Friday, October 09, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: My Interview With Michal Kaminski


On Wednesday morning I interviewed Michal Kaminski for Total Politics. He is the leader of the new European Reform Group in the European Parliament and has become a very controversial figure. I went into the interview with an open mind. I came out absolutely convinced that Kaminski doesn't have a homophlobic or anti Semitic bone in his body. We didn't just talk about those two issues though. We also talked about his life in Poland before the fall of Communism. I asked him about his father, who defected to Canada when he was a child and who he only saw once more before he died in the late 1990s. It was an emotional exchange, which saw him struggle to continue and tears appearing in his eyes - and mine. We in the West have little idea of what freedom fighters in the Eastern Bloc countries went through to achieve freedom.

Note: If any part of this interview is being quoted elsewhere please credit to to Total Politics magazine.

In the interview Michal Kaminski...

  • Says he would never have been given NATO security clearance if there was any evidence of anti-Semitism in his past
  • Accuses the New Stateman of shoddy journalism over its recent story attributing comments to Rabbi Shudrich, which he says he never made
  • Says he is ashamed that Poles were involved in the Jedwabne massacre
  • Claims he is proud that Poland was among the first countries to decriminalise homosexuality
  • Says he would vote for civil partnership legislation in Poland but remains opposed to gay marriage
  • Says he will accept an invitation to attend next year's Conservative Pride event
  • Admits there are differences between the Law & Justice Party and the Conservatives over Lisbon.
  • Says it is wrong to equate the European Commission with the Soviet Union
  • Says he was wrong to praise General Pinochet


Iain Dale: What does it feel like to have become the new hate figure for the British left?
Michal Kaminski: I have put myself in a very strange situation! But I can tell you that if the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom is using his party conference speech to attack a 37 year old politician from Poland, it suggests to me that they are really desperate. Ordinary citizens have no reason to be afraid of my friends and the group, but it’s just a question of the brutal political game that is played here in Britain, especially with the very weak Labour Party. The fact is that my party in the European Parliament is stronger than the Labour Party. We have fifteen members in the EP; they have fourteen members. It shows how deep in crisis the Labour Party is right now and unfortunately, when you’re out of ideas and your record is very bad, for some politicians the only way to “improve” their situation is to brutally attack their opponents. But I think it will play against them, because people across Europe – not just in the UK – are interested in positive ideas, because they are facing real problems. They are losing their jobs, their businesses are in trouble and I think we have to address these issues at both a national and European level. We can discuss these issues with our leftwing opponents, but the dangerous thing is they do not want to discuss the issues. They want to attack people.
ID: When you were elected leader of the group had you any idea that this sort of thing would happen?
MK: No, not at all. I have been an active politician in Poland for the last twenty years and I run many campaigns myself, for myself. I was Mr Kaczynski’s presidential campaign chief. I twice faced election campaigns to the European Parliament. I was very active in Polish politics, so I was scrutinised by the Polish journalists and I was never accused of the kinds of things that have been levelled against me in Britain – never.
ID: Is that because Polish politics is very different?
MK: If we’re talking about anti-Semitism, in Poland we are quite sensitive about it. If you are regarded as an anti-Semite, it’s tough to survive in Poland, and I’m very happy about that. My country now has a very good record of fighting anti-Semitism and of being pro-Israeli, so if there were any doubts about my past I will give you the ultimate argument. When I became Secretary of State of Poland, I received a top NATO clearance, so it’s not about Polish politics now – it’s about a NATO clearance. I don’t think there can be any doubts about my political views and my past if I can receive a top NATO clearance.
ID: But what do you say to the allegations that were made in the New Statesman a couple of weeks ago?
MK: What I’m facing here in the UK is not only a very disappointing standard of political debate, but very disappointing standards of journalism. Rabbi Schudrich made a statement about the allegations in this magazine. He sent them a statement and they ignored it. They didn’t print it. Rabbi Schudrich made it very clear that he didn’t want to make any political statements about me, but he wanted to make clear that he has nothing against me and does not regard me as an anti-Semite. Come on. Just recently, I came back from Israel where I was received at the top level of government. I had my statement posted on the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs. The Israeli ambassador to Brussels accepted my invitation to visit our group next week; can you imagine that the Israeli state would receive me if they had any doubts about my attitude towards the Jewish people and the state of Israel?
ID: This all seems to stem from comments you made about the Jedwabne massacre in 1941, where you said that it was wrong for the Polish prime minister to apologise for the whole of the Polish nation for what happened. Do you understand why people might draw the conclusions that you have views that you say you don’t?
MK: They have to read the whole of the statements I made during this time. And actually there is a BBC report from Poland quoting me, a young member of the Polish parliament at the time, and the Polish prime minister at the time, Mr Buzek – who is now President of the European Parliament – he even said that he agreed with me. Because what I was saying from the beginning was that it was a terrible crime and I am ashamed that the Polish people were involved in this crime.
ID: If you’re ashamed of that, why can’t you agree that there should be an apology?
MK: Because my point is, I don’t want to put this single crime – however shameful – on the same level as the Nazi policy towards the Jews. You see the difference? We had our underground state, we were occupied by Germans, and what those bandits did at Jedwabne was totally against Polish law, Polish customs and Polish culture. What the Nazis did was according to the state policies of the Nazi government. Do you understand the difference? Because there is a difference. Let’s say that you can feel ashamed of British hooligans, but no one will require an apology from the whole British nation for the actions of a few hooligans.
ID: I’m not sure that’s true – I feel ashamed about British football hooligans when they go abroad and I do apologise for my country.
MK: But the difference is that it’s not about judging the crime. It was a position shared by many politicians in Poland: we condemned the crime but we didn’t want to be put on the same side as the Nazis.
ID: Even though what you’re saying has a certain logic to it, logic doesn’t really matter in these sorts of subjects! I think you need to understand the other point of view.
MK: From the very beginning, when I was confronted with this accusation, I said that I fully understand the feelings of the Jewish people, and that I understand that after such allegations, they can ask me the questions and scrutinise me, because anti-Semitism is really bad. But what makes me angry is that the people who are using this anti-Semitic argument are in the political debate not to fight anti-Semitism, but just as a tool to fight opponents. They are actually undermining the global fight against anti-Semitism, because if you are making false allegations, people will think, oh, this is just politics as usual, whereas actually, this is something really important for me and everyone on this planet. I will repeat: I was in Israel, and I was actually attacked by the Polish anti-Semites. I was an enemy of the far right in Poland. I made a statement about anti-Semitism in Poland as a member of the European Parliament, and I have been attacked for this statement by the Polish far right. But it’s a political game, unfortunately practiced by some journalists, which I regret. Rabbi Shudrich is actually coming to Brussels to see me soon, and when he gave an explanation, they didn’t publish it, which they would do if they were really interested in the subject.
ID: So why not sue the News Statesman for libel? They are basically saying that you are an anti-Semite and that is damaging to your reputation.
MK: But I don’t want to heat up this debate. I think for every decent reader or observer of this subject, the explanation I am making and the statements from other people, like the Jewish Board of Deputies, they have done research and have nothing against me.
ID: But they have now written to David Cameron expressing “concerns” whatever that means.
MK: The main reason why we are attacked is because we are a new political force in the European Parliament, which is a real tectonic change in Europe, and they are not interested in a real debate about the future of Europe. They just want to smash opponents.
ID: If you came to the conclusion that all if this was really so damaging to the group that you couldn’t continue, have you ever thought about standing down?
MK: No, because there is nothing in my past that I have to be ashamed of. If I stood down, it would be read as proof that the accusations were true, and they are not.
ID: Let’s move onto the other subject people have got very excited about – homosexuality. You presumably accept that remarks you made some years ago were offensive to gay people? You called them ‘fags’.
MK: I used a word that is un-transferable into English, which homosexual people feel is offensive. So I said that I would never use it again, but it was in common usage at the time – even by the leftist politicians in Poland. We just discovered that the leftwing leader of the Polish parliament during an inquiry meeting used the same word about homosexuals. Today, we know more about homosexuals, and because they felt offended I said I would never repeat such words, and I think we have to respect people who feel that the language we are using is somehow offensive, and respect their right to be treated with civility.
ID: But I think it goes deeper than that. I think saying ‘I won’t use a particular word or language’ – that doesn’t address the main issue, that people who use that language often do have homophobic thoughts.
MK: But I have homosexual friends. There is a cultural context in Poland; Poland is not such an open society as Britain, but if you went back three years when Mr Kaczynski was prime minister, he had a press conference and he was also asked this question, and he said in our Law and Justice government we have homosexual people, it’s just they are not coming out, and it’s this cultural context. I have nothing against them. It’s deep in my belief that in a free society, your personal life and sexuality is your own concern. The state shouldn’t interfere, and shouldn’t prosecute. I’m very proud of the fact that Poland was the first European country to decriminalise homosexual relationships – that was back in 1928. We were one of the first countries in Europe and I’m proud of it. Obviously there is homophobia around the world and I regret it. I respect homosexuals. I am not judging people on what they do in their own sexual lives. I can have homosexual friends and homosexual enemies, just as I can have straight friends and straight enemies.
ID: But I think there is a difference in that everyone can have gay friends, but the proof is what you do as a political leader to deal with discrimination, to deal with hate, and undoubtedly – I have to say particularly so in Poland as opposed to here – there is a lot of homophobia. I think as a political leader, people can ask you to take a lead on that subject and it’s all very well sitting here in Britain and saying these things in a very liberal society, but in Poland it’s very different.
MK: But I’m saying the same in Poland, Brussels, and everywhere in the world. My position is quite clear and I don’t want to politicise this question, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of the homosexual community to make this question part of the political game, because if you are a politician – left or right, conservative, liberal or socialist, it doesn’t matter – you have to accept that there are homosexuals who have exactly the same rights as other citizens.
ID: Well do they? Do you have any civil partnership legislation in Poland? Gay marriage? Would you support this?
MK: I am opposed to gay marriage because Poland is a different society and I believe in differences. In Poland today, it would be very difficult to get legislation through on civil partnerships. If you are talking about civil partnerships between people of whatever their sexual preferences, I personally have nothing against them. What I am opposed to is imputing the word marriage to this kind of relationship, because I would say that for historical and cultural reasons, marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. In my view, it’s not a question of sexual orientation but a freedom issue. If I want to make a social commitment with another citizen I should be allowed to do it.
ID: But in Poland you wouldn’t be allowed to do it. There is no civil partnership legislation.
MK: No there is not, but I would say that we are at a different stage.
ID: No I understand what you are saying and I agree with you on marriage – I’ve always thought that marriage is a word that symbolises something religious, and in this country you can’t contract civil partnerships in a church, you have to do it in a licensed premises. But if a bill came before the Polish or European Parliament to legalise civil partnerships, would you vote in favour of it?
MK: I hope that this wouldn’t come up at the European level.
ID: Ok, well let’s take the Polish parliament. If you were still a member of it and it came to vote, would you vote yes?
MK: I would consider voting yes, but it depends on the subject. I have said in Poland that I don’t think that the state should interfere in personal relationships.
ID: Well it’s not a case of interfering in sexual relationships; it’s a question of allowing gay people to show commitment and maintain stable relationships, which as conservatives, we all ought to approve of.
MK: Yes I have nothing against it.
ID: Ok, what about gay adoption?
MK: I am against gay adoption.
ID: Why?
MK: Because it’s a sensitive issue, and a child is something that...
ID: But let’s look at this – I agree with you by the way, I think ideally a child should be raised by a man and a woman – but there are lots of kids nowadays who for whatever reason aren’t able to be raised by a man and a woman. And given the choice between putting a child in a children’s home for his or her entire childhood, or put in a stable home, regardless of whether the parents are of the same sex, surely it’s more important for the child to have a stable loving home?
MK: I’m sorry but I don’t think that my position is homophobic.
ID: I’m not saying it is – there are lots of people in this country who aren’t homophobic who don’t believe in gay adoption.
MK: That’s my position as well.
ID: Last night – I don’t know if you know about this – but the Conservatives held an event called “Pride” which is basically a gay party, which I co-hosted. I nearly called you to bring you along, but thought, actually, that would have been unfair on you and it would overshadowed the whole thing, so I didn’t do it.
MK: But I would have had no problem attending – quite the opposite. I would have been happy to address them.
ID: Alright, well next year let’s invite you along to this event.
MK: I would be more than happy.
ID: Let’s move on to European issues. When you first started having discussions with the British Conservatives about forming a group, why was it attractive to you and your party?
MK: We share the same views about the future of Europe. We share the same vision of a more democratic, flexible, business friendly European Union and I think also we share a commitment to keeping the EU as a union of independent states. We don’t want a European federal state. We Poles only gained our independence twenty years ago. I think we are happy with the EU and for us it’s a symbol of the changes in our country; but on the other hand we don’t want to replace one empire with another one. But I don’t like it when people compare the Soviet Union to the EU. There are no victims of European Union – there were millions of victims of the Soviet Union. You can’t compare a totalitarian state with the EU.
ID: Similar bureaucracy?
MK: Oh but come on, the EU bureaucracy is not sending anyone to jail or to Siberia or kill anyone.
ID: Have you read a book by Paul Van Buitenen, who’s the chief accountant in Brussels. When he blew the whistle on all the corrupt practices that go on the European Commission, he was followed by secret police.
MK: Ok, but it’s still not the same. I’m a champion of changing Europe, it’s just I don’t like to compare them. Jewish people, homosexual people – they were prosecuted in the Soviet Union and the scale of that crime is just too big to have this argument. But I think we are making a change in Europe. And the best proof of it as a speech given by Mr Schulz in the European Parliament, in which he accused Barroso of changing the old habit in the EU, where everything is agreed between the biggest groups – socialists and the EPP – and now he made a coalition with the conservatives and got a result, because of our revolts.
ID: Who is Mr Schulz?
MK: He is the chairman of the socialist group in the European Parliament. We believe in a free market economy. We believe in transatlantic cooperation. We believe in supporting the state of Israel. So we have much in common in terms of internal and international policy.
ID: What about the democratic side of the EU, because they basically blackmailed Ireland into supporting the Lisbon Treaty. You’ve been quoted as being fully in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.
MK: Not fully in favour.
ID: You think it should go through?
MK: I worked with the president who signed the treaty. I am not satisfied with Lisbon at all, but it was in my opinion a huge step forward, if you take into account that the Lisbon Treaty replaced the European Constitution.
ID: They’re basically identical though.
MK: No, it’s not identical.
ID: That’s what the British Conservative Party is saying; David Cameron is saying they are identical, that’s why he wants a referendum.
MK: There are differences in perspective. I fully appreciate the position of the British Conservatives – they have a right to make it. There is a perspective in Britain and a different perspective in Poland.
ID: Do you think it’s acceptable for the European Commission to act in the way that it has done with the Irish people? The Irish rejected it.
MK: I think it’s very unfair in terms of repeating only those referendums that are “failed” in the eyes of the European bureaucrats. It’s very unfair.
ID: But there are clear differences between the Conservative Party and your party’s stance, and are there other issues where you don’t agree?
MK: There are differences. We never said there could be one united pan-European party. It would be a bad sign because we believe in a Europe based on the national state, so we could never agree to a pan-European party with one agenda. Because we are different; Poland is different to the UK, and Czechs are different to the Poles even though we are close neighbours. We believe in differences. But there is very broad platform on which we agree.
ID: Let’s go back to your teenage years, growing up in a communist state. The British left like to say that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher had not part in the end of the Cold War – the Cold War ended because the Soviet Union collapsed of its own free will. Give us your perspective on this.
MK: I decided that if we were going to have a free Poland I would be a conservative.
ID: But how did you even know anything about conservatism?
MK: From the BBC, from Radio Free Europe. You don’t understand what it was like to live in the country where you have to hide the radio under your bed, just because you want to have that information about the western world and not just communist propaganda. For us, the leadership of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was a shining example of the success of a free market economy, democracy and the rule of law. It was a time in which this leadership led to the collapse of communism. I said it in my first speech to the European Parliament: I want to thank Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan because of their leadership in this very difficult time.
ID: Your father defected, and it must have been quite difficult to come to terms with the fact that your father wasn’t part of your life.
MK: I went to meet him in Canada, in Toronto, 1988, when the system had softened. It was one of the most moving moments in my life when I met him there. He died ten years ago and I’m really sorry that he can’t see what I achieved in my life. [eyes well up]
ID: So Reagan and Thatcher had an impact on you and presumably a lot of other people at the time. Did you believe that Poland would be free?
MK: Yes I believed it. It was deep in my heart. It was very important to my family. And when we received our democracy, I was involved in it from the very beginning. But I never expected that I would end up as Chairman of the conservative group in the European Parliament! It’s unbelievable and I’m sorry that my father couldn’t see it; it’s really fantastic what we’ve achieved. With all the differences we are talking about, life in Poland now – if you come to Warsaw – it feels like a western state, it’s a western capital. However, it’s on the east of Europe. I am really proud of all the achievements my country has had over the past twenty years. I think I am making a parallel between Thatcher’s leadership back in the eighties and hopefully with the new British leadership that is coming. I hope it proves the second phase of changing Europe. We changed it peacefully in 1989, and it was a great achievement and now we have to change it because I think it’s great that we can live in a Europe without borders, in a Europe that is a zone of tolerance and democracy – I cannot say free market economy because we are still very far from it! But we have to go forward.
ID: Obviously British Conservatives will be very pleased that you regard Thatcher and Reagan as political heroes, but then there is again something that comes to blacken the cloud – you’re quoted when meeting General Pinochet as saying “this is the most important meeting of my whole life”, well what was that about?
MK: To reiterate: we lived in this country subject to communist propaganda. We had little access to the real information, so for many Poles – not just me – this defence of Pinochet was across centre-right political parties in Poland and other eastern European countries at that time. It was my mistake, I admit it. I think every politician has the right to some mistakes. I made this mistake by just reversing the communist propaganda. It was a mistake that decent people of the left made when they were living under rightwing dictatorships – the kind of mistake where you just reverse the black and white propaganda. Today I know much more about Pinochet and I will never call him a hero again. It’s a question of context.
ID: How much does your own religious faith underpin your conservatism?
MK: My conservatism isn’t based on my religious faith, but on my life experience, my own ideas – but religion is important to me. Religious strength can vary throughout your life – c’est la vie as the French say – but my political beliefs are my political beliefs.
ID: So if we meet at next year’s Conservative Party conference, what do you hope to have achieved by then?
MK: Great question!
ID: That we don’t have all these questions again!
MK: First of all, I hope I prove I am a decent conservative, as all the accusations against me were false. Secondly, for the next party conference I would like to have a larger party group than we have today – though it will be hard work to achieve this. I will say next year’s conference will be a conference of the ruling party of Great Britain.
ID: I think I’m right in saying they didn’t let you speak on the platform at this year’s conference.
MK: No, but I had a fringe meeting.
ID: Next year you would like maybe to speak on the platform?
MK: I’m not sure my English is good enough!
ID: Your English is good enough to do it. Well, thank you very much and I’m sorry I upset you with some of those questions.
MK: No, that’s politics. It’s tough, but we’ll survive.

46 comments:

leonard said...

Older Poles must wonder what's happened to Britain. A country that once fought to defend freedom in Europe has now become a nation obsessed with thought and word "crimes".

Paddy Briggs said...

Ian

Disappointed that you are still peddling your tired old line that "I’ve always thought that MARRIAGE is a word that symbolises something religious".

I celebrated 40 years of marriage last month. Our marriage ceremony took place in a Registry Office and neither my wife nor I are remotely religious. We are married. We have a marriage. And I suspect that there are millions like us who use the word "marriage" in a totally secular sense.

tapestry said...

It's dangerous when people are so dewy eyed about power. While Kaminski is welling up in pride at his and Poland's achievements, which were to break free from the USSR, he is seemingly totally unaware of the next trap he is walking into.

We have lost the ability we had to get changes made in Britain by writing to our MPs and getting laws changed. Our relationships are now all controlled by lawyers and regulators. Our British experience is that we can do far better without the EU.

We were once a free country.

Now we are slaves to bureaucracy.

Maybe for Kaminski a lesser slavery is acceptable as millions are not dying, and he will not need to be parted from his family like his father. But he sells us short.

For me only independence and freedom suffice.

The power is being concentrated as of now. The lying comes first. The dying comes later. He should be fighting for his country's continued freedom, not becoming the fool who had it in his hands, then threw it all away.

Doug said...

Kaminski is wrong. He's got to sue the New Statesman, the Guardian and even the Spectator where Fraser Nelson has disgracefully allowed Martin Bright to air the same smears.

He is right that anti-Semitism is important and that false accusations only diminish its importance which is precisely why it is appropriate to sue those publications for the damage they are doing to him and the fight against anti-Semitism.

Cardiff Blogger said...

Well that's changed my opinion of him! Good to see you pressing him Iain, I hope this article gets widely promoted - I certainly will on my blog.

Paddy - Marriage is just a word, let the religious folk have their marriage and have their church. If they don't want to bless homosexual unions then I certainly don't care. It's only a word and if they're so desperate to keep it then let them, we can get the same rights without that word in a civil partnership.

Doug said...

Paddy Biggins. You say you went to a Registry Office which to most people and under some legal definitions is called a civil ceremony. So even there this a difference of terminology.

Bon said...

What a brilliant article. As a Gay Conservative I must admit I had questions about Kaminski.
Thanks Iain, what a great read.

dizzy said...

no mention of my part in this interview?

*cries and sobs*

Daily Referendum said...

Thanks Iain,

A truly interesting and eye opening interview. I hope this gets the coverage it deserves.

Hawkeye said...

Iain said: "I’ve always thought that MARRIAGE is a word that symbolises something religious"

Actually, it is a legal definition of a union between a man and a woman. That's why civil partnerships are not classed as "marriage" because they involve two men or two women.

Other than that it was an interesting interview. Kaminski's views on Europe do strike me as rather idealistic.

Anonymous said...

Of course those are his real views:honest.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/books/review/23margolick.html?_r=1

Poland has a history of anti-semitism going back generations, its woven into that country's DNA.

Anonymous said...

Ian,

A very good and timely interview. Thanks.

raincoatoptimism said...

If he knew that the NATO security would clear his name, why did he himself go to the lengths of deleting information from his own wikipedia page after, as Edward Macmillan-Scott recently told CiF readers, 'a tip-off warned "I hope no MEP in the new group has had links with extremist movements like Poland's National Revival [NOP – a neo-Nazi group],"'. Of course he did have those links, he lied about from what ages he had those links, found out after a TORYgraph investigation - not some angry rabid leftwinger, and he continues to oppose Poland's apologies to Jews for Jedwabne. Smell a rat?

Open minded Mr. Dale? Really?

David Boothroyd said...

Let's just draw attention to Kaminski's opinions of the Lisbon Treaty: (1) It's not a/the European Constitution; (2) It's not the same as the Constitution; (3) It's actually quite a good idea even if it could be improved.

OldHack said...

He gave some good answers, but you gave him a very easy ride - didn't push him and agreed with him before he answered, thereby setting him up not to answer, or giving him an easy way out.
Interviewing is about the subject not the interviewer. It appears you wanted the guy to like you and as a result you came over as too deferential and injected too much of your own opinions into the interview.

Roger Dodger said...

Hawkeye:

If that is an 'idealistic' view of the EU then we are in very dire straits indeed.

Sally Roberts said...

As far as I am concerned, Michal Kaminski has answered in full the various charges laid against him. I too met him at the Conference and found him to be sincere, personally charming and without an anti-semitic bone in his body.

Blackacre said...

Not sure I am convinced by this. The hackenyed "some of my best friends are..." has been shown to be wrong so many times before. He is still protesting that Poland is a different place to the UK, about which I am sure he is right. And equally his views will reflect that difference in reality.

I wonder how he would have answered those questions to a Polish interviewer for an equivalent to Total Politics in Poland.

Jimmy said...

"Says he would never have been given NATO security clearance if there was any evidence of anti-Semitism in his past"

How does that work again? Did Nixon, for example, fail vetting? Do you believe that to be true or did you just accept that without challenge?

"you said that it was wrong for the Polish prime minister to apologise for the whole of the Polish nation for what happened"

No, he is said to have argued that an apology to the jews should be conditional on a jewish apology for communism.

"we lived in this country subject to communist propaganda."

An interesting excuse. In which communist country does he claim to have been living in 1999?

To be fair, I accept you have to be careful, given that being rude about Kaminski is now apparently grounds for expulsion from your party.

Hawkeye said...

Rodger Dodger said: "If that is an 'idealistic' view of the EU then we are in very dire straits indeed."

Yes. I think we are in dire straits. I never thought that I would come round to the "raving nutter" view of the EU but I have done so. We are shackling ourselves to a throughly undemocratic, virtually unaccountable body which only needs a few nods and winks to become a "Soviet" set up.

I know it seems unlikely but the reason dictators get in charge is because the systems to stop them are ineffective or non-existant. The EU is sweeping aside the very mechanisms that stop it running out of control. My worry is that now all we have to do is wait long enough for our dictator to turn up.

Patrick Hurley said...

Oh, for pity's sake, Iain. You say: "Kaminski doesn't have a homophobic bone in his body."

But Kaminski himself says: "marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples."

But if he'd said "marriage should be reserved for white couples", you'd soon be saying he was racist. I know you're partisan in the extreme, but this lack of respect for the truth when you're obviously wrong undermines your position when you might be right.

Let's have less of it in future please.

Swiss T said...

Fantastic interview well done Mr. Dale. I hope this gets a wider audience, you should push the new Statesman and the Guardian to run it, really go at them see if they will. If they won't them fck 'em, in not doing so they show their true colours.

leonard said...

Poland has a history of anti-semitism going back generations, its woven into that country's DNA.

Wow, a quasi-racist argument against racism. Good job there. Of course, Britain has no record of anti-Semitism. Oh no. Just the Poles, with their inescapable inherited prejudice.

Harthacanute said...

A model example of a totally gutless interview.

BJ said...

An interesting read. I like the bit below. Will you be pointing it out to Biased-BBC or any of those other loons, Iain?

ID: But how did you even know anything about conservatism?

MK: From the BBC...

Wrinkled Weasel said...

It's so depressing to see people arguing over who can use the word "marriage".

It doesn't matter what you call it. Try looking at a relationship ten, twenty or thirty years down the line. Try looking at the commitment needed and the patience and the love.

If you are still with somebody after ten years it is a partnership, in the truest sense of the word. It is longevity that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

If you have never had a lasting relationship, of any combination, then you should take a long look at yourself. But stop this nonsense about what you are going to call it.

binqu said...

D Boothroyd: "Let's just draw attention to Kaminski's opinions of the Lisbon Treaty..."

Well, off you go then - update his wikipedia entry.

tapestry said...

d.y.h.t.o.a. the woman who was engaged to be married to a Pole, and thought she'd have a Czech up first. Boom. Boom.

Norfolk Blogger said...

There is a real danger that Total politics is already becoming a vehicle for defending the Tories. I wonder if those people quoted as being not good partners to the lib Dems in Europe or Labour will get similar coverage ?

John Bloxham said...

So the choice is made. Rather than stand up and make a fuss against Homophobia as you did against the Mail, you have decided not to kick up a fuss over this vile man in order to minimise embarassment to your party.

With a slavish attitude like that, you'll go far in Politics Iain

Iain Dale said...

I do find the suggestion that somehow I have been used by the Conservative Party a bit odd. I asked for the interview and spoke to his office directly. At the time I had no idea he was also doing an interview with the JC.

I think those who say this is a patsy interview ought to go back and look at the questions. This is exactly the same style of interview as all my others for Total Politics. They are IN CONVERSATION interviews, not Paxmanesque grillings. I think I get more out of people that way.

So Nich Starling, I think your accusation is deeply unfounded. If you look back, you will see I have done more interviews with non Conservatives than Conservatives.

I came out of the interview feeling that Kaminsky has been unfairly smeared as an anti Semite and a homophobe and I make no apology for saying so. If I had thought the opposite I would have said so. I think you know me well enough by now to believe that to be the case.

Blackacre, I understand your scepticism, but I suspect your answer is that parts of this interview will no doubt be picked up in Poland and cause him a certain amount of discomfort.

John Bloxham, if I had found him to be a deeply unpleasant man with unpleasant attitudes do you really not think I would have said so. I'd have thought I'd presented you with enough evidence on this blog that I have a mind of my own before now, for you to at least give me the benefit of the doubt. Hey ho.

Dimoto said...

No need to be defensive Iain, it is an interesting interview, and most of your critics on here are just the usual suspects with their usual agendas.

Actually, if you look at Berlusconi's record, for example, it is laughably "unconventional", but since he chummed up with Tone, Jowell and hubby etc, that is fine.
Not every European country has such high standards as the UK, not everyone can have a shining light of rectitude like Pete Mandelson in the top echelon of government.

John Bloxham said...

Iain, I find it hard to believe that your views on the man are NOT swayed in any way by his association with the Conservative Party.

The mans history and views have been unravelled in the last few weeks, and he has a past to be ashamed of.

I can imagine, and I say this with respect, that the Tory top brass are pleased that a gay Tory comes out and says "he's not a homophobe" and Jewish conservatives come out and say "he's not an anti semite". It seems very cosy.

Craig Murray has blogged that he has known Kaminski since the 1980's and in no uncertain terms he says he was an anti-semite, and I'm afraid Iain, all the evidence points to a blackened history on the subject.

Compared to the Latvian, however, Kaminski is a saint. I am troubled that in so vehemently stating its opposition to the Lisbon, it has aligned itself with some very nasty far-right groups

Iain Dale said...

John, I suppose your third para contains an element of truth, but frankly saying what I said was of my own volition and not designed to please anyone. I think my questioning of him was fair but searching. And I drew my own conclusions. You may disagree with them but I can assure you I was not driven by anything other than a desire to get at the truth. I was sat opposite him. I looked into the whites of his eyes. Yes, at one time he held views on homosexuality which many would find objectionable nowadays. So did David Cameron. So did David Davis. You should celebrate the fact that they have come to change their views and embrace a more progressive stance. It's like saying that Tony Blair is a Europhobe because in 1983 he stood on a manifesto to come out of Europe.

I am sure that 20 years ago I will have said something or expressed a view which today would be considered unacceptable in some way.

Does a man of 37 still have the same views as he did when he was 17? I doubt it.

John Bloxham said...

Iain, I agree with you that a man can change, but the party that he represents in the European Parliament has, in the very recent past made statements such as

"homosexuals should not be isolated, however they should not be school teachers for example. Active homosexuals surely not, in any case"

"The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it"

I cant believe Iain, that your parties association with people who say these things does not trouble you?

Thatsnews said...

Good interview. He came over as rather a nice chap. And here's something Miliband would do well to learn: He admits when he has made a mistake and has a good degree of humility.

Neil A said...

Attribution, John. I have no doubt that quote is accurate, but can you tell us exactly who said it and when?

Jack said...

The quotes are from statements made at a press conference in 2005 by one of the Kaczynski brothers.

Unsworth said...

"Does a man of 37 still have the same views as he did when he was 17? I doubt it."

And I sincerely hope not. If a man of 37 does retain those opinions, he is an idiot who has learned nothing at all since he was 17. If twenty or more years of experience has not taught him and moulded him, then his views are not remotely worth considering.

I can think of very few 17-year-olds whose opinions (on any subject) I would value. Of course views change, and that is one reason why it is so important that youth does not have its hands on ultimate powers.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that not being anti-semitic means that pro-Israeli is necessarily good. You only have to consider their murderous escapades in Lebanon over the last 30 years.

PS leonard, what happened to Britain is NuLabour.

Anonymous said...

But I have homosexual friends...

TomTom said...

When will the Irish Government in Dublin apologise for the IRA in the name of the People of the Irish Republic ?

tapestry said...

It appears that in Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty in which sexual orientation is protected from discrimination, the usual protocol excluding paedophilia is missing.

In all previous Treaties, attached to the Articles concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation, there was a paedophilia excluding protocol.

Why is it missing from the Lisbon Treaty?

We know there are MEPs in the EP in favour of legalising paedophilia. It would now be possible for the paedophile countries where paedophilia is not thought of as so bad, like the Greens in Germany, for example to push through legalisation of paedophilia by majority vote.

If British people realised that signing Lisbon was opening the door to the legalisation of paedophilia, they would most certainly want their ratification cancelled.

The Protocol should be put back,or Britain should pull out of Lisbon for that reason alone.

Simon Dyda said...

Were you interviewing Pan Kaminski or interviewing yourself? Hard to tell at times.

Ferret said...

@ tapestry

Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty: "The provisions of Title IV shall be incorporated into the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, as amended elsewhere."

Oh noes, teh peedos will be taking over the European Atomic Energy Community! Truly we should all be scared...

On gay marriage: marriage is not, for the purposes of law, a religious ceremony. And hasn't been for many decades. All marriage is civil marriage - religious marriages just have the religious element added on to the civil act of marriage. So the argument that a man shouldn't be able to marry another man because marriage is essentially a religious institution is spurious. If churches didn't want to marry gays, then they don't need to marry gays (and certainly shouldn't be forced to). But that shouldn't impinge on the rights of the non-religious to marry who they choose (and, indeed, the rights of churches, such as the Quakers, who *want* to be able to conduct gay marriages).

astonished said...

Whoa, so when KamiƄski goes to the UK he says he supports civil partnerships? Unbelievable! Never heard him say that in Poland.

It seems he's playing a moderate outside Poland, while his so-called "Law and Justice" party is in fact 100% homophobic (link to a Google translation of the official website of the party, condemning Gay Pride march and comparing homosexuality to necrophilia).