Last February the Polish ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) passed a law outlawing accusations of complicity by Poles in the Holocaust. A month later the Polish Prime Minister laid a wreath at the Munich grave site of the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade, a Polish underground military unit who collaborated with Nazi Germany against communists during the Second World War.
That same month the Latvian National Alliance party took part in an annual event commemorating the Latvian Waffen-SS.
In Bulgaria, every February, the Bulgarian National Movement holds a march through the centre of Sofia to honour Hristo Lukov, an army general who led the pro-Nazi Union of National Legions during the war. The march ends next to the house where Lukov was assassinated by anti-fascist partisans.
What connects these three parties?
Apart from the fact that they also indulge in ultra-nationalism and xenophobia (including Islamophobic, anti-Roma and anti-refugee propaganda), they are part of the Conservatives and Reformists bloc in the European Parliament, formed in 2009 by David Cameron and Polish right wingers, who took the Tories out of a more “moderate” Conservative bloc. The UK Conservative Party and Polish PiS remain, by far, the largest members of that coalition. Theresa May has chosen to keep the Conservatives in that bloc despite (or is it because of?) the reactionary politics of their close allies.
Last summer the Tories and PIS welcomed another controversial party into that bloc – the Sweden Democrats, whose roots were in the neo-Nazi movements of the 1980s and ’90s. They claim to have cleaned up their image but last year social media posts by some of the Sweden Democrats’ local/regional councillors were exposed. One mocked the Holocaust victim Anne Frank as “the coolest Jew in the shower room”. One more alleged that “Rothschild controls the economy”, and in a separate post asked: “What is the difference between a cow and the Holocaust ? You can’t milk a cow for 70 years.”
Hungary’s Fidesz party is outside of that bloc. Its Prime Minister, Victor Orban, was re-elected last march after a campaign in which he indulged his open antisemitism against George Soros. Yet when Orban was being censured by the Euro Parliament last September, the Conservatives and Reformists group – including the UK Conservatives – went through the lobbies with the furthest right-wing racist and fascist groups to defend Orban.
Memorial stones at Auschwitz/Birkenau
These are the current, real and verifiable links between the Conservative Party, antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism. Yet in the media coverage around Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), which will be commemorated this Sunday, I have not heard a single mainstream media representative challenge the Conservative Party over these direct links, or their complicity in working with and defending antisemites.
Between now and Sunday, will even one mainstream media outlet have the guts to call out the Tories’ links?
Instead what we hear repeatedly, with reference to HMD are specious and unsubstantiated reference to Labour’s alleged “problem” with antisemitism, and gratuitous attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.
It is sickening to see the history of the Holocaust used so cynically as a political football to obscure the Tories’ shameful alliances, and instead condemn the party of racial equality, and attack its leader who has always been prominent in the anti-racist, anti-fascist movement.