Tories to grab money from Brussels

WITH MPs still smarting from voter anger at their expenses and allowances, this is not the best time for Conservative Euro MPs to claim €1million to cover their back office costs in the European Parliament.

Graham Dines

WITH MPs still smarting from voter anger at their expenses and allowances, this is not the best time for Conservative Euro MPs to claim €1million to cover their back office costs in the European Parliament.

With the Tories unable to shake off criticism that their new eastern European allies are a bunch of homophobic, Nazi supporting, Holocaust denying, gypsy hating extremists, they want the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists to rake in taxpayer funded subsidies to allow the grouping to get off the floor.

The grant, which works out at �893,000, is the equivalent of €15,000 euros per for each MEP in the group.


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This is the same Conservative Party which blasts EU profligacy and which protests at the size of the multi-billion pounds subsidy which UK taxpayers annually make to the coffers of Brussels.

Some UK Tory MEPs have said they will not sign up to the extra funding. Robert Sturdy, who represents the East of England, said: “I can't possibly justify taking another €15,000 of taxpayers' money when my constituency is suffering a severe recession.”

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But his East Anglian colleague Vicky Ford said: “This money is not going into the pockets of MEPs. “We campaigned in the European elections in June on our determination to reform the EU.

“But without the money to which the group is entitled, we could not afford to carry out this work.”

That argument gets short shrift from the UK Independence Party, which has decided not to take the additional EU funds which, it says, are designed to create cross-EU parties to replace traditional UK parties.

“Naturally, these new parties are required to be pro-EU,” says UKIP's deputy leader David Campbell-Bannerman, who also represents the East of England. “This is a concept which lies at the heart of the Lisbon Treaty, which we thought the Conservatives were opposing.

“What has happened to Tory beliefs and principles? As ever, when they are over in Brussels, they behave very differently to their public platform in the UK.”

As for the Tories' relations with other centre-right parties in Europe, the pig's ear that David Cameron has made of finding partner allies to join the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists in the European Parliament simply refuses to go away.

Labour and the “thinking class” in the media are determined to paint the Tories' new allies as little better than Nazi thugs.

Given that in 2000, group leader Michal Kaminski referred to gay people as “fags” and that he has refused to apologise for the wartime massacre by Poles of Jews in Jedwabne, it is not surprising suspicions are being raised by those who fear a resurgence of right-wing extremists in Europe.

I'm sure that 99.9% of the British care nothing about the mechanics of power-broking in Brussels but Cameron has upset Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel - probably the most powerful single person in the EU - and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France by walking out of the federalist European People's Party in the European Parliament to form his new group.

Despite the chief rabbi of Poland giving Kaminski a clean bill of health, the pressure which is building in the Parliament has forced Conservative Central Office to send a couple of minders to Brussels as part of a damage limitation exercise.

Press officers from Tory central office now manage Kaminski's media appearances, hand pick his interviews, and insist on accompanying him whenever he meets the media. When he was interviewed for the Jewish Chronicle, the paper's journalist Martin Bright said: “They seem to think he is a walking liability.”

IMMIGRATION SPEECH ANOTHER BROWN COCK-UP

THE cynic in me suggests that the only reason Gordon Brown is getting tough on immigration is that an election is less than seven months away.

Yet he can't even get this policy right. Banning hospital consultants from outside Europe taking up jobs in the UK means that fluent English speakers from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India will be rejected while those from EU countries in eastern Europe, with just a slight knowledge of our language, will be welcomed with open arms.

I just find this totally unbelievable. Freedom of movement across the European Union means the UK cannot refuse to admit nationals of our 26 partner states, but simple common sense would tell the Prime Minister that stamping on our so-called “kith and kin” is absurd beyond belief.

Not for the first time, I'm left to wonder who is advising Brown. Everything he touches turns bad. Under the new policy, hospital consultants, civil engineers, aircraft engineers and ship's officers are to be removed from a list of in-demand skills which Britain needs to recruit from abroad because it cannot meet its needs from its own population.

Delisting the occupations will make it much more difficult for workers from outside Europe to take up such posts in the UK under the points-based immigration system.

Of course, the whole government is in a flap over Nick Griffin and the British National Party. Panic is in the air, forcing Brown on the back foot.

“Immigration is not an issue for fringe parties nor a taboo subject,” the Prime Minister. “It is a question at the heart of our politics, a question about what it means to be British; about the values we hold dear and the responsibilities we expect of those coming into our country; about how we secure the skills we need to compete in the global economy; about how we preserve and strengthen our communities.”

That's about the most fatuous and claptrap he's uttered since the ludicrous “British jobs for British people” which the gullible delegates to the Labour Party conference swallowed in 2007.

WHEN LOCAL IS NOT LOCAL

WHERE the angels fear to tread, you'll always find a Liberal Democrat.

The row among Conservatives in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich about the failure to select a local candidate for the final short-list of six in the search to find a successor to Sir Michael Lord has allowed the Lib Dems to make hay at the expense of the Tories.

The Lib Dem candidate will be Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne who makes the extravagant claim that recent local government by-election successes in the constituency puts him on course to be elected.

“I live with my wife Donna and children in Fressingfield in the north of the constituency, where I run the local scout group” he says. “

“Donna his wife was born in North Ipswich, we married in Rushmere St Andrew, and several members of my family work, go to school, and live in Ipswich, Weybread and Eye.

“What ever the Tories in London try to convince us, it is really important that the constituency MP is a local person, grounded in the community, using the local services and with the best interests of the area at heart. The recent expenses debacle tells me that local accountability, respect and trust are the keys.

“I invite all my fellow constituents to support the real local candidate at the general election and support me the Liberal Democrat candidate.”

Sorry to rain on his parade, but I should point out two things. Firstly, the Lib Dems were third in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich at the 2005 election, polling 10,709 votes (21.1%).

Perhaps more importantly, Mr Aalders-Dunthorne contested Norwich South in 2005 - which hardly makes him the “real local candidate” in that constituency.

However, never let a good campaign slogan stand in the way of the facts.

TRUST ME, I'M STILL WANT A REFERENDUM - CARSWELL

HARWICH Tory Douglas Carswell has written to constituents telling them he has begun a campaign for a referendum on the EU's Treat of Lisbon. “All three parties promised us a referendum. Yet somehow it hasn't happened. - I think that's wrong.

“No one in Britain under the age of 52 has had the chance to vote in a referendum on Europe. For years it has been left to professional politicians and diplomats to decide EU policy. I believe it is now time to let the people have their say.

“I will campaign for a vote on Europe with the same determination that I campaigned to remove the Commons Speaker. I hope I can count on your support.”

Given that his own party leader has reneged on his “cast-iron guarantee” to hold a plebiscite, Mr Carswell risks causing a rift with David Cameron. It's left Labour's Ivan Henderson, former MP and the parliamentary candidate for the new seat of Clacton next time, to muse: “It looks like he is running scared of the possible increase in UKIP support.”

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