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Straight Talking - November 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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Conservative Policy on Europe: A Personal Statement

David Cameron, writing in the Sun newspaper a couple of years ago, gave a "cast-iron guarantee" of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Later this commitment was qualified by the condition "if it hasn't been ratified". But the public (and I) believed we had a clear commitment to an EU referendum, and that was the basis on which I was re-elected earlier this year.

I was therefore bitterly disappointed when the Party withdrew this commitment recently. I have spent the last ten years robustly defending Conservative policy against all comers, and though I say it myself, I think I've become rather good at it. But I can't and won't try to defend a policy I don't believe in, and I think our present position on the EU simply cannot be defended against an informed and hostile critic.

We cannot on the one hand say "Once the Lisbon Treaty is EU law, we can't challenge it", and on the other hand also say "We'll have a Sovereignty Act, and we'll return powers from Brussels" -- a policy which effectively repudiates the Lisbon Treaty.

I would have been happy to settle for the solution which David Davis proposed -- a differently-worded EU referendum to take account of the new circumstances -- but I believe we ought to have a referendum. No one under fifty years old has ever had a chance to vote on the EU, and it is a wholly different beast today from the Common Market we voted for in 1975.

Accordingly, I decided (as did my good friend Dan Hannan) that I had no alternative but to resign from the two spokesmanships which I held in the delegation. It was the least I could do. I spent the next week refusing media bids from national TV and radio, since I had made my point and did not want to damage the Party by making a meal of it in the media.

I have recorded a pod-cast in which I explain the reasons for my decision.
It can be heard on the Tory Radio website.

Speaking Up for the Derby Two

I'm absolutely furious that the two Derby men cleared of all charges in Latvia have been ordered to return for a second trial. You can watch my interview about the case here.

Bureaucracy Run Mad

We constantly bang on about EU bureaucracy in a general sort of way, but I just came across the most extraordinary and egregious example. I have spent months -- literally months -- trying to get the parliament authorities to accept and approve contracts for the guys who manage my web-site and blog -- and to pay them some money. I have been back and forth to my Lutterworth accountants again and again, almost weekly for quite a number of weeks, dotting i's and crossing t's.

The parliament insisted on having paper invoices hand-carried from the supplier, to the accountant in Lutterworth, then to Brussels. Are we in the 21st century or the 19th century, I wonder -- will it be quill pens next? We're dealing here with IT guys, to whom the idea of producing original, hard-copy invoices on a monthly basis is just lunatic. They want to submit bills electronically, and so they should. But no. Brussels won't accept them.

Then they noticed that the bills were (very good) photocopies. No good, they said. Must be original, hand-signed in ink. And the accountant has to sign a special parliamentary form attesting that he has studied the invoices, and compared them with the contract, and confirms that they are consistent with the contract and with relevant UK law.

After all this to-ing and fro-ing, surely now it was all fixed? Ah no. They also want a new letter from the accountant explaining why VAT is not payable. But hang on -- they already have the official parliamentary form, signed by hand in ink by a qualified accountant, saying that the bill is in accordance with UK law. So the VAT issue is covered. Isn't it? No. It is not. I quote verbatim the reply I received from the parliamentary services -- because you couldn't make it up.

"As you rightly point out this explanation is provided already by the paying agent and, admittedly, the requirement might appear as an unnecessary duplication. However, the requirement of explanation on the invoice itself is a direct obligation under Article 226(11) of Directive 2006/112/EC (the "VAT Directive") which lays down explicitly that in the case of an exemption, a reference to the applicable provision of the VAT Directive, or to the corresponding national provision or any other reference indicating that the supply of goods or services is exempt, is required on the invoice. Accordingly, this is a Community requirement which pertains to the validity of the invoice itself. The requirement for the paying agent's certification is, in turn, one which arises from Article 41(2) of the Implementing Measures and pertains to the procedure for reimbursement of the relevant costs. As you undoubtedly know, these rules have been decided by the Bureau and the Administration has no alternative than to ensure their implementation. Consequently, both requirements need to be complied with, each for its own reasons".


Climate Challenge in the European Parliament

Have humans changed the climate? That was the question posed on Wednesday Nov 18th in the European parliament, Brussels, at a Conference I hosted.

Nine eminent speakers from Europe and North America included Prof. Ross McKitrick, the man who demolished the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s "Hockey Stick" graph; Prof Fred Singer of the University of Virginia, author of the NY Times best-seller "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years"; and British columnist James Delingpole, self-styled guerrilla blogger on climate hysteria. They covered the science and politics of climate change. The morning session was chaired by my good friend and colleague Giles Chichester MEP. Giles is the Chairman of the European Energy Forum, and a former Chairman of the parliament's influential Industry and Energy Committee.

The Conference heard that the UN's COP 15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, due to take place in December, is unlikely to produce any substantive outcome beyond an agreement to keep talking.

Several key themes emerged. The small (+0.7 deg C) increase in average global temperatures over the last hundred years is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate trends. The predictions of the IPCC's computer models continue to be hopelessly at odds with observed data. The "fingerprint" of predicted warming (in terms of latitude and altitude) is wholly different from the pattern observed by ground stations, meteorological balloons and satellites. Samples of ancient atmospheres from half a million years of ice cores clearly demonstrate that temperature changes drive atmospheric CO2 changes, not vice versa. The theory of man-made climate change is not only unproven, but disproved by these findings. Global temperatures are as likely to decline as to increase in the next decade.

A number of representatives from both the European Commission and the IPCC were invited to speak, but declined to do so.

However, this did not deter the hundred-strong audience, which included a number of MEPs, scientists, journalists, and constituents from my East Midlands region.

I was delighted by the level of support for this conference. It is clear that the tide of public opinion is turning against climate alarmism.

Pod-casts I have recorded two pod-casts, one on the Conference, and a second in light of Ed Miliband's comments that the conference was one of "climate change deniers". No-one denies that the climate is changing. The question is, why?


It seems our Climate Conference was well timed, as on Thursday morning the internet was buzzing with a story that bloggers were calling "Climategate".

It transpired that a large number of documents had been leaked by a hacker who had broken into the server at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The files included data and a large number of e-mails appearing to show climate scientists discussing the need to massage data in order to support the man-made global warming hypothesis.

They altered data to exaggerate warming. They prevented the release of data conflicting with their views. They urged the destruction of data and files they believed could become the subject of Freedom of Information requests. (This action could represent a criminal offence). And they sought to prevent publication of papers from dissenters, and to secure the dismissal of an editor of a science journal. This is the biggest scientific scandal since the Piltdown Man.

Anthony Watts, a speaker at our event, was one of the first to break the story on his wattsupwiththat website. It was quickly picked up by another of our speakers, James Delingpole, who wrote more comprehensively about the story. His excellent blog is well worth a read.

Since last week, however, it has developed into quite a furore. Lord Monckton has penned an article and many news channels are starting to pick up on the story. Lord Lawson on the BBC Today programme on Nov 23rd called for an inquiry into the scam.

"Climate change is not our fault, say most voters"

This was the lead headline in The Times on November 14th, and augurs badly for the UN Climate Conference, COP 15, next month in Copenhagen. I have been saying for some time that the only conclusion at Copenhagen would be an agreement to keep talking. Now President Obama and other world leaders are saying the same.

The headline is based on a Populus poll of 1500 adults, and finds that only 41% accept that human activity is driving climate change. The rest believe that change is natural, or that it isn't happening, or that it's merely green propaganda. All of these views have some element of truth. The poll confirms an on-going trend to increasing scepticism amongst voters on the climate issue.

The Times is appalled at the failure of government to convince the public on global warming. I, on the other hand, take it as testimony to the robust common sense of the Great British Public.

There is a warning in the figures for the Conservative Party. While 47% of Lib-Dems and 45% of Labour voters accept the government view that we're all responsible for global warming, only 38% of Tory voters agree. And most voters are seriously fed up with being harangued, and blamed, and taxed in the name of climate mitigation.

It is becoming clear that the Great Carbon Myth is bad science and bad economics. For the Conservative Party, it may well also be bad political tactics.

250bn: The Real Cost of Wind Power

And still the global warming agenda continues to unravel. The Daily Express has revealed the contents of an internal document from the National Grid, which states that wind turbine energy will at times cost over 3000 per cent more than conventional power. At a time when electricity costs are already burdening the average household with unmanageable payments, can we really afford this folly?

The Alarmists' Big Lie

One of the biggest lies of the alarmist movement is this: "There is not a single peer-reviewed scientific paper which questions the science behind global warming". Anthony Watts (again, he of the wattsupwiththat.com website) has now compiled a list of 450 such papers.

Maldives Safe -- No Rise in Sea Level

The recent stunt in the Maldives, where the government conducted an under-water aqualung cabinet meeting, has been condemned by one of the world's top sea-level experts, Nils-Axel Morner.

Dr. Morner, head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University, says that reliable research shows that sea level around the Maldives has been unchanged for thirty years, and he has written to the President of the Maldives to say that the aquatic cabinet meeting was no more than a cheap PR stunt.

It is clear that some island communities are using Al Gore's fairy-tale of sea level rise in order to put pressure on Western countries to pay "compensation". As they see the whole global warming myth crumbling away beneath the weight of contrary evidence, their demands become ever more strident as they attempt to get their payout before the whole edifice collapses.

On the Blog:

In case you missed them, here is a round up of recent items from my blog:

Cameron is Right on Cohabitation
David Cameron has slapped down Henry Bellingham, a Justice Spokesman, who proposed equal rights, including property rights, for co-habiting couples, after some qualifying period of co-habitation. He is right to do so.

An Exciting Renewable Technology
I may not be impressed by the theory of anthropogenic global warming, but I am very concerned about energy security, so I am in favour of renewable if sustainable. I suspect under-sea tidal turbines might well be.

The EU Gets Schizophrenia
The Federalists have ridden rough shod over the people of Europe in their quest to create powerful posts to rival the USA. But instead, for our President we have a Belgian Prime Minister no-one's ever heard of...

Making Meat Safe to Eat
I recently attended a meeting with the British Meat Inspectors Association, and was interested to establish whether the over-inspection I had observed several years ago at an abattoir remained the norm.

Gordon Brown Should Not Apologise for Child Migrants
Nor should he apologise for his handwriting. But he has much else to apologise for.

Letter from a Constituent # 1

Dear Mr Helmer,

Let me see if I understand all this...

If you cross the North Korean Border illegally you get 12 years hard labour.
If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese Border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the UK border illegally you get a job, a drivers license, pension card, welfare, credit cards, subsidised rent or a loan to buy a house, free education and free health care.

Letter from a Constituent # 2

Dear Mr Helmer,

I wonder if you can please explain to me the Government's logic on Global Warming?

They believe that sea levels are going to rise quickly, so they are abandoning coastal defences on the East Coast but they are making us change our light bulbs? There's joined-up government for you!

Letting in the sea will create more wetlands (and less food, naturally) which will provide an excellent habitat in a warmer climate for malarial mosquitoes, which they believe will be a problem in a warmer world. People in Norfolk where there are low lying, watery areas used to get malaria. It was called then called ague.

As regards Carbon credits/Carbon offsets; ultimately you will need some of these to make anything at all and we will have to pay the cost to the politicians' best friends, the bankers. This is not only the first time that politicians have sold hot air, they will actually compel us to buy it! This supra-national power grab is on an unimaginable scale -- and all based on duff data.

Just a few cheerful thoughts.


That's it from Straz this month. Next month I will be in the Galapagos, to celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th anniversary (and before you ask -- I'm paying for the trip myself!) so there'll be no December newsletter. Normal service will be resumed in January. Meantime, Happy Christmas! Don't forget to visit this web-site, and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com.