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Straight Talking - April 2008

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 receive the newsletter second-hand and want to go onto the e-mail list (or if you want to be deleted), please e-mail me on .

Alternatively you can subscribe with this form.

Greetings on Saint George's Day

See our Saint George's Day e-card

Banning Jerusalem

So the Dean of Southwark has banned the singing of Jerusalem in his Cathedral, because it is "too nationalistic". These proud prelates seem ashamed of our history, our culture, our literature, our music, our national story. They are ashamed of their country. I sometimes suspect they are ashamed of their church and their faith. So I am especially pleased that Chris and I (and Rupert!) chose Jerusalem as the sound-track for our electronic Saint George's Day greeting.

2009 East Midlands euro-team in place!

On March 28th, we gathered at Lady Anne's Hotel in Stamford for the announcement of the results of the postal ballot for the East Midlands euro-team. Many thanks to all those Party members who voted. I don't have an exact response figure, but I'm guessing it was close to 25%.

Of course as the only incumbent standing again, I was awarded first place under the rules -- although I had made it clear that I should have far preferred to be treated equally with the other candidates, as I was in 2003.

The results are therefore as follows: 1 Roger Helmer MEP; 2 Emma McClarkin; 3 Rupert Matthews; 4 Fiona Bulmer; 5 George Lee

Despite reservations about the selection procedure, I believe we have a first-class team. We all have experience in politics -- but also experience outside politics. We have a good mix of women and men, of youth and age. Above all, we mean business, and we're determined to do the best job we can for our country, our region and the Party.

See photos.

It's dangerous to predict election results, but it seems a racing certainty that we will win two seats in 2009. And there is a chance of three. We will work very hard to see if we can get Rupert elected as well!

Emma McClarkin studied law at University and went on to work in law before becoming active in politics. Having been engaged in Conservative politics in the East Midlands for six years, as regional Press Officer and later as a Political Advisor in Brussels, she has extensive connections with both the Party and the media in the region. Emma is also a director of an energy brokerage company and currently works as Government Relations Executive for the Rugby Football Union. As well as returning powers to Westminster, bringing young people into politics is one of Emma's main aims.
See www.emmamcclarkin.com

Rupert Matthews joined the Conservative Party in 1984 at the age of 22 and hasn't stopped working since. He has been a parliamentary candidate, a councillor for 8 years, an Association officer for 12 years and knocked on more doors than he cares to remember. He has seen how the European Parliament works on a daily basis, and how the European Union functions. And what is wrong with both. He believes Britain needs a new relationship with the EU if Britain is to remain a free, democratic and economically successful nation. Professionally, he has written over 150 published books and has worked as a presenter on television and local radio.
See www.rupertmatthews.org

Fiona Bulmer started her career working in politics for Ian Lang when he was President of the Board of Trade. She then gained extensive experience in the business world, including holding a senior role at Shell where she provided communications advice to Board Directors. Fiona now runs her own corporate communications consultancy. She also has a wide range of political experience and is currently the Cabinet Member for Children’s services in Barnet. Her key priority in the European election campaign will be to work for an EU that values national identity; supports free trade and free markets; and repatriates powers to its member states

George Lee is married with 2 children and lives in Lincolnshire. George runs a growing business that focuses on skills and product development, lobbying and promotion. He has extensive business experience of the EU, especially in the areas of product standardisation and accreditation along with knowledge transfer on these matters to new member states; particularly in the area of highway infrastructure and safety.

George also has long term experience in representing business interests to HM Government and the EU and has been actively involved in trying to reduce the regulatory burden placed on employers by both institutions. Politically active for over 25 years, George has been a District Councillor and twice a Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party.

The Fernie Team Chase Championships

On March 30th I was in the pretty Leicestershire village of Tur Langton for the annual Fernie (Hunt) Team Chase Championship, where I had sponsored one event and a couple of fences. This is a national final event where teams of four riders compete on a time trial basis over a cross-country course.

The weather forecast had been dreadful. The going was very soft, and they were predicting no better than occasional sunshine with heavy showers. In fact, we had blue skies, white fluffy clouds and a brisk but pleasant wind. It was a perfect spring day. The Main Event -- The Humbert's National Team Chase Championship -- was won by a team called, appropriately enough, "Relentless: Fight the Ban". And we will.
See photo

Isn't it odd that the forecasters think they can predict the climate in a hundred years' time, when they can't tell us if it will rain on Sunday?

Calling for a referendum

Following the recent "People & Politics Day" which I addressed in London. I recorded an interview with an outfit called "Friction TV". It's available on this link, but be sure to scroll down -- otherwise you'll get Denis McShane spouting the government line!

£600: the price of free speech in Strasbourg

As you know, the parliament has fined me £600 for demonstrating last December for a referendum on the renamed constitution. My appeal against my £600 penalty was heard and dismissed in Brussels on April 9th. Read the (rather amusing, I think) appeal document.

A Eurosceptic Belgian!

Jean-Paul Floru stood in the London MEP selection, and came in fourth. That's a great achievement -- the highest place he could have hoped for under the rules, with two incumbents ahead of him, and the requirement for a woman in the next winnable place. And it seems to me he deserved it. He has a short film: well worth a watch. There is something especially appealing about the idea of the Conservative Party sending a eurosceptic Belgian to Brussels as an MEP!

Beating the Lib-Dems at their own game

The Lib-Dems have a well-earned reputation for deeply underhand campaigning. I well remember that when a former Press Officer was standing for a council seat, the local Lib-Dems went out on a dawn raid on election day with a blue leaflet announcing that she had withdrawn and wasn't worth voting for. A downright lie, but effective.

Our Darley (Derbyshire) Conservatives have hit back in the same vein (although avoiding mendacity), and have created one of the best knocking pieces I have ever seen, in the form of a postcard from Blackpool. (Adobe reader required) It's so good I had to put it on the web-site. Do visit.

Why you should always tell the truth!

I get a lot of tragic mail from constituents who have bought properties in Spain, and are now seeing them seized without compensation and destroyed under new zoning laws. If you're thinking of buying a property in Spain, my advice is: Don't! On April 2nd I spoke at a fraught hearing in the Petitions Committee in Brussels, which was also attended by many victims of this problem, from many countries.

After the meeting I was responding to an e-mail from a couple facing this issue, and telling them what I had done on their behalf in the meeting. They replied within minutes: "We know. We were there!". I was very glad that I hadn't embroidered my account! They had remarked in an earlier e-mail that they had had helpful responses from most MEPs "except your Lib-Dem colleague, who said there was nothing he could do about it". Guess who that was. Answers on a post-card, please…

Brussels' tentacles reach all the way to Dublin

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has had to resign as a result of financial allegations. Irish papers are reporting that he did so under pressure from Brussels, which feared that Irish voters' indignation at the allegations could have helped the "NO" side in the Irish referendum in June. Of course they may now be indignant at Brussels interference in Irish affairs!

Hilary goes to Bosnia!

Democrat Presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton put her foot in it by recalling her deeds of derring-do in Bosnia, when she described how she was caught in the cross-fire and had to run for cover on leaving the aircraft. But the TV coverage of the event showed her being greeted in peace and quiet and presented with flowers. She later admitted that she had "misspoken".

They say that Bill Clinton would never have let her go to Bosnia if he'd realised that there were no snipers at the airport.

Legal action is mounted against the Renamed Constitution:

We’ve campaigned. We’ve lobbied. We’ve marched. We’ve demonstrated (in December, you recall, I was fined £600 for demonstrating for a referendum in the Strasbourg parliament). We’ve collected signatures on petitions. We’ve printed leaflets. There have been dozens of village referendums. We’ve run “I Want a Referendum” postal ballots with stunning response rates, and 89% against the Treaty. Yet still the wretched Treaty goes on, and while the House of Lords, or the Irish Referendum, or the Poles could still put a spoke in the wheel, I’m not holding my breath.

No wonder so many on our side of the debate are spitting with frustration. We’ve won the arguments hands down, but the Treaty marches on like Frankenstein, impervious to attack. We haven’t landed the killer blow.

One man has come up with a new idea that could just work. Stuart Wheeler (a well-known Conservative supporter, and a campaigner on Europe, on climate, and on human rights) is taking legal action. He is going to court to demand a judicial review of the government’s decision to deny a referendum, which he argues infringes the reasonable expectations of voters based on the government’s manifesto commitments. He has engaged a heavy-weight QC, Rabinder Singh.

We know that previous attempts to challenge the European project in the courts, based on infringement of the British Constitution, have failed. But we are advised that in this case there is some prospect of success. Even if the judicial review is not granted, it is possible that the court may criticise the government’s approach, which could have a positive effect on the Lords’ deliberations. The case is up on April 22nd (the eve of Saint George’s Day).

The problem is that litigation doesn’t come cheap, and while Stuart Wheeler deserves our gratitude for supporting the action so far, he needs our help. If you really want to know what you can do to stop the Brussels Juggernaut, here’s your chance. Send a cheque to the Stuart Wheeler Lisbon Litigation Account, at Penthouse A, 21 Davies Street, London W1K 3DE. This could just be the killer blow we’re waiting for.

Recently on the blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/

Our treatment of the Gurkhas (with a good Kipling quote). My speech on the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Global Warming and the movie "The Day After Tomorrow". Stem cell research. Education and class sizes. People and Politics day. An egregious insult from a Liberal (surprise surprise!). My £600 fine for demonstrating for a Referendum. The Brass Neck of Alan Johnson. And lots more. Do visit (we've had over 17,000 hits since launch) -- and leave a comment.

The Canadian Seal Cull

Each year we see tragic pictures of doe-eyed seals being slaughtered in Canada, and the animal rights lobby goes into hyper-drive. But there is an alternative view. I received the following in an e-mail from a Canadian fisherman:

"We are not the “barbaric fishermen, the cigarette-smoking ape, or the vicious killers” that these animal rights groups would want others to believe we are. Rather, we are honest, hard working fishermen and fisherwomen who, under very strict fisheries regulations and policies, risk our lives everyday trying to make an honest living from the sea. For some of our people, they have made the ultimate sacrifice while doing so. Unfortunately, for us however, there are much larger money-thirsty groups of animal rights activists who are trying to create this image and destroy our way of life".

The Cost of Over-Regulation Rises to £65.99bn in 2008

The British Chambers of Commerce has just published its Burdens Barometer 2008, (Adobe reader) which shows that the cumulative cost to business of new regulation since 1998 has risen to £65.99bn, up by more than £10bn from last year.

71% of the regulatory burden comes from Brussels, with EU directives costing £46.89 bn to the British economy. The East Midlands, for its part, has had to foot the colossal bill of £4.3bn since 1998 as payment for over-regulation.

Quote for the month:

From a briefing paper by Dan Hannan, outlining why Americans should be cautious about the Lisbon Treaty, aka the Renamed Constitution:

"While the US Constitution is chiefly about the rights of the individual, the EU Constitution is chiefly about the power of the state".

Nuclear energy: A view from Finland

I have written before about nuclear energy in Finland, but I can't resist sharing this paragraph from an article by the beautiful Eija-Riitta Korhola MEP, from Finland: In my global work, I hear the same old arguments against nuclear energy. "It is unsafe": but per kilowatt-hour of energy produced it has killed or harmed far fewer people than any other significant primary fuel. The waste problem: but the ‘problem’ only exists because nuclear is the only technology to separate and safely hold its waste. Underground safe storage is a reality in many places – including my home country of Finland. Is this not almost the same as the carbon sequestration and storage (CCS) plans for coal? The difference is that CCS is not yet an economic reality, even though centuries of waste disposal into the sky are contributing to the climate change problems of today. Decommissioning nuclear plants must be assured: well, it is, and the costs are included in kilowatt-hour prices. "We don’t need nuclear energy as we can rely on renewables and energy saving": this is not a competition, we need all the clean energy we can produce and we will still not have enough.

I don't agree with Eija-Riitta on CO2, but I agree on nuclear power.

East Midlands leads in 21st century energy

On April 9th I had a visit from a heavy-weight team of energy experts from the region, to talk about low-carbon developments. They included Peter Strutton, low-carbon economy advisor from EMDA; Dave Clarke, Head of R&D at E.ON Engineering UK; Robert Evans, Chief Executive of CENEX (UK centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies); and Simon Parke, EMDA's Business Advice Team Director.

I expected to hear about drought and famine and sea level rise, but I got fuel efficiency, energy security, productivity and competitiveness. They were talking my language. I was impressed, and delighted that we have such switched-on people (and skills and facilities) in the region.

Archive of Conservative Posters now online !

Over a century of Conservative party political posters are now available online on www.conservativepartyarchive.org. This wonderful collection gives us a glimpse of our great history and is a testimony to what we can achieve in the future. To see these online archives all you have to do is click here, and enter "cpaposters" as username and password.

Video Interview on European "Democracy":

Here is an interview on EU democracy, which I gave after the People and Politics Day event in London in March.

Laffer Curve

Dan Mitchell from the Cato Institute (Washington) explains the economic benefits of low taxation in the last segment of his video series on the "Laffer Curve".

Post office closures

I am frequently asked whether Post Office closures are caused by EU rules. I'm afraid the answer is Yes. It's a long story, but visit Open Europe's excellent paper "The EU & You: How the EU affects your everyday life" (Adobe reader).

On page 8 you'll see how the move to differential pricing by size of envelope is based on the EU Postal Services Directive, and reduced Post Office revenues resulting in cuts, and on page 16 you'll see how the same directive required market opening and liberalisation, which added to the pressure on margins. Only three member-states (including the UK) have fully implemented the directive, so the German Bundespost gets a free ride in the UK, but the Post Office can't compete on the same basis in Germany. We call this "the benefits of the Single Market".


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.