The Guardianista agitprop machine, with the Labour Press Office in tow, is in full cry after our European allies in the European Conservatives Group. Much of their fire has been directed at our leader Michal Tomas Kaminski and his Polish Law & Justice Party, and I have written about my good friend Michal several times. But they also like to snipe at our Latvian allies, the Freedom & Fatherland party. This party has one representative in our Group, Roberts (sic) Zile MEP, who is a very helpful and reasonable man.
Let’s be honest. The word “Fatherland”, especially in the context of politics, has a rather ominous ring in English ears — just as the word “Conservative” has unfortunate right-wing connotations for some Europeans. There is a whiff of blood-and-soil nationalism about it. And according to the Guardian, the Fatherland and Freedom Party holds ceremonies to celebrate the Waffen-SS and the Nazis. The truth is more prosaic. On Latvia’s National Day there is a celebration to pay respect to fallen Latvian soldiers, and this is attended by representatives of most Latvian political Parties, including Fatherland and Freedom. The event is entirely comparable to our own Remembrance Day celebrations.
It is merely a fact of history that in the Second World War, Latvia was caught in an epic struggle between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. From a Latvian point of view, the great threat to national independence had always been represented by the Russian Bear. So while the Latvians were indeed fighting alongside the Germans, they were fighting not for Nazism but for their country, and they were doing it in the only way they could in those circumstances. That is why the National Day commemorates Latvian soldiers who fell fighting for their country’s independence. It does not celebrate their temporary alliance of convenience with the Germans.
I was in Riga, Latvia, earlier this week, on a mission to support two of my constituents ensnared in the Latvian legal system (but that’s another story — see below). In this context I should record my gratitude to Roberts Zile for facilitating my meeting with the Latvian Ministry of Justice. But I had a number of conversations on other subjects, and I was pleased to hear, from an impeccable source, that the Freedom & Fatherland Party is (as I thought) regarded in Latvia as a reasonable, moderate, mainstream, centre-right Party, with no hint of far-right attitudes or activity.
So Guardianistas please take note: not so much blood-and-soil. More basic-and-sensible.