Daniel Hannan: building a base for proto-Poujadism


2:11 pm - November 5th 2009

by Dave Osler    


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The period of post-Thatcher consensus is not an era characterised by ideological politicians; both the hard left and the hard right have long lacked a substantial figurehead of the intellectual depth and popular appeal once personified by the likes of Tony Benn and Enoch Powell.

This is an important reason why politics today is less political than politics 20 or 30 years ago. Without any real clash of ideas, managerialism is triumphant and apathy replaces polarisation. Same shit, different sock puppet.

Surveying the contemporary British socialist scene, I don’t see anybody with the capacity to step up to the plate. Indeed, no one to my mind comes even close.

But an increasingly obvious choice for the serious right has is now emerging in the shape of MEP Daniel Hannan, who last night stepped down from the Tory frontbench in the European Parliament.

Resignations of this kind are rarely interesting in and of themselves. ‘Tory bust-up over EU, world keeps turning’ is scarcely a sexy headline. What I do think is significant is the reason Hannan is proffering for this action. Hannan has overtly declared his intention of building a neo-Poujadist faction with the Tory Party.

We need a broad movement within the Conservative Party that will push for referendums, citizens’ initiatives and the rest of the paraphernalia of direct democracy. I don’t just mean a referendum on Europe – though, naturally, that is the obvious place to start. I mean full-on Helvetic people power … I have returned to the back benches in order to concentrate on building such a movement.

Now, as a leftist, I don’t have any problem with direct democracy. The subjection of elected representatives to the right of recall is a textbook Leninist demand. As a clever bloke who litters his speeches with quotations from Edmund Burke and Dr Seuss alike, such irony will scarcely be lost on Hannan.

But note that Hannan doesn’t want direct democracy; he simply wants the <em>paraphernalia</em> of direct democracy. This Freudian slip is of the highest importance. What that paraphernalia will mask, we are not told.

My reading of his agenda is that full-on Helvetic people power equates to something like full-on Daily Mail-style Dacre democracy, with the system geared to pushing demands currently confined to the more colourful newspaper column fulminations of the free market space cadet squad.

If the left got its act together – stop sniggering, you at the back! – referenda on the renationalisation of the railway network or a windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses could probably be won.

But the right has the organisation, not too mention the dosh, to ensure that such mechanisms are dominated by calls for tough curbs on immigration, the return of hanging, and perhaps even the abolition of what Hannan famously derides as the ‘Marxist’ NHS.

If such questions ultimately boil down to a wrestling match between Mad Mel and Polly Toynbee, there could be only one winner.

Forget Griffin, forget Farrage. Hannan – a man who has made his admiration for Enoch Powell abundantly clear – may yet prove to be his hero’s clear successor.

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Reader comments


Is it bad that I had to go and ask Wikipedia what a Poujadist was?

The history of the next few years of the Conservative Party will be the vying of supremacy between the Blondists and the Carswell-Hannanites.

The Blondists will win, of course, through sheer force of pragmatic bloody-mindedness, though elements of The Plan will no doubt seep in via a dialectic osmosis too.

What will be a major unknown will be whether it’s possible to sustain an entire faction when one of the leaders spends most of his time in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The subjection of elected representatives to the right of recall is a textbook Leninist demand

Yes, I remember Lenin being particularly hot on elected representatives. And what is it? Proto-Poujadism (ie: coming before Poujadism) or neo-Poujadism (ie: coming after Poujadism)?

And is Hannan really an anti-intellectual? You cite his references to a wide array of thinkers, from Burke to Powell to Dr Seuss. There aren’t too many links to Poujade that I can see – what are you referring to? The anti-urbanisation, the anti-semetism, the anti-industrialisation? I think you might need some citations.

Hannan has overtly declared his intention of building a neo-Poujadist faction with the Tory Party.

I’d love to see it – their schtick would hit the public ear like the fat end of a baseball bat… The public might be furious with the political class, but they’re not actually pledging their allegience to Satan quite yet.

Me, I’d love to see Hannan boosted to a position of vague authority, so that some interviewer could read back some of his wackier statements and ask him to justify them on national television. He’d be sweating and stammering like he’d been caught whacking off to twink porn on the office computer, chumming out great reams of feeble justifications.

Sadly though, I suspect his declared intention is a big bunch of balls. I think it’s far more likely that he’s “Going Rogue” like Sarah Palin, i.e. sucking up huge amounts of Wingnut Welfare money by mooching around towns like Dogdick, Alabama terrifying the snake-handlers with hilarious lies about the NHS.

A savvy man with a talent for boo-hoo, fake victimised woe-is-me can make good money on the right wing lecture circuit. Hell, you don’t need me to tell you that – one look at the shower of deranged toads and fork-tongued headbangers that frequent FOX News on any given would do.

Is it bad that I had to go and ask Wikipedia what a Poujadist was?

No but it was bad that having looked it up you didn’t tell the rest of us……

4 – small town French populism. Anti-intellectual, anti-modern, anti-semetic, pro French Algeria (perhaps less widely applicable that one), anti-tax, anti-urbanisation, xenophobic.

There’s a case that UKIP demonstrate some of the provincial populism that Poujadism represents (although they’re certainly not officially anti-semetic), but it doesn’t provide a particularly useful analysis of Hannan’s policies.

@ 5

Agreed. Doesn’t sound like Hannan at all.

r a windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses could probably be won.

what do you mean probably? Over 66% of the public want one. Try telling that to Hannan and let’s see if he wants a referendum on that!

OK, I’m using Poujadism as a broad brush term for a reactionary rightwing but non-fascist electoral coalition. I won’t go to the wire to defend the term if the characterisation can be shown to be inaccurate.

And no, Tim J. I am not suggesting that Hannan is anti-intellectual. Racist, though, certainly.

‘The history of the next few years of the Conservative Party will be the vying of supremacy between the Blondists and the Carswell-Hannanites.’

My bet is that the Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax and the Strenuous Garfighters of Stug might have some input as well.

Racist, though, certainly.

Is this the “racist” where you have some evidence to show that the man is so stupid that he thinks anyone with a different colour of skin or genetic background is automatically an inferior being. If so can you please produce the evidence?

Or is it the “racist” that you automatically use to refer to anyone with a different political view to yourself?

@8:

I assume Sunny H takes a rather lax attitude to potentially libellous comments?

I misread the headline and thought that Dave – old Trot that he is – had referred to Pousadism, which really brightened up my day. Strangely the only reference I got by googling this was to an account of the faction fights with the American SWP (workers and farmers faction)

http://crookedtimber.org/2007/08/01/apartment-owners-of-the-world-unite/

If I remember correctly Poussadists were a Trotskyist group who believed that
a) there was extra-terrestial life and that this had constructed flying saucers, and
b) such an advanced level of technology could only have been attained under a socialist economic system

Therefore – the Martians were Trots

Why there is no Wikipedia entry on this is beyond me.

@Dave (8)

There I was with not much to do,and I thought mmm were can I get me a good old fashioned “racist “accusation from a religion which has unilatteral anti-racism as the core fundament of its raison d’etre.
There were two places that came to mind,the Labour parties voter “gerrymandering”population replacement headquarters or
the comment section at LIberal Conspiracy.
Thanks Pagar,its not the first time I,ve seen you step in on the “racist” thing.

@Conor (12)

You got the name slightly wrong – look up Juan Posadas.

But the right has the organisation, not too mention the dosh, to ensure that such mechanisms are dominated by calls for tough curbs on immigration, the return of hanging, and perhaps even the abolition of what Hannan famously derides as the ‘Marxist’ NHS.

If such questions ultimately boil down to a wrestling match between Mad Mel and Polly Toynbee, there could be only one winner.

You’re too pessimistic. They’d be trounced on the last one.

“If the left got its act together – stop sniggering, you at the back! – referenda on the renationalisation of the railway network or a windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses could probably be won.”

I don’t see many problems with those. The railways are just a state licensed cartel right now anyway.

Bare in mind that the public are also far more likely to support sound money reforms of the banking system (i.e. make it so that you actually have a legal title to money stored in the bank vaults) than the current political class so you may see some pretty radical reforms coming up for referendum, none of which are especially left of right.

I would campaign for the legalisation of cannabis first (or at least allowing councils to set their own laws on cannabis use and trade). The advantage of referendums is that you don’t get the funny marginal seat syndrome where a handful of daily mail readers can hold back reform for the rest of the country by terrifying their constituency. I think that, on average, the people might come up with more sensible policies than politicians.

It does seem a little odd to be describing the Helvetic system as anything to do with Poujadism really….

As for Hannan’s actual views, why not try reading his book, “The Plan”.

And he certainly ain’t racist.

Thanks Lobby. I had forgotten their position on nuclear war! This definitely deserves its own post.

>(although they’re certainly not officially anti-semetic),

Can’t resist – do you mean anti-Semitic or anti-emetic?

19 – arf. I always bloody spell that wrong…

20 – arf. Bloody Jews…

22. Richard Blogger

The thing that most irritates me about Hannan is that he’s not properly and democratically elected. He’s an MEP. The Euro-elections use the appalling de Hundt party list system where voters vote for a party and when the MEPs have been divvied-up according to the votes, the party chooses who you get to be your MEP.

Currently there is a campaign to bring in open primaries for Westminster constituencies, yet the party list system is ten times worse than the current selection processes. So before reforming Westminster candidate selection processes, do something about the de Hundt system. (yes, I know the EU mandates it, but Ireland has an opt out.)

Hannan has no legitimacy. If he wants legitimacy he would resign and stand as a Westminster MP and let people decide if they really want to vote for him rather than Austerity Dave. And if he does that I would even consider standing against him as a pro-NHS candidate. But Hannan will not do that because he’s too scared that the public would not elect him.


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