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"Will Roger Helmer eat his own words?" - Asks East Midlands Euro-MP Bill Newton Dunn

March 6, 2012 10:30 PM
By Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Roger Helmer, Conservative MEP for the East Midlands for the 13 years since 1999, has just announced his decision to leave the Conservative Party and join the UK Independence Party. I have great understanding for Roger's decision, having experienced myself the feeling that the party with which I first identified had changed and no longer represented my position. Or perhaps it was I who changed, and Roger who now no longer represents core Conservative policy. But either way, the result is the same: I in 2000 felt like Roger now - no longer able to say that my beliefs were those of the Conservative party I was supposed to represent.

However, though I can understand Roger's decision, what I cannot abide is his hypocrisy - even duplicity. In November 2000 Roger demanded that I immediately resign as a result of my move to the Liberal Democrats, despite there being no legal requirement to do so.

Helmer's exact words before the whole the European Parliament were:

Madam President, Mr Newton Dunn is perfectly correct when he draws attention to Rule 2, but what he forgets is that the elections in 1999 took place under proportional representation. No elector voted for Mr Newton Dunn, or indeed for me or for Mr Heaton-Harris. They voted for a party list and Mr Newton Dunn represented himself as fully in support of the Conservative Party, its leader and its European policy. He has now completely abrogated that position and he is therefore denying the democratic rights of the voters of the East Midlands, over 40% of whom voted Conservative. I call on Mr Newton Dunn to resign.

So the question today is: will Helmer follow his own demands and resign immediately? Or does he agree that he was wrong back in 2000?

The facts of both our cases are exactly the same, regardless of Mr Helmer's apparent attempts to resign in favour of the next Conservative on the list, Rupert Matthews.

Incidentally, given the reaction of the Conservative leadership to Mr Matthews, I suspect he too might have in fact been at odds with the party's policies and principles, and found himself gazing after Mr Helmer towards UKIP.