Guest of the Day on BBC Daily Politics Show

Labour Party

Last Friday I was invited to be the guest of the day on the Daily Politics show (18 January, BBC2). Below are four short videos which each cover all the topics I debated with Roger Helmer, MEP and the host, Andrew Neil.

The full programme is available for a limited period on the BBC’s iplayer at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01q06sj/Daily_Politics_18_01_2013/

Introduction and credit rating agencies

Algeria and Foreign Affairs

Referendum debate

EU Lobbying

Credit Reference Agencies

Appearing on Daily Politics Today

Labour Party

I will be on BBC2’s Daily Politics show today which starts at 12 noon, with Conservative Martin Callanan MEP and  UKIP’s Roger Helmer MEP discussing Britain and the European Union.

You can watch BBC2 live here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_two_england/watchlive

Nigel Farage gets too much air time (continued)

Labour Party

As shown on this blog last week, UKIP’s performance in every British election in which they have fielded candidates other than those for the European Parliament has been woeful in the extreme.

Yet their problem not only lack of electoral achievement. Prominent UKIP members hold sexist, racist and homophobic views as well as maintaining unacceptable right wing positions such as rioters should be shot on sight.  I am indebted to Political Scrapbook for this analysis of UKIP’s newest recruit, former Tory MEP Roger Helmer.

Women share blame for rape: Backing Kenneth Clarke’s controversial rape comments, Helmer took it upon himself to distinguish between “stranger” and “date” rape: “In the first case (“stranger rape”), the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case (“Date rape”) the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”

Everyone speeds, why shouldn’t I?: Deciding that he operates above the law, Helmer commenting on speed limits claimed, “No matter how fast you are going, you get people passing you.” It was later revealed that Helmer had recently been caught speeding with his Jaguar – driving at 38 mph in a 30 mph zone. Tut tut.

“Dumb” seal cubs “deserve” to die: Back in 2006, Helmer thrust himself into controversy with an unsympathetic email to a 17 year-old animal rights campaigner. In the email, Helmer told the teenager that, he thinks “it’s mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a Bambi attitude to animals.” Before telling the teen “save your concerns for people rather than them.”

Climate change is a total lie: Wading into the debate on climate change, Helmer labelled it the “Great Climate Myth”. Going onto criticise wind farms, he suggested he spoke for all people who were “hopping mad at the imposition of useless, ugly, ideologically-motivated industrial-scale structures close to their homes and villages.”

Psychiatrists should “turn” homosexuals straight: Posting on Twitter: “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual.”  Thankfully Helmer’s attempt at philosophical thought challenged nobody and angered everybody.

Gay marriage wrong on all counts: Taking the classic approach before delivering an offensive remark, Helmer painted himself as a liberal, tolerant of homosexuality, with gay friends no less. Before clearing the way for his outdated views on gay marriage. Stating that he was, “opposed to the concept of homosexual “marriage”, on both semantic and social policy grounds.”

Homophobia is propaganda and a myth: Not happy with one set of offensive comments, in the same blog post, Helmer called homophobia a “political agenda”: “I have yet to meet anyone who has an irrational fear of homosexuals, or of homosexuality.  So to the extent that the word has any meaning at all, it describes something which simply does not exist.”

Shoot rioters and arsonists on sight: As Scrapbook revealed at the time, in the midst of August’s riots, Helmer shocked the blogosphere, left and right alike, when he posted on Twitter suggesting arsonists and looters should be shot on sight. Helmer later rejected the opportunity to back away from these comments, stating that if rubber bullets didn’t work, “tougher measures were called for.”

Badger cull will reduce price of shaving brushes: Referring to opponents as “po-faced manic bunny huggers”, mustachioed Helmer said that the Government’s controversial cadger cull would be a good idea because it would bring down the “exorbitant” cost of shaving brushes.

The British media must be challenged as to why they give UKIP leader Nigel Farage so much attention, air time and column inches when UKIP members hold such vile views. While I believe in free speech speech, I do not find it acceptable for the media to promote a party which is so obviously on the right-wing political fringe.

Patrick Stewart on domestic violence shows up right-wing MEPs

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The actor Patrick Stewart wrote movingly in the Guardian yesterday about how domestic violence blighted his childhood. He condemned the decline in statutory funding going to Refuge, the leading charity in this field.

Sadly some MEPs on the right of the political spectrum take a view diametrically opposed to Patrick Stewart’s. When the European Parliament voted through a Report commending the success of the anti-domestic violence Daphne Programme last week,  Tory MEPs Daniel Hannan, Roger Helmer and Syed Kamall abstained  while UKIP Members Farage, Dartmouth, Agnew, Bufton, Clark, Nuttall and London MEP Gerard Batten voted against.

Voting against the excellent Daphne Programme is really quite reprehensible. Such behaviour just goes to show the right’s views about violence against women are truly prehistoric. Despite what Tory women like Louise Mensch try to tell themselves, David Cameron has still not managed to challenge the “dinosaur attitudes” obviously still rife within his Party.

The Daphne Programme, run by the European Union, is the only EU-wide programme combating  violence and abuse against women and children.  Established in 1977, it has effectively contributed to hundreds of projects that work towards the elimination of domestic violence, despite continual concern about its funding from the European Commission. I have blogged about this excellent programme on several occasions.  Sadly, it now looks as if Daphne is under further attack, as shown in the  European Commission’s plans for Daphne (or lack of them).

Unfortunately a similar thing to that described by Patrick Stewart is happening with EU work on domestic violence and abuse.  The priority given to the elimination of violence against women by the European Commission has moved down their agenda. It has not even been mentioned as an objective in its proposals for the new ‘Rights and Citizenship’ programme of 2014-2020.  Even though there are some legislative measures in place, including the EU anti-trafficking coordinator and the recent Victims Protection Order, these measures are few and far between. To seriously bring an end to violence against women, an issue which does not discriminate between countries and is, in the case of trafficking for example, a cross border issue we must work with our European neighbours. To think that this is an issue on which we can go it alone is a display of ignorance.

World AIDS Day

Labour Party

I am really pleased that yesterday on World Aids Day the motion for a resolution was adopted by the parliament on the EU response to HIV/AIDS in the EU and neighbouring countries. 

The far-right Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, of which UKIP are a member, asked for roll call votes on a number of passages in the motion. This means that the vote of each MEP is registered and made publically available so it’s possible to see which parts of the text they supported. 

The conservatives Roger Helmer, Sajjad Karim and Charles Tannock don’t support the strong link in national programmes between HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health. 

Helmer and Tannock voted against the part of the motion supporting equitable and affordable access to contraception too. 

I wonder if they know that on a daily basis more than 7000 people are newly infected by HIV globally. Or that of the 24,703 people diagnosed with HIV in Western Europe in 2009 it is estimated that around 77% of these infections resulted from sexual contact

The inclusion of HIV/AIDS on the European public health agenda is a vital step in significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections. To prevent the spread of the disease people must be provided with access to adequate information on contraception, sex education and access to means of protection from HIV. 

The World Health Organisation has recognised that: 

HIV affects, or potentially affects, all the dimensions of women’s sexual and reproductive health — pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, abortion, use of contraception, exposure to, diagnosis and treatment of STIs and their exposure to sexual violence. For instance, HIV infection accelerates the natural history of some reproductive illnesses and increases the severity of others” (WHO, 2006). 

As I have said before, I fully support a woman’s right to choose. An abortion is a serious, life-altering decision, but the person whose life would be most altered and whose decision it fundamentally remains is the pregnant woman in question. 

Women living with HIV/AIDS are at greater risk of septicaemia and post-operative complications. Denying a woman the right to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care can not only puts her reproductive health at risk it also puts her life in danger. This part of the motion was not supported by Nirj Deva, Roger Helmer, Sajjad Karim, Timothy Kirkhope, Emma McClarkin and Charles Tannock. 

We’ve not yet found a cure for HIV/AIDS, but, there is international agreement from organisations such as the WHO and the UN that the spread of HIV can brought to a halt and indeed reversed with policies and practices targeted at its prevention. 

 

Roger Helmer Resigns

Labour Party

In a letter to Stephen Mold, East Midlands Conservative regional chairman seen courtesy of Guido Fawkes ( follow the link here) Roger Helmer says he’s had enough of working for a party that doesn’t subscribe to his eurosceptic, climate-change denying views. 

Although Mr Helmer lies somewhat on the fringes of the Tories, this does speak to the internal problems Cameron is facing from the right-wing of his party.

 I also noted that Mr Helmer assumed that he would be standing aside for a ‘younger man’.  Clearly that was no chance of the Tories trying to further the cause of gender equality by allowing a woman to take his place.  This isn’t surprising from a party that has managed to select no female candidates for their GLA lists.

This is the letter in full, thank you Guido:

Dear Stephen,

Resignation from the European Parliament

It was a great pleasure to see you at the Party Conference in Manchester last week.

I am writing to you now to advise you that I shall be resigning my seat in the European parliament effective December 31st this year.

As with any major decision, this is driven by a number of factors. Some might say that it is high time I stood aside for a younger man. For myself, I think that twelve-and-a-half years banging my head against the same brick wall in Brussels is perhaps long enough. And I should certainly like to see more of my three fine grandsons.

But it would be disingenuous to deny that my decision is dictated in part by my increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party. I am finding it ever more difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my key issues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other matters besides.

I will have more to say about this in coming days…

David Cameron is sinking in a Sea of Troubles

Labour Party

If you were so inclined, you could almost feel sorry for David Cameron.

Yesterday Boris took to the airwaves being utterly Borisly bonkers talking about “Kosovo style social cleansing” in relation to the coalition’s housing benefit proposals while pole cat Tebbit regaled us with “Vichy style betrayal” on the EU budget. Wow, it’s not exactly cricket is it?

Some us thought any tensions within the coalition would be between the two parties, Liberal-Democrat against Conservative. Instead we have Tory against Tory, and it’s stratospheric. The London Mayor goes leftie in a big way and a high-profile grandee delivers a devastating right-wing one liner.

One, of course, one is right while the other is wrong.

I never thought I would say that Boris Johnson is right, but he is on the proposed housing benefit cuts. There is general agreement that a cap on housing benefit will drive people out of high rent properties in central London. Local authorities in the capital have already block-booked bed and breakfast accommodation out of London, as reported in my blog post on Monday. Mark Field, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said the same on the Today programme this morning.

As for Lord Tebbit, he is one of a number of Eurosceptics spitting blood at what they perceive as David Cameron’s failure. Daniel Hannan MEP on Channel 4 News yesterday evening and Roger Helmer MEP on the Today programme this morning were not at all shy in coming forward. Their message was simple and direct: Cameron should have stood firm and not agreed to any increase in the EU budget.

Roger Helmer’s argument is interesting if completely unrealistic. He thinks that Cameron should have held out against the treaty change Angela Merkel is demanding to improve the stability of the Euro, in return for a freeze in the EU budget.

In the event Cameron has gone with the European Council’s 2.9% with hardly a murmur. The claim by William Hague that Cameron has achieved some kind of consensus with other EU leaders that the next EU financial perspectives from 2014 to 2020 will take account of member states’ efforts to move their deficits on to a more realistic path will, I am sure, be seen as the political spin it obviously is. 2014 is a long time away and 2020 even further. Agreement on an unpredictable future which starts four years hence is really not difficult to find. We can all coalesce around a fantasy.

So the Tories are splitting, and the government has very little in the way of either a defence or constructive forward thinking.

We may well be seeing the beginning of Europe emerging in reality, as well as speculation, as the coalition’s fault line.       

PS  Just to give you further evidence that David Cameron was completely wrong to accuse Labour MEPs of voting in favour the EU budget last week, you may like to click on this link to the Channel 4 News blog fact checker.

Some Tories just can’t help it

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What planet do those who deny the existence of man-made climate change really live on?

To get some idea, you may like to read this recent post on the ConservativeHome site.

It is really quite extraordinary that so may seeminly intelligent Tories seek to deny climate change science.  Climate change exists and is caused to a large extent by human activities.  The fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representing 192 governments across the globe, accepts the man made nature of climate change should be enough to convince us all.  I for one am inclined to believe that something which has such overwhelming support is correct.  When you add to this another fact – that the vast majority of scientists in the field (University of East Anglia e-mails notwithstanding) also agree that climate chage is almost exclusively man-made – the proposition becomes incontrovertible.

Now stand up Roger Helmer, he who would challenge all the evidence.  In response to the post on Conservative Home Roger Helmer proclaimed the following:  

Hmmmm. “Those qualified to comment on the science”. How about Prof Fred Singer, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Virginia, a hugely respected climate scientist with a CV as long as your arm. He is a member of the IPCC panel, and wears the IPCC Nobel lapel pin with conscious post-modern irony. He does not deny that CO2 may have some effect, but believes that if so, the effect is so small that its signal is lost in the “noise” of other factors. I’m inclined to trust him on that.

Well, I’m so pleased that Roger trusts someone.  It’s just a shame for him that he doesn’t trust the vast majority of the experts. 

Nick Griffin denies Climate Change

Labour Party

You may be interested in this speech made by BNP Nick Griffin in the European Parliament earlier today.

While it is hardly surprising that Mr Griffin is a climate change denier, his lack of respect for the high level academic research on this matter is absolutely breathtaking.  In addition, virtually all of this research tells us that climate change is man-made and that it is extremely serious.   As far I am aware it is only extremists like Tory MEP Roger Helmer,  Godfrey Bloom of UKIP, and ex-President George W Bush who deny climate change altogether.

Nick Griffin (NI). – Mr President, there are two overriding themes in this place: first, concern with the growing gulf between the political elite and the ordinary taxpayers. Second, a hysterical obsession with man made global warming. These two themes are intimately linked. The global warming fixation is a classic example of how the political class here is out of touch with the little people who have to pay the bills. While the EU backs the Copenhagen proposals to further the deindustrialisation of the West and the corporate domination of the Third World, a growing majority of ordinary people regard climate change as an elite scam – an excuse to tax and control us and to impose internationalist dogma and global government at the expense of the nation state. Can you not see the danger in this growing gulf? It is time to look at the facts. Man made global warming is an unproven theory based on manipulative statistics. The so called consensus on the issue is the product not of debate but of the suppression of expert dissent. Before the political class and the green industrial complex dare to impose a single new tax, poisoned light bulb or useless wind farm on the ordinary taxpayer, they need to try to convince the public that global warming is man made, that returning to the warmer climate of medieval times would be a bad thing and that there is something that Europe – as opposed to the United States, China and India – can actually do about it. Either hold a debate and close the gap between you and the people, or do not complain when we nationalists – the ones who listen to the people – close it for you.

You can see a video here of Griffin’s speech along with a speech in the same debate by UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.  As my fellow Labour MEP Linda McAvan points out, they are very similar indeed.