After the previous post, an Open letter to Roger Helmer, Roger added a comment. A number of readers then added their own questions and comments. AM emailed Roger and invited him to have a right of reply, and Roger has emailed me with the following:
Delighted to receive so many constructive comments.
Bellvue: I recognise neither the name Roger Helman, nor the appellation “cowardly shit”, so I think you must be engaged in a different conversation.
Brian H: Unlike George Washington, I would not claim that I’d never told a lie. But I would say that I have never knowingly dissembled about any political question: indeed if you had followed my career you would know that I am in constant trouble for too much straight talking.
David Phipps: I certainly don’t “know that repatriation will never happen”. There is a head of steam building up in the parliamentary party. It has been commented on by, amongst others, Tim Montgomerie, who has his ear to the ground. We now have the European Union Act which prescribes a referendum in specific circumstances. Those circumstances could arise with the proposed new arrangements for a euro-debt-union. I don’t think Cameron can move at this stage without upsetting the Coalition — and therefore the fiscal recovery plan. But he could do so before the next election.
Jeremy Poynton: “Exactly who do you represent?”. (I think you mean “whom”). I represent about 4.2 million people in the East Midlands, and I have been elected top of the list on three successive occasions — 99, 04, 09. I think my democratic legitimacy probably exceeds that of most correspondents to AM.
Patrick Harris: I think your answer is that there is no realistic hope that the European Court of Justice would ever hand down a ruling opposed to European integration. A court action would be a huge waste of time and money. But of course if you think you have a case — there’s nothing to stop you bringing an action.
Jones: Many of the commentators have a point. But I’m not sure that they have a strategy.
Uncle Badger: “Antipathy to the EU is rife …. If you are not willing to represent that view….”. What do you imagine I have been doing for the last twelve years? I’ve been expressing my antipathy to the EU in blogs, Tweets, (@RogerHelmerMEP), web-sites; press releases, books, DVDs; on radio and TV; in the Conservative Party and in the European parliament! You might check your facts before sounding off. And you might note my earlier comments: too many Eurosceptics spend their time attacking each other, not attacking Brussels.
AM: Sorry to hear that you regard Nigel Farage with disdain. I have a lot of time for him. A good guy.
John Payne: Interested by your theory that EU integration is driven by the Whips. Last time I checked, the Chief Whip was Patrick McLoughlin MP — he’s on my patch and I certainly don’t see him as a fifth column for Brussels.
Finally, why do some eurosceptics in Westminster occasionally appear to support some integrationist measures? Is it better to seek to move the Conservative Party in a Eurosceptic direction over time (which implies some compromise with Party policy), or to make one grand kamikaze gesture which rules you out of the action ever after, even though it gains the applause of Autonomous Mind?
A couple of Roger’s replies highlight a self evident failure of the Tory Eurosceptics and a seeming disconnection from those who lack the democratic legitimacy he points to. Taking them in turn:
In his reply to David Phipps, Roger said: ‘We now have the European Union Act which prescribes a referendum in specific circumstances.‘
This is a very interesting comment given Roger has never once written the words ‘European Union Act’ on his website (as checked with a Google advanced search) or included any reference to it in his newsletter ‘Straight Talking’ (each edition available on his website searched manually). Roger has, however, on a couple of occasions referred to what the European Union Act supposedly does, which is to stop the transfer of powers to the EU through the use of a so called ‘referendum lock’. The Act has done nothing to prevent further powers being exported to Brussels, as we pointed out in the previous post Roger says power transfer is now faster. As for the referendum lock, this is what Roger said about it on the Guardian’s content partner website in November 2009, also carried on his website:
And in October 2010 he had this to say about the referendum lock in his ‘Straight Talking‘ newsletter:
Curious then that Roger now cites the European Union Act in the way he does. People can draw their own conclusions about why he has done this.
In his reply to Jones, Roger said: ‘Many of the commentators have a point. But I’m not sure that they have a strategy,‘ before going to add later in his summary: ‘Is it better to seek to move the Conservative Party in a Eurosceptic direction over time (which implies some compromise with Party policy), or to make one grand kamikaze gesture which rules you out of the action ever after, even though it gains the applause of Autonomous Mind? ‘
Gaining my applause is not the objective; my elected representatives observing my wishes is. And it is worth noting the focus of people like Roger on some kind of ‘strategy’ has resulted in the opposite of my wishes (and those of a majority of people in opinion polls) being carried out – the Conservative led government exporting powers to Brussels faster than Labour did before it.
There is not merely an appearance of Eurosceptics supporting some integrationist measures, it is a reality, Chris Heaton-Harris among others is guilty of it, and it results in further integration. Have the Conservative Party’s decision makers been moved one inch towards a Eurosceptic position? Not at all. In fact, Fraser Nelson has pointed out Tory Whips encouraged MPs to create the very group Roger has confirmed his support for in his comments on this blog. The Whips have done this in order to head off calls for the In/Out referendum Roger also claims to support. Yet we are encouraged to rely on all-knowing Helmer and Heaton-Harris’ strategy. Some strategy.
At best Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton-Harris have been ‘had’ by the Party machine, at worst they are ‘licensed dissenters’ complicit in an effort to deny the British people the opportunity to determine for ourselves how this country is governed. Meanwhile, for all Roger Helmer’s ‘straight talking’ and criticisms, and Chris Heaton-Harris’ strategic manoeuvering in the Commons, we are being subsumed ever deeper into the anti democratic European Union and being derided into the bargain by people like Roger for challenging their failure to achieve anything.
What Roger describes as a ‘kamikaze gesture’ is what ordinary people describe as taking a principled stand. But then, ordinary people don’t have to worry about political career prospects or keeping in with the Party powerbrokers to ensure the lavish rewards of a seat in the Commons or European Parliament remain available. None of it will matter when the people have finally had their fill of the political class’ posturing that masquerades as opposition, and take matters into their own hands. As Patrick O’Flynn pointed out in his Daily Express column, the storm clouds are gathering.