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Who is Daniel Hannan?
March 26, 2009 6:42 AM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan took the opportunity to "skewer" Gordon Brown in the kind of biting rhetoric rarely, if ever, seen in UK parliament. Despite having alerted UK press organisations, including his own part-time employer, Hannan's speech was not picked up by the UK press until... it started getting a heavy push from the US punditocracy.

Now picked up by the right wing media in the UK, Hannan is being held up, not only as an example of a young thrusting truth teller, but prime evidence of the kind of liberal media US pundits have talked about for years. Perhaps it is, or perhaps his popularity in the US is simply retribution for the groundswell of support shown on the east side of the Atlantic for Obama. Nonetheless, it raises the question about whether this is the defining moment when foreign blogs - or the internets - started setting the agenda in the UK.
posted by MuffinMan (46 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I look at Daniel Hannan, I do think of the words "young" and "thrusting", just perhaps not in the same context as the Daily Mail does.
posted by Jofus at 6:49 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Nonetheless, it raises the question about whether this is the defining moment when foreign blogs - or the internets - started setting the agenda in the UK.

ToryBlue
posted by fullerine at 6:50 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


In a time of worry that news organisations are simply printing press releases, why should we be appalled when they choose not to publish on a politician's speech, especially when that politician asks them to do it beforehand?

And, one must ask, if its lack of coverage proves a "liberal bias" in UK media, what does their choice to cover a story as the result of politically-motivated grassroots pressure?
posted by honest knave at 6:57 AM on March 26, 2009


the kind of biting rhetoric rarely, if ever, seen in UK parliament.

Well, except, you know, all the time.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:03 AM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So the U.S. rightwing crazysphere = the 'punditocracy'?
posted by delmoi at 7:07 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


but prime evidence of the kind of liberal media US pundits have talked about for years.

Alternatively, if the US picked it up and started pushing it, isn't that prime evidence that the US media has a conservative bias?
posted by DU at 7:08 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought conservatives in US loved Gordon Brown, due to his willingness to allow the Gift-gate fiasco to proceed unhindered.
posted by wabashbdw at 7:09 AM on March 26, 2009


I think Mr. Hannan might have spent a bit too much time on the high seas.
posted by doobiedoo at 7:12 AM on March 26, 2009


in the kind of biting rhetoric rarely, if ever, seen in UK parliament.

Pardon my ignorance of UK politics, but I thought rough-and-tumble speech was pretty normal over there? I got the impression that government sessions were very nearly rowdy.

Am I confusing the House of Commons and Parliament?
posted by Malor at 7:18 AM on March 26, 2009


I love the cadence and the affected shock and dismay. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a bit Oxbridge stuttering.

However, the conservative party has been strangely silent throughout the financial crisis perhaps because they know that the policies that got the UK where it is are probably the exact same ones they would have followed.

I'd criticize the labour government not for failing to be conservative free marketers in the leadup and attempted solution to the economic crisis but for being conservative free marketers and creating it.
posted by srboisvert at 7:21 AM on March 26, 2009


Wow, people give a shot about MEPs throwing a tizzy now? I bet Kilroy is well gutted.
posted by Artw at 7:24 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Malor: This speech was given in the European Parliament, not the House of Commons in the UK's national parliament.

I may be wrong, as I am more familiar with the Canadian version, but such a lengthy speech could not have been given in the HoC, and, as with all good game shows, would have been inadmissible since it was not phrased as a question.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:26 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Daniel Hannan is the anti-EU MEP who convinced David Cameron to take the Tories' out of the EPP grouping in the European Parliament (much to the displeasure of almost every other Tory MEP). He was himself personally ejected from the EPP for filibustering to obstruct the Lisbon Treaty (and snidely comparing the President of the European Parliament -a German EPP member- to the Nazis). He also apparently has good contacts to all the "usual suspects" in the US (AEI, Heritage Foundation, and so on), and is a regular writer in the anti-EU "Brussels Journal", edited by Paul Beliën, notorious Muslim-baiter husband of Alexandra Colen, member of the Belgian Parliament for the far-right, racist, xenophobic "Vlaams Belang" party.

In short, Daniel Hannan is a real-life Alan B'stard.
posted by Skeptic at 7:28 AM on March 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


Oh what I wouldn't give to only have a per capita debt of 20k pounds.
posted by symbioid at 7:28 AM on March 26, 2009


Thanks Skeptic, that certainly answers the question in the thread title!
posted by asok at 7:36 AM on March 26, 2009


So let me get this straight: a fringe Tory looking for attention gives a speech in the European Parliament denouncing the already none-too-popular (thus shooting fish in a barrel) Gordon Brown in rather tepid language (for American ears anyway), compares him to Leonid Brezhnev (a person whom almost nobody under the age of 35 will have heard of unless he or she is obsessed with Cold War history), and the American right wing blogosphere picks up on it and runs shrieking into the horizon proclaiming him the best thing to appear in Westminster since Churchill smoked his last cigar.

"I would almost be tempted to compare it to the Ermächtigungsgesetz of 1933, but I think that would be disproportionate and perhaps a little rude to our President, who is a committed democrat and a decent man."

"In mimicry of Cato the Elder's Carthago delenda est, he ended every speech, whatever its subject, with a call for the Lisbon Treaty to be put to the vote: 'Pactio Olisipiensis censenda est.'"

Oh, and he's even more of a self-important Oxonian twit than most British politicians.

Next.
posted by blucevalo at 7:46 AM on March 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


The American blogosphere might have found it thrilling. But it probably wasn't picked up because:

a) very few people get that excited about MEPs in the UK

b) the UK parliament is generally much more entertaining

c) he wasn't really saying anything new

d) his speech was good enough but Vince Cable is better when it comes to dissing Brown

e) a mention on the (right-wing) Spectator's blog is notable but not really that notable.
posted by rhymer at 7:46 AM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm sitting in the parliament and I saw the speech yesterday and thought "Ho hum, there he goes again". Well, if he's complaning about not getting in the media, including the paper that pays him, doesn't that say it all about the quality of his contribution?

And if anyone thinks the Daily Telegraph is part of the 'liberal media' they're off their heads.
posted by quarsan at 7:53 AM on March 26, 2009


...and all of which means the UK media was probably doing its job when it chose not to report it - and that the more interesting story is that foreigners are excited about the speech and not the speech itself.
posted by rhymer at 7:53 AM on March 26, 2009


Here's my problem with this Hannan guy: He doesn't have any answers! He goes on and on, and sure its fun to listen to, and he makes some alliterations and analogies and similes and what not, but in the end, he brings nothing to the table.
posted by Mach5 at 7:55 AM on March 26, 2009


game warden to the events rhino: I disagree: UK parliament rhetoric, while rambunctious, is still bound by whole "The Right Honourable Gentleman" faux politeness. MPs are rarely so personal and bitchy, e.g. "and when you repeat in that wooden and perfunctory way" or comparing someone to a Brezhnev-era apparatchik and would quickly be brought to heel by the Speaker of the House for speaking like Hannan does in that clip.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:10 AM on March 26, 2009


I wish American politicians spoke like their British counterparts instead of like, uh, you know, the way that they, uh, talk, uh, when they are trying to, uh, you know, get their point across.
posted by chillmost at 8:20 AM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, the implication that such a dedicated media whore as Hannan (who features in every second EU story in the British press) has been "censored" is almost too ridiculous for words.

The sad reality is that he sits in the European Parliament, which in the British media order of things ranks slightly below Ipswich town council. And he's very much a pariah there. If anything, through his drama queen antics and wingnut connections, he gets far more coverage than he actually deserves. The comparation with Kilroy is a fitting one.
posted by Skeptic at 8:23 AM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


UK parliament rhetoric, while rambunctious, is still bound by whole "The Right Honourable Gentleman" faux politeness.

Well, this is a matter of opinion, I guess. There is a fine tradition of vicious parliamentary insult. My favorite: Tony Banks standing up to respond to a particularly narrowminded attack on arts funding by the Tory MP Terry Dicks to say "Well, Mr Speaker, the honorable gentleman is living proof that a pig's bladder on a stick can be elected to Parliament."
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:23 AM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


chillmost I wish that there was just one European, never mind British, politician who spoke like Barack Obama. Jon Stewart's joke about Gordon Brown being an Obama cover band was painfully accurate.
posted by Skeptic at 8:26 AM on March 26, 2009



"In a time of worry that news organisations are simply printing press releases, why should we be appalled when they choose not to publish on a politician's speech, especially when that politician asks them to do it beforehand?"

Printing a politician's speech, especially when he asks you to beforehand, is the same as printing a press release. I'd say this story is interesting because some bloke slagged off Brown to his face for three minutes, which isn't something you get to see very often. But beyond that? Nothing but a cynical PR exercise by an ambitious politician looking to get his name out there. The Prime Minister was sitting still, for once, and Hannan took some cheap shots. There should have been headlines, but they should have read 'MAN SHOOTS FISH IN BARREL'.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 8:53 AM on March 26, 2009


All this shows is that the far right wing -- which is an incestuously connected, highly networked circle of influence, with close ties between conservatives in the US, Canada, the UK, and Israel -- aren't really defeated in any significant way, and that they will keep up the attack on whatever front is available to them.

Their goal is to put a fresh face on failed policies... and while Blairism is hardly ideal, the fact is, it sure as hell beats Thatcherism, and the British people have far more to show for it.

The real problem with the Labour Government is that Gordon Brown has become the Conservative Party lite... but then again, the Conservative leader is just a hollow impersonation of Tony Blair. The big advantage for the Conservatives is that they haven't had a chance to overspend... yet... and that although they will never be change, they'd at least be a change from Brown.

The Labour Party should insist that Brown step down shortly, to be replaced by someone on the left wing of Labour who is a fresh face with good ideas, with the desire of healing rifts/building bonds with the Liberal Democrats.
posted by markkraft at 9:02 AM on March 26, 2009


Well, this is a matter of opinion, I guess

And being funny lets one say somewhat more than one would otherwise get away with.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2009


The Labour Party should insist that Brown step down shortly, to be replaced by someone on the left wing of Labour who is a fresh face with good ideas, with the desire of healing rifts/building bonds with the Liberal Democrats.

It's slightly more likely that Gordon Brown will spontaneously grow feathers and a beak.
posted by motty at 9:41 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, except, you know, all the time.

House of Commons Dis Battle
posted by letitrain at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fair enough speech, perhaps a bit heavy on the old Ship of State cliche comlete with "caulking", "rigging", "aarrgh, me hearties!" etc. Nothing new really.

Actually, I'd like to see parliament doing Talk Like A Pirate Day.
posted by mdoar at 10:10 AM on March 26, 2009


Now that we know Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele aren't good Presidential material, it's time for our GOP to roll the hard six and put forth an Oxford man who will save America from our socialist Muslim tyrant. The Constitution is just a piece of paper!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on March 26, 2009


I think Hannan needs to see a psych. For somebody who grew up in Peru, he's laying on the 'defender of Britain' stuff a bit too thick. I mean, maybe being British is so central to his identity that he considers the EU personally threatening? Almost like your mother marrying again and replacing your father with another man? An interesting case at any rate, but not really fit to be played out in public like it is. I feel sorry for him.
posted by Sova at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2009


I'm a little bit predisposed against Hannan, even though traditionally I feel that I've been more Conservative leaning that Labour or Lib Dems. This is due to the time he spoke at the Union at university. The motion was "this House believes in European integration" or something similar, and whilst he was articulate, and put forward some decent points (he was against), he misled the listeners on the European Parliament legislative process (something he was called on, having fundamentally ignored the co-decision procedure), which I felt was a bit rich given his position as an MEP.

Also, while far be it for someone to be judged by the company they keep on these occasions, with debaters invited by the Union committee or whoever, he was on the same side as two members of the UKIP who spouted the most ridiculous knee-jerk bile about hordes of Poles flooding the country, and neglected to try and distance himself or tone down their comments and put them in a more palatable phrasing (e.g. on economic rather than "immigrants!" grounds).

I'd arrived without any strongly held views on the topic, but voted "aye", as the proposers only really had to stand up and not be closet racist to win.

I think the lack of coverage by the UK media until the YouTube incident really shows the level at which the European Parliament is regarded.
posted by djgh at 11:17 AM on March 26, 2009


The EU blog of BBC correspondant Mark Mardell is virtually on fire about this subject. There's however a definite "Google Ron Paul" vibe about the comments (never particularly level-headed before).
posted by Skeptic at 11:39 AM on March 26, 2009


Bah, the Brits are amatuers at this. Watch how it's done down under.
posted by Jimbob at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2009


I sense a potential Speak your branes bonanza.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2009


"It's slightly more likely that Gordon Brown will spontaneously grow feathers and a beak."

I know... which is very unfortunate for those in the Labour Party.

Ultimately, I don't think that the British people really think Conservative>Labor. They think that new>old and that Cameron>Brown... albeit not by much.

They want a socially progressive government that avoids being an overspending nanny state.
posted by markkraft at 3:08 PM on March 26, 2009


Daniel Hannan is a self-publicising extremist. He and the US right-wing blogosphere should get on just fine.

And I hate that he wraps himself in patriotism while proposing policies that harm Britain's interests. Tosser.
posted by athenian at 5:09 PM on March 26, 2009


Hannan is actually a pretty decent politician, as MEPs go. He's written some good stuff in his book The Plan, which although a bit idealistic for me, is definitely going in the right direction. It's worth noting that he's always been prepared to challenge the political orthodoxy, if from a right-libertarian perspective. That's encompassed everything from being a vocal critic of perks and sleaze to being one of the few UK Conservative politicians to openly support Obama (something which gives the lie to the suggestion he is a cardboard cut out Conservative).

The speech itself was quite good - but I agree it's a bit random for it to be receiving so much praise - particularly from the US. And the ship thing was a bit laboured.

Of course, as always on Mefi, some people will criticise him simply because he's Conservative and euro-sceptic...
posted by prentiz at 5:35 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, I withdraw "tosser". As for whether he's a cardboard cutout Conservative, it depends on the cutout you're using. He's not Ken Clarke, or even David Cameron, but he is a recognisable Conservative type - the low-tax, libertarian, raging Europhobe, the latter part of which informed his support for Obama (McCain had made pro-EU comments).

By-the-by, in the just-linked blogpost, I found this line staggering:

"[people should see] black Americans as just one among many immigrant communities"

Yes, except their ancestors were forcibly migrated and then kept in servitude for two hundred years, which makes them rather different from that Indian PhD working for Google.
posted by athenian at 6:07 PM on March 26, 2009


prentiz I criticise Hannan, not for being "Eurosceptic", but for being an out-and-out Europhobe, and not for being a cutboard Conservative, but for consorting with people like Vlaams Belang or the Danish People's Party, who aren't in the very least Conservative, (never mind libertarian!) but far right populist, if not outright neofascist. And if you sleep with dogs, you'll wake up with fleas. If Hannan is as clever as both friend and foe pretend, then this is, if anything, an aggravating circumstance: he can't claim ignorance nor foolishness.

Please note that all the sources I've cited (like the Spectator or LGF) against Hannan's friends have impeccable Conservative credentials. We are not talking about raving lefties sticking the "fascist" label on anything they dislike.
posted by Skeptic at 1:52 AM on March 27, 2009


Of course, as always on Mefi, some people will criticise him simply because he's Conservative and euro-sceptic

No, I criticise him because he's nasty, stupid, fanatical and wrong. I particularly object to the line in his speech about 'unproductive public-sector workers', which, as a public-sector worker, I find both insulting and threatening. As for the euro-scepticism, see this article from 2004 in which Hannan extols the 'economic miracle' unfolding in Iceland. 'Icelanders have become international tycoons .. the happiest, freest and wealthiest people on earth' etc etc, and all because they've stayed out of the EU. No, athenian, don't withdraw 'tosser'. Hannan is a prize 24-carat tosser.

The scary thing is how many of my friends and acquaintances (most of them left-liberal folk who should know better) have been circulating the link to this speech. If Cameron can tap into this popular hatred of Gordon Brown, he has the next election sewn up -- and while Cameron himself strikes me as quite a sensible man, I do worry about the right-wing extremists like Hannan who may come back into government with him.
posted by verstegan at 1:54 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


verstegan That article is pure gold. "Blue-eyed sheikhs", heh. Please circulate it widely.
posted by Skeptic at 2:10 AM on March 27, 2009


Leonid Brezhnev (a person whom almost nobody under the age of 35 will have heard of unless he or she is obsessed with Cold War history)

Or REM songs, of course.
posted by inigo2 at 6:25 AM on March 27, 2009


Or REM songs, of course.

Which almost nobody under the age of 35 will have heard.
posted by ninebelow at 6:39 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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