28th November 2013: Last week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons and his two researchers had to wade through a mountain of reports and documents before deciding how to vote on the hundreds of resolutions on the week's packed agenda.
In many cases the MEP's office is notified of amendments just hours in advance of the vote, so decisions already made on which way to vote have to be adjusted.
Andrew summed up the pressure that MEPs, and especially the non-attached MEPs, are under in a speech in his Constitutional Affairs Committee this week.
"When our Vice President, Mr Papastamkos, collapsed during the plenary session in March, President Schulz remarked with unusual frankness that most MEPs did not know what they voting on (in the long legislative session that had extended over two hours). This is because amendments and voting lists change at the last moment.
"This happens not only in the plenary sessions. It happened in AFCO during the morning session in the October plenary (on the 24th October). I waited for the voting list to appear during the previous evening but it had not arrived by 8.30 pm so I left. I discovered the next morning that it had not arrived until 11.45 pm. I had marked how I would vote on the reports but those votes had to be transcribed quickly onto the voting list with the help of one of my assistants. The vote started before the transcription was complete. I noticed one MEP who had tabled a number of amendments was not voting for his own amendments, clearly because he was unable to recognise them.
"Voting should be informed and rational. Most votes are neither.
"I notice the leaders of the large groups signalling to their members how they should vote, without any possibility that the MEPs understand what they are being asked to do."
24th June 2013: On Saturday Andrew Brons was honoured to have been invited, along with other elected representatives of the citizens of Leeds, to attend the parade of the Rifles Regiment through the streets of Leeds to celebrate its Freedom of the City.
The Regiment – the largest in the British Army – was represented by 3 Rifles and the Band and Bugles of the Rifles.
The Freedom of the City was first conferred on the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in 1945. It became a batallion in the Light Infantry in 1968. In 1979, the Light Infantry inherited the Freedom of the City. In 2007, the Rifles was formed from the Light Infantry, the Royal Green Jackets, the Devon and Dorset Light Infantry and the Royal Berkshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Light Infantry. It has now inherited the Freedom of the City of Leeds.
The ancestor regiment of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Industry was raised in Leeds in 1755. It was originally called the 53rd Regiment of Foot.
Andrew told his website:
"Whilst we do not support the irresponsible military adventurism of the British Government in Afghanistan and (formerly) in Iraq, we have no hesitation in praising the bravery of our service personnel without any qualification.
"There has been some controversy in Leeds about the fact that the Leeds City Council has decided not to celebrate Armed Forces Day next Saturday, the 29th June and regarded the celebration of the Rifles last Saturday as a substitute. However, the empty places on the benches outside the front of the Civic Hall suggested that most elected representatives did not attend.
"I saw one other of the six MEPs representing Yorkshire. but no MPs representing Leeds constituencies. Apart from the Lord Mayor of Leeds, the Council was very poorly represented. When we bear in mind that all three of the so-called main parties must share some responsibility for Afghanistan and Iraq, the absence of most of the representatives of those parties was a disgraceful act of disrespect."
22nd January 2013: The Constituency Office of Andrew Brons has received a number of letters concerning the funding of political parties.
This is the response sent out by the MEP's office.
"Thank you for your email regarding the ‘Hope Not Hate’ campaign group’s petition to stop allegedly extremist pan-European political parties in the European Parliament from receiving funding from the European Union.
"Mr Brons has asked me to reply to you on his behalf.
"Andrew Brons’s preference would be that there should be no funding by the EU or by member states for any parties. In an ideal world all parties should raise their own money from their own supporters. However, given that EU money will be provided for some parties, it must be provided to all on the same basis.
"He would prefer extremist, anti-British parties, such as the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democratic Parties, not to receive funding. However, as a democrat, Mr Brons cannot say that they should not receive money on the same basis as other parties. True democrats support the rights of those with whom they disagree, as well as the rights of those with whom they are in agreement."
29th August 2012: Andrew Brons has been asked by a number of his constituents to support the campaign to help Britain's Pig Farmers.
One farmer from South Yorkshire wrote:
"Bacon is Britain’s favourite food, according to a recent independent survey. But harvest failure around the world has pushed the cost of pig-feed to unprecedented levels over the past month and British pig-farmers are now in very serious trouble.
"Your support will be hugely helpful in our 'Save Our Bacon' drive to persuade the nation's shoppers to choose only bacon with the independent British Red Tractor logo on the pack. This will push up demand and encourage retailers to pay farmers a fair price that covers their costs of production.
"It takes eight months to produce a bacon pig, so farmers cannot respond instantly to changes in market conditions. Our only option is to sell-up, or struggle on, selling our stock at a loss. And it will take too long - another six months - for retail prices to reflect these much-higher production costs.
"Unlike most farmers, pig farmers do not receive European Union agricultural subsidies for their pig enterprises, so we really do need the nation’s help. Any support and publicity you can give our cause, both in and out of Parliament, will be valuable."
Responding to numerous letters on the same theme, Andrew's Constituency Office manager replied:
"Mr Brons is a keen supporter of British farming and is well aware of difficulties facing our pig farmers due to Britain's continued membership of the European Union.
"We will post an article on his website encouraging people to buy British bacon and Andrew and his team will be happy to support the 'save our bacon' campaign in other ways, should you have any suggestions."
Ten things you didn’t know about British bacon By the National Pig Association
1. Bacon is Britain’s favourite - According to the British Top 100 Foods Index compiled by Food Network UK, bacon is Britain’s favourite food.
2. The future of British bacon is under threat this summer - Harvest failure around the world has made pig-feed so expensive that more British pig-farmers are quitting every week because of mounting losses.
3. Shoppers can save delicious British bacon for future generations - If all shoppers make a special effort to choose bacon with the independent British Red Tractor logo they will push up demand and retailers will have to pay farmers a price that covers their costs of production.
4. Why British bacon is the best in the world - British pig farmers are acknowledged world leaders in higher welfare pig husbandry — and research proves that happier, stress-free pigs make better bacon.
5. Britain is only 25 percent self-sufficient in bacon - Most shops and supermarkets sell mainly imported bacon which is usually produced on more intensive farms and is cheaper — sometimes they package it to make it look like British bacon.
6. Farmers who produce British bacon do not receive subsidies - Unlike most farmers, British pig farmers do not receive European Union agricultural subsidies for their pig enterprises.
7. Britain’s pig farms are on a knife-edge - Pig farming is a difficult way to make a living. It takes eight months to produce a bacon pig, and another six months for retail prices to reflect higher production costs - so pig farmers cannot respond instantly to changes in market conditions such as the current feed-cost crisis.
8. Shoppers reward supermarkets that support British farmers - One retailer, which sells only British bacon, has seen its sales increase faster than any other retailer but some supermarkets don’t care where their supplies are coming from tomorrow... they are only interested in piling it high and selling it cheap today.
9. Supplies of cheap imported bacon will soon start to dwindle - New European Union welfare rules come into force in January to force continental pig farmers up to the high welfare standards already used by British farmers. Thousands of farmers won’t be able to afford the changes and will quit production instead.
10. Buying British Red Tractor bacon safeguards British sausages too - Pork pies, sausages, Sunday roasts, chops, ham and spare-ribs all come from the same pigs as bacon... so when shoppers make a special effort to choose British Red Tractor bacon they are supporting the whole British higher-welfare pig industry.
National Pig Association, Agriculture House, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ Tel: 02476 85 8780 Fax: 02476 85 8786 Website: www.npa-uk.net
National Pig Association briefing note on the current state of the British pig industry (The following is a summary of a briefing note prepared for Government.)
• There has been a world-wide escalation in the price of feed grains and vegetable proteins, particularly wheat and soya, due to poor weather conditions and harvest forecasts as well as increasing demand from developing countries such as China. As a result, the price of wheat has increased in the last six months from £165 to £193 and soya is trading at £368 having risen greatly from £204/tonne in December.
• Consequently pig feed, which represents 65 % of the cost of producing a pig, has risen 25 percent in the last few weeks – an unprecedented increase, in an unprecedented short period of time. The average cost of production per kilo of pig meat is £1.62p/kg, whilst producers are currently receiving 1.50p/kg, leaving a loss of 12p/kg, around £9 per pig produced.
• Pig producers cannot absorb these losses for long and week by week are now leaving the industry. A recent survey completed by National Pig Association of 60 members representing 30 percent of national weekly pigmeat production showed we could lose 10 percent of production by Christmas if producer prices do not rise.
• The price of pork will indeed rise as production reduces, but experience tells us this will take around six months, and most pig farmers simply cannot last that long at their current rate of loss.
• Pig producers continue to improve efficiency parameters but there is little that can be done to mitigate the current dramatic rise in feed prices. All producers are monitoring the futures markets and assessing the likely impacts on their business and a number have already decided to stop production.
• We are not merely losing the less efficient farmers. These are serious businesses that are leaving the industry and they will be a great loss to the British economy, particularly the rural economy.
• NPA has already lost 7,000 sows from membership from people going out of pigs this year and there are more leaving every day – three this week, including two members of the board of the British Pig Executive. In addition, we are aware of several large-scale producers who have already started to cull sows. Due to the long-term timescales of pig production the effect of these reductions will only be felt at retail level in 8-12 months’ time.
• This is not just a United Kingdom issue and we will also see many producers leave the European Union pig industry as well. Whilst economically a drop in continental production would be welcome, we are obviously keen to retain as many British pig producers as we possibly can, especially as Britain is only 40 percent self-sufficient in pigmeat.
• Pig producers will continue to strive to improve their efficiency further, especially their management of pig nutrition), and abattoirs and processors will seek to obtain as much value from the market as possible. However, the scale of the threat posed by higher feed costs makes it quite impossible to offset current losses solely through efficiency gains.
• NPA has begun a two-pronged approach. We are engaging with the supply chain at both retail and foodservice level, and we hope to see some successes in due course.
• And we have launched our ‘Save Our Bacon’ campaign to persuade consumers to support British bacon, sausages and pork, and already we have had excellent coverage for this campaign in the media, both nationally and regionally.
• We are urging shoppers to support British to stimulate demand by looking for the independent Red Tractor logo when they shop. If we can stimulate better demand for British product, prices will rise as British supplies are tight.
• For our supply chain discussions, there are several areas which we would like to address with retailers/food service companies including the need to ensure that producers and processors have the confidence to stay in business and to invest in the future. This will benefit retailers, food service and consumers.
• Retailers and food service companies should also undertake a high profile campaign to promote greater awareness and understanding of Red Tractor pork and pork products (along with other Red Tractor meat and dairy products).
• And there is potential for them to help manage volatility in costs through contractual arrangements that cover the changes in feed costs. Closer cooperation between producers, processors and retail and food service customers will drive more efficient supply chains and result in mutual commitment and loyalty.
• In particular we are asking for your support as a Member of Parliament. Please email us to say you support our ‘Save Our Bacon’ campaign. This alone will help us get our message across to consumers at large and will help us save the British pig industry as a vibrant sector which makes a significant contribution to the British economy.
5th July 2012: Andrew Brons has expressed his satisfaction at the recent success of Written Declaration 0011/2012 which called for greater awareness about cardiac arrest and more widespread training across Europe to help those suffering heart attacks.
The Written Declaration wanted to establish a European Cardiac Arrest Awareness Week and explained the reasons why:
- in Europe approximately 400 000 people suffer an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest every year, with a survival rate of less than 10%;
- the survival of many apparently healthy victims depends on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) administered by bystanders and early defibrillation, and whereas an intervention within 3-4 minutes may increase the chance of survival to more than 50%;
- in Europe, automated external defibrillator (AED) programmes are only partially implemented;
The Written Declaration asked the Commission and the Council to encourage:
– the adoption of common programmes for implementing AED in public places and training lay people in all Member States,
– the adjustment of legislation in order to facilitate CPR and defibrillation by non-medical persons,
– systematic data collection for feedback and quality management in every programme;
It called on the Commission and the Member States to establish a European cardiac arrest awareness week aimed at improving the awareness and education of the general public, physicians and healthcare professionals; It called on the Commission to support the Member States in adopting and implementing national strategies for equal access to high-quality CPR;
It called on the Commission and the Member States to enact harmonised legislation across the EU in order to provide immunity from liability to non-medical first responders who offer voluntary assistance in cardiac emergencies.
Andrew had signed the Written Declaration after being contacted by the Resuscitation Council of Great Britain which asked for his support.
Within the UK, the Resuscitation Council has been campaigning for Emergency Life Support (ELS) skills to be taught in all schools. In this endeavour it has received the support of the British Medical Association (BMA) which recently passed the following motion:
"That this Meeting applauds the ready availability of voluntary and statutory services for basic and advanced life support and:
- notes the call by the BMA in 1999 for resuscitation to be taught in schools;
- regrets that the teaching of resuscitation in schools is not mandatory;
- applauds the efforts of healthcare and the third sector to provide such training;
- supports the call by the Resuscitation Council and the British Heart Foundation for this to become a mandatory component of the curricula of all schools in the UK and calls on the BMA to campaign for this;
- calls for the governments to introduce the teaching of first aid in schools."
Now the Resuscitation Council wants elected politicians and the public to support their campaign and call on the Government in Westminster for ELS tuition to be included in the school curriculum – either as part of the National Curriculum review or as an addition to the current Basic Curriculum (the mandatory part of the school timetable that currently includes religious and sex education).
If you would like to help the Resuscitation Council in its campaign, please write to Michael Gove MP (Secretary of State for Education) and Nick Gibb MP (Minister for Schools) asking them in the light of the success of Written Declaration 0011/2012 to include Emergency Life Support (ELS) in the review of the National Curriculum or add ELS training to the Basic Curriculum.
16th April 2012: Yesterday morning Andrew Brons sent the following letter to the Editor of the Sunday Telegraph.
I was delighted to hear, from the Commissioner of the City of London Police (Sunday Telegraph 15th April) that the Muslim Police Association and the Black Police Association had been so congratulatory of the Force’s record on race-related complaints. I am confident that the Christian Police Association and the White Police Association will be just as pleased.
I found it reassuring and comforting that the City of London force, “will act robustly to root out ‘racism’ ”. I am so pleased that the officers of this force will not be wasting their time protecting us from real crime.
Yours faithfully Andrew Brons Member of the European Parliament (BNP) Yorkshire & the Humber
9th April 2012: Last week, Andrew Brons wrote the following letter to the editors of our national newspapers and to the editors of newspapers for his Yorkshire and the Humber Euro Constituency.
I have not yet been able to find the precise words used by Liam Stacey about Fabrice Muamba but I am prepared to accept that the District Judge was right to describe them as ‘vile and abhorrent’. Certainly jokes about the desirability of somebody’s death, regardless of race, deserve that description.
Liam Stacey certainly deserves to be criticised just as Labour Welsh Assembly candidate, Joe Lock, deserved to be criticised for saying that he hoped Margaret Thatcher would die soon and that he loved Tories as long as they were impaled on a large spike. However, there was no question of Joe Lock being prosecuted let alone imprisoned.
Much more serious were the words on Twitter in 2010 of Maxwell Ansah, the ‘singer’ Lethal Bizzle. He wrote: “Got an idea, u wanna be famous? Kill the BNP leader, u will be a hero”. That was a clear breach of section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 which makes incitement to commit any offence (including murder!) a criminal offence. A complaint was made to the police at the time but there was no investigation let alone charges.
Yours faithfully Andrew Brons British National Party Member of the European Parliament Yorkshire & the Humber
5th April 2012: On Monday, Andrew Brons sent the following letter to the editors of all national and Yorkshire newspapers as well as to France's national newspapers.
The famous French perfumier, Jean-Paul Guerlain, has been fined 6000 Euros and ordered to make a cash gift to each of three race relations industry groups for a chance remark in a television interview. He attributed his success to the fact that he had: “worked like a negro,” followed by the remark, “I don’t know if negroes have always worked like that”.
His first (rather dated) remark was a generalisation favourable to black people. His second cast doubt on the accuracy of the first generalisation but did not seek to reverse it.
It is a myth that generalisations cannot be made about different categories of people, however defined. Insurance companies base their business on them. The error is applying generalisations to all members of a group.
Mr.Guerlain’s remark pales into insignificance when compared to the use of the word ‘rakaya’ (the French for ‘scum’) which was used by Mr. Sarkhozy during the 2005 French Presidential election, to describe North African rioters in a Paris suburb.
The lawyer for one of the race relations industry groups, Sabina Goldman was quoted as saying that the verdict in the Geurlain case meant: “Racism is not an opinion but a crime”. I shall not bandy Trotskist words like ‘racism’ with a member of the race relations industry.
However, I could say that the verdict means that France, under the present Political Class, is not so much a country as a gulag.
Yours faithfully Andrew Brons British National Party Member of the European Parliament Yorkshire & the Humber
3rd April 2012: Last week Andrew Brons wrote the following letter to the editors of newspapers in the West Midlands concerning the New High Speed 2 Rail Link between London and Birmingham.
The letter was also sent to the editors of Britain's regional newspapers.
The High Speed 2 rail link was seen simply as a means of speeding up travel between London and Birmingham. In fact its hidden agenda was revealed by Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of HS2, and will use the National Planning Policy Framework to speed up planning authorisation for ‘a new city’ of 100,000 new houses on greenbelt land near the route of the rail link and linking Birmingham with Coventry.
This is simply the West Midlands part of a country-wide plan to build over two million homes to house the five million person increase in the population projected by the Government over the next eight years. The increase will be the result of new immigration and of the large families of recently-arrived Third World immigrants who have retained their Third World birth rates.
The Conservatives at the last General Election promised that ‘net immigration’ (a highly flawed concept) would fall to tens of thousands. In fact, in the first year after gaining office, net immigration rose even higher to 250,000 people.
The sacrifice of greenbelt land in the heart of England, will be the price that must be paid for the past and planned broken promises of this appalling government.
Yours faithfully, Andrew Brons Member of the European Parliament (BNP) Yorkshire & the Humber