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Straight Talking - May 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.

Triumph on May 1st...

Everything that needs to be said about the May 1st results has been said, so I will add nothing except congratulations to the winners, and to all of you who worked on the campaigns. And one other thing: there is now a huge onus on all of us, and especially on Boris, to deliver!

...and maybe on June 12th?

The mood in Ireland is swinging against the Yes Campaign. A recent poll of small businessmen in Ireland showed 74% against. Ten thousand Irish farmers marched in Dublin against the Lisbon Treaty. They are worried about Peter Mandelson's world trade position. Recently Mandy called the Irish farmers "liars". This was headlined in Irish papers. You can imagine how such a comment from an English Commissioner was received. One Irish NO Campaigner called Mandelson "The gift that keeps on giving".

The Yes side are getting very worried, in Dublin and in Brussels. They can't move the vote to a later date, because they know that developments under the French Presidency (July/Dec '08), especially on tax and agriculture, will strengthen the NO vote.

It is difficult to see how the EU could respond to a NO vote in Ireland, but it would be a huge boost for our cause. Fingers crossed.

An Irish Take on the Lisbon Treaty

In the (Irish) Sunday Business Post, Tom McGurk argued, "If you thought the Maastricht and Nice masterpieces needed a whole afternoon in a political seminar to understand, then try Lisbon. It is the Finnegans Wake of EU treaties, a master-class in confusion and obscurity. It would be funny if it weren't so serious; indeed, were any student in Europe to submit the Lisbon Treaty as an academic political thesis, they might well be thrown out of their faculty."

Friends in Ireland? You can make a difference!

If you have friends or business contacts in Ireland, please write them a personal letter pointing out that they are the only member-state in the EU with a referendum, so in a sense four million Irish are voting by proxy for half a billion (nearly) "EU citizens" -- including us! Just tell them in your own terms why a NO vote matters so much. This effort has already been started from other member-states and is making an impact. So you can make a difference -- please take the time to do so before June 12th.

Fit for purpose?

My wife, who rarely comments on politics, made a remark while listening to the news recently. She said "Gordon Brown is not fit for purpose". Now I hate the modish cliché "fit for purpose", but in this case, it's justified! I almost feel sorry for Gordon. Almost, but not quite! How do you spell schadenfreude?

Speaking of schadenfreude, a correspondent in the Sunday Telegraph said he felt a sense of schadenfreude on hearing about John Prescott's bulimia. "After all", he wrote, "Prescott's been making me sick for twenty years". Another report described Prescott as "Britain's least successful bulimic".

An Appeal to Reason

A Cool Look at Global Warming

Nigel (Lord) Lawson, a former very distinguished Chancellor of the Exchequer (and also former MP for my own constituency of Blaby/South Leics), has written a splendid new book on climate. He held a launch and book-signing event in Leicester in April.

The book is engagingly -- compellingly -- readable, while remaining reassuringly rigorous. A short book that you can read in an afternoon, its footnotes and references will be an invaluable resource for everyone involved in the debate.

In his first chapter he forensically dissects the science. The patterns of warming, both spatially and over time, wholly fail to match the computer models on which the alarmist hypothesis is based. Sea levels are rising no faster than they have for millennia. Global ice mass is more or less constant. Far from facing extinction, polar bears are doing rather well. Current average temperatures are well within the historical range of variation. The infamous "hockey-stick curve", once at the heart of the IPCC/alarmist case, has been comprehensively debunked.

But in the rest of the book, he says (in effect): OK, even if you accept the alarmist scenario, what is the best thing to do about it? He concludes that current efforts at mitigation (that is, at reducing carbon emissions in order to prevent further warming) are doomed to failure, and will be cripplingly expensive. And in any case, even if you take the very worst IPCC/Stern projections, the estimated costs of doing nothing would mean that our descendants in 100 years would be "only" 2.6 times as well off as we are today, rather than 2.7 times (if we could stop the projected warming). He rightly questions whether it is worth vast expenditure on an uncertain and hypothetical project to make so small a difference.

He effectively dismantles the case for the emissions trading schemes beloved by politicians, the "cap'n'trade" approach, which is not a genuine market, and, like carbon off-setting, is wide open to scams and abuse.

He argues that humans can adapt to many different climates, and that if temperatures do rise, we would do better to respond by practical efforts to adapt to change, rather than by doomed and hubristic attempts to change the weather.

This is a must-read book. ISBN 978-0-7156-3786-9. Duckworth Overlook. £9.99.

Quote of the month

"There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is generally adopt­ed". Schopenhauer, quoted at the front of Lord Lawson's book.

The Big Chill

Global sea ice is at a 25-year maximum. Snow cover on the Eurasian land mass in January was the highest ever recorded. Here in Britain, Snowdon has experienced exceptional spring snows. A slow-moving cycle in the Pacific, the Pacific Decadal oscillation, has just switched to a mode associated with global cooling, while the sun's sunspot cycle is also suggesting a cooling period. Serious scientists are starting to ask if the climate cycle is turning to a new cooling period. More on this here.

One of those scientists, American Professor Fred Singer, will be presenting his views in Brussels on June 23rd, and signing his book "Unstoppable Global Warming -- Every 1500 years". You would be welcome to attend.

The truth is that man-made CO2 emissions are small compared to the natural carbon cycle. And while CO2 is indeed a greenhouse gas, it is dwarfed by the greenhouse effect of water vapour -- about which we can do nothing. The idea that reducing carbon emissions will change the climate is becoming indefensible.

"Tory Hot Air on Carbon Offsetting"

Visit Jonathan Isaby's blog to see how I and many others have reacted to the news that a "carbon offsetting charge" has been included in Party Conference attendance fees! (And see Jonathan in my photo album).

Blog hits pass 18,000

Check it out at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/. The blog now includes (mercifully short!) video clips of plenary speeches

The CAP is a disgrace

Everyone, even farmers, loves free money. But there is a good case that in the medium term, the CAP has done farmers few favours. It has certainly been a huge burden for consumers and tax-payers -- as well as a good way of funnelling money to France from other EU member-states.

But the real problem is in the developing world. The EU's subsidised exports have undermined the economics of agriculture, and created disincentives for donor countries to help farmers in the third world. Result: global food shortages.

The real scandal is that EU politicians, especially President Sarkozy of France (surprise surprise) are arguing to maintain this wretched and destructive policy. It is hurting the whole world. In an era of high agri-commodity prices it has no place. Yet another reason why, when it comes to the EU, we should be Better Off Out. For more on the CAP, see here.

It's all Go!

With the local elections, it's been a busy few weeks. On Saturday April 19th I joined the Northampton Group Leaders' meeting in the morning, before setting off for Spondon for leafleting in the afternoon. On Thursday 24th (after a Straz week) I spoke in a Cambridge Union debate on immigration (alongside former immigration Minister Timothy Kirkhope, as it happens). I was joined by researcher Georgie Browes, herself a Cambridge graduate, and her parents. Next morning it was a Business Breakfast with the Corby Business Group, and that evening the St. George's Day Dinner in Boston, Lincs, with Mark Simmonds and Lucy Grant.

Saturday 26th found the new euro-team together, first in Derby for canvassing, then a "Save our Post Offices" photo-op, then in Sandiacre for a campaign planning meeting. April 28/29 in Brussels; April 30th canvassing; May 1st, dawn raid in Daventry.

Check photos

Gutter press, and a week in America

For those of you interested in the scurrilous attacks on me and Chris Heaton-Harris in the News of the World, see my account on my blog. Also a blow-by-blow account of our week in the USA.

The Politics Show

On Sunday 4th May I was interviewed by Marie Ashby for the BBC Politics Show. Watch the interview.

Brussels Airport snapshot:

MEP Colleague: "Next week I'm going to Italy to get brown".

RFH: "Next week I'm going to Washington to get away from Brown!".

Lisbon Treaty: Read All About It!

For a consolidated, comprehensible version of the Lisbon Treaty, see www.euabc.com

Staff appointments

May 1st also saw Lydia Smith joining the team, as Press Officer and UK Diary Secretary, based in Blisworth. A former Chairman of Leicestershire Conservative Future, she also joined the euro-campaign day on April 26th, and has already made very helpful suggestions on pursuing the youth vote. Welcome on board, Lydia, and thanks to Jonathan Bullock for holding the fort in the interim.

High Court orders review of EU referendum decision

The High Court has just decided that a petitioner, Stuart Wheeler, can pursue a judicial review of the government's decision not to hold a referendum on the Renamed European Constitution, or Lisbon Treaty.

Stuart Wheeler, former owner of the spread betting business IG index and a major donor to the Conservative Party, took a case to the High Court on April 22nd, arguing that the government's breach of its Manifesto Commitment to a referendum had denied him and other electors their "reasonable expectation", and should therefore be subject to Judicial Review. Mr. Justice Owen reserved judgement in the case, but at 10:00 a.m. on May 2nd he delivered his judgement. He agreed with the plaintiff and authorised a Judicial Review. The government will now have to justify breaking its word, in open court.

I have supported Mr. Wheeler's application and believe that Mr. Justice Owen's decision is a triumph for common sense and good governance. It was outrageous that the government should renege on a manifesto promise, and I am delighted they are to be called to account.

The expectation is that at least the judicial review process will delay the UK's ratification of the Treaty. It is possible that the outcome of the Review could be a requirement that the government make good its commitment to a referendum. Repeated opinion polls, and other tests of opinion including village polls and a large-scale postal ballot in the East Midlands (in Gedling, Notts), suggest that 80%+ of electors favour a referendum, and that the great majority oppose the EU Treaty. The decision regarding a Judicial Review in the UK could also influence the Irish referendum on the Treaty, expected in June.

New UK e-mail

I'm now at . We will be phasing out the tory.org address, but it will continue to work for the moment.

Brigstock Horse Trials

I was proud to co-sponsor the Brigstock horse Trials on Saturday May 17th, taking my "Supporting Country Sports" message to the event. I also plan to be at the Knaptoft Horse Trials, July 27th.

Conservative seats

It's worth noting that if May 1st's shares-of-vote were to be replicated in the East Midlands euros next year, the outcome would be Con 3; Lab 1: Lib-Dem 1. That's because we apply the d'Hondt system to the percentages (that's an algorithm to convert share-of-vote into number of MEPs per party). And a third of our share (14.7%) is greater than a half of the next party (12.5%). So we get a third seat before they get a second.

Of course with UKIP etc the result will not be like that, and we certainly don't have three seats in the bag. But the third seat is on the table and there to play for.

Petition to Restrict Windfarms:

The following Downing Street Petition was set up:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to establish an automatic buffer zone of at least 2 km between any new industrial size wind turbine and any home."

Over 500 people have already signed it and I can only hope that number will increase.

Gordon Brown won't be immortalised in wax:

Gordon Brown will be the first incumbent Prime Minister not to be featured in the wax museum for over 150 years.

A poll conducted by the Madame Tussauds museum produced a convincing consensus against Gordon's immortalization in the World Leaders' Zone.

In a positive sign of what's to come, Gordon was duly voted out after 83% of voters decided he will not stand the test of time.


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.