Renegotiation? What renegotiation?
There are now regular stories emerging of splits in the cabinet over David Cameron’s “renegotiation”. UKIP raised concerns over his paucity of ambition long ago. Now Tory back-benchers — and apparently some Tory Cabinet Ministers — are starting to see the light.
What has he asked for? Slightly less favourable welfare terms for EU migrants. Big deal. That’s fiddling at the margin, and will make no real difference as long as massive wage differentials exist between EU member states. Theresa May is slightly more realistic, arguing that free movement should be restricted to EU citizens with job offers. But it’s still nowhere near enough.
We must be able to control our borders. We must be able to admit applicants on the basis of skills, regardless of country-of-origin. We cannot tolerate a situation where an unskilled Romanian (even with a job offer) takes precedence over a Canadian brain surgeon, or an Australian nuclear physicist, or an Indian software engineer. Brussels tells us that free movement in the EU allows employers to choose from a wider talent pool. No chaps. You’ve got it wrong. It restricts us to less than 10% of the world’s population.
Then the euro-zone. Just recently, the risk of a eurozone/non-eurozone split (in which the larger eurozone will have a structural majority) has emerged as a threat. Indeed it is, and we need action to resolve it. But that doesn’t address all the other problems of the EU that have been with us for decades.
What about employment law? Energy policy? The right to make our own trade deals? Agriculture? Fisheries? An independent British judiciary, free of interference from Brussels or Strasbourg? Cameron hasn’t even raised these issues, so far as we know.
There also seems to be increasing pressure amongst Tory MPs to prevent the government using public money for the YES campaign. When the referendum comes, Cameron’s renegotiation will be clearly seen as a mere PR exercise, with no substance. I think we’ll see rather large numbers of Tory MPs, and activists — and also some Labour MPs and activists — enthusiastically embracing the NO campaign.
Immigration: Cameron’s Catch 22
Both Germany and Austria have attacked the UK for failing to take its “fair share” of migrants (apparently Germany expects to admit 800,000 this year). Both have threatened that unless we do so, they will withdraw cooperation on Cameron’s renegotiation initiative. But a key aim of the proposed renegotiation is to help the UK to control immigration. So let’s get that clear. A pre-condition for negotiating to regain control of immigration is that we accept more immigrants. You couldn’t make it up.
We told you so!
For years now I’ve been arguing that wind power is excessively expensive, and doing huge damage to energy prices and economic competitiveness – never mind the damage to households and pensioners affected by high energy prices. Recently the wind industry has been claiming that its costs have gone down, and that they are “cheaper than coal”. If this is the case, it’s difficult to see why the industry in the UK is so upset at government proposals to reduce its subsidies. If they’re cheaper than coal, they don’t need subsidies.
There is a whole series of cost factors that the industry fails to take into account. Most notable is the cost of back-up. You need to invest not only in wind, but in back-up fossil fuel capacity (usually gas), for when the wind drops. Worse yet, the back-up is run intermittently, and therefore inefficiently. It uses more gas, and costs more, per megawatt, than would be the case if run properly. So the cost “benefits” and emissions savings of the wind turbine are partly offset by the inefficiencies exported to the back-up.
Then there’s the cost of grid connection. Our grid was structured around a small number of large power plants (originally coal). Connecting a large number of relatively small generators, geographically dispersed, is a huge task costing many billions. Balancing the output of intermittent wind and solar with existing base-load and back-up is another expensive headache.
Then there is emerging evidence that wind turbines degrade and become less efficient over time (partly because of the blood and feathers of birds that adhere to the blades). The industry bases its costs on a new turbine, and ignores the fact that after few years output drops significantly.
I’ve often quoted figures, for example from the work of Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University. But I’ve not seen a comprehensive analysis. So I was pleased to find a paper from the University of Utah which analyses these costs, and proves my point.
When I drew attention to this report on Twitter, I was immediately attacked on the grounds that the Utah University study had been funded by sponsors with oil industry connections. A typical alarmist response – shoot the messenger. They seem oblivious of the fact that the alarmist reports we read are funded by the Green Blob – often by commercial organisations with interests in “green energy”. It is notorious in academic circles that only true believers in climate alarmism can expect funding or publication or tenure. Science used to be done on the basis of facts – like the lack of global warming for nearly twenty years. Now it seems to be done more like religion – based on the consensus of true believers.
Roger Helmer is a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East Midlands region and is Head of Delegation for the UK Independence Party (UKIP).