The Hannan paradigm

The story we covered earlier concerning Lord O’Donnell’s puff piece, in support of handing more power over the political process to civil servants and Parliamentary has-beens, has attracted the ire of Douglas Carswell.  Fair enough.

But this has subsequently prompted Daniel Hannan to weigh in, after spotting an opportunity to make one of his favourite points – related to comments made by O’Donnell on a different occasion – about how EU membership prevents the UK from negotiating trade accords with non-EU states.  The problem with Hannan’s observation is that while true, it doesn’t come close to getting to the heart of why a UK exit from the EU is vital.

The prior comments of O’Donnell that Hannan fixes upon are these:

Britain is, above all, an open trading nation, but unfortunately our main trading partner, the euro area, is unlikely to increase its demand for UK exports very much in the short or medium terms. Our historical trading patterns, which have been so beneficial in the past, are likely to condemn us to the global slow lane for years to come. Our share of world trade has declined over the last decade by more than that of all our G20 partners.

This prompts Hannan to postulate that:

[…] Ever since the mid-1960s, as Hugo Young showed inThis Blessed Plot, the campaign to mesh Britain into European political structures has been led by our permanent functionaries. It wasn’t that they were unpatriotic. Rather, they had made a calculation, understandable in the context of its time, that economic growth would be concentrated in Western Europe.

Today, no one makes such a calculation. Every continent in the world is growing except Europe. Britain, the only one of the EU’s 28 members that conducts the majority of its trade outside Europe, is especially well placed to benefit from the growth overseas: we are linked by language and law, habit and history, to the places that are doing best. When even Sir Humphrey has internalised that point, our exit is just a matter of time.

What Hannan doesn’t explain, perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture before us, is the more crucial point that Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided.  Namely around the tables of various global bodies and organisations where no EU member has a seat.

While Britain’s ability to strike trade deals is important, of far greater importance is our ability to inform and shape, in our interest, the rules that will bind most countries around the world that are signed up to various conventions and treaties – and which consequently impact international trade deals involving most of the goods we make and most of what we buy.  This is what membership of ‘Little Europe’ denies us and why we have to get out.

Leaving the EU is not an end in itself.  It is merely an enabler that gives us an opportunity to fight our corner in our competitive interest, in the forums where the rules and standards are made.  The hard work therefore does not end when we simply have the ability to strike agreements with other countries on our own terms, rather than the consolidated and diluted terms suiting 27 other European countries.

Hannan’s trade paradigm is only a narrow part of the imperative for leaving the EU.  If he understood and articulated the bigger story from his substantial platform, he may actually help more people understand the benefits of British independence.

15 Responses to “The Hannan paradigm”

  1. 1 Antisthenes 23/10/2013 at 9:24 pm

    Too many of your’s and your colleges blogs spend too much time on splitting hairs and talking unnecessary detail. What Hannan says is illuminating enough, well thought out information that enhances the case for the UK leaving the EU. What you have added does little to improve on what he has said. What you have said is another reason certainly for leaving but it does not need to be tagged onto every eurosceptic utterance. It is like you are all more interested in doing others down than getting on with the campaign to ensure the UK leaves the EU.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 23/10/2013 at 9:48 pm

    There is little point campaigning to leave the EU if we don’t explain to people *why* it is important to leave.

    The argument can be made that we benefit from trade agreements made on our behalf by the EU, which would prompt a good many voters to stick with the status quo. So surely it makes more sense to articulate a benefit of leaving that cannot ever be realised even indirectly as a member state.

    Naturally your desire to criticise my comments and dumb down the rationale of leaving means you don’t stop to consider the actual rationale for my observations and therefore default to some accusation or other.

  3. 3 Antisthenes 23/10/2013 at 10:09 pm

    I do not disagree with your rationale or dumb it down and said as much in my comment. Just disagree with your attacks on all and sundry as that I believe is not going to help the campaign. Attack europhiles they are the enemy attacking those on your own side is divisive and unhelpful to the campaign for divided we will fail. Better to find common ground with the likes of UKIP and Hannan and bury differences until the campaign is won. I have just read an article by Richard North on energy he is being guilty of the same and worse he contradicts himself. He says the media are late in the day stating that green energy is driving up costs then he attacks them for stating the obvious. It will not be obvious to most because it is not being brought to their attention enough and now that they have got their heads out of the sand they should be encouraged to print more and keeping printing until public opinion destroys the eco-loons policies. Encourage anyone who has a bad thing to say about that which you do not like do not disparage them.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 23/10/2013 at 10:23 pm

    You either don’t get it, or do but your disdain of me and Richard trumps all. Idiots like Hannan and incompetents like UKIP are barnacles on the hull, they just reduce the performance of the vessel.

    It is frustrating that people who should know better, given their position and resources available to them and platform, are so badly informed about the issues they are campaigning on. You are demanding that I compromise to fit in with their poor progress. No thanks.

    As for Richard’s piece, he was quite clearly making the point that no issue is an issue until the likes of a Rees-Mogg suddenly declares it to be, like he alone has just discovered the problem.

    What you don’t realise is we bloggers can see when we get hits from media networks. We know that they know what is going on because they have read it on EU Ref, here and elsewhere. Yet despite their knowledge of the energy scandal from reading our blogs, they have ignored the story for years – keeping most readers in ignorance until now, holding back the possibility of the government and energy companies being called to account much sooner.

    But of course, on planet Antisthenes the only fault rests with me and Richard. Whatever. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

  5. 5 Anthem 23/10/2013 at 10:38 pm

    I think we’re encroaching on ground that made AM throw his toys out of the pram not so long ago.

    We need to get out of the EU. That much is a given. How we do it or why we do it is really irrelevant.

    THEN, when we are out of that particular quagmire, we can get on with the process of attacking those who believe that they have control over us here in the UK.

    It is important to remember that even before we entered this EU nonsense, there was an awful lot wrong with politics here in the UK (it was these problems that allowed us to be incorporated into the EU as we know it today with no objection in the first place).

    Some people really want us to get out of the EU. In my view, we should throw our weight behind them, not criticise them.

    Then, when we are out of it, we can start to pick on the topics truly within our own governance that need addressing.

    This is not hypocrisy; this is playing according to the rules that have been laid before us. If the rules are made of shit and the ones who make those rules are made of shit then we should perhaps take them on on their own terms for now. Expose them for what they are.

    BUT hone in on the true enemy.

  6. 6 Antisthenes 23/10/2013 at 10:42 pm

    Don’t get all defensive now we have crossed pens before or more correctly these day crossed fingers. As I have said before I am wholeheartedly behind you in your campaigns to leave the EU, improve democracy and to stop the crazy energy policies now being pursued. I very much want you to succeed I do not have the capacity to articulate on these issues like you, Richard North and others. So all I can do is to put my two pence in when I believe I see that you are wrong in some way in that articulation. I wish to be helpful nothing else and have no ulterior motive. I will continue reading and commenting unless you block me of course and hopefully give you some food for thought.

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 23/10/2013 at 11:24 pm

    I’m not getting defensive. I just will not indulge someone advocating a flawed and ultimately harmful approach. The stakes are too high and if we are lucky we will get one crack at this in our lifetime.

    The ‘out’ argument has to be watertight. Hannan’s argument can be countered sufficiently for many people to say there’s not much additional benefit than there is in staying put.

    So we need to make compelling arguments that are beyond contest. Global rather than EU-wide influence is indisputably more valuable to the UK, so it needs to be argued by the high profile characters such as Hannan – assuming they look further than their own scribblings.

  8. 8 Anthem 23/10/2013 at 11:46 pm

    With all due respect AM, I have been taking a look at Richard North’s website of late in an attempt to get on his side.

    He talks a lot of sense, he’s undeniably clued up on the issues.

    Does he speak in a language and a tone that the majority will listen to?

    Sadly, I think not.

    Like it or not, the likes of Farage, Carswell and Hannan break it down into bite-sized chunks that the less enlightened are able to latch on to.

    I hate it as much as you undoubtedly do but that’s the way it is.

    Do you think the average voter will be looking further into the issues before falling hook, line and sinker for Red Ed’s promise to freeze energy bills if he gets elected?


    To my mind, attempting to fight on these terms is like the boxer going into the ring with deep respect for the Queensberry Rules.

    He squares up to his opponent, his opponent kicks him in the bollocks.

    He protests to the referee, he protests to the judges… to no avail, they’re all being paid off by his opponent.

    He gets kicked in the bollocks again.

    This is what the “good guys” are up against here. We do indeed only get one chance at this so we might just have to kick the bastards in the bollocks a bit ourselves.

    While out opponents are kicking us in the bollocks, kicking ourselves in the bollocks on top isn’t going to win us the war.

  9. 9 Antisthenes 23/10/2013 at 11:50 pm

    AM. Anthem is saying what I am saying but but putting it much better than I am.

  10. 10 Richard North 24/10/2013 at 1:30 am

    The problem we face is that we are fighting the status quo in any in/out referendum, and have to overcome greater hurdles than the europhiles. Therefore, we have to offer imaginative and positive reasons for leaving, and these are not being delivered by the likes of Hannan.

    To a very great extent, Hannan is coasting … he really has not come up with any original ideas for a decade, and we simply cannot afford the hired help to be working under par.

    Thus, what AM is saying is that our own side must perform better. Hannan may be on our “side” but he is not delivering the goods. And it is not just Hannan. The anti-EU movement as a whole needs to up its game And if we don’t say so, who else will? We must be our own most severe critics.

  11. 11 David Jones 24/10/2013 at 5:45 am

    AM and RN: can only say I agree with your reading of the situation.

  12. 12 qed 24/10/2013 at 11:52 am

    MP’s and MEP’s are not shrinking violets, they’re tough operators in a harsh environment. They’re used to being corrected, to argument, debate and criticism.

    Daniel Hannan is unlikely to be upset because he reads that, “perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture”……”Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided”.

    Daniel Hannan will consider such an idea and hopefully expand on the theme of Britain reasserting itself as an independent country which can make its own case and trade agreements at an international level instead of unconditionally devolving its decisions to a quasi-democratic body.

  13. 13 Anthem 24/10/2013 at 9:07 pm

    “AM. Anthem is saying what I am saying but but putting it much better than I am.”

    Thank you but I cannot even remember writing any of that. I’d been watching Manchester United and got very, very drunk last night.

    Many apologies for all the sweary bits.

  14. 14 wj (@wj557) 25/10/2013 at 6:37 am

    What I would say to Antishenes and Anthem is this.

    I have attended numerous hustings before elections and the scenario is always the same – an anti-EU individual stands up, asks a question or raises a point, and then is shot down with a well-rehearsed answer by the EU-philes.

    How refreshing it would be if we had a well-informed anti-EU audience, with prepared questions and ready with in-depth retorts to any prepared EU party line.

    “They” use their agenda to set the pace and they lay out the ground on which they fight – it’s time that we presented a well-thougt out alternative with viable options.

    Why do I go to a selected group of bloggers for that information instead of the UKIP website?

    I am a member of UKIP – I am not a fan. I want to kick through the present three-party stitch-up and UKIP give me the best chance of that. But I want UKIP to be better.

  15. 15 Derek Buxton 25/10/2013 at 12:50 pm

    I certainly accept the position of both AM and RN on this matter. We are facing disaster unless we can persuade the voters that we can do better out of the EU. Few of the “sceptics” I have read appreciate the shallowness of their thinking. So when the Referendum comes, if ever, we have lost because all the lies currently being peddled will multiply exponentially. The media, business and every EU pensioner will pile in with the scare stories and we will be stuck for ever in the EU’s maw….until, hopefully like the USSR empire, it crumbles under the weight of its own contradictions

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