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Straight Talking - July 2009

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
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Euro-elections: a big THANK YOU!

Despite the distraction of the Westminster scandal, we still managed to achieve a creditable result in the European elections on June 4th. Our share-of-vote was up around four points from 2004, Labour down around four points, and UKIP down a whacking nine points (albeit from an exceptional result last time). There is little doubt that the problems around MPs' expenses caused a leakage of votes from major parties to minor ones: UKIP, the Greens, and the odious BNP. But for that, I believe we should have seen our number three candidate Rupert Matthews elected.

So thanks to everyone -- officers, agents, councillors, party members and activists -- up and down the region who worked so hard in the campaign (and congratulations to our county council colleagues who not only helped with the euro-campaign, but achieved fantastic results in the county elections). And thanks to the other three euro-candidates, Rupert, Fiona and George, who made such a huge effort and commitment without the reward of a seat in the parliament. I shall follow their future careers with interest, because they have shown that they deserve to succeed in politics.

And a big welcome to Emma McClarkin MEP!

I am delighted that Emma has been elected to the European parliament (check the photo on my Home Page). I am looking forward to working with her -- indeed I am already working with her -- for the region, for the Party, and for our country. She is making a cracking start, as she already knows her way around the parliament, having worked here for years in a different capacity.

While welcoming Emma, I must also pay tribute to Chris Heaton-Harris, who ceases to be an MEP this month. In all my working life I have never had a colleague that I have worked with for so long -- ten years -- nor one who was so absolutely positive and on-side. He will be greatly missed, but Brussels' loss will hopefully be Westminster's (and Daventry's) gain.

European Conservatives group launched in Brussels

For ten years -- the whole of my political career -- I have worked and lobbied and campaigned to get the British Conservative MEPs out of the über-federalist EPP group in the European parliament. Surely the biggest question in Brussels is the future shape and direction of the European project? How could Conservatives sit with a group that takes a diametrically opposite position on this great issue? How could our voters believe our promises on Europe when we were sleeping with the enemy?

So it was with especial delight that I attended the constitutive meeting in Brussels on June 24th of the "European Conservatives and Reformists" (if that isn't an oxymoron). I personally shall abbreviate it to "European Conservatives", because I feel very comfortable with that.

We meet the parliamentary criteria for a new group, with 56 members and eight countries, making us the fourth group in the parliament, and I confidently predict that the numbers will have increased by Christmas, as our new group is seen to be viable. We have been very picky with whom we admit, and some delegations who would like to join (and frankly I should have been happy to sit with) have been excluded.

Far from "losing influence" (as the Guardian threatened we would), we are already finding that other groups are recognising that they will need our support, and we can set our terms for giving it. Commission President Barroso has asked to come and lobby us for support for his re-election. The truth is we lacked influence when we were in the EPP. In the belly of the beast, they took our funding, they took us for granted, they denied us a voice. Now they have to seek our support, and we can set our own terms.

And pace the Guardian, there is no question of our sitting with "extremists". We know who the extremists are -- people like the French National Front (Jean Marie le Pen), and the BNP. And we will have nothing to do with them.

German court embarrasses Brussels

The following is quoted verbatim from the excellent Open Europe press summary:

Der Spiegel: German Lisbon Treaty judgment borders on "Declaration of War on the European Court of Justice"

An analysis in Der Spiegel on the recent judgement of the German Constitutional Court on the Lisbon Treaty notes that the decision "very elegantly demolishes the old European idea that the recognised democratic deficits in the EU would disappear completely of their own accord by enhancing the rights of the European Parliament".

The article adds that the judgement borders on a "Declaration of War on the European Court of Justice", as "the German Constitutional Court has essentially declared itself the highest supervisory body in conflicts between Germany and the EU, and thus explicitly placed itself above the European Court of Justice (ECJ)."

The new law which the Court has requested would "allow every citizen to file a special EU suit with the German Constitutional Court against unpopular European regulations and standards." It adds that "the court has limited the high-handedness of the German government, which has all too often pushed through political goals that were difficult to achieve back home by going behind the back or against the will of the Bundestag."

In an article in the Irish Independent, Bruce Arnold debates the significance of the German judgment for Ireland, saying that the 'battle' of the second Irish referendum of the Lisbon Treaty "has been fundamentally, even irretrievably, changed by the German judgment". He argues, "While Germany has considered, in the Karlsruhe Judgment, its relationships with the EU and with the treaty, our leaders, Brian Cowen and Micheal Martin, have acted like corner boys and rabble-rousers, rushing to Europe for a quick fix designed to get a 'Yes' vote. There was no serious thought or dignity at all."

A trivial gesture

The government (I suppose we must still call it that) has announced plans to make available the sum of £4 million, from the funds recovered from criminals, and make it available across the country for community projects. It is inviting the public to propose suitable projects. Several thoughts spring to mind.

First, the government must think it's good value to spend £4 million (of what is essentially public money) to buy positive national press coverage and several minutes discussion on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Second, spread across the country and amongst dozens of community projects, £4 million is almost trivial. It's a drop in the ocean.

Third, given all the people who will be setting up web-sites, sending in ideas, analysing the ideas, and sending them up to the Home Office for adjudication and authorisation, the administrative costs of the exercise will far exceed the sum to be disbursed. Come to think of it, that's exactly how EU grant funding works. Maybe the government got the idea from Brussels.

Fourthly, if this is the best sort of initiative that our fag-end government can think of, it's yet further evidence that they've run out of steam, run out of ideas, and need to go to the country.

But in a positive and constructive spirit nonetheless, I have a suggestion of my own. Given the disastrous and unprecedented deficit which the government has created, and the fact that our children and grandchildren will be saddled with Gordon Brown's debt for decades, any spare money the government can lay hand on should be used for one purpose, and one purpose only. It should be used to pay down debt.

Cool Thinking on Climate Change

My new book published by the Bruges Group is available in hard copy from my Blisworth office, or on the Bruges Group web-site at www.brugesgroup.com

Recently on the blog

WE ARE ALL PROBLEM DRINKERS NOW! - The Rt Rev John Gladwin has argued that middle class folk who drink at home are just as bad as the lads and ladettes over-indulging on our streets. He is wrong!

KEN CLARKE ON THE EU CONSTITUTION - How Ken has dismayed the party with his comments on the Lisbon treaty

"ISOLATED AND MARGINALISED"? - The left's propaganda machine rolls on -- but we are categorically not sitting with the BNP!

CAMPAIGN 2009 RETROSPECTIVE - A round-up of the election results in the East Midlands.

SCURRILOUS JOURNALISM -Some underhand tactics by local press have left many shocked.

MEPs' TOP MARKS FOR TRANSPARENCY IN TPA STUDY - The Taxpayers Alliance places Conservative MEPs in four of the top five spots in a study on transparency and parliamentary work.

New Photos

Check the photo album for masses of new photos: the Blaston Hounds Show, the Lincs Show, Uppingham School Choir, Skegness Grammar School, loads more!

More blogs - this time by my staff

I've just discovered that my assistant Donna Edmunds also writes a political blog. Recent posts include an excellent summary of how the Lisbon Treaty will make Europe less democratic, comments on the rise of the BNP, and support for the Tories' new video on Foreign Aid. The blog can be found at www.donnaedmunds.blogspot.com

Quote of the month

"Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status". Laurence J. Peter, author of the Peter Principle.

Government addresses the Great Carbon Myth

According to news reports, the government is planning to spend more of our money, this time to warn us of the dangers of climate change, to soften us up for the massive amounts it wants to spend to combat it, and to prepare us for the very painful policy prescriptions which it seems to expect will come out of the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December.

But they won't tell us that tens of thousands of scientists around the world, many from prestigious academic institutions, disagree with the theory of man-made climate change. They won't tell us that the slight warming we have seen in the last century is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate cycles. They won't tell us that the observed pattern of warming is entirely different from that predicted by the computer models on which the Great Carbon Myth is based, or that global temperatures correlate much better with solar variation than with the steady rise in atmospheric CO2.

They won't remind us that in the 1970s, governments were worried about global cooling, and warning us of the coming Ice Age. And they certainly won't tell us that for the last five years, the trend of global average temperature has again been downward.

They will talk about tipping points, but they won't tell us that today's temperatures are entirely normal, and that 800 years ago the world was warmer than today, during the Mediaeval Warm Period (when grapes grew in northern England), as it was 1800 years ago, during the Roman Optimum.

They won't tell us that the eye-watering amount they propose to spend on climate mitigation far exceeds any conceivable benefit. But the public are wising-up to the green agenda. Increasingly voters recognise that green taxes are about raising revenue, not saving the planet.

There are real and urgent issues around energy security which we need to address, but global warming hysteria is distorting our priorities.

Prominent US scientists challenge the Great Carbon Myth

A group of US scientists from prestigious institutions -- MIT, Princeton University, University of California, University of Hartford -- have written an open letter to Congress challenging the "consensus" on climate change. Read the letter here.

Sign the new petition on wind turbine safety

In response to a recent petition to investigate the health impacts of living in close proximity to wind turbines, the Government cited evidence in a report by Hayes McKenzie which showed no health impacts. Either they are not aware, or are simply not interested that Hayes McKenzie, an acoustic consultancy firm with strong ties to the wind-farm industry, are not best placed to offer this kind of information. Where is the evidence from healthcare professionals working with those who suffer from the side effects of living in close proximity to wind-turbines?

A local constituent Tony Leatham has decided to call upon the government to undertake a more rigorous investigation, and has filed a petition with 10 Downing Street.

Wind farms in the East Midlands

The East Midlands is facing a flood of planning applications, breaking out like a rash, especially along the M1 and A14 corridors. Both Chris and I have been working with, and supporting, local protest groups. One can take different views on climate change and renewable energy, and the Party's current stance is positive about these issues. But as Conservatives we should all be able to unite in opposing wind farm plans where these are close to established dwellings.

Visual intrusion is the least of the problems. Turbines, especially the enormous units now proposed, decimate property values and create noise, including infra-sound (very low frequency sound) that penetrates homes, disturbs sleep and causes significant health problems for susceptible people. Wind farms blight communities and homes and lives.

I should like to see a minimum distance ("set-back") of two miles between new turbines and existing dwellings. Scottish planning guidance calls for 2 kms (and there is no corresponding guidance in England). Many of the new applications in our region are within one mile of homes. We shall keep up the opposition.

Moving Heaven and Earth on climate change

A new book, Heaven and Earth by Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University, has just been published in Australia and the UK. Time and again we are told by the media that climate change is "consensus science", and that only a few renegades on the outskirts of academic study are not taking it seriously. This book blows that claim apart.

Professor Plimer, Australia's best known geologist, is Professor of Mining Geology at Adelaide and also Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences in Melbourne, and has already published a highly acclaimed book The Short History of Planet Earth, which won the Australian Museum's annual Eureka prize.

Moreover, in Heaven and Earth there are 2,311 references to other scientists' work in just 500 pages, both giving tremendous clout to his explanation of climate change as driven by the sun and not by human activity, and refuting the idea that climate scepticism is 'fringe' or 'loony' science.

You can read an interview with Ian Plimer in this week's Spectator.

A practical way to achieve energy security

I recently heard a presentation in the parliament on something called "High Temperature Reactor Technology", and I was so impressed that I asked the people for a very short summary. If we want energy security (and even if we want CO2 emissions cuts) this seems to me an exciting way forward:

High Temperature Nuclear Reactors Can Power Industry and Significantly Reduce Global Carbon Emissions

High Temperature Reactors (HTR) are small, modular, flexible and safe nuclear energy sources uniquely suited for co-generation of energy for industry (heat at 800°C or above, steam, hydrogen, electricity). Their technical feasibility has been demonstrated internationally in 5 test reactors and prototypes. The next step should be to build a larger demonstration plant, convincing industrial end-users of the technical, financial and licensing viability of co-locating HTRs alongside energy-intensive industries.

This mainly European high-tech innovation has excellent prospects for becoming a profitable export product. It addresses a massive energy market and could directly displace vast quantities of fossil fuel and the resultant CO2 emissions, thereby helping to meet both climate change and security of supply targets. A significant breakthrough of HTR technology would require public support of the order of 3.5 billion € over a period of approx. 12 years.

Considering the potential social, economic and environmental benefits, this requirement is modest. The growth of interest in nuclear power worldwide opens the door to exploitation of HTR technology by process industry. Political support at national and European level is required to encourage industry, facilitate access to financing mechanisms, promote public acceptance and create a stable investment climate.

Five key reasons to reject class warfare tax policy

Dan Mitchell at the CATO Institute in America sent me a link recently to an excellent video that they have just put out. While there is a brief mention of Obama's various tax ideas in the beginning, the video is designed to be equally relevant for international audiences. With Brown foolishly proposing to push the top tax rate in the UK up to 50 percent, it makes for interesting viewing. The video can be seen on YouTube.

Challenge the litter louts

Well done Market Harborough. The Council has established a special reporting line for littered beer cans (and drug paraphernalia) at www.harborough.gov.uk/communitysafety, and promise to get their Community Safety Team on the case. A good initiative -- other local councils might want to follow suit.


That's it from Straz this month, and the first Straight Talking of the new parliament, following the election in June. We take a break in August, so the next issue is September. Please remember to check this website and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com