Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk has demanded a retraction from a U.K.-based Europhile newspaper for publishing an article that labeled Law and Justice (PiS) an “anti-EU, anti-women, and homophobic” party.
The incendiary remarks were penned by Denis MacShane, who served as the U.K.’s Europe minister in Tony Blair’s Labour government, and were published by The New European on its website on Saturday.
MacShane cited Poland’s governing party’s “failure” in last month’s elections to disprove the narrative that Europe as a whole is swinging to the right of the political spectrum.
It should be noted that Law and Justice secured the most votes in October’s election and will be the largest party in the next Polish parliament. As is customary, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has been offered the opportunity to form the next government, although he has acknowledged that the parliamentary arithmetic is problematic for the conservatives and it is likely that opposition leader Donald Tusk, who announced a coalition agreement with the centrist Third Way and The Left last week, will seize power.
“If you have been paying attention to the British mainstream media’s foreign coverage, you might be forgiven for thinking that Europe is on an unstoppable slide to the right, with populist parties dominating the continent’s elections,” MacShane wrote.
“Fortunately, this narrative was punctured last month by the failure of the anti-EU, anti-women, homophobic Law and Justice party in Poland’s elections, although Donald Tusk’s return as prime minister has been held up by President Andrzej Duda,” he added.
Mularczyk took to social media shortly after publication to express his concern over what he described as “libelous” remarks.
“It is extremely worrying how a former U.K. Labour Minister of State for Europe can defame Law and Justice and Poland in this way, and that a media source can allow these defamatory statements to be published,” the Polish minister wrote on X.
It is extremely worrying how a former UK Labour Minister of State for Europe @DenisMacShane can defame Law and Justice & Poland in this way & that a media source can allow these defamatory statements to be published. Law & Justice refutes these claims in the strongest possible…— Arkadiusz Mularczyk (@arekmularczyk) November 18, 2023
He added that the party refutes the claims “in the strongest possible terms,” and called upon The New European to amend the text immediately, insisting that “statements like this must not be left unchallenged.”
MacShane hit back on the same platform, telling Mularczyk he would “now have time to reflect on why Poland’s voters said ‘Goodbye to PiS,'” further stating that the party’s “attack on women, on judicial independence, and free journalism goes against every Polish tradition I know and admire.”
The Polish minister reiterated his insistence that the “libelous” comment be removed.
MacShane familiarized himself with the “judicial independence” of British courts back in November 2013 when he pleaded guilty to false accounting concerning his parliamentary expenses. He was jailed for six months after he admitted to submitting fake receipts to the tune of £12,900 for “research and translation” services.
His concern over Law and Justice’s alleged “attack on women” may be a recent development, having admitted back in 2014 that he had not “burrowed into” the extent of the Asian grooming gang scandal involving white English girls in his Rotherham constituency sufficiently, telling BBC Radio 4’s World at One that “there was a culture of not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat.”