A reader has kindly pointed us toward a great article this week by Denis MacShane in the Spectator, which takes a look at the “shabby alliance” formed between Russia and Britain’s Conservatives, based largely on the latter’s refusal to cooperate with other center-right parties in the Council of Europe. MacShane writes: “Instead of seeking gently to make Russian laws and practices confirm to Council of Europe norms, Moscow is investing massively in seeking to influence the Council of Europe and stop criticism of the Kremlin’s domestic and foreign policy.” And later: “Since joining in 1996, the Russians have given repeated assurances that they would respect Council of Europe rulings on Chechnya, Moldova, and above all on allowing Russian citizens to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights. Moscow has reneged on all these pledges. In December, a Russian chairman of a key committee broke the rules of neutral chairmanship himself to vote in support of the pro-Kremlin and anti-EU line on Kosovo. He was backed by the Tory MPs present.” Full text here.