Andrew Woodman is one of three founders of a new web-based campaign to reinstate Roger Helmer MEP to full Conservative Party membership. At the end of his Platform article you can vote in our minipoll and use the comments thread to continue the debate.
The suspension of Roger Helmer has something incredibly EU about it. It was voted for by the unaccountable EPP and ratified by the leader of our MEPs who also seems to be unaccountable to both British Conservative party members and our elected leader David Cameron. This has deprived myself and other East Midlands Conservative members of one of their democratically elected Members of the European parliament. I believe Roger Helmer should be reinstated and hope the case I present will lead you to vote yes in the poll below.
Roger's suspension came about after five Conservative MEPs signed a censure motion in May 2005, criticising the new European Commission President José Manual Barroso for accepting lavish hospitality on a luxury yacht from Spiros Latsis, a Greek ship-owner whose companies shortly afterwards received Commission approval for grant funding. All five MEPs were required by the Conservatives' European Parliament Chief Whip to remove their signatures and all declined to do so.
Roger was then able to raise the issue on floor of the house in a Plenary debate and proceeded to criticise Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the EPP group, for his frantic but unsuccessful efforts to prevent the issue being debated (a few days ahead of the French referendum you may wish to note). This it seems, infuriated Poettering, and Roger was sacked from the EPP. Later, it would appear, he realised that he had to go through due process and have a vote, which was duly done. Roger appealed to EPP colleagues to vote FOR his expulsion, as he said that he had been profoundly out of sympathy with the EPP and its policies ever since he became an MEP (A position David Cameron and William Hague have now apparently taken). The leader of the Conservative MEP delegation, Timothy Kirkhope, immediately suspended the Conservative whip, in what some might say was an attempt to appease Poettering.
Now, when you consider that Chris Beazley MEP (Anglia) recently broke the Conservative whip to vote for the EU constitution and Edward Macmillan Scott MEP accused David Cameron of "moving to the far right in Europe" on Newsnight, one might think that Roger's punishment for attempting to highlight alleged fraud and corruption within the EU is harsh in the extreme. One might consider, that there is one rule for the pro Europeans and another for the Euro sceptics.
On a personal level, I think the Conservative party is missing out on a great talent with the ongoing exclusion of Roger Helmer. Roger is no career politician, and is in the European Parliament to stand up for what's right for Britain. You may remember the way he stood up to Tony Blair last October when The Prime Minister addressed the European Parliament, arguing that the British EU Presidency was a failure.
Although, he doesn't currently hold the European Conservative whip, Roger has continued his good work for the Conservative party. His website www.rogerhelmer.com carries regular monthly bulletins, detailing how Roger continues to write local newspapers letters whilst also visiting local associations and events around his constituency, passing on the Conservative message. I urge you all to vote that Roger Helmer should be reinstated as a Conservative MEP. We are doing ourselves a disservice by continuing to enforce this unfair suspension.
It is clear to me that Roger is being punished for refusing to toe the pro-European EPP line in the European Parliament. With the Conservatives now withdrawing from the EPP, there is no reason for Roger Helmer not to have the Conservative whip returned to him. He has widespread support within the East Midlands and speaks up for Britain's interests in the European Parliament. For him not to be given back the Conservative whip, would look very much like a personal vendetta by Pro European Conservative MEPs.
BACKGROUND LINK: ROGER HELMER - MEP FOR SUN READERS
VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED IN THIS SURVEY. 211 VOTES WERE RECEIVED. 89% WERE IN FAVOUR OF ROGER HELMER BEING REINSTATED TO FULL TORY MEMBERSHIP. 6% WERE OPPOSED. 5% DIDN'T KNOW OR DIDN'T CARE.