Unless you have been living under a rock or only have access to left-wing media, you might have heard about Dan Hannan. He is the MEP from Southern England who has become an internet sensation for his polite but pugilistic takedown of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown while he was visiting the European Parliament.
Completely ignored by the British media for almost 48 hours after it first appeared on UK blogs and trans-Atlantic ones like mine, the video of Hannan’s takedown is finally starting to get noticed by the British media. Upset by getting beat to the story by Fox News, Drudge, and quite a few other right-of-center blogs in the U.S., the British media is in full trashing mode. The most egregious effort so far is this biased trashing of Hannan by Channel 4 in the UK. Most amusing to those in the know about the YouTube sensation caused by the video is the fact that Channel 4 manages to get the amount of views the clip has been getting wrong by a factor of 50% x 10. Instead of mentioning that it was up to over 800,000 views at the time of the broadcast, Peter Snow said it had slightly more than 40,000. It has today broken the million views barrier. Was it a complete cock-up or a deliberately misleading comment? You take a look and be the judge.
Meanwhile, the BBC has barely managed to mention it at all. The network has been keen to stress the rather pathetic attempts by Labor’s Derek Draper, who appears on the Channel 4 piece, and MP Tom Harris, who has this to say:
What was truly repugnant about his speech was the total absence of any sense of patriotism. … Gordon Brown isn’t just Labour’s prime minister; he’s Britain’s prime minister, and for any UK politician to launch such a disgraceful, personal attack on his country’s leader — in a foreign country — is nothing short of disgraceful.
It has become rather clear that both the standard press and the Labor Party are feeling threatened by the sensation that Dan Hannan’s broadside against Gordon Brown MP has caused. He speaks for many Britons fed up with a prime minister who was not even elected to lead the country but appointed by the leadership of the Labor Party.
Hannan used a nautical theme for part of the speech:
Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear up their rigging — in other words, to pay off debt — but you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line, under the accumulated weight of your debt.
What is most interesting, and should be a worry to both President Obama and the Republican Party, is the fact that Hannan’s words struck a deep chord with many Americans as well. Twitter and the Internet have been alight with people praising Dan Hannan’s appearance on Neil Cavuto’s show, even forgiving him his kind words about Obama’s candidacy. He also appeared on Sean Hannity’s show and several other U.S. programs.
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.