EU energy rules: Cat’s cradle or dog’s dinner?

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Earlier this week I attended a dinner-debate in Brussels on the EU’s proposals for energy efficiency targets.  The plans are marked (like most EU plans) by overwhelming complexity, and several speakers made a good case that the proposals would have far greater impact on poorer member-states with relatively lower capita energy consumption, than on wealthier member-states.

I raised my concerns about another aspect.  Of course no one would argue against energy efficiency in a broad sense.  But the objective of all EU energy policy is to reduce emissions of CO2.  I question whether that in itself should be a high-priority objective, but let’s take it as read for the moment.

The EU has created a huge range of initiatives which aim to support this objective.  We have renewables targets, emissions targets, the Emissions Trading Scheme, plus other “instruments” (as they like to call them) like subsidies, feed-in tariffs, renewables obligations, capacity payments and (in the UK at least) a carbon floor price.  These overlapping measures frequently create both conflicts and market distortions.  They are not technologically neutral.  For example, nuclear power contributes powerfully to achieving emissions targets, but fails to help with the the renewables targets.

One might be justified in describing this morass of legislation a cat’s cradle, if not a dog’s dinner.

In my contribution, I pointed out that green measures had already driven up energy prices in the EU to a level where they are undermining competitiveness, and driving jobs, businesses and investment off-shore.  I mentioned that before politics, I had had a real job running real businesses, and I remembered very well that the issue of energy costs frequently featured at board meetings.  Even then, commercial organisations already had an urgent imperative to achieve energy efficiency.  Today, with the cost of energy so much higher, that imperative is even stronger.

So I presented my killer dichotomy.  Either:

1     If an energy efficiency measure is commercially viable – that is, it if provides a commercial pay-back – then an incentive already exists to implement it, and the proposed EU measure is redundant.  Or

2     If such a measure is not commercially viable, then enforcing it through EU policy or targets will damage the business concerned and further undermine EU competitiveness.

So the efficiency target is either redundant, or it is damaging.  Which is it?  What was the view of the panel?  I am still waiting for the answer.

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Election debate 2017

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Click here to see me taking part in the the Election 2017 debate for the East Midlands on BBC TV

 

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Enemies of the Farmer?

 

Roger Helmer NFU visit

Discussing the black grass problem with Lincolnshire farmers

“Friends of the Earth” are at it again.  This time they’re warning farmers of the dreadful loss of income after Brexit, when they get no more CAP funding. “Lincolnshire farmers could be at risk of losing more than £128 million after Brexit”.

They helpfully break down the figures with spurious exactitude, by constituency, with Louth & Horncastle facing the biggest hit at £33 million.

This is typical scaremongering from “Friends of the Earth”.  The government has formally committed to maintain agricultural funding for at least two years after Brexit, and there is a broad political consensus that agriculture is vitally important for food security, for our balance of payments, and for the maintenance of the British countryside and landscape which we all love.

There is a widespread belief that EU agricultural support is very generous.  In fact broad comparisons with other countries around the world show that the EU is about in the middle of the pack of advanced economies in terms of percentage of GDP devoted to agriculture.

While in an ideal world we might prefer a free-market model, the fact is that something like half of farm incomes come from farm support.  We cannot expect our farmers to compete successfully in world markets unless they have support broadly comparable to that in other advanced economies.

We should recall that Britain had a perfectly good farm support system before we joined the EU, and we will have a perfectly good farm support system after we leave.  We will also hopefully have a much simpler regulatory system designed for the UK, rather than the EU’s massively bureaucratic approach.  We want farmers to be out raising crops and cattle – not sitting indoors filling in compliance forms.

It is simplistic scaremongering for “Friends of the Earth” to look at current levels of subsidy and claim they are at risk.  They’re not so much Friends of the Earth – more Enemies of the Farmer.

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Can we do more than light candles?

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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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VOTE BREXIT. VOTE HELMER.

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

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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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