Helmer's electronic newsletter from Brussels
On July 10th, EU Commission
President José Manuel Barroso, rejoicing in the "success" of
his Renamed Constitution, hailed the EU as "the creation of an Empire",
adding "We have the dimensions of Empire".
I have occasionally
spoken of "The EU Empire", as a deliberate, ironic, metaphorical exaggeration
-- a rhetorical device to make a point. Yet now here is the Commission President
making it official.
We often say that satire has become impossible these
days. No matter what absurd, outrageous, hilarious idea you come up with in the
morning, someone will actually have done it (or worse) by tea-time. Here
is a case in point.
It is doubly ironic since the euro-apologists dismiss
out-of-hand the idea of a " European Superstate " -- so last-century,
no one talks of it now -- yet Barroso goes a step further with his Empire. But
of course the apologists are absurd. If you see a man building a house, laying
brick on brick, installing joists and rafters, roof tiles, doors and windows,
putting on the final chimney-pot, there is no earthly use in him coming down the
ladder and telling you he is not building a house, because you can see the house
in front of you.
The same goes for the EU. Which characteristic of a state
does it lack? After the Renamed Constitution (if ratified), none. There is now
no excuse for Brown to deny us a referendum. We face a stark choice. Do we want
to be an independent, self-governing nation? Or an off-shore province in the new
Empire of Europe? The people must have their say. Mind you, I have to admit that
"Emperor Barroso the First" has a kind of ring to it.
what we need -- advice from the Germans!
Elmar Brok is a rotund German
Christian Democrat MEP, who holds a distinguished position in the European Peoples'
Party -- the parliamentary group with which British Conservatives (myself excluded)
are still uneasily associated. On August 20th, Elmar offered some advice to Gordon
Brown. The Daily Telegraph headlined it "Stop moaning or leave the EU".
Britain had "got what it wanted" on its red lines. It would be "very
unfair" if we were now to put the issue to a popular vote. Brok asked "The
UK got its various opt-outs, so what's the problem?". A fair question, Elmar,
so let's give you a fair answer:
1 The British government may have agreed
to the Renamed Constitution, but the British people have not.
opinion polls show that 80+% of the British people want a referendum, and two
thirds would vote NO (indeed with differential turnout, I'd be surprised if the
NO vote was below 80%).
3 This Labour government (and some 98% of serving
MPs) were elected on a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the Constitution.
Brok insists that the Renamed Constitution is "substantially different"
from the old version, but his own leader Angela Merkel has let the cat out of
the bag, by describing it as "presentational changes but with the same legal
effect". We simply demand what we were promised: a referendum.
Brok says we got our red lines. But as he knows perfectly well, no one in Brussels
thinks the British opt-outs will survive challenge in the ECJ. In any case, we
had those opt-outs in the first draft Constitution. If they did not obviate the
need for a referendum then, they certainly don't now.
5 Given the choice,
most Brits would prefer "Less Europe" to "More Europe". By
any measure, the Renamed Constitution means More Europe -- lots more. We cannot
let it pass unchallenged.
It is both farcical and disgraceful that European
leaders constantly speak of "A Europe of values based on democracy",
yet they are running scared of the verdict of the people, as they continue to
bulldoze through their integration project in the teeth of public hostility.
Carbon emissions policy: rising costs, diminishing returns
some time ago that the greenhouse effect of atmospheric CO2 is not linear. For
the technically-minded, it is logarithmic. If you double the CO2 level, you don't
double the greenhouse effect. And the higher the existing level, the smaller the
warming effect of any given increase. It's a law of diminishing returns.
our efforts to reduce emissions are increasing costs dramatically. New EU proposals
for car emissions threaten to decimate the German auto industry, and close down
British brands like Jaguar and Land-Rover.
I recently got some numbers
on this. If you take the pre-industrial CO2 level of about 280 ppm, a full half
of the warming effect was delivered by merely the first 20 ppm. It took the next
260 ppm to contribute the second half. The fact is that most of the warming that
carbon could generate is already there. Future increases in CO2 will make little
difference to climate. But they will do huge damage to our economy and our prosperity.
A full article with references is on my web-site at www.rogerhelmer.com
have been corresponding with Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory
in Queensland , Australia , and he has offered a homely analogy to illustrate
the rather arcane concept of a "Logarithmic relationship". Imagine one
day you step out of your kitchen and whitewash the glass of the kitchen window.
You will cut the light coming in a great deal -- perhaps by half. If you go out
next day and apply another coat, you will cut the light again. But if you persist,
then by the tenth coat, almost no light will get through, so the tenth coat will
make little difference, and the 20th none at all.
Atmospheric CO2 is measured
in parts per million (ppm), and we're currently at about 380 ppm. In fact the
first 20 ppm have a big greenhouse effect, and definitely warm the planet. The
next 20 ppm make a much smaller difference. But we've already got 19 x 20 ppm,
so the next increase of 20 ppm will make almost no difference at all to the environment.
But trying to stop it will do huge damage to the economy.
for a graph showing the relative warming effect of each 20 ppm tranche of CO2.
It's been a cold, wet summer
I moved into my present house in Leicestershire
in 1995. Last month, for the first time in eleven years, I found myself lighting
the log-burner in the parlour in mid-August! So much for global warming.
folly at Heathrow
In the end, the climate protesters at Heathrow in August
did little to disrupt the airport, although they created big costs and headaches
for the police. But their action was misconceived. Overcrowding at Heathrow is
a national scandal, and it is fast becoming a real threat to Britain 's international
competitiveness, and to our dominant position in global finance. There is anecdotal
evidence of international executives avoiding Britain because of the state of
our airports. These protesters talk about climate, but in fact they're anti-business,
anti-prosperity, anti-growth, anti-capitalist. They'd like to see Britain reduced
to a third-world agrarian economy where every family lives off one acre and a
cow (and even then they'd criticise the cows for flatulence!).
the enormous investment which aircraft companies, and jet engine manufacturers
like our own Rolls-Royce, are putting into reducing fuel consumption. Airlines
want to make profits, and fuel is a major cost. Do the protesters imagine that
airlines don't care about fuel-efficiency?
Even if you buy the increasingly
discredited idea that man-made CO2 emissions cause climate change, the fact is
that aviation amounts to only about 2% of global emissions. Meantime the emissions
from power generation are an order-of-magnitude greater. If these protesters had
any sense, they'd be sitting in Whitehall demanding more nuclear power stations.
A few patriots left
The London office of the European parliament
(yes there is one -- don't ask me why) has outgrown its palatial premises in Queen
Anne's Gate, and was negotiating the lease of still larger premises in Tothill
Street, but apparently the negotiations have broken down. The deal-breaker was
the refusal of the landlords to allow the EU flag to be flown outside the building.
Well done them!
Human Rights and family life
tribunal has just ruled that Learco Chindama, an Italian citizen who murdered
Headmaster Philip Lawrence twelve years ago, cannot be deported, as his family
is in the UK , and deportation would infringe his "human right" to family
life. Mr. Lawrence's widow says she feels "unutterably depressed", as
well she may. Two questions for the tribunal. Haven't they noticed that we routinely
set aside a convicted criminal's rights to liberty and family life when we send
them to jail? And why is this young thug's right to a family life more important
that Mrs. Lawrence's right to a family life, which he took from her in an appalling
act of brutality?
It is EU law that puts us in this position. It is time (in
John Redwood's masterful phrase) to "dis-apply" EU law.
tale of two Johns: Redwood good, Gummer less good
After John Redwood's
excellent report on the economy, we move on to John Gummer's "Quality of
Life" report. It threatens to undo all Redwood's good work and tax reductions,
by adding new "green" taxes. Let's leave aside the growing doubts on
the alarmist climate scenario. Even if you buy the CO2/climate story, a few green
taxes will have a trivial effect on global CO2 emissions, while doing significant
economic damage. As a recent letter-writer to the press put it: the Tories must
decide whether they're low-tax free market economists, or high-tax socio-environmental
George Osborne recently said on the Today programme that he
"is not a supply-sider". Well if he paid a moment's attention to the
evidence from a dozen countries, he would be, and he ought to be. And it is no
good David Cameron insisting that "We will put economic stability ahead of
tax cuts". In the medium term, low taxes are a pre-condition for stability,
not an alternative to it. High taxes will undermine stability. If you're in a
runaway train, you don't achieve stability by doing nothing. You need to take
Of course it would be wise to reduce government spending as
we reduce taxes. Two suggestions. Recent reports suggest that the cost of quangoes
in the UK is an extraordinary £130 billion a year. Finding £20 billion
savings there should be a doddle.
Then there's welfare. David Cameron
says that family breakdown is the cause of our broken society, and he's partly
right. But welfare dependency is as big a problem, or bigger. As Simon Heffer
said, "We have an underclass because we have decided to pay for one".
Leaving aside those genuinely unable to work, it's better for both the individual
and society that the individual should work. Welfare is there to tide people over
temporary illness or misfortune, and to help them back into work. It is not there
to fund and maintain a permanent, work-shy, feral underclass, many of whom plague
the streets carrying knives or guns. We should do as the US has done, and put
a lifetime limit of say five years on welfare eligibility. When that's gone, you'll
have to rely on family or charity. Yes of course, there would be a few hard cases.
But the great majority would get back to work, and find a better life, a decent
income, and some self-respect.
Where's Our Referendum? -- The Postcard!
In conjunction with The Freedom Association (www.tfa.net), I've created a new
postcard. On one side is the "Where's Our Referendum?" ad that I've
used extensively (see my home page at www.rogerhelmer.com), and on the other is
a message for supporters to post to their MP calling for the MP to refuse to ratify
the Renamed EU Constitution without a referendum.
If you can use these cards,
and guarantee to get them out to the public (rather than filed under the sideboard!),
please let me know.
Samples of the card are being sent to East Midlands Constituency
The newt-lover has an idea
London Mayor Ken
Livingstone has a new idea to solve the "affordable housing" problem.
He proposes that the GLC should make available tracts of land which would be held
in perpetuity by a "Public Land Trust". Houses would be built, and the
prices would be based on construction costs excluding land, so the houses would
be affordable, and they would stay cheap because the Trust would always own the
But there's a snag. If the houses get full use of the land (without
owning it), then it's as good as freehold, and prices will revert to market prices.
The free land will only benefit the first buyer, who will make a killing when
he sells. If on the other hand the resale prices are controlled, there will be
queues all the way to Marble Arch whenever one of these houses comes up for sale,
and we shall be back to the odious spectacle of public officials allocating houses
to the deserving poor. So Ken's new model collapses, and defaults to the two existing
models of either (A) free market; or (B) Council Housing. There is nothing new
under the sun. Least of all the economic naïveté of socialists trying
to meddle in markets.
of the month
" Europe is a monument to the vanity of intellectuals,
a programme whose inevitable destiny is failure: only the scale of the final damage
is in doubt" - Lady Thatcher
"I believe you can't spend more
than you've got coming in. I believe you can't tax people into prosperity. I believe
you can't pay people more to stay home than you pay them to work. And I believe
that criminals can't do crimes when they're behind bars. Common sense? It's not
too common in Washington !" - Fred Thompson , US Republican Presidential
"British values can be found, most of all, in the notion
that freedom is our birthright, not something to be handed to us by human rights
codes or government statutes". - Dan Hannan MEP