The deadly attack gerbils of the liberal-left have had a go at Dan Hannan.
The Daily Mirror, NuLav’s comically useless online propaganda outlet Labour List, and a sweet-looking boy named James Mcintyre who writes for the New Statesman, have all seized excitedly on some thoughtful, unexceptionable remarks Dan made about Obama’s “exotic” background.
Here’s what Dan said in his blog:
“Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.”
“On one level, the strategy worked brilliantly. But it could hardly fail to leave a chunk of people feeling that Obama wasn’t exactly a regular guy.”
And here, roughly, is how Mcintyre and his chums chose to translate it:
“My name is Dan Hannan. I wear a tall, pointy white hat with eyeholes cut into it. Our Enoch was right. Send ‘em all back to where they came from. No, wait, better than that: string ‘em all up. And if you think I’m the only fellow in the Tory party who thinks this way you’ve got another think coming. We’re racists, the lot of us. And this my friends is why you should not vote Conservative at the next election but vote instead for the supremely competent and utterly sane Gordon Brown.”
Now I have at least two main objections to this.
First, though it’s true that Dan Hannan holds culpable, deeply objectionable, utterly wrongheaded views about Obama, they have nothing to do with the man’s race or exoticism. They’re to do with the fact – as he brazenly admits – that he likes and admires the guy and supported his presidential candidacy.
But what I loathe and detest far more is what it tells us about New Labour and what they have done to the level political debate. As pretty much anyone with even half a brain cell now realises, Britain is almost irredeemably b***ered after 12 years under Blair and Brown. In this week’s Spectator, Trevor Kavanagh racks his brain and finally comes up with “peace” in Northern Ireland and the minimum wage as examples of two of New Labour’s achievements. Personally, I wouldn’t even give them those. They have been a total and unmitigated disaster from beginning to end.
How, though, did they get away with it for so long? Largely, I’d argue, by manipulating the media – and by extension – the voters more cleverly than the Tories did. New Labour would lie, distort, tweak, smear, exaggerate, spin, announce, re-announce, re-re-announce or anything else that was necessary to ensure that they came across as the party that could do useful things and which cared, while the Tories were the party of reaction, snobbery, racism and cuts.
This feeble and desperate attempt to smear Hannan and, by association, Cameron’s Tories is merely a continuation of the same old methods they’ve been using for the last twelve years. Two or three years ago, it might just have worked. Today, now that we’ve all wised up to their methods, it just comes across as wearisomely predictable and a bit sad – the death throes of a party which knows it’s a busted flush and knows that in the total absence of things to say in its own favour its last remaining hope is to try to slag the opposition.
I understand this. You understand it. But here’s the part that makes me worried and angry: I’m not sure that Cameron’s Tories yet do.
Even now, far too much of their policy-decision-making appears to be based not so much on doing the right thing as on avoiding trouble. The 50p upper rate tax. The ring-fencing of spending on the NHS. These are positions not of a party of principle, but a party whose inner circle reads silly articles like the ones above, and STILL actually takes them seriously.