The Government is facing mounting pressure to bar the leader of a far-right party from the UK as Labour called on ministers to consider whether he should be allowed to attend a London event on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
Gábor Vona – the head of Hungarian party Jobbik, which last May staged a rally in protest at Budapest’s hosting of the World Jewish Congress – is expected in Holborn on Sunday to address a gathering that has attracted protests from the capital’s politicians and Jewish community leaders.
London Assembly member Andrew Dismore and former minister Frank Dobson called on Home Secretary Theresa May to ensure he doesn’t even get into the country by issuing of an exclusion order. And last night, Yvette Cooper called on her opposite number to “give urgent and careful consideration to whether allowing Vona into the UK to attend a rally the day before Holocaust Memorial Day is conducive to the public good”.
The Labour politician told the Jewish News: “Senior members of the Jobbik party have made appalling and sinister statements about wanting to tally up people of Jewish ancestry.”
In addition, Cooper asked that the Metropolitan Police “rapidly consider the details of the event and determine whether its purpose is to be deliberately offensive and provocative causing a public order risk and take action as appropriate”.
At last May’s demonstration in Budapest, Vona himself was quoted as telling the crowds: “The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale.”
Another senior Jobbik figure also stirred anger in 2012, following the Gaza conflict, by urging the government to draw up lists of Jews including politicians who pose a “national security risk”.
With no government reaction to the calls for an outright ban by last night, the party’s Facebook page indicated that Vona and Jobbik parliamentarian Sándor Pörzse would be at Holborn Tube Station on Sunday afternoon. Their plans thereafter were unclear. Plans for a student-led protest against the Jobbik gathering were well underway last night.
Vona has flatly denied he will be meeting members of the BNP and Greece’s ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn Party, claiming any such suggestions were simply “politically-motivated rumour”. He claims he wants to present Jobbik’s platform for the country’s upcoming elections to the large Hungarian population in Britain.
But Dismore, who described the party as “the most powerful outwardly fascist political party in Europe”, said: “Jobbik has some members who have denied the Holocaust. Our Jewish and Roma communities in London, for whom Jobbik reserve special hate, need defending against their filthy ideas. I have no doubt all decent thinking people in Camden and London as a whole will join me in demanding that the Home Secretary says ‘No to Jobbik’”.
The Home Office said: “We do not comment on individual cases or if someone is under consideration for exclusion”. But it has banned extremist personalities before, with Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who previously called the Koran “a fascist book”, banned in 2009 and, more recently, Jewish blogger Pamela Geller. Dismore said: “If you exclude one, you’ve got to exclude the others.”
But a joint letter from the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and CST to the home secretary stopped short of calling for an outright ban but said their presence would be “deeply disturbing” to Jews and other minorities and expressed hope they would be preventing from “propagating their despicable views and hatred in the UK.”
Police chiefs have the power to intervene to “impose conditions on assemblies to prevent disorder.” The Met said it is “assessing information” presented to it.