LibLink: Edward McMillan-Scott MEP: Tories are playing into Putin’s hands in high stakes game

Edward McMillan ScottYorkshire and the Humber MEP Edward McMillan-Scott has a longstanding interest in human rights. He’s travelled all over the world to make the case to governments who don’t respect their citizens’ freedoms. He’s understandably not wildly chuffed about the Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi and how this might fuel Putin’s ambitions. He explained why in the Yorkshire Post.

Putin has international ambitions for Russia: this is the new Great Game, the 19th century strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Eurasia. He is trying to build a bloc in opposition to the EU: let us hope the Games begin to focus public attention on some other strange alliances.

He has personal experience of Putin’s repression:

Human rights are repressed. I was the only politician speaking at an anti-Putin conference in Moscow organised by Gary Kasparov, which was closed down by Putin’s thugs, his Nashi youth movement, in 2006. They started by attacking independent journalists. More than 20 Russian journalists were murdered during Putin’s first presidency.

When Putin regained the presidency in 2012 – after a brief period of hope under President Medvedev, which some of my Moscow friends believed in – he unleashed an unprecedented crackdown.

New laws restrict non-governmental organisations, undermine freedom of assembly and discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

So what’s Putin up to and what has David Cameron got to do with it. Well, you have to look at some of the Prime Minister’s pals:

Putin’s “managed democracy” is reflected across a Eurasian continent straddled by Russia: I was once proudly shown a huge map in the Kremlin by President Gorbachev’s adviser. “See how tiny the EU is from our perspective,” he said. Today, gas and oil are the strategic tools which replace the Soviet Union’s ballistic missiles, and political alliances replace arms treaties in a largely democratic world.

David Cameron is part of this process. When he cut himself adrift from Europe’s mainstream centre-right in 2009, he formed new parliamentary groups. One was in the European Parliament, which led to my departure from his party. The other is even more controversial.

David Cameron’s formal alliance in the parliamentary assembly of Strasbourg’s Council of Europe – a post-war institution now of 47 countries – finds 17 Conservative MPs sitting with 24 MPs of Putin’s United Russia party in a group led by a Russian MP – as well as MPs from Azerbaijan and Armenia’s ruling (undemocratic) parties.

He writes about the crucial role that Ukraine could play:

Ukraine matters to Putin. It is not just that without it, his vaunted Eurasian Union would lose its point: it is also that, if Ukrainians succeed in setting a democratic path towards the EU, they might inspire Russians to do the same. At a conference on Russia in Washington last year, I argued how the EU should respond to Putin. He cannot be allowed to continue with impunity. The EU, united, has the clout and the strategic need to assure our security.

The Conservative Party should abandon its alliance with Putin. This game is not a sport: it could get deadly.

You can read the whole article here. 

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  • Robert Wootton 13th Feb '14 - 8:59pm

    I am pasting a comment on the article from the newspaper website. It shows that people in positions of power will invariably will try to oppress those without power. Here is the comment.

    10:43 AM on 13/02/2014
    I am aware of Ex-KGB blood on his hands Putin, Edward. However, just as repressive is the USA now negotiating a free trade treaty (which is more about bypassing our democratic institutions) TTIP, with the EU. Corporate America will be able to sue our Government if it introduces policies deemed harmful to their profits. When will you respond to my letter about this Edward. What are you going to do about this, Edward? Anything? I’d like to know.

    What do other LibDems Think?

  • I know this is off topic, there is no recent article about the Wythenshawe and Sale by election.

    Just to say we should accept that we have lost the deposit, and call it a day. We are just making fools of ourselves and looking petty by demanding a recount.

  • Peter Chegwyn 14th Feb '14 - 3:04am

    Joe – No doubt there will be a Wythenshawe thread when those who are not by-election groupies wake up but in the meantime I’ve posted this on the ALDC by-elections thread as a summary of just how badly we’ve done (again):

    So… a lost deposit in Manchester Wythenshawe, vote down from 22.3% to under 5%, BNP & Greens beaten by just 400 votes, Lib. Dem. vote just 1/3 of the Tory vote and 1/4 of the UKIP vote, all this in a seat where we polled better than the national average in both 2005 & 2010 and, in normal circumstances, could have expected to finish a respectable 2nd this time.

    No doubt we’ll hear the usual from the leadership… ‘This is a seat we were never going to win’ (true), ‘We wouldn’t expect to poll well here’ (untrue), ‘We’ll do better in seats we hold’ etc. etc. etc.

    How long before people wake up and smell the coffee?

    Will it take a hammering in the European & local elections in May or even then will people still stick their heads in the sand as 2015 fast approaches?

  • @Peter Chegwyn “How long before people wake up and smell the coffee?”

    I don’t think there is much they can do unless they pull out of the coalition. Frankly, them insisting on on us being associated with the Tories is killing us by a thousand cuts. They stay in – we die. If they pull out now and fight on our strengths and unique selling points we will live to fight another day.

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