Reason.tv Interviews MEP Dan Hannan; Britain Freaks Out

A few weeks back, I sat down with Tory MEP Daniel Hannan to chat about his YouTube stardom; his low opinion of the National Health Service; and those who have inspired his particular brand of Tory libertarianism. After mentioning Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich Hayek, Hannan said that, in a British context, he would choose Enoch Powell, "somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small government Conservative."

I was rather surprised by the answer (mumbling, faintly in the background, "really?"); Enoch Powell, as one English journalist told me via Twitter, is the "third rail of British politics," best known amongst American political junkies (if at all) for his famous "rivers of blood" speech. My surprise, though, was based on a rather limited knowedge of Powell's history; a Pavlovian reaction to that speech.

In 1968, Powell told a group of supporters that the United Kingdom's immigration policy was "mad," and must be immediately halted. Looking to the future, Powell thundered, he was "filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see 'the River Tiber foaming with much blood.'" It is important to underscore that during our conversation, Hannan said nothing about his views on immigration.

Hannan had attracted scorn from both sides of the aisle after denouncing the NHS as a "failure" on Fox News, and has now created a brand new row with his Reason.tv appearance. The Daily Telegraph has details:

The Conservative leader, who has placed great importance on changing public views of the Tories’ health policies, faced calls to sack Mr Hannan earlier this month when the MEP described the NHS as a “mistake” during an American television debate.

Now he has given another interview in the United States, in which he cited Powell, the Conservative minister who was cast into the political wilderness after warning that open immigration would lead to “rivers of blood,” as a major political influence.

He told reason.TV: “He was somebody who understood the importance of national democracy, who understood why you need to live in an independent country and what that meant, as well as being a free marketeer and a small government Conservative." Tory sources said that Mr Hannan would not be disciplined over his latest remarks, as his praise for Powell had not referred to the late politician’s views on immigration.

But Labour seized on his words. Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, said: "Yet again, we are seeing the two faces of the Conservative Party. The one they want to present to the public and the one which attacks the NHS and praises Enoch Powell.”

The Guardian weighs in here, the Financial Times here, and the Evening Standard here.

The Spectator's Alex Massie says that Labour's criticism of Hannan is "nonsense":

Never mind that the Labour voters who deserted the party to support the ghastly BNP would have agreed with Powell on immigration, the notion that Powell=Hitler is too absurd for words. Which is to say that it's perfect for politics and ideal fodder for our newspapers who, though they should know better, cannot resist deliberately creating a nonsense out of nothing. If this means helping politicians deliberately distort the obvious meaning and context of an argument then so be it. Who's paying attention?

And, just to be clear, if Hannan had bigged-up Powell's views on immigration while he was talking to Reason the chances are that he'd have been challenged on them. That's because Reason's a libertarian magazine that, you know, is pretty relaxed about the free movement of people and generally disapproves of border supremacists and absolutists.

I wrote about the Tory reaction to Hannan's NHS criticism here. The full "rivers of blood" speech can be viewed here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Bingo||

    So Lonewacko is basically the less successful American version of Powell?

  • Jason||

    This is a great site that you have here. I have a site myself where anyone can freely express their opinion towards controversial debate topics. I feel as if this is a way for people to have their voices heard. Anyone is welcome to express their opinions.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and maybe we can do a link exchange.

    Sincerely,
    Jason

  • ||

    So, Reason has gotten itself involved in a "row" (rhymes with "now")...

  • hmm||

    And? Isn't England facing some pretty ugly racial situations arising from the citizenship and immigration of former colonials? Namely the Muslim communities and the working class white communities not wanting the Muslim communities there.

    Seems like granting citizenship to former colonials might have been a bit of a mistake or at the least bring more problems than benefits.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    I hate to spill my secrets, but I do this search once or twice a day. I frequently see posts from the BNP, and if 1/4 of what they say is 1/4 true, then Powell wasn't that far off.

    Of course, there's money, power, and prestige in pretending he was completely wrong.

    Keep Fightin' the Power, Reason.

  • </||

    Writing home on 16 February 1943, Powell stated: "I see growing on the horizon the greater peril than Germany or Japan ever were... our terrible enemy, America....

    As MP he represented these guys in Parliament

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    And? Isn't England facing some pretty ugly racial situations arising from the citizenship and immigration of former colonials? Namely the Muslim communities and the working class white communities not wanting the Muslim communities there.

    Seems like granting citizenship to former colonials might have been a bit of a mistake or at the least bring more problems than benefits.


    Shhhh! Leave that under the under the rug where it belongs! We're celebrating Ted Kennedy today!

  • ||

    I know it's not a popular opinion around here, but the combination of massive immigration from the Third World, plus the welfare state, plus multiculturalism, has certainly not been a totally wonderful thing for Great Britain (or much of Europe). I certainly have sympathy for and agree that some immigration is a good thing, but it's always possible to have too much of a good thing.

  • Warty||

    Immigration is all fine and dandy if you don't give them welfare, as Lonewacko has pointed out in his more lucid moments. Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko.

  • ||

    If Catholics and Protestants can barely coexist there, what's the odds Christians and Musloms ever will? It seems that Powell was making a pretty likely prediction. Too bad political correctness and cosmotarianism have blinded so many to reality.

  • ||

    Geez, my spelling sucks this week.

  • hmm||

    Immigration is all fine and dandy if you don't give them welfare, as Lonewacko has pointed out in his more lucid moments. Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko.

    I think they have more of a social problem than an economic problem like separate courts and creating a large instantly disenfranchised population.

  • ||

    Man, the British press are still going with the Hannan hit pieces? I didn't think a European MP warranted this much attention even if he was saying crazy stuff. I guess it's the global press he got from youtube that got their panties in a bunch.

  • ||

    Mass immigration from former colonies resulted in millions of new Labor voters, plus the added bonus of social disturbances, alienated welfare slums, and ethnic strife. Nevermind Pakistan-connected terrorism and lovely new domestic lobbies like the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Score.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    The Lil' Totalitarian above telling me to STFU doesn't understand my position. MassiveImmigration would have a great cost even if those arriving couldn't get welfare.

  • Gene Berkman||

    Enoch Powell was a champion of the Free Market, aside from the immigration issue. He also championed limited government and opposed the EU.

    The Libertarian Alliance in the UK some years ago published an essay by Mr Powell in opposition to the Narcotics Trafficking Act, where he pointed out that the government used fear of drugs as an excuse to expand its power.

    He was like a more cheerful, more articulate version of Tom Tancredo.

  • Seward||

    I would just like to point out the obvious, in order to have free markets you have to have a free market in labor. I'm for free and open immigration.

  • ||

    Ted Kennedy isn't that bad. He opposed the Vietnam War, Iraq War, and Patriot Act.

    That's a lot better than, say, John McCain or Mitt Romney.

  • ||

    I would just like to point out that since when has libertarianism meant the limitation on the movement of peoples across arbitrary and capricious political boundaries.

    Yes. Enoch Powell had some decent positions. Obama the candidate had some decent positions. Hell, even McCain had some decent positions. Hitler built the fucking Autobahn and Stalin did stuff too.

    What exactly is the point?

  • hmm||

    I would just like to point out the obvious, in order to have free markets you have to have a free market in labor. I'm for free and open immigration.

    I'm not against immigration. I do think immigrating or allowing massive amounts of people with a loose connection to your society instant citizenship creates a ton of problems. I tend to look at it in terms of business like one firm buying another or two firms merging. There are huge issues with corporate culture in 99% of these types of marriages.

    *felt a need to qualify my previous statements.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I would just like to point out the obvious, in order to have free markets you have to have a free market in labor.

    If that's the case, then I have no problem declaring free markets a demonstrable and unqualified failure.

    If free markets require supporting positions destructive to the societies and institutions that make any freedom at all possible, you can keep 'em.

    I think I've decided I like my freedom too much to be a libertarian.

  • hmm||

    I think I've decided I like my freedom too much to be a libertarian.

    That is a most excellent troll. I'm talking about a grade A 5 star troll.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    That is a most excellent troll. I'm talking about a grade A 5 star troll.

    Why is it a troll? Libertarianism != liberty. Libertarianism is political philosophy that purports to achieve the state of liberty.

    It doesn't.

  • GILMORE||

    Libertarianism is political philosophy that purports to achieve the state of liberty.

    You're not big on the whole 'actually reading stuff' thing are you?

  • Paul||

    Why is it a troll? Libertarianism != liberty. Libertarianism is political philosophy that purports to achieve the state of liberty.

    It doesn't.


    Well, we know everything but libertarianism as had a demonstrable reduction of liberty. So what's left?

  • Robert||

    What I remember most about him from his time was the slogan, "Don't knock Enoch."

    There is a large nationalistic strain of libertarianism, existing in a number of countries, that is, in effect, paradoxically, "libertarianism in one country". They're just like the mainstream of libertarianism (or maybe they are the main stream) except for opposition to free trade (or at least untaxed free trade) and immigration across national borders. (None I know of have ever been against freedom of emigration, though.) This is the strain of libertarian that's always been over-represented (compared to the internationalist or non-nationalist one) on talk radio, because ever since Bob Grant, all talk radio has been slanted against freedom of international trade and immigration.

  • Robert||

    I forgot their common description: the "sovereign" or "patriot" types.

  • qwerty||

    I would just like to point out the obvious, in order to have free markets you have to have a free market in labor.

    Ah, but labor votes. Labor has culture, language, religion, political views which may not be the same as your own. There is a world of difference between importing a car and importing a citizen. One can certainly be in favor of one and not the other.

  • ||

    Hannan was a bit sneaky here, knowing that Moynihan wouldn't be sufficiently well versed in British political history to dig deeper. He was speaking to two audiences at once: tweaking Cameron, because Enoch is verboten, but also finessing his Reason credentials. (Never mind that Powell's views on immigration and on national sovereignty are a continuum.)

    He should really just move to the US, because he's a better fit for the GOP than the Tories.

    It's also refreshing to see racist loon Lonewacko come out as a BNP supporter, having thrown away the last of his microscopic credibility on the Birfers. Might as well throw yourself into the abyss whole-heartedly.

  • ||

    "I do think immigrating or allowing massive amounts of people with a loose connection to your society instant citizenship creates a ton of problems."

    Some thoughts on immigration and a bit o' histroie:

    IIRC from history classes in HS and undergrad, the Roman Empire was very much imperialist, but whenever they conquered a land they respected and absorbed the language, culture and product economies of the conquered. They did NOT immediately offer citizenship; the Romans believed citizenship was to be earned. And citizenship had it's perks: trade, economic transactions, and contracting between parties were much easier, not to mention politcal clout (eventually leading to a massive welfare state; only citizen could receive state assistance). So citizenship was a prestigious commodity from a business POV. And as the empire grew, (and the more decadent leadership became, very key) citizenship became less prized and essentially worthless (like US currency fiat) as any schmuck could get citizenship, and by extention, benefits. Also key is the Romans were taxing usurious rates on the producers, yet the rent seekers bankrupted the empire while losing whatever connection, history if you will, to the past. Rome weakened and the rest....well you know.

    Immigration in of itself is vital to grow an economy; prudent restrictions on that influx in the long run makes for a more sustainable society. Even though TRE was not a "melting pot", even the non citizens recognized the value of cohesion of purpose.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement