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How a Pole could hurt Britain's Conservatives

The impolitic comments of EU parliamentarian Michal Kaminski have become a factor in Britain's election.

“Racism or anti-Semitism are nonsense. The most you can say about Kaminski is that he is completely devoid of any views,” Stefan Niesolowski, the deputy speaker of parliament and a former political ally of Kaminski, told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. “He’ll do anything to advance his career except for attacking the Church. He’s said a couple of stupid things in his life, and that’s being used to harm David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives.”

But the possibility for seeing nuance in his comments does not translate well into European politics and has turned Kaminski into a juicy target for Labour, which is desperately hunting for ways to weaken the Conservatives in the run-up to parliamentary elections that it is widely expected to lose.

David Miliband, the British foreign secretary whose Polish-Jewish grandfather fled the Nazis, has attacked Kaminski, citing the words of Michael Schudrich, Poland’s New York-born chief rabbi.

However Schudrich has undercut that line of argument, recently saying: “It is a grotesque distortion that people are quoting me to prove that Kaminski is an anti-Semite. Portraying Kaminski as a neo-Nazi plays into the painful and false stereotype that all Poles are anti-Semitic.”

The rabbi’s complicated stance toward Kaminski — in an earlier email he had written: “It is clear that Mr Kaminski was a member of the NOP, a group that is openly far-right and neo-Nazi” — prompted the Conservatives to counter-attack and try to defend Kaminski.

“Bandying around accusations as a British foreign secretary about a mainstream party in Europe I think is quite wrong and David Miliband needs to recognise that,” said Cameron, the Tory leader.