December 2013

STRAIGHT TALKING                        December  2013

 

Roger Helmer’s electronic newsletter from Strasbourg

 

Please feel free to distribute this newsletter, or to quote from it.  It is primarily written for euro-realists in the East Midlands, but may also be of interest to others concerned about the climate debate, or 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 roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

 

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A Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year

Let me take this opportunity to wish all my readers, and the UK as a whole, a Happy Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.  I shall not be sending Christmas cards this year: instead I’ve made a donation to Help for Heroes.

For an independent Britain, dig deep

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Party, as some­one once said.  And we might add, all good women too.  Your UKIP candidate team in the East Midlands is getting down to serious planning for the 2014 euro-campaign in May.  But we need your help.  And we need money (and before you ask — yes — the candidates are chipping in).

This is more than just an election.  We’re determined to turn it into the EU Referendum we never had.  If you want to vote Yes to Europe, then any of the old parties will do.  If like us you want Out, then it has to be UKIP.

Every penny donated, from a couple of quid to as high as you like, will be dedicated to one purpose: the independence of our country.  Self-determination.  Democracy.  Freedom. (And, I could add prosperity and lower energy prices).

I know UKIP that supporters will want to help.  But I believe there are many more people out there, supporters of others parties and no party, who will want to send a clear message to Cameron and Clegg and Miliband: We want our country back!  We want to control our borders, expel foreign terrorists and criminals, make our own laws.

Please, on this vital occasion, dig deep.  Send a cheque now — before you forget — to Paul Oakden, 21 Manor Walk, Coventry Road, Market Harborough LE16 9BP.  Payable to “UKIP”.  We promise to make every penny count.  And thank you.

 

The Strasbourg Travelling Circus

On November 21st, the parliament voted on the question of the travelling circus, and the proposal to consolidate on a Single Seat in Brussels.  The measure was passed by a substantial majority – 483 to 141.  This does not mean, of course, that we shall scrap Strasbourg straight away.  Perhaps not at all.  The status of Strasbourg is based on the Treaties.  These can only be changed by the Council, and only then by unanimity.  France has a veto, and will probably use it.

We in UKIP have of course always argued for a Single Seat (today two seats – tomorrow one seat – next week none?).  But we faced a dilemma in this vote.  As usual, along with the substantive point – ending the monthly commute to Strasbourg – there was a mass of verbiage praising the European project.  Try this for size:

“Parliament plays a distinct and unique rôle as the only institution that is directly elected by and accountable to the European Citizens, and since its rôle has undergone the most significant changes amongst all the EU institutions, this report will primarily focus on the parliament’s seat and working arrangements …..the EU is a representative democracy with parliament as the direct representative of European citizens at the Union level ……Believes that the European parliament …is the only body directly representing European Citizens”.

Clearly we in UKIP do not believe that the European parliament is a legitimate democratic organ, nor do we consider that “democracy at the European level” is a meaningful concept.  On the contrary, it is a snare and a delusion.  So, much as we want to end the travelling circus, we simply could not vote for the text as it stood.  Our only credible option was to abstain.

We have already seen some sniping from the Conservatives for failing to support their motion (Ashley Fox MEP was a co-rapporteur).  But now you know why we abstained.  And you know that the Tories voted for (and quite probably drafted) all that nonsense about European democracy.  Indeed it seems likely that the text was designed to ensure we couldn’t vote for it – simply for the purpose of giving the Tories an anti-UKIP press release.

 

1200 new coal fired power plants

 

We’re constantly told that we need to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe, and that the world will end if we don’t.  But the EU is only about 12% of global emissions — and the UK around 2%.  We could shut down the whole of the UK economy and China would make up our shortfall in emissions in twelve months.

There are currently some 1200+ new coal-fired power plants in the global pipeline.  We need to face it: emissions will rise for decades, whatever we do.

Anti-freedom, pro-big-government?

I was recently astonished, and frankly bewildered, to be accused on Twitter, by someone calling himself “@linkshund”, of being anti-freedom, anti-free-market, statist, pro-big-government.

Those who know the first thing about me will be equally astonished.  In terms of politics, I am profoundly committed to Jeffersonian Principles.  Freedom with responsibility.  Enterprise and free markets.  Low taxes and limited government.  Family and nation.  As many will know, I spent several years as Chairman of The Freedom Association.

I think I may have found the answer.  Linkshund seems to be objecting to my earlier Tweet where I observed that free trade in goods, services and capital need not necessarily imply the free movement of people, and that the attempt to conflate the one with the other was unjustified.  “Absolute nonsense”, I think I said.  As Milton Friedman put it so well, you can have a welfare system or you can have open borders.  You cannot have both at the same time (and our government is currently demonstrating the truth of Friedman’s dictum rather effectively).

Linkshund seems to think that any attempt to control borders is, in and of itself, state control and anti-freedom.  Well of course it is against the freedom of (for example) Romanians and Bulgarians hoping to come to Britain ad lib.  Linkshund appears to think that freedom implies the right of everyone to travel and reside anywhere.  But as anyone with a scrap of common sense can see, that’s a recipe not for personal freedom, but for anarchy and chaos, which is surely the antithesis of freedom.

The best way to deliver freedom to the citizen is for the government to deliver on its two most vital functions: the defence of the Realm, and the Rule of Law.  In an orderly society we can be just about as free as is realistically possible (if we can also prevent the government from interfering, with its health warnings and 20 mph speed limits).  But in the sort of chaos that Linkshund would create, anything resembling freedom would be impossible.  Our homes, our property and even our lives would be at constant risk.

It is the function of the Nation State to deliver benefits and protections for its citizens which may not be available to non-citizens.  That must imply controls on immigration.  That is the duty that the British government is failing to deliver within the EU.

Hailing Ayling

UKIP Councillor Victoria Ayling has taken some stick in the media for an alleged “anti-immigrant rant”.  It turns out that all she was doing was saying that illegal immigrants should be returned to their home countries, although the BBC didn’t report it in quite those terms.

It seems to me that about 98% of the country (excluding illegal immigrants) would agree with her. And about 99% of UKIP members.

Marine “A”: Right verdict.  Wrong sentence.

They’ve named Marine “A”, but I don’t want to give his name any further currency, so I’ll stick to Marine A.  The release of his name was a crime.  He and his family are now at serious risk for the indefinite future from Islamic Jihadists.

Of course Marine A was in the wrong.  We can’t have British soldiers breaking the Geneva Convention, and their own rules of engagement, and shooting incapacitated prisoners out-of-hand.  So it was right that he should be charged, and convicted, and sentenced.  But in my view, for what it’s worth, the court failed to take due account of the extreme levels of stress, and provocation, which drove Marine A to break the rules.  Which of us, hand on heart, could guarantee that we might not have done the same, in those dreadful circumstances?  A much more lenient sentence would have been right in this unhappy case.

I am horrified to hear that there are now a number of other similar cases pending.  The bad guys have realised that in the fog of war, any such allegations are difficult to disprove.  And the courts seem too eager to give the benefit of the doubt to the victim.  The bad guys also know that accusations of this sort absorb a preposterous amount of legal, and military, time and effort.  They know that if they hit lucky they’ll get a pot of gold, courtesy of the British tax-payer.

And they also know that these accusations, and the surrounding publicity, have a hugely damaging impact on the morale of the military, and on the resolve of the British public to support the military.  From the Jihadist point of view, allegations of atrocities against British soldiers are a win-win-win situation.  A one-way bet.  Can’t lose.  May win big.  We mustn’t let them play that game.

Lib-Dems cry wolf.  Again.

At the end of November, I published a blog post rebutting East Midlands Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn, who has his needle stuck in the groove.  In his newsletter, he’s been telling us that if there’s a serious prospect of Britain leaving the EU, we’ll lose investment and jobs as companies take flight.

One point I omitted to make in that piece: it’s Groundhog Day.  Rewind ten or twelve years, and there’s Bill Newton Dunn telling us that if Britain doesn’t scrap the Pound and join the €uro, we’ll lose investment and jobs etc etc…. you know the script.  It was wrong then.  It’s wrong now.

So I was delighted to see a piece in the Telegraph Business News of December 28th, “City could still thrive after EU exit”. Gerard Lyons, former Chief Economist at Standard Chartered, says the City of London’s success is “not dependent” on Britain remaining part of the EU.

He warned that changes to European voting rules could mean that the City faced an unstoppable coalition hostile to its interests.  “France has a veto to protect agriculture, but we don’t have a veto to protect the City”.

Jim O’Neill, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management business, says the City should not be “constrained by dumb reform” in Europe.   And in a phrase that could be a UKIP slogan, he added: “Be bold.  Be global.  And don’t worry so much”.  Good advice.

The Aluminium dilemma

On November 27th I attended a briefing from the European Aluminium Organisation.  They face a problem common to other metals — and indeed to other energy-intensive industries including cement, glass, woodpulp, chemicals and petrol/diesel refining.  The combination of regulations and taxes has driven energy costs so high that they can no longer operate profitably.

The German government, to its credit, has addressed this problem, and created special exemptions for energy intensive businesses.  As a politician, I would argue that households and pensioners also need exemptions, and if there are that many exemptions, maybe we should scrap the rules entirely.

But the European Commission believes that the German government intervention may constitute “state aid” contrary to the treaties, and is seeking a ruling in the ECJ.  The position of German aluminium smelters is rather clear: if the decision goes against them, they will simply pack their bags and leave the EU, and in double quick time.

We’re dealing here with global industries which can invest anywhere in the world.  We’re making Europe impossible for them.  A French spokesman for Rio Tinto (which has closed a couple of UK plants) remarked that it was much more difficult to get government/regulatory decisions made in the EU than elsewhere in the world because of the dysfunctionality of the EU institutions and their deliberative processes.  He added to me (privately afterwards) that a ton of aluminium made in China produces ten times as much CO2 as a ton made in Europe.

So we’re driving investment and industry and jobs out of the EU with green taxes and regulation, whilst at the same time increasing CO2 emissions.  Sounds like a lose-lose deal to me.

And speaking of aluminium….

The weekend before last, I collected fifteen dead aluminium cans for recycling, along a mile of the Gilmorton road.  Last weekend I collected another nineteen, on the same stretch of road.  Some were old cans that had resurfaced after verge-trimming, but perhaps half were new and pristine.  Who are these thoughtless vandals who presume to think that they can use our country lanes as litter bins?  Don’t do it, guys.  Take your litter home.  You don’t want it?  Neither does Leicestershire.

The Ukrainian Question

Superficially at least, the sight of tens of thousands of Ukrainians demonstrating in Kiev, waving EU flags and demanding closer links with the EU, poses a dilemma for those of us who’ve devoted their political careers to getting Britain out of the EU.  A ringing endorsement for Brussels?  Maybe not.

I don’t think that the Ukrainian protesters have done any serious macro-economic analysis, or looked in any detail at the impact of EU membership on the economy and democracy of member-states.  They’re just saying that find the West a more attractive proposition than the former Soviet Union.  There, at least, I agree with them.

The Ukrainian Question is a simple one: does the Great Gate of Kiev face East or West?

 

The hubris of Pascal Lamy

On November 23rd, the Telegraph carried a story that Pascal Lamy, former head of the WTO, has said that Britain would be “shooting itself in the foot” if it left the EU.

But journalist Szu Ping Chan, who wrote the story and lays great stress on the WTO connection, curiously failed to mention that Pascal Lamy was also formerly an EU Commissioner.  So in Mandy Rice-Davies’ immortal phrase, “He would say that, wouldn’t he”?  If he adopted a sceptic line, he could lose his pension.

I remember meeting him in those days, with the (then) Ambassador of Singapore, to urge him to look favourably on an EU/Singapore free trade deal.  But with typical EU hubris, Lamy replied that he wanted to use the offer of a free trade deal to ASEAN as a whole, not just to Singapore, in order to drive EU-style integration within the ASEAN grouping.  Conceited and patronising.  He was treating Singapore as a second class state, although today the per capita GDP of the EU at around US£34,000 is about the same as Singapore.

In the article, Mr. Lamy ventures the view that outside the EU, Britain would have “no place at the negotiating table” when it came to Europe.  OK Pascal.  But we’d rather have 100% say in our own country that an 8% say in a country called Europe.

Alien Tories

Nick Boles MP, described as a Planning Minister, has said that the Tories are seen by the young as “alien”.

And not just the young, Nick.  There are a great many life-long Conservative voters (I used to be one of them) who suddenly found that the Party they thought they knew had become alien.  Fortunately, these voters now know where to turn for the sort of common-sense policies they expected to get from the Tories, but don’t see any more.

On the same theme, a group of wet Tory MPs, including Richard Benyon and Charles Hendry, have warned the Prime Minister that he risks driving Tory voters into the arms of the Lib-Dems if he abandons his green agenda (it’s well known, of course, how keen local Tories in the Shire Counties are on wind-farms, for example).

If I were Cameron, I’d be more worried about all the Tory voters he’d drive into the arms of UKIP if he pursues his green folly with its attendant energy prices.  And I think he is, indeed, more worried about that.  He needs to be.

Quote of the month 

G.K. Chesterton:

“They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,

  Lords without anger and honour who dare not carry their swords.

  They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes.

  They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies”.

Conclusion

That’s it from Strasbourg for the December session.  Please remember to visit my web-site, & my blog. And follow me on Twitter: @RogerHelmerMEP

Also have a look at the UKIP MEP web-site www.ukipmeps.org