November 2012

Miliband on Sleep-Walking

Ed Miliband, described as Leader of the Labour Party, fears that our Prime Minister may be in danger of “sleepwalking out of the EU”. Let’s, for a moment, leave aside the fact that we in UKIP are marching boldly and proudly, not sleepwalking, to the EU exit, exhilarated by the prospect of freedom, independence and resumed economic growth. And let’s try to understand quite what Miliband is trying to say.

Just last month, Labour MPs made common cause with eurosceptic Conservative MPs to demand a cut in the EU budget. Then, in a patronising outburst, Miliband declared that “Eurosceptics are sometimes right”. Next day, in a major speech, he set out Labour’s stall as a pro-EU party, but also demanding reform. We should “build alliances to deliver change”.

He appears to have been sleep-walking for the last forty years. Does he know nothing of recent history? For decades, British politicians of both major parties have declared that we should work from within to achieve reform of the EU. Remember John Major’s “Game, Set and Match”? And they have failed, precisely because there is no appetite amongst most other member-states for the reforms they’ve demanded.

It’s perhaps ironic that Miliband has ended up with an EU policy which seems indistinguishable from the Prime Minister’s policy. “I believe it’s in Britain’s interests to remain in the EU, but it must be reformed”. Sorry guys. Great idea, but not deliverable.

I was astonished to hear a fairly articulate Labour MP on BBC’s Newsnight recently, Dr Tristram Hunt, saying that despite the 56% of British voters who would vote to leave the EU (how’s that for a good news story, by the way?) they would think differently when they realised that their jobs and their companies were on the line, and that growth would suffer.

Which planet is this guy on? How can he mention “growth” and “the EU” in the same sentence? Can he think of any reason why trade might suffer when we leave the EU? Does he think that China and the USA have serious problems trading with the EU? Can he explain the benefits of being part of the lowest-growth economic bloc in the world? Doesn’t he know anything about the huge damage done to the UK by EU employment policies, and energy policies? Has anyone told him that our EU membership is costing us up to 10% of GDP? Find it here (pdf).

But pity our poor Prime Minister as well. He’s managed to manoeuvre himself into a very bad place — marooned between the EU on the one hand, and his party (and his country) on the other. Let’s be clear — there is simply no compromise that would satisfy both constituencies. My prediction, for what it’s worth: he has no choice but to exercise his veto on the EU budget. But if member-states fail to agree, the fall-back in the Treaties is a 2% real-terms increase anyway. That’s what we’ll probably get. It will cause great anger, it may be challenged in the Commons, and it will drive up that 56% figure to new heights. Meantime, the British people will keep right on marching, eyes open and heads high, to the door marked “EU Exit”.

Votes for prisoners

The new Commons vote on the “Votes for convicts” issue is scheduled for Thursday Nov 22nd, and seems likely to go against the ruling of the ECHR. Thank heavens that the HoC seems to be united, at least on this issue. And it opens a new front in the battle for public opinion, since the ECHR is clearly and absolutely wrong. It demonstrates yet again that we in Britain simply cannot accept decisions handed down from Europe — whether Brussels or Strasbourg.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill (who is on the Commission drafting a UK “Bill of Rights”) insists we must obey the European Convention and the Strasbourg Court. “This is a convention invented by Churchill, Macmillan, Eden — Conservatives who believed in the rule of law. We have always abided by the judgements of the Strasbourg Court”. Maybe so, m’Lord. But Churchill, Macmillan and Eden would be horrified to see how their clear and simple convention has been over-interpreted and embroidered by activist judges with a leftist, politically-correct agenda, to reach palpably perverse judgements which we as a free people cannot possibly accept. Enough is enough. Time to say NO.

An exceptionally energetic week

Taking my rôle as UKIP Energy Spokesman seriously, I attended an amazing number of energy events in Brux during w/c Nov 5th. On Monday afternoon we had a session on the global energy outlook to 2050, which I wrote up on my blog. The conclusion: gas, oil and coal will not run out in the foreseeable future. Indeed they are likely to be far more plentiful, and far cheaper, than the doom-mongers would have us believe. Monday evening was a session on natural refrigerants, and why we should no longer be using CFCs and similar nasty gases for refrigeration.

Tuesday evening was a dinner debate featuring a Russian energy transmission company, where we learned about Russian’s blatant bid for Baltic hegemony, exploiting the failures of European energy policies and the need of the Baltic states to look to Russia to secure energy supplies. Read my blog piece.

On Wednesday there was a breakfast about the German decision to close its nuclear power sector. German over-reliance on wind has caused huge problems for neighbouring countries as they cope with intermittent surges and shortages. A Transmission Service Operator from the Czech Republic said that the grid could not cope, and that power outages could occur any time now.

Then a lunch organised by “Confrontations Europe”, a lobbying outfit, on “future challenges for nuclear energy in Europe”. These centre around the EU’s dog’s breakfast of environmental rules and subsidies, plus the hopeless lack of regulatory consistency or certainty.

Followed by a dinner debate by the nuclear inter-group on “UK electricity market reform and low-carbon investment”. By this time I was feeling all energied-out (especially as I had to pop out half-way to do a live Russia Today interview on David Cameron’s meeting with Angela Merkel).

But I wouldn’t want you to think that I did nothing but energy. We also had an excellent presentation on the future of the €uro (if it has one) with Roger Bootle, a lunch meeting with the British Association of Pharmaceutical manufacturers, and an exchange of views with a delegation from the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly, plus a speech from Angela Merkel. I also chaired a forum for the Construction Industry, and addressed a group visit from the Ecclesbourne School in Derbyshire.

“EU energy policy is sheer lunacy”

Catch my 60 second Strasbourg speech…

Plotting in Poland

I spent a couple of days in Katowice, Poland, with the EFD Group, in November, plotting a new challenge to the EU’s disastrous energy policies. More details of the initiative next month, but meantime, an account of our evening visit to the local salt mines.

Corby: UKIP’s best-ever by-election result

Margot Parker fought a superb campaign and achieved 14.3% of the vote, forcing the Lib-Dems into fourth place. They lost their deposit. See my post-Corby reflections.

Promoting Multilingualism in Notts

Perhaps surprisingly, I was invited to give the keynote speech at a multilingualism event at Trent College. It went very well.

Quote of the Month

Dieter Helm is a Professor at New College Oxford, specialising in environmental economics. He’s also an adviser to DECC, and has a CV as long as your arm. He’s just published a new book: – The Carbon Crunch: How we’re getting climate change wrong — and how to fix it.

Although he subscribes to the theory of anthropogenic climate change (I disagree), he also sees very clearly indeed that the policies we’re adopting are doomed and counter-productive. And there he’s bang on the money. He provides my Quote of the Month: “The renewables industry has become an orgy of rent-seeking”.

For anyone not too familiar with the use of this term “rent-seeking”, it means that players in the market have no real interest in generating electricity, and still less in saving the planet. All they’re interested in is exploiting the massive subsidies that a gullible government has offered them. Or to use an iffy but graphic metaphor, they are sucking as hard as they can on the distended teat of the Welfare State. And they are doing it at the expense of all of us — and of our children and grandchildren. David Cameron’s father-in-law, for example, is reportedly making £1000 a day in wind farm subsidies. An orgy of rent-seeking indeed. Remember the phrase.

Climate Change: Frequently asked questions

CFACT is an American think-tank and campaigning organisation that is right on the money on the climate issue (and on many other issues). They’ve just pulled together two Q&A files on “Frequently Asked Questions” which are a useful resource for all those involved in the debate — and the campaign for a rational energy policy. Find them here and here.

Example: Why do you oppose renewable, environment-friendly ethanol and biodiesel?

Producing 14 billion gallons of ethanol requires corn from an area as big as Missouri, plus huge quantities of water, fertilizers, pesticides, diesel fuel and natural gas to grow those crops and turn them into alcohol.

Devoting 40% of U.S. corn crop to ethanol production has increased corn prices from $2.00 per bushel in 2005 to almost $9.00 this year. Corn farmers get rich – but pork, beef, chicken and fish producers pay far more for feed, grocery manufacturers pay more for ingredients, and family food costs soar.

We will run out of land and water for food and fuel crops long before we run out of petroleum.

Ethanol gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline. It does not reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It collects water, which can cause engine stalls, and corrodes plastic, rubber and soft metal parts. E15 (15% ethanol) gasoline could damage lawnmowers, chainsaws and other outdoor power equipment.

Biodiesel and other biofuels are equally expensive and also require huge amounts of land and water.

An exchange in the House of Lords:

In a debate on the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework:

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, did my noble friend say — did I hear him correctly — that this proposal requires unanimity? If so then surely there is no need to negotiate. All one has to do is simply say No.

Lord Sassoon: My Lords, would that life were so simple.

Quote of the Month #2:

Paul Oakden, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 World at One, on immigration: “Labour opened the door. The Tories left it open. The Lib-Dems want to take the door down and burn it”.

Bill Newton Dunn’s “Report to Leicestershire”

I noticed the following section in Bill’s report: “Apparently right-wing MPs believe that we can survive all on our own in the new globalised world. We could of course, but increasingly left behind and poor and without any influence at all on any European or world decisions. Foreign businesses would invest less in us (Ford are just ending car-making in the UK)”.

But hang on a minute Bill. Ford have closed their UK factory (for simple commercial reasons) despite the UK being in the EU — not after we’ve left!

And while we’re talking about Bill, I hear that Peter Scorer, branch chairman of Newark Lib Dems, sent out an e-mail to his members which said:

“Bill Newton Dunn had intended to stand down (in 2014). However, it is considered that he has the best chance of becoming elected again as our MEP. He has been persuaded to stand again. He intends to sit for one year. Thereafter he will stand down and our second preference will become our Euro MP”.

Bill has strenuously denied that he has any such intention. But I daresay that the issue will come back to haunt his campaign. Not that it matters, as his chance of being re-elected in 2014 is close to zero. He should remember Enoch Powell’s dictum: “All political careers end in failure”.

Cookery Corner

One of the many advantages of having an Italian staffer is access to real down-home Italian recipes. Here’s one from Francesca’s mother, fresh from Naples, for Pesto Genovese:

Ingredients: 50 gr. basil; 1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil; 6 spoons of parmigiano reggiano cheese; 2 spoons of pecorino cheese; 2 cloves of garlic (1 clove every 30 leaves of basil); 1 spoon of pine kernels; a few grains of rock (coarse) salt Method: Clean the basil with a damp cloth (leaves need to be unbroken), put garlic and salt in a marble mortar and crush with a wooden pestle, add the basil and keep crushing, then add pine kernels and crush. Afterwards add parmigiano, pecorino and oil. Cream carefully all the ingredients. If you don’t have a “marble mortar” and a “wooden pestle” you can use a blender, but please use a really low speed level and plastic blades. You need to blend slowly and gradually to avoid oxidation! Best pasta to eat with pesto? Trofie! Buon appetito!!

Correction:

I recently circulated information on a new type of speed camera (with pictures). I have now been told that the warning is a hoax, so I apologise. But better safe than sorry. Regard it as a manifestation of the EU’s Precautionary Principle!

Conclusion

That’s it from Straz for the November session. Please remember to visit this website, my blog at http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com, and follow me on Twitter: @RogerHelmerMEP

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