This was something that many of us on the right, both in the UK and the U.S., took Hannan to task for during the lead up to the election. I was dumbfounded that such an ardent opponent of socialism and someone hewn from the same rock as Thatcher could be praising Obama.
I consider him a friend from the heady days of young adult, right-of-center politics in the UK. He, like me, is one of Thatcher’s children who spent much of the early 90s trying to get the Conservative Party to remain Thatcherite and not drift off toward the limp middle as it did under Major and subsequent leaders (sound familiar?). After his graduation from Oxford, Hannan was a regular at meetings, dinners of varying sizes, and social events in London sponsored by groups like the National Association of Conservative Graduates and the Conservative Way Forward. Young Conservatives in London lost a great talent when he went off to Brussels as an MEP. In Hannan, the European Parliament gained a permanent anti-federalist burr who would oppose its desires for continued encroachment on national powers and for micro-managing control.
We have to console ourselves that Douglas Carswell, a good friend of his and co-author of Hannan’s recent book The Plan, managed to get by the “wets” (British RINOs) and get elected to Parliament. In the book, Hannan & Carswell set out a vision for what a Conservative government should look like.
Rest assured that there are many conservatives in the UK who would like to see the next Conservative government led by Dan Hannan with Dougles Carswell as his chancellor, rather than the current lot that leads the centrist Conservative Party.
Needless to say, to hear Hannan described as “unknown,” “obscure,” or “up and coming” by the media on both sides of the Atlantic causes a bit of a snicker. Those who closely observed Hannan over the last decade or more saw him as a highflier yet to achieve his potential. Even those in the Conservative Party who did not share his Thatcherite/libertarian views knew he was going places from the first time they heard him speak.
His style reminds us of Disreali, Churchill, and Reagan — speakers greatly missed by lovers of good rhetoric. This is apt, as Hannan is as likely to quote from Reagan, Goldwater, Lincoln, or Jefferson as he is from great British leaders of the past.
The speech — which was heartfelt and passionate yet polite and dignified — reminded all of us what a great leader, rhetorician, and parliamentarian Dan Hannan is. There were calls from some for him to be leader during the last leadership election. On the basis of this latest episode, the clamor next time will be even greater.
And if the British Conservatives continue to fail to appreciate the man, I am sure that there are plenty of desperate conservative Americans who would welcome him with open arms as a new American citizen.
Desperate times call for great leaders. Dan Hannan is one such man.