Cameron’s ECR farce continues

The European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament has been struck another blow following the resignation of Michal Kaminski as leader.

The Conservative’s seemingly ill-fated European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament has been struck another blow following the resignation of Polish MEP Michal Kaminski as leader. As Left Foot Forward reported in November when Kaminski left the Polish Law and Justice party (Pis), Kaminski only became group leader when Edward McMillan Scott, then a Tory MEP, stood against and defeated Kaminski to become a Vice-President of the Parliament.

Kaminski, who had been defended by the Tory leadership despite comments about “faggots”, and allegedly disputing the slaughtering of Jews in the Second World War, brought with him Marek Migalski MEP and Adam Bielan MEP, a vice-chairman of the ECR who in November resigned from the PiS.

Indeed, he stated that he was resigning from the PiS because he:

“… cannot accept that my party is being taken over by the far right.”

This poses several problems for the Tories. With 27 of the group’s 54 MEPs, they should have the natural claim to the group’s leadership, but because of McMillan-Scott’s actions had to settle for the chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee. Moreover, if the 15 strong Pis delegation splits (as looks likely) and it cannot unite behind a single candidate then there is a serious risk that its members will go to other groups.

If so, they would be only marginally bigger than the communist group of MEPs and much smaller than the Greens. This, in turn, might persuade other MEPs to consider defecting. Were that to happen, the ECR, which currently has MEPs from just eight Member States when Parliament’s Rules of Procedure state a minimum of seven, would collapse.

Although the Guardian are touting the little-known Ryszard Legutko MEP as a possible candidate to replace Kaminski, the most pragmatic choice would be to replace him with veteran Tory MEP Tim Kirkhope, who was originally expected to lead the ECR until his former colleague, and fellow Yorkshire and the Humber Tory McMillan-Scott had other ideas. An MEP in his third term, and a three-time leader of the Tory delegation, he is as skilled and experienced a politician as the ECR have got.

In July 2009, Kirkhope stood aside to allow Kaminski to have the ECR leadership in a bid to save the group from collapse, with the Polish PiS delegation furious at Kaminski’s humiliation by McMillan-Scott. But now if the ECR has any sense they will hand over the reins to Kirkhope, perhaps in exchange for Malcolm Harbour’s position as the only ECR committee chairperson.

With the ECR likely to shrink in numbers, it will almost certainly lose Harbour’s position as chair of the Internal Market committee and have to accept one of the most minor committees. In this scenario the only sensible approach is to appoint Kirkhope as interim leader, wait to see if the Poles can sort themselves out, and then offer them a committee chair position.

However, watching the ECR lurch from disaster to disaster brings a popular phrase involving “piss-ups” and “breweries”. We shouldn’t expect Kaminski’s resignation to be last farce for a group of MEPs famously described by Nick Clegg as a collection of “nutters, antisemites and homophobes”.

8 Responses to “Cameron’s ECR farce continues”

  1. Tim Easton

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ECR farce continues: //bit.ly/ibvhV8

  2. Graham Galloway

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ECR farce continues: //bit.ly/ibvhV8

  3. Andrew Fenlon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ECR farce continues: //bit.ly/ibvhV8

  4. L DTUC

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's ECR farce continues: //bit.ly/ibvhV8

  5. Orange Booker

    This is reporting is fundamentally dishonest, you ought to be embarrassed. Tagging this story under racial extremism is a joke, as a liberal I’m no fan of Kaminski or the Law & Justice party but you can’t credibly claim he is a racist. Yes he was a member of a right-wing group when he was younger, he clearly does not espouse such views now. Furthermore, his specific views on the Jewish massacre at Jedwabne which again I disagree with him on) has been extrapolated to make his sound like a holocaust denier in the mould of David Irvine or Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, its plainly a smear, think even FOX news would balk at such a mis-characterisation. You’ve only just weakened your overall argument and made yourself look juvenile.

  6. BenM

    Farcical indeed.

    Anyone who has been watching this farrago can only hold the Tories in complete contempt.

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    […] the resignation of the controversial ECR leader Michal Kaminski, who left PiS on the grounds that they were […]

  8. Cameron's ECR group rub shoulders with anti-Semitic priest | Left Foot Forward

    […] established by Cameron in 2009, has been embroiled in controversy. Left Foot Forward previously reported that the ECR group’s former leader had expressed homophobic views and disputed the […]

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