Heroic failure



You’ll find below the text of my speech for the immigration debate last Thursday at the Cambridge Union Society, alongside such luminaries as Godfrey Bloom, James Delingpole and Alasdair Macleod.  So as the dust settles, you will undoubtedly be asking “Did you win?”.  Dear Reader, we did not.  It was an heroic failure.  Like the Charge of the Light Brigade, we galloped into the very mouths of the cannon, and were roundly decimated.

We were, of course, not surprised.  We were dealing with an audience mainly of students, who will instinctively embrace compassion with no thought for practicalities or consequences.  A cynic might describe it as gesture politics, or virtue signalling.

I had already reminded my co-speakers of Churchill’s dictum: “If you’re not a socialist at twenty, you have no heart.  If you’re still a socialist at thirty, you have no brain”.  And they were mostly around twenty.

On the other side, the best speaker was undoubtedly the Jordanian Ambassador Mazen Homoud and he had a valid point.  Jordan has shouldered an enormous burden in terms of refugees from the Syrian conflict, and while I don’t want to invite those refugees to come to the UK, nonetheless Jordan deserves our sympathy and our financial support.  Indeed a key theme of our argument was that it’s better (better for Britain, better for the refugees, and better for the eventual reconstruction of Syria) if these refugees can remain in the region.

Their second speaker was a young woman called Josie Naughton, who has set up a successful charity directing aid initially to the Calais Jungle, but later to many areas including Greece where refugees are in need of help.  She amazed me by using almost exactly the same words as I’d drafted into my speech: “If you woke up one morning and found a starving child on your doorstep, you’d feed it”.  But of course my speech added “If you found a dozen, you’d do your best and maybe get the neighbours to rally round.  But if you found thousands, you’d call the Army”.  Numbers matter.

Their third speaker was Robert Verkaik , who tried to convince us that the overwhelming majority of German, and British, citizens were enthusiasts for immigration and keen to welcome them with tea and sympathy.  In unscripted additions to my own speech (I was the last speaker) I asked if that was why Angela Merkel’s poll ratings had tumbled out of bed and why the anti-immigration AfD Party was doing so well in Germany. And I told him that when I knocked on thousands of doors during the recent Brexit campaign, by far the biggest issue raised spontaneously by voters was immigration.

Their fourth speaker, Labour MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner , was profoundly forgettable, and I shall say no more of him (except that he suggested that “there might be a few European citizens in the audience”, apparently forgetting that until Brexit, Brits remain “European Citizens” whether we like it or not).

Odd, isn’t it, the way you think of the best ideas after the event.  After the debate, I wished I’d included something along these lines:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I suspect that the great majority of you here tonight come from the comfortable middle classes, from leafy suburbs or picturesque rural villages.  If any of you come from a less-well-off background, then as Cambridge students you stand an excellent chance of joining the comfortable middle classes very soon.

 “If you vote tonight to fling open our doors to unlimited numbers of refugees, who will pay the price?  It will not be you, in your leafy suburbs.  You will benefit from cheap au pairs and cheap car-washes.  No.  I’ll tell you who it will be.  It will be the semi-skilled or unskilled British worker hit by wage compression caused by immigration.  It will be the parents unable to get their children into a crowded school – and the children who find that their teachers have to concentrate on English-as-a-foreign-language rather than on teaching British children.  It will be the single mother waiting months and years on the housing list.  It will be the London council-tax payer who finds he’s helping to fund homes for immigrant families in properties that he himself will never be able to afford.  It will be the Old Age Pensioner waiting indefinitely for the hip replacement or the heart by-pass – or even the doctor’s appointment.

 “The price of your moral posturing will be paid not by you, but by your less-well-off fellow citizens.  The phrase “Charity begins at home” may be a cliché, but it is utterly relevant in this context.”




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22 Responses to Heroic failure

  1. terry Sullivan says:

    Roger–I am English–i am not a european in any way–UK is part of eu only

  2. terry Sullivan says:

    ps i looked up zeichner on wikipedia–hes a wos


  3. Good points Roger. Totally agree. The do-gooders in nice neighbourhoods have a sanitised view of what uncontrolled immigration really means, helped by the BBC painting an idealised vision of Britain today; it is nothing like this. We need to organise coach tours for these mollycoddled idealists to some ‘diverse’ parts of Britain….and leave them there for a night to ponder what comes next.

  4. Rowena Julian says:

    Roger Helmer,

    You couldn’t fail, & you didn’t fail. When they grow up they’ll recognise your success in making sense & providing moral leadership in the place of their arrogant imperial meddling.

    You haven’t succeeded with them YET

    Rowena Julian rjrowenajulian@gmail.com


    • Many thanks for that positive message Rowena. And apologies all for the wrong photograph — I’m pursuing my editor to get it fixed!

      • Dung says:

        I agree with Rowena and also say that you should not underestimate your ability to persuade people. You have an open and honest face, do not lie to win an argument and enviably have the huggable grandad look that I have earned but have not received hehe, I am sure you will have had a greater effect than you believe.

  5. rogeroffice says:

    My apologies too. It shouldn’t be showing the incorrect image – if you refresh the correct image should be there.

  6. June A. Van Orman says:

    I don’t know how true it is, but I have heard that Universities do not like UKIP and do not allow UKIP on campus. The teachers/professors are Remain and so is their doctrine, which they teach with gusto. The pupils mostly come from wealthy backgrounds and know only their own circumstances. This is no excuse for not being aware of what is happening in this country. It is not that these pampered individuals don’t know how the majority of us feel, live, work, worry etc. It is they don’t care. It serves their purpose to shed crocodile tears for those who are hell-bent on destroying our country and at the same time these pampered ones preen and show off their imaginary haloes. Not many of them, when reaching 30 years of age, change their views.

    • catweazle666 says:

      “The teachers/professors are Remain and so is their doctrine, which they teach with gusto.”

      So are all the representatives of the National Union of Students, rabidly so in fact.

      Unfortunately for them all, for all their spleen and venom they utterly failed to get the kids to get out there and vote for the EU.

      Perhaps if they hadn’t been so confident of the absolute rightness of their cause and spent less time fulminating against UKIP and Brexiteers in general and spent some of the time exhorting the little dears to get off their backsides, put their TwatFace apps on hold for a few minutes and get out and vote, they could have won. But they didn’t, and now they’re screeching like stuck pigs.


  7. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Realisation will eventually turn up…see that word “real”. It’ll hurt alright.

  8. angela barnardo says:

    I wish you had said those last paragraphs Roger, but they would have probably shouted you down anyway. I have had hate comments made to me by one of my offspring, and it has damaged our relationship, but I support UKIP through and through and agree with all you’ve said. These students are like luvvies, they have never experienced real life.

    • In many cases, we are wasting our time trying to persuade the unpersuadable. And they call us bigots! THEY are the bigots because they are incapable of independent thought and logical analysis, blinded by their own dogma. What matters more is getting out there and making our points to less narrow minded people, who can see around them at first hand what’s happening. I have spoken to plenty of BME people who are VERY concerned about more immigration because it affects them big time. White people in nice areas can only equate the immigration discussion with race, actually making THEM the racists. If they cared about immigrant communities they’d say ‘that’s enough for now, we’ll destroy the communities we’re trying to help’.

      This is unusual for City AM, a pro-Brexit article: http://www.cityam.com/251646/no-nick-clegg-true-liberal-knows-brexit-should-slash-uk?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=161018_CMU

  9. It is certainly true that some universities have sought to exclude UKIP (Islamist agitators welcome; democratic politicians maybe not). But I’m happy to say that the Cambridge Union Society is happy to entertain us and treat us with courtesy and fairness.

  10. Dung says:

    What we should all be aware of is that, close as we appear to be to slaying the evil of the EU, there is a far greater evil to slay and it already has its tanks parked on our lawns.
    The U.N. is the source of all the climate change rubbish in the EU. which explains why the government shows no inclination to change course on energy policy.
    A new version of something called Agenda 21 went into effect in January 2016, a UN document which spells out a plan for U.N. world government. The UK government has been signed up to this for years and in fact David Cameron wrote some of the targets it has adopted including the climate change targets.
    There are two ‘big ideas’ in the thinking of the U.N.; Climate Change and Sustainability and they are both aimed at destroying our western capitalist societies. An evil little imp called Oliver Letwin has been quitly embedding sustainability within the British economy and even the Ministry of Defence since Cameron became Prime Minister.
    You may think that sustainability and sustainabile development are sensible policies but then the government never told you that the U.N. has its own unique definition of sustainability ^.^
    Any resource which ‘may’ be needed by future generations must not be totally depleted and this is the real reason why coal and oil must not be used.
    These people keep on finding new ways to prove that they are dangerous idiots.

    • June A. Van Orman says:

      Of course David Cameron loves the climate change propaganda, didn’t he pave the way for Father-in-law to erect 5 wind-fiascos on his land. Plenty of money for in-laws, plenty expensive for the rest of us. I say fiasco because these things are supposed to be bad for the earth and look what it does to the poor birds. They don’t look the same going out as they did going in. Always follow the money and you will find the true reason.

  11. mike5262015 says:

    ROGER: You are knocking yourself out because, like many of us, after the event the mind is still engaged in the matter at hand. You say you lost, but ask yourself, if you did not put this totally adult point of view, who would ? I have found myself making the same description of University graduates, as ‘ Bright Young Things.’ – That is what they are. Nothing more, and nothing less, due to high levels of knowledge in chosen subjects, but next to nothing in the knowledge of life ! Starting a business straight from school, slammed the door shut to University, and I well recall my interest at the time in Communism before I had the vote ( 21 ). Then 25 years later when the Company failed, I had to get sweat on my body in industry, but was prompted by workmates to stand as Shop Steward, with a Conservative tilt ! Very enjoyable years followed, with advice being sought, from financial to matrimonial, way outside the usual scope of a Shop Steward. An invitation to become a J.P. came out of the blue, and finally a better way to pursue a wage claim than going on strike, prompted the management to make me an offer I could not refuse ! Sorry for the life story, but when you get kicked and punched by life, it is all to the good, because that is what life knowledge is all about. Many Thanks for the updates Roger.

  12. Richard111 says:

    Population and food. The only way to ensure the survival of warriors for the future holy war is to drive the the excess population into countries that will feed them.

  13. Ex-expat Colin says:

    h/t Guido:
    A strange FT splash this morning claims that MPs getting a vote on the government’s eventual EU trade deal means a real Brexit is less likely. This is just wrong. MPs will be given a choice between the government’s deal or no deal which would mean trading with the EU under WTO rules.

    And in earlier papers:

  14. Dung says:

    Agreed Colin.
    Also it seems to me that a referendum is a delegation of the decision by parliament to the people and if they are going to overturn that decision in parliament then what was the point of the referendum? Where are UKIP when you need them?

    • Dung says:

      Second thoughts:
      If the MPS are given the choice between a government deal and a WTO deal then either way we get out, I withdraw my objection hehe.

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