The disagreement between Jonathan Portes of NIESR and MEP and occasional Tory Dan, Dan the Oratory Man shows no sign of resolution. As I noted the other day, Hannan had written a petulant and lamentably badly researched piece smearing Portes, who at first had the post taken down. The bear pit that is Telegraph blogs soon put it back, and Portes has now complained to the PCC.
What am I bid for this fact? One careful owner ...
Hannan has two closely linked objectives here: kicking the BBC by implying it is biased (no surprise for anyone at the Tel), and try to promote the meme that NIESR is in the EU’s pocket because some of its grant comes from there. To his clear irritation, Portes has merely maintained his composure and set out why Hannan is wrong, an action which has clearly mystified the MEP.
“Dan Hannan doesn't like admitting error. This would be less of a problem if he didn't get so many things wrong. The original version of [his] Telegraph blog, on welfare, contained no fewer than five factual mistakes” Portes observed. And he is right about Hannan getting things wrong, often deliberately and knowingly so. Moreover, he can also point up examples where he has been critical of the EU and EC.
“The European Commission is doing its best to drive Spain to disaster” was the title of a post from last year, with Portes’ photo prominently displayed at the top. That’s the kind of headline Hannan and his pal Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell would usually applaud. Portes is not taking a side in the playground of politics: he is engaging in straight economic analysis and then drawing conclusions.
This is difficult for Hannan and his editor at Telegraph blogs, Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, to take on board, so the latter has merely resorted to shameless promotion, telling “In case you missed it, @DanHannanMEP magnificent on Jonathan Portes”. That’s magnificent as in magnificently dishonest and magnificently badly researched.
Hannan does no better, asserting “You’ve got to hand it to the NIESR’s tiny band of Europhile Twitter cheerleaders: what they lack in numbers, they make up for in rudeness”, thus demonstrating the accuracy of Olbermann’s Dictum: “The right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”. What neither Thompson nor Hannan can bring themselves to address is that they are wrong, and Portes is right.
There is no credible evidence that Portes favours the EU or EC, except Hannan’s assertion. The paper he cites in support of his attack was written seven years before Portes joined NIESR. It would be illegal for the EU to award funding on the basis of partisan support, so Hannan should put up the evidence. But he hasn’t got any, so he won’t: this is just a crass and obvious smear, which is going nowhere.
And Hannan won’t apologise, because he doesn’t have the cojones to do so.