What's New
Speeches & Articles
Newsletter - Jul 2012
Contact Information
Photo Album
Parliamentary Highlights
MEPs' Transparency

The Freedom Association
Visit the
Freedom Association

Straight Talking - May 2002

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Brussels

If you would like to receive Roger's newsletter by email, click here
The web-site!  New!  Improved!  With extra ZING!

We've done a lot of work to up-grade my web-site at www.rogerhelmer.com. The new, brighter, easier-access web-site contains a range of material about my activities as an MEP and the work of the European parliament, including:
  • Recent press releases, regularly updated

  • A summary of key legislation from the most recent Strasbourg plenary session, up-dated monthly

  • Recent press articles

  • A summary of highlights from my forward diary with visits and activities around the region

  • Links to other European/Euro-realist sites

  • Plus details of my new book, "A Declaration of Independence", if you don't have your copy yet!
You're welcome at the web-site. Please do visit it.

April Strasbourg plenary session

At the April Strasbourg plenary, we voted as usual on a wide range of measures (see my website for a fuller summary of the plenary business). But key issues included:

The WEEE Directive - This was the second reading of the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Directive. It has noble objectives: to reduce waste and landfill, and to promote recycling. But in practice it's a dog's breakfast which will damage competitiveness, increase prices and hurt small businesses.

We have already seen fridge mountains in the UK as a result of the Ozone-Depleting-Substances legislation. Look forward to finding piles of old computers in farmers' fields, and freezers fly-tipped into the canal.

The Middle East resolution - The situation in the Middle East is both an emergency and a tragedy. Both sides have suffered dreadfully. Each side has done appalling things to the other, whether it is Palestinian suicide bombers in Israeli restaurants, or Israeli tanks destroying Palestinian homes and gutting public buildings. But the only hope of an eventual solution is to recognise the legitimate rights and hopes and aspirations of both sides. A partisan approach will only fuel the flames.

So it was saddening (if not surprising) to find ourselves presented with a Middle East motion which, while cursorily condemning Palestinian bombers, reserved most of its venom for the Israeli side. Like most Conservatives, I voted against it because it was so clearly partisan. The bad news is that the motion was carried. Happily, however, it was carried by only a modest margin, so does not carry the weight which would attach to an overwhelming vote.

Meantime Commission President Prodi's hubristic attempt to replace the "failed" American peace initiative in the Middle East with an EU project fell at the first fence. In terms of realpolitik, the US carries a bigger stick than Mr. Prodi. My Tory colleague and defence spokesman Geoffrey van Orden MEP, at a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador, wisely asked if initiatives by individual member states -- the UK for example -- would not carry more weight than the EU.

"A Declaration of Independence"

My new book, with the foreword by David Heathcoat-Amory (our Tory MP on the so-called Convention on the future of Europe) is well launched. Fifty copies have gone (free of charge) to each of the forty-four constituencies in the East Midlands. (Could I ask, please, for agents and organising secretaries to get them out to members and branches ASAP, and not leave them gathering dust in the constituency office? Many thanks!).

Review copies have gone to local press and political journals, and have been generally well received. The biggest order so far is 300 copies from "This England" magazine, which will be carrying a mail-order offer. Waterstones have also placed an order.

Further copies are available at £5 including P&P from Blaby Conservative Assn., 35 Lutterworth Road, Blaby, Leicester LE 8 5DW. Cheques payable to BCA.

EU publication blocks debate......

On page 10 of "Independence", you will find an article written for a publication entitled "Public Service Review: European Union". Their Editor Mr. Simon Adderley had agreed (following their Autumn 2001 issue) to publish my rebuttal to his publication's federalist stance, and I commended him on his willingness to do so. The spring edition of this bi-annual book arrived a few days ago: no article! So I 'phoned Mr. Adderley. They had received my draft but decided in the end that they were not prepared to publish anything that challenged the European project. So much for federalist promises.

.....but have your say anyway!

The EU is inviting debate on the future of Europe. You can post your comments, on whether you want a European constitution, a federal Europe or a loose association of nation states, by e-mailing . I suggest that brief, robust and pithy comments will have the maximum effect!

Celebrating Saint George's Day

On Sunday April 21st (the last Sunday before St. George's Day, April 23rd), I addressed a rally in Trafalgar Square, organised by "Save Our Sovereignty"). Other speakers included ex-MP Christopher Gill, now Chairman of the Freedom Association, Sir Teddy Taylor MP, Metric Martyr Neil Herron, and Philip Benwell of the Australian Monarchist League.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who had been happy to contribute to the Saint Patrick's day celebrations, declined to contribute to our Saint George's Day event. Apparently it's OK to be proud of being Scottish or Welsh or Irish, but not English. Showing a Saint George's flag is nationalistic and xenophobic.

Quote of the Month

Newsweek -- one of America's most respected news magazines -- on April 29th: "Within Europe's burgeoning welfare-state, the opportunities for graft are almost limitless -- and therefore irresistible".

Foot & Mouth enquiry

The European parliament is conducting the only major public enquiry into the FMD epidemic -- on the initiative of our Conservative delegation. It was extraordinary that the Labour government set up a multiplicity of enquiries behind closed doors, but resolutely refused a public enquiry. It is rumoured that they now recognise that this decision was a serious PR gaffe.

Labour MEPs tried to block the enquiry, and when that failed they tried to shorten it from twelve to six months. East Midlands Labour MEP Phillip Whitehead is on FMD committee, and is dutifully trying to protect the Labour government's position -- not always very successfully. The Committee gave ex-farm-minister Nick Brown a hard time, one Green MEP saying that "He had raised evasion and ambiguity to an art-form".

The truth is that from the start Labour were concerned about one thing and one thing only -- their election timetable. If they had focussed instead on the epidemic -- or if they had followed the advice of Conservative agriculture spokesman Tim Yeo -- the epidemic would have been over quicker, with far fewer animals slaughtered and at much lower cost. And we should never forget the EU rules on landfill and disposal of carcasses added to the problem.

As part of the investigation, we are hoping that East Anglia Tory MEP and farmer Robert Sturdy, who sits on the FMD committee, will be coming to the East Midlands, to the Lincolnshire Show in June, and will be available to answer questions and take evidence from farmers.

Better LATE than never!

A group of thirty plus Labour MPs have formed a new pressure group Labour Against The Euro (LATE). There have always been some brave Labour voices prepared to stand up to the Millbank spin machine -- Frank Field, Austin Mitchell, ex-Chancellor Dennis Healey -- but now we see an organised resistance to the reckless proposal for Britain to join the euro.

We Tories had a reputation for being divided on Europe. But in my experience most party members are hugely united on the question, with just a handful of illustrious but slightly passé names taking a minority view. Sadly, the media had an obsession with rolling out these dissident voices.

Now we find that Labour and the Lib-Dems are in fact far more divided than we ever were. Millions of Labour voters want to keep the Pound. A majority of Lib-Dem voters agree. There is simply no consensus in the country, nor in any major party, for scrapping the Pound, and it would be outrageous to pursue such a dangerous economic gamble without such a consensus.

Meantime, as we predicted, smaller euro-economies are facing serious demand pressures, while Germany has the opposite problem -- recession, unemploy-ment, interest rates too high. Already we hear from Portugal the tired old excuse that "we joined at the wrong rate" -- but now it's too late! Britain is out-performing the euro-zone on every economic measure -- unemployment, inflation, growth, inward investment. Let's keep it that way.

Jubilee Campaign visits Brussels

On April 15th I had a visit from the Jubilee Campaign (formerly Jubilee 2000). They are very concerned about inter-communal violence in Indonesia between Christians and Muslims. While both sides have suffered, most of the damage has been done to the Christian minority. Far more have died in Sulawesi and Ambon in the last twelve months than in the Palestine conflict.

I have received a number of letters from East Midlands constituents regarding persecution of Christian minorities in various Asian countries including Indonesia. I will be going to Djakarta on April 27th with a European parliament delegation. We will meet government ministers and NGOs, and I will be pressing the Indonesian government to take firm action to quell the violence and to protect minority groups. More details under press releases on the web-site.

European funding

Many of the enquiries I get from East Midlands constituents are about possible EU funding -- sometimes with very inclusive ideas about projects that might qualify! A glossy new booklet published by the European Commission gives a 60 page guide to EU funding programmes, which is likely to be of special value to businesses.

It is entitled "European Funding and the UK: A guide to the funding process". Copies available from the European Commission, 8 Storey's Gate, London SW1P 3AT, Fax 020 7973 1900.

Personally, I take an equivocal view on European funding. I am concerned that every pound of EU funding we get costs UK PLC around £2.60 (see my first book, "Straight Talking", for details). It is profoundly inefficient. On the other hand, as long as funding is available, I want to be sure that the UK and the East Midlands get at least their fair share.

European Journal

The European Journal is the monthly magazine of the European Foundation -- the think tank run by Bill Cash, with half the Tory front bench on its Advisory Board (together, as it happens, with myself!). The Journal is essential reading for anyone interested in the European project and the latest Euro-realist thinking. Norman Tebbit calls it "a thoroughly effective antidote to the tax-financed propaganda from Brussels".

I recommend it. Annual subscription £25 (students & OAPs £15), cheques payable to The European Foundation, 61 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HZ.

Saving the Countryside

On April 12th, I went along to the Nottingham Goose Fair site, with our new Press Officer Zoë Aylward, to attend a Countryside Alliance rally against the government's proposed hunting ban. Like all Countryside Alliance events, it was cheerful and well-ordered, and of course it was packed with local Conservatives. Many of the participants had brought their dogs -- we had fox-hounds, terriers, lurchers, gun-dogs and family mongrels. A crowd of several thousand marched into the city.

Sometime soon the Alliance will announce a march in London. This will be a hugely important event -- a chance to strike a blow for liberty, for rural life and the countryside, and most importantly a vote against this arrogant and authoritarian Labour government. No matter what is in my diary, I shall go on that march -- nothing has higher priority. Please move heaven and earth to be there. We need half a million of us to send Tony Blair a message he can't ignore.

Under new management

Last December we elected a new leader for the Tory MEP delegation, Jonathan Evans from Wales. I will confess that I had some reservations. Although a man of undoubted ability, Jonathan seemed to me rather too sympathetic to the European project. He had been a keen supporter of the Ken Clarke leadership campaign.

But since Jonathan became leader (alongside Euro-realists Theresa Villiers as Deputy Leader and our own Chris Heaton-Harris as Chief Whip) something rather remarkable has happened. The group dynamics have changed. The divisive debates have given way to a much more unified and concerted approach. There is a new sense of purpose, which is evident not only within the group, but to our political allies and opponents as well.

To an extent I think that this mirrors the mood of the party since IDS became leader. Yes, Europe remains important -- perhaps the greatest political and constitutional issue of our lifetimes. But we won't get elected as a government in Westminster unless we talk about other issues too. About Labour's failure to manage public services. About the fact that money alone will not sort out the health service -- or anything else -- unless there are systems and institutions in place to spend it wisely.

We're now talking about those things. And as our new man Richard Balfe MEP put it, with his own special perspective, "The Conservatives have started to be relevant again around the dinner tables of Britain".


That brings us up-to-date with events in Brussels and Strasbourg. Remember to check my web-site at www.rogerhelmer.com for more background on current parliamentary business and other issues.