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Straight Talking - December 2008

Love Europe. Hate the European Union

Roger Helmer's electronic newsletter from Strasbourg

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.

A Merry Christmas to One and All!

See the Christmas card from Chris Heaton-Harris and me on my home page. Click on the picture for the all-singing, all-dancing version. It's that Christmas spirit -- this morning (Dec 17th) at ten to seven, our Strasbourg tram driver was sporting a Father Christmas hat.

... but perhaps also a frugal Christmas

This is perhaps not a good time to be reminded of it, but we are facing the biggest recession for a very long time, and most commentators think things may get a lot worse before they start to get better. The hard fact is that we can expect more unemployment, bankruptcies and home repossessions.

Gordon Brown is right that we face a global problem, but he is plain wrong that Britain is well-placed to weather the storm. The truth is that during the good times, while other countries were paying down debt, Gordon was still spending and borrowing like a drunken sailor. As George Osborne likes to put it, Brown should have mended the roof while the sun was shining.

Far from best placed, we are close to worst placed. When we need a fiscal stimulus, we have no money in the kitty and no shots in the locker. So like an addict, Brown and Darling reach for their drug of choice -- debt. Massive, unprecedented debt. But the markets have quite enough UK debt, thank you, and have responded by shorting the Pound.

Be in no doubt. This is a Labour crisis made in Britain by Gordon Brown. Sooner or later, Labour governments always run out of money, and Brown is no exception. It beggars belief that the man who got us into this mess should be presenting himself as the man best placed to get us out of it.

An Affront to a Head of State

In 1968, Daniel Cohn-Bendit was a Franco-German revolutionary tearing up the pavements of Paris. Today, he is leader of the Green Group in the European parliament, and last week he went to Prague with other group leaders to meet Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, which takes over the EU Presidency in January.

Cohn-Bendit had planned an ambush. He took with him a pre-briefed group of journalists, and an EU flag, which he plonked on the President's desk. He then proceeded to harangue Klaus in the most confrontational terms, attacking his views on the EU, on the Irish Referendum and the Lisbon Treaty, and on climate change. I must declare an interest: I happen to agree with President Klaus on all of these issues, and my sympathies are with him.

Several MEPs have raised the issue this week in Strasbourg, causing some red faces amongst the group leaders, and embarrassing parliament's President Hans-Gert Poettering, who led the delegation and failed to rein in his colleagues. My intervention on the subject should be on-line shortly. More comment on the Irish referendum on my blog.

It is interesting to recall that I and several other colleagues were fined by the parliament when we were accused (wrongly in my view) of showing disrespect to the Prime Minister of Portugal. But it seems it is OK for some of our most senior and prominent MEPs to offer insult and insolence with impunity to the Head of State of a fellow EU country. See the transcript and video of my speech in plenary session on Monday here.

Save the date: Feb 7th

Alan Duncan MP will be the guest speaker at this year's East Midlands Regional 2009 election dinner. The event will be taking place on Saturday the 7th February at 7:30pm, at the Cedric Ford Pavilion at the Newark Showground, Winthorpe, Newark.

Tickets cost £35 (for a three course dinner plus coffee and wine), ten pounds of which will be given to constituency associations in the region.

For further information, contact Linda Kirk: ;

tel. 01509 853052, or Vicky Thornton: tel. 01455 283594

And another date for the diary ...

The Northamptonshire Branch of The Freedom Association is delighted to announce “An Evening with The Rt. Hon. David Davis MP” on Thursday 26th February 2009. More details to follow shortly.

To register your interest in the event, please contact Vicki Stevens at:
The Freedom Association, PO Box 3394, Faringdon, Oxfordshire SN7 7JN; Tel: 0845 833 9626;
email - .

Lib-Dems: Opposing some of the bad things

On Tuesday Nov 18th, I joined an ITV debate in Strasbourg on EU issues with fellow MEPs Liz Lynne (Lib-Dem), Nina Gill (Lab), and Nigel Farage (UKIP). Very soon the pattern emerged -- the chaps criticising the EU, the girls on the other side. Liz Lynne accused Nigel and me of "not engaging with committee work" (not true, in fact). She went on:

"For example, I've been fighting in the Employment Committee to save the British opt-out from the Working Time Directive". (This is true, and we Conservatives have been doing the same, with Labour trying to scrap it).

I replied: "Liz, you've made my point for me. The best example you can give of your committee work is where you're having to oppose the bad things coming out of Brussels!"

"Oh", said Liz. "But I don't oppose I the bad things".

She was drowned out by ironic laughter. The problem with a slip of the tongue in that context is that you never get a chance to correct it. But it's one of the funniest exchanges I can remember.

The British Constitution

Many people seem to think that the UK has no Constitution. They are wrong. For an excellent and accessible description of our Constitution, now in peril, visit:

The web-site "Brits at Their Best" is run by my old school friend Dave Abbott (King Edward VIth School, Southampton, 1954/62).

Lord Stoddart: The Government has been caught with its trousers down!

Lord Stoddart of Swindon, the Independent Labour Peer, has pointed out that government policy at the G20 summit meeting completely contradicts its climate policy. He sensibly notes that doubling the size of the world's economy -- as agreed at the summit -- is just not possible considering the huge emission cuts that have been proposed in the climate change bill.

"The Government has been caught with its trousers down on this" says Lord Stoddart. "The two policies are incompatible and urgently need a sensible re-think."

Climate Round-up

Conflict of interests: The job of the Environment Agency is presumably to protect our environment. Yet they are proposing to put 80 wind turbines in some of the nation's most picturesque rivers (we all know that river valleys are the best place for wind turbines .... !). Read more, here.

A word from Cambridge: Professor David MacKay of Cambridge University is a strong supporter of wind farms -- but claims in a new book that they will require "at least five times more land than estimated". To supply even a sixth of UK generating capacity would require "an area the size of Wales".

A useless turbine: Featured in "Waste Watch" in the Sunday Telegraph is a £15,000 turbine installed by Ipswich Borough Council to "provide power for an ice cream kiosk" in a park. It has not produced any electricity at all in the 11 months since it was installed. The Council blames "technical problems", the chief of which seems to be a lack of wind. As the Renewable Energy Foundation puts it "We must remember that wind turbines are garden ornaments, not power stations".

Christopher Booker: I had the privilege of sharing a platform with Christopher at a Bruges Group Conference at Kings College London on Saturday Nov 23rd. He tells us that he is getting an increasing and positive response to his articles on climate. Ice cover in the Arctic is currently greater than the average of the last thirty years, and polar bear populations are at record levels.

Cap Gemini, the highly respected international energy consultants, have warned that Britain faces a real risk of power shortages. "Unless new power stations are built, the lights will go out", says a spokesman. As I've been saying that for at least six months, I feel vindicated!

Anti-Wind Farm Groups get a fair hearing on Euronews: About a fortnight ago I was interviewed by the well-respected Euronews channel for a segment on climate change and wind farm groups. They produced a balanced report where the anti-wind-farm side got a fair hearing and I was able to point out the inconsistencies of climate alarmism. You can view the video on the Euronews website here.

Wind Farm menace: According to an article which appeared in BBC News last week, a giant wind turbine near Peterborough has had to be switched off after its frozen blades began to throw off large chunks of ice, sending them crashing into the gardens of local residents. A spokesman from the turbine company said that the turbines should have worked at temperatures as low as -20?C. The ice shards -- thrown off by blades moving at 200mph -- would have probably have killed anyone they hit.

Alternative Climate News:

I came across a wonderful spoof climate news site. Perhaps the funniest piece was:

RISING SEA LEVELS TO REACH RONNIE CORBETT: Experts have upgraded their estimates on rising sea levels, predicting they could submerge Ronnie Corbett within a decade.

See my latest speech on the Euro here

Mugabe is a monster

He is an unelected Head of Government. He accuses political opponents of undermining the economy. He arrests political opponents. He blames his wrecked economy on foreign countries. His economic plan is to nationalise the banks and to print more money.

But then come to think of it, you can say exactly the same of Gordon Brown. (Thanks to Guido Fawkes for this insight).

Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB)

This delightfully named organisation aims, as I discovered at a recent Strasbourg event, to "increase the confidence of investors and others that the public interest activities of the International Federation of Accountants ... are properly responsive to the public interest." Digging deeper, I discovered that the PIOB was formed by, and continues to act under the supervision of, international agencies such as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the World Bank, and our very own European Commission.

So I asked the obvious question: "How can the PIOB claim to be acting to improve the global audit quality, when it is itself presided over by the European Commission -- which has not had its own accounts signed off for the past 13 years?". Needless to say, PIOB representative Dr Tomodakis didn't have an answer to that one!

Update on the Lisbon Treaty

According to a poll published recently in the Irish Daily Star and carried out by former staff members of the Catholic Hibernian magazine, 70% of Irish citizens oppose a second Lisbon referendum, and 57% would vote No in a Treaty re-run.

It is worth noting that the last Hibernian opinion poll, published in the Irish Sun on June 4th, accurately predicted that the Lisbon Treaty would be rejected by a margin of 54% (No) to 46% (Yes).

Nottinghamshire Community Foundation

The Nottinghamshire Community Foundation raises money for small community groups in the East Midlands. Any donations that they secure will be matched as part of the Government's Grass Roots Challenge.

For more information, please visit their website: www.nottscf.org.uk

Blog round-up

Here's a quick round-up of my most recent blog pieces, including updates from the Poznan COP 14 Climate Change Conference:

•  The Climate Package: a Trojan Horse for EU Taxes?

•  Is the euro causing Greek unrest?

•  My Latest Written Question to the Commission

•  Vignettes of Poznan

•  The News Agenda: Illinois Governor and the German Finance Minister

•  Report from the Poznan Climate Conference

To read the reports in full, visit my blog.

Quote of the month

David Bellamy, writing to the Daily Telegraph: "Fuel poverty and hypo­thermia are going to kill a lot more people (than global warming) unless we invest in more conventional power stations to fill the gap, and abandon the titillating fantasy of intermittent wind power"

And another great quote!

"A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually". Abba Eban (1915-2002), Israeli statesman, diplomat, and scholar


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