Dan Hannan – Defender of the Faith
The evil that politicians do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So decree the journalist-guardians.
Cranmer cannot recall the last time he was inundated with so many emails requesting comment upon an issue. And this one perhaps comes as no surprise, though it is an awful lot of ado about nothing.
Well, not quite nothing. For the NHS is a venerable institution. But the column inches and airtime which have been devoted to remarks made by one MEP are out of proportion to any rationality. With the present journalistic purdah on the inept lameness of Mssrs Brown, Mandelson, Darling, Miliband and Ms Harperson – who, you may recall, constitute the Government – one might be forgiven for believing that their actions (or inactions) merit any investigative scrutiny at all. Indeed, with the constant critical focus on matters Tory, one might think the Conservative Party were in power.
The funny thing is that when Cranmer heard Mr Hannan’s first interview on this matter a few months back, he had an inkling that it would come back to haunt him, carefully edited, re-crafted and perversely remoulded to cause harm and make mischief. The journalist-guardians have a habit of carefully selecting and re-ordering one’s words in order to create their story ex nihilo.
They have to earn a crust, you see. And this justifies their slander, misrepresentation, misinformation, disinformation, lies, duplicity and deceit.
After the recent treatment meted out upon MPs and Peers, they ought to be next.
But His Grace digresses.
Daniel Hannan is one of the most upright, honest and fair men in politics. But he is convicted, and, in an age of postmodern relativism with its imposition of a uniform pattern of public utterance, the merest trace of orthodoxy reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.
And he made a few comments in the US about the NHS.
He praised its 1.4 million workers for their patriotism and dedication. But he pointed out that the system has flaws. It is the third biggest employer in the world after the Red Army in China and the Indian National Railways, and this has resulted in bureaucratic waste and inefficiency. He favours personal responsibility for healthcare rather than sprawling state imposition, with the proviso of a ‘safety net’ to protect the poorest and most vulnerable. This would be, he says, more cost effective and efficient than a healthcare system funded wholly out of general taxation. He points out that Britain does not always compare favourably with other countries in terms of survival rates and waiting times, and so proposes transferable health savings accounts (which, he emphasises, would be met by the state for those who lack the financial means).
All of this is consistent with Conservative philosophy, though it is not present policy. But if the party can argue (as they do) for localism, deregulation and the involvement of the private sector in education, why is it anathema to apply the same principles to healthcare?
But David Cameron hath told you Daniel was eccentric:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Daniel answer'd it.
And David is an honourable man.
Andrew Lansley says Daniel is 'negative and distorted' on NHS.
And Andrew is an honourable man.
Timothy Kirkhope says that Daniel's remarks about the NHS were ‘unwise’ and that he could face discipline from the chief whip.
And Timothy is an honourable man.
But Andy Burnham says he is unpatriotic.
And Andy is an honourable man.
And John Prescott says he has made an ‘appalling misrepresentation’ of the NHS.
And John is an honourable man.
And for the journalist-guardians, Adam Boulton of Sky says Daniel is ‘an arrogant right-winger in love with the sound of his own voice’.
And Adam is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men.
But they say he is eccentric / negative / distorted / unpatriotic / arrogant;
And they are all honourable men.
He hath sought to liberate captives from the Treaty of Rome
Whose taxes do the EU’s coffers fill:
Does this in Daniel seem unpatriotic?
When that the poor have cried, Daniel hath wept:
Arrogance should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet David says he is eccentric;
And David is an honourable man.
You all did see that at the Tory Party Conference
He was granted his own slot to make a speech,
To which the Leader did not object: was this eccentricity?
Yet David says he is eccentric;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
Cranmer writes not to disprove what David speaks,
But here he is to write what he does know.
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with His Grace;
His Whiggish heart is on the rack there with Daniel,
Though he hath not the slightest intention of pausing...
With a thousand apologies to the Bard, not least for not having the time to scan the iambs in coherent pentameters. But this ‘story’ is nothing more than a Whig-Tory tension; a Roundhead-Cavalier resentment.
Toryism has traditionally been a synonym for stability and Whiggism for experiment, and these antagonisms coexist in the ‘broad church’ of the Conservative Party. Individuals within the party hanker after one or the other on the basis of ingrained disposition. Toryism is the guardian of order while Whiggism the defender of liberty. They combine a religious adherence to what is ancient and past with a passion for knowledge and enlightenment. Tories are for the establishment of ‘Church and King’: Whigs tend towards Protestant dissention. And the one side has always accused the other of heresy, treason and irreligion.
The Roundhead Mr Hannan holds to such principles as personal liberty, small government, parliamentary supremacy, patriotism, localism and Euro-scepticism. He favours the interests of small traders over concentrated wealth and liberty over the powers of state. Yesterday’s Whigs favoured Parliament against an autocratic King; today’s Whigs favour Parliament against the oligarchic European Commission. It is instinctive for Conservatives of the Whig tradition to oppose any kind of unaccountable, centralised power-base.
But his Anglo-Saxon political right-wing philosophy of free markets, liberty, tolerance, and a sovereign legislature is the antithesis of the continental right-wing of autocracy, cohesion and corporatism. And Mr Hannan is up against the Cavaliers in his party who are Europhile, interventionist, corporatist, statist, and favour the centralised power of the Executive and the consequent sidelining of Parliament (if only in the form of quangos).
Daniel Hannan is the defender of an important tradition within the Conservative Party, indeed, one of its foundational strands of thought. To greet his Whiggish philosophy with ad hominem attacks and to dismiss him as ‘eccentric’ is either to misunderstand his creed or to misrepresent his conviction. Or perhaps ‘eccentric’ is simply the postmodern term for ‘radical’.
All Conservatives should be united on the need for the dispersal and democratisation of power. Daniel Hannan defends this article of faith, and he does so consistently, forthrightly, passionately and eloquently.
Would to God that some of the Tories had his conviction.