Mandelson: Tories sit with “xenophobes & homophobes” in Europe

Lord Mandelson has gone on the attack over Europe & the extremism of the modern Tory party, attacking David Cameron for sitting with "xenophobes and homophobes".

Lord Mandelson has gone on the attack over Europe and the extremism of the modern Tory party, attacking David Cameron for eschewing alliances with mainstream centre-right leaders like Angela Merkel and Nikolas Sarkozy and choosing to sit alongside “the xenophobes and homophobes” in the European Parliament – like Michal Kaminski, who Left Foot Forward revealed last week was active in a 1,500 strong neo-Nazi skinhead movement.

Lord Mandelson, speaking to Progress and the Foreign Press Association this morning, also criticised the Tories for not having changed at all and still not wanting to. He said:

“The modern case for Europe strengthens every day. Europe is a multiplier for British strength and influence – on banking regulation, on the rules and openness of our biggest market, on climate change, on global imbalances. The Conservative Party does not get this simple point. If I can borrow a leftist expression for one moment, the Cameron position seems to be ‘capitalism in one country’.

“They are parish pump politicians for a global age. David Cameron chooses to sit alongside the xenophobes and homophobes in the European Parliament. He rejects co-operation with mainstream Centre-Right allies like Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy. And this from a party that used to think statecraft was its birthright. This parochial policy alone should disqualify them from high office…

“After 1997 a Conservative Party less divided by faction, with fewer ideological obsessions with tax cutting or anti Europeanism could have competed with New Labour for this political territory. But it didn’t, and in reality, under the thin veneer of change, it still doesn’t want to.

Answering questions after his speech, the business secretary mocked the Tories for being so extreme his opposite number Ken Clarke was “isolated in the Tory party” and the only pro-European on the front bench, adding:

“Let me just say this about the Tory party, they may not get it, but the public do. The public gets that we have to be part of Europe to multiply our strengths to assert ourselves to multiply what we can achieve in the rest of the world. They know that when they see Tory candidates who are anti-Europe on a scale and with a number hitherto unknown in the Conservative party.

“I meet and talk to Ken Clarke, my opposite number, I couldn’t agree with him more on Europe. I agree with him on many things. It’s a shame that he’s so isolated in the Tory party. You name me, go on, this is a test for all of you, you name me a single further member of the Tory shadow cabinet who holds the same views on Europe as Ken Clarke. Go on, name one. Actually I bet you can’t name a member of the shadow cabinet.

Name a member of the shadow cabinet who’s pro-Europe other than Ken Clarke. Go on, go on… I’ve looked, I’ve searched, I’ve tried to find a friend for Ken. He’s out there, lonely, friendless, looking for company. I’ve tried to find him, I can’t find one anywhere. Not just in the shadow cabinet but in the whole of the front bench.

“I’ll tell you something about the modern Conservative party when you see these… it’s like climate change. Did you see the poll of Conservative candidates in the Financial Times? They don’t actually think climate change is important they don’t think it should be a priority for a future conservative government.”

The issue of Europe was also raised at the final prime minister’s questions this afternoon, former Europe minister Denis MacShane telling the Commons:

“The Tories are so isolated in Europe, they’re jumping into bed and breakfast with people whose views on homosexuality, the Holocaust and the Waffen SS are unacceptable in our democracy.

The prime minister replied by saying:

“If the Conservative party had really changed they would have changed their position on Europe. Instead, they’ve moved to the extremes. They can’t find alliances with Merkel and Sarkozy, they’ve got into alliances with some of the most extreme allies in Europe.”

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