Wow. Dan Hannan's gone viral.
Those of us who've been following 'debates' in the European Parliament initially were wondering how come it was that one speech out of the many hundreds given by decent eurorealist MEPs over the years got people so interested.
Hannan is hardly new to the world of politics and when it comes to people who make forthright speeches in the European Parliament, he's not alone. It's just that the media haven't really got up to speed.
So what was it about this which grabbed the attention and sparked the interest of so many?
I'm going to nail my colours to the mast whilst I throw my hat in the ring and say that it's because he's really the first Tory to actually sound like he would have done anything different.
On the same day as that speech, Hannan's leader David Cameron was making a meaningless speech about the need for a slightly different amount of financial regulation. He'd completely missed the point, of course, but that's because Cameron knows as much about financial regulation as I do about the inner workings of a combustion engine.
The public don't want to hear about the FSA because to the average person, they're an irrelevance. They're self policing grey suited bureaucrats who won't do anything especially different whether it's Brown or Cameron in power. There's no such thing as 'light regulation' and this supposed 'transparency' they've brought about has resulted in such situations as a run on a national bank when a quiet word in a shell-like would have done the job perfectly a few years ago.
Brown - the enemy - was in Strasbourg, the beating heart of our surveillance society and a black hole for democracy and our money. The cameras were on, the world was watching. Stop a moment, Dave, and think about it.
And then something happened: something that millions of people in the UK and beyond have been wanting to hear for a long time. A Conservative politician standing up and telling our unelected Prime Minister that, to paraphrase, he's an economically retarded cretin who views the British people, judging by his behaviour, as fools.
In his interview on Fox news he went even further, saying what millions of people across the country would have loved Cameron to have said: that we want government to do less.
There are three developments I can see which this episode has brought about:
1. People will realise that the European Parliament exists and is worth watching. And it is. My favourite speech is still this one:
2. That the media is no longer a place for a politician with a press release to dominate. The success of two speeches in the European Parliament has become a story in it's own right because despite the media ignoring Hannan and Farage, we the people, we the voters, we the paymasters wanted to know more. The BBC, with their own desks, crews and Europe Editor there, could have led the pack on this. And what did they do instead? They didn't even stay to listen. They've heard it before - just because the rest of us haven't did not appear to matter.
3. The Cameronistas won't be happy. Indeed, young Trixy has already heard of developments within the Tory party ensuring that the young whippersnapper doesn't get above himself. Ignore the fact that he's an intelligent man with a following who is addressing a huge wing of the party virtually alone, this is not the green, left wing agenda that Cameron has worked so hard to achieve.
And Cameron clearly realised when he was running for leader of the Tories that Dan was a man not to be ignored: That tricky EPP pledge did not spring from the mind of a man who thinks that the EU is so important to our economy that he cannot even entertain the idea of an independent and democratic Britain. With Hannan being told by senior party figures that only an MP could be leader of the party this unkept promise was a way of securing the support of a talented and popular figure in the party.
But libertarianism, independence from the EU, a - wait for it - smaller state do not appear to be part of the current package which preaches 'schoolsnhospitals' with the best of the social democrats.
So will a safe seat be winging its way towards our hero?
Unlikely, my whispers tell me.
For while the traditional right wing elements of the party are gleeful at these developments and for someone breaking out of this policy-less, drab straitjacket which Cameron appears to have imposed on his MPs, the powers that be are not.
The subject which split the party in the 90s has reared it's ugly head again. No one can really deny that Cameron wants the EU off the agenda: apart from the Lisbon Treaty it's a sore point and a real divide between the party and the members. But with more and more people aware of a potential leader who breaks the mould we've come to expect and despise from our MPs, how long can that situation remain?
One thing's for sure: Fear the power of YouTube and fear the power of the voter.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wow. Dan Hannan's gone viral.