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Straight Talking - September 2006 Second Edition

Love Europe. Hate the European Union

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Brussels

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 want to go onto the e-mail list please click here.

"The EU is making us poorer, less democratic and less free" - Dan Hannan MEP

Reinstatement after sixteen months

The Chief Whip of the Tory delegation has written to me reinstating the Conservative whip, which was suspended after a disagreement in May 2005. I am delighted that this reconciliation has taken place, and I look forward to working with the delegation to do our part together in achieving a Conserv­ative government at the general Election, and a thumping Conservative majority in the 2009 Euro-elections.

Over the last sixteen months I have been overwhelmed, and very touched, by the huge and sustained outpouring of support which I have experienced from Conservatives across the region, and beyond. I should like to thank all those who have signed petitions, passed resolutions, written letters and e-mails on my behalf, or just contacted me with reassurance and encourage­ment.

I have already announced my intention to seek to stand in 2009. There is now no barrier to my putting my name forward as a Conservative candidate.

It takes two sides to resolve a dispute, so I should like also to pay tribute to the delegation, and its leader Timothy Kirkhope, for their part in reaching a settlement of this long-running problem, in the wider interests of the Party.

Come off it, Tony!

The Labour Party, and to an extent the media, are treating the Blair crisis as an internal Party soap-opera, rather like a game of charades at Christmas time.

Yet our country is effectively at war in Afghanistan, our troops are under fire in Iraq, there is a nuclear crisis shaping up in Iran -- and we have a Prime Minister whose power and authority are ebbing by the day, and a government in a continuing low-grade crisis.

In a dangerous world, the country needs proper leadership. But Blair and Brown continue to play out the long-running saga that started at the Granita restaurant years ago, as though nothing else mattered. They are fiddling while Rome burns.

Our country is more important than a Labour soap-opera, or a Prime Minister's "legacy". Come on Tony. Time to go. On yer bike.

Tony Blair & New Labour

"They are starting to realise that New Labour without Tony Blair will be all cage and no monkey" (Sunday Telegraph, Sept 17th)

Asda joins calls to end the Common Fisheries policy

Supermarket group Asda has joined calls to end the EU's disastrous Common Fisheries Policy, in order to protect fish stocks and the livelihoods of Scottish fishermen.

Gordon Maddan, regulatory affairs manager at Asda, says: "It's very clear that the Common Fisheries Policy has failed to deliver sustainability, so we are now supporting calls for a radical change in approach."

The supermarket believes a new management régime, devised by fishermen and taking on board the views of NGOs and other stakeholders, should replace the CFP. It would give fishermen a stake in managing the stocks on which their livelihoods depend.

This is a breakthrough. We are accustomed to hearing sceptic politicians fulminate against the CFP. Now that a major retailer has joined the campaign, maybe we will see some progress.

Gutter journalism? Look in The Mirror!

Speaking of fisheries policy, you may have been surprised to read in The Mirror of Sept 15th that I had said "Seals (in the context of the Canadian seal cull) deserve to die, as they eat too many fish". Needless to say, I said no such thing. This was a grotesque parody of what I actually wrote.

The Lincs Echo, which broke the story on Sept 14th, was much more balanced. And when I looked at their web-site, two out of three reader comments agreed with me. In the last few weeks I have had a couple of dozen letters from constituents on seal culling, but none on the Darfur genocide. An odd sense of priorities.

I was very encouraged by a supportive letter to the Sleaford Target from Andrew Meads, who runs a barn owl rehabilitation centre in Isham, Northants, and wrote endorsing my work on animal welfare issues. I have posted his letter here (with his permission).

Sterling back in fashion

One of the dire threats we were told we faced if we didn't join the euro was that Sterling would lose its place as a global reserve currency, to our great detriment. But according to new figures from the Bank of International Settlements, exactly the reverse has happened (see DT B1, Sept 11th).

Back in 1990, the German D-mark and other European "legacy currencies" (those that later became subsumed into the euro) accounted for 39% of foreign bank deposits held by governments. Today, the euro is down to 25%. In 1995, Sterling stood at 5%. Today it is just shy of 12%.

Just one more false prediction about the dire effects of staying out of the euro, to put alongside the forecasts of volatility, unemployment, and the collapse of inward investment.

Quote of the month: Who said this?

"The single currency was supposed to bring Europe together, but it risks becoming a source of economic dislocation and political division". Was it Eurosceptics Anonymous? The Democracy Movement? UKIP? None of the above. In fact it was the Centre for European Reform, a pro-EU think-tank closely associated with the Commission. It looks as though Yeats was right. The Centre cannot hold. And nor can the euro.

Kyoto and Emissions trading

In my last newsletter, under "The High Price of Hot Air", I described the Open Europe report showing that the main effect of the EU's "Emissions Trading System" (ETS) was not to reduce emissions, but merely to transfer huge sums of money from British industry to German industry, because our government had set very low limits on emissions, while the German govern­ment had been much more generous.

Ruth Lea, in one of her splendid columns for the DT Business News (Sept 11th), focuses attention on this scandal. She also reports from the recent British Association Conference. Its President, Frances Cairncross, said that Kyoto would be "ineffectual", and urged that instead of vain attempts to mitigate global warming, we should instead focus on adaptation.

As usual, the EU seeks to harness public concern in the cause of deeper European integration (think of global terrorism and the EU's grab for the Home Affairs agenda). And as usual, the EU adds cost and bureaucracy, but does little about the underlying problem.

Wind Farm Report

A recent report from ABS Energy Research offers a new understanding of wind power as the industry matures. The report concludes that the promotion of wind power through substantial government subsidies has led to exaggerated claims of success.

In particular, it gives backing to a view I have held for a long time. Wind-power is intermittent and unpredictable, so the demand on back-up conven­tional base-load generating capacity is also intermittent and unpredictable. This is a seriously inefficient way to run a big power station, and results in higher emissions per unit of power output than would otherwise be the case. This reduced efficiency in conventional power stations as a result of wind power is never taken into account in calculations of CO2 saved.

And the higher the input from wind, the greater the inefficiencies become. This was partly the reason why Ireland called a halt to wind power development in 2004. The ABS research is available on their web-site at www.absenergyresearch.com

Sept 8th: CIB meeting with Oliver Letwin

On Friday September 8th I was privileged to share a platform with Oliver Letwin MP, in his Dorset constituency, at Dorchester Corn Exchange. In front of an audience of well over 100, and chaired by long-time Conservative activist Harry Randall, we discussed the EU issue. While there were some differences between the positions that Oliver and I took, there was a clear consensus that European integration has gone too far, and that we want less Europe rather than more. Photo here.

Burghley Horse Trials and the Countryside Alliance

On Saturday Sept 9th, I was at the Burghley Horse trials and met with Liz Mote, Midlands Regional Director of the Countryside Alliance. The organisation is in good heart, the hunting season is starting, and we remain determined to oppose this Labour government's Hunting Law. Photo here

Boris Johnson chairs the English Music Festival

Next month, Dorchester-on-Thames plays host to a new and unique showcase of traditional English music. The culmination of four years of planning and preparation, the 'Spirit of England' presents world-class artists in this celebration of traditional English classical music. And our favourite shock-headed MP is in the chair (but not performing, so far as I know!).

But guess what. The arts establishment is decidedly sniffy about the idea of English music. (As George Orwell said, England is the only country in Europe whose intellectuals are ashamed of it). Sponsorship could be thin on the ground. This Festival sinks or swims at the box office. So if you believe that English music is worth a night out, get on the phone, or the web, and book!

The English Music Festival, Dorchester-on-Thames (only 9 miles from Oxford), Oxfordshire, October 20th-24th. For tickets call 0107 241 8953 or visit the website at www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk

A slogan for Europe

The EU is seeking to up-date its old slogan, "Unity in Diversity", and has invited submissions. Mary Long, who used to work for me in Hunting­donshire thirty years ago, and now lives in the States, suggests: "The EU: Love it and Leave it".

European Parliament rejects public opinion on Strasbourg

The on-line petition against the European parliament's lunatic monthly commute to Strasbourg has passed the million mark, and you can still sign on www.oneseat.eu. Even EU Commissioners have started to criticise the wastefulness of it. Yet the parliament's Budget Committee yesterday voted to spend a further £100 million (of our money!) on buying further buildings in the Strasbourg complex. I am delighted to say that Conservatives on the committee voted against, but as usual we won the argument and lost the vote.

The Strasbourg parliament used to be a symbol of the rapprochement between France and Germany, and their mutual commitment to peace. But it has now turned into a symbol of the waste and folly of the European project.

Tax Payers' Alliance: Hungry for lower taxes?

New research from the Tax Payers' Alliance has shown that Britain is ready and waiting for tax cuts. The improvements in services used as an excuse for rising taxes under Blair's government have not materialised. The public are starting to realise that high taxes and high spending are not the way forward.

But are we as Conservatives capitalising on this call for lower taxes with clear strong policies? Mere talk of abolishing stamp duty on financial transactions is not enough.

Above all, we need challenge Labour's glib lie that lower tax rates mean cuts for 'schools'n'hospitals'. All the evidence shows that high tax rates lead to low growth, low investment, more avoidance and evasion and black market activity, and (counter-intuitively) lower revenues! If we want a prosperous economy that can afford first-class public services, and can face competition from the rising powers of China and India, we must have lower tax rates.

The Party is still talking about "putting financial stability before tax cuts". But lower tax rates are a necessary pre-condition for long-term financial stability. Visit www.taxpayersalliance.com

Dates for your Diary:

Democracy Movement: The next Democracy movement meeting will be held in Louth on Friday 27th October.

New stagière gets the picture

Katie Rich from Irchester, a student at LSE who is on an "Erasmus Year" at Strasbourg university, has joined the office as an assistant in Strasbourg (for the four days a month we are there). She has been getting to grips with the extraordinary complexity of the Strasbourg building (even after seven years I still get lost in it occasionally). Asked what she thought of it, she replied "It reminds me of the Death Star in Star Wars".


That's it for this Strasbourg session. Please remember to check this website for more background on current parliamentary business, full details of proposals being voted at the Strasbourg plenary session, and a host of other issues.