Hands Across The Sea

For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a post about the intersection between US and UK political parties and media coverage (one idea didn’t get much beyond “James Delingpole is a Knob,” which title I promise would have been fully justified in the verbiage that followed, but that’s by the by). Maybe I’ll get round to it, and maybe you’ll want to read it.

In the mean time, I came across a post that covers some of what I was going to attempt to address, in one of the few British politics blogs I’ve found so far that often hits the spot for me (I’m fully prepared to believe that this is just because I haven’t looked hard enough, so if you’ve any great finds, please do share them in the comments) - The Yorkshire Ranter.

The post in question focuses on what I imagine is a rarity in the US nowadays, a living British politician whose name you may recognize - Daniel Hannan, loose-lipped Tory Euro MP and media darling of anti-NHS teabaggers.

UPDATE: Excerpt is now below the fold, click on the title down there to see the full original in all its glory. It includes the revelation that Daniel Hannan favors NHS reform in the UK that closely resembles what’s known of Obama’s health care reform plans for the US!

Tory of the Week: Dan Hannan

So what is wrong with Daniel Hannan? To understand this Tory of the Week, it’s worth looking back to this post on the role of the Daily Telegraph in the world media ecosystem. Specifically, it acts as a sort of reflector attack for nonsense, picking up propaganda that can’t be released directly into the US press and rebroadcasting it straight back. Once published by a newspaper of record, no-one has any problem printing it again.

There are two things here; one is the continued attraction of the US’s well funded rightwing infrastructure. Dan Hannan, being an MEP, doesn’t have to publish very much in the way of a declaration of interest - in fact, in the past he’s been pretty strident about this. At the same time, hard-right politicians throughout Europe are well known for funding their party organisations out of EP expenses, and Hannan is doing the reverse; rather than using EP funds for party purposes, he’s using his status as an MEP to go on the speaking circuit in the States and bask in wingnut welfare.

The second is that the US political circuit is being used as a sort of substitute for British politics here. Hannan at least thought he could say things in the States that would get him in a good deal of trouble in either Westminster or Brussels; intervening in US politics is a way of positioning yourself in Tory internal politics, without showing your hand too much. To be publicly rightwing enough that you want to abolish the NHS is not career positive if it gets into the papers; he seems to have thought that the public wouldn’t notice as long as it happened beyond the seas, but that the sort of Tory constituency associations that could get him a Michael Gove-like seat for life would notice.


It goes beyond the mere intergovernmental alliance; tellingly, Atlantic Bridge in its current form was set up in 2003 to drum up support for the Iraq war, and it is chaired by Dr Liam Fox MP, one of the Tories who spent 2002-2003 arguing that the Blair government was not sucking up to the Americans enough. I’ve argued before that the Decent Left movement has succeeded, in that it’s found a home in the Conservative Party through figures like Michael Gove; Hannan is probably too much of a tribal Tory to be considered Decent, despite being close to Gove and wired up to the Iraq noise machine.

However, all this relies on the Atlantic as a semi-permeable membrane. It is crucially important that only the bits of your westward enterprise that you want arrive back in London. Access to the bridge must be strictly controlled. This appears to be what went wrong with Hannan’s propaganda tour; when the Guardian is one of the most read newspapers in the US, it’s much harder to achieve compartmentalisation, and the instigators of the #welovethenhs Twitter drive blew the seal so comprehensively that they forced David Cameron to join up and very publicly disown Hannan.


Chris Dillow points out that perhaps, if we were to do it all over again, we might not design the NHS the same way. Well, maybe not. The really interesting bit, however, and the conclusive evidence that this was a content-free piece of Tory internal politics is that Hannan and Gove’s own proposals are essentially identical to Obama’s.

Both books call for the NHS to be replaced by a new system of health provision in which people would pay money into personal health accounts, which they could then use to shop around for care from public and private providers. Those who could not afford to save enough would be funded by the state. [Link]

So, personal insurance, with a public sector option, and Medicare/Medicaid benefits. West of 30 degrees, he agrees with people who think this is equivalent to Nazism; east of 30 degrees, he thinks it’s genius. The real content here is that Hannan wants to be considered a maximum rightist in two different political systems, and doesn’t give a damn for the actual content of anything he says.

I’d bear this in mind next time you see some RW source gleefully parroting Hannon or any other of our homegrown-for-export wingnuts.

Mind you, if you think that’s bad, in return, over here we get John Bolton and Bill Kristol representing the American counterpoint whenever anything such as the recent Megrahi furore breaks out. I think you get a marginally better deal, but it’s a close call.

Posted by YAFB on 08/29/09 at 02:57 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsHealth CareOur Stupid Media

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Quite aside from anything else (and I’ll admit I’ve just sort of skimmed some of the links here), it occurs to me that not being aware that all communications are now pretty much instantly global doesn’t speak well for one’s leadership acumen.

I’ll admit I’ve just sort of skimmed some of the links here

It’s a bit wordy, it’s a Saturday evening, it’s been an emotional day, and you’re forgiven. ;o)

But if you don’t click on anything else, go for this post and, in a neat bit of circularity, the excellent Dave Weigel article that’s linked beyond it (which you may have seen before).

Pretty fascinating stuff, esp. the need to backpedal on NHS, which sort of handily gives the lie to the wingnut talking point about how miserable the Brits are with their healthcare system. I must say, now that I’ve read a bit more in depth, the title of your post makes me think “Where have those hands been?”

“I think you get a marginally better deal, but it’s a close call.”

Not even close, I would rather listen to Bolton and Kristol here all day, than know for even a second that those son-of-a-bitches are tainting the minds or giving the impression that they are what pass for nuance…or even brain function here.

Fucking Rupert the rich grandpa, and his douche-bag son…

Right on about Rupert and son, of course, but the Telegraph, once owned by the esteemed Conrad Black, is in the hands of the enigmatic UK tax exiles the Barclay brothers, who have their own take on democracy. They also own the Spectator magazine.

Conrad Black is really beloved in Chicago journalism circles after what he did to the Chicago Sun-Times. No, really—he should come back here after he gets sprung and see how beloved he is. (I’ve got the blowtorch ready!)

Of course, he was aided and abetted by our former Gov. Jim Thompson, who was the board president of Hollinger International while Black and Radler were raiding the paper’s assets as their personal piggybank, and yet somehow “he saw nothing!, he heard nothing!”

These people seem to have a habit of doing that. The Barclay brothers also all but killed a decent Edinburgh-based paper, The Scotsman, before they sold it on. An old reporter pal of mine saw what was coming and bailed out just before they took over (moving on to the Independent, then nowadays the Guardian, so it was a good move for him).

P.S. I’m going to put a fold in this post now - it was quiet here when I put it up yesterday (how that changed!), but I don’t want to take up too much real estate.

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