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 - September 2002

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Brussels

If you would like to receive Roger's newsletter by email, click here
Divided loyalties

There was considerable consternation in the Blaby constituency office this month when a letter arrived requesting a copy of my latest book, A Declaration of Independence. In itself this is not unusual, but payment, instead of being the usual 5, was proffered in the form of 15 Euros!

As our treasurer pointed out, the bank would charge more than that for changing the notes into pounds. Fortunately I usually have both currencies in my wallet and was able to change them on the spot. And the order came from the Irish Republic -- so perhaps they had an excuse for using euros!

Anti-Americanism in the European Parliament

At the July Strasbourg session, an Irish socialist MEP called De Rossa (honest -- that's his name) got up in plenary on a point of order and criticised the USA for not joining the International Criminal Court, and for refusing an extension on UN peace-keeping operations in Bosnia unless its soldiers were given immunity from prosecution. I responded by saying we should thank the USA for its decades-long commitment to European security.

Before I had finished my sentence, the socialist side of the house was booing and jeering. It is a sad comment on the endemic anti-Americanism in the parliament that half of them will jeer at any positive comment on our staunchest ally.

The Americans recognise that a key task of a nation is to offer its citizens the protection of its courts. Sadly, our Labour government fails to understand this. It has signed up not only to the ICC, but to the European Arrest Warrant, under which we can be hauled off to foreign courts without our traditional protections of habeas corpus, jury trial and the presumption of innocence.

For more details, see "America - friend or foe?"

Campaigning for the Countryside

As a Vice-President of the parliament's Hunting and Conservation intergroup, I will be chairing a session in Brussels on Wednesday September 25th -- immediately following the Countryside March in London on September 22nd. We will be debating the welfare of wild animals, and the important contribution that country sports make to our landscape, conservation, wild-life habitat and bio-diversity. We are inviting someone who served on the Burns Committee to address the meeting.

This is an open meeting, so if you want to support the cause, you will be very welcome. Better still, charter a bus and bring a group!

Tory MEPs will be marching in London on the 22nd under a banner reading "CONSERVATIVE Euro-MPs: Supporting the Countryside". Join us if you can. This is a vital opportunity to show Tony Blair that we've had enough, and that he can no longer ride roughshod over the values of rural people.

The euro: an update

A new opinion poll shows 98% of the Dutch people take a negative view of the euro, and 80% would have the guilder back if they could (Daily Telegraph, 2nd Sept). Meantime the Greeks are organising a consumer boycott to protest against euro-price-hikes (BBC World, Sept 3rd). And Tony Blair still wants us to join!

Triumph of the Nanny State

The Food Standards Authority has asked the EU to ban natural sausage skins made from sheep's intestines, which are used on about 15% of British sausages, usually the best quality end of the market. This is because of the vanishingly small theoretical risk that BSE might have been transmitted to sheep, and that we might catch it from (heavily processed) sheep's intestines. Another small blow for farmers and the meat industry, a big blow for traditional British food. This could also affect haggis. Meantime an EU ban on imported crayfish threatens the most popular sandwich at the very popular chain "Pret-a-Manger".

Kinnock-baiting: the new sport in Brussels

In a recent news-letter I mentioned how Chris Heaton-Harris and I had given Commissioner Neil Kinnock a hard time over the firing of EU-official, Steffan Smidt, which Kinnock claimed had been "routine" and not related to Spanish opposition to the new fisheries proposals.

In an extraordinary re-play of a similar event, Accountant Marta Andreason has now been demoted (and effectively fired) for refusing to sign off the Commission's accounts, and for communicating to MEPs about the appalling state of the Commission's accounting systems. She said their systems are so bad that it's impossible to identify where fraud has taken place.

Amazingly, Kinnock has again denied that this move is a punishment for whistle-blowing -- he says it results from "A clash of personalities". Many MEPs have concluded that it's impossible to believe a word he says -- and he's the Commissioner charged with reforming the system and rooting out fraud!

A tragic foot-note. Paul van Buitenen, the whistle-blower whose revelations led to the resignation of the Santer Commission in 1999, having been sidelined ever since, has finally resigned in despair and gone back to an important job in his native Denmark -- where the Queen has awarded him a well-deserved Knighthood in the order of Orange- Nassau. His parting comment: he was "bitterly disappointed" at the failure of the new team under Romano Prodi (and Commission Vice President Kinnock) to clean up the system.

Parliament votes for compulsory abortion

Well, at any rate, it voted for the compulsory provision of abortion on demand across the EU, with accession states to be required to offer the same service as a new condition of entry.

This was the Van Lancker report, voted through in July. Mrs Van Lancker is a feminist socialist, and wrote her report in the Women's Committee of the EP. The Women's Committee is a by-word in the parliament for tendentious nonsense and politically-correct claptrap, and many MEPs (including some on the women's committee) think it should be wound up. Of course Conservatives voted against the report -- but it is scary that a majority of the parliament voted for it.

An abortion is always a personal tragedy for those involved, but it is also a personal moral judgement, and I don't believe it is my job as a legislator to tell women how they should decide. Still less should Brussels be setting down rules for member-states that fly in the face of their own standards and culture.

This was not a legislative proposal, but an "own-initiative report". It will therefore be a nine-day wonder, and then be forgotten. But the press don't make that subtle distinction. So this black cloud has a silver lining. The Van Lancker report will cause huge offence in Catholic countries. I can think of nothing more calculated to get the Irish to vote against Nice next time round, and the Poles to vote against accession.

Getting the message across

The NO campaign recently launched a video featuring well-known entertainers, which is being screened in cinemas through the summer. Apparently there's a very short clip of Rik Mayall doing a Hitler impression and saying "Ein Reich! Ein volk! Ein Euro!". So of course all the euro-visionaries and the politically-correct members of the Islington tendency are up in arms. Terrible! Appalling taste! Dumbing down! Offensive!

When we try to discuss the euro issue seriously, and get into the macro-economics, and the political and constitutional consequences of the currency, they say it's boring, that the public are not interested, that we are failing to connect with young people. Yet when we try to introduce humour, entertainment and a lighter touch, we get a shock-horror reaction.

What the euro-philes hate most, though, is the plain fact that the Rik Mayall sketch is based on history. The Nazis did indeed plan a European Economic Community with a single currency. That may not be sufficient reason, in itself, to reject the euro. But it should certainly give us pause for thought.

Quote of the month

Sir Oliver Wright, a former British Ambassador to Washington and a doughty fighter for British independence: "Let it not be said that our right to govern ourselves was taken from us while we slept".

Book Review: "EU Convention Papers: The Separation of Powers in the EU", by David Owen of "New Europe".

I have just read this snappily-titled booklet, and rather to my surprise I found I agreed with almost the whole of it. David Owen presents himself as "Pro Europe, anti-euro", and the slogan of his organisation is "Europe Yes: Euro No". But his vision of Europe is a predominantly intergovernmental arrangement, a flexible association on self- governing, independent nation states.

Here are some quotes to give the flavour: "For the EU to act effectively to support he developing world, CAP export subsidies need to be abolished". He speaks of "the economic folly of the CAP". "For those who wish to set limits to integration, retaining a Treaty-based veto has immense advantages". "The alternative to a federal Union is a flexible Union where different powers are exercised by different groupings of member-states". "The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not innocuous, and no country wishing to preserve its legal self-governance could justify endorsing it". "The threat to our self-governance may seem less clear-cut and obvious than in times of war, but in fact is just as serious in the long term".

This is my kind of thinking, and I commend the booklet. It is available price 5 from New Europe on 0207 378 0436.


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.