Open letter to Rt Hon John Bercow MP

With Piers Corbyn

With Piers Corbyn

Dear Rt Hon John Bercow MP,

Climate Meeting: House of Commons: Nov 5th

On Wednesday November 5th I travelled from Brussels to London, where I had been invited to speak at a meeting on climate and energy issues which was scheduled to take place in the House of Commons in Meeting Room Nine.  The Room had been booked by Mr. Sammy Wilson MP.  Press releases had been issued, as well as 45 formal invitations, though attendance was expected to be close to double that figure.

On arrival, I was advised that the relevant parliamentary office had peremptorily cancelled the booking the previous day, despite the prior arrangements and advance publicity.  The organisers managed to find a new venue at the John Harvard Library in Southwark, but naturally it was difficult to ensure that all attendees were advised.

To add injury to insult, visitors arriving at the House of Commons and enquiring for the meeting were variously told that “it had been cancelled”, or that staff knew nothing about it.  As a result, the meeting in Southwark was poorly attended.

Attendees included distinguished figures from the climate debate, including Piers Corbyn of Weather Action (the brother of your member Jeremy Corbyn MP), Professor Peter Gill of the Institute of Physics, and blogger Derek Tipp – as well, of course, as myself, the Energy Spokesman for a major political party.

It seems to me that this action by your administration was reprehensible, and reflects very poorly on your House.  I have never before had occasion to compare the House of Commons unfavourably with the European parliament, but I cannot believe that such a peremptory cancellation would have taken place in Brussels.

This was a deliberate attempt to frustrate public debate on a major political issue, and it was a calculated snub to the Party which won the European elections in May this year, and which is now represented in your House.

I should be grateful for your explanation of these circumstances, and I believe that a formal public apology would be in order.

Yours faithfully.

Roger Helmer

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European Parliament demands additional spending while nations face economic crisis

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EU greenhouse market mechanism is a dog’s breakfast

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Grudging imitation from Sir John Major


Dateline: Nov 17th: Sir John Major, former Tory Prime Minister, has launched a rather jaundiced attack on UKIP ahead of the Rochester by-election.  He says that UKIP is “profoundly un-British in every way“.  We are “anti-politics, anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant, anti-aid (he means foreign aid)”.  “I don’t know what they are for”, he adds.

So let’s tell him.  We’re for self-determination.  And for democracy.  And for prosperity.  We’re in favour of free trade and voluntary intergovernmental cooperation.  We’re in favour of secure and affordable energy.  We’re in favour of managed immigration.  That’s why we’re against being governed by remote, unaccountable and anti-democratic foreign institutions where we have no control and little influence.

Point by point: “Anti-politics”.  We’re not anti-politics  We do politics.  We stand candidates at elections (with considerable and increasing success).  But we are indeed against the old parties, which have coalesced on the soft centre of social democracy, and persistently ignore the views of their voters.

“Anti-foreigner”.  Within our parliamentary group in Brussels we have Italians, French, Dutch, many nationalities.  My lead staffer for the last three years is an Italian lawyer, who is doing a cracking job.  Nigel Farage is married to a German.  So get your head straight, Sir John.  We’re not anti-foreigner.

“Anti-immigrant”.  We’re against uncontrolled mass immigration.  We’re against the current discriminatory policy, which rejects highly qualified people from the Commonwealth, but accepts poor and unskilled European immigrants.  We think that an Australian brain surgeon or a Canadian nuclear physicist or an Indian software engineer probably has more to offer the British economy than an unskilled Romanian (for example).  But we’re not “against immigration”.  We recognise that British industry needs to be able to recruit skills from abroad.  We want to discriminate not on the basis of nationality or ethnicity, but on the basis of training and skills, within a numbers limit consistent with protecting our social infrastructure and social cohesion.

“Anti-Aid”: Same comments apply.  We’re not anti-aid.  We’re happy to provide emergency relief to respond to floods and tsunamis and earthquakes.  But we don’t want to spend disproportionately more than other countries.  We don’t want to subsidise countries who have their own space programmes and nuclear programmes and indeed aid programmes – and in one case, have actually said they don’t want our money.

I really thought that Sir John had more sense.  Back in 1976, I sat on the Huntingdon Conservatives’ Selection Committee that adopted John Major as their parliamentary candidate, and I seem to remember that I voted for him.  But of course we thought we were selecting a workaday back-bench MP for a rural constituency, not a Prime Minister and would-be global statesman.

Given his views about UKIP, it’s perhaps surprising that Major’s prescription for immigration sounds a whole lot like UKIP policy.  He seems to agree that we need to find ways to moderate the flow of immigrants from the EU, at least. He proposes a “pragmatic” solution and a “temporary” restriction.  Too little too late, but going in the right direction.

In the same paper his colleague Iain Duncan Smith ridicules claims that immigrants contribute significantly to the UK’s GDP, pointing out that immigrants themselves grow older and become dependent. And he particularly points out the way that immigrants, including large numbers of non-English speakers, are “changing our schools” and placing huge pressure on our education system.

Strange the way that Tory politicians seem to condemn UKIP on the one hand, and try to steal our clothes on the other.  But voters recognise authenticity.  They know that we mean what we say, whereas they suspect that people like Major and IDS are simply making electoral capital.

Strange the way that Tory politicians seem to condemn UKIP on the one hand, and try to steal our clothes on the other.  But voters recognise authenticity.  They know that we mean what we say, whereas they suspect that people like Major and IDS are simply making electoral capital.

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High tax rates are counterproductive


Recently, and most unusually, I felt moved to disagree with commentator Fraser Nelson (whom I usually find very much on target).  So it is a pleasure to come back with thoroughly positive comment on his most recent column

First of all, he takes apart Ed Miliband’s catchy but mendacious one-liner, when he said that Britain is a “zero-zero country” where the rich pay zero tax, while the poor get zero-hours contracts. Rhetorically clever, but factually incorrect.  And a fairly nasty piece of class-warfare, aiming to whip up hatred and resentment against the successful and the enterprising.

(In fact we read that 60+ Labour MPs have staff on zero-hours contracts).

The same edition of The Sunday Telegraph reports that the top 3000 earners pay more tax than the bottom nine million (4.2% against <4%).  And the top 10% of tax-payers pay 55% of total income tax.  Those are stunning statistics, but they beg the question: “OK.  But shouldn’t they be paying more pro-rata?”.  Indeed they should.  No one could complain if they were.  But they are paying disproportionately more than the rest.  The top 0.1% of taxpayers earn 5% of the nation’s income, but pay 11.3% of the tax.

Fraser Nelson points out that with a mere 3000 people paying 4%+ of UK income tax, the government would be well advised to avoid confiscatory taxes which might drive these highly mobile individuals to decamp to more favourable tax régimes.  Like Hong Kong, say.  It would be counterproductive to reinstate the punitive 50% marginal tax rate.  And vice versa, it might well bring in more revenue (and more investment) if we went back to the 40% figure.  After all when Labour raised the top rate, it was not an economic measure, but a deliberate political spoiler for a subsequent Conservative-led administration.

But it’s not just the top 3000.  I’ve written about this often, but it bears repeating: economies are dynamic, not static.  If you change a major item like the top rate of tax, people will change their behaviour accordingly (as they are perfectly entitled to do).  The rich and mobile may simply go abroad.  British and foreign investors may prefer to invest elsewhere (as if we weren’t already driving them away with energy prices).  With high marginal rates, entrepreneurs might decide not to launch a new business.  Top earners may see a trade-off between income and leisure, and decide to retire early, or work fewer hours.

Others may hire fancy accountants to find ways to mitigate their tax liability, which within the law they have every right to do.  At a lower level, workers may decide to do less overtime.  And at the margin, higher tax rates promote the black economy, and create a disincentive to work.  That’s why high taxes damage growth, prosperity and employment, and may actually reduce tax revenues for the Treasury.

So we must face down the cheap Labour slogans about “tax hand-outs to the rich”.  For a start, it isn’t a “hand-out” if the government decides to confiscate less.  And secondly, the slogan’s implicit assumption is that lower tax rates for the higher paid mean lower revenues for public services and help for the poor.  But that is just plain wrong.  On the contrary, high tax rates on the better-off are bad for all of us, including the less well-off.

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A remarkable Wednesday

Vaclav Klaus

Last Wednesday in Brussels our EFDD group hosted not one but two political celebrities, in committee room 1E2.

At 11:00 a.m. we had the leader of the Italian Five Star Movement (the second largest delegation in our group).  Beppe Grillo, former comedian, celebrity, and now leader of the insurgent 5 Star party, gave an impassioned speech.  The main take-away message was simple: he wants Italy to have a referendum on membership of the €uro Currency Union, which has done such huge damage to Italy’s economy, and created record unemployment rates.

Of course there are many issues where UKIP and the Five Star Movement don’t see eye-to-eye, and we occasionally get questions about that.  But the answer is simple: we both believe in democracy, and the democratic right of our respective countries to forge their own destinies.  We agree that our freedom to choose should not be over-ridden by unaccountable foreign institutions in Brussels.  And when we agree about something as fundamental as that, we can live and let live on other issues — and I hope, learn from each other.

Then at 1:30, we welcomed one of my political heroes, former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, the only EU Head of State who has been consistently sound on both the EU and climate issues.  I had the privilege of chairing the session, and of introducing him.  Alongside us on the panel were Nigel Farage; Czech MEP Petr Mach; Slovak MEP and economist Richard Sulik; and academic economist Professor Philipp Bagus,, author of “The Tragedy of the Euro”.

President Klaus made a keynote speech, and one of his points struck me very forcibly.  In a sense it was self-evident, yet I had never seen it in quite such clear-cut terms.  Quoting Von Mises, he argued that communism, and centrally-planned economies in general, are incapable of delivering economic efficiency, for a very simple reason.  The only way of allocating resources and assets efficiently is according to their value.  And without a free market sending price signals, even a well-meaning central planner (if such a beast exists) could not achieve an optimum allocation of resources.

For example: take a forest.  You could leave it as a public or private amenity and (if you care about such things) a carbon sink.  Or you could cut down the trees, pelletise them and burn the wood in a power station.  Or you could take the timber to make furniture and other useful items.  How do you decide, how do you optimise the return from the forest, without price signals?

Klaus and other speakers went on to make the point that the EU’s “soft socialism” and central regulation are, to a considerable extent, re-creating the problem and obscuring price signals in the market.

I feel that issue particularly strongly with regard to the energy market, where normal pricing considerations have been overlaid by such a plethora of taxes and subsidies and rules that a functional market can scarcely be said to exist — and as a result, energy prices are far too high, and are driving energy intensive businesses out of the EU altogether, taking their jobs and their investment with them.

President Klaus has written some excellent books.  One close to my heart is “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” — and not only because he cites my own work in a foot-note on page 34!  He has a new book just published, “The never-ending struggle for a Free Society”, of which he very kindly gave me a signed copy.  I haven’t had opportunity to read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

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Guest Blog – Nina Parsons

Nina Parsons

Nina Parsons

EDS & CCI are a hidden illness, Cervical Cranio Instability (a complication from the EDS and falling down a flight of stairs) is a cruel disease that involves the neck not being able to support the head, when this happens the skull crushes the brainstem. This causes havoc in your body and will then slowly strip you of your normal bodily function, energy, independence & eventually your life.

“Hi my name is Nina,

“I’m not unusual, but I have a what we are led to believe is a rare condition (or rarely diagnosed is closer to the truth) called EDS and sadly i have a life threatening complication from EDS called CCI.
“I was born with EDS III or Hypermobility as its also known as. This means i have a genetic connective tissue disorder, when someone has a connective tissue disorder like EDS, to put simply the “glue” that holds your entire body together is weak and stretchy, everything is effected from your skin, to your main organs, to muscles and tendons and the list goes on.

“Instead of having glue holding you together, you have sticky tape holding you together! Because the EDS has effected my neck greatly, it means the muscles in my neck cannot support my head, so it is just my bones holding my head up, this is crushing my brainstem and slowly killing!”

“CCI or Cervical Cranio Instability has left me classed as disabled and taken many things away from me, including my independence and so much more. It is a cruel illness that is fatal.

“After years of fighting misdiagnosis of ignorance and accusations of hypochondria and stress, Nina finally found her true diagnosis after 8 year of suffering. She hoped to be offered the life changing spinal fusion surgery, pioneered and undertaken in the United States in several specialist EDS Neurosurgical hospital, over 3000 times, with a 95% success rate.

“Wearing a hard collar is very uncomfortable, restrictive, and hot, but it allows me to get out of bed some days and sometimes it is the only indication that i am very sick to others.

“If I do not get surgery i will eventually be made blind, paralysed and die from the CCI. Don’t be “fooled” a lot of women smile, and look ok who suffer from EDS alone, but CCI itself is life threatening and fatal. Inside our bodies are so severely suffering and shutting down.”“The website my family runs, i hope can draw attention to my conditions, as there is very little information especially for CCI in the UK available, if people can donate to my cause and help me get better, i would like to start a CCI foundation for the UK and Europe for adults and children who were in my situation and need support.”

To find out more and to help with fundraising please visit Nina’s website
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