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Miliband sticks to attack on Tories' far-right link.

A ROW about alleged far-right links of the Tories' new political partners in the European Union escalated when Foreign Secretary David Miliband refused to apologise for saying he was "sickened" by aspects of the alliance.

Mr Miliband stood by his criticism of Latvia's For Fatherland and Freedom party - one member of the new EU grouping formed to meet David Cameron's pledge to pull out of the mainstream centre-right - and insisted he was right to personally criticise Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles.

The Opposition had demanded he say sorry for an "indecent" accusation in his speech to Labour's conference last week that Mr Pickles effectively defended the Waffen SS by claiming their members were only "following orders".

Mr Pickles repeated that apology call when the two politicians clashed in a television interview over the weekend but a defiant Foreign Secretary refused to back down saying the Tories were in league with politicians they "wouldn't be seen dead with" in the UK.

Controversy over the partner parties, notably those from Eastern Europe, has been rumbling since the creation of the European Conservatives and Reformists but was stoked up by Mr Miliband in Brighton.

The row looks set to continue with the attendance of the leader of Latvia's For Fatherland and Freedom party, Robert Zile, at a fringe meeting at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.

In his Brighton speech, Mr Miliband said the For Fatherland and Freedom party had celebrated the Waffen SS with a march of veterans every year and said that Mr Pickles' defence of them "makes me sick".

Speaking on BBC1's Politics Show Mr Pickles accused Mr Miliband of ignoring the fact that the post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee had decided that Latvian SS members "were not Nazis and we would give them shelter in the United Kingdom".

"I think Clement Attlee knew a thing or two about fighting Nazis and I am much more comfortable to be on the side of Clement Attlee than Mr Miliband who takes the side of Mr Molotov," he said - in a reference to the war-time Russian foreign minister.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 5, 2009
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