David Rothkopf

David Cameron does the impossible, finds a political bedfellow who is strange even by UK standards

I used to think David Cameron was just an empty suit. But it is increasingly clear that the former PR guy, is a spin-ster who ought to be ditched at the altar both by the British people and by the Obama administration.  My first impression of his vacuousness came when I chaired a panel on ...

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LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: US President Barack Obama (R) takes refreshnments with leader of the conservative party David Cameron (L) in the US ambassadors official residence in Regent's Park on April 1, 2009 in London, England. US President Barack Obama is on his first trip to the UK as President and will be attending G20 world leaders' summit dedicated to tackling the global financial crisis. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

I used to think David Cameron was just an empty suit. But it is increasingly clear that the former PR guy, is a spin-ster who ought to be ditched at the altar both by the British people and by the Obama administration. 

My first impression of his vacuousness came when I chaired a panel on which he spoke. It was substantiated over the past several years when, as Gordon Brown’s popularity spiraled downward, Cameron gradually rose to become PM-presumptive. But a recent piece in the Guardian by distinguished British political scholar and commentator Timothy Garton Ash has cast Cameron in a new light revealing him to be, in the most charitable interpretation, a man of questionable judgment even for a politician.

At issue in Garton Ash’s piece was Cameron’s decision to move his Tory members of the European Parliament into a new political alliance called the European Conservatives and Reformists. Garton Ash casts this as a misguided move out of the mainstream but then gets into how Cameron helped to engineer the election of Poland’s Michal Kaminski as the new group’s leader. It’s a complicated story which the Guardian column outlines well, but the bottom line is that after having failed to keep British conservatives in line behind Kaminki’s candidacy to become the VP of the European Parliament, Cameron then threw his support behind Kaminski to lead the new right wing bloc.

So who is this Kaminski? Garton Ash writes:

In 1999, he visited Britain to present what is described as a gorget embossed with an image of the Virgin Mary to General Augusto Pinochet. “This was the most important meeting of my whole life. Gen Pinochet was clearly moved and extremely happy with our visit,” Kaminski told the BBC’s Polish service. In a short video clip from July 2000, he describes homosexuals as pedaly, a slang term roughly translatable as “queers” or “poofters”.

In 2001, he became involved in one of Poland’s greatest post-1989 historical controversies, about the murder in July 1941 of almost all the Jewish inhabitants of the Polish village of Jedwabne — a murder committed by Polish villagers. As the local MP, he denounced the post-communist president Aleksander Kwasniewski for his readiness to apologise in Poland’s name for this crime.

An interview with Kaminski appeared in a nasty rightwing weekly, Our Poland. In it, while acknowledging “the tragedy of the Holocaust”, he is reported as saying the murder was committed by a handful of outcasts (“no decent person would be involved in burning Jews”), and that he will apologise if someone “from the Jewish side” apologises for what “the Jews” did during the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from 1939 to 1941. (According to the Observer, Kaminski denies having given the interview, but the editor of Our Poland says he did.)

Very nice. Garton Ash goes on to say that while he does not “allege that Kaminski himself is anti-Semitic” he does believe he was involved in some  “bad stuff.” Got to love that British restraint. Personally, I have no hesitation suggesting that Kaminski is either anti-Semitic, pandering to anti-Semites or an insensitive jerk…and a more suitable choice for support by the British National Party than by the Conservatives. And what does all that make Cameron for supporting him? 

Well, in my book it makes him an even more dubious choice to be Britain’s next prime minister than he was before and, should he attain that post, someone about whom the Obama administration ought to be very cautious. A pillar of leadership acumen he ain’t.   

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

 Twitter: @djrothkopf

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