Can we do more than light candles?


The vigil in Manchester last night was undeniably moving.  The assurances that we will stand together, we will not let terrorism win, love is stronger than hate, and so on, were resonant.  And yet … and yet … that is what we always do.  Politicians jostle to repeat the same platitudes.  Maybe the threat level is heightened for a week or two.  We debate the percentage of the anti-radicalisation budget that goes to the government’s disputed “Prevent” strategy.  Then the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.  Until the next time.

Allison Pearson summed up the point beautifully: “Even before their bodies were cold, the great and the good were crowding on to the airwaves to murmur their self-soothing mantras about hope being stronger than fear, strong, vibrant communities, keep calm and carry on, businesses as usual.  How dare they? They insult the dead, who deserve the country to be outraged and anguished on their behalf. How can we be calm when our children are considered a legitimate target for mass murder?”

One theme to emerge is that the bomber was a loner, representing no one.  Responding to a Tweet saying that integration has not worked, Tim Montgomerie wrote “It largely has.  99.9% of Muslims are good neighbours”.  I responded by re-Tweeting some Pew research indicating that in the UK, 24% of Muslims and 35% of young Muslims express some sympathy for suicide bombing.  Rather more than the 0.1% implied by Tim.  My Bête Noire Professor Michael Merrifield responded with an alternative study showing that only 4% of British Muslims sympathise with extremists.  But as I pointed out, even if Merrifield’s figures are right, at 4% it’s still forty times Tim’s estimate.

Peter Whittle on Twitter quoted Mayor Andy Burnham “The bomber represents no one but himself”.  I responded “The bomber (so far as we can judge) represents a large and determined terrorist death cult which is a threat to all of us”.  Of course not all Muslims (nor even a majority of Muslims) are terrorists.  But we face a large and well-resourced terrorist organisation which claims to represent Islam, and is steeped in a highly conservative and paranoid interpretation of the faith.  To pretend that we can deal with the terrorism without responding to the distortion of the religion is fanciful and naïve.

The idea that the bomber was a maverick loner is further undermined by a Telegraph headline “South side of city (Manchester) is a breeding ground for Jihad”.  It sounds more like Molenbeek, the notorious jihadist suburb of Brussels which harboured the Paris bombers than a suburb of the City of Manchester, standing together to face down the terror threat.  It is clear that UK security services are anticipating further attacks.

I noted an interesting comment from Brendan Cox, husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox.  He suggests that the only alternatives are (A) to turn the other cheek; or (B) “To build internment camps and hold the billion Muslims on the planet responsible for the actions of a few”.  Admittedly he does suggest some other measures, but they are all rather vague generalities like “building stronger communities”.  Haven’t we been trying to do that through all the years of multiculturalism?

I suggest that there are things we can do.  For a start, we should set aside the ECHR and deport foreign nationals whom we realistically suspect of jihadism.  Second, we should deny entry and withdraw passports from British citizens who seek to return from jihad (yes, there are legal problems, but we face an emergency).  We should identify imams who preach jihad, and deport them (or if British, detain them – incitement to violence is a crime).  We should close mosques that give a platform to hate preachers.

Then schools.  It is evident that some Muslim schools are hotbeds of Wahhabism and anti-Western values.  They should be closed.  I’ve struggled for a long time with the apparent discrimination of closing Muslim schools but not other faith schools.  But it seems that only in Muslim schools (or some Muslim schools) are anti-Western values systematically promoted, and when we are faced with Islamic terrorism, there is every justification for closing them.

We should ban the burka.  You cannot be integrated into Western society with your face covered.  And if you aren’t prepared to be part of Western society, you shouldn’t be here.

Finally, perhaps the most radical point.  As a broadly libertarian politician, I am hugely reluctant even to type the word “internment”, but I am coming around to the view that the threat we face – the children slaughtered in Manchester – is on such a scale that we have to think the unthinkable.  No, Mr. Brendan Cox, we do not want to build internment camps for the world’s billion Muslims.  But we need at least to consider internment for the 3000 or so jihadist suspects on our streets.  We are horrified that the Manchester bomber was “known to the police” yet still allowed to go to Libya, to return, and to carry out his atrocity. Yet we have to recognise that it is impossible for the security forces to monitor 3000 people.

I was relieved to find I was not alone in what some may consider an extreme view.  I re-Tweeted Arron Banks this morning: “We should intern people on the terrorist watch and properly investigate them”.  I will not say at this time that we should necessarily do so.  But I believe it is time to have the debate.


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Energy policy speech

Speaking on energy policy and the vital importance of UKIP post-Brexit referendum in George Street, Westminster. The first part of the speech is above and continues below:


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Roger Helmer MEP

Last year, voters in South Leicestershire backed Brexit by 60/40 on a strong turnout of 76%.  Yet most of the candidates for the General Election are against Brexit.  Just twelve months ago, the Tory was campaigning for Remain. The Lib Dems are trying to reverse the Brexit decision, while Labour can’t make their minds up.

I am the only committed Brexiteer on the ballot paper.  I have spent the last twenty years campaigning single-mindedly for the independence and self-determination of our country.  For the last eighteen years I have been privileged to serve you, the people of South Leicestershire and the wider East Midlands, as your number-one MEP.

The Prime Minister asks you to vote for her – but she’s not on the ballot paper.  If elected, I will support Theresa May on Brexit so long as she works honestly to deliver a swift and clean break.  But I will fight any signs of backsliding.  She is already going soft on the European Convention of Human Rights, which allows foreign terrorists and murderers to remain on our country.  She is talking about a long transition period, which looks like a fudge.  She is placing Remain-supporting Tory candidates in winnable seats.  She is repeating the old pledge on immigration which she failed to deliver as Home Secretary.

I will guarantee to hold Mrs. May’s kitten-heels to the fire, and to work tirelessly to deliver the Brexit that you, the people of South Leicestershire, voted for.  I will oppose mass immigration – which Mrs May promised but failed to curb.  I will call for a reduction in our grossly inflated Foreign Aid budget, with the money diverted to domestic priorities like the NHS.

The polls suggest we shall have a Tory government on June 9th.  Many – perhaps a majority – of Tory MPs will be Remainers at heart, like local MP Alberto Costa.  Indeed Theresa May herself is a recent Brexit convert who backed Remain only last year.  It is vital to have clear, strong voices in Westminster who will speak up for the Brexit that Britain voted for in the referendum.

Before my life in politics, I spent over thirty years as a manager in international businesses, much of it representing British businesses in the Far East.  I understand international trade, and I am keen to see our country seize the opportunities that Brexit offers.  Britain must be a great global trading nation, taking its proper place in the world economy – not an offshore province in a country called Europe.  We must be governed by people we have elected, and whom we can dismiss – not by remote and unaccountable bureaucrats in foreign capital cities.

If elected, I will be your strong voice in Westminster for a confident and independent Britain.

JUNE 8th: Vote for the Blaby Brexiteer.  VOTE BREXIT.  VOTE HELMER.



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Those local election results – Sunday Politics Show


You can see my interview with Tim Iredale, (above), on The Sunday Politics Show (Yorkshire and Lincolnshire by clicking this link, (about 44 minutes in).


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Brussels doesn’t understand “Independence”


The guiding principles agreed by the EU 27 with regard to the Brexit negotiations include the extraordinary proposition that the rights of EU citizens in the post-Brexit UK should be adjudicated by the ECJ, whose writ would then, at least in that respect, cover EU citizens in Britain.  They seem oblivious to the fact that a key factor in the UK’s Brexit debate was independence — the right to make our own laws for our own country.

Think about it for a moment.  Imagine a US citizen who was disputing his right to work or reside in an EU member-state.  If the member-state courts ruled against him, could he then appeal to the US Supreme Court to decide on his behalf?  And would Brussels and the ECJ accept the US Supreme Court ruling?  Of course not.

Similarly the case of an EU citizen in the USA.  If his residence status or Green Card were in dispute in the USA, could he appeal over the heads of American courts and ask the ECJ to rule on his behalf?  And if it did, would the US of A accept the ECJ ruling?  Again, of course not.  Clearly the EU Commission recognises that the USA is a sovereign, independent country, but does not accept that a post-Brexit UK will be independent and sovereign.

Accordingly I Tweeted: Question for Brussels: Are US citizens in the EU subject to US law, or EU law? Why should EU citizens in post-Brexit UK be under the ECJ?

Now of course you can’t get all the nuances into 140 Twitter characters, so internet critics (that term “trolls” is so over-used, don’t you think?) can have a field day with (often deliberate) misunderstandings.  We immediately had Professor Michael Merrifield (who should, and probably does, know better) come up with: “Yes, quite a large section of US law applies extraterritorially. Funny when your ignorance makes the opposite point”.

In fact I have spent quite a lot of time in the USA since 1972, and I daresay I know as much about it as Professor Merrifield.

But not to be outdone, a certain Nathan Dennis comes up with a similar complaint: “US law has no territorial boundaries and US citizens are bound by it globally. Your ignorance is frightening, is this a parody account?”

It is true that some US law applies extraterritorially, but it then applies to US citizens in addition to the laws of the country in which they happen to be at the time.  An American cannot exclude himself from (say) French law by appealing over the heads of French and European courts to the US Supreme Court.  Yet that is exactly parallel to what the Commission and the EU 27 want to be the case for EU citizens in dispute with post-Brexit Britain.

Of course the good Professor knows all this perfectly well, and probably Mr. Dennis does too.  But they couldn’t resist the temptation for childish name-calling and playground insults.




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“Identity bilingualism”

My response to a letter I received from Russell Blair 

Mr Blair invited me to publicise his ideas, which I am happy to do –

Dear Russell,

Thank you for your letter of February 28th, with attachments, which has just come to my attention.  I have to be frank and tell you that I simply haven’t the time to read all 34 pages in detail, but I have flicked through and at least glanced at every page.  And the extraordinary thing is that having done so, I can’t find any coherent explanation of what your phrase “Identity Bilingualism” actually means.

Clearly if I don’t know what your policy proposal is, it is difficult for me to give you a coherent reply.  But I can offer some general observations.

First, it may be true that EU Citizens need something concrete and uplifting at this time – something that the EU project has signally failed to deliver.  But given that the UK is now set to leave the sinking ship, I think that this is a matter for the residual EU citizens, and for Brussels, not for me.  We in Britain have Brexit, which I find enormously concrete and uplifting.  You add that your objective is “Making Europeans”.  But in the aftermath of Brexit, it seems to me that the task is un-making Europeans.

Secondly, I think you will find that language and identity are deeply ingrained, and attempts at a political level to impose or promote language policies tend to be at best unsuccessful, and at worst oppressive.  Some people have an aptitude for languages and are keen to learn.  Good luck to them.  Others have less interest and resent being bulldozed.

Thirdly, there is a de facto common European language.  It’s called English, and I have every confidence that this will remain so after Brexit.  During my first five-year term in the parliament (1999/2004) all the display screens in the parliament were in French.  We had séances and réunions.  It took me a while to notice, but soon after the 2004 elections I realised that it had all changed.  We has sittings and meetings.  English was taking over.  Rather than regretting our poor showing at foreign languages, we Brits should celebrate and exploit the fact that we have the world’s language.

A final observation: I have always treasured John Stuart Mill’s aperçu that “Where people lack fellow feeling, and especially where they speak and read different languages, the common public opinion necessary for representative government, cannot exist”.  This is possibly the best argument for Brexit.

Best regards.


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Energy: What we should be doing post-Brexit

The EU has long been committed to “the fight against global warming”.  In this context it has created a series of measures, most of which increase energy costs for industry and for households.  The result has been to force millions of UK households into fuel poverty, and to drive energy-intensive industries off-shore.  Industries which have borne the brunt of these policies have included steel, aluminium, chemicals and fertilisers, petroleum refining, cement, glass and ceramics.

Plant closures are only part of the problem: we should also bear in mind potential new investment, which is driven offshore by these measures.  We are in fact exporting industries and jobs, while worsening our balance of payments as we import materials previously made in Europe.  And the real irony is that the production often goes to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, so the result is an increase in global emissions.

Measures have included aggressive targets for renewable energy, and for emissions.  These are overlapping and conflicting provisions.  In particular, nuclear energy contributes to emissions targets but not to renewable targets, so policy, which ideally should be technology-neutral, is biased in favour of wind and solar and against nuclear.  All these technologies have attracted subsidies.  They have also created the need for additional levels of subsidy, since intermittent renewables require back-up.  The back-up, typically gas, has to be run intermittently to complement intermittent renewables.  But there is no economic or investment case to build gas-fired plants to run intermittently, so they require “capacity payments”: a whole new level of subsidy.

Then we have the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which has resulted in the closure of perfectly good coal plants across the UK, threatening both price and availability of electricity.  But perhaps the greatest folly is the Emissions Trading Scheme.  It has been sold as a “market mechanism” designed to allocate emissions permits where they will be most efficient and to incentivise investment in low-carbon and energy-saving technologies.  It has largely failed over ten years and more.  The price of a ton of CO2 emitted has generally been below €10, which the level generally accepted as necessary to send signals to the market would be €30 plus.  The Commission and parliament come back to the issue every few years with a sticking-plaster solution – which never delivers.  Moreover a “market mechanism” which requires constant regulatory intervention is not really a market mechanism at all: it is a very complicated tax.

The additional problem is “carbon leakage” – an EU euphemism for driving energy-intensive businesses offshore.  The plan is to establish a level of “free allocation” of carbon permits to industries at risk – but to reduce the total allocation each year in order to drive down emissions.  But the level is not sufficient to start with.  And some industries are based on chemical processes that emit CO2 as part of their fundamental chemistry which no amount of efficiency savings can eliminate.  The policy amounts to a slow suffocation of heavy industry.  Indeed former Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani has said “EU Energy Policy is creating an industrial massacre in Europe”.  UKIP agrees.

Regulatory uncertainty:  We have created such a complex cat’s-cradle (or dog’s breakfast) of regulation, taxation and subsidy, subject to constant change at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats, that it has become almost impossible for the market to make rational investment decisions on multi-billion pound projects with time scales in decades.  This is why incentives designed to promote gas-fired power stations have had the perverse effect of promoting diesel generators instead, and why the government had to accept an eye-watering guaranteed price to EDF for Hinckley C.

Not just an EU problem

It would be nice to promise that this energy policy chaos could be unwound immediately after Brexit.  But if the problem with Brussels is bad enough, Westminster has made it worse.  The Climate Change Act (2008), one of the most expensive pieces of peace-time legislation, was passed almost unanimously in Westminster, by MPs who had little or no idea of the consequences of their actions.  It even includes statutory emissions targets for 2050 – something no other country in the world has.  So after the Brexit battle, we have another battle here at home to deliver a rational UK energy policy.

What the UK should do post-Brexit

  1. On repeal of the European Communities Act (1972) HM Government should repeal the Climate Change Act as a priority number one for Energy Policy.  It should also announce our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Treaty.
  2. Repeal the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from UK law.
  3. Repeal the Large Combustion Plant Directive (though given that most coal plants are closed, or are running down ahead of closure, most will be beyond rescue).
  4. Withdraw all subsidies from new wind, solar and anaerobic digestion projects. Make operators of wind and solar responsible for the additional costs of intermittency.  UKIP recognises that future increases in efficiency, plus the development of viable and efficient large-scale energy storage, may make wind and solar viable sometime in the next decade or two.  Subject to planning and environmental considerations, we would not oppose new investment in renewables, but we would not subsidise it.
  5. Dismantle constraints on the industry:  remove emissions and renewables targets (while maintaining controls on genuine pollutants, like SOx NOx & particulates).  Scrap George Osborne’s Carbon Floor Price.
  6. Ensure security of supply: given that we are close to a crisis situation in electricity supply, HM Government should discuss with the industry how we could incentivise major energy infrastructure investment.  We would renegotiate the use of Interconnectors with continental countries, on an arm’s-length, independent nation basis.

UKIP energy policy will be expanded in detail in our next Manifesto, and this will include our positions on Shale Gas, and Nuclear Power.


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