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Straight Talking - November 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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The Euro: is it the end-game?

Greece has a bail-out, but no get-out. Ireland has now recognised that its fiscal sovereignty is gone for good, and has accepted the Brussels shilling -- and the UK's tuppence ha'penny. I have written extensively on this subject on my blog, so I shall be brief here.

But I've formed the view that Greek creditors will face a substantial haircut sooner or later, whether Greece stays in the eurozone or not. But if it stays in, Greece faces grinding internal deflation for the indefinite future. This is not sustainable politically. Whereas if it leaves, it could devalue, and be on the road to recovery in two or three years -- just as when Britain left the ERM on Golden Wednesday.

The Greeks haven't asked my advice. But if they did, I'd say get out.

The Irish bail-out is supposed to protect the euro and avoid contagion. But I expect the markets to move on to Portugal regardless of the Irish bail-out. And then -- who knows? Spain? Italy? The EU can afford to bail out Greece and Ireland and Portugal. But not Spain and Italy.

Why the British loan to Ireland is wrong, wrong, wrong.

•   We're told we have to support a good trading partner. That's like a business making a loan to an old customer who's gone bust, so that the customer can keep on buying. Not a good way to run a business. Or it's like trying to pull yourself up by your own boot-laces.

•   You don't help an over-indebted country by forcing more debt on it. That's like forcing cocaine onto an addict.

•   The £7 billion we propose to lend to Dublin is equivalent to all the cuts we're making in welfare.

•   We don't have £7 billion. We're going to have to borrow it, adding to our own debt, to re-lend it to Dublin below market rates.

•   We may never see it back.

•   It's around £300 for every household in Britain.

•   This is not really about bailing out Ireland. It's about bailing out the euro. And the whole reason why we didn't want to join the euro was to avoid exactly this problem.

•   We don't want to be part of a European debt union.

The only real solution for Ireland (and Greece) is to leave the euro-zone. Now if they were taking that route, perhaps it would be right to offer what help we could.

Remind me -- who represents the EU?

We constantly have meetings and seminars in the European parliament, advertised on tasteful and artistic fliers which pop up all over the place. One particularly caught my eye -- a seminar on EU-Libyan relations. It was illustrated with a picture of two human figures shaking hands.

One was an immediately recognisable photographic image of President Gaddafi, in a typically assertive pose. The other was simply a blue silhouette of a human figure, with the EU's circle of twelve gold stars on the chest, placed like the target marker for a firing squad.

What a comment on this European Union that seeks to make a mark on the world stage, and to find strength in unity! Do you remember when we were looking for an EU Foreign Minister who would "stop the traffic in Beijing"? And we ended up with Cathy Ashton, who couldn't stop a bicycle in Brussels?

The EU has so failed to win hearts and minds, both at home and in the world, that there is no recognisable face we can use in a picture with the Libyan leader. That says it all, really.

Conservative Delegation Elections

Tuesday 23rd: 11:20 a.m. We have the results of the delegation elections, conducted this morning. Martin Callanan has been elected as Leader, with Giles Chichester as deputy. Emma McClarkin and Ashley Fox are elected to the bureau.

Martin was first elected to the European parliament alongside me in 1999, and is an exceedingly sound man. For the first time, we have a leader of the delegation who is very much in tune with the views of Party members and activists on the European issue.

This is a new generation: we also have two younger members, with sound views, elected to the bureau. This is the best possible outcome, and I am delighted.

Excitement in the Hemicycle

Nov 24th: UKIP MEP Godfrey (“Women should spend more time sweeping behind the 'fridge”) Bloom was ejected from the chamber for a Nazi slur on the socialist group leader Martin Schulz MEP. Reasonable, you might think, except that Shultz himself (a German national and a socialist), and Graham Watson MEP, former Lib-Dem leader, and even European President Rumpy Pumpy, are perfectly happy to throw Nazi and fascist slurs at eurosceptics. Rumpy just recently said that Euroscepticism causes wars.

There was a vote to eject Bloom, and it was claimed that this was "democratic". But on that basis any majority in the parliament could vote to eject any minority -- they could vote to expel eurosceptics, for example. And this time, they did.

Dunton Bassett Primary School

On Nov 12th I visited Dunton Bassett Primary School with Press Officer Neelam Cartmell at the invitation of Headmistress Bev Darlow. Normally I prefer doing older school groups, but I found I was able to engage fifty or so seven-to-ten year olds for best part of an hour, and they seemed to enjoy it -- I certainly did. See photo.

A couple of days later I was very touched to receive a file of delightful hand-written thank-you letters from the children. Delightful.

Head-to-head with the Commissioner for Climate Action

I had recently been involved in a roundtable discussion / debate on the effectiveness of so-called "green" economic policies as well expectations for the upcoming UN climate summit in Cancun.

The roundtable included MEPs Satu Hassi (Greens) & Corien Wortmann Kool (EPP), Connie Hedegaard (European Commissioner for Climate action) and myself. Watch it in its entirety here.

The Rushcliffe Annual Dinner -- and Jeffrey Archer

On Saturday 13th I had the pleasure of hosting a table at this event, and at short notice I was asked to do the auction. Emma's offering of a trip to Brussels sold well (I decided not to auction that item in euros!).

One lot was a sumptuous limited edition book, signed by the author, fully bound in gorgeous royal-blue leather, with a barrelled spine and presented in a matching slip-case. I took a shine to it, and my wife bid successfully for it (no collusion there!). And the book? The collected short stories of Jeffrey Archer.

Of course the literati are derisive of Jeffrey Archer (perhaps because he's been a popular success), so I approached the text with some trepidation. But so far I've read a couple of the stories, and the are rather good.

A visit to the UEA/CRU

"Who are the deniers now?"

On Oct 29th, I visited the Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia (UEA), at his invitation, to discuss the famous leaked Climatic Research Unit (CRU) e-mails. Early in our conversation, the VC referred to sceptics as “climate change deniers”, and I pulled him up sharp. I have yet to meet anyone who denies the plain fact that the climate changes. Indeed if the climate never changed, we should hardly need a word to describe it. The climate is only interesting because it changes.

The VC and his colleagues simply denied that any wrong-doing had taken place with regard to the e-mails. The quotes which seemed to imply guilt were “selective”, and had been “taken out of context”. The VC relied heavily on the several academic/legalistic reviews of the scandal, in which the establishment has striven at all costs to justify the e-mails, to deny any guilt, and to protect the current climate orthodoxy. The VC insisted that if I had not read all of these reports (the thickness of a telephone directory) then I was in no position to comment.

But the quotes are quite clear. The “Hockey Team”, which has a stranglehold on the IPCC process, and of which the UEA/CRU forms a key part, did indeed conspire to prevent the publication of dissenting opinions. They have indeed sought the dismissal of editors of learned journals whom they found insufficiently compliant, and too inclined to publish other views. They did indeed cobble together unrelated data sets (without explaining what they had done) to ensure that their “Hockey Stick Graph” complied with their expectations, and in order (in their words) to “hide the decline”. They conspired to subvert the peer-review process.

The e-mails are explicit. They are the smoking gun. They cannot be justified by any amount of context.

As I said to the VC, if I catch someone with their hand in my back pocket removing my wallet, I shall conclude that they are a thief and a pick-pocket, and I shall be unimpressed if they tell me that I have taken their actions “out of context”.

In a way I am reminded of a meeting earlier in the week, in Brussels, with three North Korean diplomats. They presented an entirely fanciful account of peace, freedom and prosperity in North Korea, and seemed uncomfortable when I explained that we knew, and they knew, that their description was nonsense, and hopelessly out-of touch with reality. But as we and they knew, they were obliged by reason of their positions and their employment to parrot the Party line. I fear that the UEA is under similar pressures.

For more on this, and the extraordinary story of how the UEA "disinvited" Lord Monckton and James Delingpole from the meeting, click here.

Climate Concerns take a back seat

Chatting to the BBC's John Hess at the Rushcliffe event, he mentioned to me that he'd been involved with a schools essay competition. In previous years, many entrants had been concerned with environment and climate issues. This year, he found only one climate reference. Entrants were much more interested in the economic crisis, education, student fees, and job prospects. More evidence that realism trumps climate hysteria.

The Ruinous Economics of Green Climate Policies

Warmist rhetoric bats on about the drastic "green" climate policies needed to combat what they predict will be the apocalyptic effects of climate change, and they warn of the dire consequences if we don't take action. Taking a critical look at these measures is Tim Worstall's new book Chasing Rainbows: Economic Myths, Environmental Facts. It's not published until November 30th so I haven't read it yet, but what I've heard is encouraging: it promises to be an enlightening read.

It is not an argument about the science of climate change, but rather Worstall examines the economics of climate change mitigation to show that much of what we're told we should do to save the planet is counter-productive, and diametrically opposed in many cases to what we should really be doing.

The answers will come as a shock to some: creating green jobs is not a benefit but a cost to our economy, and globalization is not a threat but a necessary way forward. By combining economic analysis with a wealth of contemporary research, Worstall uncovers the flaws and misunderstandings in the climate change action plans ceaselessly espoused by the Warmists. The popular and globally esteemed science writer and columnist, Matt Ridley, has called this book: ‘Fearless, fresh, forensic and funny'. II think it'll be well worth picking up a copy when it comes out later this month -- I'll be first in the queue!

Press Attention for all the Right Reasons

I found myself quoted in more than one press outlet this month, particularly over my comments against the European Commission's absurdly lax disciplinary practices. In one such case an employee, found to be driving a commission-issued car under the influence of alcohol, was given a reprimand for "improper use of tools meant for work". He suffered no fine or loss of pay. Another case found that the Commission's disciplinary division simply delayed a compulsory promotion for two employees found to be running a brothel not far from the centre of town. You can find my comments on this topic through links in The Sun & the Daily Express.

In addition, I was also quoted on my comments towards Dr. Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the government's workfare scheme to assign benefit recipients £1 / hour jobs as opposed to simply collecting their monthly remunerations. My remarks can be found in both The Sun & The Daily Mail.

More recently, one of my tweets found its way into a Daily Mail article on the Euro in Ireland, prior to the bailout. I am glad my tweeting, though frequent, are also composed with sense of reserved ire.

Quote of the month

This comes from Mahatma Ghandi, and seems very suitable for climate sceptics: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you .... then you win!".

The Green Knowledge Triangle

I was rather surprised to receive an invitation to a seminar in Brussels on the Green Knowledge Triangle, run by an impressive group of organisations including The German and French Rectors Conferences and MEEDDM, French Ministry on Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea).

With my irrepressible schoolboy sense of humour, I could not resist the temptation to reply in these terms:

Dear Gaston, I studied mathematics at Cambridge (1962/65), but this is news to me. Green geometry seems to be a whole new branch of science. But as a maths graduate I can't be bothered with the elementary stuff. When to we get to green dodecahedra?


That's it from Straz for this month, don't forget to visit this website, follow me on twitter @RogerHelmerMEP, and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com.