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Straight Talking - July 2010

Love Europe. Hate the European Union

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Strasbourg

Please feel free to distribute this newsletter, or to quote from it. It is primarily written for Conservative Party members and activists in the East Midlands, but may also be of interest to others concerned about developments in the EU. If you receive the newsletter second-hand and want to go onto the
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Nonsense on Stilts

Wind farms are nonsense on stilts -- quite literally on stilts, now I come to think of it. They cost a fortune to put up, they deliver an intermittent and unpredictable trickle of electricity in return. The little power they produce is expensive, they are turned off if the wind is too strong -- or if their output is surplus to requirements, as is happening at night. Then we have to pay for expensive conventional back-up, constantly fired-up and ready to go when the wind drops. And we need a cool £10 billion of new investment in the Grid to cope with this new world of distributed and intermittent generation.

Across the country, dozens of groups of determined and committed people are working in protest groups, running fund-raisers, following planning committees, and all to secure the basic right to quiet enjoyment of their private property, which they thought was guaranteed by common law, by custom and practice, and by innumerable EU Charters of Rights.

I have been proud to work with these people and to support them where I can. Right now, I have taken a banner at the top of Conservative Home's Home-Page, (www.conservativehome.blogs.com), with a revolving slogan that reads:

Wind power may be “free” ...
...but it's sure as hell not cheap!

I plan to replace this for Week Two (it runs two weeks), with

They're not farming wind ...
...they're farming subsidies!

And just for these weeks, we've tweaked my own web-site so that all visitors arrive first at a two-minute statement on "What's wrong with wind power". A small campaign, but neatly integrated.

ECR: the voting record

A year after the formation of our new European Conservatives Group, we now have, from an outfit called VoteWatch, some helpful analysis of changes in the Conservative voting pattern. My take on this: we are voting more in line with our own principles, less on the influence of the EPP. So, a good result for the new group.

The ECR is voting less in alignment with the EPP than the old UEN group used to do (the UEN is seen by some as holding a similar place in the parliament to that now held by the ECR). In the current mandate the ECR has voted with the EPP 64% of the time, while the UEN had voted with the EPP 81% of the time in the previous mandate. This conclusion applies for most policy areas. However, the ECR is often aligned with the EPP on issues such as internal market or agriculture.

The UK Conservatives as a delegation are now further away from the EPP positions than in the previous term, particularly on Constitutional affairs. However, our line remains very close to that of EPP when it comes to the internal market.

On the other hand, the creation of the ECR group has led to a higher convergence of positioning (in terms of identical voting behaviour) between its main three composing parties. More specifically, the share of votes in which the UK Conservatives and the Czech ODS have voted the same way has increased on all policy areas, particularly on agriculture, constitutional affairs and foreign policy. The only exception is gender equality, where it has decreased.

Well Done Lincolnshire!

Still on wind, Lincolnshire County Council under the leadership of Cllr Martin Hill have produced a paper on planning policy with regard to wind farms, calling for a minimum 2km set-back from large turbines to existing villages. This protection already exists in Scotland, but not in England. In some cases (Peckleton in Leicestershire, for example), we see planned turbines within 550 yards of homes.

I must declare an interest. Harborough Council recently granted planning permission for six turbines within a mile of my own home in Leicestershire, and I don't like it any better than most people.

Lincolnshire leads the way, and a number of district councils in the county have already subscribed to the plan. Well done them. I shall be drawing this to the attention of other councils in the region -- and I shall write to Eric Pickles, in his new capacity as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to urge him to consider similar protection for the whole of the UK.

You won't often hear me calling for England to be brought into line with Scotland, but this is a case in point!

Obama could have picked a better example to follow

From our friends at Pajamas Media comes a real admission of the negative effects of the green economy: A leaked internal document from the Spanish Cabinet validates the concerns, and failures, of massive government subsidies for "renewable energy".

The Spanish example of a "Green Economy" has been cited several times by U.S. President Barack Obama, as a model by which to reshape the U.S. industrial and energy sectors. Now comes the proof: the Spanish government finally agrees that "green jobs" cost twice as much as conventional jobs; that the renewable energy sector is reliant, almost entirely, on huge government subsidies, & that those payouts are contributing heavily to Spain's financial woes.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., environmentally ignorant and financially irresponsible President Obama intends to replicate these errors by promoting similar programs.

The theory has been tested. The examples have been set. Green policies fail. I only hope that our own coalition government in Downing Street, at least, is paying attention and learning from the failure of others.

“Your Freedom” -- courtesy of Nick Clegg!

One of the key ideas of our Deputy Prime Minister is the right of citizens to call for the repeal of bad or unnecessary laws. He wants a bonfire of the regulations, and he's quite right to do so -- although I suspect he might not agree with me on the laws we want repealed!

Find the site at http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk. You log in, register, and then say which law you'd like repealed, and why. I've done it already, and called for the repeal of three laws:

1.   The Hunting Act
“The Act does nothing for animal welfare, but disrupts a long-established rural tradition on which many livelihoods depend. The Act restricts the civil liberties of those who choose to hunt”.

2.   The Climate Change Act of 2008
“This Act, if implemented, will dramatically damage the British economy and will condemn a generation of British citizens to poverty. Yet it will have close to a zero effect on the Earth's climate. It is all pain and no gain”.

3.   The European Communities Act 1972
“Britain's EU membership lacks democratic legitimacy -- especially since the people were denied the promised referendum on the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty. The EU increasingly lacks public support. The costs of British membership, including indirect costs, are estimated at over £100 billion a year, which is unaffordable under current conditions -- or at any time. The EU is making us poorer, and less democratic, and less free. We should be Better Off Out”. No doubt you'll think of many more!

Quote of the Month:

In the Daily Telegraph, (July 6th) Jeremy Warner writes, “Europe seems gripped by denial, both of its problematic banks, and the credit risk attached to parts of its sovereign debt”.

The Spanish land-grab scandal

We have several times used the Spanish EU Presidency (Jan/June 2010) to seek to embarrass the Spanish government into action over the Spanish property scandal. Today (July 6th) Prime Minister Zapatero came to Strasbourg, and I had hoped to get speaking time to have another go. But the group's speaking time (only 4 minutes in all) went to Kirkhope and Jan Zahradil.

However the redoubtable Marta Andreason of the EFD group, speaking on behalf of the EFD, was able to get speaking time and really let Zapatero have both barrels. She even read out a constituent's letter comparing the treatment of property owners in Spain with Robert Mugabe's treatment of white farmers in Southern Rhodesia. Well done Marta.

Just say “NO” to EU Tax

My good friend and colleague Derk Jan Eppink, an MEP from Belgium (and Holland ..... don't ask!) has launched a campaign against EU taxes, and called it, with great clarity, "No EU Tax". He deserves our support. Please sign up at www.noeutax.eu.

Recently on the blog

An Open letter to Chris Huhne. Our climate change policies will impoverish the UK for a generation -- but have zero impact on climate.

What's Wrong with Wind Power: my two-minute video clip.

Is John Bercow a dwarf?

Kafka in Brussels: The parliament's video centre is like the Marie Celeste

Rumpy Pumpy: “And Answer came there None”. The EU “President” fails to answer a question.

Plus the Blaston Hound Show, the Braunston Historic Canal Boat Festival, the Peckleton wind farm protest group, and lots more.

Art Appreciation -- the Trifoliate Hare

There's a curious image of three hares which has a long pedigree. Samples have been found in China and along the Silk Road, and across Europe and the Middle East, from the earliest times. The three hares form a triangle, and though each appears at first glance to have two ears, in fact each shares an ear with its neighbour on either side, so there are only three ears between the three hares. It's a very satisfying image, and it is frequently found on carved stone bosses in churches, especially in the West Country.

've always had an appreciation of hares, and amongst the proliferation of horse and dog pictures in my home you'll find several representations of hares -- indeed some also have greyhounds or lurchers with them, reflecting my interest in hare coursing. Before the infamous Hunting Act, I was a regular at the Waterloo Cup. And I have several times attended the splendid annual Hare Supper at the Haycock Inn at Wansford-in-England, near Peterborough (for diners who find the Jugged Hare too challenging, there's a vegetarian option -- roast beef!).

There was a particular stained glass image of the trifoliate hare which stuck in my memory, and I recently spent a few minutes finding it on the web (isn't Google amazing?), from the Castle Inn at Lydford, in Devon. I share it with you merely for its own sake, and I apologise for imposing on your patience with an entirely non-political story. Well maybe there's a political angle: when our new Coalition government has repealed the Hunting Act, I look forward to attending the Waterloo Cup again.

Cartoon Appreciation -- global warming swindle


That's it from Straz this month. We get August off, so we'll be back in September. In the meantime, don't forget to visit this website, follow me on twitter @RogerHelmerMEP, and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com.