Yesterday I received the regular email newsletter from my Conservative colleague NIrj Deva MEP (South East Region). It contained his usual informative mix of news on European matters and comment on wider political issues but on reading to the end I was surprised to learn that I was voted “Blog of the Month” by his readers.
It is only the second month that Nirj has awarded “Blog of the Month” and I am delighted to have been the recipient. Now it explains why my site “hits” jumped from seemingly anonymous sources in the last couple of days.
For your general edification I have reproduced Nirj’s newsletter in full below:
● EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 2009
We are now little more than two months from the European elections; the first UK-wide election since David Cameron was elected party leader and a crucial test for the party as we prepare for the general election next year.
As I said last month, it is now absolutely crucial that the Conservative message is heard right across the South East region. Along with our fantastic team of Euro candidates – Therese Coffey, Sarah Richardson, Richard Robinson, Tony Devenish, Niina Kaariniemi and Marc Brunel-Walker – and my colleagues Daniel Hannan, James Elles and Richard Ashworth, I have campaigning furiously across the region.
If I can be of any help to you campaigning on the ground as you prepare for the County Council and European elections, please do let me know. The fastest way to reach me is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you!
● WE’RE LEAVING THE EPP
This month, I cheered the arrival of Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague in Brussels to inform Joseph Daul, the chairman of the European People’s Party that we will be leaving the pro-federalist alliance in the European Parliament after the June elections.For the last ten years in which I have served as a Member of the European Parliament, I have opposed the party’s continued membership of this unsuitable grouping and have consistently spoken out against other group members who have, amongst other things, called for EU-wide tax policies and enthusiastically supported the European Constitution. Our new grouping, which is being formed in conjunction with our allies in the Czech ODS, will be an exciting new alliance of pro-Atlanticist, pro-free market and anti-European Constitution parties.
Not a day too soon!
● THE G20
Yesterday afternoon, the leaders of the world’s twenty most powerful states – from old powers like the United Kingdom and France to thrusting, vibrant new economies in China and India – began converging on London.
Over the coming days, world leaders will seek to forge a consensus on issues such as tackling climate change and the world financial crisis.
The Shadow Chancellor George Osborne could not have been more right when he demanded that the world’s leaders use the meeting not as an opportunity to grandstand but as an opportunity to find solid, workable solutions to shared problems.
If media reports are to be believed, French President Nicholas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are already threatening to walk away from any summit which does not lead to greater regulation of the world’s financial markets.
This isn’t the answer. Stifling competition and increasing red tape never is.
Throughout my business career, I always held to the principle of that one should only spend the money I have rather than accepting loans they could not afford. That’s being responsible for one’s finances – nothing more, nothing less.
Any agreement on greater financial regulation should focus not so much on regulation but on encouraging responsibility in the banking system so that we can avoid debacles such as that we have witnessed following the Royal Bank of Scotland’s acquisition of ABN Amro.
The second biggest (and only other real) issue on world leader’s agendas will be that of free trade – or rather the lack of it at present.
As I wrote in my newsletter last month, President Obama’s administration has already demonstrated a worrying taste for trade protectionism, for example, the ‘Buy American’ clause in his economic stimulus package which forces the sole use of American products in construction projects funded by the package.
While compromises will surely have to be made in order to secure agreement across the G20, Gordon Brown must push for the swift conclusion of the Doha free trade round, including the elimination of harmful trade barriers which cause so much suffering in the developing world.
The world’s leaders have a chance to do something meaningful and long-lasting at this meeting of the G20. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that they make the right decisions.
● DEVELOPMENT AID MUST HELP THE PEOPLE, NOT JUST NGOs AND BUREAUCRATS
This week, I cautiously welcomed the news that the European Commission has allocated the first €314 million of a €1 billion package to support agriculture and improve the food security situation in twenty three of the world’s poorest nations while also safeguarding the British taxpayer from shouldering the costs of paying for emergency famine relief in the developing world.
The fund is seen as a medium-term aid scheme that improves the poorer nations’ ability to build a sustainable and viable agricultural sector by providing micro-credit, rural infrastructure, safety-net measures and improved access to agricultural services and products such as vets and fertilizers.
Over the past few months it has become clear to me that the ‘developed’ world has, by necessity, become consumed by its own economic problems and is at very serious risk of forgetting the impact of the crisis upon food security in impoverished nations.
This fund must be seen as a hand-up rather than a hand-down.
Allowing poorer nations to be exposed to the precarious global food security situation will not only risk famine and the loss of thousands of lives but it could also require significant extra short term aid spending in the future.
Given the historically shambolic state of the European Commission’s accounts I will be working hard to monitor the use of this fund in order to ensure we are gaining maximum value from it. It must be used to help build stronger agricultural businesses in the developing world, not to line the pockets of NGOs or corrupt bureaucrats.
● LAUNCH OF THE HUMAN DIGNITY WORKING GROUP
Last week in Strasbourg saw the launch of the Working Group on Human Dignity of the European Parliament, a project my office has been closely involved in bringing to fruition.
Why does the European Parliament in particular need this strangely named Working Group? Allow me to explain.
As Conservatives, we all believe it is essential to carefully balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the power of the state. The Working Group will promote within the European Parliament the view that man’s rights are intrinsic to his being, and not the product of legal charter such as those forced upon us in the form of documents such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
This understanding is essential to sustain liberty in a free – and not an over-regulated – society. It will assist the work of those MEPs who seek to promote such a view of human dignity in their activities, and thereby promote the foundation of all human rights based upon personal responsibility.
There were sixteen MEPs present, as well as fifteen ambassadors representing the following: Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Indonesia, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Nigeria, Panama, Switzerland, Romania, the Holy See and the European Commission; as well as countless other NGOs and many who came simply to support the working group.
● BLOG OF THE MONTH
This month’s winner – in a very close run contest – is my old friend Richard Willis, Reading Borough councillor for Peppard ward. Richard’s blog, which can be found at http://richardwillisuk.wordpress.com, is a great blend of local and national news stories and has, by all accounts, set the cat amongst the pigeons in the Reading Labour Party!
Please do drop me an e-mail if you would like to nominate the blog a friend or colleague in the South East for next month’s newsletter.
● AND AGAIN…
As I said at the start of this newsletter, please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can help in the run-up to the European and County Council elections. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
Do email Nirj if you want to be added to his email newsletter distribution list or want to help his re-election on 4 June.