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

Alternatively you can subscribe with this form.

Danish Unions up in arms about Greek euro-débâcle

The Greek economic crisis, exacerbated by their euro-membership, has been so well-covered in the press that I won't go on about it. It would be wrong to relish the discomfiture of others (schadenfreude is an ugly word) -- but if you ever wondered whether we were right to stay out of the euro-zone, Greece is the answer (and Ireland, and Spain, and so on).

But I was touched by the reaction of Greek trade unions. They observed the advice from the Commission that solving the Greek deficit would require general cuts in salaries and wages in Greece, and they panicked (with some justification) at the idea of the Commission interfering in setting wages in a member-state. I would share their concern, though the Commission's observation is little more than a statement of the obvious.

But in a wonderful display of Workers' Solidarity, the Danish Unions have said that unless the Commission withdraws its threat to Greek wages, they will campaign against euro membership in the forthcoming referendum (remember that Denmark, like us, has so far resisted the blandishments of monetary union).

Sometimes the unions will adopt the right policy for the wrong reasons. This is case in point.

Tweet tweet! Straight Talking on Twitter

You can now follow me on Twitter, tweeting a few pithy aphorisms and quick comments on the news agenda under @RogerHelmerMEP. Please feel free to sign up for my animadversions.

Heritage Foundation: Index of Economic Freedom

The Heritage Foundation has recently compiled this year's Index of Economic Freedom, and it's not good news for either the UK or the US. The UK has dropped out of the top ten -- proof that our Labour government's policies are simply not working -- whilst the US suffered both a drop in rankings and the ignominy of no longer being considered "mostly free". You can read more about the rankings on The Heritage Foundation's website, here.

More fallout from Lisbon

Those of us arguing against the Lisbon Treaty have always pointed out that unforeseen consequences could be just as costly as those we could predict. It seems we were right. The US State Department has recently admitted that President Obama's failure to attend an EU summit in Madrid is partly a result of confusion arising from the Treaty.

In the past, visits could be easily planned due to the predictability of the six month revolving presidency. But the new system, which incorporates not only the rotating presidency but also an EU Council President and a European Commission president, is simply too complicated. Kissinger famously asked "Whom do I call when I want to talk to Europe?". We still don't know the answer -- and nor does the State Department.

BBC accused of £8bn Eco-bias

The Daily Express (article here) has suggested a reason for the BBC's single-minded commitment to climate alarmism. The BBC Pension Fund, with 58,000 members, manages assets worth around £8 billion. It is the only media organisation in Britain whose pension fund is a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which has more than 50 members across Europe. Its Chairman Peter Dunscombe is also the BBC’s Head of Pensions Investment. Its policy is to use its investment muscle to promote climate mitigation and green industries.

Remind me, someone. How do you spell "Conflict of Interests?"

Cosmetic Uprise

Come again? Cosmetic Uprise? What's that? Well, it's an anagram of "Euroscepticism". And it's the name of a eurosceptic blog-site run by a cute young thing called Mia Välimäki. Worth a quick look, and not only for a great anagram. At http://cosmeticuprise.wordpress.com/

OpenEurope on Ofgem's energy warnings:

My Parliamentary e-mail in-box is usually pretty full, but the OpenEurope press summaries are always worth a scan. Recently this article caught my eye.

Ofgem warns of power blackouts and soaring energy bills to meet EU rules

The Times reports that energy regulator Ofgem has warned of power blackouts and spiralling consumer prices, and raised the prospect of partial renationalisation of the industry in order to maintain the UK's energy security. Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem's Chief Executive, said that the crisis had been compounded by an "unholy trinity" of factors - including the impact of the recession on energy industry investment, Britain's growing reliance on imported gas as North Sea supplies are depleted and the closure of nine ageing coal-fired and oil-fired power stations by 2015 in order to meet EU pollution laws, a move that will scrap almost a third of UK generating capacity.

OfGem has also announced that in 2009, for the first time, the extra costs associated with renewables (mainly wind), and paid by electricity users, exceeded £1 billion, and will exceed £5 billion by 2020.

And it's not just OfGem. The Chief Executive of E-On, one of our largest power suppliers, has also warned that the lights may go out if we comply with the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive, requiring the closure of perfectly good coal-fired power stations by 2015.

Of course I've been saying that for some time. It's good to see that the industry is now saying the same thing.

Blog Round-Up...

Whisper it softly: The Pope is right
The Pope condemns Harriet Harman's equality laws. He's right to do so.

Saving the elephants
The obvious way to save the elephants is to ban the ivory trade. But is it the best way?

Q&A session with Commissioner-DESIGNATE ANDOR
See my exchange with Commissioner-Designate Laszlo Andor -- anti-NATO, anti-globalisation, anti-Free-Markets; editor of a hard-left journal, and a former Marxist.

The Green Card Trick
Lib-Dem MEP Chris Davies exploits a new parliamentary rule.

Degrees of Freedom
myriad of ways in which they're planning to curtail our freedom

Islamic Law and Hindu Cremation
Freedom of religion? Yes. Sharia Law in the UK? No!
(With a great and marginally relevant 19th-century painting!)

Gordon Brown: Champion of the Middle Classes?
The very idea reads like a joke. But it's not very funny.

... and a couple of podcasts

Discussing Climate Change with Ed Miliband
My debate with Nick Ferrari and Ed Miliband on LBC Radio

Discussing the IPCC

Whatever you do, don't fly the flag!

I went to school in Southampton. King Edward VI School, 1955 to 62. And I drove a mini-cab in the town as a holiday job. So my eye was naturally caught by a press story about taxi-drivers in Southampton.

There have been complaints from passengers that some local taxi-drivers can't speak English, and punters naturally feel more comfortable with a taxi-driver they can communicate with. So English-speaking drivers are putting a Saint George's flag in the window.

The licensing authority has now told them that their licences will be withdrawn unless they remove the flags, which are said to be (you've already guessed it) racist!

I fear to say more, lest I use words inappropriate for family reading around the fireside. But I shall continue to display a large Saint George's flag in my office in Brussels, racist or not.

Westminster Inquiry on CRU e-mail leaks

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is conducting an enquiry into the CRU e-mails scandal. They have invited submissions by Feb 10th. See my submission on my blog, here. Let's hope it's not a whitewash -- though with Lib-Dem MP Phil Willis in charge, I fear it may be. The Lib-Dems tend to be passionate climate alarmists.

It's worth summarising just briefly the key developments in this story. The IPCC's pin-up Hockey Stick graph was thoroughly discredited several years ago by the work of Canadian statisticians Ross McKitrick and Stephen Macintyre. Then last autumn we had the University of East Anglia CRU leaks. These were not, as Ed Miliband said, a couple of regrettable mistakes. Rather they appear to have been a systematic and deliberate campaign of falsifying data, "hiding the decline" and exaggerating warming trends. Hear my exchange with Ed Miliband on LBC at toryradio.podbus.com/helmeronmiliband.mp3

Then we heard that the IPCC claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was not peer-reviewed science, but recycled speculation from a WWF propaganda leaflet. Their claim that global warming was driving up the costs of natural disasters went the same way -- the author of their source document actually denied their conclusion. Then their similar claim about the Amazon Rain Forest (40% gone by Tuesday afternoon) was shown to be similarly flawed, and some researchers are claiming that up to twenty sources quoted by the IPCC are from "grey literature", and not peer-reviewed research.

Perhaps the biggest point is this. The government's (and the EU's) plans for climate mitigation are based to a large extent on Lord Stern's massive (but deeply flawed) Economic Review, in which he claimed that "The cost of inaction exceeds the cost of mitigation". Stern's future costs, in turn, depend on the IPCC's link between warming and disasters. If that goes, Stern goes, and the government's whole energy strategy is in tatters.

It's time for governments, and our party, to change course on this one. I was horrified to read in the press the suggestion that the Conservative Party had appointed Lord Stern as an adviser, and delighted when the report was denied by the man himself next day.

Beijing's doubts over Global Warming

China is making positive noises about climate mitigation -- but continues to build new coal-fired power stations. At the same time, their chief Copenhagen negotiator has expressed uncertainty about the science behind global warming, pointing out that many scientists believe that climate change is based on natural cycles (as I've been arguing for years). He's insisting on the importance of keeping an open mind. He's right. See the FT report.

Quote of the Month

We cannot incentivise idleness and expect it to diminish.
We cannot spend more than we earn and expect to become richer.
We cannot borrow more than we can afford and expect to stay solvent.
We cannot import millions of economic migrants and expect higher wages for low-paid workers.
We cannot run a non-selective state education system and expect its output to waltz into Oxbridge.
We cannot dumb down education standards and expect employers not to notice.
In short, we cannot cheat our way to sustainable prosperity.

Jeff Randal in The Daily Telegraph

Sun heats up -- Earth cools?

The BBC has reported, with great relish, that after a quiet period, the Sun has become more active, with more sunspots. The Beeb's enthusiasm may have been based on the well-established theory that more sunspots mean a warmer world (there were few or no sunspots during the Maunder and Dalton Minima in the Little Ice Age, for example).

However the fact is that the latest sun-spot cycle has started late, and slow. We could well be at the start of a new cool period like the Maunder Minimum. See WattsUpWithThat for more detail.

Wish upon a STAR

On Jan 30th I visited Ringstead, Kettering, Northants, to support a village campaign group, STAR (Stop Turbines at Ringstead). You can see a photo here. I so admire the work of groups like this. Facing developers with bottomless pockets, and beset by planning rules that are designed to ride rough-shod over local opinion, they nevertheless get organised, raise funds, and do their best.

And sometimes they succeed. The application at Gartree in Leics has had an initial refusal, though of course it will go to appeal. Local Conservative MP Edward Garnier did a superb job at Gartree supporting local protesters.

Wind turbines make no sense in either economic or environmental terms. They blight villages, and homes, and lives. So good luck, STAR. I'm wishing on you.

And Finally:

"Life is a Carbon Cycle -- Don't break the chain!"


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