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Straight Talking - January 2010

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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The anti-democratic Baroness Ashton

The noble Baroness, recently appointed as EU Foreign Minister, is widely regarded as a lightweight, unable to defend the Council against the Commission, or to defend British interests in Brussels, or indeed Brussels interests around the world. In an earlier life it was Baroness Ashton who steered the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords, and helped to ensure that the British people never had a chance to vote on it. So here we have a woman, never elected to any public office, appointed to an unelected position created by a Treaty which she helped force through without democratic legitimacy. How anti-democratic is that?

Electing the College of Commissioners

For a week we have done little but attend the hearings for 27 new and nearly-new Commissioners. This was largely a waste of time, as we can't vote on individuals -- only on the 27 as a whole.

But some were interesting. Laszlo Andor is nominated as the Unemployment Commissioner. My colleague Vicky Ford MEP (Eastern England) suggests that his name might summarise his approach (And/Or). He is an Hungarian socialist and editor of a hard-left magazine. He is anti-market, anti-NATO, anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation, and unable to recognise that increasing the cost of labour by overregulation might actually reduce the demand for it, and increase unemployment. Just the man for the job, then.

Then there was Olli Rehn, formerly Commissioner for Enlargement, now candidate for Economic Affairs. He impressed with his linguistic skills, addressing the Committee in English, French and German. Most members listened in their own language. Fortunately one was also linguistically gifted, and listened to all three versions. The effect of Mr. Rehn's presentation was tarnished when the member pointed out that in English, Mr. Rehn said his key priority was economic development. In French, it was employment. And in German, the social market.

Top marks for tailoring the message to the audience, but a great big raspberry for sincerity.

So how will I cast my vote for the 27? Answers on a post-card please. But no prizes for guessing.

Dan Hannan on Reasons to Leave the EU

You may already know that my colleague Daniel Hannan, MEP for the South East, writes an excellent daily blog for telegraph.co.uk. With Lisbon now ratified and The Freedom Association's Better Off Out campaign still going strong, I particularly liked this recent pithy contribution:

Ten Reasons to Leave the EU:
  1. Since we joined the EEC in 1973, we have been in surplus with every continent in the world except Europe. Over those 27 years, we have run a trade deficit with the other member states that averages out at £30 million per day.

  2. In 2010 our gross contribution to the EU budget will be £14 billion. To put this figure in context, all the reductions announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference would, collectively, save £7 billion a year across the whole of government spending.

  3. On the European Commission’s own figures, the annual costs of EU regulation outweigh the advantages of the single market by €600 to €180 billion.

  4. The Common Agricultural Policy costs every family £1200 a year in higher food bills.

  5. Outside the Common Fisheries Policy, Britain could reassert control over its waters out to 200 miles or the median line, which would take in around 65 per cent of North Sea stocks.

  6. Successive British governments have refused to say what proportion of domestic laws come from Brussels, but a thorough analysis by the German Federal Justice Ministry showed that 84 per cent of the legislation in that country came from the EU.

  7. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to negotiate much more liberal trade agreements with third countries than is possible under the Common External Tariff

  8. The countries with the highest GDP per capita in Europe are Norway and Switzerland. Both export more, proportionately, to the EU, than Britain does.

  9. Outside the EU, Britain could be a deregulated, competitive, offshore haven.

  10. Oh and we’d be a democracy again.

Tory Radio Podcasts

Each month I record a few podcasts for www.toryradio.com If you want to subscribe to the podcasts using I-tunes you can do so here.

Alternatively, to make sure you keep up to date with all the podcasts to Tory Radio why not subscribe to their weekly newsletter by emailing

Blog round-up:

Degrees of Freedom: the good and the great seem to imagine that they have a divine right to direct every detail of our lives — always, of course, for our own good.

Gordon Brown - Champion of the Middle Classes: Gordon Brown is now seeking to present Labour as the party of middle class aspiration.

We Can't Go On Like This: Yet again, the European Court overrules measures which we have taken in Britain to protect ourselves against terrorist attacks.

Fancy a commie employment commissioner? My question to Commissioner Designate Mr. Laszlo Andor, on behalf of the European Conservatives, at his accreditation hearing.

Make your mind up Gordon! Gordon tells us that the Hoon/Hewitt plot to unseat him has made him “more determined” to lead Labour into the next General Election. It seems reasonable to infer that before the coup emerged, he was less determined about soldiering on.

Conflict of Interests: Lord Turner is Chairman of the government’s new Committee on Climate Change, and of the FSA. Perhaps a conflict of interests?

Obama gets the thumbs-down in Massachusetts

It seems no time since President Barack Obama came to office riding a huge wave of optimism and hope. Surely the Archangel Gabriel himself could scarcely have fulfilled such expectations. Certainly Obama couldn't, and his current approval ratings are well below 50%.

Even so, it was astonishing that a conservative Republican, Scott Brown, was able to win the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by Teddy Kennedy (Jan 19th). Massachusetts is a liberal Democratic state that has been a Kennedy family fiefdom for fifty years. This is a direct rejection of Obama's plans for socialised medicines. It breaks the Democratic "super-majority" in the Senate, and calls into question not only the Obama health plan, but his Tax'n'Trade environmental policy as well.


Quote of the Month #1:

"Similarly, the wind strategy is encouraging the building of large clusters of enormous wind turbines in the countryside that will scar the landscape, and whose noise levels could ruin people's lives. The planning blight alone will afflict hundreds of thousands of families and damage the value of many homes – and all with enormous taxpayer subsidies."

David Davis MP, writing in the Independent, Dec 2nd

Copenhagen goes up in smoke

In December 2008, I attended the UN's COP14 climate conference in Poznan, Poland, but I decided I'd miss the 2009 COP15 Conference in Copenhagen. In fact I had resolved to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of his world-changing book "The Origin of Species", by taking a trip to the Galapagos Islands, where so many of Darwin's ideas were formulated, so I was in mid-Pacific for much of the Conference period.

But back in November I was invited to contribute an article for the Magazine "Total Politics" on the prospects for Copenhagen. The question was "Will Copenhagen result in a meaningful climate change agreement?", and the magazine had organised a head-to-head piece, with Caroline Lucas MEP, Leader of the Green Party, taking the Yes side, and myself in the No corner (read it here).

Of course it's always dangerous to make predictions, which can sound so silly if they prove mistaken. But if you take the risk, it is so satisfying once in a while to get it right. Judge for yourself. I wrote: "There will be a lot of breast-beating about the importance of action against climate change. Maybe some cosmetic, aspirational targets. And a firm commitment to keep talking. Don't expect anything substantive". With the benefit of hindsight, I'd say I had it about right.

Climate debate goes mainstream!

There has been the most extraordinary breakthrough in the climate change debate. For years sceptical views have been ignored or ridiculed by the media. But in November we saw the first trickle of water through the dam, and during December it became a cascade. On Nov 18th I hosted a major one-day conference on climate in Brussels, following up with a pre-Copenhagen briefing on Dec 2nd (see the photo album).

First the BBC (of all people!) published a piece on its web-site "Whatever happened to global warming?". Days later, the Sunday Times ran a big feature "Everything you thought you knew about Climate Change is Wrong". A couple of weeks on we had Professor Ian Plimer, the prominent Australian sceptic, interviewed cordially on the BBC's "Today" flagship news programme, and a fortnight later, Lord (Nigel) Lawson.

The reason for the Lawson interview was the most extraordinary scientific scandal of our era. A hacker had released a huge trove of files and e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The CRU works closely with the Hadley Centre in the UK and a handful of other meteorological institutes around the world, and is the source of the basic temperature data that underpins the "science" of global warming. And it now appears that a small coterie of scientists, closely associated with each other and with the IPCC, has been fraudulently manipulating the data, applying "adjustments" to create or exaggerate warming trends, blocking the publication of contrary data and analysis, seeking the dismissal of the editor of a scientific journal that gave space to sceptics, and (perhaps a criminal offence) conspiring to delete data and e-mails which they feared could be subject to Freedom of Information requests.

It is now clear that the IPCC at the very least has failed in due diligence, and has not adequately verified the data it is using, if indeed it has not colluded in the fraud. Accordingly, I and several colleagues (Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, US Professor S. Fred Singer, and Dutch Professor Hans Labohm), have written to the Chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway calling on him to withdraw the 2007 Nobel Prize awarded to the IPCC.

This is a worse fraud than the Piltdown Man. The systematic falsification of data, and the loss or destruction of much of the database, means that we simply can't know the truth -- although independent satellite data have always shown a much smaller warming trend than CRU. I have always taken for granted the relatively rapid warming from the mid-seventies up to 1998, but now even this is in question. It may be merely a construct of the conspiracy.

But the story didn't stop there. In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tried for the second time to get a Cap'n'Trade bill through parliament. He hoped to have the support of the Liberal (Conservative) Party led by Malcolm Turnbull, who supported the bill. But thanks to a strong lobbying campaign against the bill by Australian scientists, the Senate voted it down -- and the Liberal Party, deeply unhappy with Turnbull's ultra-green stance, sacked him and appointed a sceptic, Tony Abbott, in his place. There is a warning here for leaders of centre-right parties who try to push their green credentials too far.

And right on cue, here in Britain former leadership contender David Davis MP published an article in the Independent, in which he set out his deep concerns at the political and economic implications of CO2 emission reduction programmes, while a poll published in the Times shows the majority of British voters (59%) do not believe that human activity causes climate change. The wheels are well and truly coming off the global warming band-wagon. For years I have ploughed a lonely furrow on this issue, so I hope you'll forgive me if I say I am enjoying a warm glow of vindication.

Quote of the Month #2:

"The Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is based on data that is drawn from a ridiculously narrow span of time and it demonstrates a wanton disregard for the ‘big picture’ of long-term climate change."

Russian Scientist Gregory F. Fegel, arguing that global cooling is more likely than global warming.

The Heartland Institute

I was delighted to see The Heartland Institute featuring a summary of my November Brussels climate conference. Find it here, with a full roundup of the event, including graphs and illustration, here. The Heartland Institute is a US free market think tank which has been turning out some excellent publications on tax-policy, healthcare, the environment and most recently global warming.

In May the Institute will host its 4th annual Climate Conference, in Chicago. While the agenda has yet to be finalized, the initial speaker’s list seems quite impressive. Some of them participated in our own November event: Fred Singer, economist Hans Labohm and Anthony Watts.

Incidentally, if you would like a DVD of the November conference: "Have Humans Changed the Climate?", please send £10 to Dr Fred Goldberg at Materialdata AB, Box 1210, SE-181 24 Lidingö, Sweden, making sure to include your return address.

Gordon's big idea

Gordon Brown tells us that his massive plan for offshore wind farms will be Britain's new North Sea energy bonanza, creating wealth and jobs, and setting Britain on the road to energy security and prosperity. Industry experts have responded quickly to point out the flaws in the plan. We don't have the engineers or the infrastructure (or the funding). We don't have the UK manufacturing capacity, so most of the "green jobs" will go off-shore. Connecting these major off-shore projects to the grid will be technically difficult, and there will be major power losses in transmission. Costs of installation and maintenance have probably been underestimated. Above all, no one has any idea how to balance a national grid with such a high proportion of wholly unpredictable and intermittent power generation.

But it seems to me that we're still missing the key objection. Let's assume (improbably) that the whole project can be delivered on time and in budget. Let's assume that all the formidable technical problems can be overcome, and the grid balanced without ruinously expensive conventional back-up. Even then, all we shall have achieved is to ensure that Britain has the most expensive electricity in Europe, and that British industry has a crippling long-term competitive disadvantage. We shall have replaced energy we can't obtain with energy we can't afford.

That's the secret of Gordon's plan. Even if it succeeds, it fails.

John Redwood's Diary

John Redwood also takes a sceptical view of climate alarmism. See his excellent blog:
Not such a silly question?

And Finally...

For all those of you who, like me, are driven to distraction by those condescending (and surely expensive!) adverts from our Government, warning us of the impending doom we all face in Climate Change, something to make you cheer: Global Warming - the Terrifying Reality


That's it from Straz this month. We'll be back in February. In the meantime, don't forget to visit this web-site, and post a comment on my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com.