A tribute to Nigel Spearing MP

A Master of Parliamentary Procedure

Mr. Nigel Spearing

Born 8th October 1930 – Died 8th January 2017

A glowing tribute to a man highly respected for his integrity and well known for his boundless energy, enthusiasm and opposition to UK entry to the Common Market and persistent opposition to EU membership

As a Labour MP, Nigel held the Newham South seat from 1974 until 1997 when the constituency was abolished.

A non-conformist Christian, Nigel was my mentor and friend from the days I joined CIB and met him. He was a Vice-President of CIB under Lord Stoddart and Sir Richard Body and before then a well-established elected member of the national executive of our Campaign for an Independent Britain

He was the last Opposition MP to speak before the government minister wound up the debate before the vote was taken to pass the Bill to accept European Communities Act 1972 into UK law, stating at the time that MPs were being asked to sign a blank cheque since the terms of entry had been withheld from them. Nigel made a great play on the Parliamentary democratic bypass still in effect to this day because of Clause 2-1 of ECA 1972. He was without power to have the wording changed from EU legislation being introduced to UK law “without further enactment” to “may with further enactment” to enable full scrutiny and debate by our Parliament. I am quietly proud that I was able to have two films made of Nigel and his Labour MP colleague, Mr Eric Deakin in Nigel’s home, both of them recounting their memories of their opposition to the Common Market in one of the films quoting from Hansard open on their laps. These films can be found on the internet You Tube under Nigel Spearing’s name or in the video section of CIB website here and here. Both films are of historical importance

Nigel was well known for his perilous travelling to all meetings in London on his bicycle as well as his fitness by rowing on the River Thames. Both he and his wife Wendy enjoyed their holidays on their boat on the Norfolk Broads.

I treasure three special memories, including walking the corridors of Parliament with Nigel and being impressed by the way he was so affectionately greeted by older politicians who remembered him. Secondly, I remember as we waited together for a meeting to start he embarked on a long and expert explanation how weather and tidal conditions around the coast of Britain could, and can still, overcome the flood defences and overwhelm London. I wish that day I had a tape recorder with me.

Thirdly, when I was Chairman of CIB Regional Planning Sub-Committee, our meetings were held in an upstairs room in South Kensington in a pub populated downstairs by boisterous Australian back-packers in those far off days. On an occasion the room was packed and I found the meeting difficult to control because of the level of heckling dissenting voices. Nigel sat to one side in the front row listening intently. I noticed his sparkling eyes. Afterwards to my surprise bearing in mind the countless debates he would have attended in his career he told me, ”That was one of the most exciting debates I have ever attended”. In his final years his mind remained focused upon and stimulated by EU matters of great concern to him

Of the e-mails I have received praising Nigel, I have selected a few.

“Nigel Spearing had something of the manner of a benevolent house master. He was very kind and patient with us new boys in explaining the geography, history and procedures of the House of Commons, an institution which he loved deeply. It was this love which drove his resolute opposition to Parliament’s subordination to the EU. He was very generous with his time and advice to all who supported the cause. He was unstuffy and realistic about the way politics worked. He once told me “I was brought up in the Evangelical Christian tradition, so I avoided the scrapes which some of my colleagues got into and the whips never had anything on me”. He used to cycle to our committee meetings in the House of Commons well past his eightieth birthday. He continued as long as he was able. When we knew his mind was beginning to cloud over, he invited us to tell him when to leave. Of course, we never did. As my colleague Stuart Notholt remarked “Nigel is family” and that is how we remember him” – Edward Spalton, Chairman, CIB

I am sorry to hear of Nigel’s death. From what I know about him – mostly of all his tenacity and also the disgraceful manner in which the Labour Party removed him as Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee for no reason other than the things which have turned out in the referendum that he was right – his passing is a great loss to the Labour party and the country.” – Sir William Cash MP

“I knew Nigel from fringe meetings etc, a 100% good man.  Sorry to hear of his death but at least he lived to see his objective within our grasp.” Idris Francis (outstanding political activist)

How sad to see yet another of our fellow-warriors passing away. I too met him in 1999; he sought me out about Corpus Juris, we met several times (he came to Vincent House, he took me to the H o C where he had been an MP and introduced me to another EU-sceptic Labour MP, from Wales, whom I had lunch with, and we met again in Bournemouth).

It was he (Nigel) who provided me with the Parliamentary Report on the Tampere EU summit, where the EU decided to “replace” the Corpus Juris idea of a single criminal code for all, with the idea of “mutual recognition” which led to the European Arrest Warrant. I say “replaced” but actually it was a stepping stone to the ultimate Corpus Juris destination.” T.D. Erikson (Journalist)

I am so sorry to hear of the sad loss of Nigel. He was one of the great parliamentarians, having not only a great knowledge of parliamentary procedures but a great respect for them as well. Having been present in the House of Commons when his colleagues voted away the sovereignty of that esteemed House, he worked tirelessly to recover it. His knowledge and experience have been of immense benefit to the campaign to restore Britain’s sovereignty.”  John Harrison (previous CIB Treasurer)

“I’m very sorry to hear of this news. I know from the videos you provided that Nigel was a very eloquent speaker who made a passionate and principled stand against the Europhiles. I hope he was able to derive much satisfaction at the referendum result of 2016 and deserves recognition and our gratitude for the significant contribution he made in bringing us to where we are today.” Nigel Finnis  (Retired television film-maker)

A memorial service will be held in the weeks ahead at a time and place to be later announced

George West, President

The Campaign for an Independent Britain

 

Betty Simmerson RIP

Mrs Betty Simmerson has recently died aged 92 but will never be forgotten.  She and her husband, Reg, were among the first fighters against the United Kingdom joining the EEC and their consistent and active opposition heartened and inspired others to support the fight and to join it.  When Reg died, Betty continued to campaign for our withdrawal from what has become the European Union  and she supported The Campaign for an Independent Britain and many other organisations fighting for the freedom to govern ourselves.  We should all be glad that she lived just long enough to see her own consistent efforts  and those of others, including Reg, to regain the freedom to govern ourselves supported by the British people. Our country is now on the road to recovering its sovereignty so cavalierly sacrificed by successive parliaments since 1973.

Betty will be missed by all who knew her and she has died as a heroine of the great and successful campaign to get our country back. During the Second World War Betty nursed wounded servicemen returning from battlefields on occasions, she told me, severely burned or with intestines hanging out. At night she would be on the roof of her London hospital with a stirrup pump putting out incendiary bombs fires. She is remembered for the occasion when she aimed and hit Edward Heath with brown paper bags filled with flour at a Common Market meeting in Caxton Hall and was dragged away to be interrogated by Scotland Yard. She sold her grand piano to take activists to Belgium to demonstrate against Heath as he signed the treaty taking us into the Common Market and was thrown into prison because Heath had ordered no demonstrations should be allowed to spoil the occasion. Looking like everyone’s favourite grandmother, Betty was truly a British patriotic through and through.

(Photograph shows George West, CIB’s then Chairman, presenting an award to Mrs Betty Simmerson on 4th April 2009 at the CIB Annual Meeting in London.)

 

An opportunity to correct an historic mistake on 23rd June – a letter from our President to the Leicester Mercury

Married with a son and daughter plus three granddaughters, I have lived in Leicester for 20 years. I am not a member of any political party, now aged 81, having worked in engineering manufacturing for 51 years watching our heavy engineering virtually disappear and our fishing fleet destroyed by the EU.

I organised demonstrations to close down the EU-inspired East Midlands Regional Assembly and also had the EU flag taken down because it was being flown illegally above the main entrance to the Town Hall. In 2000 under Magna Carta I organised and, with the help of Groby voters, won hands down a Parish Poll to save the pound against the euro. For good measure, under the ancient law of Misprision, I laid evidence of alleged treason against Tony Blair at Leicester Magistrates Court which the Bench felt they couldn’t handle although I had done my duty as a citizen in making a detailed report.

I spent 10 with Leicester Jazz Society voluntarily promoting concerts and a jazz festival in the city, plus two years trying to establish St George’s Day celebrations in Castle Gardens. Now I spend my spare time on three NHS-related committees locally, plus organising Head & Neck Cancer Support Group meetings monthly at Coping with Cancer at Helen Webb House, Westleigh Road, Leicester. Having survived major cancer surgery to my head five years ago I am now used during the final exams at the Royal Infirmary for trainee doctors and those wishing to become Consultants

Around the age of 17 in 1951, I followed my father into a large engineering factory. There was little problem trading with and travelling around the continent before we were drawn into the Common Market. Becoming married and a father I became suspicious that we were not being told the truth about joining the EEC so I sat in the Commons the night we joined by a slender majority of 8 votes obtained by the withholding of crucial information from MPs about the terms of entry and a legal warning from Lord Kilmuir about the surrender of sovereignty hidden for 30 years. (see video film of former Labour MP Nigel Spearing on MPs being asked to sign a blank cheque)

At the stroke of midnight 1st January 1972 we turned our backs on and discriminated against our Commonwealth friends. We had to cancel duty free and other food contracts with those countries to enter the higher cost food market of the EEC without any thought to the major impact upon the economies of those countries who had historical and multicultural links with us. As Barbara Castle of the Labour party put it “This is the new internationalism, selected relationships dictated and controlled by a powerful European bloc. What kind of internationalism is it that henceforth this country gives priority to a Frenchman over an Indian, a German over an Australian and an Italian over a Malaysian”?

Since then I have campaigned to reclaim the sovereignty of our Parliament and Courts to make our own laws and regain the freedom to trade globally within and outside an ailing crisis-ridden EU of rising unemployment and social unrest

There are three issues and many more that worry me should we remain in the EU.

  1. The British public want truth and calm debate, not hysterical crystal ball predictions and threats bombarding us from the remain side. We began to distrust long ago politicians fobbing us off as though the British public are fools such as the time then Minister for Europe Keith Vaz claimed that the European new Charter of Fundamental Rights “would have no greater legal standing than a copy of the Beano”. Peter Hain said of the EU’s draft Constitution for Europe, the forerunner of the Lisbon Treaty setting the EU’s course for the next 50 years that it was, “a mere tidying up exercise”. We are getting bad tempered insults, mud-slinging with an eye to winning the next general election. The Labour party is as bad as the Conservative. It is the scratching of infected scabs left by long standing party conflicts.

  1. I owe my life to the NHS. I fear that the TTIP trade treaty being negotiated in secret between America and the EU will bring the full weight of privatisation, pharmaceutical, insurance, financial investment companies and legal professionals to fall upon the NHS. David Cameron says the NHS will be exempt. I do not trust him.

  1. The biggest concern is uncontrolled immigration. We need controlled immigration. Our history is built upon immigration over centuries. Our culture evolves over time if newcomers integrate gradually rather than bringing the problems of their own countries with them. We need to leave the EU and elect a Parliament to begin to get to grips to find the right balance between the types of skills and labour that are needed matched with the adequate provision of homes, schools, hospitals, transport systems and the many services that are required to avoid social tensions and civic unrest. It ought to be made known that economic immigrants on arrival should not expect to take or be given priority over UK residents. Joining the EEC required us not to set any limits on immigration from within the Community. Although Turkey is expected to join according to our government’s policy, on top of those arriving from other EU countries, 100,000 would be expected to arrive every year from Turkey. This is the estimate given by Lord Green to the Migration & Asylum Select Committee on 7th June based on the pattern from east European of known arrivals Our towns and cities are becoming overcrowded and air polluted whilst our countryside is coming under increased pressure with new urban sprawls

The evidence of uncontrolled immigration is perfectly clear to those who live, travel and work in cities, to those who want their children placed in schools, to those who want GP appointments and to those who want hospital treatment.

The Office of National Statistics state that at the time of my birth in 1935 the UK had a population of 46,870,000. It is now 65,089,427 with a projected increase to 74.3 million in 2039.

My wife’s parents were invited and came to the UK from the West Indies in early 1960s. Caribbean immigrants were needed to fill job vacancies because we had to cope with the loss of people killed in the second world war (326,000 military and 62,000 civilian deaths) who would have provided more children had they lived. Those immigrants arrived and came speaking the English language, wearing western dress and bringing Christianity as my wife reminds me. They had a rough time but in reasonable numbers integrated over time. We have never before known the scale and different cultures and different languages we have arriving now in the UK. We are told we need immigrants to counter an ageing UK population. This is perfectly true when a balance can and should be created and managed once we leave the EU. Sad to say our UK population is on average ageing as many women need or decide to work longer before couples can afford or want to start families. We should not raid the skills and labour especially for medical staff needed by the remaining populations in poorer countries. It is wrong morally to recruit doctors and nurses as a cheaper and short term alternative to spending money and time to train our own youngsters

I liken the EU to a lorry without insurance and MOT certificates travelling on worn tyres and defective brakes driven by under-qualified drivers along rocky roads to a destination signposted “Ever Closer Control”. David Cameron says he changed the signpost from “Ever Closer Union” but yet again, I do not trust him.

I trust the common sense and instincts of the British people to have the confidence to vote Leave to be governed in future by our Parliament by MPs we elect and not to be governed by unelected Commissioners we cannot get rid of.

Upon leaving the EU we would save billions of pounds. It is just not the money that we transfer directly to the EU but the even greater amount of money which burdensome regulations cost the UK economy. How much better when we are spending our hard earned money on our own needs and making laws and regulations to suit our own country and people. A brighter future beckons when we leave and take control.

George West

Don’t undo democracy – a letter from our President to the Leicester Mercury

The beaming photogenic chairman of Loughborough Lib Dems (First Person 17th May) started his column by referring to the roots of the EU that are actually the cause of subsidence and collapse of democracy. The “great work of democracy” to which he refers was undone at the stroke of midnight 1st January 1973 when our Members of Parliament sub-contracted their work to Brussels.

When reading what he wrote and reaching the passage “Europe now is peaceful, economically successful and a beacon of democracy in a troubled world” I wondered whether his television set needs re-tuning. The evidence to the contrary fills our screens almost daily ranging from labour reform riots across France, Greek people crushed by austerity measures and people injured by riot police. I have not known lasting peace in Europe for the past forty years. There have been attacks upon us by IRA, war in the Balkans, bombings in Madrid and, more recently, slaughter in European capitals. As for the economic success to which he refers, the euro single currency is a failure predictably doomed from the outset and unemployment queues amongst younger people across the continent grow ever longer.

No wonder I have never voted Lib Dem as a party seemingly so divorced from reality and never will. The prospects for a brighter future rest in re- joining the wider world and stepping off the gravy train driven by unelected bureaucrats to an unpredictable and worrying destination

 

George West

Don’t tell your grandparents we cannot govern this country

A letter from our President to the Leicester Mercury.

Liz Kendall wasn’t born, Peter Soulsby was 24 and Alan Johnson 22 years of age when we entered the Common Market.

What do they know about Parliamentary life and the way our country was governed before powers were surrendered to the EEC by Edward Heath?

According to Mercury report 12th May, they met with young people in Leicester to say to youngsters  “tell your granny” to persuade older relatives to vote remain.

Older people have lived for years with the consequences of being in the EU knowing what life is all about and how what they voted for in 1975 for economic reasons has transformed into EU political control of our country.

There is a strong left wing argument to leave the EU because membership is not good for workers and jobs in this country. That was the clear message from Blair, Brown and Corbyn when they first became elected to Parliament but let me turn to EU propaganda in our schools and what our children have been taught.

In 1998 Baroness Blackstone, Minister for European education matters celebrated Britain’s EU Presidency by sending all schools “Partners in Europe”, a propaganda package at a cost to us taxpayers of around £300,000. It included “Resources and Contacts” booklet which highlighted the federalist, American financed European Movement. Separately a £100,000 battle bus toured the country pumping out free flags, maps, charts and booklets mainly for schoolchildren. A leaked EU dossier instructed teachers to peddle the Euro story “Young people will act as go-betweens with the older generations. They will help familiarise themselves with and embrace the euro” and told about the new Internet super-hero, a Gordon Brown lookalike called Captain Euro. This superhuman with his glamorous blonde assistant Europa and dog Lupo, thwarted the evil plots against Europe of the utterly ruthless villain Dr. D. Vider. It all provided a smokescreen in the minds of youngsters. We also had the infants colouring book “Let’s draw Europe together” as part of a set of teaching units for primary schools intended as “a call to schoolchildren as well as to all of us to commit ourselves to achieving European unity” and went on to say,”The original idea of a common market has now been developed and extended into plans for a ‘Citizen’s Europe’. It used children’s characters like Tintin and Pinoccchio.

In 1997 the Classroom Guide to the European Union aimed at 11 – 14 year olds informed them that “The EU is like a club. Our Ministers decide; the EU does not tell each country what they should produce and how”. It spoke of the Common Agricultural Policy to”ensure the supply of foodstuffs to European consumers at reasonable prices” with a cartoon to talk about the virtues of milk quotas. It didn’t say the British farmers were only allowed to produce 85% of our milk requirements and thus forced to import or that the CAP had severely inflated food prices in Britain.

Sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act forbids political indoctrination and bias in schools. Yet back in 1988 EU Education Ministers’ Resolution 88/C-177/02 called on member states to, “strengthen in young people a sense of European identity and prepare young people to take part in the economic and social aspects of the Community, make them aware of the advantages of the EU”.

It is not timely for indoctrinated youngsters to persuade older people to vote to remain in the EU but for young people to listen to their parents and grandparents why we should all vote to Leave and for MPs again to be responsible and accountable for governing our own country and not Eurocrats.

George West

Our President writes to Mr Cameron – again!

Dear Prime Minister,
Thank you for your letter 10th March from your Correspondence Officer stating that you are grateful for the time and trouble I have taken and that my letter 24th February has been forwarded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is of course your own views and reply that are requested since you are making the statement frequently that the UK is safer within the EU.
In my letter of 24th February the letter per my attachment about French Exocets launched against our warships HMS Sheffield and HMS Glamorgan and supply ship Atlantic Conveyor causing the deaths and injuries to British soldiers and sailors I relied upon my aged memory at that time. I have since researched what is in the public domain by references to Hansard,  to a BBC interview and reference to the Chicago Tribune newspaper. The French Exocet damage occurred during the Falklands war and the withholding of ammunition by Belgium occurred during the Gulf war.
Falklands war   BBC News Magazine Mike Thomson Radio 4 6th March 2012 re Exocet missiles & French technical team
“How France helped both sides in the Falklands war”
I quote; A French technical team mainly working for a company 51% owned by the French government stayed in Argentine throughout the war. British Defence Secretary at that time Sir John Knott was asked: does he now feel a little let down by a nation that he had previously described as Britain’s greatest ally? This was his response: ‘We asked Mitterand not to give assistance to the Argentinians. If you are asking me; Are the French duplicitous people? the answer is; Of course they are and they always have been.”
NB On a personal note I do not and never have regarded my many French friends in that way and believe Sir John Knott aimed his answer at French leaders.
Gulf war “European Unity fails in Crisis” Chicago Tribune 23rd January 1991 by R.C. Longworth
“Europe’s dream of welding itself into a united superpower has become an early casualty of the Gulf war. Europeans admitted Tuesday they are disgusted with themselves over the failure to unite in the crisis. There was special dismay over Germany which is seriously considering reneging on its NATO obligations.
The report also refers to the fact that Belgium being so opposed to the war that it has refused to sell ammunition to Britain for use in the Gulf.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  wrote “The beginning of European political union has failed”
“The first victim of the conflict is a united Europe” added the Italian daily Corriera della Sera.
Commons Hansard 10th April 2002 Column 24WH Royal Ordnance Factories
“Before the Gulf war, cases and shells for 155mm FX70 ammunition which is our mainstay artillery ammunition were manufactured at Birtley. The contract was transferred to Rhinemetall of Germany which discovered that it could not make them and sub-0contracted to a Belgian comapny. During the Gulf war for political reasons, Belgium an ally and a member of NATO, indeed it is the home of NATO headquarters, refused to supply us with artillery ammunition. That artillery ammunition was desperately needed to support the major assault that our amoured corps was making through Saudi lines to retake Kuwait. That is one of the problems of relying on overseas manufacturers and presumably why Henry VIII set up royal ordnance factories in the first place”.
Gulf war costs. Lords Hansard 31stJanuary 1991 vol 525 cc 789-92 
Lord Mulley :“I was extremely concerned at the report that Germany was withholding crucial Tornado parts. That raises a further question as to whether it was wise to become involved in European co-operative ventures where production is shared among the partners if, de facto, it gives each of the partners a means of veto over the use of aircraft in each country”.
The Earl of Onslow: Are the Belgians providing the ammunition? Are the Germans allowing the forces Tornado spare parts? May we have a straight answer?
The Earl of Arran:  To the best of my knowledge Belgium is not providing ammunition. I shall have to write to my Noble Friend concerning the prohibition on the supply of German Tornado spare parts”
George West