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 - November 2007

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.

Quote of the Month

"(If we came to power after the EU Treaty was ratified) we would be in a situation where we had a new treaty in force that lacked demo­cratic legitimacy ..... this would not be acceptable to a Conservative government, and we would not let matters rest there".
William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary, quoted in the Indy of Nov 13th. Well said William. I'll drink to that.

Pro Referendum Rally

Saturday Oct 27th saw public and politicians converge on Westminster to demand a referendum on the Renamed Constitution (pictures on the web-site). Addressing the crowd from an open-topped double-decker bus were Bob Spink MP (Con); Dan Hannan MEP (Con); myself; Nigel Farage MEP (UKIP); and Jens-Peter Bonde, a Danish sceptic MEP.

Parliamentarians representing around 30 million people placed voting papers in a symbolic Ballot Box. The message was clear: we demand a referendum. Is Gordon listening? It seems that only he and a few of his ministers still pretend that there's any material difference between the new Treaty and the failed Constitution.

I have recently made a submission to the House of Lords on this issue on behalf of The Freedom Association. See the text here.

Village referenda

Meantime we've been using the 1972 Local Government Act to force village polls demanding a national referendum. I helped at Loughton (Milton Keynes, just over the regional border) where Conservative Councillor Don Hoyle had set up a poll (95% voted in favour). Meantime in Broughton Astley, England's largest village, in Leicestershire, Ron Clements set up a poll on Nov 1st.

CO2 emissions from cars

The EU Commission has been proposing legislation to require average emissions from each car manufacturer to be reduced to 120 gms/km by 2012. I recorded a piece on the national BBC1 Politics Show on Oct 28th.

This proposal would do huge damage to the industry. But it's also rotten value for money. The European Climate Change Panel has established a series of cost effective measure that could more than achieve our Kyoto targets for less than €20 per ton of CO2. But the cost of the Commission's auto proposal is calculated to be between €132 and €233 a ton. It is amazingly wasteful, damaging and inefficient.

There will be those who say that this issue is so important, we should ignore the cost. But put it like this: if you have €200 to spend on the environment, would you rather stop one ton of CO2 with auto legislation, or 10 tons through more efficient projects? Energy conservation is a less glamorous but much more cost effective approach.

There are even initiatives which would save CO2 and money. For example, if we consolidated the European parliament on one site in Brussels, we would save €200 million a year, and 90,000 tons of CO2! If we built more nuclear power stations, we would save CO2 and save money -- because nuclear electricity is now significantly cheaper than power from fossil fuels.

Chris scores a big hit

Before a recent vote in plenary on pesticide legislation, Chris Heaton-Harris got up on a point of order and remarked that we MEPs had all received a flood of lobbying material from an outfit called Pesticide Watch -- an umbrella group for a bunch of environmental NGOs including Friends of the Earth (acronym "FoE", and rightly so!), most of which receive substantial EU funding.

So here we have the Commission spending tax-payers' money to lobby the European parliament to support the Commission's own legislation! How weird and wasteful and incestuous is that? Chris got some good press coverage on the back of it.

Environment spokesman Stavros Dimas responded that in order to remedy the admitted "democratic deficit" in the EU, it was necessary to support NGOs who could represent the public. Trouble is, they don't represent the public. They are mostly run by single-issue zealots whose first objective is to ensure their own future by exaggerating problems. If we're out to cure the democratic deficit, these NGOs are part of the problem, not part of the solution. There is more to democracy that having the Commission talk to pressure groups that it funds itself. (See "AGORA" below).

Visit the Blog!

So far my new blog has received over 7000 hits. If you haven't been there yet, give it a go. And if you have -- there's a lot of new stuff on it! It's at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com

Welcome home, the Mercia Regiment!

An officer of the Mercia Regiment, just back from Afghanistan, wrote to me about the experience. With typical modesty, he asked not to be named, but I thought I'd like to share his account with you.

The 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, formerly Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment, deployed on Operation Herrick 6 between March and October 2007. They fulfilled the role of infantry Battlegroup Centre as part of Task Force Helmand, and endured a tour made arduous by both desert and agricultural terrain, temperatures in excess of 50 degrees, and austere field living conditions. Added to which, an exhausting tempo of operations, intense fighting against a skilled and dangerous enemy, the constant threat of small arms fire and Improvised Explosive Devices, and the loss of nine colleagues, including Private Ben Ford (at 18 years old the youngest British soldier so far killed in Afghanistan), with many more sustaining life-changing injuries, have taken their toll on the Mercians as a Task Force.

In spite of this, the Mercians have had a significant effect on the enemy in Afghanistan. They have defeated the Taliban on many, many occasions, most recently in the Zumbelay region from which both the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines had previously been repulsed. The Mercians have made a significant difference to the safety of Helmand Province, allowing its people to glimpse the prospect of a better life. Governance and development have been enabled, particularly in Lashkar Gah, Gereshk and Sangin. The battalion demonstrated courage, resilience and determination on more occasions than can be detailed individually here, performing acts of overwhelming bravery on a daily basis. The young men of this battalion have lived up to the high standards set by their forebears who fought in Wellington's Peninsula campaign, Flanders and Normandy, and have provided the new Mercian Regiment with a glorious and proud chapter to begin its history. The battalion now returns to their permanent base in Hounslow for much-needed leave and to prepare for their move to Northern Ireland in 2008."

Well done those guys. We are all in their debt.

Rivers of Blood

The BBC has been reporting, with undue relish (it seemed to me), the sorry tale of our candidate for Halesowen, Nigel Hastilow, who had to resign after referring in positive terms to Enoch Powell's famous "Rivers of Blood" speech. In truth, of course, Powell never used the phrase "Rivers of blood", which originated in the fevered imagination of sub-editors and headline writers.

Powell was a soldier, a scholar and a statesman. He was a poet, a politician and a patriot. I frequently quote his comment that democracy can only be meaningful and legitimate amongst a people "who share enough in common, in terms of language, history, culture and economic interests, that they are prepared to accept governance at each others' hands". He was thinking, no doubt, of the EU. And he was right.

Elizabeth, the Golden Age

I haven't seen this film yet, but I have heard that it makes you proud to be English. So I was sorry to hear that the Vatican had branded it an attack on the Catholic Church, and by extension a secularist attack on faith generally. Bear in mind that Elizabeth's England faced the greatest invasion threat since the Norman Conquest, and that threat came from a Catholic Monarch with the explicit support of the Vatican. The causus belli was the indepen­dence of the English Church from Rome. It is difficult to see how the film could do other than present Catholics as the enemy against that background.

I see it in different terms. The film is a timely reminder that for hundreds of years, our country has faced threats of invasion and dominance from continental powers. It happened under Phillip of Spain, Napoleon, Hitler. It is happening again now, and although the methods are different, the intent is the same. As Shakespeare put it, "England, bound in with the triumphant sea...............is now bound in with shame, With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds; That England, that was wont to conquer others, Hath made a shameful conquest of itself".

The film is a timely reminder that at times of crisis, the determination and tenacity of our island race has won through. And it will do again.


Why it's OK to Chill about Global Warming.

By Holly Fretwell. ISBN 9780 9767 26944. Published by "Kids Ahead Books"

This is a great book for kids, if you want to counter the insidious climate hysteria propaganda in our schools. Described as "fact-filled, fun, apolitical, and optimistic about the future of our magnificent planet", it's aimed at the bright 8 to 12 year old -- but it looks like a good read for grown-ups too. See www.worldahead.com

Two other books for the Christmas stocking

Stuart Clark, a respected science journalist, has written "The Sun Kings". It raises the intriguing story of astronomer William Herschel, who noticed that the cycle of sunspots correlated with the price of wheat -- but was ridiculed because no one could see a connection. We now know that sunspots drive the Sun's magnetic field, which in turn affects the cosmic ray flux in Earth's upper atmosphere, cloud formation, cloud cover, climate, grain crop yields -- and hence the price of wheat. See link.

Meantime Christopher Booker and Richard North have written "Scared to Death", which deals with the psychology of the repeated media scares that emerge. Remember the Millennium Bug? Of course their big target is global warming, but they have fascinating chapters on other subjects -- including the reason why the rise of the speed camera seems to correlate with a rise in traffic accidents and road deaths. See link.

Flood compensation

On Oct 31st I was invited along with a couple of other British MEPs to meet John Healey MP, Minister of State for Local Government. He was visiting Brux to discuss with the Commission the government's application for flood compensation money from the European Solidarity Fund.

He advised that his meetings with the Commission had been positive. He had been advised that the UK had "a good basis for a bid". And if all went well, €160m (c. £110m) might be available by next year -- so if we're lucky, a year after the event.

However, there will be tight restrictions on the use of the funds. It is unlikely to reach the pockets of people or businesses damaged by the flood. Indeed the Minister used the ominous phrase that the money was to "compensate governments" for emergency relief. I pressed the point: was it the case that this money would simply drop into Alistair Darling's bottomless pit at the Treasury? Healey's answer seemed to me to be open to interpretation.

One of the other MEPs suggested that the funds might reach local councils and mitigate rises in Council Tax. It's a neat idea, but don't hold your breath. I am strongly in favour of claiming back any funds we can from the EU, but we should never forget that each pound we get back is costing us close to £3. Not very good value.

Time to 'fess up!

Culture Secretary James Purnell has attracted a lot of flak for appearing in a fake photo -- and subsequently denying all knowledge of it, although e-mails have come to light showing he was advised of it before publication.

But before I crow too loudly, I have a confession to make. I have been making extensive use in my "Where's Our Referendum?" campaign of a photo of Tony Blair signing the EU Constitution, while Gordon Brown looks on smiling. But I'm afraid the photo is a right old fraud.

Truth is, the original picture showed Blair signing, aided by some anonymous acolyte. So we pasted in the head of Gordon on the acolyte's body (and so got Gordon wearing a bow tie for the first time!). But my point was this: responsibility for the Renamed Constitution, and the refusal of the promised referendum, is down to both Blair and Brown. So while the photo is faked, the point I'm making is all too valid.

Yet another wind farm proposal

I've just been approached by Ken Ackroyd about a new wind farm proposal near Long Bennington, between Newark and Grantham. Needless to say, local people don't want it. Wind farms survive on the implied subsidies of the government's "Renewables Obligation Certificates". Otherwise, they're hopelessly uneconomic. As the Renewable Energy Foundation put it, "We have to remember that wind turbines are garden ornaments, not power stations". If we were serious about emissions and about energy security, we'd be building more nuclear capacity.

Activity Check

Some months ago an Open Europe study based on two search engines, Google and Lexis Nexis, put me top of the communications list among UK MEPs. A recent check on Google showed me still in the top three in the Conservative delegation, with 78,000 hits against a delegation average of 33,000. For comparison, Derek Clark achieved a creditable 61,000; Kilroy Silk was down at 15,000; Bill Turncoat Dunn at 13,000, while Glennis Willmott, admittedly newish in the job, scored below 1000.

This is not a scientific study of activity or communication effectiveness, but it's a good broad-brush indicator.

"I want a Referendum Campaign"

Visit www.iwantareferendum.com and support the campaign. Find out what you can do with the get involved page and send information to friends with the link: send to a friend. 28,000 supporters and counting.


Read my submission to the AGORA (the parliament's "civil society debate") in the parliament here and read my account of the event here.

Worth a visit: www.x09.eu. Referendum campaigns across Europe.

International Leaders Summit

Read the Financial Times report on the summit here.

Special Guest Column - Report by Emma McClarkin, Political Advisor

Conservative Women's Organisation Annual Conference

On Nov 12th I attended the Conservative Women's Organisation Conference in Westminster. It was a huge success and incredibly well attended with well over 600 women - and a few brave men! Our morning session focused on Africa and the need to find long term solutions to Africa's problems. We heard from an excellent panel including Baroness Chalker where the conclusion was that Trade not Aid is what's needed. We then heard from Zac Goldsmith on being greener and William Hague on the important role of women as peacemakers in areas of conflict. He cited Rwanda as an example of a democracy being built by women with 48% of their ministers being women. David Cameron then joined us for the final speech which focused on our Conservative review of rape. Its astounding that of all reported cases only 5% will be convicted. Hearing David talk about the need to address this serious crime giving more support to the victim and seeing justice done was inspirational and made me very proud to be a Conservative.

Chairman Fiona Hodgson and her team did a fabulous job in putting together such a fantastic programme. It was lovely to see women of all ages represented and actively participating in policy debate. The CWO have an important role in encouraging women to get involved in politics and enabling them to stand for election. Every member of the Conservative Party is automatically a member of the CWO and I would encourage those of you out there to contact your regional officer or local branch to get involved. I am helping to set up a new branch for the the Leicestershire Northamptonshire and Rutland area. Our first event is on the 8th December in Loughborough for further details check out www.conservativewomen.org.uk or contact me on .


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.