Plans to give the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* a facelift and turn it into a mainstream party took another step in that direction when the new chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformist (ECR) group of the European parliament, MEP Syed Kamall, was satisfied with PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho’s explanation for his conviction for ethnic agitation.
What else could Kamall say after the PS and far-right Danish People’s Party, which have two “MEPs with criminal records,” joined the ECR?
If Kamall looked Halla-aho in the eye, what feelings would it raise among those migrants in Finland that the PS politician has insulted? What about Finland’s Somali community? What about the regular Immigrant Joe who works hard and pays his taxes in Finland but has to deal with the daily suspicion and discrimination that is reinforced by politicians like him?
Should they look him in the eye too and ask when this cat-and-mouse racism will stop.
If I looked in Halla-aho’s eyes I would probably see a troubled politician who is trying his hardest to justify the racism he wrote about in the past. His balancing act it living with the ghost of his past.
Here’s another big gamble that the PS and Halla-aho are talking in light of recent events. By trying to appear more mainstream, it’s the voters who will decide at the end of the day if they like the changes no matter how many times anyone looks Halla-aho and the party in the eye.
Read full story here on YLE in English.
In Halla-aho’s words about the ECR: “They wondered a little bit about how something like this [writing he got sentenced for] could have brought a conviction.”
In Kamall’s words: “I sat down with him when I saw that issue reported, I looked him in the eye and I said ‘tell me about this…I’m satisfied by his explanation. Once again we are looking to parties that are looking to reform, we are looking for people…we don’t look at the past, we want to look at where we’re moving forward.”
Kamall said that if the Finns Party want to be a mainstream party and he’d be happy to help them with such a task.
Kamall is the same politician who justified the Danish People’s Party (DPP) membership into the ECR. He was quoted as saying on the Financial Times:
“The Danish People’s party is on a political journey. It now has a policy of controlled immigration and disagrees with those on the left who would allow uncontrolled immigration and benefit tourism.There is a clear distinction that the left-wing media often fails to make between a party that wants to control immigration and one that seeks to demonize immigrants. The DPP is the former.”
Possibly the MEP and head of the ECR should ask those migrants, Danes married with foreigners, and Muslims if the DPP doesn’t demonize migrants. The answers he’d receive could be highly revealing.
These types of statements by a Conservative Party MEP shouldn’t surprise us since they generally agree with the anti-immigration and anti-Islam stances of parties like the PS and DPP.
Thanks to the rise of an anti-EU and anti-immigration party, the UKIP, the Tories have preferred to mimic Nigel Farage’s message instead of challenging it. It’s the same story that happened in Finland before the PS’ historic election victory in 2011.
The United Kingdom has under Tory Prime Minister David Cameron become a more hostile place for immigrants in the form of giving space to intolerance through Go Home campaign and fear-mongering about hordes of Romanians swarming to the United Kingdom.
If you want to find out why Cameron has become so anti-EU and anti-immigration, all you have to do is look at Nigel Farage’s UKIP, which became the first party apart from the Tories and Labor to win an election since the early twentieth century.
The Tories are not a friendly party to migrants, which explains why the ECR has no problems with admitting xenophobic parties like the PS and DPP to its ranks.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.