February 2014 (1)

STRAIGHT TALKING                           February 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 roger.helmer@europarl.europa.eu

 

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Euro-election: East Mids campaign kicks off!

In the European Elections of 2009, UKIP came second in the East Midlands, and this year we’re doing everything we can to top the poll.

We’ve already started our campaign, kicking it off at Leicester Railway Station at the end of January. Standing alongside my fellow UKIP Candidates for the Region, we launched “Project Commuter”, an initiative to engage with morning commuters on their way into work. The response we had was fantastic.

Since then there have been numerous street stands and public meetings held across the Region, and there are going to be many more in the months ahead. I’ll be doing what I can, along with Margot Parker, Jonathan Bullock, Nigel Wickens and Barry Mahoney, to show voters in the East Midlands what a strong team we have.

There is still an awful lot to do, and still an awful lot more we need, both in terms of feet on the ground, and funds in the bank.

The European Elections this year are our chance to have the EU Referendum that the old parties have tried to block. Please do all you can to support our efforts and send a clear message to MPs in Westminster and Bureaucrats in Brussels that in the East Midlands, we want out!

BBC: “UKIP steering UK policy from the wings”

Recently in a speech a Davos, our Prime Minister David Cameron spoke up for the massive economic benefits likely to accrue to the UK from the exploitation of shale gas.  And as even the BBC noted, he seemed to base his policy on …. UKIP’s policy!

“The UK Independence Party, which has also warned about EU rules hampering fracking in the UK, accused Mr Cameron of copying its policy.

 

A spokesman said: “It’s absolutely staggering. This is almost verbatim what (UKIP energy spokesman) Roger Helmer has been saying for months.

 

“It just goes to show how much UKIP is steering UK politics from the wings when the Prime Minister reads out our policy to the World Economic Forum”

Canvassing in Wythenshawe, January 18th

We got a generally good reception in Wythenshawe, but I was taken aback on one doorstep.  The conversation went like this:

Householder (female): “Ooowwwww!  It’s the Bailiffs!  Go away!”.  Me: “Don’t worry.  We’re not the Bailiffs.  We’re canvassing for the Wythen­shawe by-election”.  Householder: “Well you look like the Bailiffs!  Go away!”.

I’m not sure what Bailiffs look like, but I was wearing a Barbour jacket, cord trousers and a rosette.  You can never tell.

Beware of solar storms!

Nearly three years ago I wrote on my blog about my (then) new 2.4 kw domestic solar panel installation, including a nice photograph.  And I have returned to the subject several times since.  It’s been in the public domain for a long time.

But now, years later, The Times, our great newspaper of record, has at last caught up with the story, and has run a piece quoting Greenies who claim that I am “hypocritical” to install solar panels despite my opposition to renewables.  But I have explained repeatedly that I installed them not to save the planet, but to earn the subsidies.  Quite simply, if the government offers me free money, I take it.  I can still say (and I do say) that the government is wrong to offer it in the first place.  (OK, the money comes from the utility company, but only because of government policy).

In just the same way, I’m not at all sure it’s right that the Winter Fuel Allowance goes to the comfortable middle classes, who don’t really need it (my personal view, not UKIP policy).  But nonetheless, when the government sends it to me, of course I accept it.

I recognise an ethical question, not with regard to energy or climate, but with respect to the effect on my neighbours.  If I’m making money out of my solar panels, then my neighbours (without solar panels) are effectively subsidising me through the higher prices they pay.  My wife was particularly concerned about this aspect.  But we see here the Tragedy of the Commons. If I don’t install the panels, then I will end up subsidising those who do.

Naturally the piece in the Times created a veritable storm of synthetic Green indignation on Twitter, with the accusation of hypocrisy repeated many times.  I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the temptation to join the debate, so I Tweeted: “Memo to the Greens: If the government wants to give me free money, I take it. Doesn’t mean I think they should”.

Bill Newton Dunn plays catch-up:  I have an uncomfortable feeling that I’m not doing my job properly if too many weeks go by without some sniping from Bill Newton Dunn.  So I was pleased to see that in his recent newsletter he quoted the recent Times story about my solar panels.  He included some disobliging references to what he regarded as “hypocrisy”, since he seems to have noticed my opposition to renewables.

He needs to understand the difference between public policy and personal finance.  I think that policy-makers are wrong to offer households eye-watering levels of subsidy on very small solar installations.  But I think that householders who accept the subsidies are merely acting as rational economic agents.  Equally I don’t criticise farmers and landowners for accepting huge subsidies on wind turbines.  They too are simply rational economic agents.  But I criticise the government for its totally irrational and unaffordable renewables policy.

Lib Dems promote benefit tourism

Despairing of their prospects with British voters, the Lib-Dems have come up with a bizarre strategy for the euro-elections in May.  They’ve decided to target Eastern European immigrants in Britain who have benefitted from the EU’s open-borders policy by coming to the UK.  “European citizens” are of course entitled to vote in the UK in euro-elections.

At a time when many British voters are increasingly concerned at mass immigration and benefit tourism, they are likely to be incensed by the Lib-Dems’ efforts to profit electorally by appealing to immigrants.  It is a scandalous subversion of democracy when British elections can be directly influenced by foreign votes – and more so when a once-important British political party makes that a basis for its campaign.

Weather Watch

We’ve had an unusually warm winter in the UK.  And unusually wet.  Our hearts go out to the good folk in the Somerset Levels, who’ve been under water for weeks.

Environment Minister Owen Paterson had a rough ride when he went on a visit to Somerset.  I used to know him a bit, and he’s not a bad lad.  But he’s battling a mind-set in his department that rates water voles and great crested newts ahead of men and women, and puts wetland and wilderness before the interests of orderly agriculture.

Meantime as I write (Feb 4th) the BBC is reporting the worst snow-fall for decades in parts of Eastern Europe, including Slovenia. America has recently experienced exceptionally cold winter weather with record snow-falls, and low-temperature records falling like nine-pins.  And we read that Antarctic sea-ice cover is now the highest since records began.

OK.  I’m the first to admit that these are (arguably) simply weather events, not necessarily climate trends (although there’s been none of the predicted global warming so far this century).  But I recall the wonderful irony of predictions in the Indy in 2000 that our children will never see snow again.  Try telling them that in Slovenia.

In his must-read book “The Neglected Sun”,  Fritz Vahrenholt makes a good case that the earth will be cooler in 2035 than it is today.  I think he may well be right.  So don’t throw away the thermal underwear just yet.

Written Question to the European Commission: “Single Market in Energy”

“We are talking about the importance of creating a genuine Single Market in energy in the EU.

 

“At the same time, some member states (like the UK) are pressing ahead with shale gas exploration, while others (like France) have firmly decided against it.

 

“Is it consistent to have a Single Market where all member-states have similar access to an energy resource like gas, but only a few of them actually exploit it?  Does this not give an unfair advantage to those who expect to buy the gas but decline to produce it?”

A small victory

On Tuesday Feb 4th in Strasbourg the parliament voted the Gyürk Report on “The Steel Industry in Europe”.  I had previously tabled, in Committee, an amendment pointing to the damage that EU energy and climate policy was doing to energy intensive industries like steel.

“…whereas the results of the cumulative cost assessment of the steel sector shows that compliance with EU regulations conditions a significant proportion of EU steel producers’ profit margins; and that EU environment and energy policy creates a difficult business environment for the iron and steel industry, in particular raising the price of energy and making manufacture uncompetitive on the global market”.

Rather to my surprise, it was voted through in Committee.  And today, to my astonishment, it survived with a small majority in Plenary.

So what difference will it make?  Probably not too much in the overall scheme of things.  But at least the European parliament has formally recognised the damage which our energy policy and energy prices are doing to European (and British) competitiveness.  A small victory, but nonetheless welcome.

Welcome David Parsons

David Parsons has been a big wheel in local government in the East Midlands for many years, having been leader of Leicestershire County Council, Chairman of the (now defunct) Regional Assembly, and a Member of the Committee of the Regions.  I’ve been in touch with him for some time, including during the period when he fell out with the Tory Party over an expenses issue (now resolved).  I’m delighted to say that he’s now decided to come across to UKIP, along with his wife Liz who is also a

Councillor.

During his time with the Committee of the Regions, he saw at first hand the damage that the EU does not only at the national level, but at the regional level as well.  His experience will be invaluable.

Fraternal Support

The Guardianistas have a caricature of UKIP in which we hate foreigners and avoid all contact with them.  Some expect us to build a wall around the UK, and to blow up the Channel Tunnel.  Nothing could be further from reality.  Indeed one of the reasons for wanting to leave a declining, inward-looking, self-referential, ossified EU is because we want to re-join the Rest of the World.  We see the UK as a great global trading nation, not an off-shore province in a country called Europe.

So I hope that no one will be surprised that we want to support nascent euro-critical parties in other member-states, and we shall be happy to form alliances with them after the May euro-election.

On Saturday Feb 1st I made a flying visit (literally) to The Hague, to the launch of a new party which hopes to contest the May election.  MEP Daniel Van Der Stoep has launched “Article 50” , a new party demanding Holland leave the EU.  He is of course a respectable alternative to Geert Wilders’ party which adopts unpleasantly racist rhetoric.

It’s difficult to predict whether this new Party (named for the get-out clause in the Lisbon Treaty) will succeed in taking a Dutch MEP seat in May, but I was delighted to speak, along with UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall, at their very professional launch event in The Hague’s Opera House.  We wish them well.

Intro trailer: The Artikel 50 guys had put together a short (< 2 minute) intro/trailer for me, which nearly knocked me over – very lively and professional.  If you can spare two minutes, do watch it here.

And then there’s Estonia: Many years ago, I went up to Tallinn a couple of times to assist Estonians campaigning against EU accession.  Recently one of the key players, Martin Helme (no relation) got in touch, and I met him in UKIP’s Brooks Mews office in London.  I said it must be several years since we’d met.  He pointed out that it was ten years – Estonia joined the EU in 2004.

He is now organising a new euro-critical party in Estonia and hopes to stand in May.  I wish him every success.

Market Harborough, 1777

For my recent birthday I was given inter alia an antique map of the County of Leicestershire, published 1777.  As I have an office in Market Harborough, I was struck by the following note in the margin:

Market Harborough is of good Account, & plentifully supplied with Corn, Cattle and Provisions; but much more famous for its Beast Fair on October 9th, and especially for Horses and Colts, of the best Breed.  ’Tis remarkable of this Town, that it has no Fields or Lands belonging to it; hence arose the Proverb, that “a Goose will eat up all the grass growing at Harborough”.

Quote of the Year

from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), 2001, p774:

“In climate research and modelling one has to recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear system, and so long-term forecasts of the future climate condition are not possible”.

So why are we wasting billions based on the IPCC’s long-term forecast of the future climate condition?  Hat-tip to Fritz Vahrenholt and The Neglected Sun for this reference.

Conclusion

That’s it from Strasbourg for this February 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