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Wednesday 12 December 2012

Daniel Hannan – Pants On Fire

After his spell of three whoppers in five minutes in the company of host Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), it should surprise no-one that Dan, Dan the Oratory Man still has an occasionally tenuous relationship with the facts, and his latest venture into the bear pit that is Telegraph Blogs is no exception, as he waxes lyrical about the UK’s glorious South American past.

Beware fringe Tories bearing whoppers

British managers and engineers ran a great deal of Peru’s industry” he notes, attempting to couple the retreat from his native country to our accession to the (then) EEC in 1973. This, sadly, is total tosh: Lisbon’s tram and bus operator Carris was British owned, but isn’t any more, and both the UK and Portugal are part of the EU. The locals have taken over whether the country is in the EU or not.

Then we get the attempted link of EEC accession to the economic difficulties of the 1970s: “Prices surged, our trade balance worsened and inflation took off” he asserts, managing not to notice the not insignificant effect of the Yom Kippur war and the associated energy crisis. And the inflation part started with the so-called “Barber boom”, which means, yes, it was his own party that set it off.

Granted, the Wilson and Callaghan Governments failed to properly put a lid on inflation, but then the Thatcher regime let it rip again and it was well into the 1980s before it was brought under control. That, together with the trade gap, had very little to do with our joining the European club to which Hannan holds his irrational antipathy. And his economic geography is shaky, too.

Glasgow and Liverpool found themselves on the wrong side of the country, and have never recovered” he observes. Well, in the case of Liverpool, he is plain flat wrong. The population of the city peaked not immediately before EEC accession, but before the Second World War. Why, Dan, d’you think that the Overhead Railway (aka the “Dockers’ Umbrella”) was closed in 1956?

Liverpool’s docks were then decimated by the advent of containerisation: once again, there was stuff all to do with whether or not we were in the EU. And our membership has not stopped the UK from trading with anywhere else in the world – or perhaps all the food and drink from Australasia and South America that I see every time I visit the local Asda is some kind of mirage.

Nor does the notion that the EU stifles trade with growing markets in countries like India – except, it seems, our own inability to provide what that market needs. So we find ourselves in the situation where Germany does more trade with India than we do. Hannan’s irrational hatred of the EU is like a red mist that stops him, and by his writings, his readers, viewing the reality of today’s world.

And that reality is that his trousers are well and truly alight. No change there, then.

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