In an interview with LBC radio in 2006 David Cameron described the UK Independence party as "fruitcakes", "loonies" and "closet racists". Eric Pickles, the then deputy chairman of the Conservative party, backed Mr Cameron at the time, saying he had a "legitimate point" and UKIP had had "too easy a deal". Yet when compared to some of the Tories new allies in the European Parliament, UKIP looks positively mainstream and normal. Mr Cameron and his shadow Foreign Secretary (William Hague) have decided to partner themselves with some rather awful characters on Europe's far right. How, one might legitimately ask, would the Mr Cameron of 2006 have described the 'For Fatherland and Freedom' party in Latvia that has participated in an annual event commemorating the Latvian Waffen SS, the Lettish legion. How might the 2006 Cameron have defended any alliance with Mr Kaminski, a member of the far-right Polish Law and Justice Party, who was and is openly opposed to the apology by his countrymen in 2001 for the massacre of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne in July 1941. So according to the Tories of 2009 UKIP are still a bunch of "fruitcakes" but those that argue that global warming is a lie, that homosexuality is a "pathology" and that Europe is becoming a "neo-totalitarian" regime are respected partners who will help them shape the Europe of the twenty-first century. Is this really what compassionate Conservatism is all about? As David Miliband has recently pointed out, the Conservatives refuse to disown people that in Britain they would almost certainly not want to be associated with.
David Cameron's avowed aim since being elected Tory leader has been to take his party back to the centre in every policy area with one major exception: Europe. In his four years as Conservative leader, Cameron has never attended a summit of national leaders of the old EPP, the biggest grouping in the parliament, which routinely brought together around half the heads of government in the EU - including Merkel and Sarkozy. Cameron claims that in establishing a new alliance in Europe he is defending UK sovereignty. In practice he is jeopardising any British influence on matters of international importance like climate change and financial regulation. Under the Tories Britain could well become a marginal player in the EU where irrelevance as a major player will almost certainly lead to irrelevance elsewhere in the world - particularly with the US, India and China.
I am confused David and William: just exactly who are the “fruitcakes", "loonies" and "closet racists now?