What's New
Speeches & Articles
Newsletter - Jul 2012
Contact Information
Photo Album
Parliamentary Highlights
MEPs' Transparency

The Freedom Association
Visit the
Freedom Association

Straight Talking - May 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.

General Election 2010: The dust settles

We are all, of course, horribly disappointed that we failed to get the majority Conservative government for which we had worked and campaigned for so long. Yet we should not belittle the scale of our achievement: we all knew we had an electoral mountain to climb, and that the system was stacked against us, yet we gained nearly 100 seats. I could scarcely believe the early projections based on exit polls, and as some of the early results came in those projections looked even more suspect. Yet by breakfast time, we saw that they had been bang on the money.

I daresay that I was at least as astonished as Nick Clegg by the projection, borne out by the early hours, that after all the hoo-hah about a Lib-Dem surge, they would get fewer seats than in 2005.

I spent most of the night at the Daventry count with Chris Heaton-Harris, formerly MEP, now MP. But at 3:30 a.m. (a full five hours after my normal bed-time!) I could keep my eyes open no longer, so I’m afraid I missed the declaration. But Chris did fantastically well, with over 56% of the vote. Elsewhere in the region, congratulations are due to Nigel Mills in Amber Valley; Anna Soubry in Broxtowe; Louise Bagshawe in Corby; Pauline Latham in Mid Derbyshire; Heather Wheeler in Derbyshire South; Jessica Lee in Erewash; Nick Boles in Grantham; Andrew Bingham in High Peak; Andrew Bridgen in NW Leics; Karl McCartney in Lincoln; Nicky Morgan in Loughborough; Michael Ellis in Northampton North; Mark Spencer in Sherwood; and Stephen Phillips in Sleaford &NH – plus of course all those sitting Conservative MPs re-elected -- some, like Philip Hollobone in Kettering, with greatly increased majorities.

Nevertheless, we are where we are, in a hung parliament, and it seems to me that we have two imperatives. First, for our country we have to deliver stable governance and fiscal consolidation – and we have to do that quickly. So Cameron is right to talk to Clegg. Like many Conservatives, I personally hate the idea of having to do a deal with the Lib-Dems. I hate their cynicism, their opportunism, their mendacity. I hate the way they will tell diametrically opposite stories in adjacent constituencies – or even on adjacent doorsteps. They will say anything to get elected – in the debates, Clegg even denied policies which were there in black and white in his manifesto. Yet with them, we should have an overall majority in the Commons. And anyway, I should also hate the pork-barrel politics of paying vast and unaffordable sums to Scotland and Northern Ireland as the price for cooperation from the SNP and Unionists, even though in so many ways the Unionists would be much more agreeable bedfellows.

I am pleased that Cameron has drawn clear red lines on Europe, immigration and defence. He was right to do so. I am very comfortable with moves to reduce taxes for the low-paid – we should have been doing that anyway. I am much less happy about the green agenda, but I suppose we have to make concessions somewhere, and the green agenda may well fall apart as the global warming “consensus” continues to disintegrate. Certainly it is way down the public’s priority list. On electoral reform, there is much we can and should do without giving way on PR.

Our second imperative, for our Party, is to regroup for the next General Election, which if previous precedents are followed will occur well before 2015, and maybe this year. And for this reason we much avoid recrimination. Given our disappointment at the result, it would be all too easy to start looking for scapegoats. Easy, but wrong. We must learn the lessons of this campaign, but we must not tear ourselves apart. We certainly made some mistakes:

The TV debates: It was clearly an error to allow Clegg equal billing in the TV debates. We may be inclined with hindsight to overlook the error, since in the event the Lib-Dems lost seats. But without his three evenings in the limelight, it could well be that the Lib-Dem vote would have collapsed to the mid-teens.

The government’s record: This Labour government had done so badly it offered an open goal. We could, and should, have been much more effective in attacking Labour and pinning the blame on them.

Immigration: We have a perfectly good immigration policy, yet for most of the campaign we seemed afraid to mention it. Only when Clegg was on the spot over his proposed amnesty did we summon up the courage, rather tentatively, to talk about it. Yet again and again our activists told me that it was the Number One issue on the doorstep.

A ham-fisted initiative: About a week before polling day, we announced that a Conservative government would “give consideration” to raising the status of civil partnerships by recognising them as “marriage”. So in order to appease a strident minority, we were prepared to set at defiance the plain meaning of words; to overturn the wisdom, custom and practice of millennia; to affront a large part of our core vote; to dismay many Christians and Muslims; to dishearten our socially-conservative supporters; and (perhaps worst of all) to jeopardise the dignity and status of matrimony itself. Not a very smart move from a Party which claims to put marriage and the family at the heart of its agenda. Perhaps we should pay a little more attention to Chris Grayling, and a little less to the Party’s new Notting Hill orthodoxy.

And the outrageous treatment of a Conservative candidate: Philip Lardner is a friend of mine, and was Conservative Candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran. He is also, as it happens, the Freedom Association’s point man for Scotland. Yet he was dumped by the Party as its candidate, during the course of the campaign. His offence, it appears, was to say that while all citizens should have equal rights, he personally, as a Christian teacher, was not prepared to teach homosexuality to the children in his charge. To discipline a man for the simple expression of a conscientious view goes beyond mere political correctness. It amounts to extraordinary intolerance. It is positively Orwellian thought-policing, and we should be ashamed of it. One wonders if the Party would have taken the same action if a Muslim candidate had expressed a similar view.

Quote of the Month:

Jeremy Warner, in the Daily Telegraph: "The ruinous deflation that Britain might be facing now if it were in the euro hardly bears thinking about".

The Top 10 Terrible Tories

It seems I'm being recognized for my efforts in the Conservative party after all. The Fabian Review has released its register of their "Top 10 Terrible Tories". I am not sure what criteria they used, but I seem to be No 8 on the list, just below Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries, and above fellow MEP Daniel Hannan. Margaret Thatcher was rated N0 2, and party leader, now Prime Minister, David Cameron is No 4. I suppose it would have been too ominous at the time of publication to make him No 10!

The guys at the Fabian Review need to think about the election results. Voters seem to have realised that Conservative policies create jobs, promote national defence and protect our nation’s sovereignty – and they seem to like that.

Windfarm cancelled to protect Autistic Children

The planned development of a windfarm in North Lincolnshire has been halted due to the adverse effect it would have on two autistic children living nearby. You may recall my ongoing campaign against windfarm development until we know the extent of its adverse effects to the surrounding population (namely in low-frequency noise pollution and its blight on the landscape) but here is a tangible example of how one such farm would have damaged the quality of life for two young boys.

The BBC gives a synopsis of events in which the Glathorne family, already living in the shadow of two wind turbines at the rear of their home, were successful in petitioning the planning inspectorate in their village to stop a second development slated to overlook the front of their home as well. Currently there are many petitions across the whole of the British countryside aimed at simply curtailing these intrusive and ineffective structures. It is good to see there are some victors in this fight for common sense.

A busy travel schedule

Now that the election is over, I have a number of foreign visits in the schedule. During w/c May 17th I was in Chicago (despite the Icelandic volcanoes and the planned BA strike), at the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Climate Conference, bringing together distinguished scientists from around the world. It assembled probably more scientists from relevant disciplines than sit on the IPCC’s panels, the supposed “consensus” on climate issues. Yet all those in Chicago this week took a broadly sceptical view. They largely agree with me that the UN/EU approach to climate issues amounts to junk economics piled on top of junk science. This is the world’s premier gathering of sceptical scientists this year – yet predictably, the BBC’s coverage was thin. Photos should be up on the web-site by the weekend.

On May 27th I plan to be in Riga, Latvia, to attend the appeal hearing against the earlier acquittal of my two Derby constituents David Birkinshaw and Matthew Neale, who have been victims of the EU’s European Arrest Warrant. I don’t know yet whether I can provide much help, but at the very least I shall be ready to offer moral support. Much more on this on my blog at www.rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com . See my Telegraph letter

Then in early June, I expect to join an extended (nine day) trip with the parliament’s delegation to Korea – although plans may be affected by the new report on the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel. We hope to visit Beijing, Pyongyang and Seoul. In North Korea we have the key issues of nuclear proliferation, regional stability, and human rights, while in the South the focus will be on economics and the Korea/EU Free Trade Agreement. Of course in an earlier life I spent four years living and working in Korea, so naturally I have a keen interest in developments there. Recently the appalling human rights situation in North Korea has moved up the agenda, and I with other colleagues have been pressing the parliament to produce a report on the human rights position in the country. I don’t imagine that one more report will change the world, but it may at least help to ramp up the pressure on the North Korean régime.

A Post-Script to my BBC debate with ex-MP Phil Hope (Corby)

At the recent BBC Radio Northampton debate, Phil Hope MP told a good yarn about investment in Corby. He didn't mention the way that the rural part of the constituency gets starved of funds while the town gets the money. Cllr Sean Lever, with his detailed local knowledge, puts this in context, and his comments represent a clarion call for localism -- which the Conservatives will deliver if elected on Thursday. I especially liked East Northants Council's clear stand against the folly of wind-farms.

"As a member representing Irthlingborough, which is in the Corby constituency, local people tell me “Corby gets all the money”. On the ground it’s obvious to any observer this is true. Whilst some areas do need a boost to help regenerate needy locales, it’s the disproportionate nature of spending across boundaries that concerns local people. It’s no coincidence that Corby is a Labour marginal seat and other parts of Northamptonshire are largely Conservative held. Guess where the tax pounds are spent? The shocker, when you explain this to electors, is that it’s not local Councillors or Council officers who decide where the money is spent it’s unelected regional government offices (GOEM, in our case) and development QUANGOs (NNDC WNDC EMDA etc). They are just the superannuated agents of Labour’s central command and control structure, gerrymandering tax payers cash into areas that have previously voted Labour.

"The flip side of the coin sees the housing and density targets fostered on local councils in planning policy guidance and statements that have resulted in unwanted blocks of flats being built across our towns. Of course, the population rises this causes is not mitigated by funding for local infrastructure or services, for schools or roads – no these problems are left for local councils to mop up with whilst the treasury pockets all the tax receipts from growth.

"This is why we must get back to a localised decision making regime, where accountable, elected people can truly represent their electorate. For the record, East Northamptonshire council recently refused to adopt an unacceptable planning policy from GOEM that meant more wind farms, more flats and no infrastructure money. No council has ever done this before, but the feeling of members was so strong we were prepared to take the Labour medicine, if they ever get back into power."

You couldn't make it up!

Alex Deane, writing on Conservative Home has highlighted the Order of Service for the 6.30pm Service at Westminster Abbey, on Sunday 9th May -- of interest as it was a Service for Europe Day, to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Schumann Declaration. It was sheer propaganda, praising EU integration and condemning sceptics.

Feel free to take a look at the full Order of Service. (pdf format)

Brown 'mistaken' over benefits of the EU

The Times' Election '10 blog has been looking into some statistics quoted by Labour to see if they stack up. One post of particular interest shows how Gordon Brown's claim that 3 million jobs are dependent on EU membership falls somewhat wide of the truth. As they point out, 3million jobs may depend on trade with EU, but it doesn't follow that we must be members to keep those jobs.

If one were being generous, one could suggest that Gordon Brown was simply mistaken. I suspect most people will be more cynical.

Open letter to Commissioner Öttinger

A number of MEPs, representing many countries and Parliamentary groups from across the political spectrum, have written to Commissioner Öttinger, the new European Commissioner for Energy Policy, urging him to promote nuclear energy as a vital part of the energy mix.

In light of the issues surrounding security of energy supply, and in our current climate which vilifies carbon, nuclear energy is a vital part of the energy supply equation.

EU Biofuel Directive is descriminatory

A new European research report has claimed that the European Union's Renewable Energy Directive discriminates against non-EU producers of biofuels such as palm oil.

Dr Gernot Pehnelt, director of the independent research institute GlobEcon, and co-author of the report (with Christopher Pehnelt) said

"The EU has embedded protectionist measures at the behest of anti-development environmentalists and the uncompetitive European biofuels industry."

Pehnelt, meanwhile, said many of the claims that foreign biofuels, specifically palm oil, are a threat to the environment are seriously flawed and some unfounded. Moreover, he points out that:

"Palm oil acts as a substantial driver of economic growth in the developing world, drastically reducing hunger and poverty in regions that actively cultivate this valuable crop. Restricting palm oil production worldwide and limiting access to European markets would limit an important opportunity for developing countries to raise living standards and reduce poverty"

Read the rest of the article here.

A Victory for over 7 Million EU Hunters

During a special Parliamentary session in early May the Parliament voted in favour of the heavily worded "Evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006 - 2010". The report as proposed would not have covered wild animals, but the Greens along with various bleeding hearts tabled amendments designed to bring in wild animals – in an obvious threat to hunting

It has been the position of some Green MEPs that animal conservation should not be left to a national level of governance. Further, that the EU as an institution based in Northern Europe is more than capable of taking into consideration the disparate cultures across all separate regions of the twenty-seven member states. I am delighted to say that efforts to bring the welfare of wild animals under EU control were voted down.

The President of the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation in the EU, an independent interest group based in Brussels, has also expressed his gratitude to the EP Hunting Intergroup – of which I am a member -- for rejecting the idea that national hunting practices should be handled by the European Union.

Anti-fraud investigators swoop on EU emissions traders

Read the story here: http://euobserver.com/22/29996. Some reports are suggesting that up to 90% of all ETS transactions could be fraudulent.


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