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Straight Talking - September 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
e-mail list (or if you want to be deleted), please e-mail me on .

Alternatively you can subscribe with this form.

Change of Address

It's been all change at the European Parliament as the new group forms, old MEPs make way for new and so on, but we are finally settled into our new offices.

Phone and fax numbers will be staying the same, but the address is now:

Roger Helmer
WIB 05M81
Rue Wiertz 60
1047 Bruxelles

Meanwhile, Emma McClarkin and I have taken a new office in the constituency, where we are pleased to welcome Rachel Watts and Ella Davies onto the team as Press Secretary and Diary Secretary respectively. Their contact details are:

Ground Floor Suite
Three Crowns Yard
Market Harborough
LE16 7AF

Tel: 01858 465 204
Fax: 01858 432 855

Email Rachel on:
Email Ella on:
Please also note that the old "eu.int" email address no longer works, but I can still be contacted on

Meet the European Conservatives!

Our new group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), is up and running. Last week we had our first group conference in Prague. It has been a revelation to find ourselves, at last, working with other conservatives who broadly share our outlook on the state of the EU.

Suddenly we have group meetings with a broad measure of consensus. We have group staff who are working for us -- not for the other side.

I have been appointed Conservative spokesman on Employment, and I shall take great delight in reminding the Unemployment Committee that it is Conservative policy to withdraw the UK from EU employment and social legislation.

On this committee we have a Czech staffer, Andrea Cepova, who is not only agreeable and competent but also highly capable and committed. See the photo on my web-site at www.rogerhelmer.com

YouGov poll reveals extent of people's ire with Europe

A few months ago YouGov undertook a poll on peoples' attitudes to the main parties. Mostly it consisted of the usual "Who would make the better Prime Minister?", and "Are Labour doing a good job?" types of questions, but buried deep within it was something quite revealing:

If the Conservatives won the next election which two or three (if any) of the following things would you most like them to do? [Please tick up to three]

Reduce immigration 52%
Reduce the powers of the European Union and increase the powers of Britainís Parliament      39%
Do more to help families and restore traditional family values 34%
Scrap Labourís plans to introduce identity cards 26%
Build more prisons so that criminals can serve longer prison sentences 25%
Reduce taxes 24%
Take tougher measures to help the environment and avert climate change 20%
Give local voters the right in referendums to keep down increases in council tax 17%
Bring back state-funded grammar schools and the 11+ exam 10%
Reduce spending on public services 7%
None of these 3%
Donít know 4%

So often Europe is thought to be an irrelevance - something that voters know little about and care to do so even less. This is, obviously, just one poll of just over 2,000 people, but if ever there was a time for an anti-federalist group to be born in the European Parliament, surely this is it?

THE FREEDOM ZONE @ Conservative Conference

We are edging ever closer to Conservative Conference time, and once again the Freedom Association will be hosting The Freedom Zone, featuring an excellent line up to keep you entertained. Speakers include Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers Alliance and Ruth Lea of Global Vision, and there will be a range of events, stalls and competitions throughout the conference.

The Freedom Zone is located outside the security area, so if you are near Manchester between the 5th and 8th October, do come along. More details can be found at http://www.tfa.net/thefreedomzone/. We look forward to seeing you there.

Dinner with Christopher Booker

On Saturday 17th October the Freedom Association are hosting a dinner, with guest speaker Christopher Booker giving a talk on "The Myth of Man-made Global Warming". The dinner will be held at the Swan Hotel, Wells, Somerset; tickets are a mere £35 and can be bought from the Freedom Association. Non-members are welcome to attend. More details can be found here.

Cool Thinking pre-Copenhagen

My staff are currently deep in the throes of organising a one day conference in the European Parliament entitled "Cool Thinking pre-Copenhagen", to be held on the 18th November. Hosted by myself, we shall be featuring prominent speakers from both sides of the Atlantic with the aim of bringing some reasoned debate on the issue into the Parliament. Far too often there is an assumption that everyone is in agreement on the climate change issue; I am pleased to be able to go some way to demonstrating that that is simply not so. I shall keep you posted on the event.

Iceland and the euro

I often sing the praises of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Daily Telegraph, but his piece on Iceland and the euro on July 27th was a real corker. He makes the point that Iceland was regarded as a basket-case when its currency, the Krona, fell out of bed last Autumn. Euro-luvvies insisted that had Iceland joined the EU and the euro, such a disaster could not have happened. Some in Iceland agree: their government has voted to start entry talks with the EU.

But Ambrose goes on to point out that although Iceland's nemesis was sudden and severe, the devalued Krona has led to remarkable and rapid signs of recovery. The unemployment rate in Iceland is currently at 9.1% -- below the euro-zone average of 9.5%. And Iceland's economy is predicted to shrink 7% this year, compared to Ireland's at 9.8%. As Ambrose puts it "So next time you hear the Sacra Congregatio of the euro faithful incant yet again that EMU saved Ireland from a terrible fate, know that they deceive only themselves".

And Iceland's application to join the 'safe haven' of the eurozone? "The storm will have blown over well before an EU referendum is held in two or three years. By then, the delayed cluster bomb of Europe's unemployment will have detonated. Try selling EU protection then".

EU legislation in non-EU countries

Those who argue in favour of British membership of the EU claim that if we left, and had a free-trade agreement like Norway or Switzerland, we should still be subject to most of the EU's acquis communautaire, "but have no say in the legislation" (as if we had any significant say at the moment -- think of the example of the Working Time Directive!).

It is particularly said of Iceland that they have adopted two-thirds of EU legislation "without having a say". This has been asserted both by pro-EU voices in Reykjavik, and by Olli Rehn, the Enlargement Commissioner.

So it is instructive that an authoritative study in Iceland shows that in fact only 22% of laws enacted in Iceland originate in the EU (compared to probably 75% in the UK, and over 80% in Germany). And Iceland is a small country with little leverage against the EU. Britain would be in a hugely stronger position. Indeed it is difficult to see how the UK could be obliged to adopt any EU laws, if it ceased to be a member and opted instead for a Free Trade Agreement. Of course UK exports to the EU would have to meet EU laws, just as UK exports to the USA or India have to comply with American or Indian laws, but that is a commonplace of international trade.

The conclusion is simple: the threats of the Europhiles about the problems we should have outside the EU are fairy-tales to frighten children, not realpolitik. See the report on Iceland at http://euobserver.com/9/28502

Quote of the Week

"There is a risk that wind farms will become a redundant symbol of our desire to 'do something', while more difficult choices about energy are being ignored".

Shaun Spiers, Chief Exec. Campaign to Protect Rural England

Work experience in the European Parliament

For three weeks over the summer we were delighted to play host to Marcelle Marks, a linguistics student with an interest in politics who came to our office to see what goes on here at the European Parliament. She has kindly written a summary of her experiences:

"It was only after finally getting into the office that I felt I had truly arrived in Brussels. After a long and disastrous journey, I was all set to turn back and go home. But I'm glad I didn't. After the appalling start, came an interesting, fun, and occasionally chaotic three weeks.

"Although negotiating the beautiful yet confusing Parliament buildings took time, I eventually managed to navigate between offices, meetings, receptions, and more. I relished chatting with interesting (and surprisingly approachable) people, admiring the architecture, and hearing the cut-throat political debate.

"In Strasbourg, listening to the controversy in the hemicycle was definitely a highlight, and made the long, arduous journey through many of the train stations of Europe extremely worthwhile. Many of our European politicians, whatever their factional affiliation, are superb orators. It is so inspiring to hear people who are truly passionate about their proposals, instead of those who wallow in ambivalence.

"These few weeks have taught me a tremendous amount about the European Union, and I have loved it! I hope to keep up-to-date with the parliamentary goings-on, and to maintain a relationship with Roger and his assistants, who have been so kind and helpful during my stay."

Australian Senate Rejects Ruddís Cap and Trade Emissions Plan

Australia's Senate have voted 42 to 30 against new laws on Climate Change, which had planned for a European style cap'n'trade approach. Prime Minister Rudd can resubmit with amendments, but another rejection could trigger the calling of an election. Read the full report on Bloomberg.

'Dear Angela, climate fears are a pseudo religion.'

More than 60 German scientists and almost 200 concerned citizens, many of whom are also distinguished, have written to German Chancellor Angela Merkel regarding the climate change controversy. In it they warn that global warming alarmism has become a "pseudo religion", and assert that the UN IPPC has lost its scientific credibility. But for me the key quote is this:

"CO2's capacity to absorb radiation is almost exhausted by today's atmospheric concentration. If CO2 did indeed have an effect, and all fossil fuels were burned, then additional warming over the long term would remain limited to only a few tenths of a degree.Ē

Read the full letter and list of signatories.

Peter Sissons: "BBC standards are falling"

In a wide ranging attack that also included charges of falling standards, Peter Sissons has lambasted the BBC, saying that it is now "effectively BBC policy" to stifle debate on climate change. Read his fascinating comments here.

An Open Letter to the Council of the American Physical Society

The Germans are not the only one writing open letters on this subject; a group of physicists have written a letter of their own, this one addressed to the Council of the American Physical Society, urging the Council to revise its current statement on climate change. Full details and list of signatories.

Feeling blue amongst the green grass of home

For centuries the Welsh countryside has been threatened by those who would exploit it for their own gains. The rash of wind farms sweeping the country is just the latest exploitation of this beautiful landscape - only this time we are erroneously told it's for our own good. Read the full article on Wales Online.

Forests of Concrete and Steel: green jobs 'not sustainable'.

Spain has created 50,000 new green jobs with subsidies worth Ä3.7 billion a year. But the cost of subsidized wind energy and carbon dioxide emission permits sent electricity prices soaring for other businesses - causing 2.2 jobs to be lost for every "green" job created. Spain's unemployment rate is now 17% and rising. Read the full story.

Excellent timing, Ed

In yet another example of the government losing the plot, Ed Milliband promised more 'green jobs' - mere hours before a wind turbine production plant on the Isle of Wight closed its doors. This means that all turbines are now produced abroad. Read the full story.

Edward Garnier MP also speaks out against wind power

Edward Garnier, MP for Harborough and Shadow Justice Minister, held a meeting in Lubenham over the summer, in which he asked the Chairman of the Parish Council and representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Prison Service to explain their attitudes towards the proposal to site three enormous wind turbines on land just outside the perimeter of HMP Gartree.

Speaking after the meeting he said: ďThose at the meeting from Lubenham and I made it clear beyond doubt that the site in question was not a sensible place to put three turbines twice or three times the height of Market Harborough church steeple. ... They will cause immense damage to the local environment during their construction, produce remarkably little energy but use up a great deal before they even start generating it and look plain ugly. ... I made my views known in no uncertain terms to the men from Whitehall."

Quote of the Month

"There is a risk that wind farms will become a redundant symbol of our desire to 'do something', while more difficult choices about energy are being ignored".

Shaun Spiers, Chief Exec. Campaign to Protect Rural England

Recent blog postings (can be found here)

The IPPC - A Counterblast A review of the new eye-opening report by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change.

Future Coal A summary of my visit 2000 feet below Edwinstowe, North Nottinghamshire. There, at the Thoresby coal mine, they are investing £55 million in retrieving new "Deep Seam" coal in an effort to give the UK the advantage in the looming energy crunch.

Immigration - EU Style - The European Commission has introduced a new immigration policy which surpasses even our lowest expectations. If passed, however, it will affect us in a very real way.

Aussies Win The Test - Australia sets an example regarding the proper treatment of the accused which the EU could stand to take a page from.


That's it from Straz this month. We're now back in the full swing of things, so next issue will be coming in October. Don't forget to check this website and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com