Home > Uncategorized > Who the f**k is Daniel Hannan?

Who the f**k is Daniel Hannan?

So apparently the following video on YouTube has gone viral; in fact tonight I got invited to a Facebook group set up here in Canterbury declaring that Britain needs more politicians like Daniel Hannan. The video in question shows Hannan having a go at Gordon Brown. Why people are applauding this intrigues me, bearing in mind some of the things Hannan is actually attacking.

He says that all the other nations enduring recession took the opportunity of the good years to reign in their expenditure, whereas Britain didn’t. Presumably this means that Hannan would have preferred that instead of PFI-PPP measures designed to keep government expenditure down, we should have had no hospitals, no new schools and a collapsed public transport infrastructure.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to attack PFI-PPP, but the only direction from which this guy is smacking about the already Right-wing Labour leadership is further Right. Anyone who thinks that a demand to cut yet more money from the public spending budget is impressive needs to go back and do politics 101 all over again – or perhaps spend a few months living on the dole and then weigh in.

Unsurprisingly this is far from Hannan’s background, being yet one more privately educated, Oxbridge oik that the Tory Party have found fitting to promote to the European Parliament. So what, exactly, is there to applaud? Gordon Brown is a crap Prime Minister and I love having a go at his awful policies and the ignorant twits he surrounds himself with, but Daniel Hannan’s attack is only to point out that actually the public purse could have been strip mined more effectively in search of industries to privatise.

Like the railways, that ever-present reminder of Tory successes. Oh, wait a minute…

So, Daniel Hannan can fuck right off.

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  1. March 27, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Agree, but you seem to be propagating the idea that any increase in public expenditure is leftist and any decrease rightist – surely it depends how the money’s spent. Personally, I’d like to see cuts in the wages of overpaid council staff (i.e. in excess of 50k) and cuts in PC non-jobs etc going back to people in council tax rebates – is that right-wing? No, it’s about priorities and fairness.

  2. March 27, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Reallocate the money. A cut in spending is the wrong word to use. I’d like to see expenditure on outside consultancies, and multiple job holding for Council posts restricted – but I daresay other things can be found to spend the money on which are much more necessary.

  3. March 28, 2009 at 7:50 am

    What’s a PC non-job? What’s a multiple job holding for Council posts?

  4. March 28, 2009 at 8:30 am

    The sort of thing one reads about in Private Eye where various consultants brought in are earning £100,000 in wages from a Council, and have another job besides, and do a shit job. Isle of Wight coastal defences for example – and there are others should I dig through the backlog. It’s the sort of stuff that reminds you of Dame Shirley Porter’s approach to getting things done.

  5. March 28, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Right, got you, justn’t sure what you were referring to exactly. Agreed then.

    The ‘PC non-job’ (not your term) is a term straight from the Taxpayers Alliance; there are certainly some ‘non-jobs’ in councils (ie. those that do not contribute to effective service delivery etc, such as PR jobs), but I’m worried at the automatic-looknig conjunction with the idea that being ‘PC’ is worthless. PC-dom is worth defending, not least as it’s the Left wot won it (see my copious bloggery on this).

    I’ll address your main Dain Hannan issue later maybe.

  6. March 28, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I’m not sure I agree Paul – I think political correctness is in many ways harmful to minorities, and to me a lot of equal opps stuff is about straight, white, middle-class men doing what they think is good for minorities without actually asking them. Too often it means giving minorities something special (Black History Month) which only aggravates majorities and does nothing to tackle real problems: the BNP doesn’t dislike ethnic minorities because they think they haven’t produced any decent poets… We should be tackling the root causes: economic and social disadvantage, language problems and so on.

  7. March 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I think Black History Month does a lot to tackle real problems. This a month during which the education system is cranked up to address minority history, and the same for our media – the History Channel runs additional shows on black and slave history, and colonial exploitation. These are themes which deserve regurgitation – and an annual excuse to raise the game, have a few lectures and cultural events etc is a good idea so far as I’m concerned.

    The notion that if we approve of this, we are automatically taking away energy from tackling the ‘real’ issues of social inequality is nonsensical. That’s like saying putting effort into the local Working Man’s Club or Colliery Band back in the 1970s took away from working class struggle and efforts with the trades unions. The two efforts – economic and cultural – are both compatible and necessary.

    Where, for example, would History be without a CLR James? Black History Month is an excellent excuse to dust off our copies of the Black Jacobins and talk about it. The idea that it offends majorities is nonsense – of the kids I teach, some of the areas they find most interesting are the history of slavery. You should remember that we’re the Left; no matter what we do, those on the Right will find an excuse to be annoyed about it.

    Well fuck them.

  8. March 29, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    If you didn’t like Dan you certainly won’t like this!

  9. March 29, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I’m still not convinced – I’ve posted on this before here: http://cambridgeunilabour.blogspot.com/2008/10/do-we-need-black-history-month.html
    I’m afraid I don’t know who CLR James is, or anything about the Black Jacobins. Equally, I don’t know anything about Irish history (my ancestry) or a hell of a lot of other histories. If the purpose is to raise awareness, then why just of Black history, since we’re a nation of immigrants. Or if the purpose is to raise self-esteem among black kids, then why not among white working class kids who do worse at school? Like LGBT history month, I just think it’s a bit patronising and pat-on-the-head.

  10. March 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    You should know both who CLR James is and who the Black Jacobins were – and if you don’t, then isn’t that the perfect case not to tone down Black History Month but to tone it up?

    We do look at other histories of minorities – and I know personally some people who’ve done really good work in the area of LGBT history. There’s no reason that can’t be encouraged alongside Black History Month.

    If you’re trying to say there’s no such thing as Black History, just History, I of course agree with you. But then, Black History Month is a political tool for the celebration of a minority – and in talking about the role of one minority, we open the space to talk about the role of them all.

    I’m a straight, white, male – but I’m also a historian and a socialist. In our past, we wrote out not just people of other races, but women and the working class. Black History Month only stands out today because the processes whereby we celebrated working class history and women’s history have atrophied and declined alongside the movements that sustained their celebration.

    Instead of proclaiming another history month, we should work to rebuild the movements that would be living testament to the roles of women and the working class – but equally, as a cultural rearguard, we should be prepared to celebrate Black History Month, and use it as a springboard whereby to rebuild a movement that will help us reach for Black equality.

  11. March 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Having read your article, John, I’m inclined to ask, why don’t you have a good knowledge of British history? You were taught it at school, like everyone else I presume?

    Your little litany of the peoples you learned about at school is all very well but it covers primary school and term 1 of Year 7. Did you forget the rest, remembering only those parts you mentioned, or does the fact that we teach British history from Year 7-9 interfere with your soapbox?

  12. March 29, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    You’re right, I actually did nothing but British (black, white and otherwise) social & economic history for GCSE – though I still wouldn’t claim to know very much at all about British history, certainly not since 1900 – but my point (rhetorically overdone, I agree) is that it’s ludicrous to prejudice one set of immigrants over the others – what is the justification for that? Is it because they’re more disadvantaged (which is open to debate, particularly in education, where many ethnic minorities do far better than average on average)? Or is it, as I suspect, to be seen to be doing something to help minorities, without much effect. As I’ve said, prejudice does not arise from a lack of cultural knowledge, nor does disadvantage arise from minorities not knowing their own history.

    If you really think that homophobic people are going to be encouraged away from homophobia because someone speculates that x was gay, and that x did a lot of nice things, you’re living in cloud cuckoo land. The way to tackle that kind of prejudice is for gay people to live normal lives as openly gay people doing good things. LGBT history month only fuels hostility – and did anyone ask the gay community (other than Stonewall, who are unelected self-made representatives) if it was wanted? No, of course not, because other people always know what’s best for minorities.
    If people want to celebrate their history, that’s wonderful, but to prefer and promote one group’s history in public is a recipe for fragmentation.

  13. March 29, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Speculation that X was gay? Oh be serious. Gay history is like any social history – the study of the practice of homosexuality in past societies and places – say Victorian London. Prostitution, ritualised homosexuality and other elements play a huge part in LGBT history, and these things did shape that society and were shaped by that society. Some of these elements formed the dark underside to the “proper” morals we regard as originating in Victorian London. The study of these things is the study of exploitation – which, I’m sure you’d agree, is important.

    You neglect to realise that things like Black History Month aren’t government initiatives trying to be politically correct. They were originally grassroots initiatives trying to bring minority history to a wider audience – and there’s no reason we shouldn’t do that. One of the genuine problems of working class organisation is that too many people don’t actually appreciate the role black people have played in our history.

    There absolutely should be grassroots movements to cover Jamaican, Indian and other minority histories. This is the proper attitude to take to Black History Month; to supplement it. Instead, contra your earlier suggestion, I find the most regularly taken position of the straight, white, male liberal left is to complain about BHM in order, they think, to pacify the white working class.

    If there are, as you suggest, other things we should be doing – and there are – why not get on with them and leave Black History Month to those who want to celebrate it? Meanwhile we can rebalance the scales by restoring the network of trades union and socialist educational groups or the power and carnivalesque nature of the feminist movement outside a bunch of middle class students.

  14. March 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I don’t think it’s ‘wrong’, I just think it’s a little pointless and, among those groups most hostile to ethnic minorities/gays, quite considerably counterproductive. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ‘preaching to the choir’, but when it’s promoted by councils, it does risk being exclusionary, and it’s certainly not fair on kids to use them in schools. We should be boosting the esteem of kids most in need, not of a particular ethnicity.

  15. March 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    By “those groups” I presume you mean the white working class. The problem there isn’t that we have a Black History Month, it’s that we need to redirect the anger of the white working class away from ethnic minorities and towards capitalism, which is the root cause of all those things that the white working class (or rather, a minority of that class) find objectionable about immigrants.

    None of this is preaching to the choir. And how is any of this exclusionary? You seem to be of the opinion that it originates from middle class guilt – when in reality, it originates from working class activism, to instill a respect for the other cultures and to learn that they, like us, are exploited.

    When we talk to kids about the slave trade, is that exclusionary history? Are we merely setting them up to feel guilty? Of course not. The slave trade had a massive role in the origins of capitalism – which is the economic system these kids grow up in. Of course they need to learn about it. Black History Month is about thinking outside one classroom or one series of lessons to things that can be done across the community.

    And when we take kids out of the classroom, and get them involved in a hands-on way with history – which despite it’s “Black” label is still theirs by virtue of it being working class history – we do boost their self-esteem and we do boost their ability to engage with other races and cultures without the need to react defensively out of some misplaced nationalistic sentiment.

  16. March 30, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Interesting discussion, which I’m only just catching up on.

    John, what you keep circling back round to is that to promote, for example, Black History month, is likely to be ‘counterproductive’ because people imbued with the values of the Daily Mail will not like it.

    Well for me that’s the point. The whole socialist movement towards tolerance of different identities and cultural norms has to be a challenge to the current hegemonic hold of the right. Constantly to pander to the right simply in order not to offend it is to admit defeat. This is of course the exact same point as we discussed in reference to how we tackle the BNP.

    I do acknowledge (and have written on same) that ‘identity politics’ has not helped itself, to say the least by moving post-marxistly away from a critique of capitalism as being the cause of the need for identity politics in the first place, but that does not mean that identity politics in itself is wrong. You are right to say that economic disadvantage and material inequality is what needs to be tackled, but you don’t do that by pandering to the right’s latest whim, because that in itself is ‘counterproductive’, in that it allows the Right the space to strengthen its discursive grip on what is and what isn’t polticically acceptable e.g. equal opportunities for black people who are economically disadvantaged in correlation to the fact that they are black.

  17. March 30, 2009 at 10:55 am

    David, I clearly wasn’t suggesting any teaching of black history was exclusionary; of course we should teach the slave trade etc, but in its academic context, not in the context of a specific ‘month’ – though you have persuaded me a little! My concern is that many on the left would not be so appreciative of an White, Anglo-Saxon History Month – and if not, why not? And I’m not sure primary school pupils are sufficiently class-conscious to be able to appreciate that class transcends race, especially when they’re being told this is ‘black’ history. If it’s about celebrating history, that’s great – but don’t expect it to achieve any great advances in cohesion is all I’m saying – but then, maybe it shouldn’t have to in order to be justified, I concede that.

    Paul, I think you’re right, I do tend to fall into that trap, but it’s easy to say we should be anti-hegemonic when you’re not going to be on the receiving end of the hostility. And I’m sure you would agree that frequently people misrepresent minorities in the name of equal opps, doing a good deal of damage in the process – whether that’s police forces flying the rainbow flag during LGBT history month, or people like Harriet Harman promoting all-black shortlists. I get the feeling that the minorities themselves rarely get consulted on how much ‘understanding’ of them they want; or if they do, it’s through unrepresentative, unelected groups like Stonewall etc. People don’t want sops in their direction, they want real action to tackle root causes.

    Equally, sometimes the Mail gets it right on morality, and the left is too flimsy; moral authoritarianism and socialist socio-economic policies are not incompatible: indeed, strict moral values are surely central to socialism; so in some ways it’d be nice if some of the Mail’s values were hegemonic – though perhaps not in the way they’d like.

  18. March 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    John, I like your style.

    Your ‘it’s easy to say we should be anti-hegemonic when you’re not going to be on the receiving end of the hostility’ is a marvellous attack, with its suggestion that I’m tied to the theoretical drivel I pound out on my keyboard, and that I have no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the hostility of the right. It does serve me right for my rather needless (but I think you accept) quite good fun, personal attack on you the other week. Fair do’s.

    Seriously, though, I do think you raise an important issue about the reality of the doorstep hostility to be had out there in the real world, and the way we handle it. I think it’s relevant enough for me to respond with a full post of my own, provsionally titled ‘The can of worms of canvassing cowardice’, but in brief my argument will be:

    Yes, I know excactly what you mean. Only yesterday, out canvassing, I got the no-longer too aptypical rant along the lines of (and this is a reasonable summary of somethjing less coherent, indeed quite pissed) ‘This country is going to the dogs under Labour, what with the immigrants and the fat cats.’

    Now the advised canvassing technique is to smile sweetly and get out of there as quick as you can, because nothing is gained in vote terms in sticking around – there’s no Labour vote to be had. That would, for me and maybe for you too, be much more comfortable, and it fits with the mindset we get ourselves into when we go canvassing – the smile, the half apoloogy for disturbing, the acknowledgment that the person at the door is doing you a favour, that ‘the customer is always right’.

    But a couple of years ago I decided it was wrong to do that, because to do that (as Dan McCurry would have us do as a standard) is to allow the darker hegemonic forces I refer to above full sway, and they do need to be challenged close up.

    While it makes me very uncomfortable, because I am by nature an avoider of confrontation, I will always now make a point of saying , politely but firmly, that I do not agree with so and so’s perspective. Clearly it’s horses for courses, and sometimes I get more stuck in than others, but that’s my abiding rule – some challenge must always be raised.

    The question then arises of how that canvass sheet should be marked. Canvassing convention would have it as an AGAINST and maybe a note to say ‘objectionable’, so that the next canvasser does’nt have to suffer the same kind of abuse, which may shorten her/his cnavassing session. But is that the right thing to do? i’ll explore that in my post.

    Now I know canvassing is just one example of being on the receiving end of hostility (at the other end of the physically threatening- sterile confrontation spectrum I have also recently been threatened with legal action for confronting instuitional forces about their use of language in respect ogf ‘political correctness’). There are lots of other settings in which the need to ‘stand up and be counted’ can bring with it the hostility you are honest enough to raise as an obstacle – public meetings being one case in point (I’m getting quite used to being told I’m a ‘disgrace’ in Council meetings).

    But the principles are the same. I think we may be entering a time, quicker than we might think or hope, that it’ll take personal bravery to be a member of the Left, but a time which will only get worse if we don’t challenge it.

    I know this seems a hyperbolic extrapolation from getting an earful on the doorstep every now and then, and I suppose it is a product o my stream-of-consciousness writng style, but all the same…I think that’s where the moral issue lies (to be honest, i find your notion that the Mail is correct on some aspects of morality a bit hard to grapple with right now).

  19. March 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I know you weren’t suggesting that we shouldn’t teach the slave trade at school. However, the logic underpinning your argument does in fact suggest this. The slave trade is ‘Black’ history, in that the most exploited subject of the inquiry has dark skin. Extending learning around such events in our past – both in the classroom and out of it – is what Black History Month exists for.

    By suggesting that we retreat from Black History Month, on the basis that the “political correctness” element has gone too far, and that we’re privileging a certain minority, the effect is to restrict what is essentially an activists’ tool to increase the depth of learning not just in our children but in the very white working class whom the Daily Mail would have us believe resent anything not White, Christian and Heterosexual.

    You actually go even further when you talk about why there isn’t a “White History Month”. Well, the equivalent of “Black History Month” isn’t “White History Month”, it’s “White Working Class History Month”. BHM exists because for a long stretch of our history, people of a different colour formed the underpinning to the economic systems of Europe, by which we ruled the world. We study them because of the degree of exploitation that went on.

    We can talk about Black History Month (rather than Black Working Class History Month) because even where there existed bourgeoisification amongst Black people, it happened to a negligible extent before the changes of the 1960s (with some notable exceptions). On the other hand, white people stood at the head of capitalistic economic exploitation – and exploited their own kind, sometimes just as ruthlessly. So a “white” history month needs qualification, since there are essentially two white histories.

    One is that of the ruling class – which was almost universally white, the other is that of the working class wage-slave counterpart to the exploited Black, hence “White Working Class History Month” is the equivalent to BHM. None of this is to do with middle class guilt, it is to do with an actual historical difference between the two “races” and the roles they played in our social and economic development.

    Of the “exceptions” which I mentioned, there are cases where Blacks or Mulattoes formed a ruling class and help down other Black people. The state that was created following the Haitian Revolution is one such example. This introduces the argument that instead of a Black History Month, we should have a Black Working Class History Month – which then leads to the argument that we only need a Working Class History Month.

    However, such historical cases are exceptional and this is reinforced when what we refer to by “Black History”, in the context of BHM, is predominantly the history of Black People in European and North American society.

  20. March 30, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Paul, fair points, but I think you’ll appreciate that there is all the difference in the world beteween being abused because you are Labour and being abused because you’re gay or black. Like you, I’m more than happy to tell people they’re wrong and why – but when you’re being attacked for who you are, not what you believe, that is a very different kettle of fish – requiring rather more ‘bravery’. That is not to say we shouldn’t retaliate, we should – but we also have to be careful to ensure that the routes we take to equality are not necessarily ones which intentionally provoke hostility, and that they are routes endorsed by the minorities we seek to help.

    David, this is all getting a bit deep for me! (Which I guess means I lose by default). I’m not actually endorsing your characterisation of white working class views – that’s certainly not my experience – and I’m not sure I accept your ‘WWCHM’ idea: we should be looking at modern-day disadvantage, not trying to right past wrongs which had nothing to do with us. So BHM in that sense asserts that all black people are NOW disadvantaged – patently untrue – and by the absence of a white equivalent implies that all whites are advantaged NOW – again false. So, without wishing to be too materialist, it seems to me that we’d both rather have a Working Class History Month without any racial prefix, since we both see economic and social factors as more significant. This harking back to past wrongs done by rich white people is what I fear is alienating – because most of us played no part in it. That’s a bit garbled, but I very much concede that it’s a lot more ambiguous than I first suggested, so thank you.

  21. March 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    If you lose for any reason, it’s because you are construing BHM as an assertion that all Black people are today disadvantaged, which it isn’t. And in order to suppose that it is, I’d like to see some evidence. As I’ve clearly laid out, the theoretical origins of BHM lie elsewhere. Moreover, it’s not an attempt to right past wrongs – and again, when making such assertions, let’s see some evidence to back them up. There’s a clear difference between righting past wrongs and studying them for the lessons they lend our present struggle.

  22. March 30, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    OK, but if it’s not about tackling disadvantage and negative attitudes then it’s just an academic exercise – which is fine, but it’s not what I’m interested in. But if we do want to tackle present-day disadvantage, then surely we should be privileging the histories of present-day disavantaged groups – that means class, rather than race, is most important. Though of course the two can be integrated.

    And let’s not pretend that schoolkids are engaged in a ‘struggle’, for pity’s sake. I would also sound a general note of caution, which is that when trying to ‘understand’ and ‘help’ minorities of which you’re not a member, you’ve got to be extremely tentative in taking action without consulting that group fully – which is certainly a criticism of the left which needs to be urgently addressed. (Not specifically aimed at you, but relevant).

    However, I’ve confused myself now, so I’ll throw in the towel.

  1. March 30, 2009 at 7:20 pm

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