Richard Howitt MEP: A Myth a Minute

Richard-Howitt-EU

On Wednesday in Strasbourg I appeared live on the BBC News Channel alongside Labour MEP Richard Howitt from Eastern Region.  He is (as he pointed out) my neighbour, across the East Midlands border.  We’d been promised around four minutes, but in the end it seemed much shorter – I was very frustrated at the inadequate time I had to respond to his points.  But he managed in about two minutes to come up with two whoppers on EU-related issues.

First there was the old chestnut that “3½ million British jobs depend on EU membership”.  Howitt knows, or ought to know, that this is plain not true.  Yet he and other EU apologists trot it out on a daily basis.  It’s one of those wrong numbers (like the “97% of scientists who agree on man-made global warming) that have become part of the furniture on Planet Media, even though they have no basis in fact.

I dealt with this claim in detail on my blog in 2012, but to summarise: the figure is based on a report from the highly respected think tank NIESR, from as long ago as 1999, which estimated that 3.2 million UK jobs might depend on exports of goods and services in the EU.  This was immediately seized upon by EU apologists, but subtly changed: the jobs no longer depended on exports, or trade, but on membership of the EU.

The then Director of NIESR, Dr. Martin Weale, angrily rebutted this travesty of his findings within twenty-four hours of it appearing, describing it as “pure Goebbels” (please note, Richard).  Yet Howitt and others will be repeating it confidently throughout the current euro-election campaign, knowing it to be false: we must be ready to shoot it down in flames whenever it raises its head.

Their misrepresentation depends on the implicit, but false, assumption that trade in the EU depends on membership.  Yet non-member states like the USA, China, Japan and Korea seem to have little difficulty in accessing the EU market.  Ford have just moved their van manufacturing out of the EU to Turkey, which gives the lie to the myth that you must be in a member-state to trade.  When we leave the EU we will of course have a free trade deal, and essentially much the same market access as we enjoy today.  We can have the penny and the bun – all the trade without the onerous expense and regulation that goes with membership.

As I put it to Richard afterwards, the only jobs at risk when we leave the EU are his and mine (and 70 other UK MEPs).

Howitt’s second myth was to deny the link between the recent UK flooding and the EU (which Christopher Booker has described in detail).  Howitt greeted my point with hoots of derision – “So now you’re saying that the EU caused the rain?!”.  No Richard.  That’s not what I said at all.  But I thought it was what you believed, as an article of faith – that our wet winter was caused by Global Warming, which in turn is caused by CO2 emissions from industrialised countries like the EU.

Of course I never said that the EU caused the rain.  I said that the flooding was caused by deliberate decisions taken by our Environment Agency, but  in conformity with EU Directives, like the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive, which deliberately prioritise wildlife, wilderness and wetlands ahead of people and homes and orderly agriculture.  Directives like the Waste Directive, which prevents farmers from spreading dredged silt on their land as a useful, natural fertiliser, and requires instead that this valuable resource be disposed of as “waste” at great expense.  So dredging becomes unaffordable, and homes get flooded.   No, Richard, the EU didn’t cause the rain.  But it did cause the flooding.

I can’t conclude without a reference to Baroness Young, who was Chief Executive of the Environment Agency from 2000 to 2008, after seven years as head of the RSPB.  She was so keen to put wildlife ahead of people that she made what must rank as the most outrageous and irresponsible remark of the last decade.  “Instant wildlife.  Just add water”.  So she did.  And look where it got us.

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26 Responses to Richard Howitt MEP: A Myth a Minute

  1. Mike Spilligan says:

    Well said Mr H. It does no harm to repeat these truths and the lies which they refute.
    I have wondered (but not for long) why the Baroness Young is so silent about the floods as I would have thought she would really like to put forward a mea culpa. Is she still attending the HoL and claiming her £300 per diem?

    • Mike Stallard says:

      She is a terrifying woman to me – I live in Wisbech on the borders of the Waldersea which was drained by steam power in the 19th century and Cornelius Vermuyden in the 17th. She could easily have undone all the good work in just a few years as she did in Somerset.

  2. neilfutureboy says:

    The BBC promising 4 minutes and giving 2 out of a programme which I assume was either 1/2 an hour or an hour long. And which, I am even more confident, they used much of the rest of to promote the propaganda story. 28 Gate proved that the BBC, virtually every dept., has deliberately and continuously lied for decades to promote a story they had known for a provable minimum of 6 years (now 7 1/2) to be largely or entirely a totalitarian fraud.

  3. Jane Davies says:

    Keep it up Roger…hopefully the majority of the British public see through the lies and bluster. Give them the facts for example our Prime Minister here, Stephen Harper, is preening his feathers about the his new trading agreement with the EU, Canada is another non-member and when the UK leaves this trading will continue. Why would it not? I’m finding it hard to swallow that the majority of politicians are putting their own interests above the good of the country and in doing this have earned the contempt of those of us who can see through their lies and bluster. You need to woo the section of society who consistently turn out to vote, the seniors. They remember what it was like to live in a great country and would like to see a return to the values that were fought for in two world wars. You could make a positive start by addressing the frozen pension scandal which despite of the new Commonwealth Charter, which is “opposed to all forms of discrimination” is still blatantly disregarded by this present government.

    • neilfutureboy says:

      That is an interesting point about pensioners Jane. However we also have to be careful about promising giveaways – that is for the other parties but we are trying to be better.

      Thus any promise to raise pensions must be matched with cuts in named assorted fakecharities, nanny-statism, qangos etc, of which there are more than enough. In the long term pensions and indeed every social programme can only be secure with a successful growing economy (the non-EU world is growing at near 6%) – something which UKIP, with our commitment to cheap energy and reduced regulation can specifically promise and the other parties would, if they were honest, have to specifically promise they are working to prevent.

      In 24 years time when the next generation is retiring we will all be 4 times better off with world average growth but on present trends we will be lucky if the next generation is not worse off.

      • Jane Davies says:

        The frozen 4% are not asking for ‘giveaways’ just to be treated the same as the rest. After all they have paid their NI contributions under the same terms and are being denied payment under the same terms. A state pension is a paid for pension where one lives in retirement is irrelevant and all contributors have the same rights.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Jane, I disagree with you on pretty much everything else but I agree that the pensions issue is unjust. I, too live outside the UK but my state pension, unlike yours, is not frozen because I live in one of those countries where UK pensions are not frozen. It is quite wrong that there is this discrimination against those of you who for various reasons have chosen to live in one of those few countries where UK pensions are frozen. What is really ridiculous is the continued parsimony of successive governments because the total amount ‘saved’ by the treasury by not paying full pensions is tiny.

        However don’t put your hopes on UKIP, as they will not take this issue seriously because of their obsession with denying climate change, getting out of the EU and fighting off migrants, so there is just not enough time to deal with real issues. And for those reasons, amongst others, they will not be forming any government.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Brian that is, as normal, disingenuous of you. The issues you mention could save Britain hundreds of millions of £, at the least and it is not only proper to pursue them but obvious that if that is done successfully there will be far more money left to pay our dues.

        Moreover this is the first time you have appeared on Jane’s issue – you have previously devoted yourself to evidence free support of promoting climate change, staying in the EU and the “need” for migrants. To now claim that these are issues we, and therefore you, should not bother discussing is dishonest.

        I look forward to you confining yourself to the issues you are now on record as saying debate should be confined to.

      • catalanbrian says:

        So you, and presumably UKIP now want censorship whereby I am only allowed to comment on issues that you allow me to. I have to say that am far from surprised!

      • neilfutureboy says:

        It is Mr Helmer’s site and he is quite obviously not censoring you – I ask you to acknowledge that.

        Nor have I said you should be censored. I have said that, out of personal integrity you should not be so 2-faced. I ask you to acknowledge that that is all I have done.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I have to say that I am not surprised by your response. Firstly let me make it clear that I was not suggesting that Mr Helmer wished to censor me, and this is clear form my comment. You clearly stated that you “look forward to you confining yourself to the issues you are now on record as saying debate should be confined to”. Thus you expect me to make no comments on any other issues, other than those that you allow me to. If that is not censorship I am not sure what is. Likewise I cannot quite understand why you consider me to be two faced. I think that I have been consistent throughout. My comment to Jane Davis was that she should not look to UKIP to deal with the unjust arrangements regarding UK overseas pensioners, as UKIP seem to be too busy with other matters such as immigration, climate change denial and the EU. At least that is how it seems from this blog and the comments made on it.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        “Thus you expect me to make no comments on any other issues, other than those that you allow me to. If that is not censorship I am not sure what is. Likewise I cannot quite understand why you consider me to be two faced”

        Not so. Nothing about me “allowing ” you to say anything (which obviously is not in my power). What I said was that if you were not using double standards you would not WANT to discuss subjects you have said we should not be discussing.

        You claim not to understand why not applying limits you demand of UKIP to yourself is obviously two faced. Unfortunately I have no difficulty whatsoever understanding you would adopt such hypocrisy.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I think that you misunderstand, perhaps deliberately, what I said. I cannot see where I have given a limited list of subjects for discussion, either by me or by UKIP. The point that I was making is, as I have already stated, that on this blog there seems to be discussion on only three main topics: Immigration, climate change denial/crappy wind farms etc etc. and how crap the EU is and that the UK would be “better off out”. You in UKIP might do a bit better if you faced up to the real world and got on with discussing a wider range of pressing matters (the economy, for example) or does UKIP believe that all the UK’s problems will be solved by stopping immigration, leaving the EU and returning to burning coal to produce power? That is the impression that you give, whether or not that is your intention.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Well Brian if you can’t see where you produced a list of 3 subjects then I don’t see how pointing it out is going to help.

        However I am going to agree with you on the importance of the one you raise now – the economy. It is, as Clinton charmlessly said “the economy stupid” which dominates almost all peacetime elections. it is also, as I pointed out to Jane, only the economy that can provide pension money.

        However the correlation between economic growth and growth in energy use is almost precise so when Roger (whose remit is, after all, energy, says, correctly, that our policy would produce more, cheaper energy he IS talking about the economy.

        Strangely enough I have never seen any of the Luddites who come on here and complain about cheap coal (as you just did), cheap shale gas or even cheaper nuclear (potentially cutting process by 98%) saying that you are opposed to a growing economy (& better pensions). Nor to be fair to you have I ever seen any politician of the LabConDems being willing to discuss the issue (or being asked by their tame broadcaster).

        Equally immigration of unskilled poor people reduces the per capita size of the economy and as Tim Congdon and others have shown, costs £170 bn a year so when we talk about that we ARE talking about the economy. And our opponents, of course actively avoid mentioning the implications when they oppose us on these subjects.

        I’ll grant we do not always harp on that subject enough – I would like us to, constantly, say that a UKIP government would virtually certainly achieve the 6% average growth of the non-EU world (& be able to afford better pensions among many other things) and probably better it whereas there is zero possibility of any of the other parties allowing more than bumping along the bottom. If you now accept the facts I have given and that we, alone, are going to do something about your favoured policy does that mean you will now vote for us?

      • catalanbrian says:

        If you were to bother reading my original comment you will see that I listed three subjects that UKIP, and particularly commentators on this blog, were obsessed with. At no point did I suggest that these were the only subjects for discussion. Indeed quite the opposite

      • catalanbrian says:

        But one last point. You assume, in my view wrongly, that the economy is all about relentless growth. That is just not sustainable, and it is time that the UK, indeed World, political parties including UKIP, realised that and faced up to the challenges of living in a no growth World, when all the fuel has been squandered on making things that we don’t need.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        Economic growth is sustainable for the foreseeable future. Centuries at least. Society is no more going to collapse from running out of fuel than it is because we run out of flint to make flint axes.

        But as I said, it is really the Luddites (including LabConDem leaders) who don’t want to discuss a successful economy because, in fact, they are against having one.

        In fact, if you really believed what you say about running out you would have to be infinitely enthusiastic for nuclear power since there is enough radioactives in the Earth to keep society running for longer than the lifetime of our Sun.

      • catalanbrian says:

        I cannot see how I can have given you the impression that I am anti nuclear, still that may be because, as is evidenced by this exchange, you rarely read what people actually write and only read what you think they write.

      • neilfutureboy says:

        You are presumably assuming that some new readers will not be aware that you have been sounding off for some time, not just on this thread but previous ones, promoting all sorts of Luddism including playing up what you clearly know to be false fears of nuclear power.

      • Jane Davies says:

        I find myself agreeing with Brian. I have asked on here a while back about UKIP’s views on other subjects, if they want us to vote for them we need to know what their aims are as a party for running the country. My particular interest is the frozen pension scandal and I asked how a UKIP government would deal with, not only the frozen 4%, but the whole bloody shambles that Webb has interfered with and is calling an improvement. Webb is not only ignoring the freeze but is ignoring those poor souls he has thrown under the bus just because of their year of birth. Alas no answer from Roger on how UKIP will deal with the other important issues, while agreeing getting out of the EU is top priority, we need to have an all round view on other policies.

  4. Thomas Fox says:

    Some of these MEP,s must now be brain washed to beieve all these lies, it’s like the dying days of the Roman Empire when all was falling about them!

    • David says:

      Lies, yes like our devious foreign sec & PM, they say they are so concerned at russia,s treatment of a sovereign state which should be able to decide its own future, yet they live in and attempt to lead a place in exactly that condition, as they refuse a referendum on their giant ponzi scheme. The UK is no longer a sovereign state, how could anyone claim this when the PM has to ask an unelected commission for permission to do certain things.

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Its easier to blurt that stuff out than spend adequate time trying to understand whats happened. Climate is the easy one…sorry gave it away there!

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    When Richard was just elected as an MEP, he arrived at our Centre with an aide carrying a briefcase.
    It was the time when immigrants were pouring in and we were offering free lessons. I had a class of about 50. Of course, I was unpaid. But we had no books, no blackboard, no chalk, no photocopying even. The lessons were dire!
    Richard marched in and appeared shocked.
    “How much do you need?” I said that a £30.00 book would transform the situation.
    Turning to his aide, he said – “Remind me to send them £1,000.”
    I was astounded. That easy? I thanked him profusely: he was the only person who had offered to help with money – except for our Parish Priest who had duplicated a textbook (written by me) for free. I told him that too. I was really grateful
    We all stood outside the centre for the photo which was duly printed in both local papers.
    I waited.
    I am still waiting…

  7. DICK R says:

    If every job in the country was dependent on membership of the EU it would still be worth getting out

  8. Jane Davies says:

    Here is the link to the first blog I read of Rogers. I admit I have great hopes that he is a man of integrity (rare as hens teeth in a politician!) and will see, unlike the idiot Webb, that ending this injustice is long overdue. I know for sure if this discrimination was directed at small group because of their colour or religion every right minded person would be protesting loudly and demanding an end to it forthwith.

    http://rogerhelmermep.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/its-frosty-out-there-the-plight-of-expat-pensioners/

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