STRAIGHT TALKING December 2014
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 email@example.com
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Wishing all readers
A Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Don’t mention immigration!
In a 33-page document about how Labour should counter the UKIP threat at the General Election, Labour candidates have been advised “don’t mention immigration”. Any discussion of immigration “risks undermining the broad coalition we need to return to power”. Campaigning on immigration “could lose Labour the next election”. If the subject arises, Labour candidates should “move the conversation on” to areas where Labour actually has policies.
My experience is that voters who raise the immigration issue on the doorstep feel rather strongly about it, and won’t take too kindly to being “moved on”.
But broadly the document, catchily titled “Campaigning Against UKIP”, is right. Immigration is a vote-loser for Labour, which virtually invented mass immigration as a deliberate policy. As they used to say, “Tony Blair hated the British working class, so he decided to import a new one of his own”. So in an outburst of positive cooperation, I’d like to offer some further helpful advice, in a fraternal spirit, to Labour candidates.
Don’t mention the deficit. After all, Ed left it out of his Conference speech — so follow his example. It’s a loser for Labour. And it tarnishes all the give-away polices that Labour would like to offer on welfare and social services. While we’re still trying to address Labour’s deficit, it’s hard to find the money for social needs.
Don’t mention energy prices. Ed has been trying to blame the utilities, but he knows it’s his own green policies, and the disastrous Climate Change Act that he drove through as Environment Secretary, that have done the damage. The problem can’t be solved until we repeal the Act, and develop a rational energy policy. Like UKIP’s energy policy. Meantime Ed’s crass idea of an energy price freeze will lead to blackouts, and will block the new investment in energy infrastructure that we in Britain so desperately need.
Don’t mention the EU. Everyone knows that Labour’s policy on the EU is to sell-out our country and toe the Brussels line. Not many votes there.
Doesn’t leave a lot to talk about, really, does it? Never mind. You can try telling the voters what a good guy Ed Miliband is, and what a great Prime Minister he’ll make. Good Luck with that. And a Merry Christmas to all of you.
The misjudgement of Mrs Gomez
I was listening to the BBC Today Programme on December 1st (as I frequently do). And they quoted the opinion of Mrs Ana Gomez MEP, a Portuguese Socialist, who reportedly said “Without the EU, Britain would have no influence in the world”.
Let’s try to unwrap that opinion. The UK is one of the world’s top ten economies. One of the top ten trading nations. Perhaps the top five armed forces. It’s one of the world’s most globally connected countries, with membership of NATO, the G7 (or is it G8?), the G20, the Commonwealth, the OECD, the World Bank, the UN Security Council, the OSCE – the list goes on and on. And when we leave the EU, we shall resume full functional membership of the WTO, and speak directly for Britain’s interests, rather than have our position strained through the cacophony of twenty-eight conflicting opinions.
And Mrs Gomez thinks we have more influence as an off-shore province in a hopelessly chaotic and economically disastrous amalgam of twenty-eight disparate states, than we would have as a major and independent global player. She is exactly, utterly and diametrically wrong.
Blatant BBC bias
Reporting on the recent rescue attempt of a hostage in Yemen by American forces, which sadly failed, the BBC announced that “The USA has admitted it did not know the identity of a second hostage killed in the attempt”. Note that they didn’t say “announced” or “mentioned”, but “admitted”. The only possible construction we can put on this is that the BBC felt that America’s ignorance of the identity of the second hostage was culpable. It was a self-evident failure for which they deserved blame.
There was no explanation of why the BBC took this attitude (though “America is always wrong” seems to be part of the BBC’s left-liberal mind-set). Did the BBC know the hostage’s identity? Of course not. Did anyone (beyond the terrorists) know? Probably not. How were the Americans, with aerial photography and possibly some patchy human intelligence, supposed to have found out? And if they had, what difference would it have made?
It is well said that success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. We need to remember that this kind of intervention is hugely dangerous, not only for the hostages but also for those brave men who (as the Good Book says) “went in jeopardy of their lives”. If the hostages had been brought out alive, there would have been great rejoicing, and no carping about the identity of the hostages saved. As it was, they very nearly succeeded, and would have done so but for a random dog barking, and the brutality of the bad guys. And we can take some satisfaction that most of the bad guys seem to have died too.
If the Americans had stood back and done nothing, you can bet that the public (and probably the BBC) would have been attacking them for indecision and inaction.
I have great admiration for the courage of BBC and other newsmen and camera-men who put themselves in danger so that we can watch the action from the comfort of an arm-chair. But I sometimes despair at the attitudes of the BBC.
Immigration and the impact on traffic
It is evident to most of us that mass immigration places undue strains on social infrastructure – schools, hospitals, housing, welfare, transport (including roads). It’s also evident to Cambridge economist Professor Robert Rowthorn, as is written up on the Civitas web-site.
The problem has also been highlighted by a Tory Minister, James Brokenshire, who stated that immigration puts pressure on Britain’s road network.
These rather self-evident comments by a Cambridge economics professor and a Conservative Minister passed with little comment. But when Nigel Farage, delayed on the M4, dared to suggest (in a jocular way) that immigration might be a contributory factor in road congestion, he was hit by a storm of criticism and ridicule and synthetic indignation in the mainstream and social media. Truths that can be openly stated by academics and Ministers apparently become scandalous when mentioned by UKIP.
As we approach the General Election, we can expect more of this misleading reporting. Fortunately the Great British Public has a good measure of common sense – witness a recent poll saying that 55% believe that the media are biased against UKIP. We saw this during the euro-elections, when punters on the street expressed astonishment at the aggressive and vindictive coverage of the Party. My guess is that most average voters out there will see what Nigel actually said, and agree – as they seemed to do (judging by the social media comment) in the great breast-feeding scandal.
Caught out by Candy Crush
“Candy Crush” sounds like some repellent fizzy beverage, packed with sugar and E-numbers. But I’ve just discovered that in fact it’s something called a “computer game”, which people play on their lap-tops in idle moments. I know this because of news reports saying that a Conservative MP, Nigel Mills, was seen playing Candy Crush in a Commons Committee.
This is our very own East Midlands Tory MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills. And he compounded his offence by playing for as much as two-and-a-half hours. And playing on a tax-payer funded lap-top. And on being challenged, saying he would trynot to do it again (my italics). But he defended his position robustly by saying that he gave the meeting his full attention when it was his turn to ask questions.
In fact I have a great deal of sympathy for Nigel. In parliamentary committees (and I daresay this is equally true for Westminster and Brussels) you hear the same identikit arguments put forward again and again, and really the main interesting moments are when you have a chance to have your say and to challenge the conventional wisdom (at least I challenge it – I can’t speak for Mr. Mills). My personal device for keeping boredom at bay, and keeping the mind sharp, is the Telegraph crossword. It’s a wonderful aid to concentration, and I’m reliably informed that it’s also great training for the brain (though it’s never taken me two-and-a-half hours!). A good thing all round.
There have been a number of spoof Twitter accounts launched recently. Perhaps the funniest is @UKIP_Trumpton. Or I should say “are”, not “is”, because there now seem to be two UKIP Trumpton addresses, with or without an underline. One or two colleagues have become rather excited about these spoof sites, but I take a more laid-back view. We can afford to laugh at ourselves now and again, and it’s a sort of back-handed complement that opponents feel we’re worth spoofing. What’s more, from a cursory glance, it seems they’re attracting as many supportive comments as otherwise. Twitter is a two-edged sword.
What I do find curious is the way our opponents like to suggest that we look backwards to some idyll of England in the fifties which probably never existed. Given that we’re a relentlessly forward-looking party, concerned about Britain’s future after Brexit, this attempt to present us as backward-looking is bizarre. I can only assume that they hear the word “immigration” and conclude, quite wrongly, that we want to return Britain to the mostly-white society that existed half a century ago. Of course that’s not possible, and if it were, I doubt that it would be desirable. Our immigration policy is not about returning to a mythical past. It’s about relieving the intolerable pressure on social cohesion and social infrastructure caused by uncontrolled mass immigration (while ensuring that British industry can still import the skills it needs).
We should however be more concerned about spoof web-sites hi-jacking our logo, presenting themselves as official UKIP sites, and disseminating mistaken or offensive propositions. That may require some action.
Green Policies will add 40% to energy bills by 2020
Figures reluctantly released by DECC, the “Department of Energy and Climate Change”, prove what UKIP has been saying for years: green policies are having a devastating effect on energy prices. The latest figures show that by 2020, they’ll have added 40%, while by 2030 that could rise to 60%. The rise for all-electric households will be higher still. What price fuel poverty now?
There will also be a massive impact on businesses, and especially medium-sized businesses. As I’m constantly saying, we’re undermining industrial competitiveness, and driving energy-intensive businesses off-shore, taking their jobs and their investment with them — and arguably increasing emissions in the process.
DECC initially declined to release these figures, and only the heroic efforts of Dr. John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation forced them to do so. And then they lied about it. “A spokesman” reportedly said “Without the government’s policies bills would be still higher”. No they wouldn’t. They’d be 40% lower. Ed Davey and DECC are constantly trying to sell the outrageous suggestion that you can’t really count energy price hikes, because they’re also taking action on the energy conservation front — so households use less.
Suppose your local council doubled your council tax, and then said “But it’s not really a 100% increase because you can move to a smaller property in a lower tax band”. Or if your butcher doubled the price of ham, and then said “But it’s not really a 100% increase, because you can carve it thinner and put less ham in your sandwiches”.
Memo to Ed Davey: Stop trying to hide the facts. Stop trying to pretend that prices aren’t rising. They are. Your policies are a disaster for households, and for industry. Time to change course and drop the green nonsense.
Green levies: how not to pay
The government’s Committee on Climate Change announces that electrically-heated homes face paying £360 a year on green levies for renewables. But this is a rare case where you have a choice. Don’t choose electricity to heat your home. Choose gas. Or oil. Or coal. What they have done is to create a direct and substantial incentive for households to eschew “green” electricity and to choose fossil fuels – and CO2 emissions. Really all our green policies are gesture politics, and many are counter-productive.
Liberating the federalists’ funds
BBC’s Newsnight on Dec 15th broke the story that UKIP MEPs were forming an alliance of Eurosceptic parties from a number of European countries, as a result of which we should be able to access considerable EU funding. There have been some misconceptions about this, so let me clarify.
First of all, this is not money that could ever be returned to tax-payers or to member-states. It is already allocated. If we don’t claim our share, then it just goes to the bad guys like the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung or the Robert Schuman Foundation.
On Newsnight, the BBC’s Evan Davies asked me “If someone came into the pub with a swag-bag of stolen money, would you be happy to take some of it just because otherwise someone else would?”. But as I pointed out to him, this is not “stolen money”. This is taxpayers’ money, much of it from British tax-payers, so if we can liberate some of that money and spend it on making the case for British Independence, we have to do so. People who vote UKIP would rather see that money promoting freedom, than see it promoting European integration.
Of course we don’t want these EU funding structures to exist at all. Our primary objective is to get Britain out of the EU. But we have to take a hard-headed approach to the resources available. It’s a win-win situation if we can access these funds to use to make the case for independence, and at the same time deny them to the bad guys.
Another point: we in UKIP are thinking ahead to Brexit. When Britain is out of the EU, we’ll still want to maintain good working relationships with our continental neighbours. With our alliance, we are building relationships with politicians who may well be in government in their own countries when Independence Day dawns.
BND: a Shadow of the past
I was momentarily alarmed to receive an e-mail photo recently titled “Margot Parker, Helmer, BND”. BND? That Tory turned Lib-Dem MEP Bill Newton Dunn, who was the bane of much of my parliamentary career, and finally lost his seat in this year’s euro-elections? Slipping back to terrify the survivors like Banquo’s ghost at the feast?
But no. Thank heaven in this case BND was none other than Becky Norton Dunlop, Senior Vice President of The Heritage Foundation, whom Margot and I had been privileged to host on her visit to Brussels on Dec 10th, along with Joel Anand Samy and Natasha Srdoc of the Adriatic Institute. We are delighted to have this relationship with Washington’s leading free-market think tank, and look forward to working with Heritage in future.
Buy a Battle Bus!
Calling all UKIP candidates! The Battle Bus we used in the East Midlands campaign is a converted Ford long-wheel-base camper van (see it here on row 15, in campaign livery, since removed). Just the thing for the General Election – get your whole canvassing team in it! Good running order. Cost me £7000 in April. Offers over £5000 considered. Call Paul Oakden on 07896 918513.
Quote of the month
“Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?’” – Margaret Thatcher
Also have a look at the UKIP MEP web-site www.ukipmeps.org