STRAIGHT TALKING January 2017
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Happy New Year
2016 was exciting — let’s hope things can only get better on 2017. I trust you had a great break over Christmas and New Year. I did. I went with a trusty companion to Israel, in a not entirely successful attempt to avoid Christmas altogether for once. Naturally enough, my mind turned to the intractable problem of the Arab/Israeli conflict, and I set out my thoughts on my blog. Find it here.
On Tuesday 17th, our Prime Minister Theresa May gave a major speech on the EU and on Brexit. She said that we will be leaving the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market. She said that “we don’t want to be half-in and half-out” of the EU. She said “We do not wish to hold on to bits of membership as we leave”.
When I first started to engage seriously in politics around twenty years ago (and around the time that UKIP was formed), the idea that we should actually leave the EU seemed to be the ultimate lost cause. It seemed to be about as unlikely as the break-up of the Soviet Union had been (until it happened). Anyone who espoused it was seen as extreme and unrealistic.
Gradually over the years, the idea has moved into the mainstream. Why? First of all, because as the EU lurches from crisis to crisis, even those disengaged from politics can’t help but see that there are major problems. This has gone beyond straight bananas and pettifogging rules, to economic devastation across Southern Europe which has excluded a generation from the workforce, and from the prospect of prosperity. Add to that the immigration crisis, to which the EU seems totally unable to respond, and it becomes ever more difficult to make a case for staying. The British people are also starting to register that the EU is the only major economic area in the world which is in long-term economic decline.
But there is more to this than the inexorable march of bad news from Brussels. There are the dedicated efforts of UKIP over many years. The party has grown as awareness of the EU’s problems has grown, and the two are closely linked. (To be fair, we should also credit a small band of dedicated eurosceptics in the Tory Party as well).
There wouldn’t have been a Brexit referendum, and such a referendum could not have been won, without UKIP.
The primary aim of my career in politics was at first to change the EU, and then as I realised that the EU doesn’t do reform, to get us out. To re-establish the independence and self-determination of our country. To reclaim our place as a great global trading nation, rather than a remote off-shore province in a country called Europe – a star on somebody else’s flag.
So I trust you will forgive me if I admit that, while looking at Theresa May’s statements, I felt a sense of vindication, of a task completed, of the effort of two decades finally justified. I may have been only a spear-carrier in the People’s Army, but victory is sweet nonetheless. I recall Enoch Powell’s dictum that “all political careers end in failure”, and hope that in this case it does not entirely apply. We can be sure that if Enoch were still with us, he would be jumping for joy.
There is however a serious concern about timing. May has indicated that immigration controls won’t be tightened until we’re actually out of the EU, which could well be getting on for three years. In that time we could see a million more immigrants. Indeed if there’s a deadline in 2019, we could see a huge rush of EU citizens hastening to Britain in the next couple of years to beat the deadline. May should announce that no EU citizen arriving after Article 50 is invoked will have an automatic right to remain.
Of course (forgive the cliché) the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Brexit isn’t Brexit until we’re actually out of the EU. Things look very promising today, but lots can happen over the next two years. Which brings to mind another quote, this time a prayer of Sir Walter Raleigh: “O Lord God, when thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory”.
But the Remainers keep trying
This week I received an e-mail from one Chris Leslie, a constituent of mine who also appears to be the Labour MP for Nottingham East. Writing on behalf of “Open Britain”, he says:
This morning Britain took a step closer towards a destructive, hard Brexit.
Despite the prospect of fewer jobs, higher prices and less money for our public services like the NHS, the Prime Minister in her speech today gave a nod to those wanting Britain to pull up the draw bridge by signalling that Britain is prepared to quit the Single Market.
A Britain outside the EU but inside the Single Market is what millions of Leave and Remain voters are calling for. It’s the only way to protect British jobs, businesses, trade and investment.
Roger, let’s join together to keep Britain in the Single Market. Click here to sign our petition, and share it with friends and family.
KEEP BRITAIN IN THE SINGLE MARKET
SHARE ON FACEBOOK SHARE ON TWITTER
The biggest trophy for Breximists is leaving the Single Market. Let’s be clear: leaping off a cliff edge with no trade deal, no plan and no clue of what comes next isn’t what’s best for our country.
Sign and share our petition today, and let’s keep Britain’s economy stronger and stay in the Single Market. Thank you for your support,
Chris Leslie MP, Open Britain
Dear Chris, What you’re calling “a hard Brexit” is simply — Brexit. What you’re asking for, remaining in the Single Market, is not Brexit at all. It’s a sort of second-class associate-membership of the EU, with all the disadvantages that the British people voted against on June 23rd. In suggesting that Brexit is destructive, you’re simply trying to re-open the Brexit debate which we had, and concluded, last year. Get used to it. You lost the referendum. It’s time for you to join the increasing majority of both Leavers and Remainers who say “The British people have decided (whether we like it or not). Our job now is to get on with it and make it work”.
Best regards. ROGER HELMER MEP
Odd that Mr. Leslie should call his organisation “Open Britain”. It’s the Leavers who want Britain to become a great global trading nation again, while the Remainers want to remain (logically enough) as a province of Europe, locked away behind the EU’s Common External Tariff. He’d do better to speak of “Closed Britain”. He accuses Leavers of “pulling up the drawbridge” when in fact we’re opening up to the world.
The EP Presidential Election
On January 17th we MEPs spent most of the day on an event that happens every 2½ years: the election of a new president of the parliament. In this case, it is to replace Martin Schulz, who has held the post for five years. Like some President of a Banana Republic, Schulz is said to have contemplated changing the rules to stand for a third 2½ year term, but thought better of it and is now seeking his fortune in Germany’s national politics.
One of the candidates was British Green MEP Jean Lambert. I Tweeted “I don’t know why she bothers. They wouldn’t vote for the Archangel Gabriel if they thought he was a Brit”.
The voting scheme is bizarre. First of all, it’s all done by paper ballots – despite all the kit for electronic voting being in place. Using the electronic system we could have completed all four rounds of voting in twenty minutes. Instead what with paper, collecting and counting votes, and preparing new voting forms, the process covers most of the day.
Votes are placed in a series of eight ballot boxes arrayed around the Hemicycle, and split by initial letter (I was in H – K). With 700 MEPs voting, the aisle around the hemicycle is crammed with folk in queues that snake back and forth in organised chaos.
Perhaps more bizarre still is the system. Normally you would expect the outsiders to drop out between one vote and the next. But not in Strasbourg. Candidates can drop out between rounds, but none chose to do so. Indeed new candidates can apparently be nominated between rounds and come in first time on the next round – though again, no one did. Only in the final fourth round do they drop all but the top two names. The EPP’s Antonio Tajani went head-to-head with the socialist PSE’s Pittella (is that the Italian for knee-cap?). Tajani won.
I am fairly content with former Commissioner Tajani. He behaves like a grown-up. And it was he who said (and I quote him constantly) “EU energy policy is creating an industrial massacre in Europe”.
While no candidate dropped out between rounds, one did withdraw just before the start – our bête noire Guy Verhofstadt of ALDE (Liberals). I thought this was because he had so badly damaged his reputation by his aborted flirtation a week ago with our Five Star colleagues. But the rumour now is that ALDE did a deal with the EPP to support Tajani. And the quid pro quo? (No confirmation but the word in the corridors). An agreement to work together to accelerate a “United States of Europe” programme. Thank heaven we shall be getting out in time.
The Ocean Acidification scam
James Delingpole has written a splendid demolition of the ocean acidification scare for the Spectator. . Please do read it. I won’t try to summarise the whole thing, but suffice it to say that corals and crustacea have survived in our oceans for half a billion years. In that time they have experienced much wider and quicker variations in temperature, and much higher atmospheric CO2levels, than we experience today. So the idea that they will be driven to extinction by recent rather small changes in climate is frankly silly.
But there’s more to the story. A certain Dr Phil Williamson, described as a climate scientist specialising in ocean acidification, took a complaint to the UK press regulatory body IPSO, apparently expecting to win a ruling that Delingpole’s article was false and misleading and should not have been published. Delingpole recounts what happened next in another excoriating piece. IPSO, quite rightly, ruled that the piece was merely an opinion piece. It noted that Delingpole’s article freely admitted that there was a body of scientific opinion which took the other view, and in IPSO’s opinion Delingpole was perfectly within his rights to spell out his own view, and the Spectator had a perfect right to print it.
Prominent eco-campaigner Mark Lynas Tweeted: “Toothless UK press watchdog refuses to correct James Delingpole’s alt-right lies about ocean acidification”.
It is scary that this Dr. Williamson believed he had a right to seek to suppress a conflicting opinion. Yet this is par for the course amongst climate alarmists. We have seen from the ClimateGate e-mails how IPCC reviewers sought to deny publication to dissenters, and even to bring about the dismissal of editors of journals who gave space to sceptics. It is widely reported that academics are under great pressure to conform, with posts, publication and tenure denied to sceptics. The BBC even dropped David Bellamy over his views on global warming.
We have recently seen Judith Curry, a prominent US academic and climate sceptic, vilified and ostracised.
It was the Soviet Union which prescribed what scientists should believe. See, for example, my piece on Lysenko. Meantime in the real world, science thrives on challenge and debate. Old orthodoxies, old paradigms give way to new thinking. It is alarming that the eco-fascists now believe that they don’t need to debate issues — they assume they have a right simply to ban dissenting opinions.
It sounds like a nasty disorder of the stomach, but in fact it’s the latest subsidy scam in the Green Energy business. I hadn’t studied the economics of anaerobic digestion (initially a popular way to generate methane from agricultural waste), and I simply took the view that if it was economic, there could be no objection.
I am beholden to the Daily Mail for more information on this subject. They have done a study of the issue, and they find that there’s not enough waste, so good arable land is being devoted to crops for digestion; £200m+ a year is being spent on subsidies; and accidents are causing considerable environmental damage. Read all about it here. Funny how campaign groups and NGOs get heated over fracking, which is relatively safe and potentially profitable, but have nothing to say about anaerobic digestion which is dangerous and wastes money.
Prince Charles’s fairy tales
It seems that Prince Charles has lent his name to a new Ladybird Book promoting – of all things — climate alarmism.
This is a worrying development, first of all because children are already bombarded with propaganda on climate change – and on the EU, and other issues — in flagrant defiance of the 1944 Education Act, which requires that if contentious issues are covered in schools, they should be presented in a balanced way. And secondly, because Prince Charles is the heir to the throne. He is the King-in-waiting. He should have got his partisan views out of his system decades ago, and he should now take a more balanced and restrained view of current political issues – ideally refraining from comment, as his exemplary Mother has done all these years.
For those parents who worry that their own youngsters are bombarded with alarmist propaganda, I recommend an excellent book, “The Sky’s NOT Falling!” by Holly Fretwell.
Also have a look at the UKIP MEP web-site www.ukipmeps.org.