>Eastern reproaches – Europhile Tories scrutinise prospective allies

> The Conservative Group for Europe– fighting a rearguard action against EPP withdrawal – have an interesting, if partisan, briefing on potential East (and a few West) European allies for the Tories if they do indeed bid adieu to the EPP (‘Meet the new Allies: Alternatives to the EPP-ED Group’, CGE Briefing No. 2, March 2006, http://www.cge.org.uk/15.html)

Two, including Poland’s Law and Justice, are members of the Alliance for a Europe of Nations, whose politics have an old-style Gaullist feel of nationalism and economic dirigisme topped off the with a dose of social conservatism – I still feel there is little to choose between the illiberalism and homophobia of their prospective CEE allies and that of sections of the EPP – ironic (if vaguely heartening) to see that anti-discrimination issues are suddenly of such import in the Tory party, although cynics might say that for Conservatives for Europe – decent and moderate though they probably are – the ‘nutters’ argument is basically a ploy to avoid an argument about the EU they are likely

The basic problem for the Tories is that there no clear correlation on the European centre-right (either in their new faction or the old EPP) between the federalism/anti-federalism divide on Europe and the socio-economic policy divide between social and economic liberals ‘(liberal-conservatism’) on one hand and more traditional continental social conservatism, which is economically more corporatist and dirigiste on the other. For the Tories, one feels, the Liberal group might be a happier hunting grounding than the AEN , but alas for them many right-wing economic liberal are happy with a more integrated and less national Europe

Such pro-integration Central European liberals are, of course, intellectually in very good company. Hayek and von Mises (at least in 1940s) were proponents of federal market Europe run by enlightened bureaucrats…

This is perhaps one reason why Jan Zahradil may not, in fact, manage to be a Czech Cameron – even if he does become leader – and capture the awkward 5% of urban liberal voters that eludes the Civic Democrats, keeping them out of power. This section of the Czech intelligentsia is ardently pro-European, whereas in Britain, in a certain sense, even we liberal middle class types are all eurosceptics now – albeit of very different hues. How long before Czech intellectual euro-enthusiasm is corroded by Czech intellectual scepticism, I wonder…

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