. Labour knows it.

    I am nervous though of Will revealing who has been making comments on his blog though – that’s really not in the spirit of the thing but then Labour seem so expert at lies and smears and not playing fair what can one expect?

    Most of the Left and Left Leaning blogs are a joke in this country seemingly run by idealistic monkeys hardly out of school.

    This blog seemed different. Try and be less partisan Will and this blog may still be read after May 6th next year. Most others will thankfully be gone.

  13. FYI

    And for the record, I don’t have any political ties whatsoever, meaning I am not a member of a political party. I am not acting on behalf of any pressure group nor any PR interest.

    I am entirely self-motivated and have a free and independent mind on this matter. I have put forward an informed and rational point.

    I would invite you to do the same, if you feel challenged by what I say. That would be far more compelling than personal attacks or attempts to undermine my character.

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Unity – you sound like a member of the Stasi the way you demand to know FYI’s political allegiance.

    No need to ask yours – New Labour to the core.

    The fact is, once again, the Left loves to play the man and not the ball.

    With a Prime Minister, (in fairness forced on the Labour Party without a vote) as bad as Brown I’m surprised anyone mentions peoples personality.

    This story is a non starter regardless of who the Tories align themselves with. No one cares. The Tories could be in a partnership with Hitler and the British people would still elect them.

    Labour has blown it – I’ve never voted Tory in my whole life but I won’t vote Labour again. Try and find a single person who says they’ll vote Labour in South Wales and I’ll show you a delusional fool.

  15. Dave Cole

    You know, I think it would be great if the Conservatives (or Labour, for that matter) had people posting on blogs, giving their point of view – so long as they are honest about it.

    This was someone posting from CCHQ to spoil a story and not declaring their affiliation. It stinks like rotten haddock.

  16. Miller 2.0

    What’s with the IP address?

  17. Gordon's dad

    “This was someone posting from CCHQ to spoil a story and not declaring their affiliation.”

    Spoil a story? Get a grip, FFS. Some Tory tosspot made a banal comment in an inconsequential thread about two people no one has ever heard of.

    This is exactly why blogs get a bad name – forced and juveline over-excitement over nothing.

  18. FYI

    Credit where credit is due please. I pointed out the story’s factual errors, I think there were five of them in total. I also think the original story is imbalanced and misleading, and fails to provide adequate context, as I have outlined in my posts.

    I would like to see where the original story was derived from. Was it a press release? If so, can we see the press release please? If so, have LFF checked it for accuracy? Can we please rule out that the author of the piece is connected to the film-makers or whether there may be any other conflict of interest, political or financial?

    I would testify to the fact that am acting completely independently. I’m British, and I would say I have centrist or liberal political views. I care passionately about accurate journalism.

  19. FYI

    @Anon E Mouse

    You hit the nail on the head:

    “It’s the way Tony Benn describes the ends of empires – basically Labour is over and every activist, facing at least a decade in the wilderness is clutching at straws in the vain hope the electorate forgives this government for the shameful way it has behaved for over a decade.

    The electorate will not forgive or forget and rightly so. ”

    And have you noticed how quiet it suddenly got around here?

  20. Henry

    Amongst all the noise, we’re no clearer about the Conservative Party’s participation in all this. Sounds fishy.

  21. willstraw

    Thanks for the comments today. I’ve been at meetings so haven’t had a chance to reply. A few points if I may:

    1. The initial story that we highlighted (the suppression by a politician of a film about anti-semitism) was disgraceful. I stand by the original piece and we weren’t the news source to run it:

    2. We have an open comments policy and respect commenter’s anonymity but we draw the line at astroturfing. If you’re a Conservative (or Labour) employee have the courage of your convictions please.

    3. FYI – credit where it is due. You pointed out that Lidia had mistakenly described Marek Jurek as a sitting MP but he is still leader of a political party so that makes him a politician in my view (which is what the story now says). I was then mistaken in describing Anna Sobecka as a sitting MP. We aim to correct all mistakes.

    4. Anon – I really hope you still regard this blog as being a bit different. We posted 7 stories today (in addition to the politics summary). 1 on the employment stats, 1 promoting a new report which outlines what Labour needs to do to help the forgotten 15 million, 1 attacking Labour’s nuclear policy, 2 attacking Tory policy (on FSA & Cameron’s speech), 1 attacking The Spectator, and this story. I don’t think that’s a bad balance for a progressive blog.

    All the best,


  22. FYI

    I would like to see where the original story was derived from. Was it a press release? If so, can we see the press release please? If so, have LFF checked it for accuracy? Can we please rule out that the author of the piece is connected to the film-makers or whether there may be any other conflict of interest, political or financial?

  23. The Parallax Brief

    One thing that has struck the Parallax Brief about the whole Kaminski affair is the extent that the two sides of the debate disagree not just interpretation of matters, but the actual raw facts — it’s astonishing.

    Having some experience of Eastern Europe, it really wouldn’t be a surprise if Kaminski had made anti-semitic, racist and homophobic comments, by western standards, at some stage in his career. There is a huge amount of what might be called petty homophobia/racism/anti-semitism in that part of the world — by which it is meant that Eastern Europeans don’t want to go down the Nazi route, but they don’t particularly care for lots of blacks in the country, believe a great many of the Jewish stereotypes as fact, and think of homosexuality as morally wrong and something to be kept well away from public view.

    But literally nobody can agree on any of the facts. Why is that? It’s been a while since two completely different accounts of the same events can be garnered from two different publications. But reading Left Food Forward and the New Statesman and comparing accounts there to, say, CentreRight and the Speccie, and one wonders if they’re covering the same story at all.

    Again, why?

    Finally, the fake commenter seems like a case of trying to generate scandal for the sake of scandal.

  24. Gordon's dad

    Will – the amusing thing is that your serious stories get almost no comments whereas this very silly one has got loads.

    The moral is: be more like Guido and confect imaginary ‘scandals’ to provide what he calls ‘infotainment’

  25. FYI

    Second unresolved issue:

    Are you saying Jurek thinks the allegations in the film are unprofessional and sensationalist journalism, inaccurate or unrepresentative of the facts, and that he wants to protest that? Or are you saying that he is in denial that anti-Semitism exists and he wants to whitewash antisemitism?

    Have you given Jurek the opportunity to respond to your allegations? In accordance with professional journalistic ethics, and according to the guidance around European libel laws, you still need to give the individual you name the opportunity to reply to the allegations in your article. And you need to tell us whether or not you have done that, whether Jurek declined to comment or whether he was unavailable. This will make the article both more compelling and it will also protect you from the threat of litigation.

  26. Sunder Katwala

    The Parallax Brief.

    I have posted specifically on the point that those who have been arguing about Kaminski can not seriously be in disagreement about the established facts, and that there is more common ground than there appears. A number of media commentators have said this is a very fair summary of the controversy.

    It is not seriously disputed (by his supporters) that Kaminski was a past member of a far right party in his youth; that his opposition to the Jewadbne apology included calls for an apology from the Jewish side; and it is also indisputable that he has given inaccurate and false accounts of his own history, including after his election as ECR leader this year. Scrutiny of these issues is to be expected by a free press and in politics.

    But it is also accepted (by most of his critics) that he now speaks out against anti-semitism; that he supports Israel; and that he is a member of a democratic right-wing rather than fringe right party in Law and Justice.

    There is little common ground with those on the right who say “all scrutiny is a Labour-smear campaign” – and that is itself a slur on many of the independent journalistic and civic society voices involved. Having chosen him as leader, the Conservatives wish to defend him, and can make these arguments in his favour, but they do not prove the main criticisms of Kaminski false or show that they are “smears”.

    So the Chief Rabbi’s recent (somewhat qualified) defence, which noted that he sees a man who is against anti-semitism today and supports Israel, while noting again his past teenage associations with an extreme and neo-fascist party, disagreed again over his Jewadbne position and the language, and noted the complexity of his political formation. The Chief Rabbi’s most recent statements were consistent with both what Kaminski’s critics and his supporters say. It may then be a matter of political judgement and debate as to whether he is a good leader of a right-of-centre pan-European group.

  27. The Parallax Brief

    At the risk of being banned for quoting Ronald Reagan on a progressive blog, I’d like to say to Sunder K and BS Detector, “Well, there you go again.”

    It’s amazing the level of disagreement.

    What I will say, though, BS Detector, is that a Polish Catholic nationalist group vulnerable to takeover by Nazis, respectable before the Nazi putsch or not, is likely to have be fairly right wing, wouldn’t you say?

    On the rest, the Parallax Brief has no view, because he has tried to learn the facts, but the facts are different depending on the source. Not the interpretations, the facts.

  28. Bullshit Detector

    Here’s an interesting fact for you, Parallax: Gazeta Wyborcza, the left-leaning Polish newspaper wrote about NOP in 1989 and gave the party a clean bill of health. Why would the paper, no friend of Kaminski, have done this if the NOP had been fascist or far right at the time?

  29. willstraw

    I’ve removed a comment from BS Detector accusing someone else of being “full of shit”.

    BS – You may disagree with other commenters but please be civil on Left Foot Forward or go elsewhere.

  30. Bullshit Detector

    Oh come on – that’s a pretty thin pretext for censorship, Will. Why not restore my comment, minus the word ‘shit’ to which you took such grave exception? That way, Sunder can respond the rather important point I raised.

    Otherwise you might risk being mistaken for a disingenuous, partisan smear merchant whose blog is little more than a doomed attempt to save your father’s government from its inevitable and fast approaching fate: oblivion.

  31. The Parallax Brief

    BS Detector said: “azeta Wyborcza, the left-leaning Polish newspaper wrote about NOP in 1989 and gave the party a clean bill of health. Why would the paper, no friend of Kaminski, have done this if the NOP had been fascist or far right at the time?”

    Perhaps that’s the case, but what was said was “a Polish Catholic nationalist group… is likely to have be [sic] fairly right wing” now fascist or far right.

    Having had experience with Eastern Europeans, it’s possible to say that right wing politics there is probably a treasure trove for muckrakers, if they can get beyond the language barrier. That’s not an awful stereotype, it’s simply to say that there is is a great deal of petty homophobia, racism, and anti-semitism in places like Russia, the Baltics, Poland and elsewhere.

    Given that, it would probably be a surprise if Kaminski had NOT said or thought some of these things at some stage.

  32. The Parallax Brief

    Opps, meant to say “NOT fascist or far right”, not “now fascist…”

  33. Billy the Kid

    Hey BS – get used to censorship on this site – it’s a shame because it’s actually a lively blog.

    I was censored for “supposedly” calling another commentator a liar – no removal of the line, just complete censorship. What a surprise that my comments were anti-Brown government (in keeping with the most other people according to the polls).

    The “go elsewhere” bit is fine but this is one of the better left leaning blogs. Imagine if there was only LabourList out here….

  34. Steve

    As a reader of this blog I’d quite like to know what point Mr BSD made to Sunder.

    Why not simply redact swear words instead of disrupting the flow of the argument and spoiling the thread by removing entire posts?

    It’s particularly discreditable if the posts you remove *happen* to be from Tories, unless you only want readers who agree with you.

  35. willstraw

    BS Detector, FYI – I have no desire to censor you or anyone else – this blog would be incredibly tedious if everyone held the same views. But I do want this blog to be a space where people feel comfortable putting their point of view across. Comment is Free and blogs like Labour List can be an intimidating places to write or comment and I do not want the same to be true here. Please go ahead and make whatever points you like but “play the ball not the man.” Our comments policy is on the “About” page but I thought it might be useful to print it again here. You’re both very welcome on this blog but please keep it civil:

    “We welcome discussion and debate but keep it nice. Comments should stick to the topic, any containing offensive language or personal attacks will be removed. And if we have to moderate a specific commenter three times, we’ll block them. We hope that’s clear.”

    FYI – You’ve asked some good and fair questions so let me try and answer them – apologies for the brevity. I received an email from Aro Korol about his case. I asked for verification of the accusations he made and he sent me some links (see below). These were in Polish but I ran through Google translate to get a sens of the accuracy and, on that basis, said that I would be happy to run the piece and asked if he knew someone that would be willing to write the piece. I take full responsibility for initially describing Jurek as an ‘MP’ rather than a ‘politician’ but have amended that error (which I still regard as a minor point). I stand by the rest of the story and its substantive point that Jurek sought to censor a film about anti-semitism in Poland. I’d be happy to offer Jurek a right to reply if you want to suggest it to him. We are a blog not a newspaper and I have signed up to an ethic of progressive blogging and nothing else:


  36. Billy the Kid

    Will can’t you set up a filter on certain words.

    If a commentator was to say “Gordon Brown is a C*%T” – which would of course be popular with the majority of people in this country and fully understandable – why can’t you set up a filter on the word C*%T and not allow the message to be sent?

    Instead of the offending word C*%T being used other words would then be necessary, for example “Gordon Brown is a useless, dishonest, thieving, lying delusional, dithering, unelected prat” which would keep the whole tenure of the blog just more civilised.

    Just a thought Will and then you won’t be accused of being a suck up New Labour censoring control freak – it’s about politeness.

  37. willstraw

    Thanks, Billy – it’s a good idea and not hard to do using wordpress so I’ll get onto it. But I also want to rule out commenters insulting others without swearing so some discretion will be necessary. Ultimately if people remain polite while making the points, there’ll be no need for any censorship at all.

  38. FYI

    So Aro Korol contacted you to place his commercial interest on your web site, and also chose the author who wrote about his commercial interest on your web site? The author filed you copy with howling mistakes, and sensationalist claims that a man who opposes the film’s journalistic standards is in fact trying to suppress an expose of anti-Semitism?

    This is an unforgivable breach of professional ethics and I now have zero confidence in your web site. How much more PR, product placement and advertorial dressed up as evidence-based journalism is there on your site? Moreover, Aro Korol has also lost credibility in this incident, particularly as he is seeking funding and has an interest in causing a stir about his film.

    It is nice of you to be so honest now after questioning, but this seems rather late, particularly as you were so quick to accuse others of subterfuge. I have nothing to do with Jurek and its not my place to track him down and offer him the right to reply to your allegations.

  39. willstraw

    FYI – I have no idea why you are so incredulous about this. The only “howling mistake” was describing Jurek as a politican rather than an MP. We get press releases all the time and have to decide whether they are accurate or not. I read through the links and decided that it was a story that deserved a wider audience (as did a number of other publications which I have listed above).

    You’ve also obviously not read the link I posted of the letter from Jurek, which makes no mention of journalistic standards and every mention of the film being “anti-Polish” and “legal steps, to prevent unpunished insults”. I happen to think that this is outrageous and you disagree. If you have other substantive points to make about the content of the original article then I’d love to hear them. But at the moment I think you’re being a little obsessive about this.

  40. FYI

    Indeed I am obsessive about accurate journalism.

    I’m incredulous that you would offer Aro Korol the choice of who is going to write about Aro Korol’s film, and allow that person to pose as an independent guest columnist on your “evidence based” web site. Worse, you tool Korol’s friend’s information at face value and seemingly without much healthy scepticism.

    Sorry, but this case makes you look both gullible and hypocritical. I don’t doubt your good intentions and I hope you will learn from this mistake. You will restore public trust if you don’t let it happen again.

  41. Gordon's dad

    I think we also need to be clear about the original point made by my son, Gordon. This blog was not set up to collate and report examples of Polish anti-semitism, horrible though such incidents undoubtedly are. Left Foot Forward exists to attack David Cameron and the Conservatives. It was the tenuous connection to the Law and Justice party that led Will Straw to deem the story worthy of inclusion on his blog.

    When you try to make simplistic propaganda out of the complex and morally ambivalent world of Eastern European politics, you risk looking foolish (and cheap).

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  43. willstraw

    Gordon’s Dad – before you start making assumptions about the purpose of this blog, perhaps worth reading the About section which explains our values. Anti-semitism (in Poland or elsewhere) clearly falls under our ‘racism and extremism’ category.

    And for those still following this chain, there is further evidence this morning of Tory astroturfing from the same IP address over on Liberal Conspiracy:

  44. YMT

    IP Address – Check
    Attempt at Identification and development of profile – Check

    Here’s the intresting part
    That linking of an IP address with a name creates, you guessed it! Personal data!

    Publication of said personal data – Check

    Yay you’ve broken the data protection act. Oh dear. Naughty naughty.

  45. Ala

    WOW I just stumbled upon this site while looking for something else. I am Polish. I never voted for the Law and Justice party or any rightist parties. I don’t go to church, and I don’t like Rydzyk. I hope then that my opinion won’t be treated as coming from an Eastern European “morally ambivalent” rightist here (aren’t you guys a bit too full of yourselves?).

    That said, it’s the first time I read about the issue, so it’s rather absurd to say that “The promo reel created a media frenzy in Poland”.

    From the links to Polish sites provided above it seems that Aro Korol is a happener, who creates provocative videos. It seems that he sent that one to some Polish newspapers with the information that a film is being produced in which Rydzyk is portrayed as Goebbels and Poland is likened to a concentration camp. The protests from Jurek and Sobecka (I never heard of her before) were about that: a prejudiced, Polonophobic comparison, and not “attempts to suppress film exposing country’s anti-Semitic issues” as this blog claims.

    If someone portrayed a Polish rabbi as a Nazi the reaction would be the same. There is a line between combating anti-Semitism or any other prejudices, and creating a hateful image of a nation. One of the comments in Gazeta Wyborcza said it all: “Rydzyk might be the devil that he is, but so is Aro Korol”. Both men use the same kind of rhetoric.

    Jurek’s protest was sent to Sikorski, Poland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, who, I hope, cannot be accused of anti-Semitism (he’s married to Anne Applebaum). He said that he looked into the issue and that it’s just a silly provocation, but he assured that if a film made such a portrayal of Poland he’d react. That closed the matter.

    I am sorry that this blog fell a victim of the provocation as well.

    However, some comments made here are far from fair:

    “Anti-Semitism is rife in Poland as you concede.”

    Anti-Semitism in Poland is nowhere as rife as it is in the UK (just check about any report on global anti-Semitism). There IS anti-Semitism in Poland, but it’s not fair to create such a picture as it seems some people here feel justified to believe in.

    Also, I’m not a Kaminski’s admirer, but this is simply not true:

    “his opposition to the Jewadbne apology included calls for an apology from the Jewish side”

    Kaminski said that the Polish nation should not bear responsibility for hateful actions of several thugs, just as the Jewish nation e.g. Israel or Jewish international institutions, should not bear responsibility for similar actions of some Jewish thugs. Perhaps it’s not clear, but there were some Jews (mostly communists) who tortured and murdered civilians. Any nation should bear responsibility for what its representatives do, the democratic government for example, but if tomorrow several British neo-Nazis burn down a synagogue or attack a Polish community, chances are that you won’t be able to prevent it. Kaminski clearly said that this attitude is true for both Poles and Jews, and that demanding any such apology from the Jewish side would be absurd.

    It is very noble that you try to combat anti-Semitism, but please don’t do it by blackening other people. I understand that Poland’s history is complex, perhaps too complex for you to see it as anything else than ambiguous because it doesn’t conform to the stereotypes you use. My advice would be to either self-educate or leave the issue. As it is now it just looks as if you were looking for a handy scapegoat.

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