Home/Rod Dreher/Tories Turn Chicken

Tories Turn Chicken

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski forced by party to apologize for speaking at Rome's National Conservatism conference

The Polish-born British MP Daniel Kawczynski spoke at this week’s National Conservatism conference. He’s a Tory and a Brexiteer, and talked about the importance of sovereignty.

Today we learned that his own party, the Conservatives, have forced him to apologize for appearing at the event. Excerpt:

“Daniel Kawczynski has been formally warned that his attendance at this event was not acceptable, particularly in light of the views of some of those in attendance, which we utterly condemn, and that he is expected to hold himself to higher standards,” a Conservative Party spokesperson told Jewish News.

“Daniel has accepted this and apologised,” according to the spokesperson.

The event drew headlines in the UK this week, with the Conservative peer Lord Eric Pickles warning the MP had “let fellow Conservatives down.”

Last week, the Guardian did a hit piece on Kawczynski’s planned appearance. In response, Kawczynski wrote in The Spectator about why he was going to the conference. Excerpt:

Orban and Salvini are not to everyone’s tastes, of course. And I don’t agree with each and every one of their policies. But I am not Hungarian or Italian and both leaders have been elected on huge popular mandates in their countries. They represent serious ideas and concerns, some of which are shared by people in Britain. They have every right to speak at a conference on the subject of national sovereignty, which they have pledged to defend and which accounts for their popularity with voters. Clearly, offence archeologists have done a thorough job in finding historic remarks from some of the participants that jar with the liberal world view. But it is only common sense to talk with parties and politicians that are either leading their respective countries, or will perhaps take power in the next few years. It would be foolish not to do so.

Perhaps those criticising the event should take a more inquisitive approach rather than simply attacking its existence and maligning elected politicians from other countries who are due to speak. If so, they might discover why the vast majority of Europeans feel more loyalty to their own countries than the abstract idea of a federal European super-state.

During the conference, I was standing in the lobby of the hotel talking to some folks when a British friend also at the conference came over quickly to warn that a Guardian journalist was prowling the lobby trying to provoke people into saying loony right-wing things. He had hovered nearby and overheard her approaching others.

A British reader forwarded me a link to BBC radio’s report on Kawczynski’s speech, but I couldn’t access the link from my laptop. The reader included this letter of complaint about it to the BBC:

Sarah Montague on the World at One reported that  Daniel Kawczynski , MP,  spoke along alongside ‘far-right individuals’ at the National Conservatism Conference.  She interviewed one guest, Lord Mann, whose main contention seemed to be that the conference was a bastion of ‘right wing anti-Semitism’.  This is of course a complete slur, as reference to the event’s programme will attest (https://nationalconservatism.org/natcon-rome-2020/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2020/02/NC-Conference-Program_8.5×5.5_v7-1.pdf).
BBC 4 made no attempt  to include anyone with another viewpoint, such as any of the  many conference speakers (such as Yoran Hazony,  an Israeli Jew) or attendees .

Really, this is the sort of distortion and twisted nonsense we’d expect from the Guardian, but is becoming more and more the party line at the BBC as well.  (The BBC would do better to enquire why the ‘Conservative’ Party has the chutzpah to call itself conservative, given their policies, which are anything but.)  Do you really wonder why we resent the License Fee, when all we get in return is your left-wing dishonest broadcasting?  Shame again on the BBC.

On a different platform, the BBC reported:

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne said the prime minister must clarify whether the MP was given permission by Tory whips to go to the event.

“It’s disgraceful that just one week after Holocaust Memorial Day Daniel Kawczynski has shared a platform with anti-Semites, Islamophobes and homophobes,” he said.

“He should be immediately suspended from the Conservative Party.”

Leading Jewish groups, such as the Board of British Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement, has also called on him to be disciplined.

Anti-Semites? The man who organized the conference, and who leads the National Conservatism movement, is an Orthodox Jew, the political theorist Yoram Hazony! Islamophobes and homophobes? I didn’t hear every remark at the conference but the only time I heard Islam brought up was when Marion Maréchal talked about Islamic radicalization in France, and migration. And it is a perfectly legitimate issue! But this is how the Left rolls — just throw these smears out there to see what sticks. I spoke to someone there who is under police protection because of smears like this. Everyone in any liberal democracy ought to be defending this person, but rather, this person has to worry about every time they leave the house, if they will come back at night.

As for “homophobes,” judging by this story from the gay UK press, they’re talking about Orban, who is against same-sex marriage, Salvini, who has criticized same, and Ryszard Legutko, a distinguished Polish academic, practicing Catholic, and member of the European Parliament, because ditto. I talked to a Catholic who lamented that none of the speakers were really talking about God, or family issues. The word “homophobe” is used to smear and silence anybody who has the slightest objection to maximal LGBT demands.

And you know what? It works! The Tory Party, fresh off an astounding general election victory, has chosen to humiliate their on MP instead of tell the liars of Labour and the British establishment to stuff it. Daniel Kawczynski was correct to say that you don’t have to approve of everything Viktor Orban says or does, or Matteo Salvini, to recognize that these are popular political leaders — Orban is the longtime elected prime minister of Hungary! — who speak for a hell of a lot of people, and who deserve to be taken seriously.

By the way, Matteo Salvini also bailed out at the last minute. I don’t know why, but the feeling among the Italians I talked to is that after his party’s recent loss in Emilia-Romagna, he has been spooked, and didn’t want to attract negative media.

You would think from this criticism that the hall at the Rome hotel had been a mini Nuremberg rally, instead of what it was: an intellectually rich discussion of the meaning of national sovereignty, much of it in context of the continuity of politics of the Reagan era. I’ve posted a video of Kawczynski’s speech below. It was typical of the discourse we heard throughout the day.

I am telling you, conservatives had better grow a spine, and grow one fast. These smears, these guilt-by-association attacks, are never, ever going to end. Leaders have to learn not to care. This is entirely about making people ashamed of the things they believe, and the things they love. I fully agree that there has to be a cutoff point beyond which decent conservative and populist people will not go — I mean, there must be people and groups that are too extreme, and shouldn’t be legitimized. But the Guardian, the BBC, and the others draw that line at the elected prime minister of Hungary, a pensive philosopher who represents Poland in the European Parliament, and the leader of the biggest political party in Italy, for pity’s sake!

It’s like the Tory Party is Chick-fil-A: on top of the world, but still wetting their collective pants in the face of media and establishment wokescolds. Are we or are we not free people? Since when do Tories allow the Guardian and the recently-shellacked Labour Party to tell them with whom they can and cannot speak? There is indeed Tory shame over all this, and it doesn’t belong to Daniel Kawczynski.

The fear that people on the Right have of being spoken ill of by people who hate them anyway, and will always hate them — it’s so, so potent. As this episode shows.

Here’s Kawczynski’s speech, if you’re interested:

UPDATE:Calvin Robinson says this Tory behavior reminds him of some other recent Tory disgrace: the way the Tories threw Sir Roger Scruton under the bus when the leftist New Statesman accused him of making bigoted remarks. Only the hard work of Douglas Murray and others uncovered the sham accusations. Excerpt:

Calls for Scruton’s head on social media led to a knee-jerk reaction from the government, with Conservative minister James Brokenshire announcing Scruton’s resignation.

Brokenshire later apologised and re-instated Sir Roger after a full, in-context recording of Sir Roger’s interview emerged.

“We in Britain are entering a dangerous social condition in which the direct expression of opinions that conflict – or merely seem to conflict – with a narrow set of orthodoxies is instantly punished by a band of self-appointed vigilantes,” the philosopher remarked at the time — but he did not get to enjoy his vindication for long, passing away from cancer only a short time after his name was cleared and having spent a considerable amount of his final months in turmoil.

This is just sickening. The Tories learned nothing from their Scruton shame.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles