Financial Times – a cesspit of europhiliac misrepresentation
Of course, the newspaper may be genuinely persuaded that the UK’s membership of the EU makes economic sense, but that is not the point of this post.
Cranmer promised Mr Daniel Hannan MEP that he would raise his plight on His Grace’s august blog of intelligent and erudite comment, and he is pleased to so, if only in the name of truth, justice, and fair play. Mr Hannan explains:
'Here is as clear a case of bias as you could ask for. And it comes from that most high-minded and self-regarding of newspapers, the Financial Times.
‘On Monday, the FT published an article by the Conservative MEP Caroline Jackson, in which she attacked her party, its leader and, above all, its policy towards Europe. In it, she also said something completely untrue: “Recently, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, likened the European Parliament’s German Christian Democrat president to Adolf Hitler after he invoked procedural powers to avoid disruption by those – led by Mr Hannan – who want a referendum.”
I wrote a letter for publication, which I reproduce in full. I’m blowed if I can see what’s wrong with it.
My colleague Caroline Jackson (Comment 17 February) repeats her assertion that I “likened the European Parliament’s German Christian Democrat president to Adolf Hitler”. I did no such thing. On the contrary, I called him “a committed democrat and a decent man”. Although I believe he is behaving badly by tearing up the European Parliament’s rules in order to stifle demands for a referendum, I am none the less rather fond of him.
In recent weeks, two of the main party leaders have done precisely what Caroline falsely accuses me of doing. Martin Schulz, leader of the Party of European Socialists, said that pro-referendum MEPs made him think of Adolf Hitler; and Graham Watson, leader of the Liberals, said that their behaviour recalled “that of the Communists in the Russian Diet and the National Socialists in the German Reichstag”. I don’t remember Caroline or, indeed, any other MEP, protesting about this. It’s evidently OK to call your opponents Nazis provided they’re Euro-sceptics.
‘Now in most newspapers, when someone is mentioned in a comment piece, even if the reference is accurate, he is given the right to reply in a letter. But, on this occasion, the letters’ editor phoned me very apologetically and said that her editor wouldn’t let her print the second paragraph.
‘I sent her this clip, in which all three comments are on film, so that there should be no doubt over the authenticity of what I was writing. And I emailed the editor, Lionel Barber, pointing out that, given what had been said about me, it seemed only fair to allow me to respond in my own words. I wasn’t asking for a comment piece, I said, simply for a short letter. He sent me this reply:
Dear Mr Hannan
“Thank you for your note. I am happy to carry your denial on the letters page but I am reluctant to include more allegations against other MEPs. Caroline Jackson did write 750 words on the op-ed page but she only made a passing reference to you as part of a broader argument. On balance, therefore, I think we should treat the matter as closed.
‘They weren’t “allegations”, of course, as he well knew: I had sent him the clips. But he was unmoved. So, there you have it. The FT is happy to print false charges against a Euro-sceptic on its comment page, but not to carry precisely the same charges, even when demonstrably true, against Euro-philes. (Incidentally, Caroline Jackson’s description of Euro-sceptics as “poisonous fungus” itself rather distastefully recalls the title of an anti-Semitic tract by Julius Streicher.)
‘I mention all this simply because the FT, the Eurocrat’s paper of choice, tends to regard itself as more serious than its rivals. Sometimes, it can be downright pompous in its coverage. Yet, when it comes to the crunch, it won’t deviate from the pro-Brussels line, even when this stance requires blatant partiality.
‘And to think that people still complain about Britain’s “anti-European press”.’
While Cranmer thinks the FT’s promotion of the views of the odious Ms Jackson and its treatment of Mr Hannan to be nothing short of appalling, it is important not to forget the main story in all of this.
The European Parliament has broken all its own rules and regulations in order to prevent its members calling for a referendum, and has, to all intents and purposes, passed its own ‘Enabling Act’. In the circumstances, Mr Hannan's protests were remarkably restrained, measured, courteous.
The remarks of Mssrs Schultz and Watson, however, are offensive and defamatory. It is they who ought to apologise, but it is clearly one rule and standard for those who support ever closer union, and quite another for those who oppose it.
Cranmer would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Hannan for fulfilling Mr Cameron’s pledge to leave the EPP.