Someone over at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs has not had a very happy festive season: step forward Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, who has lost his rag big time with British Influence, a group which has had the audacity to adopt a position in favour of the UK remaining a member state of the EU. Hannan is particularly incensed that they have commissioned a poll in support of this idea.
One careful owner, now how much am I bid?
Dan says it’s a fiddle: he asserts the poll is confined “to quangocrats, charity heads, civil servants, CEOs of multi-national corporations and the like”, except he can’t be sure (hence “and the like”). So he dismisses the result: after all, this is just “700 bien pensant metropolitans of whom, sure enough, 69 per cent want to stay in the EU”. And then he makes his first mistake.
“Indeed, the only surprise is that, of a demographic specifically selected for pro-Brussels bias, 31 per cent don't agree” he continues, but had he actually read the results he would have seen that this figure was just 23%. The remaining 8% did not express an opinion one way or the other. But Hannan does know that he is right and they are wrong, and reminds them of the kind of poll of which he approves.
“When every poll of the general population shows an anti-EU majority, you have to clutch at whatever support you can find” he sneers, continuing “Nor am I saying that all, or even most, of the people surveyed are beneficiaries of the Brussels racket. They don’t have to be. When enough NGOs get money from the Commission, even those that don’t tend to be inflected by the Euro-enthusiasm of their peers”.
And they have been wrong before: “Let’s run over some of the other things that all these “leading figures” have favoured over the years, shall we? State planning, prices and incomes policies, the SDP, the ERM. Almost without exception, the ‘leading figures’ trotted out by British Influence to argue for the EU were, a decade ago, making precisely the same arguments about joining the euro”.
They were? Did British Influence manage a matching sample? But he’s still right: “The Chartists and the Suffragettes were attacked by their opponents in exactly the same terms as Ukip today: as a bunch of mavericks and obsessives. When the vote was extended to all adults, the moderate men, the sensible men, the men of bottom and judgment, suddenly remembered that they had favoured the idea all along. The same will happen with Brexit. Just watch”.
“Obsessives” is right. Daniel Hannan is not advancing any rational argument here, save for the belief that his way is the only true way. In this, he is at home at the Telegraph, where right-wing belief in opposing climate change policy and independent press regulation is joined by that on Europe.
That belief extends to losing it with those of opposing view. No surprise there, then.