Cameron’s useful idiots, Hannan and Carswell

The Critical Reaction website carries a piece this evening which confirms the suspicions of many people that Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell are nothing more than David Cameron’s useful idiots:

In Committee Room 7 at the House of Commons this evening, Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell proposed that Better Off Out should wind itself up. Arguing that the supporters of BOO – whom present tonight included Lord Tebbit – have, in one form or another, ‘sat for thirty years’ without achieving the objective of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, the two men, supported by Mark Reckless, proposed that BOO should go out of business and be replaced by a cross-party referendum campaign.

There seems to be no end in sight to politicians seeking to dismember grassroots campaigns while pledging to advance them in another guise. Closing down a grassroots campaign like Better Off Out so it can be replaced by a politicians’ ego club within the walls of the Palace of Westminster, which will wither and die, suffocated by the desire to attain consensus and horse trade over vested interests, is the worst thing that could happen.  I can’t wait to hear what Simon Richards at The Freedom Association has to say about this.

Thankfully the author of the Critical Reaction piece has their wits about them, unlike Hannan and Carswell.  As the editorial rights points out:

If Tory MPs are reluctant to join BOO because of the implications for their career prospects, any group which is established that doesn’t threaten their personal ambitions isn’t likely to be doing its job.  David Cameron has been unambiguous on this point: he fully supports British membership of the EU. A group that he and the whips can tolerate ambitious Tory backbenchers belonging to is, almost by definition, a neutered body. With, in this instance, the proposed distinction of being one that intends to neuter itself.

Perhaps that is Hannan and Carswell’s intention?  Cameron would be very grateful.  After all, despite claiming to want Britain to leave the EU Hannan and Carswell have resolutely stayed within a Conservative party that has vowed to remain inside the EU and also refuses to allow the British people their democratic say on membership in a binding referendum. Perhaps Hannan and Carswell value the trappings of power as MEP and MP respectively more than principle.

Better Off Out should remain.  It should continue to provide a grassroots outlet for those outside the Westminster and Brussels villages who want democratic accountability restored to the UK. It should redouble its efforts to educate people about the consequences of being run by the EU and it should do so without a couple of parliamentarians attempting to play power games within a system that ensures they are doomed to failure.

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15 Responses to “Cameron’s useful idiots, Hannan and Carswell”


  1. 1 David Jones 26/01/2011 at 6:54 am

    Well said.

    I have come to this conclusion and unsubcribed from their websites a couple of months ago.

  2. 2 OF 26/01/2011 at 8:22 am

    The point for me is that BOO (which is useful for showing people whom they can vote for) is unequivocal: Britain must secede, without any distraction like a national plebiscite.

    A referendum campaign, even if successful, will take us back to 1975. Have we moved on since then? Nope. You’d still get the Tories, Labour and the third party all campaigning on the same side – to stay in. The BBC would do the same, vociferously, over at least three media platforms. Big business would be even more generous to the staying-in side this time round than 36 years ago. As would Mr Barroso’s outfit, pumping out “neutral” information.

    Anyone who believes the result would be much different from 1975’s is perhaps a little naive (education might start with the chapter on the involvement of Bob Worcester and Mori in the 1975 yes campaign, as detailed in The Great Deception by Booker and North: opinion polls are used to *shape* opinion, not reflect it).

    The only question I have is: are Carswell and Hannan stupid or complicit?

    Great blog – yet another that vindicates my decision to give up newspapers a few years back.

  3. 3 John E Payne 26/01/2011 at 10:28 am

    I agree with the writers closing paragraph. Those who want the Country to retreat from the idea of a European State should forget the idea of directly converting Conservative Politicians. It is the Conservative voters that should be persuaded to vote for a party that holds their conservative principals, but in addition guarantees a referendum on Europe.

    When Conservative Politicians see this as a threat to gaining power, only then will they change their pro-Europe views.

  4. 4 graham wood 26/01/2011 at 10:57 am

    No matter how solid, right, and apparently patriotic their principles, once these “eurosceptics” join the ‘Not the Conservative Party, it is as if they suffer some sort of mental dementia which totally incapacitates clear thinking on relatively simple facts such as the incompatibility of the EU with the British way of life.

    How sad. I presume there must be some sort of treatment for such?

  5. 5 john kelly 26/01/2011 at 1:34 pm

    Not only BOO but the Freedom Association which I have regretfully quit after 35 years membership.

    Norris McWhirter determined some years ago how utterly anti-EU it’s members were but it has stayed firmly in the Carswell/Hannan constellation.

    If one is anti-EU there is only one party offering withdrawal and a sound manifesto on all main issues, and it needs support = membership and money.

    Hopefully, UKIP will get both in the very near future and the Tories will be so scared that they will at last follow their members views rather than those of the elite.

  6. 6 Fay Tuncay 26/01/2011 at 1:40 pm

    TWO MORE PIGS WITH THEIR NOSES IN THE TROUGH
    This confirms my suspicions about these two, because they have also failed to support the Campaign to Repeal Climate Change Act 2008

  7. 7 right_writes 26/01/2011 at 2:35 pm

    This by Hannan, is am example of what is happening across the “opposition movement”.

    There is a rallying point and it comes with an opportunity to register a meaningful vote… UKIP.

    The problem is that the opposition can’t (or won’t) see this.

  8. 8 TomTom 26/01/2011 at 5:24 pm

    Edward Heath disrupted the 1689 Settlement with his European Communities Act 1972 creating a Discontinuity.

    I do wonder if violent disorder a la 1642 is the only alternative to an Executive which blocks peaceful change a la 1688

  9. 9 Jonathan Stuart-Brown 27/01/2011 at 2:23 am

    Michael Foot should be more honoured than he is. He did offer the nation the chance to leave in one week without even need for a referendum. If elected he was going to write to then then EEC and say the British Parliament was withdrawing and taking all its powers back.
    A few years of his rule would have been worth it to have got us out.

  10. 10 AKM 27/01/2011 at 10:45 am

    @TomTom – regrettably you may be right.

  11. 11 Lee 27/01/2011 at 11:08 am

    The mood of those present was clearly, and sensibly, against the idea.

    But hey thanks Critical Reaction commentator now for encouraging MPs to ban attendance by outsiders as they’ll now think we can’t be trusted to sit in on a calm debate in confidence and rationally.

  12. 12 Steve Tierney 27/01/2011 at 12:54 pm

    You guys are nuts. Attacking people who agree with you and are fighting for the same thing you are is a ridiculous approach – yet the poster and commentors here uniformly take this silly approach.

    The idea that all this is about “their careers” is equally foolish. By taking the positions they have – they have already scuppered their careers. Despite being an excellent MP, Douglas Carswell has no chance of being a minister. Dan Hannan has resigned higher positions rather than qualify his message.

    There are two schools of thought. The first is that sceptic Conservatives should leave and join UKIP – bolstering their ranks and helping them get some people elected. The other is that UKIP members should become Conservatives filling the grass roots and associations with people who want to get out of Europe and forcing the party more into line with public opinion. Now you might prefer the first to the second – but its arrogant to presume your way is the “right way” and its rude and counterproductive to attack people who essentially support your position but have chosen a different route to achieve the goal.

    If you think that attacking people like Hannan and Carswell – who are doing more than most UKIP MEPs to publicise the sceptic side of the argument – is a clever idea then knock yourselves out and have fun with it. Frankly, I think you’re bonkers. We sceptics need to stick together and speak with one voice – even if that voice comes from different parties and directions – not bicker, squabble and attack one another. Anybody would think you were Labour supporters the way you go on…

  13. 13 Autonomous Mind 27/01/2011 at 1:38 pm

    Steve, it’s funny how you pointedly avoid any mention of the central thrust of their proposal – namely to wind up BOO and take matters entirely inside Westminster – and resort to pejorative comment.

    I can appreciate you are politically tribal and want to defend Hannan and Carswell. But your need to couch this issue in the terms you do and suggest it is rude and counterproductive to criticise two men who seek to take the issue out of the hands of the grassroots – and describe it as merely a different route to achieve the goal – is frankly ludicrous.

    How can you keep a straight face when you say we need to stick together and speak with one voice when the proposal was to cut the legs from underneath engaged and committed people by winding up BOO, and leaving only a group of parliamentarians with any voice? Why does the Hannan and Carswell proposal necessitate the need for BOO to be wound up? Feel free to explain that agenda.

    For what it’s worth, I am not Labour and I am not UKIP. And as the Conservatives cannot be trusted to keep a single Eurosceptic pledge I am no longer a Tory either.

  14. 14 Paul 27/01/2011 at 2:25 pm

    Its seems to me that its about how all the collaborators can best keep pulling the wool over all of our eyes all together. And I wouldn’t be surprised at the real depth of the connivance; is it not reasonable to say that BOO could have been co-opted and led into deriliction and uselessness long ago? – how are we to really know? Tebbit it a eurosceptic, is he? Well, he makes as much noise as Shoeshine Dan and Squinty the gentlemen gangsters do, that’s true enough. At the end of the day (spoken like a good football manager) you just have to act on the evidence of your eyes.

    I think what we are seeing is prompted by the coming up on the rails by UKIP. “Look-at-me” Dan, fresh from the disappointment about the take-up for his Top-Down Tea Party, is raring to get of the front of the UKIP flock and lead it into pointlessness. There’s enough in it would let him do it to.

    By the way, we need people, at this crucial juncture in our history, to tell it like it really is, and at the moment, telling it like it is takes a bit of courage, so well done (Mr?) AM.

  15. 15 Martin 27/01/2011 at 2:56 pm

    Autonomous Mind,

    Great comment. The chutzpah of people like Tierney is awesome.

    If we want to get out of the EU it will have to be initially a grass roots campaign because the politicians are in a bunker of the mind.


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