On Friday, the good people at Political Scrapbook caught Dan, Dan The Oratory Man in a moment of misjudgment when they captured Hannan Tweeting “As I type a Brexit article a pretty black woman next to me is planning her wedding. She’s so happy & excited. It puts the vote in context”. Yes, Dan was totally tolerant and inclusive, and just to prove it, some of his favourite train passengers could be black.
As Scrapbook mused, “Tory MEP Daniel Hannan certainly says some very odd things on Twitter and in the media. But he topped all of that today with this tweet … This wasn’t a joke tweet or something said in irony, by the way”, before pointing out that Hannan has significant previous - enough to explain why he deleted the Tweet that generated all the ridicule. For starters, there were his comments about Barack Obama.
This was what he said about The Prez back in 2010: “Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it”. Sort of puts Bozza’s rant about “Kenyan heritage” in the shade. And what Scrapbook didn’t tell its readers was that Hannan has more in the skeleton cupboard.
Back in 2009, Hannan was asked in an interview for reason.tv who had shaped his politics. After citing Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, he added “In the British context, Enoch Powell ... as somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small-government Conservative”.
Of course, Powell was not just a free marketeer and small-Government Conservative, but someone whose past is tinged with the ugliest racism. Quite apart from his infamous 1968 speech that prompted Ted Heath to kick him out of the shadow cabinet, Powell was happy to be associated with the Tory Monday Club at a time when it was calling for not just an end to immigration, but forcibly repatriating migrants.
This did not deter Hannan, who was back on the subject just two years ago, first asking “So, was Enoch right?” before concluding “On the two big issues of his day … he was dead right” and going on to rhapsodise “This was the youngest professor in the Empire, the youngest Brigadier in the British Army, a master of several ancient and modern languages, the greatest parliamentary orator of his age”.
They always fall back on the number of languages Powell could speak, forget that World War Two meant a lot of men rose through the officers’ ranks rapidly, and miss that his fellow Parliamentary orators included Michael Foot, whom Hannan would never champion, despite his backing for individual liberty and freedom of the press. Always the “look over there” to distract from Powell’s poisonous past.
Daniel Hannan could find others who championed small-Government Conservatism, free markets and Parliamentary democracy. That he fixed on Enoch Powell, while clearly having less than fortunate views about black people, tells you all you need to know.